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

It’s that time of year again when I have the pleasure of doing my annual pie shoot with my dear friend, Emily-the-Pie-Maven. Ahhhh I love the holidays and this tradition with Emily is truly one of my favorites. Now that she and I both have boisterous toddlers, we rarely have the opportunity to casually cook or chat together. It seems like it’s only once a year, at our pie shoot, that we can speak to each other in complete sentences with full attention without having to stop everything to catch a flying (correction: falling!) daredevil 2-year-old! The calm of the tradition is complimented by the incredible scents wafting through the house and finished by the insane flavor-filled fruits of our labor. Mmmmm.
This year we have a tart and sweet rustic pomegranate pear pie. I’ve included a recipe for a gluten-free press in flourless hazelnut crust which is delicious! The gluten-free crust makes this an open-faced pie. It’s easy to make this pie as pictured with the leaves using your favorite pie crust recipe. Emily hand cut the leaves for this regular flour artistic pie and boy did she nail it! She subbed 1/2 cup of the flour in her usual crust recipe for 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts and it was fantastic! The gluten-free crust cannot make these leaves as it is a press in crust and can’t be rolled;)
The pomegranate molasses in this recipe is a necessary and divine addition as it balances the sweet pear with the tartness of pomegranate. You can buy pomegranate molasses at some grocery stores and Persian markets but it’s easy to make. I’ve included the simple recipe at the end and it’s sooooo good!
Best pomegranate pear pie
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons melted butter or liquid coconut oil
~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
~ Mix all but oil. Mix in 3 Tb oil up to 4Tb until the mixture is moist but not sticky. Press evenly into pie pan or 2 cocottes.
~ Pre-bake for 10 min at 375 degrees.
*makes 1 regular sized pie bottom crust or 2 cocottes. Double recipe to make 4 cocottes to accomodate the amount of pear mixture or cut the pie filling recipe in half to accomodate 2 cocottes.
Pomegranate Pear Pie Filling
  • 5 cups sliced bosc pears, ripe but a bit firm and unpeeled
  • 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses (*recipe below)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • Hazelnut Flourless Crust (recipe above) or regular pie crust of your choice.
~ Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
~ Mix sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.
~ Arrange sliced pears layer by layer over bottom crust, sprinkling sugar mixture and 1/4 cup of the pomegranate seeds over each layer as you go.
~ After assembling the top layer, drizzle molasses evenly over pie/s, sprinkle the last of the sugar on top and scatter little blobs of the butter on top of pie. If using regular crust, place top crust over the filling, pinch around edges and brush with egg wash.
~ Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes then reduce to 350 degrees for 40 minutes or so until golden and bubbling.
~Top with fresh pomegranate seeds.
*Pomegranate Syrup
  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

~ Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced to 1 cup (~ 75 minutes). It should be thick like warm molasses. Allow to cool for a while then transfer to jar to cool completely before refrigerating. Can be stored in refrigerator for 6 months or so.

Rustic Gluten Free Pomegranate Pear Pie

Best pomegranate pear pie

Still life of bosc pears pomegranate and holiday greens on blue napkin

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.


This is one of those nutritious bowls that seems super duper fancy and only steals about 5 minutes of your life! If you got this at a restaurant you would be floored. Seriously, it’s incredible and so quick and easy that you could make it daily while simultaneously chopping ungodly amounts of fruit for a toddler fruit monster. I know because I do;)

Customize however you like. Sometimes I do a few shakes of pumpkin spice and that’s delicious. Chia, flax, nuts you name it! It’s all good!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

  • 5 medjool dates, pitted
  • pat pasture butter
  • greek yogurt
  • small chunk of honeycomb
  • a few almonds (not pictured)
  • sprinkle of maldon sea salt
  • sprinkle of chili powder
  • sprinkle of ground vanilla bean

~ In a frying pan, melt butter over low-medium heat. Add dates, sprinkle with salt, and sauté turning regularly so they don’t burn. Once they’re a bit crispy on all sides they’re done! It only take about 5 minutes so keep an eye on them because they’ll burn quickly.

~ Assemble your yogurt bowl with the remaining ingredients. Top with the dates and pour the brown butter from the pan over the yogurt. YUM!


Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

There are plenty of versions of this flying around the internet. This is just my favorite. It’s super easy, truly terrible for you, and big enough to make quickly for dessert after a dinner party or shamefully shove in your face until your sick to your stomach all by your lonesome. We don’t judge.

