Lola’s in West Hollywood

In college, my girls and I had a spot. And it was Lola’s. I was always the whiskey and coke girl, until I met Nicole who introduced me to the world of Martinis and Sex and the City. Needless to say, I maintain my Jack Daniel girl roots, but there is a part of me that enjoys a stiff martini and a gossip fest with the ladies. I went back to my old hangout last Friday for a tasting menu and was positively happy with what came at me. Wayne still makes the best Apple Martini. All is right in the world.

The meal started with the accoutrements; homemade potato chips and pickled vegetables. And of course, the famous Apple Martini. I loved pickled items, and Lola’s makes a great pickled item. Hats off guys. The chips were crisp, just a tad too greasy, but went well with the veggies. The martini was meant to pair with their bacon macaroni and cheese, which is exactly what came out next.

Small, bubbly, bowl of goodness. I mean, pure goodness. So good. May I digress? One of the reasons I get frustrated with macaroni and cheese in LA is the ABSOLUTE NEED of places to put Velveeta in their cheese mix to make it creamy… WHY!!? Just use good cheese and butter and you will have a creamy, fabulous mac and cheese. Like mine.

Lola’s is Velveeta free. Thank god. The mac and cheese was creamy, but also had body. When I pulled my fork away from the little bowl, strings of cheese followed. I love that. There was only a little bit of bacon, enough to compliment the apple martini. Everything worked in harmony. Fabulous.

The second pairing was a little different. It was a sort of cold salad plate with a corn guacamole and a Mexican inspired chicken salad with chips. With it came a Cantaloupe martini.

Th guacamole was good with the little pops of sweet corn. But the chicken salad was, interesting. I couldn’t tell if I liked it. It wasn’t bad, just unexpected. I didn’t know how it went with everything else. The martini though, delicious! It was so fruity and was a great compliment to the guacamole without being too over bearing. I could have eaten double the guacamole with just the martini, maybe as the first course, and the macaroni and cheese after.

The third course was my favorite! It started with a lemon drop which is one of my favorite martini drinks. I am such a citrus lover. Next was a flat-bread pizza with a simple red sauce, topped with lemon juice coated arugula, bacon, and Parmesan cheese.

First, let me say ANY lemon drop martini should have a sugar rim. It was so good. The drink is tart with a punch and you need that coarse sugar to compliment the lemony drink. The pizza crust was thin, a little sweet, and fluffy while still being crunchy. Hard to explain, but just a treat. I love fresh greens and lemon, and arugula + lemon is one of my favorite combos. I didn’t need the bacon or cheese; both added bites of salty flavor, but the bread and greens alone was enough for me. The dough being a little sweet paired great with the lemon on the greens. The same idea was masked into the drink, and just so good.

Dessert included a chocolate Tiramisu and a Clockwork Orange Martini. I usually avoid messing with the classics, but this time I was appreciative of the change with the chocolate cake instead of lady fingers in the Tiramisu.

The martini and cake were in disjunction to me. It was rich on top of rich. I would have preferred a refreshing martini instead of something creamy and sweet. I couldn’t finish the cake because I was getting so bogged down with the sugar. However, on their own, both are really delicious. The Clockwork Orange Martini was like an orange creamsicle. Yum. And the Tiramisu… rich but so good. I mean the cake was super moist, the creamy inbetweens were so good. I loved it. There was this chocolate sauce on the other side of the raspberry that I ate on its own. I wanted to dip multiple items into it. DELICIOUS! Actually… brilliant. Next time, I am saving some of those house made potato chips and dunking them in the chocolate sauce.

Lola’s, if you  are listening, I expect this on the menu.

Lovely dinner, lovely night. Lola’s wins again.

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Samurai MMA Post Fight Update: Marcus Kowal

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Update! I wanted to make sure I included the amazing experience I got to be a part of a week ago with Marcus Kowal and Studio MMA. There isn’t much to say really… other than IT WAS AWESOME! Never had been to a fight live before, and am totally going again.

WARNING, this is an MMA fight so a few photos are bloody. WARNING to those who get queasy by blood, do not continue reading.

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I saw some KO’s, some full round fights, lots of sweat and a little blood. Marcus was the ONLY fighter who effectively used their feet. It is crazy to see how detrimental a nice kick to the side or the head can be. Ya, punches hurt. I have been clocked accidentally a few times in class, even elbowed. But I can’t imagine being kicked in the face. Yikes.

