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.

Freezer-Friendly Standbys — School Days

by in Family, Recipes, September 14th, 2013

English Muffin PizzasNow that the school year is well under way, chances are your morning and evening schedules are becoming ever more hectic. Between early carpools, afternoon dentist appointments and late soccer practices, it can seem almost impossible to make time for cooking breakfast and dinner — let alone packing school lunches. And on those days, it’s important to have quick-fix meals waiting for you in the freezer. The key to getting the most out of your freezer is making sure it’s always stocked with a range of ingredients and ready-to-go dishes; try to dedicate some time on the weekend to preparing and freezing foods so they’ll be there when you need them. Check out a few of Food Network’s go-to easy-to-freeze recipes for breakfast, snack time and dinner below to find favorites that kids and grownups alike will enjoy.

Breakfast:
Sometimes just getting out the door in the morning can seem like a feat, and on days like that, it’s best to not have to worry about your kids’ breakfasts. Food Network Kitchens takes the guesswork out of morning meals with its Freezer to Oven Berry Muffins, studded with juicy blueberries and finished with a cinnamon crumb topping before freezing. While this recipe yields 12 muffins, you only need to bake as many as you need at a time while leaving the others in the freezer.

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Cutthroat Kitchen Look-Back: Memorable Sabotages in Review

by in Shows, September 12th, 2013

Once the competitors on Cutthroat Kitchen complete their brief 60 seconds of pantry shopping, they can’t say for certain what will come next, blissfully unaware of the ingredient swaps, time freezes and utensil prohibitions with which they will be forced to comply when cooking. Host Alton Brown‘s deliciously mischievous competition is just four weeks into its premiere season, yet chefs have already experienced interferences like prepared pie crust in place of pizza dough, the inability to use salt in their taco dishes and the challenge of fashioning their only utensils out of aluminum foil.

Two of the seemingly most insurmountable sabotages, however, occurred in the first two weeks of the series, when Alton revealed French wine and blue cheese, which had to be featured in one chef’s French toast preparation, and bright-green sour apple gummy candies, which were to be used in place of fresh apples when making a dish of pork chops and apple sauce. What happened next in both instances was a no-nonsense bidding war, with several contestants willing to go to great lengths — and exorbitant sums — to avoid cooking with these products themselves.

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Best 5 Slow-Cooker Recipes

by in Recipes, September 12th, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef PaprikashOn days when you know there’s not going to be any time to devote to cooking, there’s just one tool that makes it easy to get dinner on the table quickly: the slow cooker. This user-friendly gadget is perhaps the most go-to kitchen appliance in many families’ homes, as it will do most of the mealtime preparation for you. Once you slice and dice a few vegetables, season the meat, and add spices and liquids, all you have left to do is flip on the machine; you can leave the machine unattended for hours, then come home to a ready-to-eat meal. While soups and stews are classic slow-cooker favorites, the machine’s versatility is far-reaching, as it’s able to turn out pastas, pork and even candy with ease. Check out Food Network’s top-five slow-cooker recipes below to find both sweet and savory dishes that are easy enough to make on hectic weekdays.

5. Slow-Cooker Chocolate Candy — Trisha uses just four ingredients to make her salty-sweet treat, studded with peanuts for a welcome crunch. She lets the candy cook in the slow cooker before spooning it into cupcake liners and letting it cool.

4. Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos — Guarantee moist and tender shredded pork by cooking the meat in a richly flavorful sauce of pureed chipotles, honey and vinegar, and let your family members build their own tacos by serving the pork with a spread of classic toppings.

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Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 9th, 2013

Fried Green Tomato SandwichesBefore another tomato season comes to a close and you say goodbye to summer’s fresh caprese salads, bruschetta, gazpacho and pasta sauce, you should surely indulge in one of the season’s simplest pleasures: a fried green tomato sandwich. Nothing more than an unripe tomato, a green tomato is firm and drier than its red and yellow counterparts, which means it can sustain a coating of batter and won’t fall apart in hot oil.

A dressed-up version of the original, Food Network Magazine’s recipe for easy-to-make Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches (pictured above) features just a few key components: green tomatoes, of course, plus a creamy, spicy sauce, sliced bread (something slightly soft works best so it absorbs the sauce) and a topping of yellow and red tomatoes. The juiciness of ripe tomatoes works well for the topping, as their moisture adds welcome sweetness. To add extra flavor to the green beauties, Food Network Magazine pickles them with dill before frying, then triple coats them in layers of egg wash and cornmeal with chili powder. Once the green tomatoes golden brown and crispy on the outside, build the sandwich with both the fried and raw tomatoes and a smear of mayonnaise-scallion sauce. This spread features a few dashes of hot and Worcestershire sauces, which together create a tangy taste that cuts through the richness of the dish.

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Planning Under Pressure — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, September 8th, 2013

No matter how prepared a chef may be when he walks into Cutthroat Kitchen, or how well-conceived his ideas are for one round’s challenge dish, he can’t say for certain whether he’ll be able to use those skills or his thought-out plan, as a sabotage may ultimately get the better of him. The key to success in this contest is a competitor’s ability to adapt to culinary interferences as he meets them — finding new ways to add flavor to food when salt isn’t an option and learning how to fashion utensils out of foil when traditional devices are prohibited, among them.

But what happens when, whether because of strategic game play or simple good fortune, a chef has the opportunity — the time, ingredients and equipment — to make just what he had intended?

In the latest installment of Alton’s After-Show, the host and this week’s judge, Antonia Lofaso, dished on the competitors’ seeming need to do more and cook more than they ought to have or needed to simply because they could.

