Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mini Taco Cups or What to do with 1/2 cup of Leftover Taco Filling by Cleo Coyle

For almost ten years now, my husband and I have been full-time professional fiction writers; and, believe me, any New York City household that makes its entire income on building castles in the air had better be pinching pennies on the ground. :) 

My husband, Marc, in our little Queens (NY) kitchen.
Who says tough guys don't do dishes?
 Marc and I don’t have a car. We don't have a dishwasher - at least, not the electric kind.

We schlep our groceries (like any determined Italian nonna) with a hand-push cart. Sure, it's a pain when it rains, but even Michelangelo would covet my husband’s calf muscles.

We bring coupons to the register. We cook at home almost every day; and, of course, when it comes to using leftovers, we’ve got game.

Tacos make quick, easy meals for us, as I’m sure they do for many of you. So...

What do we do with the
leftover filling from these?

We make six of these...

The technique is very basic, which means you can adapt it to any kind of mini quiche. For instance…

Replace the taco filling with crumbled bacon and shredded Swiss and you have a mini quiche Lorraine. Or go vegetarian with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a bit of Gruyere. Try shredded chicken and sharp cheddar; chunks of ham and green pepper with Monterey Jack…

The only limit is your imagination...and the leftovers in your fridge. :)

Cleo Coyle, leftover lover
and author of the long-running
(10 books as of August!)

Coffeehouse Mysteries

Cleo Coyle's
Mini Taco Cups

Makes 6 Mini Taco Cups
or Muffin Pan Quiches


To download a free PDF of this recipe that you can print, save or share, click here. Or use the printer friendly button at the end of this post...

You will need:
1 six-cup muffin pan
6 paper cupcake liners

2 soft flour tortillas, about 8-inches in diameter (e.g. Mission brand “medium taco” size)
2 eggs
1/3 cup low fat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground pepper (I use white pepper)
1/2 cup filling (taco filling or see more veggie and meat filling ideas at the end of this recipe)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or see ideas at end)
Additional garnishes/toppings (salsa, guacamole, sour cream, etc.)

Step 1: Prep oven and tortilla crusts - Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut each tortilla into quarters. Place paper cupcake liners into each of the 6 muffin cups. Tuck each tortilla quarter into each cup.

Step 2: Fill cups - Divide your taco filling (or the meat or veggie filling of your choice) into each of the six muffin cups. On top of each cup, place a bit of shredded cheese.

Step 3: Finish with egg-milk mixture - Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper. Divide this liquid evenly among the muffin cups. (During baking this mixture will rise and inflate like a popover so the liquid should fill only about half of each cup.)

Step 4 - Bake in your preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and garnish with your favorite toppings, such as sour cream, salsa, guacamole.

Alternate filling Ideas:

Meat: Traditional taco fillings (ground meat, chicken, or shredded pork); crumbled bacon; chopped sausage; cubed ham; pepperoni; shredded smoked salmon.

Veggie: Sauteed onions and mushrooms; sauteed spinach and garlic; chopped steamed broccoli; sweet bell peppers and onions sauteed in olive oil

Cheese ideas: Swiss; cheddar; Monterey Jack; Colby; queso blanco; Gruyere; Asiago, mozzarella; provolone (or a combo of 2 or more)

Additional Suggestions:

Mini Quiche Lorraine cup
(crumbled bacon and shredded Swiss)

Mini Spinach Quiche cup
Mini Broccoli and cheddar cup

Mini Cheeseburger Cup

Mini Pepper and Onion Cup

Eat (your leftovers)
with joy!

Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

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bestselling series that I write with
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Click the covers above to learn more
about Cleo's long-running, national bestselling
Coffeehouse Mystery series...


Murder by Mocha

Book #10 of
the Coffeehouse series!

Releasing in hardcover
August 2nd

Includes chocolate recipes!

"...a tasty espresso-dark tale of
multigenerational crime and
punishment lightened by the Blend's
frothy cast of lovable eccentrics."
~ Publishers Weekly

To pre-order from Amazon, click here 

To pre-order from Barnes & Noble click here for the book; for the Nook click here.

