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.


 Flourless chocolate banana bread muffins

Flourless chocolate banana bread muffins

OH MY GOSH you guys I just ate the best sandwich of my whole ding dang life after shooting this here beauty! Who loves waffles?! Who loves cornbread?! Eggs? Yup. Corn salsa? Maple syrup? I think you’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down here. This cornbread waffle recipe is one of my most bangin’ recipes of all time. Pair it with the elements of this breakfast sandwich and there’s not a gourmet spot in town that can compete with this breakfast!

The waffles freeze beautifully too! I stack them up with a small square of parchment between each waffle and throw them in a freezer bag. A quick toast in the toaster and you can have an extra awesome breakfast any ol’ day of the week. I love it when tasty food is just on call, waiting in the wings to make a quick and incredible meal.

I make these with gluten-free flour and they turn out perfectly, but have no fear gluten-eaters of the world you can also use all purpose flour instead.

gluten-free cornbread waffle egg sandwich

*makes 10 regular square waffles (not belgian)


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour, I use Bob’s Red Mill (you can also use regular all-purpose flour)
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ~4 ears corn, kernels cut from cob (~1 1/2 cups) OR 1 can sweet corn patted dry
  • olive oil, to sauté  corn
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup whole milk

~ In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the corn kernels in olive oil for a few minutes until just beginning to char slightly. Sprinkle corn with a little salt.

~ In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredient together thoroughly. Add cheddar, corn, jalapeño and green onions.

~ In another bowl, beat the eggs then whisk in oil and milk.

~ Pour wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until combined, taking care not to over mix the batter.

~ Scoop batter into a waffle iron. For my waffle iron, 1/3 heap cup batter cooks for 2 min 30 sec at level 3 1/2.

***Sandwich recipe below image…

gluten-free cornbread waffle egg sandwich


  • 2 cornbread waffles, toasted if frozen
  • 1 egg sunny side up
  • 2 strips crispy bacon
  • corn salsa
  • high quality maple syrup

~Crispy Bacon: lay bacon on parchment lined baking sheet. 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon. Remove from oven and let cool on a paper towel lined plate.

~ Sunny Egg: heat enough olive oil in a skillet to slightly more than coat the bottom of the pan. Crack egg into oil. If the oil spits and pops turn the heat down. As the whites begin to cook, spoon the hot oil over the whites to help them set. Once the whites are set, spoon the hot oil over the yolk until it sets slightly. Remove egg from pan and set briefly on a paper towel before layering onto the waffle.

~ Layer bacon and egg on a waffle. Top with corn salsa. You can drizzle the syrup on now or after you add the top waffle if you don’t mind making this sandwich a fork-and-knife situation!


I was recently asked if I like to cook. The person who asked me was relatively certain the answer was yes. I replied, “Not particularly, but I really LOVE to eat well”. That response surprised her. I guess a love for cooking and eating should go hand-in-hand. Meh, not so much. That said, I’m pretty enamored by the natural processes of real healthy food. Preparing foods in the same perfect ways our ancestors discovered for us. Culturing living foods, cooking down fresh foods to thicken and add richness and watching foods transform and be reborn into something altogether new and deliciously nutritious never ceases to amaze. I make a lot of things from scratch not because I love the physical process, I don’t find it cathartic to spend extra time on crazy busy days making coconut milk or yogurt from scratch. I do it because it’s better. It tastes better. It’s healthier, more nutritive and sometimes cheaper or the only way I can give my little girl grass-fed yogurt without added thickeners. I find ways to streamline the process and make it a normal part of my day (and my husband’s;). I don’t love the “doing” but, to me, it’s important and I do LOVE the eating. I also hope my daughter will learn and appreciate the value of real food, made the old ways. In a world where many children are appalled to learn that much of their food grows (or should grow!) out of the ground, I hope she finds value in the living nature of vibrant food. We’ll see, a mama can dream;)

Anyway, on the with the show! Making yogurt at home is flat out cool and pretty dang amazing. It’s the most delicious science experiment there is and it’s VERY simple. You are literally sleeping, yes SLEEPING, for most of the process. Can’t beat that! Use the freshest store bought plain yogurt you can find for your starter culture. I’ve only had 2 batches not culture and the starter came from the same tub of store bought yogurt. Wah-wahhh. Sometimes the live cultures in store bought yogurt die and, therefore, cannot culture your milk. Once you make your own yogurt, reserve a 1/4 cup from each batch to use as a starter for your next batch. Never buy yogurt again!

