Hey ya’ll! I’ve been largely absent from the blog-o-sphere (and normal life in general) because we’re in the middle of a big move. Moving the contents of a home is hard enough but we’re also moving the studio which is, in a word, bonkers. It’s super exciting to have a new home and shoot space so you won’t catch me complaining, but the days are quite grueling and seemingly endless at the moment. At the end of a physically and mentally demanding day, I like to curl up at night even if just for 15 minutes and indulge in some kind of treat. Hey, I did all that hard work today! I’ve earned it!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not much for baking. Because of this I need to get a bit more creative with desserts. I like creamy desserts that are a celebration of fresh and seasonal flavors. This sweet whipped ricotta is creamy and rich and the balsamic strawberry sauce celebrates the sweet tang of seasonal strawberries. I freeze clean farmers’ market strawberries every year in bulk so I have extra special strawberries year-round. This recipe can absolutely sing with store bought frozen strawberries as well. Give it a whirl on these hot hot days!

The balsamic strawberry sauce is fantastic in yogurt as well. If you reduce it even more you’ll have a jam for toast or fancy PBJs! My young toddler can’t get enough!

The spiced maple crisp is just a quick oven candy. It’s totally optional and crazy delicious.

sweet whipped ricotta with balsamic strawberry jam

 SWEET WHIPPED RICOTTA

  • 2 cups (1 tub) ricotta cheese (I’ve used whole and part-skim with no problems)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

~ Blend all ingredients in blender until completely smooth. Pour into covered bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours to set. Can be made ahead. Stir before serving.

BALSAMIC STRAWBERRY SAUCE

  •  2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

~ Bring all ingredients to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Smash many of the strawberries to release their juices. Bring to boil and reduce, stirring frequently, until liquid reduces to desired thickness (usually reduce the liquid by half).
~ Let cool. Pour into jars and refrigerate.

SPICED MAPLE CRISP

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrups
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chinese 5 spice

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add maple syrup, salt and spice. Whisk thoroughly.
~Pour mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
~ Allow to cool completely then break into pieces.

TO ASSEMBLE:

~ Spoon ricotta mixture into glasses. Top with strawberry sauce and sprinkle broken shards of spiced candy over top.

ENJOY!!!

A big pot of chili makes for some of the most useful leftovers anyone could ask for. I have to be careful not to eat beef chili leftovers for every meal. I poach eggs in chili for a big, fat, hearty lunch! This is an extra awesome way to enjoy chili using my Cornbread Waffle recipe. I make these waffles gluten-free but you can use regular flour as well. They have amazing texture and flavor and compliment chili like no cornbread I’ve ever tried! Not to mention you can freeze extra waffles and throw them in the toaster for last minute meals. Pretty great, no?

This chili is an easy, no-frills beauty. There’s a time and a place for fancy chilis, but for my go-to recipe I like to keep it simple. I like to incrementally add spices because I find that the spice level and flavor of my chili powder and cumin can vary GREATLY between varieties. This is especially true for chili powder. To give you an example, I used 3 teaspoons of my previous variety of chili powder in this recipe but the chili powder I have now I use 1/2-1 teaspoon. Big difference! You can always add more if you take it slow! In light of that, the recipe below lists the smallest amounts of spice I use for my most potent spices. Try it and add more based on your spices and tastes.

crystal-cartier-cornbread-waffles-chili-0242

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smashed garlic or 3 cloves minced garlic
  • olive oil
  • 4 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 3 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (add more incrementally to achieve desired level of heat)
  • 3 teaspoon cumin (may also add more incrementally)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • few shakes onion powder (optional)
  • few shakes garlic powder (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • sour cream (optional)
  • cheddar, shredded
  • Cornbread Waffles, toasted if frozen

~ In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion and garlic until fragrant. Add beef, breaking the large chunks up with a spoon, and cook until browned.

~ Add the tomatoes, black beans and spices. Bring to a simmer and let cook for at least an hour but preferably longer. A long, slow simmer allows the flavors to meld and the meat to become more tender.

