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 (+ 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: +

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.
Some NLP hogwash?

So all of you have heard about positive affirmations, right?

Think Stuart Smalley - " I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me." 


I'm here to tell you that I think positive affirmations are basically full of shiz. why? Because I can hear my own mind cancelling them out. Can't you? You know, there's that OTHER voice in your head that says "yeah right. In you dreams!"  If your other voice is that nice, consider yourself lucky. Sad but true. We all know we should talk nice to ourselves, right? Affirmations should work. So what's the problem here?

Stuart Smalley: [despairing] Listen to me. I'm should-ing all over myself. 

                           Says to self: "I am a cut hunk of burnin' love". Thinks to self: "LIAR!"

Isn't it obvious? We don't believe ourselves. (Refer to the picture of  flabby guy above.) We don't believe it because logically, it doesn't make sense, or because the affirmation is not true (in that actual moment of time). I guess part of us knows that we are lying! Yeah - yeah, our intentions are good, but many a woman marries a man for his good intentions, and that frequently doesn't end well. My therapist told me that in relationships, "You've got what you've got". Ponder that for a moment...


I am reminded of a book I read a few years ago, Law of attraction, by Michael J. Losier. I just went and found it on my bookshelf of NLP books. See pages 58-61 of the book. It actually has a drawing of an overweight guy with a doubtful look on his face as he looks in the mirror and says to himself, "I have a Happy Slender body". (My picture above is better.) I remember when I first read these pages, they rang true for me because I could never fully buy into the positive affirmation thing. I wanted to believe it, I should believe it, but positive affirmations fell short for me. And I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

So before you tell yourself something like, "I knew it, you looser!", there is a nice way to talk to yourself, and believe yourself at the same time.

To paraphrase the book:
Tell yourself, "I'm in the process of..."

As in: "I'm in the process of enjoying my body more and more".
Instead of:  "I love my body". - (your other voice says) "That's not true, I don't love my body".

You want more examples?

"I'm in the process of creating ideal family relationships".
Instead of:
"All of my family relationships are harmonious." - "That's not true, my family relationships aren't harmonious."

"I'm in the process of having ideal health".
Instead of:
"I have ideal health". - "That's not true, I don't have ideal health."

"I'm in the process of growing my business".
Instead of:
"My business is booming". - "That's not true, my business isn't booming".

I'm in the process of creating...
I'm in the process of enjoying...
I'm in the process of becoming...
I'm in the process of growing...
I'm in the process of having...
I'm in the process of attracting...

Come on, you can do it. Fill in the blanks.

The idea is to make the statement TRUE for YOU. Then you will believe yourself, instead of having your other voice cancel out all the good you are trying to do for yourself! Yea!!! Do the happy dance.

What is NLP anyway? NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming.

In the Oxford English Dictionary, NLP is defined as “a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behavior and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them” and “a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behavior”.

Yup. that pretty much sums it up. NLP is actually way more fun than it seems like it would be. Fascinating really. I earned my masters in NLP a while back. I'm glad i did it, it made me a better person. I received most of my training at Quantum NLP, in Salt Lake City, Utah. See +

These were just some of my random thoughts this morning that I thought I would share with you.
So, with that, I'll leave you with this... Leila.

Daily Affirmation With Stuart Smalley

Stuart Smalley.....Al Franken
.....Michael Jordan

Stuart Smalley V/O: I deserve good things. I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am attractive person. I am fun to be with.

Announcer: "Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley". Stuart Smalley is a caring nurturer, a member of several 12-step programs, but not a licensed therapist.

[ open on Stuart giving himself a pep talk in his full-length mirror ]

Stuart Smalley: I'm going to do a terrific show today! And I'm gonna help people! Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!

[ turns to camera ]

Hello, I'm Stuart Smalley! Well, I'm still receiving some negative reaction from my show on Pee Wee Herman, titled, "There But For The Grace Of God Go I", and, I have to admit, it's not my best show.. but that's o-kay. I have to give myself permission to do a bad show every now and then. Okay.. for those of you who watch the show regularly, you know that I don't have guests, I always do the show alone.. and that's.. o-kay. But yesterday, my producer said, "Stuart, I can get you a guest that you would be insanenot to have on the show." So I decided to take a risk - in life, you have to take risks - and, today we have a guest.. [ reveal Michael Jordan sitting next to Stuart ] ..and his name is Michael J. - I'll protect your anonymity. Michael is a basketball player for a professional basketball team. Well, that's very good, Michael, you should be very proud of yourself.

