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.

Round 2, Take 2 — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, February 2nd, 2014


Surviving a round of Cutthroat Kitchen is no small feat, and for most chefs, each of the 30 minutes on the clock is precious. On this week’s all-new episode, however, one competitor learned what it’s like to attempt a round in half that time — in only 15 quick minutes.

In what judge Jet Tila deemed “the worst sabotage I think I’ve heard of,” Alton announced halfway through Round 2’s huevos rancheros challenge that the mid-round sabotage was to begin the entire challenge over again, from scratch. Chef David was gifted this task, and he was ultimately forced to not just start over in cooking, but to also grocery shop and prep his ingredients for a second time. “It totally makes sense why his dish didn’t come together,” Jet noted to Alton during the host’s After-Show. “You can’t hit the reset button,” Alton added.

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Easy Dishes Done Right on The Kitchen, Plus Quick-Fix Dinner Recipes

by in Recipes, February 1st, 2014

Pepperoni Pizza PocketWhether it’s because of late nights at the office, your kids’ after-school commitments or simply unexpected traffic on the drive home, quick, easy dinner recipes are essential for most families, and it’s always a good idea to have a few timesaving favorites in your arsenal for go-to meals. The Kitchen‘s co-hosts showed off their simplest suppers on this week’s all-new episode, as Marcela prepared her Pizza Dough Chicken Empanadas and Katie opted for her breakfast-for-dinner Fridge Frittata.

The keys to any easy meal are preparation and the taking of a few shortcuts where appropriate. Marcela’s empanadas came together as quickly as they did thanks to prepared pizza dough. Since it can take time to perfect from-scratch pizza dough, there’s no reason not to reach for a supermarket variety, especially on hectic weeknights. Also, the next time you scour the aisles, pick up some extras of your family’s most-used ingredients; that way you’ll always have these workhorse products stocked in your pantry. When it came to relying on ready-to-go ingredients, Katie followed suit, although she reached for leftovers — potatoes. Try repurposing remnants of earlier dishes instead of simply tossing them in an effort to not only make mealtimes easier, but to also save money.

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Best 5 Nacho Recipes for the Big Game

by in Holidays, Recipes, February 1st, 2014

Super NachosWhile some get-togethers are all about elegantly plated entrees, individual servings and dainty dishes, big-game bashes aren’t among them. For successful football food, all that’s needed is something easy to eat on the couch and large enough to feed a crowd, which is why traditional picks include sticky, saucy chicken wings, eat-with-your-hands chips and dips, and bowls of meaty chili. Nachos, however, may be the ultimate tailgate-worthy dish, as they’re not only simple enough to chow down on with one hand, but they’re often served family-style, encouraging big-group snacking. The foundation of nachos is simple — just chips and some cheese or salsa — but beyond that, they can be customized to your family’s tastes or whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. Check out Food Network’s best-five nacho recipes below from Rachael, Guy, Marcela and more Food Network chefs to find winning platters that will wow your party guests.

5. Grilled Chicken Nachos with Cheese Sauce, Avocado Relish and Charred Jalapenos — The secret to Bobby’s moist, flavor-packed chicken is a marinade of lime juice, ancho chile powder and Worcestershire sauce. He lets chicken thighs rest in the mixture overnight before grilling the meat and adding it to a platter of chips with creamy Jack cheese sauce, cool avocados and jalapenos.

4. Guy-talian Nachos — Guy assembles his nachos in layers — first chips, then a combination of sauteed beef and turkey, and a sprinkle of mozzarella — before covering them with salami, basil and tomato-garlic salsa for an Italian-inspired plate.

Get the top-three recipes

Restaurant Revisited: Dirty Laundry at Hillbillies Restaurant

by in Shows, January 29th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived in Murphys, Calif., to rescue Hillbillies Restaurant, he was forced to contend with not only a dingy dining space overrun with tchotchkes, but with struggling owner Jami Saul as well. Unconfident and unable to assert herself to her staff, she would often be talked down to by her employees, so it was up to Robert to teach her how to voice her opinion and stand up for herself. He and his Restaurant: Impossible team had just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, but in true Irvine fashion, he delivered, reopening Hillbillies to a crowded house of eager customers. Read on below for the first exclusive interview with Jami to find out how her business is doing today.

“I do love the simplicity and clean feeling the new design brings to the restaurant,” Jami says of the transformed Hillbillies. “My favorite is the front entrance and the back wall of pallets. I think Lynn nailed the design for me.”

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From Food to Football: Guy Fieri to Compete in Celebrity Beach Bowl

by in Events, Food Network Chef, January 29th, 2014

Guy FieriYou know him as the blond, blinged-out host of Triple D and one of two culinary mentors on Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, but this weekend Guy Fieri is putting his kitchen chops aside to show off his skills on a sandy football field. Along with such famous faces as actors Tracy Morgan and Chace Crawford, personalities Kevin Frazier and Artie Lange, and model Hannah Davis, Guy will compete in DIRECTV’s Celebrity Beach Bowl in New York City ahead of Sunday’s big game. Every year the biggest names in entertainment join forces with top-notch athletes in a friendly flag football game, and this Saturday the game will prove greater than ever as NFL Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Deion Sanders and Warren Moon join the superstar roster.

The celebration kicks off Saturday at 10a|9c in Manhattan’s Hudson River Park at Pier 40 when DIRECTV hosts a tailgate for fans, then a pregame show starts at 1|12c, followed by the all-stars taking the field at 2|1c for the start of the game. Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern will be on hand to work the crowd during the halftime show at 2:30, and after the game at about 3:20|2:30c, Paramore take the stage to belt out their latest hits.

