Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges' ...
DINNER FOR FOUR UNDER $10
The rapper shares his Atlanta restaurant's must-have
Luda's Cooking Playlist
POKER FACE Lady Gaga
HEARTLESS Kanye West
BOOM BOOM POW Black Eyed Peas
STRAITS GARLIC NOODLES
• 2 lbs. egg noodles
• 2½ tbsp. butter
• 4 tbsp. garlic
• 4 tomatoes cut in quarters
• 2 stems of basil (Thai or regular)
• ½ pound shittake mushrooms, sliced
• ¼ cup oyster or soy sauce
• 3 tbsp. sugar
• 2½ tbsp. black pepper
• 1 cup bean sprouts (optional)
1. Boil egg noodles in hot water for 10 min., until tender. Strain and set aside.
2. Heat up a wok or medium-size skillet or pan. When it's warm (about 2 to 3 min.), add butter, followed by garlic, tomatoes, basil, mushrooms and strained noodles. Sauté for 3 min., stirring regularly.
3. Add oyster sauce or soy sauce to pan and toss with noodles until fully blended. Sprinkle black pepper and sugar, tossing well.
4. If desired (this is an option at the restaurant), add protein such as chicken or shrimp, or a vegetable. Plate and serve.
Straits celebrates its one-year anniversary this summer
CUPCAKES & MILK FOR $3.50 PER PERSON
THROW A CUPCAKE PARTY!
Baker Candace Nelson of L.A.'s Sprinkles Cupcakes (a celeb favorite!) shares her tips for a dessert party
1 Arrange Artfully
Nelson says that at a party she did for the Cruises and Beckhams, dark chocolate cupcakes were put on tiers "and stacked 10 feet high."
CLEAR TIER Anchor Hocking, $22.49 for 3-tier set; amazon.com
2 Use Labels
Don't make your guests guess what's inside a cupcake! Instead, group like flavors and place next to a descriptive label.
FUCHSIA PLACE CARDS Caspari, $3.95 for 10; 800-227-7274
3 Do Drink Pairings
For breakfast, Nelson serves cupcakes with dark roast coffee; as a snack, with milk; and at night, "with pink champagne of course!"
CHAMPAGNE Mumm Brut Napa Rosé, $16.99, bevmo.com
4 Add Flair
"Decorating is so much fun," says Nelson, who likes to embellish with swirled frosting or candy. Or, for added pop, try placing your desserts in cute wrappers.
HAUTE HOLDERS baking cups, $2.09 for 75; wilton.com
CRUMBS BAKE SHOP
Shipping to 48 states with flavors like cappuccino (Megan Fox's fave), Crumbs offers sizes ranging from "taste" bites (12 for $18) to 4¼ inches ($3.75 each). crumbs.com
BAKED BY MELISSA
This N.Y.C. bakery sells tiny cupcakes (the size of a quarter!) that take the guilt out of eating six at a time. Order 100 for $70. bakedbymelissa.com
Although this bakery delivers only locally, you can order its cupcake mixes, complete with modern dot decorations and frosting recipe. $14, 888-220-2210
TOP ADVENTURE TRIPS
Adventuregirl.com's Stefanie Michaels shares her picks for places that will get your adrenaline pumping
"It's all about water here: scuba diving, wind-sailing and boating," says Michaels, adding that there are yacht and wine festivals during the summer. Plus, sea ferries make island hopping easy; Hvar, which Michaels calls "the party island," is her must-visit.
This resort offers what Michaels calls "glamping" (i.e., luxury camping). "It's überchic tents without breaking the bank," she says, as package deals—which include horseback riding, cookouts and fly fishing—are offered at 60 percent discounts in July and August.
Michaels says this country "is on sale right now," especially if you book a package deal. "You should trek through the Monteverde rain forest, which is one of the most biodiverse spots on Earth. You'll see unique plants and animal species and get a view of Arenal volcano."
We Asked ... Where are the best July 4 fireworks?
"A rooftop in Brooklyn, overlooking the city. My favorite, by far."
"A hillside above my old house. You can see every firework display in Malibu."
"I remember seeing a great fireworks display at Sea World, and both of the Disneys."
"In Cincinnati, just me and a bunch of my friends on the lake watching fireworks."
- CONTRIBUTORS Antoinette Y. Coulton,
- Amy Elisa Keith,
- with Shruti Dhalwala,
- Jennifer Garcia,
- Nicholas White.