~ Top toasted cornbread waffles with a large spoonful of chili, cheddar and a dollop sour cream. Serve and ENJOY!!

There can never be too many ways or variations to make eggs! In our house, they are the ultimate fast food. I poach them in leftover chili and soups and it makes every leftover dish richer and more nutritious. I actually don’t understand why there isn’t a restaurant dedicated to putting eggs on EVERYTHING! Seems like a no-brainer. If you know of such a restaurant please fill me in!

Anyway, on with the show! Eggs in Cocotte are delicately baked eggs in individual portions. Easy to make for a good amount of people (my in-laws will be eating these when they visit over the holidays) and super, fancy pants impressive. It’s a decadent, warming cool-weather breakfast (or lunch, or dinner!).

baked eggs in pots with mushrooms and prosciutto

  • 4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • olive oil to sauté
  • 9 large meaty mushrooms (shitake, portobella etc.), sliced thick
  • pat of butter
  • 1 Tablespoon cream (1 teaspoon per pot)
  • few large sprigs fresh thyme, miced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 cup gruyere, grated
  • 8 eggs
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • toast points for serving

~ Heat oil in a large skillet. Add shallots and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add chopped prosciutto and sauté another few minutes until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

~ Melt butter in skillet, then add mushrooms and sauté until tender. In the skillet, toss together the mushrooms, shallots, prosciutto and most of the rosemary and thyme (reserve some for garnishing).

~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

~ Butter or oil the small pots or ramekins. Spoon the mushroom mixture evenly into the bottom of each pot. Drizzle a teaspoon of cream into each pot and divide cheese among the dishes. Make 2 depressions in the mixture with the back of the spoon to cradle the eggs. Crack two eggs in each pot, sprinkle a bit of extra  cheese on top of the eggs.

~ Get a pan big enough to fit the 4 pots and fill it with water so that the water goes half way up the sides of the pots. Either bring water to boil in the pan or, if using a glass baking dish you can let the dish heat in the oven and boil water in a hot pot to fill the baking dish.

~ Place the pots in the water bath and carefully place in oven. Bake for 13-16 minutes though I recommend checking on them at 10 minutes due to differences in oven temperatures.

~Once whites are set but yolks are still runny, remove from oven. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Serve with toast points.

ENJOY!!!

 pan of sautéed prosciutto mushrooms and herbs

MAN, OH, Maaaaaan are these a winner! I had lost my hand-scrawled, barely legible recipe for my flourless banana muffins and tried a few others I’d found online. It was…disappointing to say the least. I dug through every single recipe paper I had until I finally found the damn thing, and it was SO worth it!!! I’ve adapted my original recipe to be even more incredible. I prefer gluten-free recipes that don’t require an alternative flour as they rarely have much, if any, nutritional value (though, I’ll admit, sometimes you just want a damn baked good!). I pretty much keep these in stock at our house and make a double batch (24 mini and 12 regular muffins) whenever we start to run low. We eat these for breakfast more often than not!

Oh and I buried the lead! This recipe is whipped up quicker than quick in a high speed BLENDER!!! You’re welcome;)

Roasting the bananas is totally optional but quite delicious if you have 15 minutes to spare. You can customize this recipe with walnuts or pecans. I usually use my homemade almond butter but have also used the raw store bought variety that is only almonds and it works great too!

Flourless chocolate banana bread muffins

*makes ~ 12 regular or 24 mini muffins

  •  1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3 medium ripe bananas (if desired, roast bananas in skin on baking sheet at 350 degrees for 15 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin.

~ Combine all ingredients except chocolate in a high powered blender. Blend until smooth. If the batter is warm, let cool before stirring in the chocolate or it will melt. Stir in chocolate.

~ Pour into muffin tins filling each hole a little over 3/4 of the way full.

~ Bake at 350 degrees. Bake regular muffins for 15-16 minutes and mini muffins for 12-13 minutes. Baking times may vary depending on the amount of natural oil in your particular almond butter so keep an eye and don’t over-bake. They should be fluffy and very moist.

