Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Guest Post on Simply Life: Pear & Triple Cream Bruschetta with Apple Butter

I had the pleasure of submitting my first guest post over at Simply Life. I've been reading Gina's posts since last autumn and love seeing her simple, healthy recipes. I decided to share a homemade organic apple butter recipe, as well as an interpretation of bruschetta to utilize the apple butter. Thank you, Gina, for allowing me to share my love of organic foods with your readers. What are you waiting for?! Go check it out!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Giveaway: Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

Wonderful news! I'm pleased to host my first giveaway: Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil! This year I've really been laying my love of coconut on pretty thick, and the lovely people at Tropical Traditions have generously offered to give one lucky reader a jar of their famous coconut oil to help spread the love.

For years I've used coconut oil in my cooking, for both health and taste reasons. My favorite way to use coconut oil is to cook fish. The coconut oil has always helped perfectly cook any fish and never soaks in to make it greasy or unpalatable.  It is also delicious to spread on bread in place of butter, or to add a nice taste and texture to a homemade smoothie. But the uses of coconut oil are practically unlimited, even outside the realm of cooking. My organic lotions and chapsticks also contain coconut oil, which really help keep my skin hydrated.

I've used several organic coconut oils over the years, and the Gold Label offered by Tropical Traditions has been the best quality I've tasted. The method of producing the coconut oil on the Tropical Traditions' website explains why this is such a high quality oil, "[they] extract the oil by grating the fresh coconut, extracting the coconut milk, and then letting the coconut milk stand in a covered container for about 24 hours. After about 24 hours, the oil naturally separates from the water producing a crystal clear oil that retains the full scent and taste of coconuts."

This means the coconut oil is extracted by hand to make unrefined coconut oil 24-48 hours after the organic coconuts are harvested in the Philippines. This hand making process prevents nutrients from being broken down, compared to high-heat refining processes, allowing their oil to retain higher levels of antioxidants naturally from the coconuts. Tropical Traditions' coconut oil is made by local families certified with the Good Manufacturing Practice. Their website has photos and more information about this traditional method of making coconut oil.

The giveaway is now closed. Thank you for entering!

How to Enter:

To receive one (1) 32 oz jar of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, head over to the Tropical Traditions website and sign up for their free newsletter which features sales discounts, free recipes, and much more! After signing up for the newsletter, leave a comment here letting me know to be officially entered in the giveaway. Anyone is welcome to enter, but I must be able to contact you via email. The coconut oil can only be shipped to the United States or Canada (but for International readers, if you have a US or Canadian shipping address, you can still enter!). Tropical Traditions is not responsible for customs or duties that Canada may charge if you decide to participate in this Tropical Traditions sponsored blog giveaway.


You can be entered more than once by completing the following steps below - but you still must leave a comment (one per action) to receive multiple entries.

1. Leave a comment about a Tropical Traditions' product or recipe you'd like to try.
2. Follow Tropical Traditions on Twitter.
3. Become a fan of Tropical Traditions on Facebook.
4. Become a follower of Le Grand Fromage.
5. Follow Le Grand Fromage on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway: Win a FREE jar of @Troptraditions' Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil via @BLeGrandFromage:
6. Become a fan of Le Grand Fromage on Facebook.

If you already have completed any of these actions, still leave a comment letting me know to receive your extra entries!

The giveaway is now closed. Thank you for entering!

The giveaway will end on April 9, 2010 at 11:59pm EST. Any comments received after this time will not be included in the giveaway. The winner will be selected using The winner will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to respond, otherwise another winner will be selected.

If you like products offered by Tropical Traditions, as a bonus for first time customers, by entering my referal number during checkout, you can receive a FREE copy of the book "Virgin Coconut Oil: How It Has Changed People's Lives and How It Can Change Yours!" This book is packed with information explaining coconut oil in depth, as well as 85 recipes showing how to use coconut products throughout your diet. At checkout under the "How did you hear about us?" option, choose "Refered by" and enter my referal number 5580608.
Good Luck!

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Flour Flapjacks

Have you visited the Foodie Blogroll? Created by Jenn of The Left Over Queen, it's a fun website chock full of food bloggers from all corners of the globe. Not only is it a place to meet other bloggers, but Jenn hosts fun giveaways as well with some amazing prizes.

Tropical Traditions Goodie Box

I was privileged to win a Tropical Traditions Goodie Box which included a 32oz Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil jar, a 16oz Coconut Cream Concentrate, an Organic Coconut Flour bag, and a 16oz jar of Organic Coconut Peanut Butter! I had been looking forward to trying some of Tropical Tradition's products, so this was a surprising way to get that chance - thank you!

