Friday, December 6, 2013

Scallop and Pancetta Winter Chowder

Ok, so I can't take all the credit for this amazing creation. It was heavily inspired by a chowder that I LOVE to get at Chelsea Market in NYC at the Lobster Place that has scallops and bacon in it. Seeing as I'm a 6 1/2 hour flight from there, I had to experiment with making my own version and not to toot my own horn but...I think I nailed it!

I used my slow cooker for this but you can definitely use a large pot with a lid on the stove on medium and just cut the cooking time in half. Just be sure to turn it to low and keep stirring once the cream is added to avoid burning in the bottom. It didn't burn at all in my slow cooker and I only stirred once every 10-15 minutes.


Ingredients

6 c. chicken broth
3oz pancetta 
1 onion chopped
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 c. potato chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1/2 c. carrots chopped
1 Tbs. Old Bay spice
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 Tsp. dried thyme
1 c. heavy cream
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 Lb bay scallops cleaned
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
toasted sourdough bread to serve


First, turn your slow cooker on high and add the chicken stock, potato, carrot, and celery to it. Then cook the pancetta in a large skillet for about 3 minutes on high then add the onion, garlic and red bell pepper and cook till lightly caramelized. Pour mixture into the slow cooker and stir in the Old Bay, bay leaves, chili powder, and thyme. Let slow cook for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. 

Now, add the frozen corn and bay scallops and give a good stir. Once all looks well mixed, stir in the cream slowly. Cover and let slow cook for another hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Check flavor and add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a dusting of Old Bay spice and a slice of toasted sourdough. Eat up!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fancy Mac! aka White Truffle, 4 cheese and shallot Mac and Cheese


My first Thanksgiving recipe entry this year! 

Sure to impress. A dish with class. Easy to make but doesn't taste like it!

Sorry, I gotta make this one short because I'm mid Thanksgiving feast
preparations but enjoy and let me know how yours comes out!

Ps...this recipe was made to serve a small army of about 15 so if you want
to make less just cut it in half. But trust me, everyone will want seconds, 
and thirds!

Oh and Pps...get your blender out!

Ingredients:

2 1/2lbs elbow or shell pasta
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter divided
3 shallots peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1/2 c. flour
4 1/2 c. whole milk
2 8oz packs shredded 4 cheese
1 8oz pack sharp cheddar 
2 tsp salt
fresh cracked pepper to taste
4 Tbs. white truffle oil
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

First, boil the pasta to al dente, strain and set aside. Then, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the shallots and garlic to the butter and cook till soft. Slowly sprinkle the flour in while whisking at the same time on a low heat for about 1 minute. Now pour the mix into your blender along with all the milk, one pack cheddar, one pack 4 cheese, salt and pepper. Blend on medium for 30 seconds or till well mixed. Pour over cooked pasta and toss in an extra large dish. I used a foil turkey roasting pan. 

Bake at 375 in the middle rack for 20 minutes. Then sprinkle the remaining pack of cheese evenly over the top and bake for about another 15 minutes, checking to make sure the cheese doesn't burn. 

Remove from the oven and while still hot, drizzle the truffle oil over the top layer of melted cheese. Top with chopped parsley if desired(makes it extra pretty).

Now dig in!!! Happy Thanksgiving! More recipes to come! 



Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Secret To Surviving the Holidays Without Packing on the Lbs!

As most of you know, I'm a foodie. Always have been and always will be. There's is virtually nothing on earth that can stop me from gobbling away the food I love or want to try. Not even the need to slim down. And with the holiday season hastily approaching, I needed to find a solution for beating the winter weight blues.

So how do I do it? How do I stay in shape AND eat what I want? Is it possible to have it all?

Well, for starters, yes! There is a way you can munch guilt free and still keep your figure. And if you do it right, you can even get slimmer!