Michael Jordan: Well, thank you, Stuart. I am.

Stuart Smalley: Well, good for you! Good for you! Um, Michael.. I know there must be a lot of pressure for you to play very well, and I can imagine that the night before a game, you must lie awake thinking, "I'm not good enough.. everybody's better than me.. I'm not going to score any points.. I have no business playing this game.."

Michael Jordan: Well.. not really.

Stuart Smalley: Michael, denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

Michael Jordan: Well.. I do sometimes get a little nervous before important basketballgames.

Stuart Smalley: I thought so. And that's.. o-kay. You're not alone. Believe me, I know what it's like.. laying there alone.. all those tapes rolling: "I'm a fraud.. tomorrow, I'm going to be exposed for what I am, a big imposter.. I just want to curl up and lay in bed all day and eat Fig Newtons."

Michael Jordan: Well.. something like that.

Stuart Smalley: Right. Well, Michael, those negative thoughts are your critical inner thoughts saying those things to you, and I want you to replace those negative thoughts with someting positive - a daily affirmation.

Michael Jordan: Affirmation?

Stuart Smalley: Yes. Now, look in the mirror. Come on, don't look at me. Only youcan help you. [ Michael faces the mirror ] That's it. Say, "Hello, Michael."

Michael Jordan: [ trying to suppress his laughter ] "Hello, Michael."

Stuart Smalley: "I don't have to be a great basketball player.."

Michael Jordan: "I don't have to be a great basketball player.."

Stuart Smalley: "I don't have to dribble the ball fast, or throw the ball into the basket.."

Michael Jordan: "I don't have to dribble the ball fast, or throw the ball into the basket.."

Stuart Smalley: "Because all I have to do is be the best Michael I can be."

Michael Jordan: "All I have to do is be the best Michael I can be."

Stuart Smalley: "Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggonit, people like me!"

Michael Jordan: "Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggonit, people like me!"

Stuart Smalley: Now, don't you feel better?

Michael Jordan: Well, I never really felt bad!

Stuart Smalley: Michael..

Michael Jordan: No, it's true. Stuart, I guess pretty much of the time, I'm a very happy person. I mean, I'm a blessed person - God gave me the talent to play basketball, and I have been able to spread some of that talent, and some of that good feeling, towards everybody, to inspire other people, and help people achieve their dreams.

Stuart Smalley: [ glum ] I am just a fool.. I.. I don't know what I'm doing.. they're gonna cancel the show.. I'm gonna die homeless and penniless and twenty pounds overweight.. and no one will ever love me..

Michael Jordan: Stuart, that's just not true. I think what you say on your show can be very helpful to people.

Stuart Smalley: You think so?

Michael Jordan: Yes! Definitely! I just don't think it helps beating yourself up that way.

Stuart Smalley: You're right. It's just stinking thinking.

Michael Jordan: And, after all, this show is your dream. It's a good dream! Youdeserve to have dreams come true! [ Stuart nods ] Feel better? Would you like a hug?

[ Stuart and Michael hug ]

Stuart Smalley: Thank you, Michael.

Michael Jordan: Thank you, Stuart!

Stuart Smalley: You know what? I think this is the best show I've ever done. And you know what? I deserve it! [ turns to his mirror ] Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, 

See at: +

Author: Leila Wood.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Best Big Batch Pizza Sauce and a little note about healthy fats -vs- unhealthy fats

I made this big batch of Pizza sauce for my daughter's Halloween/birthday party last night. I made a double batch of olive oil dough (referred to in my last post), and I came very close to not having enough. I should of made a triple batch so I wouldn't  have to be the dough-police with the rations. 30 people were at the party. I think everyone who got an invitation came, and then some. My daughter told me that news of her party spread like wild fire at her school. We are known for our Halloween/birthday parties she said. I'm just happy that it has been a fun thing for her all these years.

A delicious slice of pizza.

For last year's  party, I dressed up as a fortune telling gypsy and created a lair to tell fortunes in, down in our basement. The guests were blind-folded and led down to my lair. They then had to stick their hands on various questionable things (like a chicken foot, a squid, warm home-made slime, and such) and guess what they were. I got the chicken foot and squid at the oriental market, and I created a recipe for the slime. I steam cooked the chicken foot just to be safe. The victim then got to take their blindfolds off and see what they touched. That was fun. Their fortune was told at the end. I have taken a lot of alternative healing, meditation, and NLP  classes (Neuro Linguistic Programming from + , so coming up with woo-woo, new-agey gypsy lingo was no problem!

