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

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:).


 Golden Turmeric Milk with ginger honey and cinnamon

Golden Turmeric Milk with ginger honey and cinnamon

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


  • 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.


  • 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!!!


Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

oh the wonders…

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

I’ve been on a bit of a pickling bender lately. They are so crunchy and tangy I just can’t get enough! I won’t even mention how good pickled foods are for digestion (oh, wait, I just did). This recipe is easy, suuuuper crunchy and made to store in the fridge. Get crunching and make your tastebuds and your tummy happy;)

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

*makes 2 pint jars

1 1/2 pounds Persian cucumbers, washed and dried
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
small handful dill
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon fennel
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 Tablespoons sea salt

~ Prepare jars and lids by cleaning in the dishwasher or with hot soapy water. These are not preserved pickles and must be refrigerated.

~ Trim off blossom end of cucumbers. These ends contain enzymes that can take the crunch out of your pickle (hehee). Cut cucumbers into spears or coins.

~ Add spices to jars, dividing evenly between both jars.

~ Combine vinegar, water and salt in a pan over high heat. Bring to a boil then pour over the pickles, leaving space at the top of each jar to gently tap the jars and release air bubbles. The fill the rest of the way then cover with the lids, screwing them on fairly tight.

~ Let the jars cool then refrigerate and ENJOY crunchy fresh homemade pickles!!!

* These Pickled Bell Peppers aren’t to be missed either! They’re PERFECT for that leftover turkey sandwich;)

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

As the weather gets cooler I start to gravitate toward heavier foods. It’s just so so satisfying until my tummy starts to protest! Oh heavy foods can come at a price! This recipe used to be a summer staple in our house but has most recently become a go-to any time we need to do some tasty clean eating and give our poor bellies a break. The other day I realized the only place this recipe exists is jotted in barely legible scrawl on a post-it note it my cabinet in true mad scientist form (all of my best ideas and food/body product recipes live on post-its;)! If that post-it ever fell off and found it’s way into the trash, which is right next to it, that would be the end of this dish. My memory is useless! So, needless to say, I had to make and shoot it asap to preserve it’s delicious legacy.

This is the kind of good-for-you food that even veggie haters tend to really like. It’s beautiful and very obviously healthy with tons of crunch, taste and texture to satisfy your taste buds and heal your angry guts! I’ve been on a pickling kick so more pickled recipes to come…

Ps: This slaw is best made the night before and tastes so much better if the flavor have a chance to get it on in the fridge for a bit!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey
  • 3 Tablespoons minced dill
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 apple, sliced into match sticks
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

~ In a very large mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar and honey to emulsify. Add dill and salt and pepper once thoroughly mixed.
~ Add sliced apple to dressing and immediately toss to coat to prevent browning.
~ Add cabbage, raisins and pecans. Toss well to coat and mix ingredients.
~ Cover with plastic wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight.
~ Toss thoroughly before serving.


Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

…look at all that gut-loving goodness, Hubba hubba…

Talk about a cause near and dear to my little old heart! The Center for Ecoliteracy promotes ecological education in schools throughout California, teaching children that food (or at least whole, healthy foods) come from the earth. Children learn that the little belly button on an avocado means it grew on a tree. A TREE?! Yes darlings, the world is a wondrous, delicious place:)

I’ve had the opportunity to work with this wonderful group of passionate people on their California Thursdays project which is a collaboration to bring nutritious, freshly prepared meals featuring California-grown foods to California school lunches. My heart goes pitter-patter. I’ve always felt passionately about food education, and now that I have my only little California-grown wildling that will be attending school some day it has become an even dearer cause. Not to mention it’s always so dang fun to work with people who are as totally nutty about food as I am!!!

My job in this collaboration was to visually make simple, honest fruits and veggies as tantalizing and irresistible as possible. Pffffft, life is sometimes pretty great huh? Here are some of the fruits of that labor (hehe see what I did there? I know, good grief!). I hope they help the Center for Ecoliteracy ignite passion in the hearts and minds of California’s youth. Time to start tromping in the garden and watch the seeds of education sprout. It’s good to get muddy!

 Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

Oh my gosh life has been crazy and I haven’t had half a second to post anything at all! Oh well, sometimes that’s the way it goes, right?

Anyway, I just wanted to share my first shoot getting “back on the horse” after giving birth to our Sweet P, who I call Pickle so much she’s definitely going to think it’s her legal name! I can’t believe how much time has already gone by. I guess I blinked too long!

This lovely spanish picnic style shoot for EatingWell magazine was the kind that required a lot of up and downs on a ladder. Not the most ideal post-partum shoot but it was beautiful and fun to get right back in it and with my little newborn P too!