Last month, out of curiosity, I bought the book 8 Hour Diet and it has absolutely changed my eating life. I know a lot of people will be skeptical but it's been working for me and I love it! I've been on the 8 Hour Diet now for a month and even with a 10 day trip to NYC(aka food city!) plus Halloween tricks and treats, I still have managed to drop 3 pounds. Here's the diet in a nut shell:


-You only eat within an 8 hour time period of the day.
Ex. from 12pm-8pm

-Squeeze in a quick 8 minute workout before your first meal.

-Fit 8 superfoods into your daily meals. Ex. lean meats, nuts, 
yogurt, leafy greens, whole grain bread,etc...but you are not
limited to these foods. You can also eat what you want too!

-No snacking once you're 8 hours is up!

And that's about it! Definitely pick up a copy of the book to learn the science behind how it works. The author, David Zinczenko, does a fabulous job of explaining everything in a very easy-to-comprehend way. He discusses all the studies and proof which really got me on board and I know it will do the same for you. It's the first diet that's ever made complete sense to me and is unbelievably easy to follow.

So go ahead, have that slice of apple pie with ice cream and don't feel bad about it. Obviously, if you're looking to lose some poundage, don't go on scarfing down buckets of fried chicken and gravy in your 8 hours. Be reasonable and responsible. Eat what makes you feel good and you will get the results you want. And trust me, after the first few days on schedule, you will get used to the fasting hours and not feel starved. Here's my usual day to day eating/exercise plan:

9am - Wake up, drink 2 cups of mint green tea.
11am - Walk dogs or jog up 20 flights of stairs.
12pm - light meal. Ex: 1 egg and cheese on whole
 grain toast or turkey sandwich w/lettuce, tomato and avocado.
1pm - Gym time! 45 swim, weights or abs.(3-4 days a week)
2:30pm - Big Lunch. Ex: Chipotle steak burrito fully 
loaded or quiche and salad.
3:30pm - Juice or smoothie
6:30pm - Dinner. Ex: Baked fish and veggies, whole-grain 
spaghetti and meatballs, lamb roast and mash or
sushi night out.
7:30pm - Dessert. Ex: 1 scoop ice cream with toppings, 
a candy bar, or a cupcake.
8pm- 16 hour fasting begins





Monday, November 4, 2013

Healthy Multi-grain Cracker Crusted Baked Cod


    Super easy and unbelievably quick to make! 

I used cod but feel free to go with any white fish you like. 

INGREDIENTS:

-6 medium sized 3/4 inch bone-free fillets of cod or any white fish
-1 1/2 c. multi-grain cracker crumbs (Think Ritz or Jacob's)
-1 Tbs. lemon pepper
-2 tsp. Old Bay spice or other seasoning salt
1 egg beaten
1 Tbs. water
olive oil to drizzle


I used a food processor to grind up the crackers but you can definitely crush them in a large zip lock if you don't own a food processor. Anyway, mix the cracker crumbs with the lemon pepper and spices and set aside. 

Add water to the beaten egg in a bowl to create an egg wash. Dip one side of each fish fillet in the egg wash and place egg side up onto a greased foiled baking sheet, evenly spaced.

Sprinkle cracker crumb mixture generously onto the tops of each fillet and gently pat the crumbs down. Then drizzle all fillets lightly with the olive oil.

Pop them into the oven at 350 for about 8-10 minutes, checking every few minutes throughout. Fillets should be slightly firm and crust should be golden brown and crunchy.

Serve with veggies and a lemon wedge and enjoy!   


Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Pecan GIGANTIC cinnamon rolls


Fall just might be my favorite cooking season for the mere fact that I can make PUMPKIN EVERYTHING!!! Sweet, savory....pumpkin is excellent both ways. My first recipe of this season is a first for me. I basically took the classic recipe for cinnamon rolls and added pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice to the dough. And if you though Cinnabon was your jam...wait till you try these!

