the fast track to happiness. [+ maple-glazed chicken, sprouts & squash]

maple-glazed chicken, brussel sprouts & butternut squash // kitsch+cameraas winter’s on its way out (at last!), i have one final winter recipe to share with you, a favorite of mine.  a simple maple-dijon chicken, served atop maple-glazed brussels sprouts and butternut squash.  it’s a grounding dish, for a confusing time – where i certainly need all of the grounding i can get.maple-glazed chicken, brussel sprouts & butternut squash // kitsch+camerathis week i was faced with one of the hardest decisions i’ve ever had to make.  one of those defining decisions, in which my entire body feels truly split into pieces.

my dilemma: do i take the “fast track to happiness” (as my sister coined it) – even though that happiness may be fleeting and unfulfilling?  or do i seek the slower path, the one without a clear signpost and with only a fuzzy outline of a destination?

in situations like this, i quickly become a hollower and more questioning version of myself.  for any other jonathan safran foer fans out there, i call it – zipping up the sleeping bag of myself – where i shut down mentally to an extent and let thoughts wreak havoc on my brain, to no availing outcome or end.

it’s in these moments that i seek distraction in the kitchen, where i seek grounding through the meditative chopping and precision of a well-timed dinner.

and so this juicy chicken and vegetable meal was created.  maple-glazed chicken, brussel sprouts & butternut squash // kitsch+cameramaple-glazed chicken, brussel sprouts & butternut squash // kitsch+camerathis chicken is tender and juicy and full of flavor…a result of the delicious pan-searing method of cooking it. it’s a super simple technique (which i thank my old roommate for teaching me) that never fails me.  it’s really only a matter of heating some herbs in olive oil before searing the chicken, while covering the pot as it’s cooking so that the meat tenderizes.

for the vegetables, a quick roasting with a drizzle of maple syrup and olive oil is all it really takes.  it’s a hearty meal, and rich in color and in flavor.  it’s a meal that screams new england (to me), and a meal that brings me home when i most need that centering.maple-glazed chicken, brussel sprouts & butternut squash // kitsch+camerain the end, i’ve decided to trust my gut. unfamiliar territory for me.  i’ve always been the rational one, head-driven, but also the one that’s felt weighed down by some amorphous weight. i’ve decided it’s time to break free of that load, to take a chance on myself and try out this new confidence thing.

i’m following a path, my path.  it may be slower, and surely less defined, but i have faith that i am on my track to happiness.  i’ll get there, and when i do, it will be worth the wait.maple-glazed chicken, brussel sprouts & butternut squash // kitsch+camera

MAPLE-DIJON CHICKEN W. GLAZED BRUSSELS + BUTTERNUT SQUASH serves 4

//ingredients:

  • 2 8-oz chicken breast
  • 10 large brussel sprouts
  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash
  • 1.5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • salt + pepper

//directions:

  1. preheat oven to 375.
  2. begin by marinating the chicken. combine 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp dijon and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar  in a ziploc with the chicken breasts, and shake/toss to coat.  set aside for at least an hour to marinate.
  3. now prep the squash by peeling and cubing into 1″ chunks. [i recommend saving the squash seeds to roast for a crunchy topping later.]
  4. spread squash chunks out evenly across a baking sheet, making sure not to overcrowd.  coat in 1-2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, stirring to ensure they are all covered.  add to preheated oven.
  5. while squash is baking, trim the ends off of the brussel sprouts and slice each in half.  blanch them in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes.
  6. remove butternut squash from the oven after 20 minutes, and add brussels to the pan.  drizzle 1/2 tbsp maple syrup, and add a touch more olive oil, salt + pepper to coat.  spread out again in an even layer, and return to the oven.  bake an additional 10 minutes.
  7. while that’s baking, work on the chicken.   sprinkle each breast with salt+ pepper.  heat a skillet to medium-high.  when pan is hot, add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan, then add thyme and garlic and simmer 1-2 min, until fragrant and sizzling.  add chicken breasts to pan, then cover and cook for ~8 minutes, until the side facing up is mostly white.  then flip the breasts (you should see a nice sear on the bottom side), cover again, and cook an additional 7-8 minutes.  cut into the breast to ensure there’s no pink, then remove from heat.
  8. crank heat to a 550 and broil the veggies for the last 3-5 minutes, until you see the outer leaves of the sprouts start to crisp up nicely, and the edges of the squash get a toasted look to them.
  9. remove from oven and serve with chicken. top with seeds!

//recipe notes:

  • to toast the squash seeds: simply coat in a drizzle of olive oil, add salt and pepper, and roast ~10 minutes on a piece of aluminum foil.

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