- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Picture a Sunday afternoon with a bunch of folks sitting around watching a football game — any football game, although the Super Bowl, for some reason, comes to mind.

You could run to the store to buy a few bags of chips and some of those nasty but hard-to-resist cans of bean dip. However, here’s another idea: You could make some homemade chips out of real tortillas and some pure bean dip out of real beans. You could do this ahead of time or during the ads.

I don’t know why, but when you make your own tortilla chips and bean dip, they taste so much better than when you buy them. And the store-bought versions are usually pretty good to begin with. It’s fun to cut the tortillas into shapes with scissors or to just tear them into haphazard pieces.

You can take your time doing this and really enjoy it. In addition to the craft-project aspect, when you make your own chips, you can control the oil and salt, moving them up a notch or three on the nutrition scale.

You could also enlist the help of children, ages about 8 and up, in preparing these child-friendly foods. Homemade tortilla chips and bean dip will not take much longer or require much more work than running to the store, braving traffic (both on the road and in supermarket aisles) and spending too much money on overpackaged, overspun and possibly trans-fat-filled snacks. The process can be so much more fun and delicious.

Who says the rituals are over on Jan. 1? Homemade chips and dip can become a new Super Bowl tradition in your family, and this touch of activity and soul can greatly brighten your entire weekend.

Give it a try — and be prepared to make additional batches. They will disappear fast.

Homemade baked tortilla chips

Vegetable oil cooking spray

12 corn tortillas (commercial thin ones, not the thicker, more authentic Mexican variety)

Salt in a shaker

Spray a baking tray with vegetable oil spray. Make 6 piles of 2 tortillas each. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut each pile into wedges or other shapes. (You can also just tear the tortillas into bite-sized pieces.) Spread all tortilla pieces (or as many as will fit) on the tray. It’s OK for them to crowd somewhat, but try to keep them in a single layer.

Lightly spray tortilla pieces all over with oil spray, holding the can about a foot away. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Put tray in center of a preheated 375-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tortillas are crisped to your liking.

Cool on tray for about 5 minutes, then serve. If you like, you can sprinkle with additional salt. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Hot bean dip

1 15-ounce can black beans or pinto beans

Juice of 1 lime

½ teaspoon minced garlic

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup tomato juice

Hot red pepper flakes or cayenne

Minced cilantro and red bell pepper for the top, optional

Rinse beans and drain thoroughly. Transfer to a food processor. Add lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt and tomato juice, and process until fairly uniform. (You can leave it somewhat textured or keep going until it’s smooth. Your call.)

Add red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with minced cilantro and/or red bell pepper. Cover the bowl tightly and chill. Serve cold with chips. Makes about 2 cups — 4 to 6 servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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