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.

Best 5 Thanksgiving Stuffings

by in Holidays, Recipes, November 6th, 2013

Sourdough Bread StuffingSecond perhaps only to the centerpiece turkey on Thanksgiving, stuffings and dressings are some of the most-craved and comforting dishes on your Turkey Day table. Whether you stuff your bird or not, these bread-based casseroles are both simple to prepare and versatile enough that you can suit them to your family’s tastes and whatever ingredients you have on hand. If you’re cooking for a few vegetarians this year, a naturally meatless stuffing will surely please them and your meat-eating guests alike. And if you happen to find yourself with a few extra carrots or celery stalks, put them to good use in a stuffing, as vegetables of all kinds work well with nearly all types of bread bakes. Check out Food Network’s top-five stuffings below to find celebration-worthy recipes that you’ll want to add to your Thanksgiving menu.

5. Homemade Three-Meat Stuffing — Packed with chopped hard-boiled eggs, bell peppers and olives, this pork-, beef- and sausage-based stuffing boasts more meat than it does white bread and will feed up to a whopping 14 people.

4. Holiday Cornbread Stuffing — Follow the Neelys’ lead and take advantage of a deliciously simple shortcut: store-bought cornbread stuffing mix. Pat and Gina combine this ready-to-go good with crispy bacon and crunchy pecans for texture, plus fresh vegetables and herbs to round out the dish.

Get the top-three recipes

Watch the Top 5 Stubborn Owners on Restaurant: Impossible

by in Shows, November 6th, 2013

When Robert Irvine visits a business on Restaurant: Impossible, he has but one goal: Fix the failure. Despite his no-nonsense attitude and often harsh critiques of eateries’ menus and decor, he wants to see the restaurants thrive, and with the help of his team, he will use his years of experience and expertise to give each establishment a second chance at success. While owners accept Robert’s matter-of-fact assessments of their business, no matter how bleak and seemingly unforgiving they may be, others are quick to question his authority and proficiency, believing their ways of running a restaurant to be effective.

These persistent — if, perhaps, naïve — owners stand by their business practices, plus the quality of their food and menu offerings, and they see no fault in their management styles, often despite looming financial disaster or unhappy employees. While Robert’s almost always able to convince these dogged owners of their mistakes and give them opportunities to improve, the most tenacious among them will fight with Robert until the very end to attempt to support their theories.

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Aarón Sánchez’s Dream Tailgating Chopped Basket

by in Food Network Chef, November 5th, 2013

Aaron SanchezYou’ve seen Chopped judges dish out unapologetically honest criticism to chefs and even take their places in the kitchen while cooking on After Hours, but they’ve never before had a say in what mandatory ingredients land in the mystery baskets. While there’s no plans just yet to let the panel exercise this would-be-new power, you can be sure that some judges’ picks would be more ordinary than others, while some would likely be too demanding to ever assign to competitors.

FN Dish caught up with longtime Chopped judge Aarón Sánchez at an event hosted by Ortega, where he was celebrating the start of tailgating season and his partnership with the Mexican food company, and he told FN Dish the four ingredients he’d include in the baskets if there were to be a tailgating-themed episode of Chopped. “I would definitely put some sort of jam, like a marmalade or some sort of preserves, so you could make a barbecue sauce,” he said before adding, “I would do chicken necks for sure,” in a creative twist on the classic chicken wing. “I would do some sort of spicy [ingredient], maybe chipotles in adobo ‘cause … they’d be awesome with the marmalade,” he added. “Then I would do a blue cheese, then I would make a sauce.”

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Quiz: Are You the Ultimate Robert Irvine Fan?

by in Food Network Chef, November 4th, 2013

Robert IrvineYou’ve seen every episode of Restaurant: Impossible and have even ventured to try for yourself some of the overhauled eateries featured on the show. You’re eagerly tuning in to the latest premieres of Robert’s all-new show, Restaurant Express, and you’ve already cast your Fan Vote for the contestant you think should win the final prize. But when it comes to the host of these game-changing series, how much do you know about Robert Irvine? This British-born chef and restaurateur has been cooking since he was a boy, and he is perhaps as famous for his signature muscled physique as he is his no-nonsense attitude and fearless approach to any mission on television. Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of all things Chef Robert, and find out if you’re the ultimate fan.

Are You the Ultimate Robert Irvine Fan?

Are you worthy of the title Robert Irvine Superfan? Answer these questions to find out.
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Tune in to Restaurant: Impossible on Wednesdays at 10pm/9c and Restaurant Express on Sundays at 9pm/8c.

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, November 4th, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash LasagnaWhile some vegetarian lasagnas consist of little more than pasta with everyday tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, there are indeed ways to dress up the family-friendly casserole to take advantage of bold flavors and seasonal ingredients. Instead of traditional marinara sauce, for example, experiment with no-cook pesto or a creamy cheese sauce, and incorporate fresh produce like good-for-you cauliflower, earthy mushrooms or bell peppers for added taste and texture. Food Network Magazine follows suit in its top-rated recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna (pictured above), a hearty pasta bake made with in-season squash and comforting bechamel sauce.

