Yeah, you heard right. I said Piña Colada Grilled Caramelized Pineapple!!! I mean life doesn’t get better or easier than this. This recipe is ridiculous. We’ve been poolside beating the oppressive L.A. heat and this little ditty is the perfect ending to any and every impromptu bbq. I mean, the grill’s already hot so it seems a shame NOT to make it, right?

Although…I do make this in a skillet on the stove sometimes and the caramelization is to die for! Try it both ways and pick your own delicious poison;)

Pineapple skin cut from the pineapple

Grilled pineapple rings caramelized with piña colada glaze

  • 1 whole pineapple
  • 1/4 cup dark rum, like Meyers
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (optional but insanely delicious)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4+ cup dark brown sugar, to taste
  • unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted stirring frequently in a dry pan on low heat until nicely browned
  • coconut oil for brush grill racks

~ Cut the thick skin and eyes from the pineapple. Slice into thick rings then core with either a cookie cutter or paring knife.

~ Whisk together all ingredients except the toasted coconut (and oil for brushing) in a shallow baking dish and marinate pineapple rings for an hour.

~On a preheat grill to medium-high heat. Brush grill racks with coconut oil to prevent sticking. OR preheat an oiled skillet over medium heat.

~ Grill/sear pineapple until you see grill marks and/or caramelization and the pineapple is heated through (about 5 minutes per side).

~ You can reserve the marinade and serve it with the rings if you like. Then sprinkle each ring generously with the toasted coconut.

ENJOY!

Grilled pineapple rings caramelized with piña colada glaze

Grilled pineapple rings caramelized with piña colada glaze

When Molly was up for showing me how she makes homemade lasagna noodles rolled entirely by hand I was pumped. I can’t eat them but, man was I happy to shoot her making these beauties (and housing all the layers between noodles)! This lasagna was a BIG hit in our houses. It’s chock full of flavorful vegetables and the perfect satisfying dish for any meatless Monday (or wednesday, or thursday…). I actually think I like it better than it’s meaty cousin. GASP! Shhhh don’t tell, snitches get stitches!

Molly’s artisanal noodle making was so very beautiful to shoot that I’ve included more images than usual to take ya’ll on the “maker’s” journey with us. Kick back and enjoy because there’s plenty of work to come when you make and roll your own lasagna noodles the old-fashioned way;) You can do it! Let’s see those muscles!

Woman cracking an egg into a pile of flour to make pasta.

Woman cracking an egg into a pile of flour to make pasta.

Woman kneading dough to make pasta.

Woman pulling and flipped fresh rolled pasta dough.

Woman cutting freahly made lasagna noodles.

Sauteed pan of vegetables including squashes, onion and tomatoes.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman spooning vegetable sauce.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

PASTA
  • 3 c.+ All purpose flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tbsp of warm water
~ Form a volcano shape with the flour and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
~ Crack eggs into the well of the flour.
~ Using a fork begin to beat the eggs and slowly draw in the flour the combine. As the dough starts to come together, use your hands to knead. Add warm water or more flour to get a tacky, yet firm consistency.
~ Let the dough rest for 1 hour. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Using a rolling pin roll (or a pasta maker if you have one!) out each ball like your life depends on! Roll the dough to approximately 1/8 of an inch or thinner.
~ Use a paring knife to cut each sheet into 3-4 inch strips. Each sheet will yield 3-4 strips. Lay the strips out flat to dry while make the ragu and herbed cheese fillings.
VEGGIE RAGU
  • 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • 1 Green Zucchini
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh herbs (we used Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary)
  • 1/4 c. light dry red wine (we used Pinot Noir)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Chop all of the fresh veggies into bite size pieces. For the squash and zucchini quarter then slice.
~ Heat olive oil to a large skillet at medium heat. combine squash, zucchini, peppers, and onion to skillet. Saute for 5-7 minutes until all of the veggies begin to soften.
~ Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
~ Add in tomatoes and red wine. Let the mixture cook down stirring occasionally to break up whole tomatoes. Season with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for another 30 minutes.
HERBED CHEESE FILLING
  • 1 container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh herbs (we used Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary)
  • Fresh ground pepper
Combine all ingredients and stir well add more pepper and herbs to your liking.
Layering and baking: 
~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
~ Use an 11X13 baking dish to layer the lasagna in. Coat the bottom of the pan with the veggie mixture and then lay down the first layer of pasta. Add a thicker layer of the veggie mixture on top of the pasta and then dot with tsp. size spoonfuls of the HERBED cheese mixture. Layer again with pasta and repeat. You should have enough pasta and filling for four layers.
~ After the last layer of pasta, add the last of the veggies and cheese plus shredded bits of mozzarella cheese, more herbs, and pepper. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and lightly golden! Let it cool for 10-15 minutes for serving. Voila : )
 Homemade vegetable lasagna with handmade noodles.

