penne alla betsy with a good spoon twist

So, I mentioned earlier that I got the Pioneer Woman Cookbook. I tried out my first recipe of hers the other night and Wow- what deliciousness. My mom was working late and I wanted to have dinner on the table when she got home. I made it, and I'm pretty sure my dad and I took more than a few "tastes" of the silky shrimpy sauce. Here's her post about it, and this will be mine. I took on my own little changes, so here it goes.

Begin by peeling and deveining shrimp for about 4 people (think 6 pieces per person). In a skillet melt 1 Tbs. butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil. The combination of these two helps the butter not burn. When the pan is hot, add the shrimp. Allow to turn pink on both sides and then remove and place onto a plate to cool. PW said to pour out the sauce that is left, but I kept it in there and think this buttery shrimpy liquid really improved the end result. SO- add about 1 more Tbs. butter and a little more olive oil. At this point add in 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 onion- chopped. Cook for about 3 minutes until translucent. Now- pour in 1/2 cup dry white wine. I suppose you could go without the wine- but why would you?

Now, pour in 1 14.5 ounce can of tomato sauce and allow to heat through. Turn the heat down a little then pour in 1 cup of heavy cream. Yes- that's a lot. But let's not skimp on this. You're not making a "sort of creamy" sauce. You're making a cream sauce. All this sauce to simmer and add some salt and pepper to taste. Then add in the cooked shrimp which you've chopped up. Next, dump in 1/4-1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley and 6-10 basil leaves- chopped. I'd add this to your liking. Now, pour in about 1 box of cooked penne, and stir gently to coat.

Let the pasta become friends with the sauce and test their friendship by taking a bite. We didn't have any crusty bread, but that would have been delicious. On a side note- I was proud of the fact that this dish was so well seasoned, my mom and dad didn't have to sprinkle any salt on it. I am also proud of the fact that SK and I are both posting PW recipes today.

roast chicken in creamy tarragon sauce

Let's just add this to the list of "things to make when company's coming over." I'd say you should try it once for your family before such an occasion, but that's just because the chicken cooks at quite the high temperature and if you're not used to a smoking 450 degree oven, you might lose your cool. This recipe starts off with an herb butter and ends with crispy skin and a lovely sauce. Delightful.

{Another recipe care of Martha}

Preheat your oven to 450 and place the rack on the upper level. Here's an important step- rinse 4 skin on bone in chicken breasts and then pat dry. Get that slimy chicken juice off. In a small bowl mix 4 Tbs. unsalted butter with 2 Tbs. chives and 3 Tbs. chopped tarragon. Use your fingers to rub the herb butter under the skin. Go on- get in there. Season with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan. Roast, until skin is crisp 25 minutes.

Mix 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup chicken stock and 10 tarragon leaves. Remove pan from oven when done and remove some of the juice. Pour cream mixture in the pan, allowing some to run all over the chicken. Return to the oven for another 5-7 minutes depending on how thick your chicken is.

Remove the chicken onto a dish and then whisk the cream with the brown bits in the hot pan. Carefully pour the sauce over the chicken and serve. This not only looks pretty, but tastes wonderful with fresh herbs. The butter under the skin makes the chicken oh so moist, and your guests are sure to go home thinking you might just be Martha yourself.

carolina on my mind

Excuse the post title. I had to. It's been some time now since I returned from South Carolina, and oh does it deserve quite the post. We had a great time in Aiken starting off enjoying some presents then the local and quite famous Track Kitchen where some of the jockeys go to eat their grits. I of course had to order grits as well! We also made our way to the Aiken brewing company while there and enjoyed the Gold Medal winning Thoroughbred Red brew. Very good, very good indeed.

Benny and I got some pics done by the talented Heather Sargent as a little gift to me, and we cooked cooked cooked! There was "the cake." This cake was made by Benjamin's mom and well, it's a Paula Deen darlin'! That means there is well, a cheesecake in the middle of it and a buttercream frosting. Ain't nothing like a little calories to feel loved, eh Paula?! It was incredibly fun decorating this cake and as you can see we got quite into it!

Another highlight of the trip was fried catfish made by Benjamin's grandpa. He brought the fish up from Louisiana and I was so excited to taste the recipe I'd heard so much about. A little fish, Louisiana hot sauce, lemmon pepper, and well- no- I won't tell you this secret family recipe but boy was it good! We made some slaw, potato salad, fries, and hush puppies to fill up the table. When I told Benjamin's grandma I'd never fried something before while frying the hush puppies, I got quite the look! All in all, I can't imagine a better "welcome" to South Carolina. Such fun- and I even ended up liking the Corgie pup I'd heard so much about. Until next time...

molten chocolate-espresso cakes

That's right- chocolate and espresso and molten. Winner. This is another Martha's Dinners at Home recipe. I made it because company was coming and well, my mom and I got a cake dome for $12. Yes. I love the outlets. Of course, something had to go in said dome so instead of a cake, I decided to make these.

Although they were delicious, this concept of putting them in cupcake tins was not such a "good thing" Martha. I mean really. How is one to get them out without them oozing everywhere? I'd say put them in a ramekin- or if this way is easier, take them out, throw them in a bowl with ice cream, and tell your company not to complain about the lack of presentation.

Ingredients- Makes 6
  • 4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate (they called for bittersweet)
  • 1/3 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1 T instant coffee (or espresso powder if you can find it)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
Preheat oven to 400. Rub 6 cupcake cups with butter, then sprinkle with sugar. Melt chocolate in a double boiler- and set aside to cool. The trick here is you don't want the chocolate hot going in with the eggs- we wouldnt want to scramble any eggs now would we?!