ENJOY!!!

 Flourless chocolate banana bread muffins

Flourless chocolate banana bread muffins

Best HOLIDAY pomegranate pear pie

Yaaaaaaaay the holidays are here and these are a surprisingly delicious little holiday sparkle! They’re easy to make, packed with flavor and texture and great for garnishing cocktails, desserts or just eating right out of a bowl. My daughter loves the tart sweetness of these little cranberry beauties!

Cranberries and rosemary in a pan of sugar syrup

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (to roll it all in)

~ In a saucepan over low heat, heat the water and 1 cup sugar until warm and sugar dissolves. Cool until you can put your finger in the liquid.

~ Wash and dy cranberries. Once liquid is cool enough not to cause the cranberries to burst but still warm, add cranberries and rosemary.

~ Cover and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate and let soak overnight.

~ Strain berries and rosemary and reserve the rosemary infused syrup for holiday cocktails or desserts.

~ Blot cranberries and rosemary with a paper towel so that they sticky but not wet. Then work in batches rolling the berries and rosemary in the remaining sugar to coat. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and let dry until hardened. Eat and smile!!

~ Store at room temperature.

Cranberries and rosemary in sugar

Holiday cocktails with sugared rosemary and cranberries

Today I bring you golden turmeric milk, a delicious, healing tonic originating in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is praised for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can reduce swelling and, many say, help coughs and colds. Ginger aids in digestion and settles the stomach, not to mention the bright, spicy flavor of fresh ginger! Both turmeric and ginger are recommended for headache sufferers due to their anti-inflammatory effects.

This turmeric milk is divine hot, so soothing and restorative especially before bedtime. It’s also delicious and invigorating cold. My toddler goes nuts for it! She likes the spice I guess!

The pepper and coconut oil in this recipe are actually quite important as they aid in the absorption of curcumin, which is the compound responsible for turmeric’s incredible medicinal qualities. I use fresh ginger and turmeric both of which you can get at many markets and asian markets. If you cannot find fresh turmeric, you can substitute 1 teaspoon dried ground turmeric to see how that suits your tastes and incrementally add more if you like. Fresh turmeric has a brighter flavor than its dried counterpart so try both and see what you prefer!

I plan to make this with homemade coconut milk too. I’m sure it will be a wonderful vegan alternative!

Golden Turmeric Milk with ginger honey and cinnamon

*servings 2

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 inches fresh turmeric, scrubbed and sliced but not peeled
  • 5 inches fresh ginger, scrubbed and sliced but not peeled
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, ~4 inches each
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 9 cardamom pods
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • pinch ground cinnamon

~ Heat milk gently in a saucepan. Stir in all ingredients except honey and ground cinnamon, making sure to scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the milk then tossing the remaining pod in the pan as well.

~Bring the milk to a low simmer and steep at a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain mixture and stir in honey. Pour into cups and sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon into each cup (look how pretty the cinnamon is swirling in the cup. ahhhh:).

ENJOY!!!