I knew as soon as the aromatic package arrived that I wanted to make flapjacks.

I have spoken about the multitude of benefits coconut provides before, but you can learn much more on the Tropical Traditions website. They offer a plethora of organic, healthy foods and items, so be sure to check them out.

I've never used coconut flour before, but I was aware the flour is more delicate and crumbly than regular flour. It needs protein to hold it together, and it cannot equally be substituted in the place of regular flour. I tried several concoctions before finding the consistency I was looking for. Although my method my seem a bit unorthodox for flapjacks, the thickness that is required of the batter left me no other alternative - that is, I used my hands to shape the flapjacks. The batter is too thick to pour like regular flapjack or pancake mix. It also has a slightly coarser texture from the coconut flour. The coconut flavor is milder than expected, which is helpful in pairing it with a variety of toppings. I have been looking for an excuse to use more tart cherries, so I used them as a topping, along with chocolate chips.

I have an alternative method for making chocolate flapjacks. Instead of using chocolate chips or cocoa powder, I use chocolate milk. It's been my secret for years now, but I think it's time to let others in on it.

The flapjacks came out thick and tender. I even attempted to add some chocolate chips to the flapjacks, careful not to break them apart. I enjoyed my first coconut flour experience and hope others enjoy this recipe. Keep in mind coconut flour flapjacks are not an equal comparison to regular pancakes, so if you make this recipe expecting the common breakfast food, your taste buds may not know what hit them.

Chocolate Coconut Flour Flapjacks

Chocolate Coconut Flour Flapjacks

2 tbsp butter
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chocolate milk
2 tbsp turbinado
1 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
coconut oil
chocolate chips
tart cherries

Brown Butter

Over medium heat in a small skillet, brown the butter. Mix the eggs through sugar in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle the browned butter into the liquid mixture while whisking, careful not to cook the eggs. Add the coconut flour and baking powder and stir well. The mixture will be very thick.

Chocolate Coconut Flour Flapjacks Batter

In a small skillet over medium-high heat, add 1/2 tsp coconut oil. Take a small handful of the flapjack mixture and shape into a flat disk.

Flapjack Cooking

Carefully put the flapjack into the skillet and cook for at least 3 min on each side. Use a spatula to flip and remove from the pan. Top with syrup, chocolate chips, and tart cherries.

~Yields 8 flapjacks.

~Original by Brie.

Tropical Traditions and Foodie Blogroll are in no way affiliated with Le Grand Fromage. I was not compensated for this post in any way, other than randomly winning a giveaway with the prizes as shown above. I was not asked to author an opinion, positive or negative, regarding Tropical Traditions or Foodie Blogroll.

Nouvelle Édition

Bonjour! Welcome to the new blog layout!

Below is a progression of the changes over the past half-year:

Version 1

Version 2

In addition to a new background, I also have officially acquired an amateur "professional" camera - a Canon Rebel XS. It's such a relief to be able to have clear, close up shots of my recipes; however, I still have a lot to learn. This gives me a chance to greatly improve my blog though and I'm really excited to be able to participate in more food sharing websites.

I hope everything is an improvement and you continue to enjoy the recipes featured. I had no idea how enjoyable food blogging would be, as it has passed my expectations. I've had the pleasure of getting to know fellow food bloggers and readers all across the world. Thank you for all the joy you've given me and I hope to keep giving it back!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blog Award!

Several weeks ago, Nancy from Spicie Foodie awarded me the Happy 101 Award! Nancy has fabulous recipes featured on her site, many times with a spicy Mexican flare, which range from classic tomato soup to exotic tempting treats, so be sure to check out what she has to offer.

Part of receiving this award is to share 10 things that make me happy, as well as name 10 fellow foodies' blogs that I enjoy reading (of which I'm trying not to rename any mentioned in my previous award post, even though those bloggers make me happy, too!).

1.My fiancé, who is as unique as I am, but puts up with my silliness on a daily basis
2. My siblings who make life interesting and exciting
3. My dog who is my loving and wild companion
4. Getting lost in a great book
5. Hiking in the woods
6. Swimming laps for hours on end
7. Discovering new desserts to enjoy (my sweet tooth is insatiable)
8. Sleeping in while it's raining outside
9. Exploring historical sites and learning its history
10. Reading comments on my blog ::hint, hint::

My list of bloggers who make me happy, in no particular order:

1. Robin at A Chow Life
2. Rochelle at Acquired Taste
3. Madalina at Duh-Licious
4. Kerry at French Revolution
5. Isabelle at Good Food, Good Wine, and a Bad Girl
6. Hannah at honey & jam
7. Gina at Simply Life
8. Rose & Adam at The Bite Me Kitchen
Cynthia at Taste Like Home
10. Mike at Vegan for the People

