Tag Archives: Student Recipes

Homemade Chicken Enchiladas with a Homemade Spicy Tomato Sauce

Enchiladas are a favourite of many people with a tasty meat filling in a tortilla wrap covered with a flavoursome tomato sauce and topped with melted cheese. My version is filled with sliced chicken breast mixed with spicy pickled jalapenos.

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The chicken breast is panfried in cumin oil. I simply place cold oil into my frying pan and season the oil with salt and add the cumin seeds. As the pan heats up, the cumin seeds start to release their aroma and as the chicken cooks in the pan, the seeds release flavour and the chicken absorbs this flavour. Cumin itself, for me, is a very Mexican spice, with its background warmth and toastiness which adds so much depth to a lot of Mexican food.

I think making the tomato sauce from scratch makes a huge difference to this dish. The spices and sweating down the onions and peppers add a lot of flavour and liven up the enchiladas. The sauce is also fantastic with pasta so making extra sauce is always a good idea so you can have a quick meal when you get home from a long day.

The dish I used was a ceramic baking dish from Poundland and I found the mini tortilla wraps from Tesco. You can use any baking dish you have in your cupboard, just make sure that your wraps fit inside it otherwise you might have a bit of trouble squeezing it into your dish.


For the chicken:

1 tsp cumin seeds

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

2 chicken breasts

For the spicy tomato sauce:

1 red pepper, finely diced

1 onion, finely sliced into half moons

1 tomato, diced

1 tbsp tomato puree

½ tsp coriander seeds

¼ tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper

50g curly kale, finely chopped, stalky bits removed

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp cornflour

For the enchiladas:

30g pickled red jalapenos, finely chopped

6 mini wheat tortilla wraps or 4 normal wheat tortilla wraps

50g cheese of your choice, grated; I used Double Gloucester


Place the cumin seeds and salt into a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Heat up the pan until the oil is hot and the seeds begin to colour and release their aroma. Panfry the chicken breasts in the cumin oil to brown on each side. The chicken will let you know when it needs to be turned over because it won’t stick to the pan.

Once browned, place onto a baking tray and bake the chicken breasts in an oven preheated to 200˚C. Bake the chicken breasts for around 20 – 25 minutes, depending on how thick they are, until they are cooked all the way through and no pinkness remains; if you have a food thermometer, it must exceed 74˚C.

For the spicy tomato sauce, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. Add in the diced peppers and sliced onions and cook them for around 7-8 minutes until they have softened and the onions are translucent. Add in the fresh tomato and the tomato puree and cook the puree out for a minute. Add in all the spices at once and the sugar, some salt and some pepper and stir to combine.

Throw in the kale and the chopped tomatoes. Fill the tin halfway full of water and swill the tin and add to the pan. Stir and bring it to the boil and allow to reduce by about a quarter. Mix the cornflour with some water to form a slurry and add to the sauce, stirring to thicken. Continue to cook until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Leave to cool slightly.

Shred or chop the chicken into small strips and place into a bowl with the chopped jalapenos. Spoon about half of the contents of the pan into the bowl, avoiding too much of the sauce, and mix together.

Divide the chicken mix between your wraps, placing them in a line in the centre of the wrap. Roll up the tortilla, tucking in the wrap so that they form a tight roll. Place them seam-side down in the baking dish. Pour over the remaining sauce over the top and spread over. Sprinkle over your cheese (I didn’t have a grater so just chopped it up finely).

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Bake for around 15 – 20 minutes until the cheese has melted, the sauce is bubbling and any exposed edges of the tortillas have crisped up. Serve on their own as pictured or with sour cream, coriander and a wedge of lime.

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12 Days Bonus: Roast Chicken Dinner for 5 for £5

When you think of student food, you might think beans on toast, instant noodles and cold sausage rolls out of the fridge. In my first semester of university, 2 of those were meals that I ate when I became really desperate and was just way too tired after a long day of lectures to cook from scratch (and that was very often, thank god for the freezer). In fact there was a whole lot of food that I made in that tiny student kitchen, here’s just some of them:

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But perhaps what you wouldn’t expect from a student kitchen is a Roast Chicken Dinner for 5, cooked entirely from scratch. And with it being Christmas in just a few days time, I thought I would share how I did our flat’s very early Christmas dinner (we actually did this back in October!).

