April 4, 2012

I May Be Late But I Brought Tostados

This is my “Congratulations on your new sweet little baby girl” post for The Mrs. I admit it was supposed to be done AGES ago and was meant for her to use as a buffer when she first came home with that sweet bundle.

However, I have my own sweet little baby girl at home and things have been going…erm…let’s just say less than smoothly.

Wait. Don’t get me wrong. She’s the most darling wee one. I’ve never met such a happy baby. And she SLEEPS. It’s so awesome that she sleeps. It’s actually not her at all. Nor is it my 4-year-old, tear the world apart, rambunctious little boy.

It’s kind of just everything. I know you understand what I’m talking about. We all complain about being busy all the time. Honestly sometimes I one of those parents that Jen would like to punch in the throat for complaining that they’re busy when really they’re busy with stupid stuff (Jen is the hilarious blogger at PeopleIWantToPunchInTheThroat.com).

I know I spend too much time at the grocery store (and too much money. Our darling Mrs. would cringe if she knew) and taking the 4-year-old to way too many activities, and tweeting, and facebooking. It used to all fit in though. Lately, it doesn’t.

Anyhow, that’s my explanation for why this post is so late. In addition to the explanation, I also offer an amazing dinner to help out other busy parents: Tostados! (a.k.a. what I make for dinner when I haven’t planned anything, don’t have time for anything and have kind of given up but am not quite willing to call in for pizza.) These are easy and tasty. The best part: They’re an excuse to eat sour cream.

We seriously eat tostados for dinner at least once a week. There’s no recipe here other than the method for baking the corn tortillas, given below. Then the toppings are up to you. Note that since the toppings are served individually at the table and everyone makes their own tostados you don’t have to worry about picky eaters. “You don’t like avocado? Fine, don’t put avocado on yours. I’ll eat it all myself. Put some black beans on instead!” Also, the whole separate-bowls-of-toppings thing means that I can make one bowl of something spicy (with chopped jalapenos) or flecked with “green stuff” (i.e., cilantro) and nobody is going to throw a tantrum. I offer it to the picky eater at my table and if he refuses, well, more spicy green stuff for me, more black beans for him!

I usually use some kind of leftover meat (chicken and pork are best), shredded using two forks and then mixed with a couple tablespoons of bottled BBQ sauce before heating in the microwave until hot. But I’ve also fried up ground beef or turkey with some chilli powder, salt and pepper, adding the BBQ sauce at the end.

After that, the toppings can be as easy or complicated as you like and you can have as few or as many as you’d like (or rather, as few or as many as you have time to prepare). The only requirement is that there MUST be a tub of sour cream on the table.

Possible toppings:
drained black beans
defrosted corn kernels (spicy stuff and green stuff optionally added)
drained diced tomatoes
a mixture of drained black beans, defrosted corn kernels and drained diced tomatoes – add the spicy or green stuff here, if you’d like
refried beans
shredded cheddar cheese
diced tomatoes
chopped avocadoes
diced cucumbers
sliced black olives
leftover rice
shredded napa cabbage
shredded iceburg or romaine lettuce
pico de gallo
chopped green onions
chopped red onions
chopped white onions
chopped any kind of onions
chopped cilantro
chopped jalapenos (fresh)
jalapeno rings (the jarred pickled kind that you get on nachos)

Assembly: Take your bowlfuls of toppings to the table. DON’T forget the tub of sour cream. (Did I mention that I love sour cream?) Take your crisp corn tortillas to the table. Give everyone a plate. Let them do as they please. I pile mine up as in the picture. My husband puts meat and cheese on the tortilla and then the other toppings are mounded on the side of his plate to scoop up as he goes. My son keeps everything separate and nothing is allowed to touch. He munches on the “big chip” and then works his way through the toppings. (Note: If you do it my way, have a paper towel or napkin on hand in case the toppings topple off with the first bite. No, I don’t mean to imply that this is what happens to me. I’ve become an expert at fitting it all into my massive mouth. But since I don’t know how coordinated you are nor do I know how big your mouth is, I recommend having a mopping up tool handy.)

Crisply Baked Corn Tortillas

Serves 2-3 people as the base for tostados


6 soft corn tortillas
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil


1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
2. Lay the tortillas on a large pan in a single non-overlapping layer. Brush top sides lightly with the oil. Sprinkle each tortilla with a pinch of salt.
3. Flip the tortillas over and brush the other sides with oil and sprinkle with a touch more salt.
4. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until they’re puffed and lightly browned (some will puff more than others, some will brown more than others. It’s a general thing: some puffiness here and there some browned bits in places). If they don’t immediately feel crisp to you, don’t worry. They crisp up a bit more once they’re removed from the heat.

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