Ingrdients

Dough:
1/2 c. warmed whole milk
1 envelope of active dry yeast or 2 1/4 tsp
4 Tbs. melted but cooled unsalted butter
3 1/2 c. plain flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. pumpkin spice
3/4 c. pumpkin puree
1 egg

Filling:
3 Tbs melted butter
3/4 c. chopped pecans
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
pinch of salt

Icing:
1/3 c. cream cheese
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbs. whole milk
1 tsp vanilla

Start with the dough first as it takes the longest. Warm the milk but not too hot to touch then pour into a bowl and add the yeast. Let yeast and milk sit for about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, mix flour, white sugar, spices and salt in a large bowl till well mixed. In a separate bowl, mix the milk/yeast mix, brown sugar, melted butter, pumpkin puree, egg till well combined. Now, combine both wet and dry mixtures in one big bowl and knead by hand or use dough hook attachment for about 5 minutes. Place dough ball into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour. 
On a well floured surface, roll out the risen dough into a large rectangle.
For the filling, first spread the melted butter evenly over the entire top of the dough. Then in a small bowl, combine the pecans, brown and white sugars, spices, and salt. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the buttered dough and pat down lightly once finished.
Now here's the fun/tricky part....take the short edge of the rectangle and begin to roll(like in the photo). Go very slowly to make sure the dough doesn't rip underneath. 
Once completely rolled, use a sharp knife to cut about 1 inch slices. Place slices into a buttered baking dish. It's ok if they are touching.
                                      
Once rolls are all cut and placed into the baking dish, let rise again for about 30 minutes more before putting into the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or till golden brown on top. While they're baking you'll want to make the icing. Just mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar by hand for a few minutes then add the milk and vanilla and beat till smooth and creamy.

Once you remove the rolls from the oven, use a butter knife or spatula to spread the icing over the tops while the rolls are still hot. Let cool slightly before shoving them into your mouth! 

"Feel Better" Turkey Noodle Soup



Cold? Flu? General yuckiness feeling? Try this!


1 1/2 lbs turkey thigh and breast meat chunks
1 can chicken stock
3 medium brown onions chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
3 carrots chopped
3 parsnips chopped
4 c. water
1/3 c. fresh parsley chopped
1 Tbs. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 packet turkey or chicken gravy mix
3 c. egg noodles
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to slow cooker except for the gravy packet and noodles. Cook on low for 8 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add gravy packet and noodles and mix well. Turn to high setting and cook for 1 more hour before serving. Enjoy and feel better :)


Underground Mash

Something for anyone who's bored with the usual mashed potatoes. I call it Underground Mash because everything in it grows, well, underground!  I used swede, carrots and baby potatoes but if you can't find swede, you can use sweet potato or turnip as a substitute.

1 medium swede peeled and cubed
3 large carrots chopped into large chunks
10 baby potatoes cubed skin on
5 whole cloves garlic
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. whole milk
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Boil swede on high in lightly salted water for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. In a separated pot, boil potatoes, carrots and garlic cloves for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. Strain all vegetables together and whilst still hot, add all other ingredients and mash or blend to desired smoothness. 

Slow Cooker Comfy Cozy Beef Stew

So the weather is changing and I know a lot of you are lamenting the slow fade of sunshine and beach days. But lets look on the bright side...layers, hot cocoa, cozy nights in and of course, busting out that Crock Pot! I hope everyone is ready for all the slow cooker recipe posts that will be coming your way like a flash flood. Now that I'm living in London and will actually be experiencing a REAL winter, my slow cooker is in use at least once or twice a week!

I'm a huge fan of the all-in-at-once recipes where you pretty much throw all the ingredients in and come back a few hours later to a finished product so thats what most of these posts will be. Nice and easy prep with huge rewards for you.

This first one is a classic beef stew thats pretty heavy on the veg. I'm telling you, I made a huge vat of this in hopes to freeze half of it to store for later but it was SOOOO GOOD that we ended up eating all of it in one day. We couldn't help it!


Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs beef chuck roast or rump roast cubed (fat trimmed)
8 baby potatoes quartered
1 medium butternut squash peeled seeded and cubed
3 small onions
4 cloves garlic minced
2 stalks celery sliced thick
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 8oz can of whole tomatoes (juice discarded) 
3 c. beef broth
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Old Bay spice
1 Tbs. grainy mustard
1 c. snap peas
1/2 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. frozen corn

Optional to thicken stew* 
3 Tbs. Cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbs. cold water  

Add all ingredients to slow cooker except for frozen peas and corn, snap peas and cornstarch. Cook on low setting for 10 1/2 hours stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook for another 1 1/2 hours. Stew should thicken but add more cornstarch dissolved in cold water if needed. Enjoy with sourdough and a nice red :)


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sexy Domestic Aqua Fit Water Workout

Summertime can be the most trying time for staying fit for most of us. Vacations, state fairs, BBQs...all things that invite pigging out on all of our favorite but naughty nibbles, yet the hot weather is telling us to strip down and bare it all! How do we keep things in tip top shape yet still enjoy the delights of summer?

I recently joined a gym that has a pool which I'm overjoyed about because I love a good dip but had no idea how quickly this would become my favorite way of getting fit. See, I have problems with aching joints after a hard workout or run but that gets totally eliminated when working out in the pool. So I did some experimenting with kicks and swimming laps and then decided to come up with my own set program. After just a couple weeks I lost almost all of my gained vacation weight and was feeling toned without all the aches and pains. Best of all, it works nearly every muscle in your body and it's actually fun to do!

So there, beat the heat whilst getting fit at the same time. Now theres no excuse. Back to the pool! 


Ps...Swimming can burn around 700 calories an hour!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Grilled Blue Cheese Stuffed Figs w/ Grilled Red Onion on Mixed Greens Drizzled with a Strawberry Satsuma Balsamic Reduction

This recipe is perfect for an al fresco summer evening. I made the balsamic reduction earlier in the day to get it out of the way as it can take some time to complete, but definitely easy and worth the time. If you don't have a grill, the broiler in your oven works just fine for the onions and blue cheese figs. All the flavors blend so well together and are especially well accompanied with a nice cold Pimm's cocktail. Enjoy!

Strawberry Satsuma Balsamic Reduction

1 c. sliced strawberries
1 satsuma or tangerine cut in half
1 c. balsamic vinegar

Juice satsuma into a medium sauce pan then add the rinds, strawberries, and balsamic vinegar and boil on medium heat for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Then, with a slotted spoon, remove all fruit pieces and rind. Turn heat up to high and stir. The sauce will start to reduce and get thicker. Turn off and remove from heat once it seems the liquid has reduced to about 1 cup(less if you desire a thicker reduction) about 20-25 mins. Pour into glass bowl and set aside in room temperature till ready to use.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Grilled Figs and Grilled Red Onions on Mixed Greens

4 fresh figs quartered 
1/3 c. blue cheese
1/2 large red onion sliced
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 bag of fresh mixed leafy greens
salt and pepper to taste


 Preheat broiler or grill. Add onion and figs to a large bowl and drizzle with 2 Tbs of olive oil and dashes of salt and pepper(I used a special flavored pepper that I found at a farm stand but any pepper will work just fine). Remove figs and line them up skin side down on a board. Toss onion in remaining olive oil till evenly coated(figs are too delicate to toss). Remove onion from bowl and replace with fresh mixed greens and toss with 1 more Tbs of olive oil and dash of salt and pepper, set aside.


Press chunks of blue cheese into the soft centers of each fig quarter then place on a foil lined baking sheet, evenly spaced and put into broiler or grill. Check on the figs every minute or so and remove once the cheese had melted and bubbling. Now put the onion in one layer onto a foil lined sheet and place under broiler or grill till browning occurs then remove. 