This strawberry pie was a delightful afterthought. I had extra flaky gluten-free from a batch of quiche and I sure as hell didn’t want to waste it! I grabbed a bunch of frozen strawberries from last season and whipped up something tasty to fill mini pots. Perfect!

Now the crust is not my invention and I have not found a better gluten-free recipe that mimics the real, gluten-laden, flaky buttery crust for pies and quiches. Credit where credit is due! It’s my go-to gf crust recipe now. I use King Arthur All Purpose gluten-free flour with great results and omit the xanthan gum as that flour already contains it.

We loved these topped with straight sour cream and a sprinkle of brown sugar! In the 100+ temps we’ve been having, a cool strawberry pie is a welcome treat!

Gluten-free Mini Strawberry Pies with Flaky Pie Crust

CRUST

Extra Flaky Gluten Free Pie Crust

~ Follow the recipe and bake the crust as instructed, adding extra time if needed to make sure the crust is fully baked and nicely brown.

STRAWBERRY FILLING

  • 2 cups whole frozen strawberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ounce/ 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2+ Tablespoons chia seeds
  • Sour cream, to top

~ Combine 1 cup of the frozen strawberries with lemon juice and sugar in a pot over low heat until the strawberries thaw.

~ Smash the strawberries with the back of a wooden spoon to add thickness and texture to the mixture then add remaining 1 cup strawberries.

~ Once the last strawberries thaw, turn up the heat to medium and lightly simmer until liquid reduces and thickens a bit.

~ Add chia seeds. Let cool then refrigerate. If your filling is more liquid than preferred, you can always add more chia seeds to soak up the juices. The water content of frozen strawberries can vary so adjust the chia accordingly.

~ Spoon chilled filling into ramekins of baked pie crusts. This recipe made 4 mini pies for me.

~ Top with a dollop sour cream (and a sprinkle of brown sugar if desired).

ENJOY!!!

These flourless chocolate cupcakes are decadent and satisfying with the rich bitterness of dark or bittersweet chocolate playing against the cool, subtle sweetness of sour cream whipped cream. My two-year-old told me these cupcakes were spicy! Ha!

They keep super well at room temperature in a sealed container and you’ll find that one cupcake is enough to satisfy!

Recipe note: If you like your chocolate confections sweeter or more mild, considering using semi-sweet chocolate in the place of bittersweet or true dark cacao chocolate. You could also use only one bar of dark/bittersweet instead of two if you want a milder flavor. We like the complexity of super dark, bitter chocolate so we go full throttle with the recipe as is!

The sour whipped cream is just out of this world! The sour cream adds more body, tang and richness and stands up against the rich chocolate very well making a perfect balance. Honestly, it’s just love at first bite!

PS: The whipped cream recipe makes much more than needed for the cupcakes. Just make it, you’re welcome;)

 

Gluten-free flourless chocolate cupcakes with creme fraiche whipped cream

CUPCAKES

  • 1 cup butter
  • 7 ounces (2 bars) bittersweet or very dark (like 72% cacao) chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder (or instant coffee or espresso grounds)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup real cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, beaten.

SOUR CREAM WHIPPED CREAM

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 4-5 Tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pint sour cream

CUPCAKES

~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees

~ Spray or line a 12 muffin pan (I like the reusable silicone liners myself)

~ Dissolve espresso powder in 2 Tablespoons hot water

~In a large bowl, combine chocolate and butter and microwave for 30 seconds at a time, whisking vigorously in between, until smooth

~ Stir in all remaining cupcake ingredients until combined. I tend to add the eggs last so the chocolate mixture has had time to cool a bit

~ Pour batter evenly into muffin tin and bake for about 20 minutes until just set. Let cool completely.

SOUR CREAM WHIPPED CREAM

~ Combine whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves.

~ Beat with a hand or stand mixer until peaks form. Add sour cream and beat for another 30 seconds or so.

~ Top each cupcake with a crazy amount of the whipped cream. I also sometimes add a sprinkle of cinnamon or candied ginger over the whipped cream for extra flavor.

ENJOY!!!!

I don’t often post about client work, but we had a super fun shoot for a local clean meal delivery business called Fitness Kitchen L.A. and man-oh-man was it fun, gorgeous and delicious AF!!! It’s really fun to get in with smaller local clients on the ground floor and collaborate on the looks and styles that will define their brand. We had way too much fun and ate way too much food on this shoot! Chef Marieno has some real vision for creating delectable, unique and truly nutritious meals. On to the GORGEOUS!!

Nutritious healthy omelet with tomatoes and citrus

Halibut with squash and squash blossoms

Brioche french toast with sausage, natural peanut butter and berry compote

Harvest Kale Salad with chicken, squash, almonds and avocado

Espresso steak with a sunny egg and brussel sprout slaw

Meal plans including deviled eggs, halibut and spinach omelet

Chef Marieno with his dog

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!!

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

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