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.

Restaurant Revisited: Father’s Second Chance at Old World Italian Restaurant

by in Shows, April 21st, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible“Old, old, old, old” were the first words Robert Irvine said after arriving at the drab, outdated Old World Italian Restaurant in Murrells Inlet, S.C., a 16-year-old eatery owned by George Hayek Sr. and Teresa Hayek. This husband-and-wife duo started the business with their son, George Hayek Jr., after the latter had graduated from culinary school. In the last five years, they’ve noticed a steep decline in customers, which ultimately has resulted in losses of nearly $1,000 per day and the complete elimination of their retirement savings. With just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team tackled fresh, modern updates to Old World Italian’s old-fashioned decor, its bland menu and unstructured management in an effort to give the Hayek family a second chance at success. FN Dish checked in with George Sr. a few months after the transformation to find out how his business is doing today.

“I am happy to report that the makeover has been a smashing success,” he tells FN Dish. “Our sales are up 35 percent since the show has left.”

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Breakfast in a Hurry: Easy Recipes for Quick-Fix Morning Meals

by in Family, Recipes, April 20th, 2013

Egg-in-a-HoleIn the midst of the hustle and bustle that is inevitably your morning routine, it can seemly nearly impossible to serve your kids a breakfast of anything other than cereal, and while of course weekdays are no time for leisurely prepared flapjacks or made-to-order omelets, it’s important to send your little ones to school with a wholesome meal in their bellies. Quick-fix recipes that can be made easily and eaten in a flash are welcome timesavers, and kid-friendly picks like egg-in-toast, breakfast-style pizza and better-for-you ganola bars are go-to classics. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite simple-to-make recipes below for no-fuss morning meal ideas and must-see tips.

The ultimate all-in-one weekday breakfast, the Pioneer Woman’s Egg-in-a-Hole (pictured above) is a kid-friendly favorite that’s ready to eat in only five quick minutes. Using the rim of a round glass, remove a hole in the center of a piece of bread — whatever kind you have on hand will work — then drop it in a buttered skillet and fill the hole with a cracked egg. In less than a minute, the egg will have begun to set within the bread and it will be ready for a gentle flip. Ree recommends letting the egg cook just until the yolk is soft — any longer and it won’t be runny.

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Welcome Home, Sea Salt! — Justin and Sunny Team Up to Rescue Local Kitty

by in Food Network Chef, April 18th, 2013

Sunny AndersonIf you follow Sunny Anderson on Twitter, then you know that the Home Made in America star is perhaps the ultimate cat parent. Her “kitty crew,” comprising Truffle Tycoon, Cheddar Cheese and Milky Mouth, seems to all but rule Sunny’s home — and her Twitter account, which is often hacked by her feline friends. They drop by to share self-portraits, stories of their days alongside their human and pictures of the cozy bed they snuggle in.

So when Sunny found out that her friend and fellow Food Network star, Justin Warner, found a stray cat near his Brooklyn restaurant, Do or Dine, she just couldn’t help but welcome the wide-eyed kitty into her home. On March 21, Sea Salt became the newest member of the Anderson family, quickly transitioning from needy rescue cat into comfortable house pet. “Meow, I’m healthy … the sweeties @Do_or_Dine bathed me, shewwt I feel like a milli,” she tweeted from Sea Salt’s point of view, with pictures of the gray-haired beauty attached.

A few months ago, FN Dish chatted with Sunny during the Thanksgiving Live! pre-show, and she said that if she adopted another cat, she would call it Tater Tot. When it came time to naming her newest addition, however, “Sea Salt just jumped into my head,” she told us.

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Best 5 Peanut Butter Cookie Recipes

by in Family, Recipes, April 18th, 2013

Peanut Butter CookiesWhen it comes to stocking the cookie jar, chocolate chippers and frosted sugar cut-outs are go-to favorites, but just like those indulgent treats, peanut butter cookies are also timeless standbys that both kids and grownups enjoy. Soft and chewy, most peanut butter cookies require just minutes in the oven, so they’re ideal bites for last-minute entertaining or when you simply need to satisfy a sudden sweet-tooth craving. Check out Food Network’s top-five recipes for easy-to-make peanut butter cookies below to find a mix of classic and dressed-up desserts alike, then tell FN Dish: What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

5. Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip-Bacon CookiesFood Network Magazine takes peanut butter cookie dough to the next level by incorporating honey-roasted peanuts and a pinch of chipotle powder, plus crumbled crispy bacon and rendered bacon drippings to create the ultimate sweet and savory bites.

4. Paula’s Peanut Butter Cookies — For an extra-special touch of decadence, add a Hershey’s Kiss to each cookie just after they’re removed from the oven. Try to work quickly so the chocolates can gently mold to the center while they cookies are still hot.

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What Is Primavera? — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 15th, 2013

Pasta PrimaveraIn Italian, primavera means spring, and this classic warm-weather dish is surely a favorite this time of year on account of its celebration of all things light and fresh. It takes little more than vibrant seasonal vegetables to make a meal primavera style, but most traditional interpretations pair it with pasta. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite twists on this simple supper with recipes from Food Network Magazine and the Pioneer Woman below, then tell FN Dish in the comments, what’s your favorite spring dish?

Food Network Magazine showcases a weeknight-friendly take on this must-try pick of Pasta Primavera (pictured above). Putting spring’s bounty of produce to work, this can-do dinner combines bell peppers, carrots and broccoli with tricolor fusilli noodles to create a bright plate ready to enjoy in only 25 quick minutes. The beauty of this recipe is that the vegetables can be cooked in the same boiling water as the noodles. Just add them during the final few minutes of cooking to avoid using an extra pan and ensure an easy cleanup. A buttery sauce of garlic and vegetable broth rounds out this family-friendly supper, best finished with a shower of parmesan cheese and fresh lemon juice.