Drinking out of the chocolate fountain...REALLY?

This sauce is well-balanced in flavor and depth. I think most pizza sauces are too sour and bland. The secret is in the sauce, right? This sauce makes the pizza toppings sing (in Italian). Most importantly, the kids chowed it down happily.

Leila's Big Batch Pizza Sauce
106 ounce can tomato sauce
8 cloves garlic, smashed or minced very fine
2 T. whole fennel seeds
2 T. dried oregano leaves
1 T. dried basil leaves
1 1/2 t. dried red pepper flakes (for a little kick)
2 T. plus 2 t. sea salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Mash the garlic with some of the salt in a mortar & pestle.
Pour the tomato sauce into a large soup pot and add everything else except the olive oil.
Gently simmer the sauce for only a few minutes, to mellow the garlic. Use a splash guard to prevent splatters.
Take off heat and stir in the olive oil.

I made over 30 personal pizzas and used maybe only half of this batch of sauce. This sauce freezes well, so having extra is no problem.

Note about cooking oils:
I add the olive oil at the end of cooking time to keep the integrity of the olive oil. I know a lot of people saute with olive oil, but it does not take high heat well. I use deodorized 76 degree (unhydrogenated!) coconut oil for most of my cooking, rice bran oil is also great. I do not like the taste of coconut oil in most of my food, that's why I don't use virgin coconut oil. Rice bran oil is very neutral tasting as well. I like to add rice bran oil to my olive oil based salad dressings. It keeps it from solidifying in the fridge, like olive oil alone does.

For more information about fats, I like to refer people to the book, Fats that Heal Fats that Kill, by Udo Erasmus. See the link below.


Well, I gotta go clean up ground-in potato chips off my stairs and fill the recycling bin with the shredded wrapping paper strewn all around.. I know, scary right?

Author: Leila Wood.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Menu (and recipes) for my 13 year old daughter's Halloween/birthday party tomorrow

My new puppy is sitting on my lap asleep, so I am taking a small break from cooking. For the party, we are going to make mini personal pizzas that the kids get to put together themselves. I will be in charge of the oven. By the time we are done, I will probably need to get out the shop-vac to suck up all the flour I imagine will be everywhere!

Along with the dipping items we provide, the kids get to bring their favorite thing to dip into the chocolate fountain. My daughter has some games planned, along with some movies to watch.

I have already made the pizza dough and hot fudge sauce. The chocolate chip cookie dough is in progress. I still need to do the shopping for the rest of the needed ingredients. And decorate!

So there is the party...and then there is the After-Party! O.K., so it's a sleep over for a smaller number of close girlfriends, but it will be crazy. I think I'll make some breakfast muffins for the morning after, the girls will have a sugar hangover.

Neapolitan mini pizzas -
Olive Oil Dough (recipe will follow)
Leila's Neapolitan Pizza Sauce (recipe will follow)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
diced sweet onions
black olives
diced red bell peppers (from my garden)
pineapple tidbits
Canadian bacon
dried basil leaves
dried oregano leaves
extra-virgin olive oil

Chocolate fountain -
Milk chocolate mix (recipe will follow)

Chocolate chip cookie pie -
Leila's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe will follow)
Leila's Rich Hot Fudge Sauce (recipe will follow)
vanilla bean ice cream
sweetened whipped cream

Snacks -
and perhaps crackers and  Cheese Whiz???...

The Recipes:

Olive Oil Dough
(Recipe from the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by +Jeff Hertzberg and +Zoe Francois. +

2 3/4 c. lukewarm water
1 1/2 T. granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 T. sea salt
1 T. sugar
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
6 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1. Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with the warm water in a 5-qt bowl or lidded (not airtight) food container.2. Mix in flour without kneading.
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temp until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approx 2 hours.
4. Chill the dough up to 12 days, or use immediately.

