Tiny Tacos

There is a new favourite in our household, and it goes by the name of Tiny Tacos. It has been long-established that a sure-fire way to market any product to me is to make it smaller. You wouldn’t believe the little knick-knacks I have just because they’re small and adorable. I used to make paper cranes out of Starburst wrappers; then, I realised I could use the scrap from it (cut off to leave the wrapper square) to make even tinier ones. The smallest I got was just under 1cm tall. I’m a bit mental.

I bought these.  I don't need them.  But they're tiny.

I bought these. I don’t need them. They’re tiny.

Regardless, Tiny Tacos are very tasty, and they are reasonably quick to throw together. I’m in the home stretch of essay-grading, but every moment spent away from the red pen feels like it needs to be justified. We’re also nearly a week through the Love Your Greens Challenge, and it has made a truly exciting addition to our diets. While Tiny Tacos aren’t exactly bad for you, they’re not the best healthy food, either, so the green smoothies have made me feel less guilty about putting these things on a plate. If you’re at a loss for how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo today, knock out some easy Tiny Tacos and feel very fake-Mexican, indeed.

Tiny Tacos

I think I could successfully market these things to myself.

I think I could successfully market these things to myself.

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, diced into small cubes
1 teaspoon cumin*
1/2 teaspoon paprika*
1/2 teaspoon black pepper*
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder*
1/2 teaspoon garlic*
a few leaves of fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
1 15oz can refried beans (or make your own. no judgment either way.)
2 cups grated cheddar or blend of cheese, divided
1/2 cup medium salsa
about 10 chopped black olives, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
bag of gluten-free tortilla chips
sour cream
lettuce, chopped
* If you have a taco seasoning mix or packet that you like, go for it instead of the spices listed here. I prefer to make my own spice mixes, but I am well aware that not everyone does.

Hardware:
Chopping board
Medium saucepan
Medium frying pan
Casserole dish
Cheese grater
Wooden spoons
Spatula
Knives
measuring cups and spoons
stove
oven

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Crush enough tortilla chips to cover the bottom of your casserole dish. You don’t want to put too many because they will get soggy; the idea is to form a bit of a crust, not to have a crunchy bottom.

Very helpful Matryoshka

Very helpful Matryoshka

In the saucepan, stir together the refried beans, 1 cup of cheese, and the salsa. Warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent it sticking and burning (as there is very little liquid). When warmed through, stir in the chopped coriander/cilantro and spread across the tortilla chip base in your casserole dish. Smooth with the spatula.

It's not pretty, but it's relatively smooth -- Casserole dish after two layers

It’s not pretty, but it’s relatively smooth — Casserole dish after two layers

After spreading the bean mixture, put the olive oil, cumin, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, and garlic in the pan. Heat the pan over medium heat to infuse a bit of the spices into the oil. Add the diced chicken and completely coat with the oil mixture. Cook until done, at least five minutes depending on the size of your chicken bites. Add the chicken evenly on top of the beans in the casserole dish.

Top with remaining cheese and chopped olives. Bake for about 10 minutes — everything that needs to be cooked is already cooked. You just want to make sure everything is warm and the cheese is melted.

If you have thick handmade or handmade-style tortilla chips, you can toss the toppings (sour cream and lettuce) right on and eat it like a dip. Our chips were not so sturdy, so I scooped each bite onto a chip with a fork and topped it like I would a taco. After all, they are Tiny Tacos.

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