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.

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!!!

There can never be too many ways or variations to make eggs! In our house, they are the ultimate fast food. I poach them in leftover chili and soups and it makes every leftover dish richer and more nutritious. I actually don’t understand why there isn’t a restaurant dedicated to putting eggs on EVERYTHING! Seems like a no-brainer. If you know of such a restaurant please fill me in!

Anyway, on with the show! Eggs in Cocotte are delicately baked eggs in individual portions. Easy to make for a good amount of people (my in-laws will be eating these when they visit over the holidays) and super, fancy pants impressive. It’s a decadent, warming cool-weather breakfast (or lunch, or dinner!).

baked eggs in pots with mushrooms and prosciutto

  • 4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • olive oil to sauté
  • 9 large meaty mushrooms (shitake, portobella etc.), sliced thick
  • pat of butter
  • 1 Tablespoon cream (1 teaspoon per pot)
  • few large sprigs fresh thyme, miced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 cup gruyere, grated
  • 8 eggs
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • toast points for serving

~ Heat oil in a large skillet. Add shallots and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add chopped prosciutto and sauté another few minutes until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

~ Melt butter in skillet, then add mushrooms and sauté until tender. In the skillet, toss together the mushrooms, shallots, prosciutto and most of the rosemary and thyme (reserve some for garnishing).

~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

~ Butter or oil the small pots or ramekins. Spoon the mushroom mixture evenly into the bottom of each pot. Drizzle a teaspoon of cream into each pot and divide cheese among the dishes. Make 2 depressions in the mixture with the back of the spoon to cradle the eggs. Crack two eggs in each pot, sprinkle a bit of extra  cheese on top of the eggs.

~ Get a pan big enough to fit the 4 pots and fill it with water so that the water goes half way up the sides of the pots. Either bring water to boil in the pan or, if using a glass baking dish you can let the dish heat in the oven and boil water in a hot pot to fill the baking dish.

~ Place the pots in the water bath and carefully place in oven. Bake for 13-16 minutes though I recommend checking on them at 10 minutes due to differences in oven temperatures.

~Once whites are set but yolks are still runny, remove from oven. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Serve with toast points.

ENJOY!!!

 pan of sautéed prosciutto mushrooms and herbs

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

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

We’re not much into Turkey in my family. I understand the historical significance of turkey at the Thanksgiving table, but personally I find it pretty much “bleh”. That said, many people are left wanting without poultry at the Thanksgiving feast so we usually bake up a big fat ham and roast a large chicken for those die hard traditionalists. This is one of those chickens.

My old self, the one who had a bit more time, a bit more sleep, perhaps a bit more motivation, was big into vegetable chopping. I made meals where I’d easily spend an hour just chopping all the veggies often with no meat in sight. In truth, I found raw meat repulsive to all of my senses. Fast forward to when I grew the F up and started cutting the backbones out of chickens and making bone broths from gnarly knuckles, shins and feet. Oh how things have changed!!

While I still love my Brined Thyme Roast Chicken recipe, it requires more planning ahead to brine that bird than I can often muster these days. I spend so much time grabbing a toddler as she ceaselessly tests the laws of gravity! This spatchcock chicken is quick to prepare and leaves you with very little raw chicken-y mess, if ya know what I mean. Time to put on your big kid pants and cut out that backbone!

Crispy, golden, savory miso skin with no fuss and few dishes. What’s not to love?

Spatchcock butterfly miso butter roasted chicken

HOW TO SPATCHCOCK (butterfly) A CHICKEN:

1- Place whole chicken breast side down. Using strong kitchen shears, cut alongside one side of the backbone. Rotate the bird to cut along the other side of the backbone. I freeze the backbone to use in bone broth later.

2- Spread the chicken rib cage open breast down and cut a deep notch in the sternum cartilage to allow it to open easily. Now flip the bird breast side up and it should lie flat and look like a… you guessed it, butterfly. Easy Peasy!

*Tip: I usually spatchcock the chicken in the same pan I am roasting it in, one less raw chicken-y thing to clean. Winner, winner chicken dinner!

  • 1 whole chicken patted dry, approx. 5-5 1/2 lbs
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons white miso
  • 1 teaspoon smashed garlic (~ 3 cloves)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 pint brussel sprouts
  • drizzle olive oil
  • salt and pepper

~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

~ Smash together butter, miso and garlic. I salt the chicken in addition to the saltiness of the miso, but it may be a good idea to taste your mixture as miso can vary greatly and you may not want additional salt. Butter the pan you’ll be using with this mixture, then place chicken breast side up in pan and rub half of the butter mixture under the skin and the other half on top of the skin.

~ In a bowl, toss brussel sprouts with a drizzle of olive oil and scatter around the bird.

~ Sprinkle the chicken and brussel sprouts with thyme, salt and pepper.

~ Roast uncovered at 400 degrees for 1 hour 10 minutes or so for a chicken this size. Cook time will vary greatly depending on the size of your bird, so roast until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh or breast. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

~ Plate the veggies from the pan then bring the remaining juices to a simmer, scraping any little bits of deliciousness off the pan to deglaze it and removing any chunks of skin etc. Simmer for a couple of minutes and pour juices over carved meat.

ENJOY!!!

crystal-cartier-miso-spatchcock-chicken-0068

As the weather gets cooler I start to gravitate toward heavier foods. It’s just so so satisfying until my tummy starts to protest! Oh heavy foods can come at a price! This recipe used to be a summer staple in our house but has most recently become a go-to any time we need to do some tasty clean eating and give our poor bellies a break. The other day I realized the only place this recipe exists is jotted in barely legible scrawl on a post-it note it my cabinet in true mad scientist form (all of my best ideas and food/body product recipes live on post-its;)! If that post-it ever fell off and found it’s way into the trash, which is right next to it, that would be the end of this dish. My memory is useless! So, needless to say, I had to make and shoot it asap to preserve it’s delicious legacy.

This is the kind of good-for-you food that even veggie haters tend to really like. It’s beautiful and very obviously healthy with tons of crunch, taste and texture to satisfy your taste buds and heal your angry guts! I’ve been on a pickling kick so more pickled recipes to come…

Ps: This slaw is best made the night before and tastes so much better if the flavor have a chance to get it on in the fridge for a bit!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey
  • 3 Tablespoons minced dill
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 apple, sliced into match sticks
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

~ In a very large mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar and honey to emulsify. Add dill and salt and pepper once thoroughly mixed.
~ Add sliced apple to dressing and immediately toss to coat to prevent browning.
~ Add cabbage, raisins and pecans. Toss well to coat and mix ingredients.
~ Cover with plastic wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight.
~ Toss thoroughly before serving.

ENJOY!!!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

…look at all that gut-loving goodness, Hubba hubba…

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