All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an associate editor at Food Network, now living in New York City after being born and raised in the great state of Michigan. She likes her eggs runny, her pasta cheesy and has been known to throw back dozens of oysters at a time.

Star-a-Day: Sarah Penrod

by , May 16th, 2014

Sarah PenrodSarah Penrod, 30, is a born-and-bred Texan who comes from a family of entertainers. She’s been performing for her whole life and also has serious culinary chops, as she now owns her own business. This feisty chef has worked with celebrities and athletes, and she always keeps things entertaining in the kitchen. Read on below to hear from Sarah, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Sarah: The concept is that we’re all so busy, and we’re losing the source of love and joy and passion in our lives, and that’s our relationship with our partner. And I want to bring that back to you by teaching you how to do these awesome date nights, and I’m the perfect person to ’cause I’ve been a private chef to celebrities and professional athletes. I have to do some really cool stuff visually, and I think that I’m the perfect person to do date night ’cause I’m madly in love with my husband.

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Star-a-Day: Reuben Ruiz

by , May 15th, 2014

Reuben RuizReuben Ruiz, 27, grew up in a traditional Cuban family that owns restaurants, and he started working in kitchens when he was just 10 years old. After struggling with his weight for many years, he now specializes in healthy dishes with a Latin influence, and he’s honest, outspoken and high energy with a strong work ethic. Read on below to hear from Reuben, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Reuben: The flavors of Miami — I want to bring those to the limelight. The tropical cuisine of the Caribbean, and Central America and the flavors that we have over there. But also with a healthier perspective on life as well. Most people don’t know I’ve lost a hundred pounds, and I did so naturally. And I’ve been able to maintain it, more importantly, now for seven years.

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Star-a-Day: Nicole Gaffney

by , May 14th, 2014

Nicole GaffneyNicole Gaffney, 29, isn’t just another personal chef — her magnetic personality and innate culinary talent set her apart from the crowd. She grew up cooking with her Sicilian grandparents and comes from a family of commercial fishermen, and her “coastal cuisine” take on food is heavily influenced by her family and growing up in a seaside town. Read on below to hear from Nicole, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Nicole: Learning. Yeah. I’m really looking forward to learning. Just with the other competitors alone, I think there’s so much each of us can take away from the other person — not just in terms of cooking knowledge, because there’s a ton of stuff to be learned there, but just about life in general and TV presence. This whole experience — the things that we can take away from the judges and the mentors … I feel like what I’m going to know when this is all said and done versus what I knew going into it is going to be monumental.

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Best 5 Easy Turkey Dinner Recipes

by in Recipes, May 13th, 2014

Spicy Turkey Meatballs and SpaghettiWhile turkey usually takes center stage come Thanksgiving, this family-friendly meat is worthy of a starring role all year long, as it’s surprisingly simple to prepare — especially when it’s not being roasted whole for a holiday — and endlessly versatile. Just like chicken, turkey is a culinary blank canvas that pairs well with nearly all flavors and ingredients, and there’s no shortage of ways to prepare it, from fried to sauteed to simmered. To get new ideas for using this go-to protein, check out Food Network’s top-five easy-to-do turkey dinner recipes from the Neelys, Tyler, Ina and more chefs.

5. Turkey and Quinoa Salad — A complete meal in a bowl, this good-for-you salad boasts fluffy toasted quinoa, herbed turkey cutlets and a colorful combination of tomatoes and cucumbers.

4. Turkey Sausage and Peppers — The key to this recipe lies in the two-part cooking process for the sausages. After broiling them until golden brown, simmer them in a bold saute of peppers, fennel and tomatoes until juicy, and finish with fragrant basil.

