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

This strawberry pie was a delightful afterthought. I had extra flaky gluten-free from a batch of quiche and I sure as hell didn’t want to waste it! I grabbed a bunch of frozen strawberries from last season and whipped up something tasty to fill mini pots. Perfect!

Now the crust is not my invention and I have not found a better gluten-free recipe that mimics the real, gluten-laden, flaky buttery crust for pies and quiches. Credit where credit is due! It’s my go-to gf crust recipe now. I use King Arthur All Purpose gluten-free flour with great results and omit the xanthan gum as that flour already contains it.

We loved these topped with straight sour cream and a sprinkle of brown sugar! In the 100+ temps we’ve been having, a cool strawberry pie is a welcome treat!

Gluten-free Mini Strawberry Pies with Flaky Pie Crust

CRUST

Extra Flaky Gluten Free Pie Crust

~ Follow the recipe and bake the crust as instructed, adding extra time if needed to make sure the crust is fully baked and nicely brown.

STRAWBERRY FILLING

  • 2 cups whole frozen strawberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ounce/ 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2+ Tablespoons chia seeds
  • Sour cream, to top

~ Combine 1 cup of the frozen strawberries with lemon juice and sugar in a pot over low heat until the strawberries thaw.

~ Smash the strawberries with the back of a wooden spoon to add thickness and texture to the mixture then add remaining 1 cup strawberries.

~ Once the last strawberries thaw, turn up the heat to medium and lightly simmer until liquid reduces and thickens a bit.

~ Add chia seeds. Let cool then refrigerate. If your filling is more liquid than preferred, you can always add more chia seeds to soak up the juices. The water content of frozen strawberries can vary so adjust the chia accordingly.

~ Spoon chilled filling into ramekins of baked pie crusts. This recipe made 4 mini pies for me.

~ Top with a dollop sour cream (and a sprinkle of brown sugar if desired).

ENJOY!!!

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

A big pot of chili makes for some of the most useful leftovers anyone could ask for. I have to be careful not to eat beef chili leftovers for every meal. I poach eggs in chili for a big, fat, hearty lunch! This is an extra awesome way to enjoy chili using my Cornbread Waffle recipe. I make these waffles gluten-free but you can use regular flour as well. They have amazing texture and flavor and compliment chili like no cornbread I’ve ever tried! Not to mention you can freeze extra waffles and throw them in the toaster for last minute meals. Pretty great, no?

This chili is an easy, no-frills beauty. There’s a time and a place for fancy chilis, but for my go-to recipe I like to keep it simple. I like to incrementally add spices because I find that the spice level and flavor of my chili powder and cumin can vary GREATLY between varieties. This is especially true for chili powder. To give you an example, I used 3 teaspoons of my previous variety of chili powder in this recipe but the chili powder I have now I use 1/2-1 teaspoon. Big difference! You can always add more if you take it slow! In light of that, the recipe below lists the smallest amounts of spice I use for my most potent spices. Try it and add more based on your spices and tastes.

crystal-cartier-cornbread-waffles-chili-0242

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smashed garlic or 3 cloves minced garlic
  • olive oil
  • 4 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 3 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (add more incrementally to achieve desired level of heat)
  • 3 teaspoon cumin (may also add more incrementally)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • few shakes onion powder (optional)
  • few shakes garlic powder (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • sour cream (optional)
  • cheddar, shredded
  • Cornbread Waffles, toasted if frozen

~ In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion and garlic until fragrant. Add beef, breaking the large chunks up with a spoon, and cook until browned.

~ Add the tomatoes, black beans and spices. Bring to a simmer and let cook for at least an hour but preferably longer. A long, slow simmer allows the flavors to meld and the meat to become more tender.

~ Top toasted cornbread waffles with a large spoonful of chili, cheddar and a dollop sour cream. Serve and 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

Best HOLIDAY pomegranate pear pie

Yaaaaaaaay the holidays are here and these are a surprisingly delicious little holiday sparkle! They’re easy to make, packed with flavor and texture and great for garnishing cocktails, desserts or just eating right out of a bowl. My daughter loves the tart sweetness of these little cranberry beauties!

Cranberries and rosemary in a pan of sugar syrup

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (to roll it all in)

~ In a saucepan over low heat, heat the water and 1 cup sugar until warm and sugar dissolves. Cool until you can put your finger in the liquid.

~ Wash and dy cranberries. Once liquid is cool enough not to cause the cranberries to burst but still warm, add cranberries and rosemary.

~ Cover and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate and let soak overnight.

~ Strain berries and rosemary and reserve the rosemary infused syrup for holiday cocktails or desserts.

~ Blot cranberries and rosemary with a paper towel so that they sticky but not wet. Then work in batches rolling the berries and rosemary in the remaining sugar to coat. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and let dry until hardened. Eat and smile!!

~ Store at room temperature.

Cranberries and rosemary in sugar

Holiday cocktails with sugared rosemary and cranberries

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

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