Toss onion into greens and then place figs on top for a beautiful display and drizzle the balsamic reduction over everything with a spoon. Now it's ready to dance on the taste buds! Ps....Don't forget the pims!
Recipe on my Instagram!





Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quick Pet Tip: The Moat Bowl


It's summertime and we all know what that means...ANTS! Those of us with cats or dogs can find an ant problem especially annoying when it comes to our pet's food. Well recently, on a home visit to my vet, I saw that she had a perfect solution for such a problem: make a moat for your pet food bowl! The ants will not swim across the water and certainly can't jump, so take that stupid ants!


It's very simple to do.
1.) Pour a glass of water into a bowl that is larger than the food bowl.

2.) Place the food bowl inside of the water bowl making sure the water doesn't overflow into the food.

That's it! This is what it should look like.

Ant free and they love it!




Saturday, July 20, 2013

Naked Faced: The Beauty of Going Bare

    
Make-up free and no photoshop touch ups. (oh and ps. I'm not nude, just wearing a tube top ;)

 Growing up, I always had a slight obsession with make-up and beauty products. I remember my Mom buying my sister and I a kiddie play make-up set with enough brightly colored blushes and eye shadows to supply a drag queen competition and we LOVED it. I think it was then, in my young mind, that I made a false observation: Make-up makes you pretty. We only ever used the make-up to play with and never wore it in public but soon came the teenage years when wearing make-up became very a serious matter. I felt fine without it until all my friends at school started bringing their massive collections of products and religiously applying them in the school bathroom every morning while I stood to the side and watched. I wanted to fit in. I wanted that glamorous ritual. 

Throughout my high school years I survived on what little make-up I could afford so my make-up kit was a lot smaller than the other girls but I remember thinking,"These girls don't need all that stuff!" But to them, it was life or death. I specifically remember events when someone had accidentally left their make-up at home and their whole day was ruined because their parents wouldn't bring it to school for them. And they looked fine! In fact, I always thought they looked more fresh and lovely.

So now as a grown up I've developed a special love for a bare face. Of course there are days when I haven't had enough sleep or I'm breaking out because of stress so I'll whack on a bit of cover up but sometimes trying to cover up a break out will actually make it worse. And with my job, the layers of foundations and powders applied can really suffocate my skin and I rejoice the moment I can wash it all away at the end of the day. Going sans make up is how you'll find me most of the time and I can't help but wish more women would do the same! I know way too many women that feel like they can't go out into the world without a full on make-up job(foundation, bronzer, blush, cover up, lashes, mascara...etc)  and it makes me a little sad that they don't realize their true beauty or even worse, are ashamed of it. 

And for all my single ladies, let's keep in mind that the sensible dudes out there are soooo not into mask like make-up. I know thats one of those things you read and think, "Pshh, yeah right.", but it's true! Ask any guy and he will tell you, he wants to see and get to know the REAL YOU. Imagine being able to shave off that extra 45 minutes when getting ready for a date. My boyfriend actually begs me not to wear lipstick on nights out because he hates not being able to kiss me when he wants to. Natural beauty is the kind of beauty everyone can admire. So keep it simple ladies or even bare if dare. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Caenarfon Castle, North Wales

Last week we took a trip up to North Wales to hike Snowden and stayed in a quaint little town called Caenarfon. I was delighted to find this magnificent castle as we entered the town and couldn't wait to explore every inch! I'd never visited a real life castle before but it's something I've dreamed of since I was a young girl when the Excaliber Hotel and Casino in my hometown of Las Vegas was the closest I could get.
The view of the courtyard from the top of the Chamberlain Tower. Luckily we got there early before the crowds.
Caernarfon Castle (or Castell Caernarfon in Welsh) is an absolutely magical treasure. Built in 1283 by Edward I, It's been very well maintained and kept entirely intact over the centuries. Walking through the long hallways and up the winding spiral staircases, you can feel and breathe in the history all around you. We spent quite some time exploring the many cellars, balconies, and towers and still wondered if we saw everything! My imagination was running wild with thoughts of what went on in this place so many years ago. What was it like to be a royal or nobleman living your everyday life behind the castle walls? Who were these people? What were the battles like? With so many different eras having inhabited Caernarfon Castle, the possibilities are endless. So I'll just keep dreaming...


