The Best Dinner I Ever Made…

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Since I’ve been pretending to be a chef lately, I’ve been putting a lot of thought and care into the dishes I cook when I choose to do so. So, one frosty winter night, I invited my parents down to demonstrate my newfound cooking skills for them. The question next was…what to make? I began scouring recipe sites left and right for the perfect dish. I stopped dead when I came to one from the food network, Maple Glazed Chicken. (Click here for the original Food Network link.)

This dish seemed so interesting to me, because I had never thought of using maple syrup in my dishes before, and I was a little unsure of how it would taste. Luckily, it tasted amazing, and I was thrilled when my parents told me so as well! (Always good to hear it from mom and dad.) If you’re as curious as I was, here’s the recipe (courtesy of the food network):

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 apples (1 red, 1 green), cored and cut into wedges
  • 8 medium shallots, quartered lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage, torn
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar ( I used red wine after reading reviews from other readers suggesting it, and it tasted great)

Directions

Pat the chicken dry and season all over with salt. Heat a large heavy skillet over high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken skin-side down and cook, undisturbed, until the skin is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes.

Turn the chicken and add the apples, shallots and sage to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium high and cook until the chicken is browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and continue to cook the apples and shallots, stirring, until golden, about 2 more minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Mix the chicken broth, maple syrup, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add the mixture to the skillet with the apples and shallots and boil until reduced by about three-quarters, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet, turning to coat, until cooked through, about 2 more minutes.

Per serving: Calories 553; Fat 24 g (Saturated 6 g); Cholesterol 119 mg; Sodium 373 mg; Carbohydrate 44 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 42 g

After dinner was through, I had eagerly picked out another recipe which sounded appealing: Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries. As complicated as this sounds, it was actually very simple, and although I didn’t have all the ingredients (for either meal), my wonderful mom helped out by supplying some from home. When cooking a special dinner, as a college student, I would suggest making it a group effort so you don’t have to buy ingredients that you’ll use once then they will sit on the shelf for the rest of the year. Anyway, here’s the recipe for the Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries:

Ingredients:
-1 lb large strawberries
-8 oz. cream cheese, softened (can use 1/3 less fat)
-3-4 tbsp powdered sugar (4 tbsp for a sweeter filling)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-graham cracker crumbs

Directions:
1. Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry. Remove the top and clean out with a paring knife, if necessary (some may already be hollow inside). Prep all strawberries and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or ziploc with the corner snipped off. Fill strawberries with cheesecake mixture. Once strawberries are filled, dip the top in graham cracker crumbs. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until serving.

I wasn’t a believer that they would actually taste like cheesecake until the first bite, and then I was hooked. It is just the sweet kick one needs after dinner. The strawberries provided balance so the dish didn’t get overly sweet, and the graham cracker crumbs provided the desired balance of texture.

This was my first really successful meal, and since, I’ve had a mixture of delicious and not-so-delicious results.

-Lisa

Photo from the Food Network recipe page.

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