I have an undying love for good meatballs! For so long I went without meatballs because I couldn’t concoct a gluten-free recipe that had the soft juiciness of a real meatball. Omitting bread completely made a cheesy but super firm literal ball of only meat. Meh. The gluten-free sandwich bread I use in this recipe is fantastic! It’s from Trader Joe’s and contains all kinds of ancient grains as well like teff. It has a killer texture, just perfect. This recipe would also be wonderful with plain, old gluten-y bread so everyone wins!!

I also learned that toddlers LOVE meatballs! I promptly made a double batch and froze them after the searing process. Ya know we’re always in need of more quick, real meals especially now with a kiddo to feed!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

  • 1 cup of your favorite gluten-free sliced bread, torn into small pieces with no crust
  • 1/2 cup grated onion (use that food processor if you can!)
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smashed garlic (~2 cloves)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 16 ounces ground beef (80/20) or 13 ounces beef and 3 ounces pork
  • olive oil, enough to sear meatballs
  • jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • fresh basil

~ Mix torn bread and grated onion in a bowl, combining well so that the bread becomes saturated with the juices from the onion.

~ Combine next 6 ingredients and mix well. Then add meat and combine well once more.

~ Roll them into consistently sized balls, taking care not to roll too tightly.

~ Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat, brown meatballs on all sides OR place on a foil lined cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

~ Place meatballs in a large sauce pan and cover them with sauce. Simmer meatballs in sauce until completely cooked through, usually about 10-15 minutes.

~ Serve with, of course, more cheese over pasta, Garnish with basil.

ENJOY!!

 

I never intended to blog this recipe. It’s just a quick, healthy muffin I make in my blender for myself and my kiddo for a tasty, healthy snack on the go. One day I posted a photo of it on social media and got so many requests for the recipe that I realized maybe it’s exactly the type of no-frills, not-so-beautiful recipe everyone should have tucked away for a delicious, healthy convenience food!

These green muffins are heavy on the good stuff: almond butter, oats, blueberries, and spinach. No flours so they’re gluten-free to boot! Great way to sneak veggies into picky kiddos too!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

*makes about 9 muffins

  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup creamy almond butter
  • 1/4 cup rolled (quick cook steel) oats
  • Spoonful coconut butter (optional but yummy)
  • 1/8 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Couple shakes pumpkin spice
  • Handfuls spinach or kale
  • 1/2+ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin. Blend all but blueberries in a high powered blender until smooth. Fold in blueberries and pour into greased muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees 12-14 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

ENJOY!!!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

There is nothing so delicious on a chicken sandwich than the sweet tang of pickled bell peppers. It takes a lame-o leftover turkey sammie and gives it a gourmet makeover in an instant. I’ve been playing around with this recipe for a bit and I think I’m ready to share it. SO delicious and makes a hearty amount to hold ya over for a while;)

Oh and it’s pretty. Like, really pretty.

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

* makes 2 pint jars

3 red bell peppers
3 yellow bell pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon sea salt plus more to sprinkle on peppers
ground pepper
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
6 peppercorns

~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

~ Divide garlic and peppercorns between 2 wide-mouthed pint jars.

~ On a baking pan, rub peppers with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

~ Roast 40 minutes, rotating halfway to evenly char. Let cool then slice and pack into jars.

~ Combine vinegars, water, oregano and 1 Tablespoon salt in a saucepan and bring to bowl.

~ Pour brine over peppers leaving room to tap the jars and release air bubbles. The top off with brine and cover tightly with lid.

~ Let cool then refrigerate and ENJOY!!!

 

* these lovely and delicious Persian Pickles are not be missed either!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

 

 

This is one of those nutritious bowls that seems super duper fancy and only steals about 5 minutes of your life! If you got this at a restaurant you would be floored. Seriously, it’s incredible and so quick and easy that you could make it daily while simultaneously chopping ungodly amounts of fruit for a toddler fruit monster. I know because I do;)

Customize however you like. Sometimes I do a few shakes of pumpkin spice and that’s delicious. Chia, flax, nuts you name it! It’s all good!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

  • 5 medjool dates, pitted
  • pat pasture butter
  • greek yogurt
  • small chunk of honeycomb
  • a few almonds (not pictured)
  • sprinkle of maldon sea salt
  • sprinkle of chili powder
  • sprinkle of ground vanilla bean

~ In a frying pan, melt butter over low-medium heat. Add dates, sprinkle with salt, and sauté turning regularly so they don’t burn. Once they’re a bit crispy on all sides they’re done! It only take about 5 minutes so keep an eye on them because they’ll burn quickly.