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Fans, Can You Name That Set?

by in Community, September 7th, 2013

Name That SetWeek after week you tune in to see your favorite stars’ shows and watch as they turn out signature specialties with ease. You’re familiar with their cooking styles, can list their go-to ingredients and have memorized some of their best recipes. But could you identify the set on which each tapes if they weren’t standing in it? If the space was simply empty? FN Dish is kicking off a brand-new series in which we’re challenging you, the fans, to name that set.

Take a peek at the photo above for the premiere challenge. Do you know which chef calls this space his or her own? For help in answering, check out the clues below to find hints; then click to find out if you guessed correctly.

1. This set was also home to an epic Thanksgiving throwdown with Bobby Flay back in 2010.

2. For the chef and popular blogger who cooks here, this space isn’t just a set; it’s also his or her recipe test kitchen, and he or she lives just down the road from here.

3. Not pictured above are the pair of basset hounds and several cats that frequently make guest appearances on this star’s show.

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3 Ways to Build a Better Lunchbox — School Days

by in Family, Recipes, September 7th, 2013

Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta SaladSchool is officially in session, which means that for the roughly nine months ahead, you’ll be facing an almost daily challenge of deciding with what lunch to send you child to school. This year, instead of finding kids’ half-eaten sandwiches and untouched celery sticks at the end of the day, guarantee a happier lunchtime — and, more importantly, full bellies — with these three easy strategies for building a better lunchbox. Check out Food Network’s suggestions, then start the conversation about your child’s favorite school lunches in the comments below.

1. Embrace Little Helpers
To improve the lunchbox-packing process, start at the beginning: the grocery shopping for lunch ingredients. Invite your kids to come to the supermarket with you and let them suggest what kinds of foods you buy. It may be as simple as asking them if they prefer apples or orange segments as the fruit of the day, deli turkey or ham on their sandwich, and carrots or cherry tomatoes as the veggie of choice, but the idea is to make kids feel included in the building of their lunches. Ultimately, if kids are invested in their food, they’re more likely to eat it. (This notion holds true come dinnertime, so if you struggle with picky eaters at supper, consider these grocery shopping trips as a means of getting kids excited about all of their meals.)

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Suggest a Sabotage for Cutthroat Kitchen

by in Community, Shows, September 5th, 2013

Alton BrownIf you’ve ever found yourself watching Cutthroat Kitchen and imagining the next-best sabotage that could befall the competitors, now is your chance to have your ideas heard. Food Network is currently accepting submissions for upcoming challenges, and it’s up to you, Cutthroat fans, to decide with what disruptions future contestants will have to adapt. You’ve seen host Alton Brown sell the exclusive use of salt and enforce a mandate to fashion utensils out of aluminum foil, but now the network wants to know what you think he should dish out next.

Think you have the ultimate sabotage worthy of being featured on the show? Tell Food Network by tweeting your suggestion using #Evilicious or leaving a comment below, and it may appear on an upcoming episode of Cutthroat Kitchen.

Read official rules before submitting a sabotage

Best 5 Breakfast Casseroles

by in Recipes, September 5th, 2013

Blueberry French Toast Casserole with Whipped Cream and StrawberriesWhether you’re hosting a weekend brunch for a crowd or are simply looking to dress up your family’s morning meal routine, it’s important to have in your recipe repertoire a few go-to breakfasts for easy dishes to start the day. French toast, flapjacks and fried eggs are indeed tried-and-true classics, but quick-cooking breakfast casseroles are the ultimate picks for families, as these all-in-one beauties take the stress out of coordinating multiple components of a meal. Check out Food Network’s top-five breakfast bakes below to find both sweet and savory twists on the simple casserole with recipes from Ina, Giada and more Food Network chefs.

5. Mushroom-Spinach Baked Eggs — Start with a simple saute of mushrooms, onions and spinach, then layer that atop potato bread and finish with eggs and nutty Gruyere cheese to create a richly satisfying casserole in only one hour.

4. Breakfast Bread Pudding — The secret to Ina’s recipe is letting the slices of brioche rest in a pool of honey-vanilla custard before baking; this ensures the bread has a chance to soak up the flavor of the liquid and become moist.

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Baked Eggs and Beans on Toast — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 2nd, 2013

Baked Eggs and Beans on ToastWhile scrambled, over-easy and hard-boiled eggs may be breakfast classics, eggs — no matter how they’re cooked — can star in lunch and dinner recipes as well, and just one egg can transform a simple dish into a hearty vegetarian meal. If you have leftover tomato sauce on hand, warm it up on the stove, crack in a few eggs and call the plate Eggs in Purgatory. Making vegetable fried rice? Add extra protein by topping it with a sunny-side-up egg. Given eggs’ versatility, it’s easy to experiment with new egg-topped creations by starting with your tried-and-true favorites, then dressing them up with whites and yolks cooked your way.

Food Network Magazine follows suit in its recipe for Baked Eggs and Beans on Toast (pictured above), a weeknight-friendly dish that’s a cinch to prepare. After sauteing onions with tomato paste, add a splash of honey and Worcestershire sauce for sweet and salty bites, then meaty navy beans to create a thick, flavorful mixture in which to cook the eggs. It’s important to start the beans and eggs in an ovenproof skillet, as the combination will move right from the stove to the oven. Once the eggs are set, slide them onto slices of crunchy toasted bread, and finish each with the tender beans and some fresh grape tomato-parsley salad.

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