This little ditty is a rainy day pick me up, a perfect treat as rainy season approaches here in SoCal and a lovely warming winter drink in those snowy regions. Not only is it a spiced hot cider but the bourbon gives you that warm tingle going down. One thing I really miss about the east coast is incredible crunchy, sweet apples. I have a hell of a time finding a decent cider over here so I mulled the pants off of this drink until it was a spicy, sweet, bourbon-y delight. As a bonus, it makes the house smell incredible!!!

What hot drink recipes do you stand by when the cold weather creeps in and the holidays approach?

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

  • 1 quart (4 cups) apple cider
  • 3 large cinnamon sticks
  • 1/3 cup dried oranges OR the peel and slices of 1 orange
  • 12 pods of cardamon
  • 15 allspice berries
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 1 cup quality bourbon
  • sliced small apples
  • tiny pat of butter, 1 per drink (optional)

~Simmer cider, cinnamon, orange slices and orange peels, cardamom, allspice, star anise and rosemary in a saucepan. Simmer until liquid has reduced by half, 15-20 minutes. Add bourbon and stir until warmed. Can be kept over low heat partially covered to keep warm.

~Pour into mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick and a thin slice of apple. Top with a small pat of butter if desired.

ENJOY!!!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

 food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

Happy Thanksgiving week! Here’s a beautiful and stress-free recipe for your Thanksgiving table. I’ve been on a mission to find some less regrettable holiday dishes this year that still satisfy that holiday craving for hot, dense foods. I don’t necessarily dislike the old standbys but they aren’t the kinds of foods I crave either. That said, other people in my life have perfected the holiday staples so I let them do their thing on the big day and test out some new things on my end. This is a vegetarian dish but can easily be made vegan by swapping the chicken broth for vegetable broth. I used black rice from China, also known as “Forbidden Rice” (how fun is that?!) because I love the deep purple hue and the slight sweetness of this variety but wild rice would work just as well and impart a fantastic nuttiness. I’m a big fan of foods that awaken all the senses and this one does just that. It has a nutty fragrance, gorgeous colors, and delectable textures that chew and pop in your mouth making it a wonderful experience. This unconventional holiday dish evokes all the warm richness of the season!

This could also be made ahead and then spooned into a greased baking dish and baked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or so to reheat. If you do this you may want to sprinkle some more fresh pomegranate seeds on top;)

Remember to share your favorite holiday recipes with us!! Pretty please!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

  • 2 cups uncooked wild or black rice, rinsed
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
  • pinch sea salt
  • pat of butter
  • 1 large onion or leek, chopped
  • 1 cup raw pecans, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced (optional, not pictured)
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • several sprigs minced fresh sage
  • several sprigs fresh thyme, leaves plucked
  • 1 cup plump dried cranberries
  • bunch chopped parsley
  • the seeds of 2 pomegranates

~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

~ Put rice, broth and a pinch of salt in a pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 35-40 minutes until tender and broth is absorbed.

~ Meanwhile, melt butter in skillet and saute onion, mushrooms, and carrot with some ground pepper for 10 minutes. Add pecans and saute 5 more minutes. Stir in sage and thyme.

~ In a large bowl combine rice, sauteed vegetables, parsley, cranberries, and pomegranate seeds. Toss to mix.

ENJOY!!!

 

Soooooo pretty…

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

We loooooooove brussel sprouts!!! It’s no secret, we’re a big brussel loving family here. My pups cry with more urgency for a treat of brussel sprouts than they do for red meat (yes, they’re veggie loving weirdies). This time around I came home from the market with a huge stalk of beautiful brussel sprouts, plop the bag on the floor and look away only to look back and see my youngest pup gnawing happily on the end of the stalk. Even I think that must taste pretty gross, ha! Anyway, I think most people hate these tiny cabbages because of the way they’re traditionally cooked. Why you would ever steam the life and crunchiness out of a brussel sprout to make a mealy, tasteless ball of “blah” is beyond me but, rest assured, that is not how we roll here. A quick saute in the pan is all these guys need to shine, though slow roasting is also a big hit;)

There’s no excuse not to eat your crunchy, delicious veggies when it’s this quick and easy to get a dose of the good stuff! Sometimes simple and easy really is best:)

I like using raw pecans and cooking them with the brussel sprouts because it’s gives them a fresh texture that pops a bit in your mouth. I think this will be one of this year’s lighter Thanksgiving dishes. I hope you find it a winner too!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

  • 1 stalk or a few dozen brussel sprouts, thinly sliced (halved and halved again)
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup or more chicken broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • handful coarsely chopped raw pecans (or pine nuts)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • shaved parmesan or hard aged goat cheese (optional)

~ Heat large skillet and toast raw pecans over low heat until fragrant. Remove pecans from heat and set aside. In same large skillet, heat olive oil and saute garlic and shallot until lightly browned. Add brussel sprouts and toasted pecans and saute for a couple minutes.

~Add broth and cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the broth evaporates and the edges of the brussel sprouts begin to crisp. Salt, pepper and serve.

~ Top with parmesan or hard goat cheese if desired.

ENJOY!!!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

Hey everyone! As the weather cools and the holidays loom (did I say loom?) just around the corner it’s time to turn our palettes toward the richer side of culinary life. Oh yes, it’s the the time of winter squashes and warm chewy grains which is exactly what I’m giving you today. This would be a great vegetarian (or vegan if you nix the goat cheese) Thanksgiving recipe. It could be a side but, keep in mind, it’s quite filling. I love it because, true to my East Coast roots, I get pumpkin fever once September rolls around and I’m always looking for great new ways to eat as much pumpkin as possible while I can! If you have some great pumpkin recipes please post them for us all!

While this recipe may seem a bit daunting, it’s actually quite easy and worth the time to roast a whole pumpkin! I’ve seen many recipes that call for peeling and dicing the pumpkin while still raw then roasting the cubes, but given how hard it is to cut raw pumpkin I prefer to roast the whole thing then scoop out the flesh. Either way works just decrease the roasting time if you’re using cubes.

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

  • 1 sugar pumpkin or similar squash (I believe it was about 3 pounds)
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 pound shitake mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons pine nuts, plus more to serve
  • 1 bunch sage, chopped
  • herbed goat cheese
  • cinnamon
  • thyme
  • salt & pepper
  • walnut oil or mushroom infused olive oil (optional)
  • 2 pats butter

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

~ Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and place cut side down in a foil lined baking dish. Cover with foil and cook 35-40 minutes until tender.

~ Heat butter in a large frying pan until fragrant and lightly browned, add onion, sage and pine nuts and saute until sage is frizzled and pine nuts are lightly toasted (about 1-2 minutes). Add a healthy pinch of thyme and mushrooms and saute until softened (about 5 minutes).

~Add barley and stir. Add stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer stir occasionally for 25 minutes or so until barley is tender.

~In the meantime, let the roasted pumpkin cool, then scoop out flesh and process through a food processor or high powered blender. Add a pinch of cinnamon, a tablespoon or so of walnut oil (or mushroom infused olive oil…yum!) and blitz again until smooth.

~ Once barley is cooked through, add pumpkin puree and let simmer for a few minutes.

~ Serve topped crumbled herbed goat cheese, pine nuts, and additional frizzled sage.

SO good!

ENJOY!!!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

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