 Golden Turmeric Milk with ginger honey and cinnamon

Golden Turmeric Milk with ginger honey and cinnamon

It’s that time of year again when I have the pleasure of doing my annual pie shoot with my dear friend, Emily-the-Pie-Maven. Ahhhh I love the holidays and this tradition with Emily is truly one of my favorites. Now that she and I both have boisterous toddlers, we rarely have the opportunity to casually cook or chat together. It seems like it’s only once a year, at our pie shoot, that we can speak to each other in complete sentences with full attention without having to stop everything to catch a flying (correction: falling!) daredevil 2-year-old! The calm of the tradition is complimented by the incredible scents wafting through the house and finished by the insane flavor-filled fruits of our labor. Mmmmm.
This year we have a tart and sweet rustic pomegranate pear pie. I’ve included a recipe for a gluten-free press in flourless hazelnut crust which is delicious! The gluten-free crust makes this an open-faced pie. It’s easy to make this pie as pictured with the leaves using your favorite pie crust recipe. Emily hand cut the leaves for this regular flour artistic pie and boy did she nail it! She subbed 1/2 cup of the flour in her usual crust recipe for 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts and it was fantastic! The gluten-free crust cannot make these leaves as it is a press in crust and can’t be rolled;)
The pomegranate molasses in this recipe is a necessary and divine addition as it balances the sweet pear with the tartness of pomegranate. You can buy pomegranate molasses at some grocery stores and Persian markets but it’s easy to make. I’ve included the simple recipe at the end and it’s sooooo good!
Best pomegranate pear pie
GLUTEN- FREE Crust
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons melted butter or liquid coconut oil
~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
~ Mix all but oil. Mix in 3 Tb oil up to 4Tb until the mixture is moist but not sticky. Press evenly into pie pan or 2 cocottes.
~ Pre-bake for 10 min at 375 degrees.
*makes 1 regular sized pie bottom crust or 2 cocottes. Double recipe to make 4 cocottes to accomodate the amount of pear mixture or cut the pie filling recipe in half to accomodate 2 cocottes.
Pomegranate Pear Pie Filling
  • 5 cups sliced bosc pears, ripe but a bit firm and unpeeled
  • 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses (*recipe below)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • Hazelnut Flourless Crust (recipe above) or regular pie crust of your choice.
~ Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
~ Mix sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.
~ Arrange sliced pears layer by layer over bottom crust, sprinkling sugar mixture and 1/4 cup of the pomegranate seeds over each layer as you go.
~ After assembling the top layer, drizzle molasses evenly over pie/s, sprinkle the last of the sugar on top and scatter little blobs of the butter on top of pie. If using regular crust, place top crust over the filling, pinch around edges and brush with egg wash.
~ Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes then reduce to 350 degrees for 40 minutes or so until golden and bubbling.
~Top with fresh pomegranate seeds.
*Pomegranate Syrup
  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

~ Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced to 1 cup (~ 75 minutes). It should be thick like warm molasses. Allow to cool for a while then transfer to jar to cool completely before refrigerating. Can be stored in refrigerator for 6 months or so.

Rustic Gluten Free Pomegranate Pear Pie

Best pomegranate pear pie

Still life of bosc pears pomegranate and holiday greens on blue napkin

OH MY GOSH you guys I just ate the best sandwich of my whole ding dang life after shooting this here beauty! Who loves waffles?! Who loves cornbread?! Eggs? Yup. Corn salsa? Maple syrup? I think you’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down here. This cornbread waffle recipe is one of my most bangin’ recipes of all time. Pair it with the elements of this breakfast sandwich and there’s not a gourmet spot in town that can compete with this breakfast!

The waffles freeze beautifully too! I stack them up with a small square of parchment between each waffle and throw them in a freezer bag. A quick toast in the toaster and you can have an extra awesome breakfast any ol’ day of the week. I love it when tasty food is just on call, waiting in the wings to make a quick and incredible meal.

I make these with gluten-free flour and they turn out perfectly, but have no fear gluten-eaters of the world you can also use all purpose flour instead.

gluten-free cornbread waffle egg sandwich

*makes 10 regular square waffles (not belgian)

CORNBREAD WAFFLES

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour, I use Bob’s Red Mill (you can also use regular all-purpose flour)
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ~4 ears corn, kernels cut from cob (~1 1/2 cups) OR 1 can sweet corn patted dry
  • olive oil, to sauté  corn
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup whole milk

~ In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the corn kernels in olive oil for a few minutes until just beginning to char slightly. Sprinkle corn with a little salt.

~ In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredient together thoroughly. Add cheddar, corn, jalapeño and green onions.

~ In another bowl, beat the eggs then whisk in oil and milk.

~ Pour wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until combined, taking care not to over mix the batter.

~ Scoop batter into a waffle iron. For my waffle iron, 1/3 heap cup batter cooks for 2 min 30 sec at level 3 1/2.