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Chefs Attempt to Beat Bobby Flay on Brand-New Series

by in Shows, January 27th, 2014

Bobby FlayJust this past summer you watched two fearless chefs put their reputations on the line as they attempted to take down Bobby Flay in the kitchen. Beginning this March, all-new hopeful competitors will head to New York City to do the same on the first-ever season of Beat Bobby Flay. These established industry professionals are confident in their cooking chops, but when it comes to facing off against an Iron Chef, everyday skills may not be enough to succeed.

Before the chefs can go head-to-head against the famed culinary master, they’ll have to prove their worth in a showdown against each other. Bobby’s closest friends and longtime chef-colleagues will be on hand to judge this preliminary cook-off before deciding which one can advance to battle with Bobby. While Bobby may have years of experience in culinary competitions behind him, his competitor will have one key advantage: choosing the challenge dish. With only seconds of on-the-spot thinking to prepare, Bobby will have to make the ultimate version of his rival’s dish in the hopes that a new crop of judges will select his as supreme in a blind tasting.

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Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and Mushrooms — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, January 27th, 2014

Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and MushroomsRich, hearty and deliciously creamy, macaroni and cheese may be the ultimate comfort food, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up the everyday casserole with some healthful additions. Whether you round out the meal with juicy tomatoes, mild-tasting cauliflower or bright-green broccoli, there are indeed ways to incorporate fresh flavors without losing the decadence of the traditional recipe.

Food Network Kitchens put its spin on the indulgent classic with Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and Mushrooms (pictured above), a big-batch supper that’s simple enough to make on a weeknight. After making a triple-cheese sauce with cheddar, Gruyere and cream cheese, mix in the pasta and add garlic-laced kale, plus meaty sauteed shiitakes. “Don’t be alarmed by how much kale you start with for this recipe,” the Kitchens chefs write. “It will cook down quite a bit and pairs deliciously with the creamy pasta and shiitake mushrooms.” Finish the casserole with seasoned breadcrumbs and bake it for just a few minutes until the topping is crispy, and the cheese is gooey and bubbly. Just like with any baked mac and cheese, it’s important to not overcook the noodles in the water, since they’ll finish cooking in the oven. It’s best to remove them when they’re al dente, so they don’t turn mushy when they’re baked.

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Sunny Anderson’s Big-Game Bash

by in Food Network Chef, January 27th, 2014

Sunny AndersonWhen it comes to the big game, no one tackles football food quite like Sunny Anderson. She’s a passionate football fan with a knack for turning out touchdown-worthy classics like wings, chili, dips and nachos at home, and her kickoff plan for easy entertaining is a cinch to follow and guarantees stress-free hosting. Just in time for next weekend’s big game, FN Dish chatted with Sunny to find out her ultimate team matchup and go-to chili toppings, plus learn what she’ll be cooking for the celebration and a few good-to-know party tips. Read on below to hear from Sunny, then watch her video to find out more about her kickoff solutions.

What is your dream team matchup for the big game?
Sunny Anderson: I think my dream matchup … would be Jets versus Giants. Let’s just settle it. The Giants are better. Let’s just grudge-match settle it.

What will you be cooking for the big game this year?
SA: I’m cooking everything. Usually I do a smorgasbord of wings. So I like to just do, like, two or three wings. So it’s usually going to be the basics, which is like a good spicy wing — a Buffalo wing — and then I go crazy from there, so definitely my PB&J Wings, and then I’m in love with Sticky Onion Crunch Wings, another recipe that I just put together. And then just lots of, like, dips; I have a crab-avocado, guacamole-type thing. And then you’ve gotta have dessert, because to me, dessert is like what you serve when you’re ready for people to go home. It’s your cue to leave when the coffee and dessert comes out.

Hear more from Sunny

Oh, the Irony — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, January 26th, 2014


Alton Brown recently told FN Dish his top pieces of advice for Cutthroat Kitchen competitors, and among them was to “always leave the pantry with something that has salt in it.” This strategy for success would have proved especially useful during tonight’s brand-new episode, as three out of the four chefs were prohibited from using any salt in Round 1 after Chef Emily won the exclusive right to it. But while those rivals may have suffered bland food on account of sabotage, Emily, too, offered an improperly seasoned dish to judge Antonia Lofaso, and it ultimately cost her the competition.

It turns out that what ultimately did in Chef Emily wasn’t a high prevalence of salt but, ironically enough, the drastic underuse of her high-priced ingredient. “There’s something about when you got it, you’re afraid to use it, I guess,” Alton told Antonia as the two dished on the challenges during the host’s After-Show. According to Antonia, Chef Emily’s sweet potato fries were far too sweet, served with maple syrup and bacon. “There was just no balance of anything ’cause it was like a sweet fry, then a sweet sauce,” Antonia explained. “I think maybe, like, rendering the bacon fat and using that — the fat — and the maple and the crushed bacon would have just given it more balance.”

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Inside The Kitchen’s Snackadium, Plus Game-Day Snack Recipes

by in Recipes, Shows, January 25th, 2014

The Kitchen Co-HostsJust in time for next week’s big game, the co-hosts on The Kitchen — along with Rob Del Balzo, a caterer — created a super snack platter worthy of not just any tailgate but the ultimate football showdown. This “snackadium,” modeled after a traditional football stadium, was almost overflowing with classic and creative munchies alike, including fresh vegetables, crackers and pretzels, plus pigs in blankets and Jeff’s meaty mortadella sandwiches.

More photos and snack recipes