Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Modified" Enchilada's

If you gave me one last meal in this life, I must say, it would certainly be something that was originally concocted in Mexico or Latin America, and then completely bastardized  modified by some guy in some kitchen North of the Border in the U.S. of A. (Here, we tend to do that to ALL food that is imported) These imports never taste truly authentic until we modify them ourselves in the States. Enchiladas are no exception. They are traditionally made with a mole` sauce. Here in the states, we don't even try to find something similar to mole`, we either use salsa (like myself) or canned tomato sauce (eek). In Mexico, the traditional tortilla used is corn. Here in America, where Monsanto is the devil, we skip the genetically modified starch and opt for the health conscious whole wheat tortilla. In Mexico, enchiladas usually contain Cotija or Queso Blanco cheese. Here, it is plain ol' Vermont Cheddar, which in case you are not up to date with your geography, happens to be just north of nowhere near the Mexican border. It's the American way. We take imports and we absolutely ruin  modify them to our liking. Forget it, let's Dish!!!
Nice rims?
Suggested music on Spotify: Since we are modifying foreign imports from their original state to suit our American needs, let's go with Los Del Rio, Latin American music, modified to bring happiness to generations of wedding guests.

Suggested Kitchen Dance:Since we are listening to Los Del Rio, we will obviously be doing a whole lot of Macarena.

Suggested Beverage: Might as well stick with the going theme, tonight, we drink La Cerveza de Mexico, with the lime wedge. Another fine import modified with a piece of fruit to "enhance" the taste of the beer. All of these modifications are giving me a headache, let's drink a whole six pack.

8, 10 in whole wheat tortillas
2 cups cooked wild rice
1, 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium bell peppers, chopped
1 packet taco seasoning
2  1/4 cups medium salsa, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 13×9″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and spread 1/2 cup of salsa over the bottom. Lay your tortillas out on a clean work surface.
In a large bowl, mix the rice, beans, peppers, taco seasoning, and 3/4 cup salsa. Divide evenly among the tortillas. Roll each tortilla tightly and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish. You may have to place some of the filled tortillas horizontally to make them fit. Pour the remaining 1 cup salsa evenly over the tops of the rolled tortillas in the baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Serve with hot sauce and sour cream.
Slather it on. We will be using A LOT of salsa. 
I had a bunch of this leftover and have been mixing it with my eggs in the morning.   
Put as much filling as will fit in the tortilla

Step by step, day by day...
There you have it "modified" enchiladas

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sweet Potato Burgers

You will see later why this is being served on boring wheat bread. 

Howdy ho to all of my web based neighbors! Happy Saturday morning to all. I hope everyone has had a nice week so far and had a safe and fun Friday night.

So most Saturday's between May and October, my wife and I drag the kids kicking and screaming from their beds and we make the long journey to the best farmers market in New Jersey, the Collingswood Farmer's Market. By long journey, I am really only talking about a 5 minute drive. If you do not currently go to a farmers market, I highly recommend you do so as soon as possible. Sure, the produce may be a bit more expensive then what you would buy at a supermarket, but it is totally worth it. You can taste the difference in how fresh the produce is, plus, if you go week in and week out, sometimes, the people working the stands get to know you and may slip you some extras into your order, to reward your faithfulness.You will still have to buy some produce at the grocery store and that is o.k., but why buy lettuce from Chile that was picked two weeks ago, when you could have lettuce form Williamstown that was picked yesterday? Isn't the 20 cent increase worth it to support local farmers who, let's make no bones, are struggling to stay afloat? Get out there and support your local farmers. The links below will take you to some of the local market sites for hours of operation.

Collingswood, NJ

Haddon Twp.

Woodbury, NJ

Medford, NJ

For the Russian contingent that visits the site, here are some in Moscow, Russia

Search markets closest to you
Feel free to throw me some questions about farmer's markets in the comment section. I would be more than happy to help!