I hope you enjoy the wonderful recipes these foodies have to offer!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

New Orleans - Day Three & Four

We woke up late on day three and quickly got dressed to leave for breakfast. I was excited to try Surrey's Café & Juice Bar and was kinda glad it was late in the morning, as most of the crowd should be finished and on to other things. We began walking up Poydras Street to St. Charles Avenue hoping to catch the trolley. The previous night we had been stranded after dinner in the French Quarter for 45 min waiting for the trolley to take us back to the hotel to change for drinks. We were hoping not for a repeat. We enjoyed the stroll up the main road and stopped at the corner. No trolley. We decided to walk down St. Charles and just hop on the trolley once it catches up.

We made it five blocks to Lee Circle - still no trolley. We climbed up the steps on Lee Circle to take some photos. As soon as we had made it to the top - three trolleys rolled on by. Sigh. We began our walk again on St. Charles and had to trek the entire fifteen or so block hike to brunch.

We approached the café and unfortunately found a large group of people outside waiting to be seated. We added our name to the list and just stared at the other houses for the next 40 min trying to catch our breath from the walk over. I was under the false impression the café was entirely organic, which was why I chose to try it. They do offer freshly squeezed organic juices, but it's $5 a glass. I just couldn't bring myself to order a glass of $5 orange juice when I live in Florida and have a counter full of organic oranges that I can squeeze to drink to my heart's content. I did, however, struggle to choose what to have for breakfast, as their items all sounded delicious. I settled on the Huevos Rancheros, while Guy ordered the Cinnamon French Toast. The interior was brightly painted and each table was hand made with interesting pictures and magazine cut-outs. I dubbed our table the "Jesus Table", since old Biblical comics had been pasted together with quotes and cut-outs of the universe. The seating area was also on a lower level than the kitchen, which had old windows you could look up into to see what the cooks were doing. Breakfast arrived quicker than anticipated and we dove right in.

Guy's french toast was made with thick pieces of french bread, soaked through with egg, milk, and cinnamon, then toasted just right with a slight crust on the outside, but warm and soft on the inside. He once again chose well, unlike myself.

The Huevos Racheros sounded and looked delicious, with corn tortillas smothered with black beans, eggs, cheese, pico de gallo, and molé sauce; but, it had no flavor - at all. I only ate what was on my plate because I was so ravenous and cranky from the walk over, I dared not protest, afraid of what I might say. The hand made the corn tortillas were bland and just dense, instead of crispy. The eggs tasted store bought, as I later discovered you needed to ask for organic eggs (which is when I discovered the entire menu was not organic). The rest of the items could also just be described as bland. Of course, any meal smothered in sugar is hard to get wrong, but I wanted something healthy to get me through walking the rest of the day (since the trolley system was "unreliable" at best). We paid for our meal (after withdrawing cash from the ATM conveniently located next to the back tables where people are eating since the restaurant only accepts cash) and decided to change our plans since our day was not going so smoothly.

We had originally decided to visit a few of the famous cemeteries and take photographs of the unusual above ground burial plots. However, with the way our day was turning out, we sadly decided to nix the cemeteries and just meander through the Garden District. I had a list of the 5 most famous historical houses of the Garden District (which is debatable most likely), so we took off toward Coliseum Street.

Without any trouble, we located the Goodrich-Stanley House at 1729 Coliseum Street. The house was once owned by William Goodrich, a local New Orleans jeweler in the 1860s. He sold the house in 1866 to Henry Hope Stanley, a wealthy British cotton merchant. It was this family who adopted John Rowlands, aka Sir Henry Morton Stanley, who later became a journalist and discovered Dr. Livingston in the African jungle.

We happened upon some more trouble by not being able to confirm which house was the Grace King House. We even asked a mailman, whom we had a bad feeling about, as he tried to send us into the bad part of town and was no help at all. We used our phones to look up photographs to confirm which house was hers online. The house is located at 1749 Coliseum Street (just two houses to the left of the Goodrich-Stanley House as it turns out), but does not have any markings to confirm the historical home. Grace King is a famous nineteenth-century author of New Orleans, who courted other famous literary giants of her time in this home.

We strolled over to 1342 First Street. This area of New Orleans was peaceful. The historic houses gave the essence of walking back through time. Although it doesn't compare to Charleston or Savannah, the Garden District has an aura of old Southern charm.

Nearly next door is the famous Rosegate House at 1239 First Street, the previous residence of the author Anne Rice. This house had the most people stopped outside for a tour and history lesson.

