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Loving Leftovers: How to Use Up Stale Tortilla Chips

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

tortilla chips

tortilla chips

If like me you grew up in the 1950s (or before), you no doubt were encouraged to eat your vegetables and clean your plate with the words, "Remember the starving ---------------" (fill in the blank). I didn't know where they lived, or why they were always hungry, and I didn't understand how my clean plate would help them to feel any less under-nourished.

But that mantra has stuck with me, even decades later. I abhor waste and find every possible way to use the bits and orts, the dibs of this and dabs of that. In months past we've looked at ways of using leftovers such as mashed potatoes, stale bread, meatloaf, ham, pasta, and rice.

Our final installment in this series is looking at ways of using up stale (and/or broken) tortilla chips.

Albondigas Soup

Albondigas Soup

Albondigas Soup

Albondigas soup originated as an Arab dish imported to Spain during the Muslim rule of the Iberian Peninsula. The name is derived from the Arabic word al (the) bunduq (small round object) because of the meatballs' small, round shape. The soup eventually ended up in Mexico when the conquistadors were traveling about doing their conquistador thing.

Typically, meatballs are made of ground meat, seasonings, an egg, and a filler such as cracker meal or breadcrumbs. In this recipe finely crushed tortilla chips step in. The chips lighten the structure of these meatballs and also contribute sweet-salty corn flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano (flakes, not powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 cup white rice, uncooked
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the ground turkey, garlic, crushed tortilla chips, egg, and minced cilantro. Form into 1-inch meatballs.
  3. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake about 20 minutes or until the meat begins to brown and firm up.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large stockpot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes, broth, and seasonings to the pot and bring to a simmer.
  7. Add the rice; cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
  8. Add the meatballs. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Chicken Taco Casserole

Chicken Taco Casserole

Chicken Taco Casserole

The food blog SixSistersStuff (yes, they really are sisters and there are six of them) features family favorites—home-cooked meals that are economical and quick enough for busy families. They also share home decorating and crafts projects.

From start to finish this chicken taco casserole takes only 45 minutes (30 of those are baking in the oven) and feeds 8-10.

Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles is a terrific brunch dish, full of color, texture, and flavor. Simply bring salsa, black beans, and corn to a simmer in a large saute pan. Fold in tortilla chips, make a few divots in the mix, and break a large fresh egg in each divot. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated oven and revel in the praise and adulation.

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Read More From Delishably

FitFoodieFinds presents the perfect easy baked chilaquiles with avocado crema.

Chili Mac

Chili Mac

Chili Mac

This recipe was born out of a lack of money, time, and patience (funds were short, the clock was ticking, and the kids were in the midst of a meltdown.) They loved it then, and 30+ years later this is still the meal that my family requests at least twice a month.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry macaroni, (my kids loved the kind shaped like wagon wheels, but any kind will do)
  • Two (15-ounce) cans chili, (use whichever type is your favorite)
  • 1 cup of salsa
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 cups crushed tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain well and place in a large mixing bowl. Gently stir in the chili, salsa, 1 cup of the cheese, and the crushed tortilla chips.
  3. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread macaroni/chili mixture in dish; top with remaining 1 cup cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered about 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.

NOTE: You can omit the salsa if you prefer a less spicy meal. This is also a great place to "hide" additional vegetables—corn, cooked carrots, or diced zucchini, or tomatoes.

Peanut Butter Tortilla Chip No Bake Cookies

Peanut Butter Tortilla Chip No Bake Cookies

Peanut Butter Tortilla Chip No Bake Cookies

According to the Food Timeline, no-bake cookies began during the Great Depression. When flour, eggs, and milk were in short supply, the family sweet tooth could be satisfied by combining oats or cornflakes with a sweet-sticky binder. If you enjoy sweet-salty tastes, and if you fondly remember peanut butter cornflake no-bake cookies, you'll love these confections made with tortilla chips.

I found this recipe for peanut butter tortilla chip no-bake cookies (and mouthwatering photos) on TheShabbyCreekCottage blog.

Tex-Mex Migas

Tex-Mex Migas

Tex-Mex Migas

The people at Serious Eats can always be relied on for well-researched, beautifully photographed, and exhaustively written (and usually humorous) recipes. Their in-depth reporting on how to achieve the perfect Tex-Mex migas is no exception. They opt for making their own tortilla chips but take my word for it, you can use leftover bagged tortilla chips and still achieve a very admirable migas.

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Strips

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Strips

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Strips

Does your family love chicken "fingers?" You can actually make your own using this healthy recipe. Chicken tenders are breaded and baked, not fried. The spicy-smokey flavors of chili, cumin, and smoked paprika go well with a dipping sauce of Greek yogurt or cool, creamy guacamole.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • 2 cups crushed tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed 15x10-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together flour and spices; whisk egg until whites and yolks are well-blended.
  3. Dredge chicken tenders with flour; shake off excess, then dip in beaten eggs. Finally, cover with crushed tortilla chips, pressing on the coating to make it adhere to the chicken.
  4. Arrange the coated chicken pieces on the lined baking sheet. Make sure that that's some space between each piece—don't crowd them together.
  5. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes; carefully turn pieces over and return to oven. Continue to bake until chicken is done and the coating is crispy, about 10 minutes more.

© 2019 Linda Lum

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