Tag Archives: blog

Follow Friday – Half Baked Harvest

7 Dec

Happy Friday! I’m totally looking forward to my weekend. Do you know what I have planned?? NOTHING! It’s going to be a weekend to relax because after this weekend, the holiday chaos will start. My work life gets busier. I’ll start my holiday shopping. Parties start popping up on the calendar. All great things but a weekend of relaxing is just what I need.

I’m super excited to share my #FollowFriday blogger with you. Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest is a very talented young lady! She loves cooking for her family and sharing their reviews on each dish. Teighan has to be pretty creative to keep everyone happy! Here are 5 of my favorite recipes.

1. Candy Cane Cinnamon Rolls


How cute is this?? I don’t think there could be a more perfect breakfast for the holiday season.

2. Cranberry, Brie Biscuit Appetizer 

IMG_9583This sounds like a great little appetizer. What a great combination of flavors & ingredients!

3. Pecan Pie Brownies

IMG_8133Pecan Pie & Brownies??!! YUM! I’d put in extra minutes on the treadmill (and not even complain!) so I could eat a ton of these brownies.

4. Gorgonzola Butternut Squash Ravioli

IMG_9189There really is nothing like homemade ravioli and the filling sounds amazing!

5. Baked Chipotle Chicken Taquitos

IMG_7663I pinned this recipe a few weeks ago. I’m thrilled that Tieghan came up with this recipe so I no longer have to buy the frozen taquitos from the store!

Thank you, Tieghan, for all of the great recipes! Be sure to check out Half Baked Harvest. She has some creative holiday treat posts you should make with your family. Here are some ways to keep up with Half Baked Harvest.

Have you missed my past #FollowFriday posts? No fear, I have a pin board with all of the past blogger’s recipes for easy reference. How can you be my Featured #FollowFriday Blogger next week? It’s easy! All I have to know is know about you! Make comments on my blog, get active in Link Parties or take drool worthy pictures. (I’m easily distracted by yummy looking food!) If you are featured, all I ask is for you to tell you fans & followers you were featured on The Tasty Fork.

Have a great weekend! See you on Monday!


Copy Cat Recipe – Taco Bell’s Meximelt (healthy option!)

6 Dec

Healthy Meximelt - The Tasty Fork

I have a secret…About once a month, usually on a Sunday night, I get a craving for Taco Bell. Yes, I know that stuff is just terrible for you but why does terrible taste so darn good?!! And why is terrible so cheap??!

I always order the same items. One of those items being a Meximelt. It has ground beef, pico de gallo and cheese all wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla. The cheese is melted and the pico de gallo has a lot of cilantro. There really isn’t much to it… which got me to thinking, “Why can’t I make meximelts at home?”

Healthy TB Meximelt --The Tasty Fork

You totally can. I made a few changes to make my at home Meximelt a healthy option. It was just as delicious! I’m not going to say I’ll never order a Meximelt again from Taco Bell, but knowing I can get my fix at home is pretty satisfying.

Do you have a favorite copy cat recipe? I’d love to know all about it! Head over to my facebook page and post your copy cat recipes. I’ll highlight the ones I want to try!

Taco Bell Inspired Meximelt

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 taco seasoning packet
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced (no seeds)
  • 1 jalepeno, diced (remove white ribs and seeds)
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt & pepper
  • 8 flour tortillas, taco size
  • Reduced Fat Mexican Cheese Blend, shredded
  • Hot sauce, optional


  1. In a warm skillet, add oil and ground turkey. Cook until browned, 8-10  minutes. Drain excess liquid. Add taco seasoning to the meat mixture. (I followed the directions on the packet by adding 2/3 cup of water along with the taco seasoning.) Cook with meat for 5 minutes.
  2. Make pico de gallo – combine tomatoes, jalepeno, onion, cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. When the taco meat is cooked, take 1/4 cup of meat and add it to the middle of a flour tortilla. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Cook in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted. Top with pico de gallo.  Add hot sauce, if needed.

Smoked Almond & Rosemary Chicken Tenders

15 Nov

Chicken Tenders. Chicken Fingers. Whatever you wanna call it, I LOVE them.

I created this recipe to find a healthier option. Most chicken tenders are breaded & fried. I’ve seen recipes which are oven baked, but the crust of the tender is covered in breadcrumbs, eggs and cheese. No thanks.

I’ve been eating a lot of hickory smoked almonds lately. It’s the perfect combo of smokey & salty. Did you know if you’ve got a food processor or a good blender, you can grind nuts so they have a consistency of breadcrumbs? It’s true!

I made these chicken tenders for dinner, but I think they would be a great appetizer for a holiday party! I threw in some fresh rosemary, which is a perfect herb for the holiday season. Have some dipper options, like bbq sauce or honey mustard, and you’ll be all set!

I added about 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs, but if you can’t find panko or wanting a gluten-free recipe, just cut them from the recipe.