Grapple TV

The first round, both fighters were feeling one another out. Marcus was landing some sick throws and I would say without a doubt won that round. You could tell the other fighter used to be a wrestler with how much he wanted to get Marcus to the ground. I am oh k with this sort of behavior, but it gets old. I noticed in the first fight, which had the least experienced fighters, that almost the entire thing was fought on the ground or up against the chains. And that can get really boring. Marcus did a stellar job of averting this behavior from his opponent. It was easy to spot that he was more prepared.

Grapple TV

Grapple TV

The second round started off well, until Marcus slipped on something slick on the mat (probably sweat). Immediately brought into a head lock, he struggled for a bit but NEVER gave up. And let me tell you…. the 5 fights before, those who got into a headlock all tapped out. Every single one of them. If you don’t know, tapping out essentially means giving up; you lose the fight automatically.

Grapple TV

Struggling for a minute or two, Marcus stood up with his opponent on his back. Try squatting with someone on your back that is your equal weight…. hard right?…. now try standing up from a ground position…. impossible! After getting into a squat, hurling his body upwards, Marcus sent his weight down and slammed the other fighter onto the mat in the CRAZIEST body slam I have ever seen! He then turned, and rained a fury of punches on the other fighter, dominating the end of the round.

Because of the extensive time the head lock took, it is natural that the round was tied. I, however, would have voted in favor of Marcus. I mean, I have seen no one else, on TV or that night, get out of a headlock like that. It showed amazing skill.

Grapple TV

The third round began and almost immediately things went south. Within a few seconds, Marcus stumbled back onto the cage and looked woozy. And then you saw it… the blood. From where I was sitting, it looked as if he got his eye plucked out. It was terrible. The anticipation was horrid as we saw Marcus struggle with his wound and blood pour from his face.

Grapple TV

Grapple TV

After the Medic came to examine the injury, he called the fight. Marcus, like a boss, got the crowd cheering to let him continue. But the wound was so severe that he wasn’t permitted to continue. What took place was an illegal, yet unintentional, head-butt. After judging based on two rounds only, the judges called the fight a tie. It was unfortunate. Did I think Marcus could have won? HELL YES! There was no question he was the better fighter, but things like this happen. Being the sport he is, and the gentleman he always will be, Marcus addressed the crowd and his opponent, simply stating that things like this happen and that he was appreciative for all those who came out. Oh, and to please come party with him afterwards.

That’s right. An eyebrow all stitched up later, and a swollen-shut eye, Marcus made it to his after party where we all celebrated his performance. Congratulations Marcus! So proud of you.

And for all of you asking, how do I know Marcus Kowal? I intern for him at MIT Fitness USA and Fitnesscenter.com. Despite being an incredible athlete, is as also a very intelligent entrepreneur. If any of you are interested in coming to see Marcus fight in the future, or are concerned with getting more in tune with your fitness goals, check out the websites listed, tweet me, or email me at thingsimakeinmykitchen@gmail.com.

Studio MMA

*All post photos are from professional companies stated on the image. Otherwise, they were taken by me.*

Cassy, Alyse, and I at the beach near the end of the day

Perch and The 4th of July

Summer is my favorite time of the year. And I am so blessed to live by the beach and have amazing friends to spend the holiday with. Yesterday was a whole day of fun, food, and football. PERFECT!

My fourth started the night before at Perch with my friend Tiffany. This gorgeous restaurant has started to delve into the night life lounge business like most places in LA. Being on a rooftop and able to gaze at a gorgeous Downtown LA skyline is something I can’t do often on the west-side.

There were a lot of interesting characters at this place, though. And when I mean interesting, I mean interesting. Like a girl who’s face was painted green and wearing a giant fuzzy orange coat. Sometimes I do not understand LA hipsters, even with the 25 years of being a native under my belt. I also witnessed a man in glittery heelless, heels. Picture that….

I rocked my glitter heels that night

Tiffany is an amazing jewelry designer. In fact, she has an upcoming job interview with Tiffany and Co. and David Yurman. Can we say amazing? If you want to see her work, here is her portfolio: http://www.coroflot.com/tiffanyowen

The weekend continued at the beach for a BBQ and wonderful day celebrating this great U.S. of A. There was so much food, so many people, and lots of sun! Perfection.