~ Assemble your yogurt bowl with the remaining ingredients. Top with the dates and pour the brown butter from the pan over the yogurt. YUM!

ENJOY!!!

Water kefir is a brilliantly delicious way to enjoy a fizzy, soda-like beverage while getting a healthy dose of gut-loving probiotics. Cultured and fermented foods are an important part of overall health, though modern diets tend to be lacking in these tangy foods. I won’t go into the endless benefits of improving or maintaining gut health, but suffice it to say that new, credible research is coming forward every day touting the benefits of bacterial balance for the entire body.

That said, healthy can be SOOOO delicious. I’m not much of a soda drinker but I can down a bottle of water kefir in a blink! It’s far less sweet and the flavoring possibilities are endless. Similar to kombucha, water kefir uses a live culture of grains that contain a spectrum of healthy bacteria and yeast. Unlike kombucha, kefir is quick and easy to make (3-4 days) with a much milder flavor. The process consists of culturing the grains in sugar water for up to 48 hours, then bottling the strained kefir in a grolsch style bottle with your desired flavors. There are many resources for troubleshooting and purchasing water kefir grains so we won’t go into all that, but the grains do reproduce and nothing says “I love you” like a cup of bacteria and yeast culture! Ha!

As with all probiotics, start slowly. You’ll be improving the bacterial balance of your gut which is best done over time.

This is my process for brewing water kefir. Keep in mind that grains are a living thing and are always changing so different batches will produce different levels of carbonation etc. This “recipe” is a good start point.

Final word of caution: When doing your second ferment make sure to “burp” the bottles at least a couple of times a day to release pressure. We have had some serious explosions here even after a batch has been refrigerated. While some batches will be flatter than others, always open a bottle with caution because champagne ain’t got nothing on the fizz capabilities of kefir! YOWZA!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

You’ll need:

quart mason jar
small clean cloth or towel
rubber band
brown sugar (great mineral content to feed grains)
kefir grains
grolsch bottle
boiled and cooled water (chlorine damages grains so we must boil it out)

Boil 4 cups water and dissolves 1/4c brown sugar in it. Let cool to room temp. Gently stir in kefir grains. Cover wth cloth and rubber band and keep on the counter if your home is warm or in oven with light on in winter for about 48 hours. *Don’t leave grains for longer than 48 hours as they die once they “eat” all of the sugars and run out of food. It’s better to replace the sugar water more frequently than less frequently for the health of your grains.

48 hours later the sugar water should be much lighter in color and there may be some bubbles on the surface. This means the grains have consumed much of the sugar and cultured the water. Strain cultured water from grains. Rinse grains (or don’t as there are different opinions on this) and brew again in new sugar water. For a fizzy, soda-like kefir you must do a second ferment and bottle the strained water in tightly sealed bottle with flavors (my favorites are below) for another 24-48 hours burping the bottles regularly to release pressure and avoid explosions. Refrigerate and ENJOY!!

My FAVORITES!
*as you can see most of my faves also include a helpful dose of vitamin C!

— juice from 2 small limes and 1 lemon
— juice from 1 grapefruit & a pinch dried lavender flowers
— 1/2 TB cut hibiscus flower petals & 1 tsp lavender flowers
— juice from 2 meyer lemons & 1/8 tsp vanilla powder
— 1/2 cup fresh tangerine juice
— juice from 2 lemons, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/16 tsp cayenne
— 1/8 c each spearmint & peppermint
— 1+ cup tart cherry juice
— generous amount of fresh ginger (be careful, ginger fizzes like a sonofabitch!!)

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

I have been totally MIA for the past month and a half because work has been BONKERS! It’s great to have more work than you know what to do with but also quite challenging to strike any sort of balance. Today’s post is in keeping with the theme of trying to juggle work, motherhood and all the responsibilities of life while fueling my spent body with nutritious food (because, hey, jelly beans are A LOT quicker than chopping veggies). The lovely Sienna and I had the opportunity to meet and shoot with a local business, Motherbees, that specializes in providing homemade nutritious food to pregnant, nursing and new mamas. They make and deliver healthy food for moms, which as I’ve learned this past year, is all too important and quite difficult to accomplish on your own with a new baby. It turned out that the founder Heng Ou and I ran in some of the same doula circles (I’m not a doula but met many during my pregnancy) and know some of the same wonderful people. The world gets smaller every day:)

Here are some of the inspiring images we made of vibrant, nourishing foods. I love gorgeous, meaningful collaborations!!

