Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Tacos

This is a more in depth recipe post than what I typically post but don’t be scared! What looks like a long list of ingredients is probably items you already have in your pantry.

This entire meal was SO easy to make from scratch and totally hit the spot. IMG_3061

Sick of always rotating the same meals week after week? Want a dish that you can set and forget? If you have a crock pot and a pork tenderloin you are in luck! I put this baby in the slow cooker in the late morning, and by dinner time I had a dish packed with flavor that could feed an army.

What made this dish for me was the Chipotle crema. Made healthier using greek yogurt I could eat this sauce on everything. So much flavor from so few ingredients.

I love the colorful pop from the coleslaw and make sure to grab the corn tortillas at the grocery store for a more authentic flavor.

YUM.

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

 

For the Pulled Pork (adapted from Food 52)

  • pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 garlic clove; crushed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • tablespoons soy sauce

Mix together the seasonings: salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over the tenderloin.

Place ½ cup water in slow cooker along with the pork tenderloin. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

1 hour before the roast is finished, mix together the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan: water, brown sugar, cornstarch, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce. Heat over medium and stir until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.

Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. For a more caramelized crust, remove from crock pot and place on aluminum lined sheet pan, brush on more glaze, and set under broiler for 1-2 minutes until bubbly and caramelized.

 

For the Coleslaw

  • 12 oz bag of coleslaw mix
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • Juice of half a lime

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. If you are making a head of time let it sit in the refrigerator until needed.

 

For the Rice

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of white rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 10oz can of Rotel Tomatoes Diced & Green Chilies
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Saute rice for 2-3 minutes until browned.

Stir in water and tomatoes. Season with salt. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.

Fluff rice with a fork.

 

For the Chipotle Crema

  • 1/2 cup of greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of mayo
  • 1-2 teaspoons of chipotle adobo sauce

In a small bowl mix all ingredients together. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 

When you are ready to eat…

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Put tortillas in an oven heated on low (approx 250-300 F).

Place the pork on a large cutting board and pull apart with forks. Remove the tortillas from the oven and spread the chipotle crema on them. Top with coleslaw, the pulled pork, and a squirt of lime.

 

1…2…3…TRADITION: #BostonStrong and Baseball Shaped Cheese Balls

Every Patriot’s Day/Marathon Monday for the past 5 years my friends and I go to the Red Sox game. It has become a tradition we look forward to every year. A day of fun and celebration. This year will mark year 6 and each year we get more and more friends to join us on this special day.

Fenway is an exciting spot to be in since the marathon runners come through Kenmore Square as well as having the baseball game to watch and so many people around enjoying the day.

Boston Marathon

 Last years tragic events will forever change this day for us. We were in the Fenway area when the bombs went off, and I will never forget how scary it was and how quickly the streets emptied out. In the wake of tragedy the people of Boston showed how truly #BostonStrong they are and I couldn’t be prouder to be from this amazing city.

This year we are vowing to “take back the day” and use it as a way to honor all of the survivors, first responders, and especially those who lost their lives on Monday, April 15th, 2013.

Boston Strong

One Fund Boston was formed by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino on April 16, 2013, with the purpose of helping those most affected by the tragic Boston Marathon bombings.

If you would like to donate to the One Fund you can do so here.The-One-Fund

Below are some photos from the past few years…2010 2011 2013

I don’t really have a good segway into the recipe part of this post so I’m just going to go for it…

A few weeks ago at work we had an office block party. Each department chose a theme and brought in snacks and decorations. My department chose Fenway! Our talented graphic designers even drew Wally, the Red Sox mascot, on our window – he is still up there today!

Our office has over 300 people in it and is brand new as of March 2014. This block party was a great way to socialize with coworkers and get to know our new space.

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My contribution was a cheese ball appetizer shaped like a baseball. This recipe was SO easy and I loved how it came out.

This is a great recipe because you can switch up the ingredients to your liking. Next time I am going to try a goat cheese and cranberry ball rolled in toasted almonds and nutmeg.

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1 bar of light cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of chopped scallions
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1 small container of whipped cream cheese
  • 1 small red pepper – cut into small slivers.
  • Assorted crackers

Let your bar of cream cheese soften slightly in a mixing bowl. Add the Parmesan, scallions, onion powder, garlic salt and pepper. Mix until combined and taste. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Roll the cheese mixture into a ball, flatten the bottom, and place on to a plate lined with parchment or wax paper. Spread the whipped cream cheese over the ball to make it look all-white like a baseball.

