The RV Chronicles — We’ll eat Mexican, with or without a far-fetched holiday (Recipe: Bean & Cheese Tostadas)

Quick — and without looking it up — what is the origin of Cinco de Mayo?

Nope, it’s not Mexico’s Independence Day, as a living breathing school teacher insisted to me not so long ago. (Mexico celebrates its independence on Sept. 16). It also has nothing to do with Santa Anna’s troops taking the Alamo. (That happened over a two-week span between February and March.)

You can look it up now, or just know that the official Cinco de Mayo is only celebrated in the Mexican state of Puebla to commemorate a battle victory over France back on May 5, 1862.  In other words, it’s only a regional holiday in Mexico.

But hey, Cinco de Mayo is fun to say. And it’s as good a reason as any to chomp down on Mexican or Tex-Mex food.

In almost five years of sharing my stories and recipes here, I recently realized that I’ve yet to talk about one of my favorite standby Tex-Mex dishes.

Bean and Cheese Tostadas.

We called them chalupas when I was growing up in northeast Texas, but the two are pretty much the same thing — a crispy corn tortilla topped with beans, lettuce, cheese and tomato.

The perfect tostada, as far as I’m concerned, is a carnival of temperatures (hot tortilla and beans/cold everything else) and is good enough to stand on its own as a main course. I also tend to have mine without tomatoes, opting for a red salsa topper instead.

And yes, I made these in the tightest of tight kitchens — in the Jimmy Rockford, my (hopefully temporary) RV home. Your version will be so much better, or I’ll give you a full refund.

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Bean and Cheese Tostadas

Bean and Cheese Tostadas — Fresh. Simple. Mexican food.

Bean and Cheese Tostadas — Fresh. Simple. Mexican food.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Bean and Cheese Tostadas
Bean and Cheese Tostadas — Fresh. Simple. Mexican food.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican/Tex-Mex
  • 15 oz can – Refried beans (pinto or black)
  • ¼ cup – Mexican salsa
  • 2 cups – Shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup – Chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup – Shredded cheese*
  • ¼ cup – Chopped cilantro
  • 8 – Tostada shells
Additional topping ideas
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced black olives
  • Additional salsa
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, combine beans and salsa; cover and microwave on high for about 1½ minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time.
  2. Warm tostada shells in a 350°F toaster oven, if desired. (Some people prefer their shells cold.)
  3. Atop each shell, spread 2-3 TB of the refried beans; add ¼ cup of lettuce and ⅛ cup (2 TB) each of cheese then tomato.
  4. Garnish with a pinch of cilantro.
  5. Serve immediately.
* - Mild Cheddar is traditional, but Mozzarella, smoked Gouda or any Mexican melting cheese can be substituted.



  1. ah you’ve got me craving mexican food. made nachos last week and tostadas should definitely be in the works next. perfect for the season too – even though it’s meant to be cool and autumn here in australia, its still bloody hot!

  2. Kathryn @ anotherfoodieblogger says:

    I LURVE bean and cheese tostadas! I knew that about the holiday, but couldn’t have recited that off the top of my head as I’m honest that way. 😉 That reminds me, I forgot to put refried beans on the list for our company-sponsored Cinco de Mayo Taco bar potluck! Adding it now. 🙂

  3. I love these – I could eat my weight in refried beans. Just substantial enough paired with some top shelf margaritas 😉

  4. I love chalupas! That’ s what we still call them around these parts – but we are always behind the times. my in-laws…………former in-laws if we’re being correct………who are also vegetarians still get these every single time we meet for dinner at our favorite Tex Mex place when I visit my hometown. I never thought about making them at home. YUM!!! Thanks for the recipe – I’m going to make them!

    • adamjholland says:

      Sounds like we have similar roots, Kelli. When you consider that 2-3 chalupas/tostadas run $10-12 at a Mexican restaurant, these are so much better. And let’s not forget the 9th point of the Boy Scout Law: A Scout is thrifty. 😉

  5. Ha! I had no clue the origin of Cinco de Mayo.. I just know I will take any excuse to shove Mexican food into my pie hole on repeat! 😉 LOVE toastadas and these look seriously delicious, buddy! Gimme all the beans and cheese! Cheers!

  6. Our Spanish teacher made an oh-so-lovely announcement via the intercom so I knew the origins of Cinco de Mayo. May 5 will always be marked for me be b/c that is the day The Hubs and I met! 🙂 Love the simple yet delicious recipe today.

  7. Love me some tostadas. Or chalupas. But I must confess…I’ve never had plain refried bean ones. We always add taco meat or chicken or beef fajita meat to ours. And Mrs. G insists on frying up the corn tortillas herself for the shells.

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