Me inside the well tower. It's mossy because it used to be filled with the castle's water supply. 
Entering the main castle door


A view from the kitchen window
One of many spiral staircases that lead up the castle towers. Some are so long they have large cut outs in the walls where you can have a rest.
This was a cellar where food was kept for storage for winter.
The Grand Hall. Over 100 ft long and incredible to walk through. Except when it gets dark in some areas...then it gets spooky.
Royal portraits. Thats King George VI who was depicted in the movie The Kings Speech.
And finally the view of the outside town from one of the towers.
Here's the wikipedia page with more info if you're interested....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caernarfon_Castle






Friday, July 12, 2013

Miso Sake Glazed Salmon w/ Pepper and Onion Sweet Corn Succotash


This recipe was the best Salmon I've EVER made in my life! Don't be alarmed by all the steps(poaching, baking then broiling). There are a few but they're quick and easy and are necessary for a perfect outcome. If you have trouble cooking fish properly, I promise this is a no-fault way. Oh and the marinade is to die for. No lemon or other sauce needed!

Miso Sake Gazed Salmon Ingredients

2 thick cut salmon fillets

Marinade
1/4 c. sake (any kind you like)
3 Tbs. white miso paste
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs. crushed garlic
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. black pepper

Whisk all marinade ingredients together and place in glass bowl or large Zip Lock with salmon fillets setting aside 1 Tbs of marinade for the corn succotash. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile...start on this:


Pepper and Onion Sweet Corn Succotash

3 c. fresh or frozen corn(thawed)
1/3 c. chopped red onion
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. miso sake marinade

In a skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion, peppers and corn and sauté till browning occurs. Mix in the miso sake marinade and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring vigorously. Remove from heat and set aside in room temperature.

Now, back to the salmon! Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a large cast iron or oven safe skillet. Place salmon fillets skin side up into boiling water, keeping excess marinade to the side for later. After about 90 seconds, flip fillets to poach other side for another 90 seconds. 

Now it's time to bake! Remove all water from skillet, carefully keeping salmon intact. Pour the remaining marinade over salmon fillets and place into the preheated oven(400 degrees) on the middle rack for 6-8 minutes. Then, baste salmon tops with excess marinade, switch oven onto broil and place under broiler flames for about 2-3 minutes. Be sure to watch broil the whole time so burning doesn't occur. 

Remove from oven and let cool enough to serve. Enjoy on top of the room temperature sweet corn succotash. Yum!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Ultimate LA Top Ten!

As many of you may know I am soon leaving LA after a fabulous 10 years. Thats 10 whole years of adventures, discoveries, wins and fails. It is, after all, a HUGE city with everything spread out and I've been lucky enough to have the time to really explore a lot of it. And when you find a gem...oh man, you want to shout it out to the world!

I've compiled a list of all my faves for all of you as part of my love letter to LA. It's been a pleasure living in this fine city and I want everyone to enjoy the things I have and hopefully love them just as much. Take care and be well. xoxo


1.) FAVE FANCY DINNER SPOTS:  Yu-N-MI Sushi in Beverly Hills, small and casual but the sushi is the best I've had in LA and well worth the high price;  Pace on Laurel Canyon, very cool underground atmosphere, great entrees;  Fig and Olive on La Cienega, fresh and spacious with amazing Mediterranean fair and Upper West in Santa Monica, Chef Nick is an absolute genius in the kitchen! Very creative dishes and hip young atmosphere.
                     
