Tag Archives: Holiday food

Brown Sugar Crock Pot Pork

13 Dec

Brown Sugar Crock Pot Pork The Tasty Fork

I only post recipes I love. And in this case I really really LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this pork recipe. There isn’t much to it. Excluding the pork, all of the ingredients I had on hand and you should too.

I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love using my crock pot. It makes my life so much easier. I like to put the meal together the night before so it hangs out in the fridge over night. In the morning after I walk the dog and make my coffee, it’s time to grab the crock pot and turn it on. I’m out of the house for the day but dinner will be ready when I get home.

crock pot brown sugar pork via The Tasty Fork

The first thing I do when I come home from work is take a deep breath — the smell coming from the crock pot fills the whole house. When I walked in on Tuesday, I was happily overwhelmed by the smell of brown sugar pork. I ran to the kitchen and took a little bite. I seriously almost melted. The pork was so tender! And the sauce, oh my… it’s a combination of brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. All pantry items and it made the most divine tasting sauce. It’s sweet with a touch of acidity. Perfection!

To round out the meal, I whipped up some sweet potato mash. It’s super easy — peel and dice a couple sweet potatoes, boil for 15 minutes and drain, add some butter and brown sugar and skim milk, mash until you get the right consistency. This was an easy week night meal, but I’d make this any day of the week! It’s a great recipe to use if you have guests coming over for the holidays. It makes a lot and leftovers taste better the next day.

I really wanted to name this recipe “OMG Pork.” It’s all I could say when I was eating it. I hope you’ll love love love it as much as me.

Brown Sugar Crock Pot Pork

Brown Sugar Crock Pot Pork

  • 4 lb pork loin (or your favorite cut of pork for a crock pot)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Equal part cornstarch and cold water (slurry)


  1. Remove excess fat from pork. Using a fork, stab/make holes through out the pork. Season with salt & pepper. Spray crock pot with cooking spray and add onions. Place pork on top.
  2. In a bowl, combine garlic, brown sugar, mustard and vinegar. It will be a paste like consistency. Spread all over pork. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. When the pork is done cooking, take out of the slow cooker and let it rest for 10 minutes. (cover pork with foil) Strain the liquid in the slow cooker into a sauce pan. Save onions. On a medium heat, cook and stir in slurry. The slurry will thicken up the sauce. You may need to repeat this step a few times to get the consistency you want.
  4. Place onions on top of pork and cut into pieces. Serve with sauce drizzled on pork pieces.

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!

BBQ Meatball Sliders

5 Dec

BBQ Meatball Slider The Tasty Fork

I may have a slight obsession with meatballs…but can you blame me? I have yet to meet a meatball I didn’t like.

Meatballs are easy to make. You can mix & match ingredients and know it’s always gonna taste good. My favorite part about making home-made meatballs — they bake fast and clean up is easy as long as you remember to line your baking sheet with tin foil. (please don’t forget this step!)

BBQ Meatball Sliders @ The Tasty Fork

I made BBQ Meatball Sliders for dinner the other night, but sliders are the perfect party sized snack! All of the prep work can be done before guests arrive and the meatballs go under the broiler for just 12 minutes.. so they’re super quick to pass around when guests are getting hungry. Not to mention, I’m sure you’ll get a lot of enthusiastic “oohs and aahs” when offering this slider to party goers. Let’s give two scenarios – The Everyday Slider vs. BBQ Meatball Slider.

Scenario #1

You – “Hi Uncle Bob. Would you like to try this slider?”

Uncle Bob – “Oh sure. Thanks.”

Scenario #2

You – “Hi Uncle Bob. Would you like to try a BBQ Meatball Slider.”

Uncle Bob – “BBQ Meatball Slider??!! I love meatballs! Ooohh my!”

Obviously, scenario #2 will generate the praise every party host wants and you can be happy you’ve made an amazing party snack people will talk about for years. Ok, “for year”s might be slightly over exaggerated but I’m sure you’ll get requests to make BBQ Meatball Sliders again.

Or you can be like me and eat BBQ Meatball Sliders on a random Monday just because they taste good. 🙂

BBQ Slider The Tasty Fork

BBQ Meatball Sliders, makes 12 meatballs

For the meatballs:

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • Salt & Pepper

Coleslaw Recipe:

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage mix
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  • Salt & Pepper

Additional Ingredients:

  • Cooking Spray
  • You favorite BBQ Sauce
  • 12 dinner rolls or slider buns (I used Hawaiian Bread Dinner Rolls. Perfect size for a slider!)


For the Meatballs: 

  1. Combine the bread, onion, parsley, and garlic in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the milk and Worcestershire, and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the beef, eggs, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and gently combine. Form into 12 meatballs (about 1.5  tablespoons each)
  3. To cook immediately: Place the meatballs on foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Broil for 10-12 minutes, or until no longer pink.

