Tuesday, March 17, 2015

See my NEW blog!

Come see my new blog: kitchencheetahs.blogspot.com

There are over 100 healthy & unique recipes to be found there.

Recipes for:

Sugar free foods
Gluten free foods
Healthy desserts
Salads and dressings
Indian food
Copy-Cat recipes
Raw foods
High-fiber foods
Healthy snacks
And MORE...

I hope you will join me!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fly-By-The-Seat-Of-My-Pants Calzones 
(in other words, I threw this together speedy fast)

I am headed off to the Supply Side West Show in Las Vegas, Nevada tomorrow. It is a big show for food and cosmetic formulators. I will be looking for unique and HEALTHY food ingredients, as well as a few cosmetic ingredients. I had a bunch of errands to run before I left for Nevada, so this was dinner tonight. I already had pizza dough and pizza sauce pre-made. The ricotta cheese mixture is easy to throw together. Just make sure to season the cheese mixture well so the calzones are not bland. I taste the cheese mixture and adjust the seasonings BEFORE I add the raw eggs. This meal is easily made vegetarian by just omitting the pepperoni.

Feeds 4 easily.

The ricotta cheese mixture.

I rolled out 3 small orange-sized portions of olive oil dough, on a floured surface.

I spread on some of my home made pizza sauce, leaving the edges bare.

 I next put on the ricotta cheese mixture.

 I topped with pepperoni, optional

 I then folded the dough circle in half, on top of itself and rolled and sealed the edges. It was then transferred with 2 dough scrapers, to a silicone lined baking sheet.

 Calzone #1 made it into the pan...whew!

 I lightly oiled the surface of the calzones with rice bran oil.

 Next, I pricked the calzones with a fork.

 These baked in a preheated 400 degree oven for 50 minutes, until the tops were a nice golden brown.

 These were very tasty.

I just made this up to taste - you can do the same...

Ricotta cheese Filled Calzones:


5 Minute Olive Oil Dough (see my post about this dough:  http://artfulcheesewiz.blogspot.com/2013/10/menu-and-recipes-for-my-13-year-old.html)

Pepperoni, quartered, optional

Ricotta Cheese Filling (see recipe below)

Ricotta Cheese Filling:
about 22 ounces Ricotta cheese (low-fat or regular)
3 large handfuls raw organic baby spinach leaves, pre-washed and dried, minced fine
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
1 c. shredded Colby Jack cheese blend
2 cloves garlic, smashed well in a mortar & pestle
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1/2 t. onion salt, or more to taste
1/2 t. dried crumbled rosemary, to taste
1/2 t. Italian seasoning, to taste
20 grinds of fresh black pepper, to taste
2 large organic eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix up the ricotta cheese filling ingredients, to taste.
3. On a floured surface, roll out portions of dough into a desired circular shape.
4. Slather on pizza sauce.
5. Spread some of the ricotta cheese mixture onto one half of the sauced-up dough.
6. Top with pepperoni, as desired.
7. Fold the dough in half, encasing all of the filling.
8. Turn and fold dough edges, sealing the filling inside tightly.
9. Transfer calzones with 2 dough scrapers, to a silicone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
10. Oil (with rice bran oil, coconut oil, or butter) and prick the dough with a fork.
11. Place in the preheated oven and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes.


Author: Leila Wood.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Leila's Coconut Rice with Black Beans & Caramelized bananas (vegetarian or vegan, and gluten-free)

This is a quick and tasty dinner to make. We love it at our house. My daughter will even eat the leftovers cold in her school lunch (her doing, not mine). It is a nice family meal for when you don't feel like eating meat. You can easily make it vegan by using all coconut oil instead of butter. This meal is also naturally gluten-free (just check your salsa ingredients).

I adore caramelized bananas! My mom would make them for me as I was growing up. At the time, she always used real butter, and we ALWAYS salted them. They are like nature's version of salted caramels. The trick with the bananas is not to use too high of heat, or you will scorch them instead of caramelize them. Being patient is worth it. Make the bananas as the rice is cooking. Also prepare all the garnishes as the rice and beans finish up.

Bananas this ripe and even riper, are used.

Lay the bananas cut side down in the prepared pan.

They are looking caramely on the edges and are ready to turn.

Leila's Coconut Rice with Black Beans & Caramelized bananas
Serves 4.


The Rice:
2 c. basmati rice (white or brown) with 1/2 t. sea salt or Leila's BioSalt, cooked in a rice cooker according to rice cooker directions
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained (can use 2 cans to up the protein and fiber)
2 T. raw agave nectar, optional

The Caramelized Bananas:
1 T. coconut oil (deodorized or virgin)
1 T. real butter, or ghee (clarified butter)
4 to 6 very ripe bananas (or as many bananas as you can cram in the pan!)
Sea salt, or Leila's BioSalt, to taste (my BioSalt recipe is in my first blog post)

Garnish with:
the Caramelized Bananas (above)
raw baby spinach leaves
diced pineapple, fresh or canned
golden raisins, optional (or chopped dates)
scallions, minced
shredded jicama
red bell pepper, chopped, optional
sugar snap pea pods, optional
fruit salsa (like peach-mango salsa)
cilantro leaves, roughly chopped


The Rice: 
Cook the rice, 1/2 t. salt and water amount called for in your rice cooker until done.
Leave the rice cooker on the keep warm setting.
Fluff the rice and stir in the can of coconut milk. Toss gently to blend.
After the coconut milk has been absorbed by the rice, add the canned black beans and toss.
Let the rice cooker's keep warm feature warm the beans and rice mixture.

The Caramelized Bananas:
Melt the butter and coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan, over med-high heat.
Peel and cut in half lengthwise 4 to 6 very ripe bananas.
Place banana halves, cut side down into the melted fats in the pan.
Let the bananas start sizzling before you turn the heat down to medium heat.
When the underneath sides look golden brown and caramelized, sprinkle salt over them and turn them over. Caramelize the other side and lightly salt. Turn heat to very low to keep warm, until use.

Putting it all together:
On individual serving plates, first put a bed of baby spinach, then portion the rice & bean mixture over top. Top with caramelized bananas, pineapple, and other desired fruit and vegetable garnishes.
Finish off by topping with the fruit salsa and cilantro.

At our house we load up on the fruit and vegetable toppings and we like a generous amount of fruit salsa.


Author: Leila Wood.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

DIY Home Made Grapevine Wreath (and off on a tangent about Nancy Glazier ART)

I decided that I want a new wreath for our home. Our grapes grew like crazy this year, so I knew I would have plenty of vines to work with. I used to make dried floral arrangements all the time, I even sold some. I decorated my beauty salon with some of them, and of course my home. I don't know why I stopped, maybe because you can decorate with only so much flowery stuff. That, and I'd like a studio to work in.

My mother has an amazing art studio. She is an inspired and incredibly gifted artist, and I grew up around oil painting my whole life. It was awesome. As a teen, I would perch on a stool beside her and we would talk as I would watch the magic unfold on her canvas. As a kid, sometimes I would paint beside her, she was so great with me, as I am sure I must of made a mess. I still have a couple of those painting around somewhere, I think. Those are good memories. Thanks mom for loving me so much.

Mom -AKA- Nancy Glazier

As an adult, my mom offered to teach me all her painting secrets and I attempted to oil paint a few times...on my kitchen table. But dang, my family wanted to eat. So I'd have to clean it all up everyday, and then get it all out to paint again. I also didn't think cute little baby hands should be grabbing at cadmium-laced paint, or turpentine, for that matter. And honestly, I was frustrated with my lack of skill. It can be a challenge to be a daughter of a master artist. Try not to compare yourself to what you see as perfection! You can't help but notice that there is a huge difference. She has always been encouraging, so it was my own brain getting in the way (Grrrr, as usual). It saddens me a bit that I had to pass on that opportunity. Some people would give their left ear to have the chance to paint with her, even once. I made a choice, and that was to focus on my husband, children and other life activities. I've still been creative. My children are growing up, who knows what the future holds! I can STILL paint with mom.

I can't help but share a little bit of Nancy Glazier art with you...

 Mama's Girl - Nancy Glazier

Peace & Harmony - Nancy Glazier

 Without Any Ire - Nancy Glazier

 Shed Door Fox - Nancy Glazier

 Eye of the Storm - Nancy Glazier

Winter Chores - Nancy Glazier

 Carousel Horse 2 - Nancy Glazier

Primary colors - Nancy Glazier

Faith - Nancy Glazier

Sigh... Looking at her work makes me smile. I hope you enjoyed it too.

So back to making wreaths. 

This is the lame looking wreath I need to replace. It used to look good. I made it with several bunches of lavender years ago. 

After pruning my grapes, I had a pile of vines. I stripped all the leaves off. I luckily had some help. Meet Moki, our mini wiener dog pup.

Now I'm ready to start weaving the vines.

I got an especially long vine and twisted it around itself, making a circle.

I wove more of some of the longer vines around what I had started. I then started weaving the various lengths and thickness of vine that I had. Be careful when bending the more brittle vines, or they will snap.

Moki helping me out.

I think Moki wanted to make it into a rustic doggie bed. No-go Moki, unless you want to sleep up on the wall. I again twisted some longer vines around the wreath to help secure it.

I touch up the wreath with additional vines to make sure it is balanced looking. Then I wrap it a final time with a really long vine or two. 

And there it is! Moki is very proud.

Moki is asking me, "Are you sure I can't have this as a doggie bed? Look how cute I am in it".

Well, there you go. It's not a painting of a fox, but I can put fresh bunches of lavender on it and make my house smell nice. That's worth something.

Now time for my home made Mac-n-cheese!

Happy Halloween!

Author: Leila Wood.