Cut your red pepper into small slivers to look like the laces of a baseball and press into the cheese ball.

Serve with assorted crackers of your choice.

** If you are not going to eat this right away make sure to keep it refrigerated.

GO SOX!

redsox

 

 

 

Friday Lunch at Toro

Last week my roommate and I decided to hit up one of our favorite spots for lunch. Toro is located in Boston’s South End neighborhood and is arguably one of the hottest restaurants in town.

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We were shocked when we arrived at almost 2pm on a Friday how crowded it was.

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Since the restaurant doesn’t take reservations there is a chance you may have to wait upwards of two hours for a table. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Luckily they have great cocktails to sip on while you wait and if any seats open up at the bar grab them because you can order from the whole menu while sitting there. We lucked out and snagged two seats at the bar within 5 minutes of walking in the door, otherwise we would have been waiting at least and hour.
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As we looked over the menu we decided to treat ourselves to some day time cocktails.

My roommate got the Chupacabra made with tequila, lime, and spicy mango simple syrup. I like spicy foods and drinks but this one was really SPICY! Order with caution because your mouth will be on fire throughout the meal.

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Chupacabra

My cocktail choice was the Gypsy made with gin, elderflower, yellow chartreuse and lime. I liked how light and refreshing it was. I could definitely sip down a few of these in one sitting but restrained myself to just one as it was a Friday afternoon.

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Toro’s menu is broken down into Pinchos, Tapas and Calientes as well as Bocadillos Y Ensaladas and Paella’s.

For our first Pincho (small snack) we chose a Pan con Tomate which is a toasted bread with tomato, garlic, Spanish olive oil and sea salt. It was like eating a really fresh bruschetta.

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Pan con Tomate

Our second Pincho was the Datiles con Jamon. These Medjool dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese are one of my favorite items on the menu. Oh, they are wrapped in Jamon Serrano. Anything wrapped in bacon or ham is a win in my book!

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Datiles con Jamon

Now for the Tapas. Another favorite of mine is the Pato con Membrillo, or the Smoked duck drumettes with quince glaze. These sticky and sweet drumettes are finger-licking good and have a ton of meat on them.

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Pato con Membrillo

They were so good I had to take two pictures of them!

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Pato con Membrillo

The Maiz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija is a house special. I get this dish EVERY time I go to Toro and if you look around you will find and order at every table. This grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cotija cheese is a little taste of heaven. There are many restaurants that try to recreate this dish but none will ever be as good as this. EVER.

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Maiz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija

A special dish on the menu was the Mejillones otherwise known as mussels with chorizo and basque cider. I loved how big the mussels were and the broth was flavorful with just the right amount of spice from the chorizo. Make sure to get extra bread to sop up the additional broth.

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Mejillones

Another special on the menu was the Empanada de Carne de Res y Patatas. This spicy curry beef and potato empanada was served with a cucumber, yogurt and clianto sauce. I am not a huge curry fan but I liked this dish because the curry was very faint. The dish is slighly spicy but if you dip it in the yogurt sauce it has a nice cooling effect.

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Empanada de Carne de Res y Patatas

Our last tapa dish was another menu special and a little on the adventurous side for me. The Pate de Cerdo, or bacon wrapped rabbit and pork pate with basque cider and rhubarb mostarda, had a lot of flavor and I loved the rhubarb and mustard.

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Pate de Cerdo

You can’t go to Toro and not get the Churros con Chocolate for dessert. These are some of the best churros I have had – nice and crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside and served warm. You get a nice portion of chocolate on the side so you can dip each and every last bite!

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Churros con Chocolate

If you live in Boston and haven’t been to Toro yet make sure to get in there ASAP. The menu is constantly changing so no matter how many times you go back there will always be something new to try!

Toro Boston
1704 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118

617.536.4300

If you are living in the NYC area you are in luck! Toro NYC opened in September 2013 in the former Nabisco Factory in Chelsea.

Toro NYC
85 10TH AVENUE
Entrance on 15th Street and 11th Avenue
NEW YORK NY 10011

212.691.2360

United for Boston’s Own

I can’t stop thinking about the two brave firefighter’s who lost their lives last week. Lt. Edward J. Walsh and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy were true Boston hero’s putting their lives on the line to save others during the tragic Back Bay fire on March 26th.