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You’ll notice that for the trimmings, frozen and tinned vegetables play a pivotal role. Frozen is much cheaper than their fresh equivalents and often have more nutrients than their fresh equivalents since the nutrients are locked in when they are frozen after being picked at their peak ripeness; this is supposedly when they are also packed with nutrients. As fresh vegetables (and fruit) are picked when they are under-ripe so that they can ripen at home, they don’t fulfil their nutrient potential so frozen is the smarter choice.

To save time, I spatchcocked the chicken, which basically means to remove the spine and then flattening the chicken out so that it cooks faster. It also exposes more of the skin so that it can crisp up beautifully too. I rest the chicken on a bed of chopped vegetables which absorb the flavour of the chicken and cook in its juices, forming the base of a gravy made from scratch! No instant gravy granules in this kitchen, it’s proper homemade gravy!

By no means is this the definitive guide to a roast chicken dinner and by no means is this the method which guarantees success every time. Everyone has their own way of doing their roasts, their potatoes and all the trimmings. I wanted to share what is possible in a student kitchen, cooking for 5 people on a tight budget.

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This chicken dinner cost around £5 to make in total, coming in at just over £1.20 per head, including lots of leftovers, with the chicken being the most expensive ingredient here at £3.09, while everything else cost just pence to buy.


For the roast chicken:

1.6kg medium chicken, spatchcocked

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 small swede, chopped into 1 inch cubes

1 large carrot, chopped into 1cm rings

3 cloves of garlic, halved

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme

Salt and black pepper

For the crispy roast potatoes:

4 large baking potatoes, peeled

2 – 3 tbsp plain flour

75g margarine or butter

75g lard

For the trimmings:

250g frozen Brussel sprouts

1 x 170g packet of sage and onion stuffing mix

15 frozen Yorkshire puddings

1 x 210g tin of sweetcorn

200g frozen peas

1 x 400g tin of sliced carrots

For the gravy:

2 – 3 tbsp plain flour

250ml chicken stock

1 tbsp chicken gravy granules (optional)

To serve:

Mint sauce

Cranberry sauce


Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Spatchcock the chicken by taking a pair of sharp kitchen scissors and cutting along the sides of the spine to remove it. Turn the chicken over and press down on the breastside to flatten it out. Wash your hands and then season the chicken well on both sides with salt and pepper.

Place all the chopped vegetables and garlic cloves into the bottom of a roasting tin large enough to hold the chicken. Season and then rest the spatchcocked chicken on top. Rub the olive oil over the skin and through the vegetables.

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Roast the chicken for around 1 hour and 30 minutes, basting the chicken with the juices in the roasting tin after every 30 minutes, letting the skin turn a wonderful crispy golden brown and the vegetables colour and soften. After the cooking time, leave the chicken to rest either on a plate or a disposable foil tray covered with more foil for around 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile get started on the roast potatoes. Chop the potatoes into 2-inch pieces and boil them in salted water until they are just tender enough to insert a knife in. At this point, take another roasting dish and add in the fat and place it in the oven to get hot. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then give them a good shake so that the edges are fluffy (this gets them really crisp!) and toss over the flour to coat the potatoes; this coating ensures extra crispiness. Tip the potatoes carefully into the hot fat and shake them around to coat the potatoes evenly. The potatoes will take around 45 to 50 minutes to roast, moving them around every 10 – 15 minutes or so, making sure they aren’t stuck to the tin.

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In the meantime, you can prepare the trimmings. The vegetables can simply be reheated in the microwave when you are ready to serve. For the sprouts, I cook them in salted boiling water with 1 tablespoon of mint sauce added to the cooking liquid until they are completely soft before draining. For the stuffing, follow the instructions on the packet and make them into stuffing balls which should take around 25 – 30 minutes to cook. The tinned vegetables can be done right at the last minute while the chicken rests, as can the Yorkshire puddings.

Once the chicken has cooked through and is resting in foil, remove as many of the roasted vegetables as you can, and place them into the bowl which will have the gravy. Place the roasting tin over a medium heat and whisk the flour into the cooking liquid. Cook the flour out for 1 minute, also scraping off all the bits in the tin which will add lots of flavour.

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Gradually whisk in the chicken stock, adding more only once the previous addition is incorporated, until you have a smooth gravy. Add in the juices which have collected on the plate from the resting chicken and then season the gravy to taste, adding in gravy granules if it needs to be meatier or thicker. Add the vegetables back in and transfer the gravy to a saucepan to stay warm while you finish off the trimmings and carve the chicken up.

