The dinner date and still the one chicken

Our first date might not have happened if my husband had known I could cook.

I had gone to a concert with a small group of friends. As I was getting in my car, my friend Mark invited me to an impromptu dinner at his apartment. Thrilled but now nervous, I fumbled my car keys. I watched as they went flying and managed to wedge themselves in the seat. At this point, I had lost all hope of looking graceful. But he was kind and patient as I finally managed to fish them out.

Thankfully once I got to his place, cooking and grilling steaks together was a success. As it turned out that night was just the beginning of our culinary adventures. Mark was in medical school and I was in law school. So, the only real time we had together was dinner. Mark was always up for trying something new, which made cooking with him fun. Years later he confessed that it was a good thing he didn't know I could cook. Because otherwise he wouldn't have had the nerve to ask me out that night, but I am glad he took the chance.

We have now been married for 18 years and dinner with him is still the highlight of my day. These days I do most of the cooking, but he calls me on his way home. I cook while we talk about the day. Our two daughters like to cook with me as well. So, in a way dinner has become our sort of lasting love story. No matter how crazy the schedule, we never miss dinner, because it's our family's favorite way to be together.

One of the recipes that I have been making since we were dating is my goat cheese chicken. It's a classic and beloved dinner in our house. There is much talk about recipes for "engagement" or "marry me" chicken, but since this has been the one my husband has loved for more than 20 years, I'm calling mine "Still the one" chicken.

- Amy McCauley of Hinsdale is the paper's food columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].