Like many young 20something couples, my husband and I spent a good amount of our time, energy, and income on accumulating stuff. We needed the stylish duvet from Pottery Barn, the flatware set from Crate and Barrel, and the clothes from JCrew.
When we married, we registered for the long list of items the registry guide told us we needed, fully believing that we would find frequent use for that fondue set and the espresso maker with the milk foaming wand. We gathered our items and checked them off the list of things we were "supposed" to have as well-equipped adults. We were consumers to the utmost degree.
But, recently, there’s been a major shift in how we handle our "stuff management." I don’t know if it’s come with parenthood or age or just a general change of perspective, but we now purge, rather than collect. A few months ago, the microwave broke. I liked the counter space better than the microwave, so we didn’t replace it, and we’ve been totally fine since.
The Blu-ray player broke a few months before that. We dropped it off at the place for recycled electronics and left the shelf empty. This past summer, we sold a good portion of the books and DVDs we’d accumulated over the years and have been thankful for the reduced clutter. Neglected toys and outgrown clothing, we regularly donate to our local rescue mission.
And what we "need" has changed, too. Gone are our days of overpriced, trendy bedding and clothing. We buy mostly everything from Target now and when our Dyson vacuum, which served us well for many years, finally bit the dust, we replaced it with a bargain-priced Bissell. And you know what? It’s done the job just fine. Our priorities have shifted. We just don’t want the same things we used to think we needed; things which take up too much space in our lives and leave wanting holes in our budget.
A week ago, we made what was probably the biggest cut of all. We pulled the plug on the cable. Now, for people who are as serious about our TV-watching as we are, this is a humungous deal. We’d been toying with the idea for awhile. While we love our cable, seeing that bill every month was torturing us. We’d just rather have that money in our pockets. Liam cried when we told him what we were about to do. That alone may have signified that it was the right decision to make.
We kept our Netflix and through the convenience of modern technology, we are able to hook our computer up to the TV to get our weekly fix of "Downton Abbey" and our favorite network shows. I’ve felt no emptiness in my life without cable. In fact, life feels beautifully simpler now.
When I told my mom I was making this loaded nacho chicken for dinner, she giggled at me, "The Gourmand Mom," breading chicken breasts in crushed tortilla chips. But, hey, no one ever said that good food needed to be complicated or utilize fancy ingredients. Simplicity can be positively blissful. The tortilla chips in this dish provide a fun variation on a basic breaded chicken breast. The tortilla coated chicken breasts are then topped with warm, delicious chile con queso, and a generous dose of nacho toppings for a vibrant dish the entire family will enjoy.
Focus on Technique – Basic Breading Procedure
A basic breading technique can be used to coat veggies, meats, or seafood with a crispy, flavorful exterior. It is often used to prepare foods for pan-frying, but works swimmingly for baking as well. Foods can be breaded with basic seasoned bread crumbs, Panko bread crumbs, or any variety of crushed crackers or even chips! Properly breading foods is a three step process.
First, dredge the food in a bit of flour. Second, dip the item in a simple bath of eggs whisked together with a touch of milk. Third, press the food into your dry breading, until thoroughly coated. The flour adheres easily to the food. The egg adheres to the flour. The breading adheres to the egg. To prevent your fingers from getting breaded in the process, it’s a wise idea to handle the wet ingredients with one hand, while using the other hand for the dry ingredients. Once breaded, your food can be pan-fried in a bit of oil until golden brown and cooked through or oven baked for a lighter result.
Loaded nacho chicken
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups corn tortilla chips, finely crushed
3/4 cup chile con queso dip (store-bought or homemade)
Black olives, sliced
Black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 green onions, sliced
1 tomato, diced
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Season the chicken breasts with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. To set up your breading station, spread the flour onto a plate. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a small baking dish or bowl. Spread the crushed tortilla chips onto a plate. Dredge each chicken breast in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture. Finally, press the chicken into the tortilla chips until well coated. Place the coated chicken breasts in a baking dish. Cook for 25-35 minutes, until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F, as measured with an instant-read meat thermometer.
To serve, top the cooked chicken with a generous helping of warm chile con queso and a sprinkle of black beans, black olives, tomatoes, green onions, or your other favorite nacho toppings.