I used crushed maple pecans I already had on hand. Use this maple pecan recipe and omit the pepper and herbs in favor of 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Then I lit that ish on fire because it’s fun and burnt sugar is delicious. What a great life, huh? 😉

  • 12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate
  • crushed maple pecans OR toffee bit OR peanut butter chips (whatever your heart desires basically)
  • ~1 1/4 bags large marshmallows (enough to fill pan, depends on pan size)
  • graham crackers for dipping

~ In a large cast iron pan, spread chocolate chips then sprinkle with pecans and top with marshmallows.
~ Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes for golden brown, gooey marshmallow perfection.
~ If you like ’em burnt up, torch or broil but keep a VERY close eye as they flame fast!
~ Serve with graham cracker.

For example….

ps: if anyone knows why a GIF won’t play in wordpress (sizing is original etc.) please let me know! I wasted too many hours troubleshooting and finally resorted to vimeo instead. Technology…

Copyright 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

Wooooo weeeeeee it’s summer fo sho! Time for light and/or frozen desserts. I wouldn’t have ever fancied myself a meringue person , but this recipe has totally changed my mind. Pavlovas are brilliantly airy and sweet. I tried a few recipes following them to the letter and, frustratingly, end up with flat little pancake meringues (grimace). I looked like a meringue bomb had exploded all over me and had nothing to show for it, this is why baking makes me nuts. So, given my lack of success with an actual recipe, I decided to wing it a bit. What could it hurt?! I was already a mess! The results were truly delectable and super easy. I was able to easily make extra batches and they turned out predictably lovely each time. That’s what we like!

The aged lavender balsamic is a bit on the syrup side of the thickness spectrum. You can also make a balsamic reduction steeped in dried lavender flowers and simply strain the flowers out and let cool before use. This is a lovely, tangy and earthy contrast to the sweetness of the meringue and peaches. The cool, fresh whipped cream pairs beautifully with the crisp outer shell of meringue and chewy center and balances the caramelized rich sweetness of the peaches.

I had some great friends over to help me not eat all this sugar myself and it was a big hit! Not a spec was left behind:)

pavlova, peaches, meringue, recipe, dessert,  recipe, food photographer, crystal cartier

pavlova, peaches, meringue, recipe, dessert,  recipe, food photographer, crystal cartier

makes 2   6″ pavlovas

  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated on microplane
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pint whipping cream, beaten into whipped whipped cream
  • 4 ripe peaces, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoon good maple syrup
  • lavender infused aged (or a reduction) balsamic vinegar, optional but a lovely tangy contrast

~ Preheat oven to 325 degrees

~ Line a baking sheet with parchment and use a bowl to trace 2 6” diameter circles onto the parchment. Flip the parchment over so the circles are on the underside (so as not to get marker in your meringue).

~ In a large bowl, beat egg white and salt on medium speed with an electric hand mixer until stiff but not dry.

~Increase speed to high and slowly add sugar in very small increments, blending thoroughly each time. Add the cornstarch, lemon zest, and lemon juice and beat for another minute or so to combine.

~ Divide meringue in half on the two circles on the parchment. Shape meringue nests with the back of a spoon making a slight depression in the middle of each nest for whipped cream and fruit.

~ Place baking sheet in pre-heated oven an immediately decrease heat to 200 degrees. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. Then turn off oven and leave baking sheet in oven allow meringues to completely cool.


~ Heat butter/ coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat until melted, add sliced peaches and sauté until soft. Turn up heat a bit, add maple syrup and sauté until the peaches caramelize a bit and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

~ Top each meringue with a generous scoop of fresh whipped cream and roasted peaches. Drizzle lightly with the lavender aged balsamic. 





I didn’t realize I loved confections. That may sound pretty dumb but, before I went gluten free I would have said I’m not that into cakes, pastries, cookies etc. That said, when you can no longer have a thing it’s amazing how much you can grow to miss something you never really cared much about in the first place. Oh desire! So, in the past year, I’ve developed a love for always gluten-free macarons. It’s a bit surprising how diverse french macarons can be. Some are chewy and soft, other firm and crispy while others are simply flavorless with so much sugar it can make your teeth ache. I don’t know which way is the “right” way but I know that this style is the one for me. It has a lovely crispy shell and a tender almost chewy inside. It’s heavy on honest-to-goodness pistachio flavor and I love the richness and slight tang of the cream cheese filling instead of the sweeter, stiffer buttercream that I often see. I use almond meal instead of flour because it’s easier, cheaper and a bit denser which I like. If you want a more traditional macaron shell buy some almond flour, if not simply grind raw almonds into a meal using a food processor.

