My toddler daughter and I had a blast making these! These homemade marshmallows are soft, fluffy and can be adapted to practically any flavor profile you like. It’s like magic watching a plain dowdy-looking syrup mixture turn into stunning glossy marshmallow. They’re gorgeous, delicious and make a super special and easy holiday gift. Everyone gives cookies! This year give marshmallows;) You’re friends and neighbors will appreciate the change-up.

When I set about looking for a marshmallow recipe, I found that most called for refined sugar and corn syrup. Bletch. I try to avoid corn syrup as much as possible. I swapped the sweeteners for honey and LOVED the results! Fluffy, soft, and delightfully sweet!

I’ve included flavor variations below the main recipe. Honestly, I can’t even pick a favorite! Let me know if you can;)

Woman's hand sprinkling powdered sugar over homemade vanilla marshmallows. Woman's hand sprinkling powdered sugar over homemade vanilla marshmallows.

For this recipe you will need:


9×13 Pan
parchment paper

stand mixer
candy thermometer

  • 1 cup filtered water (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons grass-fed beef gelatin
  • 1 cup honey (doesn’t need to be raw since we’re cooking it)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground vanilla bean OR 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup arrowroot powder and 1/8 cup powdered sugar, mixed

~Grease pan and completely line with parchment paper leaving extra parchment on the ends to use as handles. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with powder mix.

~In your stand mixer bowl, add the gelatin with 1/2 cup of water and let bloom.

~Heat the other 1/2 cup of water in a sauce pan along with the honey, ground vanilla and the salt. Turn the burner to a medium heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Place a candy thermometer in the sauce pan and continue to boil the mixture until it reaches 240 degrees. Keep an eye on this because you will hate your life if it boils over!! Immediately remove pan from the heat.

~Turn your stand mixer to low/med. Slowly pour the hot honey mixture into the bowl combining it with the softened gelatin. Turn the mixer to high and continue beating the mixtures until it becomes thick like marshmallow creme (about 10 min).

~Turn off the mixer and transfer the marshmallow creme to the parchment-lined pan. Spread and smooth the top with a spatula. Let set at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.

~When set, remove the marshmallows by lifting from the parchment paper flaps. Spray cooking oil on a large knife and cut to desired size. Coat with powder mixture by tossing in a bowl and/or powdering with a sieve.

Homemade spiced caramel marshmallows with hot chocolate.

Homemade peppermint chocolate marshmallows with hot chocolate.

Pouring hot chocolate with homemade peppermint marshmallows.

Homemade peppermint chocolate marshmallows on a plate.

FLAVORS

Peppermint

~ Add 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract while spinning in mixer. Throw candy canes in a ziplock bag and crush with the back of a spoon. Heat semi-sweet chocolate chips in microwave at 30 second intervals until melted. Whisk smooth and dip tops of marshmallows in chocolate, then sprinkle crushed candy cane on top.

Caramel Chai Swirl

~ Use favorite fleur de sel caramel sauce (firm at room temp). Heat in microwave to thin and stir in 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and an optional generous sprinkle chinese 5 spice. While caramel is still thin and warm, plop small spoonfuls on top of marshmallow crème in the pan and swirl with toothpick

Matcha

~ Add 2 teaspoons matcha powder a few minutes into mixing in the standing mixer. Top by dusting marshmallows with 1 teaspoon additional matcha powder. Serve atop a matcha latte.

MEXICAN Spiced Rich Hot Chocolate

makes 4 servings

  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ teaspoon ground vanilla bean
  • a pinch or two of cayenne (optional)
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch sea salt
    *top with homemade Spiced Chai Caramel Marshmallows

~ In a pot heat the milk then add chocolate. Melt the chocolate over low/medium heat, stirring constantly. Once melted and the mixture is warmed through stir in the cinnamon and cayenne and whip until completely smooth. Serve hot!

PEPPERMINT Candy Cane Hot Chocolate

  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup crushed peppermints/candy canes
  • pinch sea salt

~ Heat milk with salt, melt crushed peppermints in heated milk, whisk in chocolate until smooth. Top with Peppermint marshmallows.

MATCHA Latte

  • 1 teaspoon ceremonial grade matcha
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 1 cup hot whole milk
  • honey to taste

~ Whisk matcha into hot water. Add heated milk and honey and stir. Enjoy with Matcha marshmallows for an extra special treat!