Note: For the mini pizzas, I will break of a fistful with floured hands, then the kids will pat and roll out their dough on a lightly floured counter top. The kids will top their pizzas and I will place them onto a cornmeal dusted pizza peel and slide the pizzas onto preheated (500 degree oven) baking stone. They will bake 8 minutes or so (until browned and bubbly). In theory, this will all come out fine. I may have to just put the pizzas on baking sheets and not use the baking stone. Yup, that's what I'll do. So many pizzas-so little time...

Leila's Neapolitan Pizza Sauce (enough for 2 pizzas) (I am making a larger quantity)
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 t. sea salt or Leila's BioSalt
1 t. dried oregano (preferably Greek)
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, mashed (I mash with the salt in a mortar & pestle)
1/2 t. whole fennel seeds
2 t. brown sugar (packed)
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil

1. Heat the tomato sauce in a sauce pot along with everything but the olive oil. Gently simmer a few minutes to mellow the garlic (3-4 minutes).
2. Take off the heat and stir in the olive oil.
3. Use or chill for later use.

Milk chocolate mix for chocolate fountain (can also use semi-sweet, or bittersweet chocolate)
For 10-15 guests (6-8 servings per person):
48 ounces (8 c.) Guittard milk chocolate
12 ounces (1 1/2 c.) rice bran oil

For 15-20 guests (6-8 servings per person):
64 ounces (10 1/2 c.) Guittard milk chocolate
16 ounces (2 c.) rice bran oil

For 20-30 guests (6-8 servings per person):
80 ounces (13 1/3 c.) Guittard milk chocolate
20 ounces (2 1/2 c.) rice bran oil

For white or premium chocolate (premium chocolate contains 30-40% cocoa):
For 10-15 guests (6-8 servings per person):
48 ounces (8 c.) Guittard milk chocolate
8 ounces (1 c.) rice bran oil

For 15-20 guests (6-8 servings per person):
64 ounces (10 1/2 c.) milk chocolate
10 ounces (1 1/4 c.) rice bran oil

For 20-30 guests (6-8 servings per person):
80 ounces (13 1/3 c.) milk chocolate
13 ounces (1 2/3 c.) rice bran oil

Melt the chocolate gently until completely smooth in the microwave or double boiler. Add the oil and blend well. Pour into pre-warmed chocolate fountain.

Leila's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 c. real butter, softened or melted
2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar (packed)
4 large eggs
3 t. real vanilla extract
1 t. real butter flavoring or caramel flavoring
1/2 t. real almond extract
1 t. liquid lecithin, optional
4 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. sea salt or Leila's BioSalt
2 t. baking soda
4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I also like a 50/50 blend of semi-sweet/white chocolate, or just white)
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans, or macadamia nuts, optional

1. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy, adding the eggs one at a time, until light colored.
2. Add the flavorings and mix in well.
3. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt).
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until just combined.
5. Hand mix in the chocolate chips (and the nuts if using).
6. Use an ice cream scoop to easily portion the dough onto a baking sheet.
7. Bake in a preheated 350 oven, 8-9 minutes for small cookies, and about 14-15 minutes for large cookies.

I use silicone mats on my cookie sheets, but regular cookie sheets work fine.
Sometimes I need to add a touch more flour to firm up the dough.
Chilling the dough overnight is good but I usually don't wait.
This make a large batch of cookies. I store the unused dough in the fridge for later use. You can easily halve the recipe. This also freezes well.

Variation: Add to the above recipe, 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats plus 2 T honey (it keeps the cookies moist longer). Add the honey with the other sugars. Add the oats with the chocolate chips and stir in.

Leila's Rich Hot Fudge Sauce
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. corn syrup
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 ounce chocolate liquor (I use Guittard's OBAN)
1/4 t. sea salt or Leila's BioSalt
1/2 t. real vanilla extract
Optional: You can stir in roasted chopped almonds or pecans at the end.

1. In a microwave or over a double boiler, melt the chocolate carefully, adding the cream a little bit at a time and stirring to dissolve the chocolate completely into the cream.
2. On the stove top, bring the corn syrup and sugar to a boil in a sauce pot, while stirring over medium-high heat to dissolve the sugar.
3. Add the melted chocolate/cream mixture, while stirring.
4. Add the salt and bring back up to a boil. Boil no more than 2 minutes (or sauce will harden too much on ice cream).
5. Take off heat. After it cools down a bit, stir in the vanilla. Bottle and store in the fridge if not being used immediately.
6. warm gently to use over ice cream or other desserts.