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And since this is a 12 Days of Christmas bonus post, we couldn’t end this post without throwing back to the original 12 Days recipes! Here are all 12 of the posts below and if you haven’t already, then they are certainly worth checking out!!

Day 1: Dairy Milk Caramel Cupcakes

Day 2: Melted Snowman Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 3: Lidl’s Favorina Spiced Biscuit Spread Review

Day 4: White Chocolate and Cranberry Crunch Biscuits

Day 5: Red Velvet Hazelnut Biscotti

Day 6: Melted Snowman Chocolate Cupcakes

Day 7: Essential Cuisine Turkey Gravy Review

Day 8: Gingerbread Hazelnut Latte Biscotti

Day 9: Christmas Present Cake

Day 10: Mini Irish Cream Cheesecakes 

Day 11: Chocolate Slabs and Chocolate Bark

Day 12: White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn

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Making a White Sauce for Smoked Bacon and Broccoli Pasta

If there is one recipe that you have to know, it’s how to make a white sauce. The humble white sauce itself is incredibly versatile; whether you use it as a binding agent for something like fishcakes, a sauce base for pasta and pies or even as a topping for open sandwiches and gravies, you can see just how essential it is to your cooking.

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The standard recipe calls for an equal quantity of fat, which is melted, and flour which is cooked out over the heat to remove that raw floury taste to create a roux. Cold milk is added in multiple additions so that as the sauce gradually becomes looser and the roux absorbs the milk, it becomes a sliky smooth sauce that is lump free. As the sauce begins to take shape, you can add more milk at a time. The traditional seasoning is nutmeg which really works in the white sauce. You might read some recipes that say to whisk the sauce constantly but I find that you can leave the hob for a few seconds without worrying about burning sauces.

And what’s more, you don’t have to stick to just milk. I always add some cream cheese to mine which adds silkiness and richness but you can also add some double cream to your white sauce or if you want a veloute, which is another one of the “mother sauces” of classical cookery, you can add stock instead, whether that’s fish, chicken or vegetable.

It’s perhaps not entirely classic to use the same pan that you cook bacon in to make the béchamel (the French for white sauce, it just sounds better) however I think it adds a lot of extra flavour and colour to the classic white sauce and it just saves on the extra washing up!

I’m using my white sauce in my Smoked Bacon and Broccoli Pasta which is a fantastically quick meal to make when you are looking for something warming and comforting. I can make it in 20 minutes from start to finish and this includes cooking the bacon, pasta, broccoli and the white sauce.

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This recipe is enough for 2 servings so make more and keep it in the fridge for lunch the next day or a quick microwave dinner when you get home and you want something quick and easy.


140g dried pasta, such as penne or fusilli

2 rashers of smoked bacon

¼ a head of broccoli, florets cut off and cut into 1 inch pieces

20g margarine

30g plain flour

120 – 200ml whole milk

30g mature cheddar, chopped into cubes

30g cream cheese (or crème fraiche)

¼ tsp ground nutmeg, to season

White pepper, to season


In a frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil and fry the bacon until it is cooked through and browned well. Remove from the pan and drain the excess oil on kitchen paper. Then chop the bacon into strips. Do not clean the frying pan.

Fill a saucepan half full with boiling water and season well with salt. Add the dried pasta and cook according to packet instructions. When there are 6 minutes left of cooking, add in the broccoli florets and continue to cook.

Add in the margarine to the frying pan and melt. Once melted, add the plain flour and whisk until it forms a thick brown paste – this is the roux. Over the heat, add the milk in slowly, whisking between each addition until the milk has been incorporated and to prevent lumps forming. Continue to add enough milk until it forms a sauce which has a coating consistency and is thick; imagine pouring it over a chicken breast and it doesn’t run off.

At this stage, remove 50ml of the cooking water from the pasta pan and add it into the sauce along with the cheddar and cream cheese. Whisk until the cheese has melted and the sauce becomes silky. Add the nutmeg and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Once the pasta is cooked – some like it al dente, I like it to be quite soft so I always cook mine a bit longer than I should! – drain it with the broccoli and add it all at once to the white sauce along with the bacon pieces. Stir to coat everything in the sauce and taste again for seasoning. Serve with garlic bread or it is just as good on its own.

Meatless Monday: Aubergine and Potato Curry

Meatless Monday is a worldwide campaign aimed at improving the health of people and the planet by removing meat from our diet for 1 day a week. Founded in 2003, Meatless Monday has gained immense popularity and whilst I haven’t actively done this myself, as a student, I do find that meat is expensive and also a bit of a pain to cook sometimes. With that, I came up with this Aubergine and Potato Curry.

