Date Night In and Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos

Dear Joey,

Date nights for us are a little different now than they were before we were married. In those days, we could act on impulse and just go, destination to be determined.

Remember that night we found ourselves at that cute little corner diner in Palo Alto at 11:00 at night? It felt just a little bit naughty, being out that late on a work night, but what did we care? Sleeping didn’t seem so important as we cradled those thick ceramic mugs of coffee and talked about how out of place we felt surrounded by all those Stanford undergrads.

These days, date nights are far more predictable. Once the kids are in bed, I take care of dinner–easy, because it’s late. Last night: Chicken Nachos, as per usual. You’re in charge of drinks, sometimes tossing me a can of sparkling water and other times serving icy cold margaritas in tall glasses rimmed with salted. We scroll through Netflix together, trying to break out of the norm and choose something new, but more often than not we end up back on The Office, like last night. We’re flirting with boring, I suppose.

But how much fun was it watching Jim and Pam finally find their way to each other, me unsuccessful at stifling my ugly cry, and you laughing at the sight, like you always do? I giggled with you, of course, feeling silly for being so sentimental, but I couldn’t help it. I relate to Pam, how it took her so very long to recognize the depth of her feelings for Jim. Watching her grow and change and take risks until finally the two of them collide? It moves me.

Admit it: you got a little nostalgic too. When Pam’s face lights up after Jim says, “Then it’s a date” you flashed me a silly grin and talked about the way it felt to hear me finally say yes to you after all that time. You put your feelings for me behind you too, just like Jim, and when my heart toward you turned tender, you realized your own heart never changed a bit. You loved me before I loved you.

Can you blame me for the ugly cry?

So what if we don’t go out on midnight drives to find quirky little spots to sit together and talk about stuff? I know it’s not nearly as adventurous, but I think dates at home with you are just as awesome in their own way.



Sheet Pan Chicken NachosDate Night and Spicy Chicken Nachos

I can only loosely call this a recipe because there are no real measurements and the ingredients list is flexible. It is the equipment and method that matter here: a sheet pan, broiler, tortilla chips and an endless variety of ways to paint the canvas, so to speak. Shredded chicken with green onions, lime wedges, and Green Dragon hot sauce is our own favorite, but we like seasoned ground beef with tomatoes, too. 


Tortilla Chips, enough to cover the sheet pan
2 cups or so of shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
1-2 cups chicken, already cooked and shredded
3 green onions, sliced
Several dollops of sour cream
Juice from half a lime, or more to taste
Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce — the more the better, of course


First, click your broiler on to high. This will help the oven heat up and melt the cheese quicker than if the pan goes under a just-turned-on-broiler.

Next, cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil. (This is to ensure a quick clean up. If you like scrubbing charred cheese off of your sheet pans, then skip this step.) Cover it with a good coating of non-stick spray so the nachos don’t fuse with the foil.

Spread tortilla chips over the pan, scooting them together to obscure all the foil. Then, cover with as much cheese as you like. We tend to like about 2 cups. Next, sprinkle on the chicken.

Pop the pan into the broiler and close the oven door–but don’t go away. Keep a close eye on it because it goes fast. Once the cheese is melted and bubbly, pull the pan out.

Scatter the onions on top of the melted cheese, squeeze the lime, and dollop the sour cream. The finishing touch is the hot sauce.

Date night done.


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