 Yu-N-MI roll                                                              Pace Restaurant

              









                My friend Owner/Chef Nick of Upper West


Tasty fresh appetizers at Fig and Olive

2.) FAVE BARS: Roger Room on La Cienega, very small but awesome music and fun cocktails; Frolic Room on Hollywood, authentically old school and cheesy which makes it amazing; Formosa on Santa Monica, also old school and cheap with yummy food too; Sunset Trocadero on Sunset Blvd., the best happy hour in town! Great patio too; Varnish in Downtown LA, dark little speakeasy in the back of Cole's with the best mixologists; and Township Saloon on Sunset, old west vibe with cheap drinks and shuffleboard.
       
                                     
3.) FAVE CHEAP THRILL: Boomers! in Upland. Go karts, Mini Golf, Cosmic Mini Golf, arcade games and more! We love this ghetto fabulous play place and it usually costs only about $45 for a whole day for 2 people.
4.) FAVE PLANT NURSERY: Xotx-Tropico in West Hollywood. I find the coolest exotic herbs and veggie plants here and always of good quality. And the owner, Leon, is always so helpful and will give you a great price. 

5.) FAVE PET SUPPLY STORES: Collar and Leash in West Hollywood and Zoom Room on La Brea. Both great for quality pet food and unique toys and not over priced. And Zoom Room has a pretty cool doggy playground!

                                                                                Zoom Room Doggie Play Area
6.) FAVE HIKES: Fryman Canyon near Studio City, It's $3 to park so it's usually less crowded which is a nice alternative to a packed Runyon especially when you have dogs. The last 1/3 of the hike is through a nice neighborhood, a perfect cool down; Griffith Park near Los Feliz, there are a few routes you can take and all are equally good in my opinion. Ending up at the observatory is a perfect spot for a picnic rest; Franklin Canyon near Beverly Hills, this park is huge and usually dead even though the many trails are all great. There's also a turtle pond with hundreds of all kinds of turtles swimming about; and Escondido Falls in Malibu, some parts can be slightly treacherous, having to use ropes to pull up the mountain, but getting to the stunning little waterfalls is quite rewarding.    

                                   

7.) FAVE SHOPPING SPOTS: The Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, great for cheap vintage items and odds and ends. It is a full day of rummaging so be prepared!; Americana Mall in Glendale, it literally has all major clothing, accessory and cosmetic stores all in one place. Definitely my one stop shopping destination.; Santee Alley, in downtown LA's garment district, it's pretty hectic and packed but I always find interesting clothes and knock offs for super cheap.; and Silverlake Strip, just walking up and down the few blocks of Sunset Blvd. near Intelligencia, you'll come across little boutique gems and will definitely pick up some unique finds that no one has.
                                           American Shops
                                           Rose Bowl Flea Market, every 2nd Sunday of the month.

8.) FAVE CRAFT AND DIY STORES: Kit Kraft in Studio City and Pearl Art Supply on La Cienega. Both have a huge variety of supplies for low prices. It's near impossible to not go crazy and buy everything you see.
                               
9.) FAVE GORMET FOOD SHOPS: Joan's on 3rd, it's half restaurant half gourmet market place and both are fantastic. The meatloaf sandwich and sake glazed chicken wings are the bomb and all the sweets and house packaged goods are great to take home. ; Sur La Table at the Grove, this place is where I get most of my cooking gadgets and take their amazing cooking classes. I'm obsessed.; and Lindy and Grundy on Fairfax, hands down the best butcher in town with quality cuts and awesome staff. You will fall in love.



 10.) FAVE BEACH SPOT: Escondido Beach in Malibu. This is a hidden gem I use quite often. You basically park on the PCH near Geoffrey's Restaurant and enter the gate with the 'COASTAL ACCESS' sign above it, take the pathway and stairs which open up to a wonderfully secluded beach. Its so secluded that I bring my dogs every time and let them run around free which isn't really allowed in California but no ones ever stopped me here. Absolute paradise :)