Lately, I’ve experimenting with making my yogurt in traditional earthenware pots. They are made of unglazed clay and the porosity of the pot pulls some water out of the yogurt which makes it thicker. They are a nightmare to clean though, good grief! You can also make the yogurt more of a greek style thickness by straining it in cheesecloth or a towel in a colander over a bowl. Set it this way in the fridge for a few hours or until it reaches the desired thickness. This separates the whey out of the yogurt but the whey has a lot of the probiotics so it’s a trade-off. I’ve found that letting the yogurt culture for 24 hours makes it insanely creamy and thicker. I’ve read cautions about culturing for too long saying that the yogurt becomes too tart. This has not been my experience at all! Give it a try and see for yourself.

Of course you can always make a fruit on the bottom yogurt with store bought yogurt if you’re not much for making your own.

The blueberry chia jam is just flat out yummy. Great on toast, PBJs and yogurt. Or on a spoon, it’s pretty great just on a spoon too;)

Homemade yogurt with blueberry chia jam


  • 1/2 gallon of the freshest, best milk you can get – doesn’t have to be homogenized (I like grass-fed organic)
  • 1/4 cup starter culture

~ In  a large pot, gently heat the milk to at least 180 degrees, stirting regularly.
~ Remove from heat and let milk cool to about 110-115 degrees (do not add culture above 115). Whisk in starter culture.
~ Cover the pot (optional to wrap pot in a towel) and leave overnight in the oven with the light on.
~ In the morning or after ~ 24 hours, remove pot from oven. Leave at room temperature for an hour. If using an earthenware pot, put pot of yogurt in the fridge where it will continue to thicken. If using a regular pot, whisk yogurt and pour into jars or strain yogurt in the fridge for several hours before jarring and refrigerating.


  •  3 cups (16 ounces) frozen blueberries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon (~1/4 cup)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds

~ In a saucepan, bring blueberries, zest, lemon juice, honey and maple syrup to a simmer. Simmer and stir occasionally until blueberries thaw, then smash about half of the blueberries.
~ Bring to a boil, stir occasionally and reduce liquid by half. Remove from heat.
~ Whisk in chia seeds.
~ Cool and store in jars in the fridge. Leave overnight before eating to allow the chia to completely soften.


I’m often asked, by clients and friends alike, what I eat in normal day to day life. We eat a lot of different things over here, mostly veggie based, but hands down the dish I eat the most is a loose variation of Shakshouka or a Turkish Şakşuka. Sounds like a sneeze or a word in a spell to curse someone if you ask me! I can picture Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus spitting “Shakshouka” at someone and turning them into a toad. She truly is the epitome of Halloween fun in my book! “Double, double, toil and trouble….Shakshouka!” Ha!

Anyway, I’ve been making this recipe in large batches and eating the leftovers in a bunch of different ways for about a year and never knew that it had a legitimate name (though this recipe is a very non-traditional version!). Usually I make a giant dutch oven sized batch of the vegetable ragout and put it over polenta cakes and top it with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil for dinner. It is so delicious and full bodied that I don’t even miss the pasta. Then for a nice hot breakfast I heat up some of my leftovers in a skillet and then crack a couple eggs in and poach until softly cooked. This is a lot less work overall for the number of delicious, healthy meals it yields. That said, you could also make a small batch in a skillet the traditional way with the eggs the first time around which is what this recipe does. Whatever floats your boat!

