My toddler daughter and I had a blast making these! These homemade marshmallows are soft, fluffy and can be adapted to practically any flavor profile you like. It’s like magic watching a plain dowdy-looking syrup mixture turn into stunning glossy marshmallow. They’re gorgeous, delicious and make a super special and easy holiday gift. Everyone gives cookies! This year give marshmallows;) You’re friends and neighbors will appreciate the change-up.

When I set about looking for a marshmallow recipe, I found that most called for refined sugar and corn syrup. Bletch. I try to avoid corn syrup as much as possible. I swapped the sweeteners for honey and LOVED the results! Fluffy, soft, and delightfully sweet!

I’ve included flavor variations below the main recipe. Honestly, I can’t even pick a favorite! Let me know if you can;)

Woman's hand sprinkling powdered sugar over homemade vanilla marshmallows. Woman's hand sprinkling powdered sugar over homemade vanilla marshmallows.

For this recipe you will need:


9×13 Pan
parchment paper

stand mixer
candy thermometer

  • 1 cup filtered water (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons grass-fed beef gelatin
  • 1 cup honey (doesn’t need to be raw since we’re cooking it)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground vanilla bean OR 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup arrowroot powder and 1/8 cup powdered sugar, mixed

~Grease pan and completely line with parchment paper leaving extra parchment on the ends to use as handles. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with powder mix.

~In your stand mixer bowl, add the gelatin with 1/2 cup of water and let bloom.

~Heat the other 1/2 cup of water in a sauce pan along with the honey, ground vanilla and the salt. Turn the burner to a medium heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Place a candy thermometer in the sauce pan and continue to boil the mixture until it reaches 240 degrees. Keep an eye on this because you will hate your life if it boils over!! Immediately remove pan from the heat.

~Turn your stand mixer to low/med. Slowly pour the hot honey mixture into the bowl combining it with the softened gelatin. Turn the mixer to high and continue beating the mixtures until it becomes thick like marshmallow creme (about 10 min).

~Turn off the mixer and transfer the marshmallow creme to the parchment-lined pan. Spread and smooth the top with a spatula. Let set at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.

~When set, remove the marshmallows by lifting from the parchment paper flaps. Spray cooking oil on a large knife and cut to desired size. Coat with powder mixture by tossing in a bowl and/or powdering with a sieve.

Homemade spiced caramel marshmallows with hot chocolate.

Homemade peppermint chocolate marshmallows with hot chocolate.

Pouring hot chocolate with homemade peppermint marshmallows.

Homemade peppermint chocolate marshmallows on a plate.

FLAVORS

Peppermint

~ Add 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract while spinning in mixer. Throw candy canes in a ziplock bag and crush with the back of a spoon. Heat semi-sweet chocolate chips in microwave at 30 second intervals until melted. Whisk smooth and dip tops of marshmallows in chocolate, then sprinkle crushed candy cane on top.

Caramel Chai Swirl

~ Use favorite fleur de sel caramel sauce (firm at room temp). Heat in microwave to thin and stir in 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and an optional generous sprinkle chinese 5 spice. While caramel is still thin and warm, plop small spoonfuls on top of marshmallow crème in the pan and swirl with toothpick

Matcha

~ Add 2 teaspoons matcha powder a few minutes into mixing in the standing mixer. Top by dusting marshmallows with 1 teaspoon additional matcha powder. Serve atop a matcha latte.

MEXICAN Spiced Rich Hot Chocolate

makes 4 servings

  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ teaspoon ground vanilla bean
  • a pinch or two of cayenne (optional)
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch sea salt
    *top with homemade Spiced Chai Caramel Marshmallows

~ In a pot heat the milk then add chocolate. Melt the chocolate over low/medium heat, stirring constantly. Once melted and the mixture is warmed through stir in the cinnamon and cayenne and whip until completely smooth. Serve hot!