You may spy with your little eye a two-week-old Pickle attending this very sophisticated Spanish picnic! We have too much fun! HA!

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 2015

So you may have noticed my hiatus from this blog over the past few months. Our incredible baby girl was born in January and I was back at working shooting for clients two weeks later. Talk about an adjustment! What with figuring out my role as a new mama while also keeping my head above water working on client jobs, I had ZERO time to shoot for myself, or really even eat for that matter! Now I’m all about super duper quick meals and snack, the very best of which being those that can be made one-handed! HA!

The title says it all on this one. Easy peasy, gorgeous jewel-toned plums wrapped in salty prosciutto deliciousness. A wonderful collision of salty and sweet as well as chewy and juicy!

What quick easy foods do you make when you don’t have seconds to spare? No really, this mama needs all the ideas you can give her;)

plums, prosciutto, recipe, appetizer, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

This is the very definition of quick and hearty! I used to dislike smoked salmon unless it topped gobs of cream cheese. While it’s still super tasty with tons of cream cheese, which we used generously in this recipe, I love it all the time on almost anything now. This sandwich is piled high with all the good stuff, the crunch of veggies, the salty chew of smoked salmon, the cool creamy tartness of creme fraiche and cream cheese and the toasted goodness of a sourdough baguette. What else is there in life?!

This’ll fill ya up without taking you down! Not to mention how welcome a no-cook (toasting optional;) meal is in the summer heat!

radishes, sliced, food art, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

smoked salmon, sandwich, lunch, recipe, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

  • sourdough baguette, sliced lengthwise
  • cream cheese
  • creme fraiche
  • radishes, sliced into coins
  • smoked salmon
  • sunflower sprouts
  • avocado, sliced
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • capers, drained

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees and toast baguette for about 5 minutes until slightly golden.

~ Whip together a 50/50 mix of creme fraiche and cream cheese. This is optional but so delicious. Feel free to use just cream cheese if it makes your life easier;)

~ Spread cream cheese/creme fraiche on toasted baguette and starting piling on the capers and radishes, followed by the salmon, tomatoes, sprouts and avocado.

~ Unhinge that jaw and take a giant, satisfying bite. Patting yourself on the back for a meal well-assembled is optional but encouraged.


Happy holidays everyone!!! We have so much to celebrate around here and so many celebrations going on! We just had the most incredible baby shower on the planet thrown by my wonderful friends Secia and Emily. You’ve seen some of Secia’s food skills on this blog many times before (as well as her face/body on occasion!) and today’s post features a caramel apple pie to DIE for beautifully made by the talented Emily. I’m so lucky to have these special women in my life. Though I’ve never posted a photo of myself on this blog here’s a big ‘ol pregnant photo of me and my super pumped baby daddy as well as a snap of Emily’s beautiful babe stacked on top of her future friend. So fun! Oh and we had baby doll corn hole which is exactly what it sounds like, chucking baby dolls across the yard. I highly recommend this for ANY reason, it was so hysterical!!



 Ahhhh:) Okay, okay onto the promised caramel apple pie. Believe me, I understand, apple pie is serious business and this one is THE business. Pouring the caramel through the lattice makes the top crust like crispy caramelized sugar. Totally brilliant and gorgeous! Seriously, this pie is just the most beautiful and impressive look pie on the planet so bring this to your holiday party and be a straight up baller;)

apple pie, caramel, baking, recipe, dessert, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

apple pie, caramel, baking, recipe, dessert, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

  • 1 recipe of your favorite 9 inch double pie crust, one for bottom crust and one for lattice (or buy that baby from the store)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 8 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced evenly

~ Preheat oven to 425 degrees

~ Melt butter in heavy bottom sauce pan and stir in flour until a bit of a paste forms. Stir in sugars, spices and water and bring to a boil. Reduce and let simmer until the mixture caramelizes and reduces slightly. Try you best not to take the whole pot of crazy delicious caramel to the face (maybe the fact that it’s scalding hot will help, sadly it didn’t for me!)

~ Place crust in bottom of pie pan and fill it with the apples. Make sure there are enough apples to mound slightly. Cover with the lattice and pinch the crust edges. Slowly and carefully pour the caramel mixture evenly through the lattice.

~ Bake 15 minutes at 425 then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35-45 minutes until apples are soft.


apple pie, caramel, baking, recipe, dessert, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

apple pie, caramel, baking, recipe, dessert, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier apple pie, caramel, baking, recipe, dessert, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

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