This non-traditional version borders on a pot ratatouille and is really adaptable to whatever delightful veggie you may have in your fridge. As a food photographer, I loved shooting this dish because of the incredible richness of color and texture. It is earthy and divinely delicious! It’s a whole different kind of soul food;)

Shakshouka Vegetable Ragout with Poached Eggs- copyright Crystal Cartier

  • olive oil, enough to saute
  • 1 Tablespoon smashed garlic
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound mixed mushrooms (I used king oyster and king trumpet), chopped
  • 1/4 cup baby japanese eggplant, chopped
  • 1 pound zucchini, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup  prepared tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • few squirts hot sauce, optional

~ Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet, add garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes until fragrant.

~ Add mushrooms and eggplant and saute for 5 minutes.

~ Add zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, tomato sauce, thyme, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

~ Using the back of a spoon, make 2 indentations in the mixture for the eggs. Crack two eggs into your indentations, reduce heat to low and cover skillet. Cook until white are opaque but yolks are still tender and jiggly.

~ Plate mixture and top with a few squirts of your favorite hot sauce if desired.


 Shakshouka Vegetable Ragout with Poached Eggs- copyright Crystal Cartier



My wonderful husband had a birthday (he’s very good at getting older;) and his favorite cake is carrot cake. I started looking for a killer carrot cake recipe only to find that just reading the ingredients made my stomach hurt. I don’t really bake and I always find it alarming just how obnoxiously bad for you these treats are. I’m a big fan of the ignorant bliss in ordering cakes someone else made! So, in light of that I started plotting a carrot cake alternative and, after all, what’s better than breakfast/dessert for dinner?! He came home to these handsome, rich little devils on his birthday and, I must say, we were both genuinely surprised at how decadent and satisfying they were! They are definitely in the top 5 best gourmet pancakes I’ve had, which is saying a lot with some of the breakfast spots we frequent that specialize in gourmet pancakes. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t health food but it’s a heck of a lot less bad for you than their cake counterpart and I must say, I like these more.

Go on, getcha some breakfast for dinner!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013


  • 2 cups carrots, finely shredded
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or gluten-free all purpose flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1- 1/4 cups 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • coconut oil, just enough for cooking


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 Tablespoons good quality maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground ginger

~ Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, milk, vanilla and sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently to mix. Stir only enough as needed and no more. Let sit for a few minutes.

~ In another bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt, maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger. Blend together with hand mixer until smooth.

~ Heat some coconut oil in a skillet. One hot add about 1/4 cup of batter and cook for a couple of minutes on each side.

~ Plate and top pancakes with a generous amount of topping. I sprinkled some brown sugar on the topping to get the little design.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

I LOVE breakfast!!! I am a card carrying member of the “breakfast for dinner” club and regularly make frittatas for dinners with friends. I’m trying to convert everyone into breakfast coveting fiends. Bwahahahahaahaaha!!! Truthfully though, I love frittatas as a way to pack the incredible edible egg with loads of delicious and healthy veg (not to mention the wonderful wonderful cheese;) Frittatas are so easy and tasty it’s amazing that we don’t eat them everyday. Somehow they always taste better than the scrambled egg alternative and look so much more beautiful.

Here’s a lovely and delicate frittata recipe that can be easily adpated with different veggies and cheeses. This time I made an individual serving so as not to waste any since I was flying solo today but the recipe below could serve 4 or so people with a nice side of salad, fruit or toast.

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2013 Copyright

  • 1 zucchini, sliced crosswise on a mandolin
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 pat butter
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 chopped cilantro
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 shredded manchego cheese
  • salt and pepper

~Preheat oven to broil with the rack at the top third of the oven.

~Melt butter in large oven safe skillet, add sliced zucchini and leeks and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

~Beat eggs in a large bowl, mix in cheese and sauteed veggies. Salt and pepper to taste.

~Heat olive oil in the large skillet and swirl to coat pan. Pour egg mixture in and cook at a low heat until the center of the frittata is just about set, 10 minutes. While cooking, occasionally run a spatula along the edges.