PEPPERMINT Candy Cane Hot Chocolate

  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup crushed peppermints/candy canes
  • pinch sea salt

~ Heat milk with salt, melt crushed peppermints in heated milk, whisk in chocolate until smooth. Top with Peppermint marshmallows.

MATCHA Latte

  • 1 teaspoon ceremonial grade matcha
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 1 cup hot whole milk
  • honey to taste

~ Whisk matcha into hot water. Add heated milk and honey and stir. Enjoy with Matcha marshmallows for an extra special treat!

Woman's hand sprinkling matcha powder over homemade green tea matcha marshmallows.

Woman's hand sprinkling matcha powder over homemade green tea matcha marshmallows.

My toddler daughter and I were recently invited to an authentic Sri Lankan dinner party. We had a blast and the food and company were so delightful! I’ve teamed up with my friend Yasara who hosted us to bring you a delicious and super nutritious Sri Lankan dish. Not to mention this Sri Lankan beet curry looks like little ruby jewels of goodness. Thanks Yasara for a beautiful day of food and fun!

Also, Sri Lankans eat with their hands to blend the food and flavors which is just about a dream come true to me. It really brings a new experience to food adding the tactile experience with your hands. I think it makes fo a deeper level of appreciation for flavor and nourishment.

Dark-skinned woman's hand peeling a red onion. Sliced red onion and curry powder on dark handmade plate. Turmeric powder, peppercorns and fresh curry leaves in dark handmade bowl.Dark-skinned woman's hands slicing red beets.Turmeric, red onion, curry powder and peppercorn ingredient shot on dark handmade dishes.Dark-skinned woman's hand sprinkling turmeric over pan of beet curry.Sri Lankan vegan beet curry in metal panDark-skinned woman eating Sri Lankan beet curry with her hand.

  • 2-3 red beets with tops, peeled and sliced beets into slim chunks – chop leaves
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coconut milk powder
  • 1/2+ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2+ teaspoon un-roasted curry powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3-4 fresh curry leaves
  • coconut oil to sauté
~Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.
~ Brown onions and garlic, then add beets.
~ Add coconut milk powder, turmeric, and curry powder and stir to combine.
~ Salt and pepper to taste then add curry leaves. Mix thoroughly.
~ Cover and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes until beets soften a bit. Feel free to add more curry powder and turmeric to suite your taste.
~ Once beets soften a bit, add beet leaves and cook them down.
~ Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes before giving them a final stir and serving.
 ENJOY!!!
 Dark-skinned woman eating Sri Lankan beet curry with her hand.

A great friend of mine is getting hitched and having a camping style wedding. In honor of her and her man, I had some fun with the elements of one of summer’s best treats…s’mores!! I know it’s technically fall, but it’s 100 degrees here and fall is good camping weather in these parts! These are some abstract interpretations but, seriously, try rolling your roasted marshmallows in toasted unsweetened coconut when making s’mores. It is F-ing TRANSCENDENT!

Burnt marshmallow still life on black.

Deconstructed s'mores

Our family recipe for baby back ribs is an absolute stunner! You can find them here in my rib soup and here in my first post on this obsessive topic of my favorite rib recipe. So this isn’t the first time I’ve thrust this recipe at you. Have you made it? If not that is EXACTLY why I’m throwing it at you again!! Good grief get at it already! If you have, let this be a reminder to pull this delicious recipe out again at your next barbecue and have the happiest, messiest guests imaginable!

Also check out this babe in all her sticky, barbecue awesomeness. Get it Molls!

Fall off the bone baby back ribs.

Woman holding meat cleaver smeared with barbecue sauce.

Woman eating meat from fall off the bone baby back ribs.

Woman eating meat from fall off the bone baby back ribs.

Woman eating meat from fall off the bone baby back ribs.

Woman pulling meat from fall off the bone baby back ribs.

Woman licking barbecue sauce off of her fingers.

Woman wiping barbecue sauce covered hands on her apron.

Woman wiping barbecue sauce covered hands on her apron.

