My reputation as a cook had preceded me into this gathering, but at least one person present wasn't buying.
"If you're so good in the kitchen," he asked, "why aren't you fat?"
"Mullholland Drive," I replied, referring to my bicycle rides along that tortuous road. But there aren't enough hills from Beachwood Canyon to Malibu to compensate for the seasonal specialties that tempt me at every turn this time of year.
So between celebrations, I count on light meals such as these to keep extra calories from overtaking me.
Tacos are not conventional diet foods, but this version, filled with a satisfying blend of potato, cottage cheese, pinto beans and a sprinkling of sharp Cheddar cheese, is low in fact.
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
2 tablespoons chopped roasted green chiles, fresh or canned
1 cup cooked pinto beans, fresh or canned
1 medium red potato, cooked and peeled
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
8 extra thin corn tortillas
2 green onions, white part only, finely chopped
Fresh cilantro, minced
Heat tomato juice in medium skillet to simmering. Add onion and garlic and simmer gently, stirring, until tender. Add chiles and simmer 3 minutes more. Add pinto beans and simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes.
Transfer bean mixture to mixing bowl. Mash together with potato, cottage cheese, Cheddar cheese, cumin, oregano, chili powder and season to taste with cayenne pepper.
Fill tortillas, wrap in foil and heat at 325 until warmed through. Top with tomato, lettuce, salsa, green onions or as desired. Makes 4 servings.