***Sandwich recipe below image…

gluten-free cornbread waffle egg sandwich

CORNBREAD WAFFLE EGG SANDWICH

  • 2 cornbread waffles, toasted if frozen
  • 1 egg sunny side up
  • 2 strips crispy bacon
  • corn salsa
  • high quality maple syrup

~Crispy Bacon: lay bacon on parchment lined baking sheet. 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon. Remove from oven and let cool on a paper towel lined plate.

~ Sunny Egg: heat enough olive oil in a skillet to slightly more than coat the bottom of the pan. Crack egg into oil. If the oil spits and pops turn the heat down. As the whites begin to cook, spoon the hot oil over the whites to help them set. Once the whites are set, spoon the hot oil over the yolk until it sets slightly. Remove egg from pan and set briefly on a paper towel before layering onto the waffle.

~ Layer bacon and egg on a waffle. Top with corn salsa. You can drizzle the syrup on now or after you add the top waffle if you don’t mind making this sandwich a fork-and-knife situation!

ENJOY!!!

We’re not much into Turkey in my family. I understand the historical significance of turkey at the Thanksgiving table, but personally I find it pretty much “bleh”. That said, many people are left wanting without poultry at the Thanksgiving feast so we usually bake up a big fat ham and roast a large chicken for those die hard traditionalists. This is one of those chickens.

My old self, the one who had a bit more time, a bit more sleep, perhaps a bit more motivation, was big into vegetable chopping. I made meals where I’d easily spend an hour just chopping all the veggies often with no meat in sight. In truth, I found raw meat repulsive to all of my senses. Fast forward to when I grew the F up and started cutting the backbones out of chickens and making bone broths from gnarly knuckles, shins and feet. Oh how things have changed!!

While I still love my Brined Thyme Roast Chicken recipe, it requires more planning ahead to brine that bird than I can often muster these days. I spend so much time grabbing a toddler as she ceaselessly tests the laws of gravity! This spatchcock chicken is quick to prepare and leaves you with very little raw chicken-y mess, if ya know what I mean. Time to put on your big kid pants and cut out that backbone!

Crispy, golden, savory miso skin with no fuss and few dishes. What’s not to love?

Spatchcock butterfly miso butter roasted chicken

HOW TO SPATCHCOCK (butterfly) A CHICKEN:

1- Place whole chicken breast side down. Using strong kitchen shears, cut alongside one side of the backbone. Rotate the bird to cut along the other side of the backbone. I freeze the backbone to use in bone broth later.

2- Spread the chicken rib cage open breast down and cut a deep notch in the sternum cartilage to allow it to open easily. Now flip the bird breast side up and it should lie flat and look like a… you guessed it, butterfly. Easy Peasy!

*Tip: I usually spatchcock the chicken in the same pan I am roasting it in, one less raw chicken-y thing to clean. Winner, winner chicken dinner!

  • 1 whole chicken patted dry, approx. 5-5 1/2 lbs
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons white miso
  • 1 teaspoon smashed garlic (~ 3 cloves)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 pint brussel sprouts
  • drizzle olive oil
  • salt and pepper

~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

~ Smash together butter, miso and garlic. I salt the chicken in addition to the saltiness of the miso, but it may be a good idea to taste your mixture as miso can vary greatly and you may not want additional salt. Butter the pan you’ll be using with this mixture, then place chicken breast side up in pan and rub half of the butter mixture under the skin and the other half on top of the skin.

~ In a bowl, toss brussel sprouts with a drizzle of olive oil and scatter around the bird.

~ Sprinkle the chicken and brussel sprouts with thyme, salt and pepper.

~ Roast uncovered at 400 degrees for 1 hour 10 minutes or so for a chicken this size. Cook time will vary greatly depending on the size of your bird, so roast until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh or breast. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

~ Plate the veggies from the pan then bring the remaining juices to a simmer, scraping any little bits of deliciousness off the pan to deglaze it and removing any chunks of skin etc. Simmer for a couple of minutes and pour juices over carved meat.

ENJOY!!!

crystal-cartier-miso-spatchcock-chicken-0068

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