Family Night

When asked how they are doing, so many people are quick to answer, "Busy." And that's with reason. We are busy. Full-time jobs, packed school and after school schedules, PTOs, potlucks, deadlines, and more fill our days, weeks, and months. It gets to the point where penciling in a break is required. And that's exactly what I'm suggesting this time around. Find a night in your schedules - ideally once a week, but at least once a month - and set aside time for Family Night. Plan a meal that's fun and can have everyone helping in the kitchen. Might I suggest some chicken nachos:

Because this dish mostly consists of layering delicious ingredients, everyone can have a hand in putting it together. Adults and older kids can handle cooking chicken and cutting items that need cutting and even a toddler can toss corn on a baking sheet! Everyone takes part and putting together dinner is part of the family time. What's more, this recipe - like so many here - can be tweaked and changed to suit what you have on hand and what your family loves. Is your garden giving you lots of peppers? Put 'em on! Do you have some leftover pulled pork that you'd like to use? Save the chicken for another night! You get the idea. Even the items you choose to serve with your nachos are up to you. Like it spicy? Add some diced hot peppers or hot pepper sauce at the table. Opt for diced avocado instead of guacamole. Make it yours.

Because you're baking your nachos on a baking mat, you can enjoy your dinner and have a messy mat to clean instead of a baking sheet caked with melted cheese. Instead of spending your time scrubbing dishes, you can pull out a board game, strap on your bike helmets, or heat to the local park to toss around a baseball. Cooking together teaches kids valuable skills and gives families a chance to reconnect in an often too-busy world, but making sure your meal doesn't invade the entire night means those opportunities don't end at the dinner table. Get out there and enjoy your loved ones!

Easy Chicken Nachos

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1 pound)
  • 1 tsp. southwestern, taco, or other spicy seasoning of your choice
  • Cooking spray
  • 4-6 cups thick tortilla chips (enough for a generous layer on the baking sheet)
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels, defrosted
  • 1/2 c. black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1/4 c. sliced black olives
  • 3-4 oz. grated cheese (choose your favorite variety or use a blend)
  • 1/4 c. sliced green onions
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced radishes
  • Salsa, sour cream, and guacamole - for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400° F, and cover a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat.

If desired, pound the chicken breast to an even 3/4-inch thickness. (This step is not necessary, but will allow you to cook your chicken more quickly and evenly). Rub your seasoning of choice thoroughly into the chicken breast and cook in a nonstick skillet coated in cooking spray over medium-high heat until it is well-browned on the outside and cooked through on the inside. Remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for a few minutes.

While the chicken is resting, arrange a generous layer of tortilla chips on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chips with corn, black beans, diced tomato, and black olives.

Slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces. If desired, toss the pieces back into the skillet you cooked the chicken in and toss them gently to absorb additional seasoning before arranging them on the baking sheet with the other items. Sprinkle the top of the baking sheet with the grated cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the green onions and radishes. If desired, serve the nachos with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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