That's it for now. I've gotta get cook'in!
Author: Leila Wood.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some of my recipes I posted on facebook a while back:

These recipes have become favorites at our house. I hope you enjoy them too!

Leila's Thai Curry Soup (My Noodles & Co. knockoff)

2 Tablespoons yellow (or green) Thai curry paste (Mae Ploy brand) 
1 19-oz can coconut milk (like Ayroy-D brand)
1 2-oz cube palm sugar
2 19-oz cans water
1 1/2 Teaspoon sea salt (or Leila's BioSalt) OR 2 to 3 T. Thai Fish Sauce
1 pkg rice noodles, prepared according to pkg directions
1/2 Large red onion, sliced into thin slivers (or sweet onion)
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
2 Medium tomato, fresh, cubed
mushroom, fresh, slices, optional
spinach, fresh, place a small handful on top of hot soup before serving
cilantro sprigs, garnish with about 5 on top of each bowl before serving
2 Medium carrots, shredded, optional
tofu, cubed, optional.

Instructions :
In a soup pan, add 2 T. curry paste and a little of the coconut cream from the top of the can of coconut milk. Stir to blend while heating to bubbling. 
Add more coconut milk and the onion and saute 2 minutes. 
Add the rest of the coconut milk, 2 cans of water, the palm sugar and heat until the palm sugar dissolves completely.
Add the carrots, cabbage, mushrooms and simmer lightly, just until the vegies are tender-crisp. 
Add the prepared rice noodles. Add salt and tomatoes. 
It is ready to serve when heated through. 
Ladle into bowls and top with baby spinach leaves and then cilantro sprigs. Serve hot.

Leila's BioSalt recipe:
2 parts unbleached sea salt (or Real Salt)
1 part potassium chloride (i.e., NOW brand, found in health food stores)

Use in place of regular salt to reduce water retention due to sodium intake.

Leila's Chipotle Con Crema (mild)

1 Large sweet onion, sliced in rings and then halved
1 Cup sour cream
1/8 Teaspoon Chipotle powder or chipotle peppers (or more if you want hotter)
1/4 Cup real butter
2 Teaspoon chicken bouillon or salted chicken base
1/2 Teaspoon smoked paprika powder

Instructions :
Saute onions slowly until translucent and slightly caramelized in butter.
Add the chicken bouillon and maybe a touch of water if needed to dissolve. Heat until dissolved.
Add chipotle and smoked paprika to taste. Cool.
When cooled, add the sour cream. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

To serve: Scoop out and put in loosely covered container and microwave to just warm. Stir and serve.
Serve with Mexican foods. Use as a topping or as part of a filling.

Our family used to be vendors at the Pioneer Park Farmer's Market in down town salt Lake City, Utah. We used to trade with the other vendors there (my favorite part of the market experience). One of the vendors sold hand made prepackaged Mexican food. This Con Crema was something I had to recreate at home. I think it is even better than the original.

Leila's Sugar-Free Pina Colada

1/2 Cup unsweetened pineapple juice concentrate (OR use 2 c. fresh pineapple and omit water)
6 ice cubes baby coconut puree (BU) (OR 6 ounces fresh baby coconut flesh)
1 Cup purified water
10-12 Drops stevia glycerite (NOW brand)
8-10 ice cubes
4 Tablespoon egg white protein powder
2 Tablespoon coconut milk powder

Instructions: Blend in a blender, adding the egg white last (it makes it foamy).

You can get baby coconuts at many oriental markets, as well as the coconut milk powder.

I like this recipe because it has some protein but doesn't taste like a typical protein drink. Plus coconut is so good for you!

Leila's Fresh Apple Torte

1 Cup flour, stirred and measured
1/2 Cup salted butter, softened
1/3 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/4 Teaspoon sea salt

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 Cup real sour cream
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1 Large egg
1 Teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 Teaspoon sea salt, to taste

4 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (makes about 4 cups slices)
1 to 2 Teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste
1/3 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 to 1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 Teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 Cup sliced almonds
powdered sugar, optional

Instructions : 

To make crust:
Combine ingredients and mix well.
Press into bottom and about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of an unbuttered 9-inch spring-form pan.
Set aside.

To make filling:
Combine all filling ingredients and beat until smooth.
Pour over crust.