Some people party harder than others…

This 4th felt like college all over again, and I loved it. Lot’s of games, kind of this chaotic free for all of fun. I really have a stellar group of friends to thank for always bringing out the best in everything. I hope all of you had just as an amazing holiday. Much love!

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Strawberry Shortcake for a Party

Nothing is more American than classic biscuit desserts. I love a good cobbler, but hanging out with a slew of 20 year old’s and expecting them to not dive into a cobbler with a bunch of spoons. I want my labor of love to be enjoyed!

The things with my normal shortcake is it requires more assembly than I wanted to deal with that day. I prefer baking the dough in a sheet, cutting squares, and going to town with the fixings. So I had a brilliant idea for my fourth of July party. Using muffin tins to make individual biscuits. Genius!

Ingredients

3.5 pounds strawberries, sliced into quarters
2/3 cup sugar
7 cups Original Bisquick mix
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup half and half
9 tablespoons sugar
2.5 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3 cups homemade whipping cream

The recipe can he scaled down for smaller affairs. I was making a massive amount for my friends. 3.5 pounds of strawberries is about 9 cups, and I tripled my recipe above. If it’s for you and a few friends, cut the recipe down to 1/3.

Start by getting the strawberries macerating. You want the juices to pull out so you get a delicious sauce along with the sweet strawberries.

Cut the strawberry tops off. Next, slice each berry into quarters. If the berry is small, halves are fine. Place all the quarters in a bowl.

Once half the strawberries are cut, add 1/3 cup sugar. Mix it around. Cut the remainder of the strawberries and then add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Mix around and set the strawberries aside.

Preheat the oven to 425. To start the dough, add the Bisquick to the bowl. Next, pour in the milk, cream, sugar, and butter. Incorporate all the ingredients together.

The dough should be sticky, but not enough that you can’t work it. This is about the time you get your hands dirty and start mixing with your mitts. The dough should not stick to the sides, so if it is, add a little more Bisquick.

Here, you can do a few things. Do drop buiscuits on a cookie sheet, make a tray of biscuits (essentially, lay the entire dough out on a pan), or make individual biscuits in a muffin tin. I opted to use a muffin tin.

Bake the biscuits for 10- 12 minutes. They should come out golden brown.

To make the whipped cream, which I recommend, check out my tutorial here. It is really easy and so worth it. The taste difference is insane.

The dessert is an assembly dessert after the ingredients are all made. Take a biscuit, slice it in half. Place the bottom half on a plate and add 2-3 spoonfuls of strawberries (make sure to include a scoop or two of the syrup!). Add the top of the biscuit, and then place a healthy helping of whipped cream. Voila!

This is a great dessert to take to a summer party. I made mine for the 4th of July at the beach. Easy to make ahead of time, easy to transport. Plus, I bet you this little treat will be the star of your next summer BBQ or party. Delllllish!

Homemade Whipped Cream

Before you freak out and think “I’ll just buy a can, it’s way easier” read this post.

Whipped cream is 2 ingredients… TWO! And making it yourself is not only cheaper, but it tastes SO good. Not comparable to the can, holds up without melting, and worth every bite.

Ingredients
1 Quart Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 cup Sugar (a little more if you like it sweeter)

I have done whipped cream by hand for years. And it wasn’t until this Christmas when I got a mixer that I started using the machine. You do not need a stand mixer! I repeat, you do not need a stand mixer. All you need is a bowl, a whisk, and your arm.

To start, pour about a 1/3 of your cream into the mixer and turn it on medium low. If you are doing this by hand, start beating. Beat until you see the cream start to froth up.

Once the cream begins to thicken, add 1/3 more of the liquid heavy cream and continue beating. Once the cream begins to get thick again, add the last 1/3  of the liquid cream and the sugar. Beat until creamy and thick. The test is to take a spatula or spoon, scoop up some cream, and hold the instrument sideways. If the cream does not slide off the spoon/spatula, the mixture is done.

If using the mixer, it is oh k to adjust between medium low at first, to medium high. Make sure you do not over beat to where it gets chunky. You want a creamy silky texture. If you want the cream sweeter, add a little more sugar and fold it into the whipped cream. It’s better to start minimal and then add sugar depending on your sweet level.

I made this batch of whipped cream to top my strawberry shortcake… YUM! Perfect 4th of July treat.