Smoked Almond & Rosemary Chicken Tenders

  • 1 cup smoked almonds
  • 1/4 panko bread crumbs (optional)
  • 2 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • Cooking Spray


  1. In a food processor (or strong blender), put in almonds. Grind until the texture is very fine, like breadcrumbs. Heat skillet to medium heat and toast panko until it’s slighty brown. In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, almonds and rosemary. Mix well.
  2. In a bowl, stir buttermilk, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper. Dip chicken one by one into the butter milk and then into the almond coating.  Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on rack; coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until chicken is done. Garnish with rosemary leaves, if desired.

Follow Friday: Bailey Bakes

9 Nov

Hi Everyone! It’s Friday. And that means it’s time for me to feature my Blog Crush of the Week. Meet Bailey from Bailey Bakes!

Besides being adorable, she bakes up some yummy looking treats! When she announces a new post on Twitter, I don’t care what I’m doing, I’m clicking that link to check out her latest treat. With every post, she includes a little story which I really like too. Bailey is the perfect person to feature on #FollowFriday!

So let’s get down to business. Here are my 5 Favorite Posts on Bailey Bakes!

Chocolate Pound Cake Cookies

I’m a total chocoholic… so I just about died when I saw this post. Give me a few of these cookies and a glass of cold milk, I’d be in heaven.

Pumpkin Apple Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

What a great twist on a pumpkin spice cake! I’m sure using apples makes this cake extra delicious!

Polka Dot Cheese Cake Brownies

These brownies are the cutest things I ever seen! No wonder Bailey has over 1000 pins for this recipe.

Sweet Potato Carrot Bread

We should all thank Bailey for adding some vegetables to a dessert. 🙂

Chocolate Shortbread Blondies with Macaroon Topping

This is a picture I can’t stop staring at — these cookie bars look so amazing!! It’s a must make. Wouldn’t this be perfect for the holidays coming up??!

Are you now a fan of Bailey Bakes? I’m going to make this really easy for you — Keep up with Bailey on all of her favorite social media outlets.

I’m loving this #FollowFriday feature, so it will be here to stay. So, how can you be my Featured #FollowFriday Blogger next week? It’s easy! All I have to know is know about you! Make comments on my blog, get active in Link Parties or take drool worthy pictures. (I’m easily distracted by yummy looking food!) If you are featured, all I ask is for you to tell you fans & followers you were featured on The Tasty Fork.

Have a great weekend! See you on Monday!

Follow Friday: Inside BruCrew Life

2 Nov

I attended Online BlogCon last week. I learned so much great information..but the thing I was most surprised by was the network I gained. There were so many awesome bloggers and the Facebook page for the group was blowing up 24/7. It was hard to keep up with everyone’s helpful tips and questions.

One of the first people I connected with was Jocelyn from Inside BruCrew Life. I asked a question about blog design and transferring to  Jocelyn was the first person to respond and she gave me a great referral of the woman who recently helped her. Her new page is sooo cute! And she lives in Indiana. It’s probably another reason why I like her so much 😉

After the conference, I was thinking of ways to highlight other bloggers I love. Of course I can pin their recipes to Pinterest, write comments on their posts, like them on FaceBook… but I wanted to do something more. Twitter has this thing called #FollowFriday. You list people you think your followers should follow too. Why can’t I do that on my blog??!!

Even though I come up with a lot of my own recipes, I love making things other people have done. It takes the pressure off of me and I feel relaxed following a recipe. I was always good at following directions and that’s all a recipe is, right?? 🙂

One thing I don’t post a lot of are dessert recipes. I have a huge sweet tooth, so I’m shocked that I don’t. But guess who loooves to post sweet treat recipes?? Inside BruCrew! And guess what people??! These recipes are delicious, unique and use common ingredients. I picked my top 5 favorite recipes from her blog. Trust me, I had a hard time just picking 5. EVERY recipe looks good. So here is my seriously narrowed down list.

1. Salted Caramel Brownie

Milk Duds in a brownie??!! Jocelyn might be a genius.

2. Pumpkin Spice Latte Scones

This recipe will keep your pumpkin addiction alive and you can skip the trip to Starbucks.

3. Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies

Instant pudding adds some extra richness and using Reese’s Pieces make this a fun fall looking cookie. 🙂

4. Carrot Cheesecake Muffins

One thing this recipe title leaves out is the streusel topping…and it’s made with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal. I know, wow!!!!!

5. Peanut Butter Brownie Batter Swirl Ice Cream

Peanut Butter and Brownies Batter??!! Yes, please! And you don’t even need a fancy mixer attachment to make this ice cream happen.

So what do you guys think?? Are these recipes as drool-worthy as I think they are? Be sure to head over to Inside BruCrew Life and check out all of her amazing recipes! In honor of #FollowFriday, here are all of the ways you can stay up to date on what Jocelyn’s doing in her kitchen.

So, how can you be my Featured #FollowFriday Blogger next week? It’s easy! All I have to know is know about you! Make comments on my blog, get active in Link Parties or take drool worthy pictures. (I’m easily distracted by yummy looking food!) If you are featured, all I ask is for you to tell you followers you were featured on The Tasty Fork.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Next Monday, I’ll have a new post about some tasty creation I made over the weekend.

Slow Cooked Root Beer Pulled Pork with a kick…

31 Oct

I’m pretty sure most people like me because of this pulled pork recipe. I’ve brought it to football parties, potlucks and picnics. It’s always a hit and I rarely have leftovers. As someone who complains about leftovers, I get a little sad when all of the pulled pork is devoured.

