Saved by Chicken Tostadas

I’m sitting in my tiny summer quarters greeting the new day.  Outside, it looks to be another beauty:  mid-80’s, sunny and warm.  But inside, it’s a slightly different story.  There is no kitchen to speak of here; I rented this space, sight unseen, with that understanding.


I’ve decided that this is definitely worth the challenge though, because 1) it is small and 2) I am surrounded by some of the richest agricultural land imaginable. Just an inkling of the season ahead, it is now a rolling checkerboard of overwinter grasses and grains, fields of flowers, early lettuces, trained berry bushes, orchards, groves, vineyards, and much, much more.

For some time now I have been following the Tiny House movement and am deeply intrigued by the idea of ‘living small’. For a person who lives to cook, the idea of constantly eating out is not even a remote option. I know I need a kitchen, so I need to figure this out: What are my most essential needs? Will this make me utterly crazy?

I regard my tiny space as a 10’x12’ living laboratory.  Although I rented it furnished, over the past month it has evolved from a mundane bedroom into a creative, writerly kitchen.  A piece at a time, I have replaced an old over- stuffed recliner with a desk and chair.  In the corner near the bed, a low sprawling cabinet has been swapped out for a bookcase with my most treasured cookbooks and research material.

The small fridge has been moved out of the closet to the opposite corner, between a tall cart housing a convection/toaster oven and a rolling cart with microwave and Nu-Wave burner.  A storage unit previously holding clothes now contains all my food supplies:  grains, flours, herbs spices, some dry goods and a few canned items.  In the center of it all, 2-1/2 foot folding table is now my work/prep combo dining area. It works.

Yesterday, it was only in the mid 80’s outside and quite warm in here―air circulation is not great, the sporadic air conditioning, unreliable.  For the past two days I had been planning to re-test a kale, mushroom, prosciutto, egg dish―you could say a cross between a baked Dutch Baby and a Toad in a Hole.  Tempting, but it would have to wait another day: by 7PM it was still too hot for any serious cooking.

Instead, I settled on an old standby:  Chicken Tostadas.TostadaOn my last trip to Mexico I realized I must be the last living person not using pre-baked tostada shells.  Granted, you can make your own, but as a handy back-up, they replace baked/fried tortillas quite nicely.  Simply re-heat in the microwave, layer on favorite toppings and you are done.

And I was done, too―mercifully saved by Chicken Tostadas.

Chicken Tostadas

For a quick meal or a snack, this hardly requires a recipe: use what you love!


For one  serving
1 packaged or homemade Tostada shell
2-3 Tbsp seasoned refried beans
2 Tbsp melting cheese:  queso asadero, Muenster, jack, or cheddar cheese, grated
Lettuce or Cilantro Slaw (cabbage/vinaigrette seasoned with lime juice, oregano, cumin, and cilantro)
½ cup roast chicken, shredded
Garnishes:   slivered avocado, cilantro, radishes, shredded cheese, salsa or taco sauce


  1. Heat the beans, shred or crumble the cheese, shred the lettuce or prepare the Cabbage Slaw
  2. Shred the chicken
  3. On microwaveable plate, spread the tostada with refried beans and top with cheese. Microwave 45 seconds, until cheese is melted
  4. Top with the slaw or lettuce, chicken and garnish as desired.

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