I will say that macarons are a bit involved so take a deep breath and don’t worry if they come out a bit wonky. They will be DELICIOUS!

french macarons, pistachio macarons, recipe, dessert, food photographer, los angeles, Crystal Cartier

  •  1/2 cup almond meal or flour
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios, ground in food processor to a fine meal
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons regular white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon food coloring (optional)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

~ Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and fit a pastry bag with a plain tip.

~ In a food processor, grind together almond meal, pistachios and powdered sugar. Sift through fine mess sieve into a bowl. Reserve the larger mixture that didn’t pass through the sieve to add back into the filling

~In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric whisk/beater until foamy. Keep whipping and slowly add in the regular white sugar. Add food coloring now if desired then whip until the egg whites become thick and form stiff peaks.

~Gently fold dry ingredients into the egg whites with a rubber spatula, taking care to scrape down the edges of the bowl until smooth.

~Pour the batter into the pastry bag and squeeze onto baking sheet in 2 inch circles. This should make about 16 circles or so. Rap pans firmly on counter to dislodge air bubbles and let sit for two hours to allow a skin to form (this is the making of a crisp shell).

~Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake macarons for 15+ minutes until the cookies look just a touch golden. Let cool completely.

~Throw cream cheese in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. While mixing add in the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 3 Tablespoons of the reserved nut mixture that did not pass through the sieve and beat for a few minutes until smooth, light and fluffy.

~Spoon small spoonfuls of the filling on the bottoms of the macaron cookies and gently sandwich together. They can be eaten immediately but are best if left to sit overnight in the refrigerator to reach the desired texture. Remove from fridge and serve at room temp.


It’s pumpkin fever time!!! It’s that time of year when pumpkin flavored everything floods the shelves and coffee shops. I LOOOOVE it! I love the smell, the taste, the warmth, even the color of pumpkin. I love to roast them and make the whole house smell of autumn. Life is good with a pumpkin in the oven! This year we’re really into these homemade roasted pumpkin lattes. This cuppa is richly flavored with real roasted pumpkin, warm spices, and a touch of sweet maple syrup to turn any day around. I know what I’ll be sipping while doling out sugar bombs to already hyper children this Halloween!

What are some of your favorite pumpkin dishes?

Here are some pumpkin treats from previous years for your autumn indulgence:

Roasted Pumpkin, Mushroom and Barley Risotto

Pumpkin Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt

Roasted Pumpkin Latte - copyright Crystal Cartier

  • 3 heaping Tablespoons roasted sugar pumpkin flesh (or canned pumpkin)
  • 1 teaspoon ground vanilla bean
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1-2 shots espresso

~ In a saucepan, heat milk, pumpkin, spice and vanilla to a strong simmer. Whisk smooth while simmering.

~ Pour pumpkin milk into a large mug and pour espresso over it.

Take a big whiff of that goodness and ENJOY!!!

Roasted Pumpkin Latte - copyright Crystal Cartier

It’s that time of year again when the air here is bone dry and the sun’s rays seem too strong to be real. It’s amazing how much stronger the sun feels here in SoCal compared to my east coast roots. Suffice it to say I’ve gotten much more diligent with my sunscreen regimen! As we start firing up the grill and taking to the backyard I begin to crave fresh, fruity frozen treats. This watermelon sorbet is sweet and satisfying with a tang on the back end from the lime. This sorbet is a little slushier than the roasted apricot and peach sorbet which is still good but sometimes I like to add the top cream from some homemade coconut milk to impart creaminess. This is so so easy there’s no reason not to keep it in stock all summer!

As we were downing this delicious sorbet and sunning ourselves we realized it was time to booze this baby up! Included is the show-stopping watermelon colada recipe we whipped up with this sorbet. Uh-oh another six pack summer coming!!!

all right reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

  • 3 cups pureed seedless watermelon (cut into chunks and process in blender until smooth)
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup sugar (consider using less if the watermelon is very sweet)
  • 1/4 cup light corn or tapioca syrup
  • 1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk top cream (optional but awesome)

~ Bring lime juice, sugar, syrup, and 1/2 cup watermelon puree to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat.

~ Blitz remaining watermelon puree with coconut cream in blender. Whisk hot mixture in and chill until cold.

~ Spin mixture in ice cream maker for 10-15 minutes.


  • 1-1/2 cups coconut milk (first press if using homemade)
  • 1-1/2 cup equivalent of watermelon sorbet OR frozen watermelon chunks and juice of one lime
  • 4 frozen strawberries (plus extra to use as ice cubes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 shots of tequila

~ Blitz all ingredients in blender, pour into glasses and plop a few frozen strawberries in as ice cubes.


food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

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