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I cooked this curry in a large batch so I could have some in the freezer on hand to defrost at any time. You can change this curry around to suit your tastes by using hot or mild curry powder or omitting the dried chilli flakes if you don’t like the heat. You could also add cauliflower, spinach or chickpeas if you want to; frozen spinach is brilliant in curries I find as it thickens it up nicely too.

I used tinned potatoes for my curry, it’s cheaper and much easier than cooking potatoes from scratch at just 15p for a tin that was just right for the amount of curry I was cooking. Frozen or tinned vegetables are essential items in my kitchen, it eliminates the need to prepare them and they can be more nutritious than their fresh equivalents as the nutrients are locked when they are flash frozen.


1 onion, chopped into 1 inch squares

1 pepper, chopped into 1 inch squares

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 carrot, cut into 0.5cm half moons

1 medium aubergine, cut into 1 inch squares

1 x 560g tin of new potatoes

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

¼ tsp hot chilli powder

2 tsp garlic granules

4 tsp medium curry powder

2 tbsp garam masala

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

50g frozen peas


Place the onion and pepper into a saucepan over a medium heat with half of the oil and sweat the onion until it has turned slightly translucent and has softened slightly. Add in the carrot and continue to cook until the carrot softens slightly and then season.

In a separate pan or wok, fry off the aubergine in the remaining oil until the aubergine has browned on both sides. Season with salt and pepper and add the aubergine into the rest of the vegetables. Add in the tinned potatoes and add around 100ml of water and cover the pan with a lid and let the vegetables cook for 10 minutes.

Place all of the spices into the pan you cooked the aubergine in and toast the spices. You should start to smell the spices’ aroma as they toast. Once toasted, add in the tomato puree and mix the spices into the puree and let the puree “brown” for 2-3 minutes; by this I mean heat the puree through so that you intensify the tomato flavour.

Meanwhile add the chopped tomatoes with a teaspoon of sugar to the vegetable pan and swill out the tin of tomatoes with 50ml of water. Add in the browned tomato puree and give everything a stir to combine. Leave the curry to bubble on a medium high heat for around 10 minutes to finish cooking the vegetables and allow the flavours to amalgamate.

Adjust the seasoning and the spice to your liking and then add the frozen peas and leave the curry to boil for a further 10 – 15 minutes to thicken up. If it is still a bit too wet, you can remove some of the liquid and create a slurry with some cornflour, adding it back to the pan to thicken it.

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When the curry sauce is to the desired consistency, serve the curry with some freshly cooked basmati rice or some naan bread; I bought some garlic and coriander naans which were perfect for mopping up the curry sauce. You can also finish it with a sprinkle of coriander, serve it with a cucumber raita or with some crispy poppadoms!

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Gochujang Fried Rice

The Korean dish, bibimbap, which literally translates as mixed rice, was the inspiration for this recipe, my Gochujang Fried Rice. With pieces of fried bacon, scrambled egg, spring onions, cucumber, sweetcorn and gochujang paste, which is Korean fermented chilli paste, this fried rice dish is ready in less than 30 minutes and is so simple to cook and prepare!

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I’m yet to fully master cooking rice on an electric hob and that’s something I definitely need to work on, however I am beginning to master the art of cooking quickly which is what I’ll need after a tiring day of lectures and workshops!

And if you’ve never tried gochujang, it’s a spicy almost garlicky chilli paste which lends lots of flavour to anything, whether that’s meat, vegetables or my fried rice. The flavour of gochujang is complex and I’ve never tasted anything like it however I do know that it tastes delicious! If you don’t have an Asian supermarket where you can buy it, you can find gochujang in most normal supermarkets these days.

If you’re worried about not using the whole tub, here are some of my other gochujang recipes you can try!

Korean Pork Belly with Japchae Noodles

Romaine Lettuce Kimchi


75g long grain rice

2 rashers of bacon

1 egg

1 spring onion, chopped into discs

¼ of a cucumber, cut into 2 inch matchsticks

2 tbsp gochujang paste

A handful of tinned sweetcorn


Wash the rice until the water runs clear and then place into a saucepan with enough water such that when your middle finger touches the surface of the rice, it comes up to the first ridge. Place the pan on a high heat and bring to the boil.

Once the water has boiled, turn the heat down as small as possible and leave on the heat with a lid on for a further 15 minutes or so. The rice is done when there are dimples in the surface and fluff it up with a fork only.