I made Root Beer Pulled Pork for The Bears Monday Night Football game last week. I was looking forward to having a lazy night on the couch and eating a couple pulled pork sandwiches. I got a call from my hubby mid-morning asking if he could have a couple of friends over for dinner. I hesitated slightly. I wasn’t worried about not having enough pork, but I wasn’t totally thrilled about not having a pork sandwich for lunch the next day. But I decided to put my greediness aside and said of course he could have friends over. I love entertaining and pulled pork is perfect for a Monday night meal.

However, I didn’t get enough pulled pork for my liking. So over the weekend, I made more. It was a nice break from the massive cheesy meatball lasagna I made on Friday night.

I know there are a lot of root beer pulled pork recipes out there… but dare I say, this recipe is the best. Root beer provides some flavor, but I want more. So I like to add additional spices to turn things up a notch. Trust me, you don’t even need BBQ sauce. (but you still can if you want. I won’t judge you.)

And since this is made in a crock pot, it’s the perfect meal for any day of the week. It requires no attention until it’s time to shred the pork.

So to all of my friends, here is my recipe. I guess I’ll need to come up with another recipe to get me invited to shindigs. 🙂

Slow Cooked Root Beer Pulled Pork

  • 1 cup root beer, additional might be needed
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grill seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 lb boneless supreme pork roast
  • 4 to 8 buns
  • BBQ sauce, if needed


  1. Pour root beer into slow cooker. Add all the spices, seasonings and garlic. Gives everything a good stir. Add onions and pork. Add more root beer if needed. You don’t want the pork to be submerged, just nicely floating.
  2. Set the slow cooker on the lowest setting. Cook for 5-6 hours.
  3. When the pork is cooked, shred meat in the slow cooker. Turn the setting down to warm and let the shredded pork hang out for 20 minutes. Serve on buns and BBQ sauce.

Cheesy Meatball Lasagna

29 Oct

Sometimes I think of a recipe and it won’t leave my mind. It’s in my mind all day. While I’m driving to work, I’m thinking about my grocery list. During lunch, I’m dreaming of dinner.  At the gym, I’m trying to burn extra calories because I know what I’ll be eating later. Seriously, I think I have a one track mind for food.

I’m not sure what the weather temperatures are like in other cities, but in Chicago, last Thursday night it dropped 20 degrees in less than 2 hours. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the last of 70 degree days until 2013. Kind of sad, but I think I’ll get over it. I’m ready for comfort food which warms me up and hugs me from the inside… things like this Cheesy Meatball Lasagna.

This is probably the 2nd time in my life I’ve made a lasagna…but I knew I wanted to do something a little different. Enter Smoked Gouda Cheese. I put it in the meatballs and layered shreds of it throughout the lasagna. I think it gave the lasagna such a O.M.G. quality. I’m thinking I might need to add Smoked Gouda to everything I make. It truly has the effect of making everything that’s already awesome even better.

My only complaint is it took sometime to put together and cook to cheesy perfection in the oven. One of my favorite things to say is, “Drink some wine to kill the time.”  Trust me, I had a big pour…but I was still checking the timer every 10 minutes to see how much longer I had to wait. It was total torture.

But I was rewarded with this delicious dinner. Oh so totally worth it.

This lasagna was meaty, extra cheesy, smoky and has a deliciously easy tomato sauce with fresh basil. I’d make this dish for anyone. Well, anyone who loves meat and isn’t lactose intolerant.

So go ahead, day-dream about this lasagna and drink some wine while time stands still.. I mean while it’s cooking in the oven. 🙂

Cheesy Meatball Lasagna, inspired by Family Circle


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup smoked gouda cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • 12 traditional lasagna noodles
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (28 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 bag (8 oz) shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup smoked gouda cheese, grated


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make Meatballs. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, sausage, bread crumbs, egg, milk, and cheese.  I used a medium-sized cookie/ice cream scooper to shape meatballs. You can also use your hands. Size of the meatball should be around 1 tablespoon.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and cook for 5 minutes, shaking pan to turn meatballs while maintaining their shape. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining meatballs. Reserve drippings in pan. (FYI – Meatballs don’t need to be cooked all the way through.)
  3. Meanwhile, to make Lasagna, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add noodles, 1 at a time, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  4. Place skillet from meatballs over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in both crushed and diced tomatoes. Simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half the chopped basil. Set aside 3/4 cup of the sauce.
  5. In a medium bowl, blend ricotta, remaining basil, the egg and 2 tbsp of the Parmesan.
  6. Begin layering: Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9 2 inch baking dish. Top with 4 noodles, overlapping. Scatter half the meatballs over noodles. Pour half the remaining tomato sauce over meatballs. Top with 4 more noodles and spread with ricotta mixture and half of the mozzarella and smoked gouda cheese. Add remaining meatballs. Pour remaining tomato sauce over meatballs. Top with final 4 noodles. Spread with reserved 3/4 cup sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella, smoked gouda and remaining 2 tbsp Parmesan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving.