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


  • 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.


  •  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.


  • 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.


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


Oh my gosh life has been crazy and I haven’t had half a second to post anything at all! Oh well, sometimes that’s the way it goes, right?

Anyway, I just wanted to share my first shoot getting “back on the horse” after giving birth to our Sweet P, who I call Pickle so much she’s definitely going to think it’s her legal name! I can’t believe how much time has already gone by. I guess I blinked too long!

This lovely spanish picnic style shoot for EatingWell magazine was the kind that required a lot of up and downs on a ladder. Not the most ideal post-partum shoot but it was beautiful and fun to get right back in it and with my little newborn P too!

You may spy with your little eye a two-week-old Pickle attending this very sophisticated Spanish picnic! We have too much fun! HA!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

So you may have noticed my hiatus from this blog over the past few months. Our incredible baby girl was born in January and I was back at working shooting for clients two weeks later. Talk about an adjustment! What with figuring out my role as a new mama while also keeping my head above water working on client jobs, I had ZERO time to shoot for myself, or really even eat for that matter! Now I’m all about super duper quick meals and snack, the very best of which being those that can be made one-handed! HA!

The title says it all on this one. Easy peasy, gorgeous jewel-toned plums wrapped in salty prosciutto deliciousness. A wonderful collision of salty and sweet as well as chewy and juicy!

What quick easy foods do you make when you don’t have seconds to spare? No really, this mama needs all the ideas you can give her;)

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These are just a few shots from a sweet little lifestyle shoot I did recently . I’ve got nothing but love for the warm SoCal sun!

Sweet warm breezes

quiet tender moments

life’s calm sweetness

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Holy smokes this recipe is AMAZING! It’s one of those winter meals I could be gross enough to eat every single day and just get hopelessly fat. Every. Single. Day. Sure it’s a formidable amount of cheese and cream but, hey, it’s cauliflower not pasta so that has to count for something, right?! RIGHT?!?!?!? Ha! Anyway, this is crazy delicious, silly easy and may just help warm you through these bitter cold nights most of the country is suffering. Bletch! Try it, you’ll love it! Nevermind how very wintry it looks. So lovely…

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  • ~2 pounds cauliflower, a large head – washed and cut into florets
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup 2 % milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • few slices crusty sourdough bread, torn into bites
  • 4 ounces meaty mushrooms, shitakes or trumpet really sing here but any mushroom will work
  • butter, enough to saute mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 Tablespoon dried thyme)
  • 1/2 cup gruyere cheese, shredded

~ Prepare and ice bath in a large bowl in the sink.

~ Heat the oven to 400°F and grease a baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

~ Blanch the cauliflower in salt water for 2 minutes. Drain, plunge into ice bath until cooled, drain again or dry VERY well.

~ Heat a generous amount of butter in a skillet and saute mushrooms with rosemary and thyme until softened and fragrant.

~ Whisk together the cream, milk, cheese and the eggs, season with salt, ground black pepper. Reserve a bit of this mixture and toss the remainder with the cauliflower and bread. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Pour the reserved portion of the mixture over the cauliflower in the baking dish (this makes the top beautifully cheesy;). Bake for 35 minutes or so until the liquid is absorbed and the top is golden brown. Bake time may vary depending on the depth of the baking dish used so keep an eye on it.

Savor and ENJOY!!!

 cauliflower, cheese, casserole, holiday, christmas, thanksgiving, recipe, dinner, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

Hiya everybody! I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving! We ate and ate and ate and ate and, well, you get the idea. I think I was hurting for days afterward so it was time for some restorative winter food dinners. This recipe is an absolute favorite of mine so full of delicious, healthy goodies and super easy to boot!

I’ve been on a real cool weather foods bender these days. Living in a climate that doesn’t really have any kind of winter, I relish in the cool nights of the desert and love making some hearty, warming foods. I’m a huge soup person but my husband, not so much. Though soups and stews are the ultimate warming comforts foods in my life, I try to make some other non-soup dishes that celebrate the cooler season and are pretty healthy. This recipe fits the bill. It’s simple and doesn’t make a lot of dishes. One quick tip: Don’t skip making the maple chili pepitas (pumpkin seeds)! They are AWESOME and transformative in the dish (and also as I shovel them in my mouth by the fistful!). The flavor of the pepitas once they’re in the mix is slightly subtle but turns a simple skillet fry into a culinary masterpiece. Oh, and it’s stupid easy, did I mention that? Yep, stupid easy.

This pretty little number may make an appearance at our Christmas (or maybe hanukkah) table. Definitely an easy, healthy, impressive holiday dish!

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  • 1 cup raw unsalted pepitas/pumpkin seeds (if you can only find roasted cut roasting time down to 5 minutes)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or more depending on your taste)


  • 1 small butternut squash, cubed (you can also use kabocha squash, equally delicious!)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 large bunch lacinato (dinosaur) kale, stemmed and torn into bites
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees with oven rack in the middle. Toss together pepitas, maple syrup, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, several cranks of ground sea salt and chili powder until evenly coated. Spread evenly on parchment lined baking dish and roast for 10 minutes or so until fragrant. Remove from oven and cool completely before breaking them up.

~ In a very large skillet (or divided among two skillets if need be), combine squash, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil, a few cranks of salt, shallots, garlic and rosemary. Cover and steam over high heat until the squash is softened and water evaporates, about 10 minutes.

~ Uncover skillet and cook stirring frequently until squash browns nicely, about 7-10 more minutes. Add kale and cook a few minutes longer until wilted.

~ Plate and top generously with pepitas.


squash, kale, vegan, holiday, christmas, thanksgiving, recipe, dinner, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier



There’s something deeply magical about food. The process of creating a nourishing, lovely meal can be as cathartic and beautiful as the final dish. This is my very first foray into the world of video and it was really fun and, I think, beautiful. This video is simply the making of a whole foods, everyday salad with arugula, olive oil, shaved parmesan, berries, and a squeeze of lemon for some nice acidity. It’s the kind of salad we all throw together day after day without thinking twice about the calming ritual of digging your hands into the making of a healthy meal. Sometimes it’s nice to take 40 seconds to appreciate the beauty in the everyday tasks…



As I’ve mentioned countless times, I’m not much of a baker. I have little baking motivation and find it messy and annoyingly precise compared to cooking. Soooo since I went gluten free I’ve had some new motivation for baking. Never thought much of cupcakes but it’s amazing how strong a craving for something can get when you can’t have it! This brings us to this week’s hankering for cupcakes and cream cheese frosting, which is bar none, hands done my very favorite frosting!! This gluten-free cupcake recipe uses all-purpose gluten-free baking flour and almond flour as a batter base. It’s a nice dense cake, I found it sort of reminiscent of poundcake with a nice slight chew. It’s a winner!

Almond flour, made from blanched almonds, is finer and softer than almond meal. Next time I’ll try this recipe with almond meal, which is just ground almonds, and update the post if it’s a viable or preferable substitution. Pro tip* To get the most juice out of your lemons, roll them on the counter before juicing.

gluten free, cupcakes, dessert, recipe, lemon, fruit, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier, los angeles


  • 1 cup all purpose gluten-free baking flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 plain fat free yogurt (natural, no thickeners etc.)
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (slightly less than 2 average lemons)
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • fresh blueberries
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon

~ Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with papers.

~ In a bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and brown sugar until combined.

~ In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Beat in cream cheese and yogurt until smooth.

~ Mix in lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla.

~ Slowly add the flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes.

~ Pour batter into cupcake papers, filling almost to the top as this batter does not rise much and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

~ Let cool.

~ While the cupcakes cool, beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth.

~ Frost cooled cupcakes and top each cupcake with blueberries and a pinch of finely grated lemon zest.

After intense stints of client work, which I totally love but it’s a lot of work, and especially after long retouching days of sitting, I am busting at the seams to get out in the side and play with nature. I had some much needed time out and about after been cooped up a bit too long. It’s a long “aaaaaaaaaah” after I’ve been good and gotten my work done. Breaks are important:) I’m particularly lucky to have wonderful weather and the breathtaking scenery of Los Angeles beaches and cliffs. So very “aaaaaaaaah”…

Feed the wanderlust…

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