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.

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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Succumbing to Self-Defeat — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, September 1st, 2013

When chefs enter Cutthroat Kitchen, they’re likely expecting a bit — or a lot — of sabotage to be dealt upon them by their rivals. After all, it’s this play-or-be-played mentality that makes the competition as fiercely cutthroat at is it. But what they may not expect is that some of their most prominent challenges will likely come not from their dwindling cash supply, another contestant or unexpected ingredient swaps, but rather from themselves and their ideas about how to succeed in Cutthroat Kitchen.

On this week’s After-Show, judge Simon Majumdar and host Alton Brown noticed that in almost every round of cooking, chefs faced significant obstacles — some so damaging that they led to eliminations — on account of their own shortcomings. “He wasn’t sabotaged there,” Alton told Simon of Chef Scipione’s absence of bread in his Round 1 cheese steak sandwich. “He just didn’t make it out of the pantry with any bread.” This oversight ultimately cost Chef Scipione his place in the competition, as Simon noted that the chef’s finished dish “wasn’t a Philly cheese steak in any form that I would recognize.”

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Summer’s Greatest Hits — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, August 31st, 2013

Memphis-Style Hickory-Smoked Beef and Pork RibsThis weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, and while the weather may stay hot and humid for a few more weeks, leisurely backyard barbecues and alfresco entertaining will likely wrap up on Labor Day, as back-to-school routines and hectic schedules become all too familiar again. Whether you’re hosting an end-of-season bash or simply spending a relaxing few days with your family, say goodbye to summer with the season’s best eats and drinks. For this weekend’s cookout, FN Dish is sharing Food Network’s best-ever summertime recipes, those tried-and-true classics that are guaranteed to please. Together, these five-star picks from some of your favorite chefs, like Bobby, Alton, the Neelys and Giada, will create the ultimate Labor Day menu, one filled with smoky grilled meat, an easy-to-make side salad and a decadent dessert featuring summer’s sweetest fruits, plus quick appetizers and cocktails to round out the feast.

MargaritaA platter of Bobby’s Grilled Shrimp Scampi Style with Soy Sauce, Fresh Ginger and Garlic and Alton’s Margarita (pictured right) are ideal party-starters, and these recipes are ready to enjoy in just 15 minutes and five minutes, respectively. To make the glaze for his shrimp, Bobby whirls soy sauce, a splash of lime juice and garlic with a stick of butter in a food processor, then brushes the mixture on the seafood before grilling it. Keep an eye on the shrimp while cooking — they take mere minutes to finish.

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Best 5 After-School Snack Recipes

by in Family, Recipes, August 29th, 2013

Homemade Granola BarsNo matter how hearty the school lunches you may have packed for your children, chances are that by the time the last afternoon bell rings and they finally make it home after a long day, they’re ready for a snack. But while your kids may be hungry at 4pm and need something quick to fill their tummies, you don’t want this in-between meal to spoil their appetites for dinner, which is why it’s important to reach for snacks that are easy to prepare in the midst of supper prep and homework, and just filling enough to satiate them for a few hours. Check out Food Network’s top-five after-school snack solutions below for go-to picks from some of your favorite chefs.

5. Fruit Leather Roll-Ups — Just like the store-bought roll-ups in color and taste but made with far fewer ingredients, these easy-to-make bites boast a base of real fruit puree. You get to decide which fruits to use, so pick flavors you know your children enjoy, like grape, peach, apple or strawberry.

4. Galaxy Fruit Pops — Entice your little ones to eat fruit by using cookie cutters to shape watermelon and pineapple into their favorite shapes, like circles or stars. For older kids, follow Marcela’s lead and dust the juicy slices with chili powder for an unexpected hint of heat and taste.

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Discover the Midwest on Amy Thielen’s Heartland Table

by in Shows, August 28th, 2013

Amy Thielen on Heartland Table

America’s middle may be known for its lush green pastures and rolling hills, but it’s also home to some of the most comforting and creative food in the country, thanks to its focus on farming and rural, rustic living. On her all-new upcoming series, Heartland Table (Saturday, Sept. 14 at 10:30am/9:30c), Amy Thielen, a born-and-raised Minnesotan, is on a mission to introduce her Midwest to viewers through her signature takes on the classic dishes of the area.

Amy is a chef and a former restaurant cook who enjoyed a stint in some of New York City’s most revered eateries, but after years in the Big Apple, she moved home to Minnesota with her husband to raise their family. On Heartland Table, she’ll showcase some of her region’s most comforting and authentic dishes using only the freshest goods available, like straight-from-the-garden greens, locally sourced eggs and meat, and neighborhood produce. Now a cookbook author and blogger, Amy knows what it takes to turn out the hearty, family-focused food for which the heartland is famous, and she’ll show audiences how deliciously simple it is to make these meals in their homes, no matter which part of the country they’re in.

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Pasta with Corn and Kale — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, August 26th, 2013

Pasta with Corn and KaleFor many vegetarians, pasta is the ultimate meat-free meal; it’s quick to make, filling and practically guaranteed to please even the most demanding of meat lovers. But even though it’s a tried-and-true staple, spaghetti with everyday tomato sauce can get tired quickly. When you’re looking to dress up your usual pasta night routine, try incorporating fresh vegetables to take advantage of the season’s bounty, and look for hearty add-ins that offer additional substance, like mushrooms. Food Network Magazine’s Pasta with Corn and Kale is one such summertime supper featuring bright corn, vitamin-packed kale, and earthy shiitakes and creminis.

While freshly shucked corn promises subtle crunch and a vibrant color to the pasta (pictured above), much of the corn flavor comes from the noodles. They’re boiled in water with the shucked cobs, and after they’re drained, that water is used to form the base of the sauce. To cook the other vegetables, start by sauteing the mushrooms until they’re golden brown and tender, then slowly wilting kale with garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Before serving, stir in chopped scallions and a pat of butter for richness; mix in the noodles and the reserved pasta water to create a simple yet satisfying summer dinner.

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A Win for Sale — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, August 25th, 2013

On last week’s After-Show, judge Simon Majumdar said: “Being a great chef is one thing. Being a strategic chef is another. If you can combine those, you can actually end up winning Cutthroat Kitchen without being technically the best chef.” And tonight Alton may have proved that theory to be true when he told Simon the lengths to which one competitor went to claim the win.

The name of the game in Cutthroat Kitchen is indeed sabotage, but with that comes personal advantages for the competitor dealing those devastating blows to his or her rivals. With every big-ticket disruption one chef purchases and assigns to another contestant, he’s essentially buying himself safety from that challenge. Alton told Simon that, in this week’s final auction, one chef — who would ultimately go on to win the battle — spent almost all of his or her money ensuring his or her own smooth finish by assigning someone else the challenge of making crab cakes without a binder, like mayonnaise. This person “bought victory,” Simon said of the outcome, chalking up this reality to the fact that “anything is possible in Cutthroat Kitchen.”

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