Best Tomato Bisque recipe (+ Adaptations)

I adore a good lobster bisque, however tomatoes are cheaper than lobster. This is a really good soup! My daughter and I have pretty well liked the tomato bisque Costco (+http://www.costco.com/) sells, but I wanted to figure out how to make my own. I knew I could make it for much less money, and make it even tastier. I wanted it to be easy to throw together too. I succeeded. This has a better, more rounded flavor, and is lovely with a hearty grilled cheese sandwich. It gently warms the back of your throat as it goes down, due to the Tobasco sauce. My daughter called it "heart warming food" (we laughed because she couldn't remember the phrase "comfort food"). I think heart warming food is cute myself.

See my notes about how to have fresh basil all year long. This soup just isn't the same with dried basil.

Leila's Easy Tomato Bisque

1 T. butter
2 T. flour (3 T. if you want a thick soup)
1 14.5-ounce can organic diced tomatoes
2 8-ounce cans organic tomato sauce
1 t. chicken base
1/4 c. frozen basil, crumbled while still frozen (or 1/2 c. fresh, minced)
1/4 c. sugar or xylitol (you may need a touch more xylitol, it's almost as sweet as sugar)
1/2 t. sea salt or Leila's BioSalt (recipe in my first post)
1 t. Tobasco sauce (or 3 t. Frank's Hot Sauce, as a second choice)
1 t. onion salt
1/4 t. granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
2 T. sherry cooking wine
16 ounces purified water
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 c. organic milk

In soup pot, make a roux of the butter and flour.
Slowly add the can of diced tomatoes, stirring to prevent lumps.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cream and milk.
Let the soup gently simmer for a few minutes to bring out the flavor of the basil.
Stir in the cream and milk and serve.

You can thin the soup with a little more milk if desired.

I freeze the basil from my garden by laying a very thick layer of leaves on a sizable piece of plastic wrap. I then tightly roll up the basil-laden plastic wrap 'sleeping-bag' style. I place the rolls, packed together in a gallon-size zip-lock freezer bag, and store in my freezer.

To use the basil, I do not thaw it. I slightly unwrap a roll of basil and crunch it in my hands and release the now flaked  frozen basil into my soups and sauces. I love having the fresh taste of basil all year long.

Enjoy this soup while watching some episodes of Studio C, like this one about Bisque!

It's good not to take bisque too seriously.

More episodes here: +https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGVpxD1HlmJ_jJsbKpbBWG5rrkWq8Wx4Q

Have fun, Leila.

P.S. I have included some adaptations to my soup recipe:

To make Vegan/Dairy-Free: 
You can substitute a can of unsweetened coconut milk for the milk and cream. Use deodorized 76 degree coconut oil for the butter. Use vegetable base instead of the chicken base, or omit the base and adjust the salt to taste. The coconut milk version tastes awesome!

To make Gluten-Free:
Replace the wheat flour with fine white white rice flour (neutral flavored), and make your roux with that.
Make sure to check your chicken base ingredient list, omit it if you can't use a gluten-free stock base.
You may also replace the Tobasco sauce with about 1/2 t. red pepper flakes, to taste.
Check your sherry to make sure it is gluten-free too.

To lower the fat:
Use about 1/3 c. (or more to taste) nonfat powdered milk plus 1 c. purified water (see pkg directions), or 1 c. skim milk for the regular milk and cream. You will then need to add an additional 1 T. flour (or white rice flour) to your roux to make the soup thicker. I'm warning you though, it is not as good without the fat.

A no added sugar version:
Use the xylitol instead of the sugar. You can reduce the xylitol to 2 T. and then add stevia to bring up to the desired sweetness level. I use Now brand 'Better Stevia Glycerite', which I purchase in an 8-ounce bottle from Good Earth Natural Foods in Utah. Do not over-do the stevia! Add it a drop at a time and then taste.

Author: Leila Wood

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A requested recipe...Fijian Pumpkin Curry

My parents used to own a place in Fiji. Most of my kids were able to go spend time with my parents there. I was unable to go to Fiji myself, but I can have a taste of Fiji whenever I choose. Thank you Tseliora for giving your delicious recipe to my mom.

Tseliora's Pumpkin Curry:

1 large butternut squash, peeled with a vegetable peeler
2 to 3 T. coconut oil
1 onion, diced
2 to 3 garlic cloves, mashed
1 t. tumeric
2 t. masala seasoning, to taste
1 can rich lolo (coconut milk) (or fresh is even better!)
1 t. sea salt or Leila's BioSalt, to taste
chilies, to taste

Cut raw butternut squash in 1 X 1/2" pieces.
Fry cubed squash in plenty of coconut oil until just tender - AL Dent'e! Remove squash and set aside.
Fry a desired amount of onion and garlic in the coconut oil... When brown, sprinkle on tumeric and "Masala".
Add Lolo and cook until just thick.
Add salt to taste.
Add chilies if desired to taste.
Add al dent'e squash and fold in.
Warm and serve (over basmati rice).

Or use in place of the butternut squash, 1 small pumpkin or kabocha squash; cut in half and peel off the rough spots with a cleaver; cut the peeled flesh into 3/4 inch cubes.

Note: See my first post for my BioSalt recipe.

Author: Leila Wood.