when October disappeared in a flash

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Just in case the four of you who still check in here from time to time are wondering, we’re doing fine, slowly settling in and adjusting to our new home in NoVa. This has not been the smoothest of transitions for a variety of reasons, but after two months here, I think I’m finally getting to the point where I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel like I’m living someone else’s life.

My new role has kept me extremely busy – and even though I was warned, I had no idea just how busy I was going to be. More days than not, I see the kids for 10-15 minutes in the morning before I head out the door, and then if I see them at all when I get home in the evening, it’s for just a few minutes before their bedtime. As you can imagine, that’s been hard on us all. But our kids are nothing if not resilient, and we’ve been trying to fill our weekends with as much fun and together-time as we can muster.

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As you can also imagine, our dinners have been, of necessity, as simple as possible. Mike has taken on the lion’s share of the cooking, and we’ve been the lucky recipients of a few edible care packages from my mom. But I’ve had a few chances to knock around in our new kitchen, and one recent dinner that elicited a lot of comments on social media was my tried-and-true sheet pan nachos. So for those of you who asked, here’s how I make them.

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These are super easy and endlessly adaptable, and you can even prep most of the components ahead of time. I start by lining my pan with parchment (foil also works but isn’t quite as sturdy), and drizzling on just a tiny bit of olive oil. Then for each pan I’m preparing, I spread 1 can of refried black or pinto beans in the center, leaving maybe a 1.5 inch border around the edge (I’ve found one sheet pan serves 4 adults generously). I put a layer of chips around the edge, then scatter a cup or two of grated cheese all over (cheddar, Jack, pepper jack, mozzarella, or any combo works well). That goes into a preheated 350 degree oven just until the cheese starts to bubble.

While the tray is in the oven, I get the remaining layers together (amounts are per pan): a can (or 1.5 cups cooked from dry) black or pinto beans, drained; another 1-2 cups grated cheese; seasoned ground or shredded beef or shredded or chopped chicken (I cook mine with a mix of cumin and garlic and chili powders or paste, plus a little tomato – like so). Or skip the meat entirely and pile on some zucchini or corn or mushrooms. For the nachos pictured here, I had a container of peperonata to use up, so I put that on too – but plain roasted peppers and onions also work well.

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All of that gets layered on to the beans/cheese, with some additional chips squished in (I sort of stand them on edge to they don’t get too soggy). Then it all goes back into the oven for about 10 minutes to warm through. I finish it under the broiler (did I mention our new oven has a broiler on top? We are SO EXCITED about this), pulling the tray out when the cheese is golden brown.

Then just before serving, add your cold toppings. I like to shred red cabbage and toss it with salt and a little fresh lime juice to scatter over the top, but shredded lettuce works just as well. Sliced or chopped avocado is great, as are diced fresh tomatoes, black olives, pickled or fresh red onions, scallions, pickled or fresh jalapeños, sour cream or Mexican crema or Greek yogurt, and of course your favorite salsa/hot sauce. And I always serve the nachos with extra bowls of chips on the side.

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Oh, and if you happen to have leftovers, the “put an egg on it” rule totally applies. It’s nice to know that some things never change.

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A little shameless spouse-promotion
: while we were in the midst of this major life upheaval, my dearest wrapped up work on his second book! Whiskey: A Spirited Story with 75 Classic and Original Cocktails is set for release in May of next year, and is currently available for pre-order. As if that weren’t enough excitement, that same day the revised and updated paperback edition of Shrubs hits stores, with a foreword by Imbibe executive editor, Paul Clarke. Both books feature lovely cover art by Vancouver photographer, blogger, and woman-about-town Kristy Gardner. Never a dull moment Chez Dietschblossom!