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.

Conquering the Blueberry Carton — Testing the Cutthroat Kitchen Sabotages

by in Shows, December 14th, 2014

The lights, cameras, fellow contestants and host Alton Brown pacing through the kitchen — the scene in the Cutthroat Kitchen arena is plenty fierce and demands much attention from the competitors, and that’s even before they’ve been sabotaged. Once evilicious challenges are added to the contest and they’re forced to adapt to the unexpected while the clock is ticking, the competition is taken nearly over the edge. It’s up to the Cutthroat Kitchen culinary crew to make sure that every sabotage Alton auctions off is indeed possible for a contestant to complete within the allotted time frame. To make sure the challenges remain feasible, the team attempts each one.

On tonight’s all-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, Alton’s simple blueberry muffin request turned downright diabolical when he mandated that one chef use blueberry cartons as the sole mixing and cooking vessels in his prep work. Given the potentially liquid muffin batter and the multiple holes in the carton, mixing in those tiny squares was indeed evilicious — but it wasn’t impossible, as the team found during its test.

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Alton’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, December 14th, 2014

Baked Macaroni and CheeseLeave it to the master of Good Eats to create the most-comforting version of a tried-and-true classic: macaroni and cheese. Rich, creamy and over-the-top cheesy, Alton Brown’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese is the ultimate in hearty, cool-weather fare, so it’s no surprise that it’s this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week. For welcome texture and an extra punch of flavor, Alton blankets his casserole with buttery panko breadcrumbs before baking, so the finished product boasts a crispy, crunchy coating after only a few minutes in the oven.

For more of Alton’s best-ever recipes, visit Food Network’s Alton Brown board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Baked Macaroni and Cheese (pictured above)

A Walk Down Christmas Memory Lane: The Kitchen Cast Shares Holiday Remembrances

by in Holidays, Shows, December 13th, 2014

The Kitchen Co-HostsWhile New Year’s is meant for looking ahead at what’s to come, the preceding holiday season is all about reflection and remembrance. FN Dish recently caught up with the cast of The Kitchen on set, and from childhood reminiscences to recent family dinners, the co-hosts shared some of their favorite Christmas memories. Read on below to hear from Geoffrey Zakarian, Jeff Mauro, Katie Lee, Marcela Valladolid and Sunny Anderson as they recollect holiday seasons past and reflect on all that Christmas means to them.

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Best 5 Gingerbread Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 13th, 2014

Gingerbread and Lemon Curd Trifle with Blackberry SauceCut-out cookies may be among the most-popular ways to enjoy gingerbread, but this sweet, slightly spicy flavor shines beyond people-shaped treats. From cocktails and cupcakes to waffles and trifles, celebrate the warm flavors of gingerbread with tried-and-true eats and drinks ideal for holiday entertaining. Read on below for Food Network’s top-five seasonal gingerbread recipes and get sweet inspiration from Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Trisha Yearwood and more of your favorite chefs.

5. Gingerbread Waffles — Start with canned pumpkin puree to keep Rachael Ray’s cinnamon-spiced waffles quick and simple. Once these light, fluffy beauties are cooked, set up a toppings bar and let your family finish their waffles with syrup, whipped cream or fresh fruit.

4. Gingerbread Cupcakes with Orange Icing — For a double dose of bold ginger flavor, Ina mixes dried crystallized ginger into the molasses-spiked cupcake batter, then she sprinkles additional crystallized ginger atop the smooth citrus-cream cheese frosting.

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Behind the Scenes of The Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Christmas

by in Holidays, Shows, December 10th, 2014

The Pioneer Woman's Cowboy ChristmasJust in time for the holidays, Ree Drummond welcomed crowds of Oklahoma ranchers and their families for the ultimate seasonal extravaganza as she hosted her first-ever prime-time special, The Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Christmas. In true Drummond fashion, this seasonal bash included no shortage of hearty fare, like party-ready glazed ham, cheesy potatoes and spiced gingerbread cookies, plus down-home games and plenty of dancing. If you missed the special last weekend, there’s still time to catch up: Watch the full episode on FoodNetwork.com now, and get all of Ree’s comforting sweet and savory recipes featured on the show.

Food Network was on hand as Ree and her family hosted the local ranching community and captured behind-the-scenes snapshots as the celebrations unfolded. Read on below for an insider’s look at the seasonal soiree, see Ree and Ladd strut their stuff on the dance floor, and check out the over-the-top spread of holiday dishes shining on the buffet.

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A Special Holiday Mission: Robert Irvine Transforms Double H Ranch

by in Shows, December 8th, 2014

Holiday: ImpossibleIn the largest Restaurant: Impossible challenge to date, Robert Irvine and his team traveled to Lake Luzerne, N.Y., for an extra-special mission at Double H Ranch, a year-round camp dedicated to serving children with life-threatening illnesses. Double H was founded on the premise of “health and happiness” according to CEO and executive director Max Yurenda, and the camp indeed lives up to its promise, as every child who attends is welcomed and made to feel safe and hopeful.

