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Monday, July 27, 2009

Mini Goat Cheese & Honey Tarts

For the past few months, I have been a member of a book club started by some of my coworkers, and it is always one of the highlights of my week. (Hi ladies!) To be completely honest, though, we like to eat as much as we like to read. We started out with early morning meetings at Starbucks, discussing the books over coffee and pastries. Then we moved to afternoon meetings at Panera or the Barnes & Noble cafe. Now, we still have our regular weekly meetings with snacks, but the final meeting for each book is held at a member’s house where we watch the book’s corresponding movie and enjoy a pot luck dinner. To make it even better, we have themed dinners to celebrate the latest book.

So far, I have contributed to these meals with a different course each time, covering salad, main entree and dessert (red velvet cake for our all-red Dracula party). For our latest party – honey themed for The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – I claimed appetizers for something new.

So, I took it upon myself to create an appetizer that incorporated honey but was still a savory bite to begin the meal. I looked at what I already had at home to add and found walnuts and various herbs. Enter goat cheese and pre-made phyllo cups and you have a tasty appetizer than uses a lot of my favorite ingredients!

Mini Goat Cheese and Honey Tarts
makes 20 appetizers

  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1/2 t. dried basil
  • 1/4 t. dried thyme
  • pinch coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 packages phyllo cups (from the freezer section)
  • chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix the first five ingredients until combined and creamy.

Use a small ice cream scoop or melon baller to spoon the filling into the cups, being careful not to crack the phyllo.

Sprinkle each with the chopped walnuts and lightly press down into the filling.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until filling is slightly melted and the walnuts are lightly toasted.

At first I was afraid these would be too much like a dessert from the sweetness of the honey, but the herbs and pepper add a nice savory contrast. Overall, I think they were a big hit at the party – at least the platter was empty when I left for home!

What are some of your favorite, easily prepared appetizers?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Changes and Decisions

Hi everyone! You may have noticed a few changes here at Rachel ♥s Food. I have updated my About Me section, my layout, and have designed a new header bar using one of my own food photos.

I started this blog almost a year ago with the intention of creating a daily food diary along the same lines as Kath of Kath Eats Real Food and Tina at Carrots ‘N’ Cake (two of my favorite blogs, by the way). However, I was beginning my second year of graduate school and starting a new full time job and found myself strained for time. Then, in October, I got engaged and started planning my wedding in addition to everything else, and the blog (and cooking, too) definitely took a back seat to everything else in my life.

Now that I am married and completely finished with my Masters degree, I’ve had the time to get back into the kitchen and spend quality time cooking what I want, creating hearty and healthful meals for myself and my husband. I’ve also been able to sit back and think about the blog and what direction I want to go with it. So, rather than post my daily meals and snacks everyday, I am going to scale it back to 4-5 posts per week and focus on the following:

  • my original recipes
  • recipe reviews

I think that will be enough to keep me busy and engaged with the blog, posting with regularity and building up my reader base again. I will still share a few personal stories as well – I still owe you recaps from my bridal showers and wedding!

I also joined Craving Ellie in My Belly, a cooking club/blog that makes one Ellie Krieger recipe per week. I have been following it for awhile, and after speaking with Liz from The Not So Skinny Kitchen (another great blog) I decided to give it a try!

So, thank you to those of you who still follow Rachel ♥s Food after all of this time. I appreciate your support and look forward to bringing you more!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Giveaway alert!

Erin at I Walk in this World is teaming with Musselman's to give away three prizes from the Healthy Picks applesauce line. Click here to enter!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mediterranean Style Tilapia


A few years ago, I took a 10 week long cooking class that was sponsored through the adult education program of a local high school. It was taught by a man, whose name I sadly cannot remember, who was a personal chef for other people in the area. This class was one of the best experiences I have ever had, and it definitely opened up my eyes to new techniques, cuisines, and flavor combinations that I had never tried before. Since then, I have made the ten recipes many, many times and for some have tweaked them to better suit myself and my husband.