Whisk together flour, coffee powder, and salt. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla and chocolate.

Spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake until cakes no longer jiggle when tin is shaken- 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before turning out. We let them cool for awhile and only got one out. Then- it was fend for yourself and enjoy. Nooo... those that weren't eatten were left in the tin and the next day turned out and it worked! To serve we just nuked them for 30 seconds til warm, and they were enjoyed with a little vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

welcome to dc

We were quite the tourists last week with Benjamin in town. First off, was Christmas where he got a sweater and I got a skillet. My first and only cast iron skillet- le cruseut at that- thanks Benny! The parents got some scotch which we later sampled- yum. After breakfast we headed out to Arlington Cemetery then to the Air and Space Museum then it was across the Mall to the National Gallery of Art. Once we were real hungry and ready for dinner, we went to Old Ebbitt- a favorite of ours- and over to take the classic "here we are in front of the White House" pictures. A busy and good touristy day full of lots of pictures. Needless to say Benjamin wasn't too sad when my mom's camera battery started to die!

vinegar glossed chicken

I do love me some Martha Stewart magazines, however they tend to pile up and it comes time to go through them and tear out the recipes I'm actually going to try. When I saw this one, it was yet again easy, different, and hopefully delicious. I made it for Stacey and my fam, and it was a winner. Thanks to quick marinade- only 30 min- and preparation of adding back in the rosemary infused vinegar, the chicken was very moist and there was a nice sauce to have over rice. I'd make it again I do declare...

recipe thanks to Martha.


  • 1 cup best-quality red-wine vinegar
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary (about 1 tablespoon minced)
  • 5 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (you can use boneless too)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed


  1. At least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours before cooking, combine the vinegar, garlic, and rosemary to marinate. We marinated ours for 30 minutes and it was just dandy.
  2. Thoroughly season the chicken pieces with s&p. Heat a skillet over high heat and swirl in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side down. (Be sure you keep the vinegar marinade!) Don't crowd the chicken. Brown the sides several minutes so the chicken is just about done.
  3. Add the chicken broth and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat, simmer, and reduce for 15 to 20 minutes. Increase the heat to high and pour in the vinegar mixture. Swirl the pan and stir around as the vinegar evaporates to form a simmering glaze, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve over some rice and enjoy!

merry christmas to the good spoon!

Benjamin and I arrived in Aiken, SC late wednesday night and dove into a wonderful meal of red beans and rice thanks to Garden & Gun magazine. Not kidding with the title there. I was going to post this tomorrow, but I'm just too excited about how cute these aprons are! His mom made them for me and each says, "the good spoon" on them. so so so cute! I love them. She also got me some other fun entertaining items and ...drumroll... the Pioneer Woman cookbook signed by her to me!! She talked about the good spoon and good life and cooking for my "MM"- Montana Man. Love! I'm excited to try out one of her recipes soon!

corn and clam chowder sauce with grilled cod

Yum. I figured when I came back to the blogging world, I should do so full force. I also figured while cooking for the parents, I can choose a recipe that will actually feed us all without weird leftovers. I'm all about leftovers, but clams wouldn't be my favorite the next day. My mom and I headed to her favorite store- Wegmans- and got all the goods. They have about every ingredient you could think of there- lemongrass, ham hocks, and truffles- locked up and for a whopping $699 a pound. Crazy.

I was most drawn to this recipe for the chowder sauce. I do love me some corn chowder, but I'm fearful of the one my mom would make growing up- lots of cream of chicken soup I think- not too friendly on the thighs. Well, I still don't skimp and this was real good. We did have some leftover chowder which was gobbled up the next day. This served us really well and I'd say to make it a bit more budget friendly, you don't need to have the fish on top. That said, the marinade for the fish was quite tasty and the fish came out really moist.

This recipe is thanks to Martha's Dinners at Home. I do love this cookbook and find it oh so user friendly. This makes me really enjoy the post-prison Martha. A lot of the ingredients are things you'll actually already have in your pantry.

for the fish: ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Few sprigs thyme or oregano (i sprinkled in dried...)
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 fillets striped bass- we used cod
  • Coarse salt
  • Fresh chives, cut into 3/4-inch lengths, for garnish (optional)

Directions for the fish:

  1. Combine oil, lemon juice, thyme or oregano, garlic, and pepper in a large shallow bowl. Add fish to marinade, and turn to coat; cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove fish from marinade, letting excess drip off. Place on grill, skin side down, and season with salt. Grill until skin is lightly browned and starting to crisp. Carefully turn fillets, and cook until well browned and cooked through (center will be opaque), 5 to 6 minutes. Garnish with chives and lemon wedges, if desired.

for the chowder: ingredients

  • 4 dozen Manila or littleneck clams (about 2 pounds), scrubbed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 Yukon gold or russet potatoes
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground pepper

chowder directions

  1. Place clams and wine in a large saucepan. Cover; cook over medium heat until clams open, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer clams to a bowl (discard any that don't open). Strain liquid into a small bowl, leaving grit and sand behind; set aside.
  2. Rinse saucepan, and melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and celery; cook until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch chunks; add to pan along with corn kernels and scrapings, thyme, and bay leaf. Add reserved cooking liquid and cream, and stir to combine. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Arrange clams on top; cover, and continue cooking just until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; season with pepper. Spoon sauce into four shallow bowls, and serve fish on top. Arrange clams around fish, and serve immediately.