For the Coleslaw:

  1. Toss the cabbage and scallions with the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, and celery seed; season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside.

When you’re ready to assemble the slider, place meatball on the slider bun and top with BBQ sauce & coleslaw.

Inspired by Real Simple

Follow Friday: Kitchen Meets Girl

30 Nov

Happy Friday! I’m so glad the weekend is finally here, aren’t you? I mentioned earlier this week  The Tasty Fork will be getting a makeover. I’m undergoing a blog redesign and moving to a self hosted server. I’m so excited! I’m so anxious! I’m really excited about getting a bloggy makeover! Meg from VintPrint Designs has been amazing and she’s so patient with all of my question. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with! I’m so anxious because I heard when you move to a self hosted server, you can lose a lot of your followers. I really really really don’t want that to happen! If you’re subscriber to my blog, you’ll need to re-subscribe once I make my official move. Trust me, you won’t want to lose me! Once I’m up and running, I’m going to have a give away to celebrate my new look. You won’t want to miss out! This would be a great time for you to follow me on Facebook & Twitter so you can stay up to date on my posts.

Ooook, enough about me! #FollowFridays are never about me. This post is all about my blog crush of the week. And this week, I got a good one for you to start following. Have you heard of Kitchen Meets Girl? Ashley is amazing! Her recipes are creative, she takes beautiful photos and she’s very interactive with her followers. She’s doing everything right as a blogger. I hope to be like her when I grow up 🙂

If you’re new to #FollowFriday, this is how it works. I select a blogger and highlight 5 of my favorite recipe posts. Ashley made this job very hard on me. After 5 minutes of surfing through her blog, I had 15 posts written down to highlight…. and I had barely made a dent into her recipe catalog. The next 20 minutes of my life were very indecisive as I tried to narrow my list. Luckily I picked my 5 but trust me, you’ll want to head over to Kitchen Meets Girl and see for yourself what Ashley can do. Soo, here we go!

1. Maple Bacon Pecan Cinnamon Rolls


Oh yes she did. I mean, I think my head almost exploded when I saw this post. She combined my two favorite breakfast items. Bacon & Cinnamon Rolls.

2. Jalepeno Popper Turkey Chili


This is the recipe which got my attention to Kitchen Meets Girl. I made this chili and it was everything she promised. Delicious & Spicy! I was sad when the leftovers were gone.

3. Seven Layer Mexican Dip {Individual Sized}


This would be a great dip and cute presentation for a holiday party. Plus, you can double dip your chip!

4. Two Bite White Chocolate Cheesecake


Another great holiday party treat! I love a bite sized desert.

5. Peppermint Malted Hot Chocolate


Just looking at this picture warms me up inside. I can’t wait to make this when I’m decorating our home for Christmas!

Do you like the 5 recipes I picked? I hope so! Head over to Kitchen Meets Girl and bookmark her page. If you like what you see, here are some more ways you can stay up to date on her latest & greatest.

I hope you liked my #FollowFriday Blogger Feature! 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!

It’s like a peppermint mocha on a plate…..

12 Dec

Happy Holidays!

I don’t know about you but I’m such a sucker for anything seasonal. It’s hard for me to walk past a Starbucks during the holidays and bypass buying a festive coffee. Have you tried the Creme Brulee Latte?? I hope you have and you what I’m talking about. It’s heaven in a red recyclable cup. If you haven’t, do your self a favor and get one. It’s worth every calorie.

One of my favorite Holiday flavor combonations is peppermint & chocolate. Yes, it makes me think of Starbucks delicious drink but it also reminds me of a favorite holiday treat. As a kid I loved brownies & peppermint ice cream. I’d ask my Mom to heat up the brownie and I loved how the ice cream would be really soft and melt into the chocolate treat.

This holiday season, I wanted to re-create my favorite holiday treat but in a less messy way. I know it’s cold in Chicago right now, but I don’t think giving people gifts of brownies & ice cream is very transportable.

I saw a recipe on Real Simple for White Chocolate & Peppermint Brownies…. but I think this recipe has been given the wrong name. After making it, I started calling it Milk Chocolate Brownies with White Chocolate Peppermint Bark. It’s a bit more descriptive and sounds a bit more decadent!

Great as a gift!

This recipe is really easy and you probably have all of the ingredients already! (Well, all I needed to buy was the white chocolate but that was it.) I think these brownies are great as gifts.Just head down to your local Walgreens and buy a cute holiday tin. I bought one for under two bucks.

