All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an online editor at FoodNetwork.com, covering top-tier show and talent packages and managing the FN Dish and Star Talk blogs. She grew up in a tight-knit Italian family in Michigan, where food was the focus of most conversations and it wasn't unusual to talk about the next day’s lunch and dinner menus while eating breakfast. Maria graduated from Barnard College in 2012 and currently lives in New York City. She likes her pasta cheesy, her eggs runny and her oysters briny.

Meet Your New Party Planner: Giada De Laurentiis to Help You Throw Your Best Events Ever on Giada Entertains

by in Shows, December 15th, 2015

Giada De LaurentiisIf the mere thought of opening up your home to guests and hosting a party sends chills down your spine, you’re not alone. But it doesn’t have to be all work and no play for you as the host. On her all-new series Giada Entertains, Giada De Laurentiis is out to prove that throwing a party can be downright easy — and also enjoyable for both you and your guests. All you need are a few good-to-know strategies and tried-and-true recipes, which Giada is set to share.

Premiering Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, at 11a|10c, Giada Entertains proves that the season of celebration doesn’t have to end with the holidays. No matter if you’re inviting the gals over for a casual night in or you’re gathering fellow football fans for a tailgate of epic proportions, Giada has the tricks to help you execute the party with ease. In each episode she’ll dish out crowd-pleasing eats and drinks, as well as offer her secrets for setting up and maintaining the best vibe for the event you’re hosting. With her simple how-tos in your back pocket, you’ll not only feel comfortable entertaining but also look forward to it.

Read more

Kale and Pistachio Pesto Spaghetti — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, December 14th, 2015

Kale and Pistachio Pesto SpaghettiWhile basil often claims the starring role in traditional pesto recipes, this vibrant green sauce can surely be made with just about any other green, which means that even when fragrant basil is out of season, like it is now, post-steamy days of summer, you can enjoy this quick-fix favorite. Food Network Kitchen’s recipe for Kale and Pistachio Pesto Spaghetti not only calls for kale as the leafy green, but it also puts pistachio nuts to work in place of the classic pine nuts.

“Kale adds a rich earthy note and brilliant green color to this hearty pesto,” the chefs in Food Network Kitchen said, and because this top-rated recipe comes together in only 35 minutes, it’s a go-to pick for those nights when you’re strapped for time. To boost the healthy factor here, Food Network Kitchen chefs opt for whole-wheat spaghetti, but they don’t compromise on flavor: Bold garlic and nutty Parmesan cheese round out the flavor of the sauce. According to the chefs, “This makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups pesto, which would also be good on fish, chicken, pork or steak,” so keep this recipe in your back pocket even when you’re cooking for Meatless Monday.

Read more

Wake Up to Holiday Cheer: The 6 Best Christmas Breakfast and Brunch Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 14th, 2015

Panettone Bread PuddingIf the seasonal tradition in your home calls for a wake-up-worthy breakfast or brunch on Christmas morning instead of a grand feast at dinnertime, you’re in luck, because these savory and sweet recipes will start your holiday on a hearty note. Read on below for classic picks like baked eggs as well as crowd-pleasing ham, dressed-up bacon and cornbread casseroles.

Panettone Bread Pudding
A favorite among many Italians during the holiday season, panettone is a sweet, soft-inside bread often studded with dried fruits. Here Ina Garten lets the bread sop up a rich, creamy custard laced with almond extract, so when it bakes, it’s full of moisture and flavor. For welcome crunch, she blankets the top of the bread pudding with sliced toasted almonds before it goes in the oven.

Read more

Simon’s Journey ‘Round the Rotisserie — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, December 13th, 2015

“You got to learn to twist the core.” That was Alton Brown‘s advice to a less-than-enthused Simon Majumdar as he took his turn — literally — around what Alton called “the human rotisserie.” This downright diabolical sabotage made its return to tonight’s all-new Cutthroat Kitchen episode for the gyro challenge, and in true After-Show fashion, Alton forced the judge of the day, this time Simon, to get a hands-on feel for the demands of eviliciousness.

“I’m getting a little cramp here,” Simon admitted as he strained from side to side and attempted to reach the prep and cook stations while the rotating spit was in motion. It didn’t take long, however, for Simon to realize that perhaps the most-efficient way to cook his dish — a crab cake instead of the challenge gyro — was to simply carry the pan as he turned. He managed to fry the crab cake and watch over it, instead of risking burning it in what was a screaming-hot skillet. “I suggested that she do this as well,” Alton told Simon of Chef Melanie, who was saddled with this sabotage during the competition. “But she didn’t. She wanted to keep the pan on the heat the whole time.”

Read more

Easy Calzones — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, December 13th, 2015

Easy CalzonesCheese and sausage — if this combination sounds like your favorite pizza toppings, then you’ll surely enjoy this decadent duo when wrapped up in this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week, The Pioneer Woman’s Easy Calzones. Follow Ree Drummond’s lead and opt for store-bought frozen dinner rolls for the pastry, which will save you the time of making dough from scratch. She mixes up a creamy mixture of ricotta, gooey mozzarella and nutty Parmesan to create the ultimate gooey cheese filling, which partners well with hearty sausage. Serve a tomato-garlic sauce on the side for a tried-and-true pairing.