Now that I have finished that little diatribe about becoming a local-vore, let's get down to business. When ever making a good meat-less burger, you will almost always find at the heart of the ingredients a bean of some sort. There are a few reasons for this, first, when mashed, beans can be molded and formed into patties much like ground meat. From a practical standpoint, beans are a cooks best friend. Second, legumes in general can take on the flavor of seasonings and other vegetables added to the mix pretty easily, while leaving their own footprint in the finished product. Lastly, beans provide protein like no other plant on earth, so naturally when replacing meat with a vegetable for a hamburger, we look towards something that is going to rival the protein content. The great thing about using beans as opposed to bovine animals as a replacement for the base of the burger is you do not have to use an air gun to slaughter the beans before they go to market. They are also far healthier for you too. Let's dish it up, party people!

Suggested music on Spotify: The Rentals, Seven More Minutes...  The former bass player from Weezer started an epic band called The Rentals after leaving Weezer and although not nearly as popular, far greater than anything that Rivers Cuomo publish. Also, the music is always upbeat and fun to dance along to. Good music to get into a rhythm in the kitchen. 

Suggested kitchen dance: Whenever I listen to The Rentals, I often end up randomly moving body parts at different times in no particular order. Usually it is a combination of 70's disco, The Tootsie Roll, and The Dip. Yes, The Rentals are THAT GOOD!

Suggested beverage: Burgers always pair well with any liquid that contains the word beer in it. Tonight, however, let's stay away from the barley soda and sip soda from the root. Root beer all the way. Classic Stewart's Root Beer is best.  

Kid Alert: During the step of mashing the beans and potato's together, I suggest letting the kids help out with it. It's a lot of fun for them and the more you let them help, the more likely they will eat their dinner without the threat of physical harm from you, the parents. 


2 cans cannellini white beans, drained
1 large sweet potato, baked/peeled/mashed (about 2 cups)
2 tsp maple
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 cup flour
2 tbs. black pepper
2-3 cups Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup of canola oil


1. Bake sweet potato. Peel, place in large mixing bowl.
2. Add drained beans to mixing bowl. Mash beans and potato together.
3. Mash in seasoning, flour and any additional seasoning. Your mixture will be quite soft and moist. But you should be able to form a patty.
4. Heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a pan over high heat.
5. Form a patty from mixture and coat in Panko crumbs. Thick coating. Then drop the patty in the pan. Repeat until the pan is filled. Cook until browned on both sides. If you are looking to cut oil out of your diest you could also bake these. I would say 425 degrees for about 30-40 minutes on a cookie sheet. If baking, use less Panko.
6. Transfer cooked patties to paper towel. Cool for a few minutes.
7. Serve on toasted bun with lotsa toppings or put into a pita pocket. 

It may look funky at this stage, but bear with me and you will be rewarded with  deliciousness
Mashing beans today. 15 years from now, mashing the hearts of men  everywhere.

He loved mashing, but the smell of canned beans was really rubbing him the wrong way. 

Three phases of cooking. Raw, flipped once, and finished product.

So we planned on putting these on pitas.The organism growing on the bread had other plans. 
Boring wheat bread it is. Still mighty tasty.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I'll Be Back...

Don't mess with the Model 101...
Oh, hello there. I hope you enjoyed the first installment of "From the Wifey." Expect much more of those in the future. I can pretty much guarantee that she will not be posting pictures of the former governor of California, but you never know. If she's feeling really saucy, she may post a picture of the governor of the great state of New Jersey. Perhaps eating a vegetable. Wouldn't that be a treat for us all.
That is not a vegetable, but I am sure there are many people in the Garden State that want him to eat it.

Here is a little of what you can expect this weekend:
-White Bean and Avocado Wraps
- Sweet Potato Burgers
- A Thank You, A Confession, and an Opinion
- "From the Wifey: Beans and Quinoa"

I hope everyone is enjoying so far, but most importantly, I hope that everyone is finding use in the recipes and are having a little bit of fun in the kitchen.
Got any Tylenol? 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

From the Wifey: Greens and Beans

Ok, please prepare yourself for a straight forward, delicious recipe, minus all the crazy dancing and weird side remarks that most people don't get :) Here is a recipe from the wife!

