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.

Migas on my mind

For one of my last breakfasts in Texas, nothing seems more appropriate that a full spread of migas. A local tradition in the Austin area, the popular Tex-Mex version should not to be confused with Spanish migas, which features bread crumbs sans eggs, and could rate another post entirely.

Tex-Mex Migas

As with anything this sacred, everyone has their own preference as to how it should be prepared, and/or their favorite hangout for a quick fix.

Migas is pretty much your basic scrambled eggs, but then it is what you add to it that matters.  Some say tortilla chips should be used, along with onions, pepper, and even salsa. (Of course, there are those, too, who adamantly argue that chile con queso must be made with Velveeta cheese.)

migas spoonI’m a purist and prefer corn tortillas cut into strips and fried until they begin to crisp.  These are added to the eggs along with other vegetables and topped with cheddar or Monterey jack cheese.  Salsa and cilantro are considered prerequisites, too ―along with refried beans and flour tortillas.

Clearly, migas is not something for everyday eating, and neither is a hamburger with French fries; but when you want it, you’ve got to have it.


Suggested by Homesick

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 corn tortillas, cut into strips
¼ cup onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
4 eggs
2 tbsp water
Salt and pepper
½ cup cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
½ cup salsa, or more
¼ cup cilantro


  1. Over medium high heat add the oil to frying pan; when hot add the tortilla strips and cook 2-3 minutes until they begin to crisp; remove to drain on toweling.  Pour out any excess oil.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion and jalapeno to the pan, cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Beat together the eggs and water, season with salt and pepper.  Add to pan, top with tortillas strips.  Let set on bottom, gently stir until curds form.  Taste again for seasoning.  Sprinkle with cheese and cook to melt.
  4. Top with salsa and cilantro and serve hot. Yield:  2 servings.
  5. Serve with refried beans, flour tortillas, extra salsa and cilantro on the side.