~Transfer skillet to oven and broil for 5 minutes or until the top of the frittata is lightly browned.

~ Cut and serve from the pan or invert frittata onto a plate.


food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

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

I promised and I’ll deliver. Sweet compound butters are a game changer. I’m officially obsessed!! Don’t think about it, just make these and allow them to change your world. Ha! I know, I’m a bit food creepy but it’s fun (at least for me;) On with the show! Try these with toast, of course, but also for cooking pancakes and french toast or making brown butter sauces. Someone hide the spoons, these butters are too tasty to stop with just one itsy bitsy pad!

Nevermind that they are quite beautiful and look like a spun delicacy. Yum!

Sweet Compound Whipped Butters


  • 1/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup somewhat finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/8 cup chopped raisins
  • juice and zest of 1 small orange
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon hazelnut extract (optional)

SWEET CITRUS (my fave!):

  • 1/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • zest and juice of 1 small orange
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

~ Leave butter out in a bowl until softened.

~ Add all ingredients and blend with a hand mixer until whipped and light.

~ Refrigerate for a couple hours (ideally) to allow flavors to fully develop.

***And don’t forget to brown butter these babies for extra flavorful sauces. The sweet citrus is especially divine for this purpose 😉

Spiced Brown Butter

Spiced Brown Butter

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

We hosted the holidays this year and, with all the craziness surrounding the first holiday at our house, we totally forgot about the beautiful fresh cranberries hanging out in the fridge. Oooops! No problem, this recipe is a great use of a simply wonderful fruit that gets the cold shoulder for most of the year. I’ve been slathering it on fresh bread and even eating it with a spoon. It’s the perfect balance of tart and sweet with the option to add persimmons, blood orange slices, candied ginger etc.

So pretty with rich reds and a gorgeous glisten. Enjoy!

Cranberry Sauce

  • 12 oz package of fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar
  • slices from 1 blood orange (optional)
  • chopped toasted pecans (optional)
~ Put all ingredients in a pan and bring to a bowl. Reduce to simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes until it thickens and gels slightly.
Let cool.

Homemade Bread

For this beautiful crusty fresh bread I use the No-knead dutch oven recipe below adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery and featured here in the New York Times. It’s super easy and quite genius but you should start the night before and let it do it’s first rise overnight. It’s especially fantastic with white flour (I know, I know) and I’ve found that it’s best to cut the flour by 1/3 of a cup if using whole wheat flour to prevent the bread from becoming to dense. You’ll get a big loaf out of this recipe with no fuss!

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal

~ In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

~ Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

~ Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel cornmeal (or flour); put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

~ At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes (I bake for 7-10 minutes uncovered otherwise the bottom burns in my oven), until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Smother with cranberry preserves and ENJOY!

There was this show “The Sunshine Factory” that my sisters and I used to watch as kids which had this crazy bird who used to squawk and screech “Penelope! You SQUASHED my bird seed pancakes!”. My sister can mimic this bird almost exactly and it still cracks me up to this day! So in honor of hilarious childhood memories and the joy of being a sister, today’s post and recipe are an homage to none other than bird seed pancakes! I cook mine in coconut oil which provides a super healthy and delicious crispiness. It is a crunchy and tasty breakfast that’s beautiful to boot! Can you tell I’m excited from all those exclamation points?!!!! 😉

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • sprinkle of sesame seeds (to taste)
  • sprinkle of sunflower seeds (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • whole flaxseed for outside crunch
  • coconut oil to coat pan

~ In a large bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, oats, cornmeal, flaxseed meal, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Pour in buttermilk and egg.
~ Cook large spoonfuls of batter over medium heat in large skillet coated with coconut oil until bubbles form on top and the edges are dry. Sprinkle the tops with whole flaxseed for extra crunch and flip, and cook until golden on the other side.

* I also made a quick blueberry topping by cooking down some fresh blueberries, honey, splash of orange juice and cinnamon. The longer you cook it the more syrupy it gets.  Yum:D

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