I never thought I'd be in a marriage where I don't do all the cooking. My mom is Italian and cooked 99.99% of the dinners in our household. I remember one time when my mom was recovering from surgery and my dad had to make dinner. He called it "Hawaiian Eggs" and he basically just took a some random ingredients from the fridge, mixed it with eggs, dressed us all in Hawaiian shirts and put on Jimmy Buffet, and tada.... Hawaiian Eggs were born.
But I digress....I got married and found out that my husband loves to cook. He loves looking up new recipes and trying them. That kind of freaks me out....I like to cook what I know. Unfortunately, a lot of what I know includes meat! So I had to figure out some new things to cook...or hand the skillet over to my husband.
This recipe, however, is one that I loved growing up (it was my grandmom's recipe) and it is so simple. Reheats great for the next day's lunch. This is also a great freezer recipe!

Greens and Beans

Olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic
15 oz can of Hunts tomato sauce
2 15 oz cans of Cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
1 large or 2 small heads of escarole (not curly). (I usually buy this fresh, but Wegman's was out, so I bought it in a bag)
Crushed Red Pepper

1. Put oil in 4 quart pot to cover bottom and fry garlic.
2. Add 1 medium can of Hunts tomato sauce and 1 can of water.
3. Wash the cannellini beans and add. Cook for 15 minutes.

4. While the beans are cooking, rinse the escarole well. Boil the escarole in a large pot until tender, and then drain and chop.

5. Add to pot with beans and season with crushed red pepper. (add water if dry)
6. Serve immediately or let cool and freeze!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pizza Night!!!

Adult Fire Roasted Veggie Pizza

Kid's Cheese Pizza

 I must say, it is good to get back to the Garden state and get back to a bit of normalcy. However, I am just about as thrilled as a turkey on Thanksgiving Day to be going back to work tomorrow and am seriously considering taking another day off... forever. It would be really cool if I could simply charge all of you ten dollars each time you view the site and that may allow me to retire a bit early. No takers? Oh well, I guess I will have to sell my body to science or begin to get cozy with the fact that I will likely be working for the next  (lets see, 3 kids, all likely going to college, 1 likely going to an Ivy league school minus my youngest who will likely drop out of community college like his dad after one year because he has made a few "lifestyle changes" equals...) 67 years. Awesome. I can retire at the age of 98. What is it that those billboards advertising the adult communities say, you know, the ones with the old silver back playing tennis surrounded by his wife and two other widows with the "I made a ton of money off of Microsoft's stock in the mid 90's" grin on his face, say? Oh yes, I believe they say, life begins at 105! On the right track!

Speaking of tracks, for those who have never been out there, the Lancaster County, Hershey, and the Strasburg area of Pennsylvania is amazing. Rolling hills, sleepy towns, and some of the friendliest people I have ever met in my life, I highly recommend it to anyone with kids looking for a cheap and fun weekend get away. In all seriousness, if you need a few web-sites for ideas, let me know in the comments section and I shall pass them along. I will be posting pictures and giving a de-briefing on the tom-foolery that took place this past weekend as the Bintliff's stormed the dutch country. Also, in case you were wondering, Harrisburg is not awesome at all. Nope, not even a little bit. That is the sorriest excuse for a state capitol as I have ever seen. It made Albany, NY look like Reno, NV and Trenton, NJ look like, well, I guess Trenton still looks like Trenton.

I am home, the house is not on fire, our car is still in the driveway, and we didn't forget any of the kids in Lancaster. Life is good, LET'S DISH!!!

Suggested music on Spotify: Claudio Villa on the playlist Italian Dinner Music
This guy looks REAL cool. 

Suggested kitchen dance: The Monferrina

Suggested Beverage: Italian dish, Italian dancing to Italian music. Grab that little chick-a-dee from the land of Nap-o-li and drink some Vino. For the gringos in the crowd, that means wine. Make sure it's red too. White wine is for sissies! 
*Disclaimer: I would be flagged from operating children's toys let alone driving an automobile after one glass of any kind of wine, so I too am a aforementioned sissy. 

Kid Alert: Encourage your kids to help pour ingredients and to top the pizzas themselves with toppings that they choose. Also, save a little bit of dough for them to play with. They will feel really important as they make their own little pizza. Also, they will think you are pretty silly when you keep talking like you are an off-the boat Italian like dear old Uncle Guiseppe.

Ingredients (pizza dough):

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F ish)
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions (pizza dough):

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in flour, salt and oil. Beat until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan or baker's peel dusted with cornmeal. Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving. 
*I use a pizza stone and a pizza peel. If you too will be using these items, with the pizza stone in the oven, preheat the oven to 550 degrees F, then you are ready to bake pizza, drop temp back down to 450 degrees F. Also, the dough can be divided into smaller portions so that you can make a few different kinds of pizza. In our house, that is what we typically do since we all like different toppings. 