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Restaurant Revisited: Something’s Fishy at Joe Willy’s Seafood House

by in Shows, April 14th, 2013

Robert IrvineJoe and Dena White, owners of Joe Willy’s Seafood House in Fishkill, N.Y., looked to Robert Irvine to save not only their restaurant but their family too, as the stress of their declining business had put a load of frustration and tension between them. It was up to Robert to hone in on the most-critical issues plaguing Joe Willy’s and work with his Restaurant: Impossible team to attempt to fix them in only two days and with just $10,000. He quickly learned that many of the restaurant’s problems stemmed from its poor-quality food, made by Joe, the head chef, so he focused his efforts on implementing an improved menu that Joe could execute with ease. After 48 hours of renovations, Joe Willy’s reopened to a dining room full of guests with Joe and Dena at the helm, now working harmoniously. We checked in with Dena a few months after the transformation to find out how Joe Willy’s is doing.

Since its Restaurant: Impossible experience, the restaurant has enjoyed a significant boost in business, Dena says, explaining that “sales have tripled to quadrupled at times.” Since they’re now making a profit, Dena notes that it’s “much easier to pay bills, rent and staff, and make improvements,” and says that they’ve begun to catch up on their debt.

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Picky Eater-Approved: Meals to Make Dinnertime Easy

by in Family, Recipes, April 13th, 2013

Pepperoni Pizza PocketsAre family dinners a struggle in your home — you all but begging your little ones to eat something other than packaged pizza, chicken nuggets, and macaroni and cheese while your kids stare back at you, adamantly refusing even a taste of something more wholesome? If so, know that you could be in for more manageable suppers simply by letting them eat the meals they want but opting for homemade versions of them, instead of relying on store-bought varieties. While it’s indeed best to attempt to patiently introduce children to diverse groups of food, that approach may prove unrealistic in many homes. In those cases, embracing kid-friendly foods in from-scratch recipes for pizza, chicken nuggets, and mac and cheese may make for happier times at the dinner table. Your kids will be pleased because they’ll think they’re enjoying their favorite meals, and you’ll feel better knowing they’re eating wholesome, home-cooked food. Check out Food Network’s top takes on classic kid-approved picks like pizza, chicken nuggets, and macaroni and cheese below to find must-try meals that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters in your home.

Just like traditional pizza, Jeff Mauro’s Pepperoni Pizza Pockets (pictured above) boast creamy mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and a crunchy crust, but they’re formed into easy-to-eat pouches instead of an open-faced pie. The secret to Jeff’s recipe is starting with prepared pizza dough; having one on hand makes meal prep a cinch and ensures that these golden-brown beauties can be ready to eat in less than an hour. Serve each pocket with a side of Jeff’s sweet tomato-basil sauce, and let your kids indulge in this eat-with-your-hands meal with deliciously simple dunking.

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What’s the Most-Common Mistake Made in the Chopped Kitchen?

by in Shows, April 13th, 2013

Geoffrey Zakarian, Alex Guarnaschelli, Amanda Freitag and Ted AllenWeek after week, Chopped fans tune in to watch four eager chef competitors take their places in the kitchen for a chance to outcook the chopping block and score the coveted title of Chopped Champion. Not only facing off against each other, the contestants battle baskets full of mystery ingredients like shad roe sacks, black garlic, pig ears and duck hearts — products and produce that are so unusual that some chefs have neither seen nor tasted them before in their career.

Working with such oddball selects surely invites a host of unique problems, including overcooked proteins and underdone grains, but the most-common mistake made among chefs isn’t one resulting from obscure ingredients. Instead, it’s something that trips up even home cooks as they prepare everyday meals for their families.

Speaking to a crowd at the Borgata Hotel Spa & Casino in Atlantic City, longtime Chopped judge Geoffrey Zakarian said that the most-prominent error in competitors’ dishes is seasoning. No stranger to the highs and lows in the Chopped kitchen, he’s tasted his share of meals that have proved to be near disasters simply because chefs used too little of two of the most-basic ingredients found in restaurant and home kitchens alike: salt and pepper. “Nobody puts salt and pepper in their food,” he said. “Amazing. Shocking.”

What cooking conundrums do you struggle with in the kitchen? Tell FN Dish in the comments below.

What Kind of Restaurants Do You Want to See in Food Network On the Road?

by in Community, April 11th, 2013

Food Network On the RoadWhen it comes to summer road trips, the only thing more frustrating than unexpected construction detours is finding yourself in an unknown city with no ideas for where to eat. Instead of resorting to drive-through fast food, stop by a local hot spot favorited by Food Network stars with the help of the On the Road app.

Packed with detailed city guides, must-try dish recommendations and cuisine-specific road trip suggestions, this travel-friendly app makes it easy to find chef-approved eateries highlighted on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, The Great Food Truck Race and more. Say you’re passing through the Oklahoma countryside. With just a few swipes and taps, you soon could be enjoying saucy barbecue ribs at one of Guy’s Triple D hangouts.

One of the most-prominent features of On the Road is its custom-designed Best-Of lists. Food Network sifted through its vast restaurant listings to create the ultimate go-to guides to comfort food, all-American pie, sandwiches and breakfast classics, so not matter what part of the country you’re in, you’re sure to find top-notch eats and drinks nearby.

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