Why? Why?! WHY don’t I make carnitas all the time? Like each and every day of my life! They are so easy and the work-to-reward ratio is incredibly imbalanced. I buy inexpensive meat (even the stage 1 cage-free pork at Whole Foods is still a cheap option), let the slow cooker do all the work, then eat the most delicious meat that there ever was. Ever. Sigh…it truly is love at first bite.

Ahem, moving on. This recipe makes a ton of delicious, juicy carnitas and I always portion some out in ziplock bags, pour some juices in too and freeze them flat and thin so they defrost quickly. Then all you have to do is heat and brown them in a pan for an instant meal. These carnitas are not overpowering with any particular spice so they’re perfect for anything! I tend to brown some in a pan, top with sautéed veggies and a couple eggs over easy for a ridiculously fantastic breakfast (or lunch, or dinner).

We did a carnitas taco bar for my little girl’s first birthday this past weekend. From what a hear the food was a big hit, I was in the middle of the beautiful chaos that is a one-year-old party! I also made her a couple minion cakes, one to smash and one for everyone. That little silly girl loves her some minions. She thinks they’re hysterical! And time keeps marching on…sigh…

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015


  • 5 pounds pork shoulder/butt (chopped up “rib” cuts work too if large chunks of fat are removed before cooking)
  • 1 1/2- 2 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1-2  jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons smashed garlic
  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano

~ Rub pork with salt and pepper.
~ Combine last four ingredients and rub well into the meat.
~ Put pork into slow cooker with the fat cap facing up and cover with jalapeños, onion and orange juice.
~ Cook on high for 3 hours then on low until meat falls from the bone (usually around another 4+ hours)
~ Remove pork and shred.
~ Strain juices into fat separator (reserving onions to add back to juices) and discard fat layer. Simmer to reduce to about 2 cups liquid, if necessary. Add onions back to juices.
~ If freezing portions, add some juices to each frozen bag. If serving immediately, Brown meat in a bit of oil on high heat in a cast iron skillet until it forms a nice crust.
~ Pour juices over meat and serve immediately.


  • corn tortillas, heated in skillet or over stove flame
  • carnitas
  • avocado, sliced
  • red onion, sliced
  • corn salsa or salsa verde
  • cilantro, chopped
  • sriracha
  • lime juiced squeezed over tacos

~ Just pile it all on and enjoy! Gotta love tacos!!!


Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

oh the wonders…

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

There are plenty of versions of this flying around the internet. This is just my favorite. It’s super easy, truly terrible for you, and big enough to make quickly for dessert after a dinner party or shamefully shove in your face until your sick to your stomach all by your lonesome. We don’t judge.

I used crushed maple pecans I already had on hand. Use this maple pecan recipe and omit the pepper and herbs in favor of 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Then I lit that ish on fire because it’s fun and burnt sugar is delicious. What a great life, huh? 😉

  • 12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate
  • crushed maple pecans OR toffee bit OR peanut butter chips (whatever your heart desires basically)
  • ~1 1/4 bags large marshmallows (enough to fill pan, depends on pan size)
  • graham crackers for dipping

~ In a large cast iron pan, spread chocolate chips then sprinkle with pecans and top with marshmallows.
~ Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes for golden brown, gooey marshmallow perfection.
~ If you like ’em burnt up, torch or broil but keep a VERY close eye as they flame fast!
~ Serve with graham cracker.

For example….

ps: if anyone knows why a GIF won’t play in wordpress (sizing is original etc.) please let me know! I wasted too many hours troubleshooting and finally resorted to vimeo instead. Technology…

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015


My darling friend Emily comes from a long line of impressive bakers. She has much coveted pie traditions with her sweet mother and beloved departed nana. It’s so wonderful to keep those beautiful traditions alive from generation to generation. It keeps us grounded and reminds us where we came from and that we are part of something bigger. We are simply a leaf on a giant tree deeply rooted in the past. There is something profoundly comforting in that anchor when this life can sometimes feel as if you’re bobbing like a canoe in the sea! Some traditions, especially those based in food, allow each generation to keep the old but also customize a dish to make it a bit of their own. This pie is exactly such tradition with small tweaks to herbs, spices and ratios to make this an adapted version of a treasured recipe. Beautiful! For the original recipe passed down from Emily’s nana and some family photos of wonderful women check out her mama Lori’s blog.

Emily makes just about the flakiest, lightly crisp crust I have ever seen (or heard)! Rarely am I so heartbroken to avoid gluten. My husband tells me that flakey crust is a buttery, delicious delight. Emily cuts the butter into the dough by hand, which she says makes all the difference. I believe it! That crust…hubba hubba!

So go cover your kitchen in flour and start (or preserve) a lovely family tradition!

ps: I meant to post this recipe before the holidays but got wrapped up in my own holiday celebration with my little girl’s first Christmas and meeting all of her east coast family. What a beautiful time:)


* makes 2    6-inch pies (or 1  10-inch pie)


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 pound + 2 2/3 Tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup very cold water


  • 3/4 pounds ground beef
  • 3/4 pounds ground pork (butt/shoulder)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoons allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 egg white, beaten for brushing crust

~ In a large bowl, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle in water 1 Tablespoon at a time and toss with a fork until dough begins to come together. Gather into a ball and divide dough into 2 equal balls, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

~ In a large dutch oven, saute onion and garlic. Add beef and pork and cook through. Mix in herbs and spices.

~ On a large floured surface, divide one dough ball in half (if making mini pies, if making 10″ single pie do not divide dough) and roll out one of the halves. Lay in a 6″ pie tin. Using a slotted spoon, spoon filling into crust until flush with top of pie pan. Roll out other half of dough ball, place over filling and seal and trim edges. Brush crust with egg white. Repeat for remaining 4 pies.

~ Bake at 375 degrees for around 30 minutes until golden brown.


Looks at that perfect crust! YUM!



Thank you to these inspiring matriarchs….


Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015*recipe to come;)

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