This recipe was from the first night of class, and was originally titled Mediterranean Style Chops as the original recipe calls for pork rather than fish. I would call it Mediterranean Style (Insert Protein Here) because I have now made it successfully with pork, chicken, and as you see here, tilapia. I also think the sauce could be made alone and used on vegetables or even served just with crusty bread because it is THAT delicious. In fact, I think a little bit of leftover sauce ended up spooned over the green beans you see in the picture.

The original recipe serves four, but I usually halve it since it is just me and my husband. The recipe also reflects my personal changes, such as using white wine instead of marsala, and of course the change in protein. Also, don’t be afraid of the long ingredient list – everything melds together nicely and it is worth the work of chopping and measuring everything out. It is savory from the onions and garlic, sweet from the tomatoes, raisins and sugar, salty from the olives and capers, and tangy from the vinegar and lemon zest. You definitely don’t want to miss out on any of this flavor adventure!

I also think this would make an excellent vegetarian dish by subbing vegetable broth for the chicken broth and either omitting the protein or using tofu or tempeh.

Mediterranean Style Tilapia

  • 4 tilapia filets
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced onions
  • 1 c. golden raisins
  • 2 T. chopped garlic
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped roma tomatoes
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1/4 c. white wine vinegar
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 t. oregano
  • 1/2 c. pimento stuffed olives
  • 2 T. capers, drained and crushed
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 T. lemon zest

Heat oil over medium high heat, then add onions and sauté for three minutes. Add the garlic and raisins and cook for one minute.

Deglaze the pan with the wine, then stir in tomatoes, broth, vinegar, sugar, and oregano. Bring to a boil, then nestle the tilapia filets into the sauce. Cover and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the olives and capers and simmer until heated through. Garnish with parsley and lemon zest.

* Note: If you make this recipe with chicken or pork, begin by searing the meat (either plain or dredged in flour) on both sides, then remove from the pan and follow the rest of the recipe as written. Return the meat to the pan where the directions say to add the tilapia filets.

When we made this recipe in class, it was served with orzo mixed with olive oil and parmesan cheese. In the picture, however, you can see I used brown rice. I think this would go well with any kind of small pasta or grain, so have fun mixing and matching!


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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Restaurant Review: Dolce Aroma Coffee Bar


Last week, I was downtown running some errands and I remembered a recent review in the local GoTriad newspaper insert about a new coffee shop. After a short search on my phone navigation, I had the name and address of the shop and was on my way.

Dolce Aroma European Coffee Bar is located on N. Elm Street in downtown Greensboro at the base of the Bellemeade parking deck. I found street parking a couple blocks away, but as I approached the shop I saw this sign that advertises one hour free parking in the deck. I didn’t think about it while actually parking, but that is one of the perks of downtown Greensboro – several parking decks offer “First Hour Free” parking.


The menu board, which I forgot to photograph, offered pretty standard coffee shop fare. There was also a small food case with a variety of bars, muffins, and some very tasty looking baklava, but I resisted and ordered a small frozen mocha with no whipped cream. After ordering, however, I saw the “Nutticino” on the menu, which I will definitely try next time – a cappuccino with almond and hazelnut flavoring.

While I waited on my drink, I looked around the small but comfortable dining area. I was happy to see that there was both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as local art for sale on the walls:


After I got my drink, I went outside to enjoy the nice weather and downtown scenes. I have to say, I enjoyed the frozen mocha very much – it seemed to have a small amount of ice in proportion to the other ingredients, and it was very creamy. The espresso was rich and the chocolate actually tasted like real cocoa rather than a sugary, fake taste like some other mocha drinks I have had in the past. I was curious to find out if they used real cocoa or syrup, and I went back inside to discover that they use 1883 Philibert Routin Gourmet Syrups, which do not appear to be for sale directly through the official website.


Overall, I enjoyed my Dolce Aroma experience very much and hope to have another trip downtown soon. The only downside is that they are only open until 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and not at all on the weekends. If you are in the Greensboro area on a weekday, definitely give Dolce Aroma a visit!

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