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

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 2015Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

 

Since giving up gluten to make my guts happy, I’ve tried plenty of gluten-free breads and confections. Some have been downright terrible (truly an affront to the senses!) while others have so many gums in them I end up with “bubble guts” for days. Mostly I just avoid substitutes entirely and stick with foods that never had flour in them to begin with. But sometimes, just sometimes I daydream of a crusty baguette to dip into a rich Coq Au Vin or a toasted roll slathered in butter and honeycomb. A friend introduced me to Against the Grain’s breads and they were delicious. Expensive but tasty and with real ingredients (no gums!! Hooray!). Lately I haven’t been able to get my hands on any of their products so that is where this recipe comes in. It’s a slight adaptation from this one from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. From what I understand, her recipes are usually spot on but I just could not get it to work for the life of me and it seems like I wasn’t alone. Here is the adaptation that made these babies…

ps: this recipe is tapioca based so it has a crusty outside and slightly chewy inside. Lovely:)

pps: the brand of tapioca flour matters. I use Vitacost brand with great success (Bob’s Red Mill was a fail). Gluten free on a Shoestring also recommends Authentic Foods and nuts.com brand, which I have not personally used.

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

  • 2 1/2 cups (Vitacost brand) tapioca flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (tamped on counter) shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons liquid coconut oil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature and beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 1/2 Tablespoons milk (I believe this is around 5 oz but don’t have a scale)

~ Put first 5 ingredients in a food processor with the steel blade. Turn on then add milk very slowly while machine is running. Turn off machine and scrape down sides if necessary. Process until dough is smooth ( around 2.5 minutes in my Cuisinart). The dough will be quite slack and sticky.

~ Set a large piece of plastic wrap on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle with more tapioca flour. Scrape dough onto it and freeze until firmer for about 10 minutes.

~ Unwrap dough and divide into 6 equal parts. Use wet hand to shape the dough into rounds. Note that this dough does not have a lot of spread so you’ll want to shape them into a real round, not a ball. Place equidistant on a baking sheet and freeze for another 10 minutes.

~Preheat oven to 375 degrees while you wait.

~ Remove from freezer and bake in center of oven for 20 minutes. Then quickly cut a small slit on the top of each roll for steam release and bake for another 10 minutes or so until golden. Note* these won’t get super golden like regular bread.

~ Remove and let cool completely. Eat fresh or slice in half, wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze. Defrost for 30 minutes then toast in oven.

ENJOY!!!

Why? Why?! WHY don’t I make carnitas all the time? Like each and every day of my life! They are so easy and the work-to-reward ratio is incredibly imbalanced. I buy inexpensive meat (even the stage 1 cage-free pork at Whole Foods is still a cheap option), let the slow cooker do all the work, then eat the most delicious meat that there ever was. Ever. Sigh…it truly is love at first bite.

Ahem, moving on. This recipe makes a ton of delicious, juicy carnitas and I always portion some out in ziplock bags, pour some juices in too and freeze them flat and thin so they defrost quickly. Then all you have to do is heat and brown them in a pan for an instant meal. These carnitas are not overpowering with any particular spice so they’re perfect for anything! I tend to brown some in a pan, top with sautéed veggies and a couple eggs over easy for a ridiculously fantastic breakfast (or lunch, or dinner).

We did a carnitas taco bar for my little girl’s first birthday this past weekend. From what a hear the food was a big hit, I was in the middle of the beautiful chaos that is a one-year-old party! I also made her a couple minion cakes, one to smash and one for everyone. That little silly girl loves her some minions. She thinks they’re hysterical! And time keeps marching on…sigh…

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

CARNITAS

  • 5 pounds pork shoulder/butt (chopped up “rib” cuts work too if large chunks of fat are removed before cooking)
  • 1 1/2- 2 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1-2  jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons smashed garlic
  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano

~ Rub pork with salt and pepper.
~ Combine last four ingredients and rub well into the meat.
~ Put pork into slow cooker with the fat cap facing up and cover with jalapeños, onion and orange juice.
~ Cook on high for 3 hours then on low until meat falls from the bone (usually around another 4+ hours)
~ Remove pork and shred.
~ Strain juices into fat separator (reserving onions to add back to juices) and discard fat layer. Simmer to reduce to about 2 cups liquid, if necessary. Add onions back to juices.
~ If freezing portions, add some juices to each frozen bag. If serving immediately, Brown meat in a bit of oil on high heat in a cast iron skillet until it forms a nice crust.
~ Pour juices over meat and serve immediately.

