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

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!!!

I won’t go on and on about gut health yet again or ramble about the benefit of collagen and gelatin on the guts or skin and hair. There are many, many other blogs that can provide that info. Suffice it to say that collagen, in this case in the form of gelatin, is an incredible source of healing protein for your connective tissues, guts, skin, hair, bones, joints and even your hormones! Give it a try but, as with all things, start slow. Introducing gelatin into your diet can really get the wheels moving in your colon if you eat too much too fast! You get the picture;)

These pasture raised beef gelatin gummies have endless flavor possibilities. Once you get teh hang of the basics you can really let your imagination run wild! We really love the additional of homemade coconut milk to gummies. It add a wonderful silky body and rich flavor to any flavor combo! You can use any juice or milk (nut or animal) you like:)

These are some of my favorite recipes as a jumping off point! Have fun with it! I even give my kiddo her probiotic and elderberry syrup in gummy form. She looooves it!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

Horchata Gummies

1 cup coconut milk, divided (I use homemade)
3 Tablespoon gelatin (I use this brand)
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
silicone molds

**other flavor ideas
 Orange Creamsicle:  1/2 cup OJ + 1/2 cup coconut milk
 Coffee: steep coconut milk in coarse ground coffee. Strain.
Cocoa: + 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
Berry: 1/2 cup pureed berries + 1/2 cup coconut milk
Elderberry: 1/2 cup elderberry syrup + 1/2 cup coconut milk
Probiotic: + 3 1/2 Tablespoons probiotic powder added AFTER whisking in hot liquid. A serving is 10 gummies

~ Gently heat 1/2 cup of coconut milk on the stove until it’s hot but not bubbling. Put remaining 1/2 cup room temp coconut milk in a spout bowl. Gradually whisk gelatin completely into unheated milk to temper the gelatin. Whisk hot milk it into gelatin mixture then whisk in honey, vanilla and cinnamon.

~ Quickly pour into silicone molds set on a baking sheet. Refrigerate to set. Pop out of molds and store in airtight container in fridge.

* This same recipe holds for any liquid you use. Temper gelatin in half of the liquid at room temp then blend gelatin with the remaining half of hot liquid. Easy Peasy!

ENJOY!!!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

I was recently asked if I like to cook. The person who asked me was relatively certain the answer was yes. I replied, “Not particularly, but I really LOVE to eat well”. That response surprised her. I guess a love for cooking and eating should go hand-in-hand. Meh, not so much. That said, I’m pretty enamored by the natural processes of real healthy food. Preparing foods in the same perfect ways our ancestors discovered for us. Culturing living foods, cooking down fresh foods to thicken and add richness and watching foods transform and be reborn into something altogether new and deliciously nutritious never ceases to amaze. I make a lot of things from scratch not because I love the physical process, I don’t find it cathartic to spend extra time on crazy busy days making coconut milk or yogurt from scratch. I do it because it’s better. It tastes better. It’s healthier, more nutritive and sometimes cheaper or the only way I can give my little girl grass-fed yogurt without added thickeners. I find ways to streamline the process and make it a normal part of my day (and my husband’s;). I don’t love the “doing” but, to me, it’s important and I do LOVE the eating. I also hope my daughter will learn and appreciate the value of real food, made the old ways. In a world where many children are appalled to learn that much of their food grows (or should grow!) out of the ground, I hope she finds value in the living nature of vibrant food. We’ll see, a mama can dream;)

Anyway, on the with the show! Making yogurt at home is flat out cool and pretty dang amazing. It’s the most delicious science experiment there is and it’s VERY simple. You are literally sleeping, yes SLEEPING, for most of the process. Can’t beat that! Use the freshest store bought plain yogurt you can find for your starter culture. I’ve only had 2 batches not culture and the starter came from the same tub of store bought yogurt. Wah-wahhh. Sometimes the live cultures in store bought yogurt die and, therefore, cannot culture your milk. Once you make your own yogurt, reserve a 1/4 cup from each batch to use as a starter for your next batch. Never buy yogurt again!

Lately, I’ve experimenting with making my yogurt in traditional earthenware pots. They are made of unglazed clay and the porosity of the pot pulls some water out of the yogurt which makes it thicker. They are a nightmare to clean though, good grief! You can also make the yogurt more of a greek style thickness by straining it in cheesecloth or a towel in a colander over a bowl. Set it this way in the fridge for a few hours or until it reaches the desired thickness. This separates the whey out of the yogurt but the whey has a lot of the probiotics so it’s a trade-off. I’ve found that letting the yogurt culture for 24 hours makes it insanely creamy and thicker. I’ve read cautions about culturing for too long saying that the yogurt becomes too tart. This has not been my experience at all! Give it a try and see for yourself.

Of course you can always make a fruit on the bottom yogurt with store bought yogurt if you’re not much for making your own.

The blueberry chia jam is just flat out yummy. Great on toast, PBJs and yogurt. Or on a spoon, it’s pretty great just on a spoon too;)

Homemade yogurt with blueberry chia jam

YOGURT

  • 1/2 gallon of the freshest, best milk you can get – doesn’t have to be homogenized (I like grass-fed organic)
  • 1/4 cup starter culture

~ In  a large pot, gently heat the milk to at least 180 degrees, stirting regularly.
~ Remove from heat and let milk cool to about 110-115 degrees (do not add culture above 115). Whisk in starter culture.
~ Cover the pot (optional to wrap pot in a towel) and leave overnight in the oven with the light on.
~ In the morning or after ~ 24 hours, remove pot from oven. Leave at room temperature for an hour. If using an earthenware pot, put pot of yogurt in the fridge where it will continue to thicken. If using a regular pot, whisk yogurt and pour into jars or strain yogurt in the fridge for several hours before jarring and refrigerating.

BLUEBERRY CHIA JAM

  •  3 cups (16 ounces) frozen blueberries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon (~1/4 cup)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds

~ In a saucepan, bring blueberries, zest, lemon juice, honey and maple syrup to a simmer. Simmer and stir occasionally until blueberries thaw, then smash about half of the blueberries.
~ Bring to a boil, stir occasionally and reduce liquid by half. Remove from heat.
~ Whisk in chia seeds.
~ Cool and store in jars in the fridge. Leave overnight before eating to allow the chia to completely soften.

ENJOY!!!

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