The city has coming together in true #BostonStrong fashion over the past few days with many ways to show your support. One way is an chef-inspired dining event on Monday, April 14th taking place at Mike’s City Diner in Boston’s South End. The event is called United for Boston’s Own and will be benefiting the Walsh-Kennedy Memorial Fund.

There are only 60 seats available and tickets are $500. 100% of the money raised will go to Walsh-Kennedy Fund to support the families of Lt. Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy.

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Boston chef’s including Ken Oringer, Ming Tsai, Jay Hajj, Michael Schlow, Mike Smith, Ting Yen, Jamie Bissonnette, Michael Scelfo and Monica Glass will each create one course in a 9-course collaborative dinner.

Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite. If you cannot attend but would still like to donate to the Walsh-Kennedy Fund you can donate at this link as well:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/united-for-bostons-own-tickets-11155906617

Mike’s City Diner
1714 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118

617.267.9393

A Taste of Spring at Sweet Cupcakes

Last winter I was invited to Sweet Cupcakes to check out their newly debuted winter cupcake flavors. Taste testing cupcakes was so much fun and I was thrilled when Spring finally sprung in Boston and I got asked back for a second round!

sweet logo

All of Sweet’s cupcakes are baked fresh daily with fun and original flavors making their debut every season. If you don’t have time to pop into one of their FOUR locations you can order their delicious treats online or by phone (617.247.2253). Sweet also offers cookies and cakes as well as gluten free options.

Talk about variety.

For those of you who haven’t tried a Sweet cupcake yet let me tell you about their frosting. They have the BEST frosting and each cupcake they serve gets a nice large dollop on top. Their frosting is so popular they sell “Frosting Shots” in each of their locations.

I love their clean and simple packaging wrapped like a present to be opened:

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How pretty are these cupcakes??

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Now to look at each one on it’s own…

SWEET CONFETTI CAKEA party in a cake! Delectable Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean cake bursting with bright bits of Belgian white chocolate. Finished with classic vanilla bean buttercream frosting and a confetti of colored sprinkles.

If you love vanilla this cupcake is for you! I am always drawn to anything with sprinkles so I was really excited about this one. The sprinkles are even baked into the cupcake batter so each bite is bursting with color.

Funfetti collage

CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZEL The Sweet and savory cupcake just in time for spring. Delectable chocolate cake with homemade chocolate buttercream, dipped in pretzel crumbs and finished with a miniature chocolate dipped pretzel.

This cupcakes gives you that perfect mix of salty and sweet! I love the crunch from the pretzels mixed into that 2nd layer of frosting.

choc pretzel collage

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL - Moist Belgian chocolate cake stuffed with homemade chocolate pudding and topped with Sweet’s chocolate buttercream and a melted caramel drizzle.

Who doesn’t love the combination of chocolate and caramel? The pudding center keeps the cake nice and moist. This cupcake is a must for a chocolate lover!

caramel collage

PEEPS(offered through Easter) Sweet’s famous vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and signature handcrafted buttercreams dipped in vibrant colored sanding sugars and topped off with the famous marshmallow candy.

I liked this traditional chocolate cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream. Adding the Peep makes for an extra special touch and a perfect treat to celebrate Easter with.

Peeps Collage

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE –  Flourless dark chocolate cake with a hint of espresso and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

This one was a surprise for me because in my mind cupcakes always have frosting. I do love flourless chocolate cake and this cupcake version was one of the best I’ve had. The top was nice and flaky and the inside was so rich and chocolate-y.

Flourless Collage

MINT CHIPCreamy mint chips baked into a rich, moist dark brownie cupcake. Topped with mint infused buttercream frosting and finished with a dark chocolate ganache drizzle.

I liked this cupcake because the mint was not over powering. The chocolate ganache mixed with the mint infused frosting was like eating and Andes Mint in frosting form!

Mint collage

After taste testing each of them it was hard to pick a favorite – they were all so good! However…if I had to pick just one it would have to be the Chocolate Caramel. While the Flourless Chocolate was right up there I have to be honest – Sweet Cupcakes are all about the frosting! And the winning cupcake HAS to have frosting. I also liked that the Chocolate Caramel had the pudding filling on the inside. A little added surprise!

A full list of the Spring Menu is available on their website.

Stop by any of the four Sweet locations below to try them out for yourself and let me know your favorite flavor!

Sweet – Downtown
11 School Street
Boston, MA 02108

Sweet – Back Bay
49 Massachusetts Ave
Boston, MA 02115

Sweet – Newbury Street
225 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115

Sweet – Harvard Square
Zero Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

617.247.CAKE (2253)