Holiday Tin -- So cute from Walgreens

Milk Chocolate Brownies with White Chocolate Peppermint Bark (from Real Simple)


    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon canola oil
    • 1/3 cup chopped peppermint candies (about 15 candies)
1. Heat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, buttering in between and leaving an overhang on all sides; butter the parchment.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
3. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and semisweet chocolate. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
4. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
5. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan.
6. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate and oil in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Spread on top of the cooled brownies. Sprinkle with the candies and let set.

7. Holding the paper overhang, lift the brownies out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares (4 rows by 4 rows).


Keeping it festive

21 Nov

Alright peeps, it’s time step out of the “salsa is only for tomatoes” box and get festive with fall flavors. There are a lot of fruits out there which are in season right now. I usually think of fresh produce as a summer time thing, but look at your grocery store the next time you’re there. Notice all the types of pears & apples available. Of course with Thanksgiving coming around the corner, your local store should also have FRESH cranberries.

I saw a recipe for Cranberry, Pear & Apple Salsa and I knew I had to try it. Having a Vitamix mixer made this recipe so simple. I couldn’t imagine chopping all of these things and trying to accomplish my normal morning routine. I’d never be out the door on time.

Along with the seasonal fruit, this salsa also has some “typical” salsa ingredients including onion, jalapeno, cilantro & lime juice. I must say I loved the jalapeno in this recipe. It really gave the salsa a spicy kick and the recipe would have been missing something with out it.

Another great thing about this salsa — it’s really pretty! The red of the cranberry and green cilantro pieces remind me of Christmas.. but cranberries are for Thanksgiving! Oh who cares! This salsa is so refreshing, you’ll hardly notice how cold it is outside. It will transport you to a warmer place. Pear (lol) this salsa with a frosty beverage and you’ll feel like you’re on vacation.

Holiday Season is here.


Cranberry Pear Salsa  (from

Cranberry Pear Salsa

makes about 1 1/2 cups of salsa

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

1 anjou pear, peeled and chopped

1 large apple, peeled and chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, chopped

1/3 cup fresh cilantro

the juice of two limes

the juice of one orange

4 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor (or strong blender) and blend until smooth. Taste and season with additional salt or honey if desired.

Note: this salsa can be very TART depending on your cranberries. Don’t be afraid to add more honey, salt or even a few spoonfuls of sugar (yes, sugar!) to the mix.

No Pumpkin Pie?? Try Pumpkin Bars!

17 Nov

Where did the squash go to get drunk?? …. The Pumpkin Bar!  Ok, that was cheesy. But with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’m consumed with all things related to our national holiday of over eating.

Moving along to the star of this post — The Pumpkin Bar.

Dessert Anyone??

If you’re one of those people who refuses to make Pumpkin Pie because you can’t make a good crust, try this instead. The crust is extremely easy and fool-proof. I promise it will be strong enough to support the creamy pumpkin filling. I won’t judge you if you lick the bowl after making the filling. I did. I wasn’t embarrassed because I wasn’t the only one in class who did so.

I brought 24 of these bars into work. By 5pm, they were gone.

I also brought in homemade brownies that day. Who doesn’t want a homemade brownie? Guess what, no one touched the brownies. Everyone wanted the Pumpkin Bar.

So, if you get what I’m writing, these bars are awesome. They are a perfectly festive treat and they should be on your dessert table this holiday season.

I’m particpating in a holiday recipe exchange being held through one of my favorite blogs. “My Baking Addiction” is a site I came across soon after I started taking my Baking & Pastry class at Kendall College. Her site has so many creative desserts and she does a great job explaining her recipes. I suggest you take a look at her site, too! 

Or here is a better idea, you can submit your favorite recipe to her Holiday Recipe Exchange too! Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Chicago Metallic .

Pumpkin Bars

Hazelnut Streusel Crust

Pastry Flour         185 g

Brown Sugar        115 g

Hazelnut Flour      90 g

Butter                  140 g

Mix all ingredients until clumpy. Press half of the streusel into a lined pan. Add egg wash to crust. It will give your crust a nice shine and make it crisp. Bake at 350 F for 12 min. Let cool.

Pumpkin Filling

 Sugar               273 g

Maple Syrup     25 g

Pumpkin Puree     200 g

Eggs                    200 g

Cream Cheese      365 g

Vanilla                  5 g

Allspice                1/2  tsp

Cinnamon             1 1/2 tsp

Have all ingredients at room temp. Cream the cheese, vanilla, and spices together in a mixer.

Add sugar, then syrup, then pumpkin, and lastly the egg. Scrape down the bowl in between mixing to incorporate all the ingredients.

Pour filling over the streusel base and top with remaining streusel.

Bake at 300 F for 30 minutes.

Cool overnight and portion the next day.