DRY RUB

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  •  1 teaspoon orange peel powder or 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (use a microplane to fine grate)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 4 pounds baby back ribs
  • your favorite barbecue sauce

~ Cut each whole  rack in half and tear off aluminum foil sheets big enough to enclose each  halved.  Peel membrane off the back of the rib with a butter knife and a paper towel as instructed in this video– apply a dry rub to both sides.

~ Mix up dry rub and apply liberally massaging into meat.

~ Enclose each segment separately and tightly in aluminum foil and refrigerate for 8 hour or overnight.

~ Put ribs still tightly enclosed in foil on a baking sheet (they drip like crazy) and bake at 300 degrees for 2-1/2 hour.

~ After baking you can either refrigerate until ready to grill or put them right on the grill. Once ready to grill, slather with your favorite BBQ sauce and grill at a medium heat for about 5-10 min per side or until sauce is a little bubbly and they are charred they way you like. Don’t leave them on for too long or they’ll dry out.

**Oh Molly, we’re all ravenously nuts about this ribs. You’re in good company girl!

Smiling woman wearing an apron.

Good grief it is soooo wickedly hot all I want is cold food that doesn’t require my oven to be turned on. What is the deal with this heat? 111 degrees today and it’s a struggle to do anything except be underwater in the pool!

For years I’ve been after Molly for this recipe! It goes without saying here that any barbecue or get together at my house goes with an unspoken request for this salad. The flavors are so perfectly balanced, the textures so crisp and fresh, that I’m still surprised by the simplicity of the recipe. It really is a quick, non-lettuce salad to bring anywhere as a respectable contribution to any meal. Now I have the recipe immortalized here and can never lose it again. Whew!

Here’s a bunch of pretty food and beautiful Molly images to get you in the recipe mood. Thanks Molly!!

Grilled corn cob in the husk

Woman's hand cutting grilled corn from the cob

Hands tossing summer Corn Salad with tomatoes and avocado

hands squeezing lemon into summer Corn Salad with tomatoes and avocado

  • 4 Ears of Corn
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 container of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 large or 2 small avocados
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
~ To grill the corn, heat grill on low and place the corn directly on the grill with the husks on. Turn occasionally.  After about ten minutes, remove husks and char 1-2 minutes each side. Let cool.
*** If you do not grill the corn, slice it off the cob first and sauté in EVOO until cooked through. Let stand to cool. If you sauté the corn, no need to add more olive oil when dressing the whole salad.
~ While the corn is cooling, dice the red onion, halve or quarter the tomatoes depending on size. Chop the avocado and mozzarella into bite size pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
~ Once the corn has cooled to the touch break each ear in half to slice off the kernels. Toss the corn with the other ingredients and lightly drizzle EVOO and Balsamic vinegar.
**Variation: Use lime instead of lemon and add some fresh cilantro. Yum!
Summer Corn Salad with tomatoes and avocado

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!

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

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten-free flour (again I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 Tablespoon butter, chopped and chilled
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
  • Ice water by small spoonfuls only if necessary

~ Mix flour, baking soda, and sea salt in a large bowl. Add chilled butter and coat chunks with flour. Flatten chunks of butter between your thumb and fingers. Mix in sour cream then knead dough until it starts to come together, adding tiny spoonfuls of ice water if needed until the dough holds together. Shape into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

~ Placed chilled dough on a floured sheet of parchment. Place a second sheet of parchment over the dough and roll it out into a thick rectangular. Then fold the dough over onto itself in thirds like a letter. Do this twice more then roll it out into a round large enough to use in your particular pie dish.

~ Some people drape the rolled out crust over a rolling pin and then drape it into the pie dish. I have little luck with that so I use on of the sheets of parchment to support the dough, drape it over the dish, then carefully peel off the parchment and gently work the dough into the corners. Tuck the extra dough at the rim under itself and crimp the entire edge with your thumb and finger.

~ Cover crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least and hour and up to several days.

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!!

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