Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tostadas con Papas

It's that time of year again ... sleepy little Denton, Texas, hums with crowds of new students, parking becomes a nightmare once again, and every trip across the street involves a silent pact with the traffic gods (lest you be run over by some 18-year-old trying to drink a mocha with one hand while texting with the other, having no clue that she's going the wrong way down a one-way street).

Yep, school has started.  So my week has been filled with graduate student orientation, new student convocation, an open house for my new academic building, last-minute revisions to syllabi, meeting with teaching assistants, attending workshops on using classroom tech ... you get the idea.

The result is that Mr. Wendy and I are eating the quickest meals we possibly can.  But I cannot stand just ordering in every night or--gasp--eating straight convenience foods (don't get me wrong:  I have a long menage a trois with cheese puffs and Little Debbie cakes, but they don't cut it for dinner).

Thursday night, faced with the prospect of heading back into the wilds of crazy, new-student traffic jams or making do with what was in our pantry, we opted for the latter.  And the Tostadas con Papas were born ... I have to say, for something impromptu, they turned out pretty dang good.

And, for the record, we repeated the meal on Friday night, subbing Misa Ramirez's Spanish rice for the potatoes.  Equally delish.

What's your go-to, don't-have-time-to-shop meal?  Until the kids stop coming to classes (about week four), we'll have many of these nights of scrounging ...

Tostadas con Papas

pre-made tostada shells (or corn tortillas toasted in the oven)
canned refried beans
about a pound (ish?) new potatoes
1 tsp. salt-free southwest seasoning + 1/2 tsp. salt
OR  1 - 1 1/2 tsp. taco seasoning
2 Tbs. canola oil
shredded cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes (or halved grape or cherry tomatoes)

Scrub the potatoes and put them in a lidded casserole.  Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork.  Add about an inch of water to the casserole, cover, and microwave on high 12-15 minutes (until potatoes are fork tender).  Drain the potatoes and cut into a 1/2 inch dice.

Heat the oil on medium high in a large skillet.  Add the potatoes and sprinkle with seasoning.  Cook, turning occasionally, until brown (about 10 minutes).

Preheat oven to 350.  Smear the tostada shells with refried beans and heat (on a cookie sheet) for about 3-5 minutes.

Top the tostada shells with potatoes, tomatoes, cheese, and lettuce.  Add a little sour cream and/or taco sauce if you're so inclined.



Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.


  1. Sounds good! My go-to can't think of anything, nothing in the house meal is egg, cheese, and bacon bagels.

  2. That sounds so good! Love the idea of adding potatoes to a bean tostada!!!!!


  3. These look so good! I've got some refried beans in my pantry, too....hmm....

  4. Ole... Look terrific!

    All the back to school activity... Hope or terrified for the future???

  5. Isn't it fun to make something based on what you have on hand? Like the show Chopped: you have prime rib, potato chips and gummy bears--now make a dessert. My husband doesn't get it--he wants to drive to the store and get exactly what he needs.

  6. Sheila - you made me choke, laughing at the idea of prime-rib-potato-chip-gummy-bear flan. Nice.

    Dave - a little of both? I've got a great group of students this year (it seems), but they're all so dang *young*. :)

    Elizabeth, Orange, and Shel - I find that potatoes make everything better. :)

  7. This is perfect for this time of year, Wendy! I may even go out and hunt down those new potatoes at the organic farmers' market. I love new combos of old favorites (up to but not including gummy bears). Thanks for this!

  8. LOL! Week four is when they stop going to class?

    I've been planning a "use what's in the freezer" week. Sometimes, a little challenge is necessary. I love this idea, Wendy.

    My go-to meal? Chicken breasts (usually in the freezer) with whatever else I have on hand.

    ~ Krista

  9. That recipe looks delicious, Wendy. Thanks for another Mex inspired Tex dish. Good luck with the new school year, too.

    From your post, I can see that you'd better watch out for those latte crossings. In the texting age of mocha-drinking, digitized kids, I fear their driving, too. (Hmm...sounds like a murderous new idea for a coffeehouse mystery. :))

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  10. Wendy, what a great veggie version of a taco! And to throw it all together so fast? Terrific! I love how easy going Mr. Wendy is. :)