The trick to making this lasagna lies in its assembly. After roasting butternut squash with onions until it’s sweet and tender, begin building the layers of ingredients: first, a sage-laced cream sauce, then noodles, more sauce, a trio of Italian cheeses and finally the prepared veggies. This pattern will continue until the casserole dish is nearly overflowing with fall-fresh flavors and rich cheesiness, at which point you can bake the lasagna until it’s warm, bubbly and browned on top. Once the lasagna is cooked, it’s best to let it rest for about 15 minutes before serving; this will help the sauce thicken and ensures that the pasta keeps its shape instead of oozing out when sliced.

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Introducing FoodNetwork.com’s Newest Feature: Recipe Box

by in Community, News, November 4th, 2013

My Recipe BoxWhen you’re perusing FoodNetwork.com‘s vast collection of recipes, you may very well come across towering cakes and comforting casseroles, simple soups and showstopping steaks, and centerpiece roast chickens and satisfying cookies — all in one visit. But with so many tasty how-tos for the taking, how are you to remember which recipes in particular you know you want to make, and how do you keep them organized? Enter FoodNetwork.com’s newest tool: Recipe Box.

It’s no longer necessary to print out page after page of recipes, then staple them together and stash them away in a drawer. With Recipe Box, not only can you sort your favorite recipes by dish, cuisine, meal type, menu, chef and more categories, but you also can create shopping lists based on any or all of your preferred recipes and access them from both Food Network’s website and your mobile phone.

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Two Times the Trouble — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, November 3rd, 2013


Cutthroat Kitchen fans knows that when competitors are gifted a sabotage, no matter how treacherous or simple it may seem, it could ultimately mean disaster for them if they don’t know how or do not have the time to remedy it. But what happens when a challenge must incorporate not just one sabotage, but multiple? Will they use the double dose of damage to further fuel their creative energy, or will they succumb to the pressure of the contest and crumble?

On this week’s installment of Alton’s After-Show, the host revealed to judge Jet Tila two competitors’ attempts to adapt to multiple challenges after finding themselves victim to an onslaught of sabotages. The first set occurred in the initial round’s sandwich-and-side battle, when a chef was forced to harvest bread from prepared convenience-store sandwiches before learning that he or she would also have to make the dish on a TV-dinner-size tray instead of an oversized workspace. “And I think from there [the contestant] went insane,” Alton joked of the competitor. This chef was ultimately overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, as he or she didn’t make it past the first round of competition.

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Go Behind the Scenes of Southern at Heart with Damaris

by in Shows, November 3rd, 2013

Although Damaris Phillips survived 11 weeks of camera and culinary competitions on Food Network Star to become the newest face of food television, nothing could prepare her for the excitement and nervous energy that would come with filming her very own show. Just last week she premiered her series — Southern at Heart, airing Sundays at 10:30am/9:30c; cameras were rolling in Louisville, Ky., as she prepared to take her place in the kitchen and tape that episode.

Click the play button on the video above to watch as Damaris introduces her set and explains the props in the kitchen, and hear as she chats about her hopes for Southern at Heart.

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Gyros vs. Tacos: Which Restaurant Divided Concept Did You Like Better?

by in Shows, October 31st, 2013

Restaurant DividedCaught between her bickering fiancé, Neil Vaswani, and her mother, Terry Kipriadis, Vicky Giannakos explained: “My mother. She’s stubborn like a bull. Neil is also stubborn like a bull.” Terry opened Gyros & Goodies in Washington Township, N.J., three years ago, and Neil supported the venture as a substantial partner. But now that the Greek-focused restaurant is facing a mountain of financial struggles, Neil’s convinced the eatery should relaunch with a Mexican concept, while Terry is committed to Mediterranean fare. “The restaurant can’t continue like this, and as a family, we can’t continue like this,” Vicky admitted, just in time for Rocco DiSpirito and a Restaurant Divided transformation to decide the fate of her family’s business once and for all.

After sampling made-over menu items and overhauling the interior of the restaurant, Rocco welcomed everyday diners and esteemed restaurateurs alike for dinner at two concepts — the blue-and-white-clad Gyros & Goodies, run by Terry, and The Township Cantina, a bright spot staffed by Neil — in the same space. The future of Terry’s business, however, was ultimately in Rocco’s hands, as he number crunched profitability estimates and spoke with customers before eventually deeming Terry’s Gyros & Goodies more likely to succeed than Neil’s Mexican endeavor.

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Restaurant Revisited: Feathers Fly at Ducky’s Family Restaurant

by in Shows, October 30th, 2013

Robert IrvineFacing nearly $230,000 of debt, 33-year-old Ducky’s Family Restaurant in Kokomo, Ind., desperately needed Robert Irvine‘s help if the business was to have any chance at future success. Not long after Robert arrived, he realized that poor-quality canned food was among the largest issues plaguing Ducky’s, as was its drab interior decor akin, which Robert’s designer, Taniya Nayak, deemed “a cafeteria nightmare.” Together with Taniya and the rest of his Restaurant: Impossible team, Robert re-launched Ducky’s after two days of work on a $10,000 budget, and he helped owner Bill Duncan and Bill’s family learn essential skills for managing their family-run eatery. FN Dish caught up with Bill to find out how his business is doing a few months since the show filmed.

“Since the shooting of our episode, we have doubled our weekly sales,” Bill said. “Everyone loves the remodel.”

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