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.


Grilled pineapple rings caramelized with piña colada glaze

Grilled pineapple rings caramelized with piña colada glaze

Hey everybody! I’ve been a bit busy over here with projects galore spanning every aspect of life, work, play, construction, animal rescue you name it we’ve got it going on over here. Busy is good. I like the feeling of days so full of everything under the sun that I simply die like a battery on the couch at the end of each day. That said, busy summer days can get sticky and sweaty so it’s nice to have a cool, refreshing drink that’s quick to make and gets the thirst quenching job done with a twist of deliciousness.

Me and my food stylist friend Sienna DeGovia were playing around in the studio the other day embarking on some gorgeous food photography projects when she whipped us this tasty beverage. She had found some mini tangerines still on branches and we just couldn’t resist shooting these extra tiny cuties! As a  food photographer in a city like Los Angeles I am lucky to have many resources in terms of stylists and Sienna is one of my favorite people to work with. She’s the bee’s knees;)

In other news, I’m honored to have won a Photo District News contest in the category of Food! It’s always pretty fun to read people saying flattering things about you and, truth be told, I’m a bit of a slacker when it comes to applying for contests so I was pretty pumped to get this acknowledgement. You may remember the winning photo of a deconstructed pasta dish from this post of Tortellini with Spring Peas and Parmesan. You’ll find the lovely writeup below.

Also, a splash of vodka or rum would be fantastic in this drink;) Happy sipping!!

Contest Winner food photographer Crystal Cartier



and now for refreshment….

tangerine drink by food photographer Crystal Cartier

  • 3 full size tangerines, quartered
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 Tablespoon raw sugar
  • crushed ice
  • additional rosemary sprigs or tangerine slices to garnish, optional

~ Add tangerines, rosemary and sugar to a large pitcher. Muddle together to release juices and flavors.

~ Add ice leaving room for the sparkling water. Add sparkling water and stir gently.

~ Divide among glasses and feel free to garnish with additional rosemary sprigs or slices of tangerine.


This one gets it’s name from it’s ability to seriously punch you in the face. With a double shot of espresso, whiskey, and pure cocoa this sweetly bitter treat is truly a “slugger”, not to mention the “pow!” it gets from a pinch of chili pepper. If you don’t have chili pepper you can substitute a small pinch of cayenne. I love this warming treat when the cooler fall nights roll in. It’s the perfect drink for a movie night, deliciously decadent with just enough punch to keep you awake for the next 2 hours! 😉

Don’t forget share your favorite hot drinks with us!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

makes 2

  • 2 shots espresso or very strong coffee
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup whiskey or bourbon
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 drop almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ancho chili powder or 1 dried red chile (remove chile before serving)
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

~ Heat espresso, milk, whiskey, chocolate, cinnamon, almond extract and chili powder over low heat whisking constantly until chocolate melts. Do not boil! Pour into mugs.

~ Whip heavy cream and sugar until it forms soft peaks. Top each mug with whipped cream and serve.


I’m not much of a champagne kind of gal and I can’t take credit for this delicious concoction. My idea of good “bubbly” is a craft beer, but this not-too-sweet little number is welcome at my brunch table any day. This champagne cocktail is absurdly easy and incredibly beautiful. My friend Secia Mischke over at Petite Insanities made this fizzy delight for me the morning after I was in a bad car accident and it was a pretty lil’ pick-me-up for my bruised and bummed self. It’s the perfect drink to make if you’re hosting a brunch because it’s easy and nothing needs to be muddled, grilled, shaken or any of those cocktail tasks that can get messy. Why not? It’s a good excuse to start day drinkin’ 😉

Make sure to check out Secia’s blog. She’s full of great ideas!

copyright all right reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

  • 1 sugar cube
  • few dashes cocktail bitters
  • 2 fresh raspberries
  • champagne or sparkling wine

~ Place sugar cube in champagne flute, shake in a few dashes bitters over the sugar.

~ Add raspberries and pour champagne to fill glass. DONE!


copyright all right reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

Continuing on with our cool cocktail series, I offer you a Blackberry Bramble Crush. Say hello to a seriously tasty and refreshing cocktail. The spice of the ginger, the tang of lemon, and the sweetness of berries and herbal syrup make this easy drink seem quite impressive. I don’t often use Chambord, but it is truly a perfect addition to this cold treat. I hope it has you crushing!

copyright all right reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

  • 4 whole blackberries
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon basil simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 ounce Chambord
  • 2 ounces vodka

~ Muddle/smash blackberries, lemon juice, basil simple syrup and ginger in a cocktail shaker.

~ Add Chambord, vodka and ice and shake the bejeezus out of it.

~ Strain into a glass of crushed ice. Garnish with a blackberry.

basil simple syrup:

~ Use a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water accounting for the number of cocktails you plan to make. Add several (I used 10 leaves for 1/2 cup of sugar) torn basil leaves. Tearing the leaves help release the oils that are responsible for the fragrance and flavor of the herb.

~ Heat in a pan to a rolling boil until sugar fully dissolves. Steep for 3 hours and store in the fridge.


copyright all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

Today I have a truly phenomenal use for those farmers’ market peaches (or nectarines!). It takes a tiny bit more work than some of the other cocktails I’ve featured but it’s worth it. Grilling the peaches for this drink causes the sweet syrupy sugars of the stone fruits to caramelize, a taste that pairs beautiful with the rich smokiness of good whiskey. If you’ve never had peaches grilled with thyme it is high time you do! Trust me, you won’t regret the effort;)

copyright all right reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

  • 1 peach cut into wedges
  • olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons thyme simple syrup
  • sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 dashes of cocktail bitters
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 ounces whiskey

~ Lightly coat peach wedges with olive oil and grill on both sides until lightly charred and the natural sugars begin to caramelize.

~ Muddle a couple peach wedges, fresh time sprigs, bitter, thyme simple syrup and whiskey in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake shake shake.

~ Pour over ice and garnish with grilled peach wedge and a sprig of thyme.

thyme simple syrup:

~ Use a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water accounting for the number of cocktails you plan to make. Add several thyme sprigs.

~ Heat in a pan to a rolling boil until sugar fully dissolves. Steep for 3 hours and store in the fridge.


copyright all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

So I’ve been working on some new cocktails as a fun way to beat this crazy summer heat. Too many days over 100 degrees can make a girl a bit loopy! If we’re going to be loopy, we may as well put a boozy spin on things. To kick off this little cocktail series I want to start with one of my favorite new creations. It’s a smash to get you smashed! Ha!

It’s super simple and uses all fresh ingredients. Get some cherries before their gone and give this baby a whirl!

copyright all right reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

  • 6 fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 wedge orange
  • 1 wedge lemon
  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 whole cherry for garnish

~ Muddle cherry halves, orange, lemon, and mint in a cocktail shaker.

~ Add syrup, bourbon, and ice and shake hard. Strain in a glass of crushed ice. Top with more crushed ice and garnish with whole cherry.

***Crushing ice: simply throw a bunch of ice cubes in a food processor and process until fully crushed or powdered.

***Simple syrup: Heat equal parts honey or sugar and water in a pan to a boil and stir until completely dissolved. Let cool and refrigerate.


copyright all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

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