Woman's hand sprinkling matcha powder over homemade green tea matcha marshmallows.

Woman's hand sprinkling matcha powder over homemade green tea matcha marshmallows.

My toddler daughter and I were recently invited to an authentic Sri Lankan dinner party. We had a blast and the food and company were so delightful! I’ve teamed up with my friend Yasara who hosted us to bring you a delicious and super nutritious Sri Lankan dish. Not to mention this Sri Lankan beet curry looks like little ruby jewels of goodness. Thanks Yasara for a beautiful day of food and fun!

Also, Sri Lankans eat with their hands to blend the food and flavors which is just about a dream come true to me. It really brings a new experience to food adding the tactile experience with your hands. I think it makes fo a deeper level of appreciation for flavor and nourishment.

Dark-skinned woman's hand peeling a red onion. Sliced red onion and curry powder on dark handmade plate. Turmeric powder, peppercorns and fresh curry leaves in dark handmade bowl.Dark-skinned woman's hands slicing red beets.Turmeric, red onion, curry powder and peppercorn ingredient shot on dark handmade dishes.Dark-skinned woman's hand sprinkling turmeric over pan of beet curry.Sri Lankan vegan beet curry in metal panDark-skinned woman eating Sri Lankan beet curry with her hand.

  • 2-3 red beets with tops, peeled and sliced beets into slim chunks – chop leaves
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coconut milk powder
  • 1/2+ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2+ teaspoon un-roasted curry powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3-4 fresh curry leaves
  • coconut oil to sauté
~Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.
~ Brown onions and garlic, then add beets.
~ Add coconut milk powder, turmeric, and curry powder and stir to combine.
~ Salt and pepper to taste then add curry leaves. Mix thoroughly.
~ Cover and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes until beets soften a bit. Feel free to add more curry powder and turmeric to suite your taste.
~ Once beets soften a bit, add beet leaves and cook them down.
~ Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes before giving them a final stir and serving.
 ENJOY!!!
 Dark-skinned woman eating Sri Lankan beet curry with her hand.

A great friend of mine is getting hitched and having a camping style wedding. In honor of her and her man, I had some fun with the elements of one of summer’s best treats…s’mores!! I know it’s technically fall, but it’s 100 degrees here and fall is good camping weather in these parts! These are some abstract interpretations but, seriously, try rolling your roasted marshmallows in toasted unsweetened coconut when making s’mores. It is F-ing TRANSCENDENT!

Burnt marshmallow still life on black.

Deconstructed s'mores

Good grief it is soooo wickedly hot all I want is cold food that doesn’t require my oven to be turned on. What is the deal with this heat? 111 degrees today and it’s a struggle to do anything except be underwater in the pool!

For years I’ve been after Molly for this recipe! It goes without saying here that any barbecue or get together at my house goes with an unspoken request for this salad. The flavors are so perfectly balanced, the textures so crisp and fresh, that I’m still surprised by the simplicity of the recipe. It really is a quick, non-lettuce salad to bring anywhere as a respectable contribution to any meal. Now I have the recipe immortalized here and can never lose it again. Whew!

Here’s a bunch of pretty food and beautiful Molly images to get you in the recipe mood. Thanks Molly!!

Grilled corn cob in the husk

Woman's hand cutting grilled corn from the cob

Hands tossing summer Corn Salad with tomatoes and avocado

hands squeezing lemon into summer Corn Salad with tomatoes and avocado

  • 4 Ears of Corn
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 container of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 large or 2 small avocados
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
~ To grill the corn, heat grill on low and place the corn directly on the grill with the husks on. Turn occasionally.  After about ten minutes, remove husks and char 1-2 minutes each side. Let cool.
*** If you do not grill the corn, slice it off the cob first and sauté in EVOO until cooked through. Let stand to cool. If you sauté the corn, no need to add more olive oil when dressing the whole salad.
~ While the corn is cooling, dice the red onion, halve or quarter the tomatoes depending on size. Chop the avocado and mozzarella into bite size pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
~ Once the corn has cooled to the touch break each ear in half to slice off the kernels. Toss the corn with the other ingredients and lightly drizzle EVOO and Balsamic vinegar.
**Variation: Use lime instead of lemon and add some fresh cilantro. Yum!
Summer Corn Salad with tomatoes and avocado

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.

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!!!

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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