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Kids in the Kitchen

Save-the-Day Poppy, Parmesan, and Sesame Tortilla Chips

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Having a dinner party’s a great way to introduce kids to cooking and hosting—and improvising plans in a pinch.

Save-the-Day Crispy Parmesan and Sesame Tortilla Chips

Prep time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 8 minutes

Total time: 23 minutes

Makes: 48 chips

Try this healthy, tasty snack!

Save-the-Day Crispy Parmesan and Sesame Tortilla Chips

Prep time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 8 minutes

Total time: 23 minutes

Makes: 48 chips

I recently hosted a dinner party for which my children helped with the preparations. We made chicken parm, salad, and for an appetizer, some delicious poppy, parmesan and sesame tortilla chips to serve with salsa. I also made my famous smoked salmon and cream-cheese rolls, which everyone loves. But on the big day, a soccer game for one of the kids ran later than expected, and by the time we got home, guests were due to arrive.

No problem, I reasoned. I quickly pulled my smoked salmon and cream-cheese rolls, tortilla chips, and salsa from the fridge and raced into the living room. Placing these on the coffee table, I tore back to the kitchen to get plates and napkins.

Just then, the doorbell rang. As I was about to race to the front door, I noticed a couple of half-eaten salmon and cream-cheese rolls on the floor between the kitchen and living room. One look at our Cairn terrier, Lucy, confirmed my worst fears. Her cream-cheese-smeared mouth and her guilty expression said it all. I grabbed what was left of the salmon and cream-cheese rolls, tossed them into the trash can, and ran to open the door to greet our first guests.

Thankfully, the tortilla chips the kids and I had made earlier saved the night. The guests loved them with salsa, and kids love them any day for an after-school snack or to go with a sandwich at lunch. I love them because they’re easy, delicious, and, they helped me get out of a crunch!

What You’ll Need
  • 6 (6-inch) ready-made flour tortillas
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 4 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika (sweet, not smoked!)
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
What to Do
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Invite your helper to line a large (11” x 15” ) baking sheet with parchment paper and then arrange the tortillas in a single layer on a large, clean cutting board.
    Teachable Moment #1: 4 Fascinating Tortilla Facts

    1. A tortilla is an unleavened flatbread that’s made from corn or wheat flour, and water. Unleavened bread is made without yeast.

    2. The word tortilla is Spanish and comes from the word torta, which means “round cake,” but tortillas were invented by the native peoples of Mexico and Central America. 

    3. Of the two main types of tortilla—corn and wheat flour—corn tortillas appeared first. They were made by the Mayan people as early as 10,000 BCE.

    4. Most tortilla chips are triangular because they’re cut from a round, flat cake. To imagine how a round form yields triangles, think of pizza!

  2.  Let your child unwrap the half stick of butter and, if she is comfortable using a small plastic knife, she can cut it in half (or complete this step yourself).
  3. Have your assistant place the butter into a small glass bowl. Put the bowl into the microwave, cover it with a glass plate, and heat for 1 minute or until the butter is melted. Remove the bowl from the microwave, uncover it, stir butter, and set it aside for a couple of minutes, until just warm.
  4. Let your child measure into a small bowl the Parmesan cheese, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, salt, and pepper. She can stir this with a spoon to make sure all the ingredients are well combined.
  5. Give your child a pastry brush and let her brush some of the cooled butter onto each tortilla. Show her how to spread it evenly. She can taste some of the cheese-seed mixture and evenly sprinkle this on the tortillas. Show her how to press this cheese-seed mixture into each tortilla, using her fingers.
    Teachable Moment #2: 3 Newsy Nacho Bites
    • Nachos were first served in restaurants in the 20th century; the thrifty inventor made the chips out of leftover tortilla dough—very clever!
    • The very first nacho paired chips with cheddar cheese and sliced jalapeno peppers.
    • Nachos are tortilla chips served with melted cheese and other savory ingredients. They’re great as a main dish for lunch or dinner—or just for a snack.
  6. With a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, carefully slice each tortilla in half and then cut each half into quarters. Invite your helper to arrange the tortilla triangles on the baking sheet. It’s fine if they are close together, but they should be in a single layer.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the chips for 7 or 8 minutes—until chips are crisp and golden. Cool chips on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Then use a spatula to transfer them to a platter to finish cooling. Chips will keep for up to three days when stored in an airtight container.