To make topping:
Combine apples, lemon juice, sugar and spices and mix until apples are coated with sugar mixture.
Layer over cream cheese mixture.
Sprinkle almonds over top.
Bake in preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 400 degrees and continue baking for 25 minutes.
Cool on rack before removing sides of pan.
Dust edges with powdered sugar, if desired.
Serve at room temperature or chilled with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

This is a delicious and elegant dessert. I like the flavor or a more tart apple in this recipe.

Leila's Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. plus 4 t. cooked raspberry jam
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. plus 8 t. purified water
1/4 c. plus 8 t. sugar
1/4 t. xanthan gum (keeps dressing from separating)
2 t. sea salt
2/3 c. plus 8 t. salad oil (rice bran oil is a healthy choice)
1/2 t. dry mustard powder
1/4 t. citric acid
1/4 t. grated sweet onion
1/2 t. fresh ground black pepper

Mix the sugar, salt & xanthan gum together in a 1/2 qt glass mason jar, then add the water & stir. Microwave 30 seconds, then swirl together to finish dissolving. Add onion, jam, dry mustard powder, citric acid & pepper. Stir to blend in the jam well. Add the vinegars & stir. Add oil & stir well. A stick blender is helpful here.

I created this recipe for a Christmas dinner party that served about 200 people. It was a hit!

Leila's Blush Wine Vinaigrette (My Brianna's knockoff)

1 c. red wine vinegar
1 c. purified water
1 c. cane sugar (or xylitol)
2 t. sea salt or Leila's BioSalt
1/8 t. white pepper powder
1/8 t. sweet paprika
1/8 t. beet juice powder (opt. for natural color, find at Good Earth health food store)
1 pinch basil powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. citric acid (or 2 t. fresh lemon juice)
1/4 t. xanthan gum (health food store, it keeps the dressing from separating!)
3/4 to 1 c. salad oil (rice bran oil is a healthy choice)

Mix sugar, salt & xanthan gum in a 1/2 Qt glass mason jar. Add the water, stir & microwave 40-50 seconds. Swirl the mixture to finish dissolving the sugar. Add all but the oil and blend with a stick blender to remove any lumps. Add the oil, starting with 3/4 c. blend and taste. Keep chilled.

Serve over various salads. One of our favorites is to serve it over a salad of: spinach or baby spring greens, dried sweetened cranberries, pomegranate or grapefruit sections, sweet onion slices, Parmesan cheese, sugared cinnamon pecans, avocado...My family went bonkers over this one.

Leila's "Cafe Rio" style Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette 

fresh zest from 2 washed organic limes
1/2 c. fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
1/4 c. white wine vinegar (healthier than regular white vinegar)
1 1/2 c. salad oil (rice bran oil is a healthy choice)
1 large bunch cilantro, stems included
2 to 4 garlic cloves, mashed fine
1 T. sweet onion, grated fine
1/2 t. coriander seed, freshly ground
6 T. xylitol or sugar
1 T. sea salt or Leila's BioSalt

Zest the 2 limes and then juice the 4 limes. Pour into a food processor. Add the cilantro, garlic, onion, coriander, salt & xylitol (or sugar). Process until the cilantro is minced fine. Add the vinegar and oil. blend and pour in a serving container. It lasts up to a couple weeks, but it's best fresh.

After tasting this dressing at Cafe Rio, I had to create it. So after some kitchen magic, here it is!
I make a Cafe Rio style salad to go with it but it's good on just about any Mexican food.

Note about xylitol and dogs!

Xylitol is a healthy sugar substitute for humans. Dogs however cannot process xylitol. Their livers don't work the same way humans do, and even just a little bit of xylitol will kill a dog. Don't let your dog lick any plate that has any foods containing xylitol on it. In fact, avoid all artificial sweeteners for your pet. I think humans should avoid artificial sweeteners too for that matter.

Have a great day, Leila.
Author: Leila Wood
Refreshing Hand Rubbed Raw Herb Tea

Today I was outside in the sun with my new puppy, working in the garden. I was looking at my herbs, thinking of how I will miss them when winter comes. I have enjoyed a nice crop of lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint, lavender, comfrey, yarrow, fennel, echinacea, basil, and such. One of my favorite things to use my lemon balm for is in a hand-rubbed tea. My mom showed this technique to me last year and I have loved it! The flavors are so fresh and bright, and I know it's more therapeutic too.

Hand-Rubbed Lemon Balm Tea
2 handfuls of fresh lemon balm leaves, washed and stripped of stems
purified water (cool to room temp.) to generously cover the leaves in a deep bowl

Other herbs may be used in this manner as well (mint, lemon verbena, rose geranium, lavender, catnip...).

With clean hands, rub the fresh herbs with your fingers while your hands are in the bowl of water.
The idea is to crush the leaves, releasing the aromatic flavor compounds. Do this until the water takes on some of the color of the herb and is very fragrant. You can use it immediately or let it sit a bit if you choose.
Strain the fresh tea into a glass, add ice if desired, and enjoy.

I like to sweeten some of my teas with a bit of stevia glycerite (Now brand makes a nice one, and can be found at most health food stores).

For those of you who do not know what stevia is, it is a plant that has leaves that are sweet (also known as sweet leaf). Compounds of the stevia leaf are concentrated to make a sweetener that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. I have grown it in my herb garden for years. It winter-kills where I live in Utah, and it is very difficult to germinate from seed, so I buy it from a nursery and plant it in the spring.

I harvest the stevia leaves, dry them and add it to my various herbal tea blends that I make. It naturally sweetens my teas. I love having healthy alternatives to sugar in my home, and my kids like and use stevia too.

I have a lot of dried herbal tea blends that I have formulated, which are very tasty. Some of them were formulated for specific therapeutic purposes, some for pure pleasure, and some for both. A few years ago, I was contemplating marketing some of them as loose leaf teas. But I have not done that. It pleases me that our family has enjoyed them through the years, so my efforts have not been wasted. Perhaps I may share some of my formulas here.

Author: Leila Wood

Monday, October 21, 2013

DIY Clay Mask

I gave myself a facial today. I cleansed first and made up a kaolin clay mask. I'm feelin' sassy now. If you want to feel sassy too, try my recipe:

Basic Kaolin Clay Mask for Normal to Oily Skin:

1 T. kaolin clay powder (my dad and I mined it ourselves in Nevada)
Purified water or warm herb tea, to make into a nice spreadable consistency
2 drops tea tree essential oil
2 drops lavender essential oil

Mix everything together, adding the essential oils last. Add the oils slowly, too much can make your eyes water. Spread gently on your face avoiding the eye and lip area. Let dry at least 10 minutes. Rinse off completely, and pat skin dry.

I like to finish with a spray of peppermint or rose hydrosol which has been mixed into a base of witch hazel.
You can then seal the moisture into your skin by rubbing in a couple drops of jojoba oil while the skin is still damp.

As far as herb teas go, I like to add mint, rooibose, chamomile, lavender, or lemon balm.

You can also add other ingredients like ground rolled oats, avocado, virgin coconut oil, honey, or barley grass juice to the mask.

Have fun exploring,
Author: Leila Wood

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My first blog (plus a recipe for BioSalt)

Why did I name this blog Artful Cheesewiz? It seems like all the really great names (and a lot of stupid ones) are already taken. AND I set this up with the help of 2 of my daughters.We were laughing at ourselves with our brainstorming attempts. Let's just say I didn't have much time to think up something Artful Cheesewiz it is. I guess the name combines art and food which are a big part of my life, although I'm not a fan of cheese whiz.

This blog is going to be about food (really good food), things I make, and cool things I discover that I feel are worth sharing. When I was young I used to journal extensively. I illustrated my journals and filled them with a lot of color, and I filled many. Later in life, I stopped most of my writing when someone with bad intentions read my private journals. Life is better now and I am surrounded by good people. I have missed writing, so I think blogging will be a fun way to express myself. So enjoy!

Being a practical girl, I want to offer you a simple something that I use in my daily cooking. I call it BioSalt. I mix it up and put it in a big spice decanter for ease of use when cooking. I also put it into all my salt shakers.

The benefits of BioSalt: It contains trace minerals, has a much lower sodium content, and decreases water retention, so it is a healthier alternative to commercial table salt.


1 part natural unbleached mineral salt (I like 'Real Salt', form the Great Salt Lake, a Utah company)
1 part potassium chloride (I get it from the health food store. NOW brand distributes it)

Mix together in a bowl and fill your salt containers.

You can vary the ratio of mineral salt to potassium chloride, but if you add too much potassium chloride, it can start to taste a bit metallic (not a good thing in my book).

A trick to using any kind of salt is to add it towards the end of cooking time, generally you'll need less that way.

Author: Leila Wood