We last visited the Colonel Short House at 1448 Fourth Street, with its famous cornstalk iron fence. The Union Colonel and his wife modeled the home after their memories of Kentucky, since his wife was homesick. This house also was not marked, and we asked a neighbor doing yard work which house was 1448. Humorously enough, he scratched his head and did a circle before Guy spotted which house it was. We explained to the man why we were taking photos, and he had no idea the house had such history behind it, even though he had lived next door for quite some time.

We were too tired for lunch, and had eaten breakfast so late, so we decided to take a short ferry ride before resting for dinner. We couldn't take anymore walking for the moment, so we stopped at St. Charles to wait for a trolley. The universe was kind at that moment as a trolley showed up in 10 min to take us back to Canal Street. We made it to the bottom and hopped onto a ferry within minutes. The ferry, it seems, sticks to its posted schedule, unlike the trolley system. We rode across the great Mississippi River on the top deck since they had seats.

Once on the other side, we walked through the quaint neighborhood to the Rosetree glass shop, which was closed. With nothing else to do on the West Bank, we soon found ourselves back on the ferry. This time we rode standing on the lower deck in the open air.

Passengers couldn't help but wave at the steamboat passing by.

After a much needed rest, we dressed up and marched back out into the cold night. After getting lost attempting to find a shortcut to a trolley, we finally found St. Charles and just had to shiver for 30 min until one showed up. Our feet just couldn't take anymore long walks. After climbing aboard the trolley, we swiftly arrived at our dinner destination and were surprised by the restaurant's small size. Once we stepped inside we realized it wasn't a restaurant - it was a bar.

The Delachaise has received rave reviews online, and for good reason. This is a local favorite as they have an endless wall full of every wine, liqueur, and beer one could possibly want. They also have professional chefs on hand for anyone wanting a nice nibble during their leisurely drinks. However, this is one local favorite that should remain for locals. We were quite out of place. A nice couple informed us that it was a seat yourself establishment and to put all orders in at the bar. We glanced over the menu and settled on our dinner selections. I elbowed my way through the crowd and placed our order, while Guy scored better seats for us in a quiet corner. Since the crowd wasn't there for the food, our meals arrived in a very short time. I went with a Grilled Cheese Annabella with Pommes Frites.

The grilled cheese was oozing with cheesy goodness, both asiago and fiore sardo, but had a peculiar spread on the toasted bread.

The pommes frites were fried in duck fat and served with two dipping sauces; one was a malt vinegar aioli, which I preferred, and the other spicy satay, which failed to dance on my palate as the peanut flavor didn't meld with the potatoes.

Guy again chose the better meal with Flank Steak Bruchetta - an open faced sandwich dripping with flavor, covered with peruvian garlic sauce and shaved aged manchego on a ciabatta crostini. We gulped down our dinner and had enough energy to saunter over to our dessert destination.

Sucré is a diamond in the rough. The shop glows with a warm light and bright colors. It was full of people during our brief stay. They offer rows of gelato, truffles, and specialty desserts.

Guy quickly spotted mint chocolate gelato and ordered a healthy scoop. It was refreshing to see a smile return to his face after a long day. I decided to try their pumpkin cheesecake.

The top layer was a unique gelatin applesauce which was delicious. The middle layer was a delicate, creamy pumpkin cheesecake. But the third layer was a strange tasting crust, what it contained I'm not sure. Since I left so much of the dessert on my plate, and because I had had such a rough day, I didn't hesitate to go for a small bowl of gelato myself.

I chose the pistachio since it's one of my favorite dessert flavors. The smooth gelato melted in my mouth and even contained whole pistachio pieces, which was a nice crunchy bonus.

After a satisfying dessert experience, we were ready to end our difficult day. We had to wait another 45 min for the trolley to pick us up, but it was better than walking at that point.

New Orleans - Day Four

After a much needed deep sleep, we awoke on the fourth morning ready to head home. We stopped downstairs in the Riverwalk mall for another round of café au lait and beignets from a sister shop of Café Du Monde. We sat at a nice table next to a wall of windows and quietly ate our breakfast while looking out onto the lightly fogged riverfront.

The checkout at the hotel was also nicely uneventful and we rolled onto I10 to arrive back home. I had missed my dog terribly, as we had not been separated for more than 12 hours since I first brought her home in August.

It seemed to take longer to get home, but we were both eager to end the underwhelming trip. We didn't have high expectations for New Orleans, but it still was a disappointment. We had never been exposed to so much cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes in our lives. Even with a full schedule of places to visit, it was let down anyway. It just seems that city is not for us.

We're already planning another vacation to make up for this one, so suggestions are welcome for a relaxing destination in the Southern US!

I'm looking forward to returning to happy recipes, as I do not like remembering negative events.