Roast Mortem

Includes firehouse recipes!

A Reviewer’s Pick 
"Favorite Book
of the Year"
~ 2010
Coming to paperback
August 2nd

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from Amazon click here.

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from Barnes and Noble,
click here.


  1. I love this recipe! What an ingenious use of taco filling leftovers. Thanks for sharing.

    How funny is this that may word verification is "food"

  2. Yum! Love that you've given me an idea what to do with the different leftovers in my fridge--and so many ideas! We've always got tortillas in the house, too, since my kids love quesadillas. What an amazing idea!

  3. What a clever idea, Cleo! And they're so pretty, too. Unfortunately, with three hungry dogs, I almost never have any leftovers unless it's something they can't eat. Boo hoo! But these are pretty enough to make on purpose! Wouldn't they be fun for a kid's party?

    ~ Krista

  4. I think I'll be making some tacos...and planning for leftovers!

  5. I love this idea, Cleo. And I also love economical recipes with a surprise side. That's how great cuisines work. This will be a hit with all ages in our family of cooks!

  6. Reply to...

    @Dru - You are very welcome! Thank you for dropping by and taking the time to comment. LOL on "food" as your code word. Blogger verification software may be an evolving intelligence. I won't panic until it starts critiquing my blog posts. :)

    Have a great day,
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. That is one of the sexiest husband pics I have ever seen...is there anything sexier than a man doing housework?

    I love the joy in these mini-taco shells! Once again you've proven that life isn't about how much money you have, it's all about how you live it. Live with joy!

  8. Reply to...

    @Elizabeth - Quesadillas are a quick and delicious use for leftovers, too. Another good idea for families with kids home for the summer. Thx!

    @Krista - Great idea - these would be adorable for a kids birthday party. Little savory cups to eat before the sweet birthday cupcakes. Or an adult party. Little tasty morsels to go with those frosted mugs of beer or chilled white wine. (Whoa…that sounds pretty good…is it 5 o’clock. yet?)

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  9. Reply to...

    @Katreader - Sweet! "Fun with leftovers" is our household motto; well, one of them, along with "feed the cats." All kidding aside, we often cook up large portions of our main dishes just to have leftovers to play with for the next few days. Lots of households do this, of course. It's a nice time-saver and it's economical...and speaking of economical, I see MJ mentioned it in her comment...

    @MJ - I'm so glad you like today's post. I know what you mean about "surprise" with a recipe. It's so much fun to see ingredients transformed. Part of the magic of cooking, I think. (I felt that way about your pina colada popsicles!)

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  10. Reply to...

    @Laine of Laineshots – If memory serves, someone published a beefcake calendar with that theme – men doing housework. Yes, nothing sexier. :)

    As for your spot-on sentiment, I couldn’t agree more. This video now lives on my Web site’s home page: Life is Like a Cup of Coffee (click here to see a short YouTube video). To sum it up: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They make the best of everything.”

    Thx for dropping by, Laine! And, to quote you back:

    “Live with joy,” :)

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  11. It was a hot and steamy day here in Michigan and I was loathe to even turn the oven on...but I also didn't want to stand over the hot grill just to have another charred hot dog. In my never-ending quest to shirk my cooking duties I took a few moments to come here...and lo and behold, my dinner recipe awaited!!!

    I made 12 in total; 3 with taco meat, 3 with shredded BBQ chicken, 3 with egg, bacon and spinach and finally 3 with homemade ceviche...
    The crew here at Chez Phillipe loved, loved, loved 'em!!!! Chef Connor is going to play around and try to come up with a dessert "cup"...now if I could only get him to do dishes without pouting...but I guess that is part of being 17, isn't it??

    I have Aug. 2nd circled in red!!!


  12. mmm this looks so yummy, perfect for breakfast and snacks :)
    Thanks for sharing dear Cleo :)

  13. Thanks for the recipe Cleo you always have the best and the boys always like them too :)

  14. Oh Cleo! I simply adore this idea. When we do have left overs, sometimes it gets tiring eating the same thing so I try to pop it into the freezer but mixing it up a bit really helps the left overs dole drums!