TACOS

  • corn tortillas, heated in skillet or over stove flame
  • carnitas
  • avocado, sliced
  • red onion, sliced
  • corn salsa or salsa verde
  • cilantro, chopped
  • sriracha
  • lime juiced squeezed over tacos

~ Just pile it all on and enjoy! Gotta love tacos!!!

And MINIONS!!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

oh the wonders…

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

There are plenty of versions of this flying around the internet. This is just my favorite. It’s super easy, truly terrible for you, and big enough to make quickly for dessert after a dinner party or shamefully shove in your face until your sick to your stomach all by your lonesome. We don’t judge.

I used crushed maple pecans I already had on hand. Use this maple pecan recipe and omit the pepper and herbs in favor of 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Then I lit that ish on fire because it’s fun and burnt sugar is delicious. What a great life, huh? 😉

  • 12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate
  • crushed maple pecans OR toffee bit OR peanut butter chips (whatever your heart desires basically)
  • ~1 1/4 bags large marshmallows (enough to fill pan, depends on pan size)
  • graham crackers for dipping

~ In a large cast iron pan, spread chocolate chips then sprinkle with pecans and top with marshmallows.
~ Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes for golden brown, gooey marshmallow perfection.
~ If you like ’em burnt up, torch or broil but keep a VERY close eye as they flame fast!
~ Serve with graham cracker.

For example….

ps: if anyone knows why a GIF won’t play in wordpress (sizing is original etc.) please let me know! I wasted too many hours troubleshooting and finally resorted to vimeo instead. Technology…

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

 

My darling friend Emily comes from a long line of impressive bakers. She has much coveted pie traditions with her sweet mother and beloved departed nana. It’s so wonderful to keep those beautiful traditions alive from generation to generation. It keeps us grounded and reminds us where we came from and that we are part of something bigger. We are simply a leaf on a giant tree deeply rooted in the past. There is something profoundly comforting in that anchor when this life can sometimes feel as if you’re bobbing like a canoe in the sea! Some traditions, especially those based in food, allow each generation to keep the old but also customize a dish to make it a bit of their own. This pie is exactly such tradition with small tweaks to herbs, spices and ratios to make this an adapted version of a treasured recipe. Beautiful! For the original recipe passed down from Emily’s nana and some family photos of wonderful women check out her mama Lori’s blog.

Emily makes just about the flakiest, lightly crisp crust I have ever seen (or heard)! Rarely am I so heartbroken to avoid gluten. My husband tells me that flakey crust is a buttery, delicious delight. Emily cuts the butter into the dough by hand, which she says makes all the difference. I believe it! That crust…hubba hubba!

So go cover your kitchen in flour and start (or preserve) a lovely family tradition!

ps: I meant to post this recipe before the holidays but got wrapped up in my own holiday celebration with my little girl’s first Christmas and meeting all of her east coast family. What a beautiful time:)

 Crystal-Cartier-meat-pies-5675full

* makes 2    6-inch pies (or 1  10-inch pie)

CRUST

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 pound + 2 2/3 Tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup very cold water

FILLING

  • 3/4 pounds ground beef
  • 3/4 pounds ground pork (butt/shoulder)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoons allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 egg white, beaten for brushing crust

~ In a large bowl, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle in water 1 Tablespoon at a time and toss with a fork until dough begins to come together. Gather into a ball and divide dough into 2 equal balls, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

~ In a large dutch oven, saute onion and garlic. Add beef and pork and cook through. Mix in herbs and spices.

~ On a large floured surface, divide one dough ball in half (if making mini pies, if making 10″ single pie do not divide dough) and roll out one of the halves. Lay in a 6″ pie tin. Using a slotted spoon, spoon filling into crust until flush with top of pie pan. Roll out other half of dough ball, place over filling and seal and trim edges. Brush crust with egg white. Repeat for remaining 4 pies.

~ Bake at 375 degrees for around 30 minutes until golden brown.

ENJOY!!

Looks at that perfect crust! YUM!

Crystal-Cartier-meat-pies-5675CRUST

 

Thank you to these inspiring matriarchs….

hardy-women

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