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Star-a-Day: Luca Della Casa

by , May 13th, 2014

Luca Della CasaLuca Della Casa, 38, was born in Italy and is an adventurous, rugged outdoorsman with a passion for food. He worked his way up from dishwasher to executive chef, and he is determined to bring people together around a table to share food, Italian style. Read on below to hear from Luca, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Luca: My point in my culinary view is what I learned from my grandma. That means very simple recipes, a good knife and the freshest ingredients. That makes the most-amazing meal.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Luca: Well, yes. I went to see some old seasons of the show. I was aware of the show and I saw episodes of it, but I didn’t know it perfectly, so I thought I better go back and see everything they do, what they ask them to do. And so that’s what I did, and try to put my thoughts together.

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Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta and Broccolini — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 12th, 2014

Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta and BroccoliniWhether you maintain a meatless diet just one day a week or adhere to a vegetarian lifestyle, eggs are surely a welcome addition to your meat-free menu, as they’re versatile, packed with protein and, perhaps best of all, quick to prepare. Because there are multiple ways to cook eggs, you can incorporate them into nearly any meal — even lunch and dinner. The next time you make fried rice, try serving sunny-side up eggs atop the dish to add substance, or bake eggs in tomato sauce for a rustic Italian supper.

Food Network Kitchen sticks with a scrambled centerpiece in its fuss-free recipe for  Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta and Broccolini (pictured above). While this 20-minute meal is a cinch to prepare, it’s a dressed-up version of the everyday scrambles you likely ate as a child; instead of calling for American cheese, this recipe incorporates rich ricotta to create a creamy taste, and it swaps in vibrant Broccolini in place of traditional peppers and onions. It’s important to stop cooking the eggs once they’re set to yield tender, fluffy results every time. Finish the eggs with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and serve with bread to round out the meal.

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Star-a-Day: Loreal Gavin

by , May 12th, 2014

Loreal GavinLoreal Gavin, 26, is motorcycle-riding, guitar-playing chick who loves tattoos, and she’s been trained in culinary arts, baking and pastry. She was raised by her grandmother, who taught her to cook from her soul. Read on below to hear from Loreal, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Loreal: I have a grandmother’s soul from the Deep South and an insatiable lust for adventure.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Loreal: I didn’t. I just knew that I had to come in here and be myself.

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Just Deal with It — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, May 11th, 2014


Cutthroat Kitchen competitors know that when they begin their time in the contest, they’re agreeing to as many as three rounds of unforeseeable problems; chances are high that no matter what dish host Alton Brown asks for, the chefs won’t be able to execute their dream versions of it, be that on account of sabotage, poor planning or simply bad luck. Adapting to challenges is the name of the game on Cutthroat Kitchen, and a contestant’s inability to do that may ultimately do him or her in.

That’s precisely what happened on tonight’s all-new episode when Chef Kristina was gifted a can of spiced ham to use in place of fresh meat in her sloppy joes dish. “I think she wasn’t willing to embrace an ingredient,” Alton told judge Jet Tila on the After-Show. “She saw something that she knew came out of a can, and it was, like, checkout,” he added. Instead of sticking with a traditional approach of ground protein in sloppy joes, Chef Kristina simply sliced the canned product, and Jet wasn’t willing to pardon her for that. “It was slop on a plate,” Jet admitted, and Alton reminded fans, “You’ve got to embrace the ingredient, regardless of its origin.”

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Star-a-Day: Lenny McNab

by , May 11th, 2014

Lenny McNabLenny McNab, 42, is a one-of-a-kind gourmet cowboy with over-the-top confidence and culinary skills. He trained in Germany and is now the executive chef at a hunting ranch. With his signature hat, belt buckle and boots, you can’t miss Lenny in a crowd — and he is ready to bring his unique take on food to the rest of the country. Read on below to hear from Lenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Lenny: My culinary point of view is to bring back the traditional ways of the cowboy cook.

What are you most looking forward to taking away from this experience?
Lenny: The thing I think I’m most looking forward to in taking away from this experience is the recognition of being out there in an elite association of chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers that have made it big enough so that their name gets noticed, because I imagine anybody that does something like this has a touch of an ego.

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