In a dry wok, fry the bacon rashers until they are cooked through. Any burnt pieces will add to the flavour so don’t wash the wok in between. Place it onto a chopping board and chop it into small pieces.

Add the egg into the wok and scramble it and pour it out onto the chopping board.

Into the wok, fry the spring onions with the cucumber until slightly softened. Add in the gochujang paste, the sweetcorn and the cooked bacon and egg and stir fry with a wooden spatula until everything is covered with gochujang.

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Add the warm rice in all at once and continue to toss around until the rice has turned a golden colour. Transfer to a bowl, finish with a few more slivers of spring onion and eat immediately.

Chickpea Chilli Con Carne

There’s something comforting about coming home and knowing that you’ve got a tub of something in the freezer that you can just stick in the microwave and you can eat straight away. And my Chickpea Chilli con Carne is just that!

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Cooking large batches and storing it away is a great way to save money and prevent food waste. As a student, you have to find innovative ways to use up things in your vegetable box in the fridge and cans from the cupboard; chickpeas and carrots in a chilli might be somewhat unconventional but it works!

I counted the cost for the 1 meal and the 2 tubs that I made and it originally came to £1.06 per tub. But the tubs each gave me 2 meals and so realistically, the price of this chilli per portion is £0.64. I served this chilli in 2 ways, firstly with rice and a good dollop of sour cream, bringing the price up to £0.79 per person, and secondly with homemade tortilla chips and lettuce leaves (the recipe for the tortilla chips you can find by clicking here!) which brought the price up to £0.76 per person.

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With nutritional fibre and protein in the chickpeas and plenty of vegetables, this is a great way to boost your vegetable intake. I use both dried chilli flakes and chilli powder to provide heat in the chilli. And using what I had in the cupboard, I used a 500g jar of Bolognese to create the sauce to which I added plenty of spices to take away that pasta sauce flavour. And I didn’t have any onions at home so I just used the vegetables I had in the fridge but feel free to saute or sweat the onions to begin with.


1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 carrot, finely diced

1 green pepper, diced

500g beef mince

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tsp chilli powder (you can add more to suit your liking!)

100g tinned sweetcorn

1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained

1 x 500g jar of Bolognese sauce

Cornflour, to thicken

1 large tomato

Salt and pepper


In a large saucepan or wok, pour in the oil over a medium heat and cook the carrots and pepper until softened. Add in the beef mince all at once and start to break it up into pieces, whilst allowing it to brown slightly too. Stir occasionally and season.

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Add in all of the spices at this stage along with all of the sweetcorn and chickpeas and continue to mix and cook until everything is coated in the spices and leave for 5 minutes on a lower heat.

Add in the jar of Bolognese sauce and fill the jar up to halfway with water, swill and pour in the contents into the pan. Remove 4 tablespoons of the liquid and add 2 tablespoons of cornflour and create a slurry (mix the liquid with the cornflour) and add back into the pan and mix it through. This will thicken your sauce.

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Allow the chilli to boil on a high heat with no lid on for around 5 minutes until some of the water evaporates away, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile chop up a tomato into around 1 inch pieces and scatter on the surface of the chilli and allow those to cook and soften.

Give everything a good mix and leave for a further 5 minutes to thicken up. Taste and adjust the heat to your liking, adding in some sour cream if it’s too spicy.

To serve, spoon over the chilli over some rice and serve with sour cream or serve with homemade Paprika Cumin Tortilla Chips to help scoop up the delicious chilli!

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Paprika Cumin Tortilla Chips

So you buy a pack of 8 tortilla wraps for yourself and you get pretty sick of them after having just 2, what do you do with them? You can make your own flavoured tortilla chips with them and you’ll fool your flatmates into thinking you bought them when you know it cost you hardly anything.

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This is a great way to use up your leftover tortilla wraps and is a cheaper and healthier alternative to your shop bought tortilla chips which can often be loaded with salt and fat because these are baked in the oven instead of deep-fried yet still maintain their crispness as long as they are kept in an airtight container.


2 tortilla wraps

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

¼ tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 200˚C

Chop up the tortilla wraps into triangle shapes.

Put them into a large bowl and sprinkle over the spices, salt and oil and toss them with your hands until all of the tortilla chips are covered with the spices and oil.

Arrange them on 2 baking trays in one layer, leaving some space between them.

Bake them for 6 – 8 minutes until they are crisp around the edges.

Serve alongside dips for a party or just to have as a snack on their own.