For more comforting recipes, check out Food Network’s Let’s Cook Comfort Food board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Easy Calzones 

Dress Up Your Holiday Ham with The Kitchen’s 2 New Recipes

by in Recipes, Shows, December 12th, 2015

The KitchenUnlike Thanksgiving, when it’s all but assumed that a glistening turkey will be headlining your feast, the December holidays leave room for interpretation when it comes to the star of your table. Turkey makes repeat appearances, but we also see impressive beef rib roasts, grilled lamb, seafood and, of course, classic ham. Though many hams are sold precooked and require little more than reheating in the oven, a simple glaze can boost the flavor, as can complementary side dishes and the way you plate the meat. That’s where this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen comes in. Geoffrey Zakarian and Jeff Mauro shared creative twists on the traditional slice-and-serve ham. See what they did to dress up this seasonal staple with their recipes below.

Instead of opting for just a bit of mustard to accompany his ham, GZ offers a duo of sides to add next-level taste and texture to the dish. Similar to the traditional glaze that gets slicked across the ham, Geoffrey’s Fig Chutney boasts subtle sweetness, which he balances with the heat of a pinch of cayenne pepper and the richness of fresh red wine. To round out the meal, his Collard Salad with Walnuts, Pecorino and Mustard Vinaigrette is an easy, no-cook salad that comes together in mere minutes. If you’ve never before served collard greens raw, Geoffrey notes in his recipe, “The acid [in the vinaigrette] will break down the leaves a bit and tenderize them.”

Read more

Robert Irvine’s Holiday: Impossible Mission at City Kids Wilderness Project

by in Shows, December 10th, 2015

Robert Irvine on Holiday: ImpossibleEach week on Restaurant: ImpossibleRobert Irvine and his team offer much-needed business support to restaurateurs who are barely managing to keep their eateries afloat. But come the holiday season, Robert’s penchant for giving back is even stronger; the last several years, he’s celebrated the season with extra-special missions on Holiday: Impossible. This year is no exception, and in what he called “our biggest project to date,” he and his team traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyo., to help the children and staff of City Kids Wilderness Project.

Founded by Randy Luskey 19 years ago, City Kids may appear to be a traditional summer camp from the looks of it, but its effects on the youth it welcomes are anything but ordinary. The kids who attend City Kids, all in grades six through 12, come from underprivileged communities in Washington, D.C., and without City Kids, they likely wouldn’t have the opportunity to enjoy nature and experience the outdoors in such a supportive, welcoming community. “You get to meet all kinds of new people, test your limits and try new things that most people never do,” one camper told Robert.

Read more

Scripps Lifestyle Studios’ Ultimate Cookie Party

by in Community, Holidays, December 10th, 2015

Gingerbread CookiesCalling all cookie lovers! For the first time ever, FoodNetwork.com and HGTV.com are coming together for a holiday cookie extravaganza complete with a full spread of seasonal sweets, a duo of next-level gingerbread houses and even all-star talent like Justin Warner — and it’s all happening live on Facebook.

Beginning at 10 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 11, you can go to Food Network’s official Facebook page, where Justin will be taking fans behind the scenes inside the Food Network Kitchen and chatting with expert cookie bakers on the team to find out what it takes to bake a cookie that not only tastes great but looks festive too. As the day unfolds, stay tuned to our Facebook page and pop over to HGTV’s official Facebook page to see how the Food Network and HGTV teams put their signature spins on a store-bought gingerbread house. You can also delve into the little-known bits and bites of cookies with Dan Pashman as he reveals the right way to eat a cookie. (Yes, there’s such a thing as a wrong way.) And learn the best sips to serve alongside your favorite cookies.

Read more

Giada’s Tips for Make-Ahead Holiday Meals, Plus 7 Easy Recipes

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 10th, 2015

Giada De LaurentiisThere’s no shortage of to-dos when it comes to holiday party planning, so if you can find a way to make meal prep easier before the event, all the better. On her brand-new series Giada’s Holiday Handbook (Sundays at 11a|10c), Giada De Laurentiis is sharing her tried-and-true tips and techniques to entertain with ease this season, plus her best crowd-pleasing recipes for guaranteed party success. Recently FN Dish checked in with Giada about what it takes to successfully prep some of the dishes ahead of time, and it turns out that it’s not only possible, but also simple.

“Any kind of baked pasta can be assembled ahead and then pulled out to bake whenever you are ready,” she told us. Meats, too, are go-to picks. Giada explained: “Braised dishes are always better the next day too. Think stews or my braised lamb osso buco or braised short ribs. Do them a day or two ahead, and you just have to gently rewarm when the guests arrive.”

Read more

Inside Santa’s Mischievous Workshop — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, December 9th, 2015

In tonight’s brand-new seasonal special, host Alton Brown decked the diabolical halls of the Cutthroat Kitchen arena with a holiday-themed Naughty vs. Nice battle. Of course no celebration of the season is complete without Santa Claus — and with that, a peek inside Santa’s workshop. Chef Jackie got an up-close and personal look at this miniature house when forced to make a snack for Santa, and so too did judge Antonia Lofaso when Alton challenged her to make a dip in the same space on the After-Show. The catch for Antonia? She had to harvest all of her ingredients from the doors of an advent calendar, which Chef Jackie also had to do, thanks to a double sabotage in Round 3.

It didn’t take long for Chef Antonia to realize the limitations — and potential hazards — of Santa’s tiny workshop. “I’m totally going to hit my head — ow!” she exclaimed. After discovering the first set of ingredients, which included mascarpone and ciabatta, in doors one through five, Antonia got to work on a crostini-and-dip plate; ultimately she made do with little else, as many of the remaining doors provided her with seemingly useless goods, like fortune cookies and pineapples. “I’m feeling good about this now,” Antonia said as she kneeled down in the prep area of the workshop and got to work.

Read more