With the help and generosity of Lexus, Robert and his team had three days and an increased budget of $50,000 to transform the kitchen and dining hall at Double H, and it’s a good thing they had extra time and money to spend, because the 4,000-plus-square-foot dining room was among the largest they’d ever attempted. In true Irvine fashion, Robert welcomed the challenge, and not only did he overhaul those spaces and turn them into comfortable, friendly and functional designs, but he and Lexus also gifted the camp dozens of pieces of new equipment, plus a $10,000 donation. Read on below to hear from Max, and director of operations Jacqui Royael, to find out how Double H is doing today. Then, browse insider photos of the transformation in progress, and see Robert at Double H.

How have the new hot boxes improved serving time?
Jacqui Royael: The new hot boxes will allow more time for staff and campers to enjoy their meal together and less time waiting in a crowded line in the kitchen. The food can now be prepared and ready to go the minute the kids enter the dining hall, allowing all of camp to be served in half the time and eat together. So what once was 20-plus minutes and several trips back and forth to the serving line will now be a quick five to 10 minutes and one trip to have everyone enjoy a meal together.

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Top 5 Recipes from Holiday Central

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 8th, 2014

Gingerbread HouseFrom tried-and-true cookie classics to crowd-pleasing dinner recipes, go-to gift ideas, hosting how-tos and step-by-step videos, FoodNetwork.com’s Holiday Central is the ultimate destination for all things seasonal cooking, so you can spend more time celebrating with family, friends and food. Just in time to kick off the season, Angela Moore, FoodNetwork.com’s vice president, interactive site manager, joined The Kitchen co-hosts on this weekend’s all-new episode to introduce Holiday Central and show off the latest additions to this culinary winter wonderland, including all-in-one guides to easy baking and entertaining.

If you’re new to Holiday Central, spend some time clicking around. Check out our best-ever Christmas recipes and easy, speedy dessert picks, plus learn new ways to bake with gingerbread and find gift inspiration for everyone on your shopping list. Read on below to get the top-five recipes featured in Holiday Central, then watch insider videos to see how more of your favorite Food Network stars celebrate the season.

5. Buffalo Chicken Cheese Balls — Two flavors that are simply better together, Buffalo-style hot sauce and juicy rotisserie chicken combine with cheddar cheese to create golden bite-size rounds ideal for entertaining.

4. Eggnog — Raise a glass to the holidays with Alton Brown’s 15-minute eggnog, a rich, smooth holiday must-have spiked with bourbon.

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“Pat, the Snowman Made Out of Butter” — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, December 7th, 2014

Just in time for the holidays, Alton Brown decked the Cutthroat Kitchen halls on tonight’s all-new episode with a series of seasonal challenges — and even a Christmas tree-adorned sweater worn by judge Simon Majumdar. In true evilicious fashion, Alton didn’t shy away from punny sabotages inspired by the traditional holiday meals or activities, as the challenge dishes included a ham dinner, cocktail party fare and holiday cookies. And in Round 1 the chefs played a not-so-merry game of gift swap.

In the final round’s cookie challenge, Alton doled out the ultimate in seasonal sweets — a gingerbread house — but this one wasn’t exactly a treat. Complete with shortening, sugar, flour and leavening agents, plus various candies and decorations, this “gingerbread diorama,” as Alton called it, contained everything needed to make a cookie, and Chef Keith could use only the given ingredients to prepare his dish. While the contestant used nearly everything in Alton’s “majestic scene” in preparing his ultimately doomed cookies, only one element remained: a triple-decker butter figure shaped like a snowman. “Is he called Pat?” Simon jokingly asked Alton on the host’s After-Show, and Alton simply replied with a smile, “Yes, Pat, the Snowman Made Out of Butter.”

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Mustard-Parmesan Whole Roasted Cauliflower — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, December 7th, 2014

Mustard-Parmesan Whole Roasted CauliflowerNo longer second-string components on the dinner table, side dishes can indeed take center stage — and perhaps even upset a meaty main dish — when they become packed with flavor, as in this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week.

Made with only a handful of ingredients, Food Network Kitchen’s Mustard-Parmesan Whole Roasted Cauliflower is as striking to look at as it is easy to prepare. Just brush the vegetable with mustard, then roast the cauliflower until it’s tender and finish with a topping of nutty Parmesan and fresh parsley. Serve fresh lemon alongside for a light, fresh finish to this good-for-you side.

For more go-to side dish recipes, visit Food Network’s Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Mustard-Parmesan Whole Roasted Cauliflower (pictured above)

Enter to Win an Engraved 5 O’Clock Somewhere Cocktail Shaker

by in Contests, December 6th, 2014

Engraved Cocktail ShakersIn the words of Geoffrey Zakarian, “It’s five o’clock somewhere!” As the unofficial mixologist among The Kitchen co-hosts, he’s shaken up his share of cocktails during the show’s regular cocktail segment, pouring the cast elegant sippers and casual, party-ready drinks alike with a collection of signature barware.

Just in time for seasonal entertaining, FN Dish is giving fans a chance to add to their own home bars an engraved cocktail shaker reading “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” Whether you use it to make classic martinis, fresh-fruit margaritas or next-level smashes, look to this workhorse of a tool to create chilled, well-mixed drinks ideal for parties.

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