Ingredients (toppings):
4 roma tomatoes
2 green peppers sliced into quarters
4 sweet Italian frying peppers (cut off tops and slice down the middle, long ways)
1 medium zucchini sliced into 1/2 inch medallions
2 tbs olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions (toppings):
1. Heat outdoor grill on highest heat setting and close lid for 5 minutes. 
2. Place vegetables in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper if desired and then olive oil. Toss vegetables in bowl until all coated with oil. Add more oil if needed, but 2 tbs ought to do the trick.
3. Once heated, add vegetables to the grill. Do not leave as they will burn quickly. Cook until the outer skins of the vegetables are slightly charred and starting to bubble. Then flip. Each side should be cooked for about 3-5 minutes per side, but it really depends on how hot your grill can get. The tomatoes willtake a little longer.
4. Once cooked, dice all vegetables, keeping the peppers and zucchini together and keeping the tomatoes separate from the rest.
5. After dicing the tomatoes, spread them on pizza crust. Then place the rest of the veggies on top of the tomatoes and then top with mozzarella cheese. 

"Mama's just jealous it's the YEASTIE BOYS!"
   Maria loves touching the dough, but freaks out when it gets stuck to her fingers.  She's crazy.

We use a lot of olive oil in this house. A lot.

Burn baby burn. Is there a Disco Inferno or is it just Hot, Hot, Hot?

The tomatoes actually become sauce, without all of the added crud of sauce in a can or jar. Best part, they are really healthy and the kids don't know any better. Parenting tip: 85% of successful parenthood lies in the ability to be able to trick your children at any given time. 

E' Finito!

Friday, July 27, 2012


So my awesome wife has worked really hard to book a nice four day weekend in Amish Country, out in Lancaster County, PA. Sorry there have been no posts over the last couple of days, but we have been a little bit busy with some prior engagements, such as being parents. Funny thing is, these kids don't raise themselves. It would be a lot easier if that was the case, but well, it's not. I promise, next week, we will be back to business, but for now, off to the land of the Amish! Happy trails.

These guys look as if they mean business!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vegetable Latkes

I am going to be honest and frank. Tonight is the MLS All-Star game and as I am watching it I am typing this post. Distracted? Yes. I did however want to post this tonight so everyone can enjoy this recipe for tomorrow night's dinner. 

These vegetable latkes are a nice little spin on a traditional Hebrew dish. I am not Jewish, but I do appreciate 
traditional Israeli and Hebrew foods. And if you have ever been to a Bat or Bar Mitzvah, you know that people who practice the Jewish faith know how to party and do it with style. So Mazel Tov to all and enjoy!                      

*Just a quick heads up to Vegetarian Times. This recipe started with them. I modified the heck out of it though, but when credit is due...

Suggested music on Spotify: Hava Nagila
Suggested kitchen dance: The Hora

Suggested beverage: Manischewitz

Ingredients ( latkes):
  • 2 medium white potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Ingredients (Tomato-corn relish):
    • 3 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels ( I fire roasted my corn: see below)
    • 2 small tomatoes, chopped (1½ cups)
    • ½ cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
    • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbs. chopped onion
    • 3 tsp. olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)


1. To make Tomato-Corn Relish: Combine all ingredients in bowl. Set aside.
2. To make Rosti: Grate potatoes, carrots, and zucchini onto clean kitchen towel. Wrap towel around vegetables, and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Transfer vegetables to bowl, and stir in onion, flour, and garlic. Fold in eggs, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
3. Coat large skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Spoon 2 Tbs. Rosti mixture for 
each patty, shaping with spoon to make patties. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until bottoms are crisp. Carefully flip with spatula, and cook 2 minutes more, or until browned on both sides.

A Zucchini, a potato, and a carrot walk into a bar...
Not going to lie, this step is a major pain in the butt, but totally worth the result.
Before combining everything.
Roasted and toasted and because of my lack of attention to detail, almost burnt to a crisp.
LEftovers can be set aside and added to an omlet the next morning.
Tetelestai or it is finished!!!