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.

Giada’s Quick Pasta with Spinach Sauce — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, July 29th, 2013

Penne with Spinach SauceNo matter if you’re preparing a lean vegetarian dinner or a hearty beefy entree, cooking on Monday nights needs to be easy and fast. With summer camp schedules, after-work commitments and various errands, the first day of the week isn’t the time to experiment with complicated meals. Instead, reach for tried-and-true recipes — those that require hardly any prep time.

Giada’s Penne with Spinach Sauce (pictured above) is one such dinner, ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. The secret to her fuss-free dinner is relying on a no-cook sauce to dress the noodles. After whirling garlic, goat cheese and cream cheese in a food processor, she adds nutrient-rich spinach to create a tangy, smooth puree, which she mixes with whole baby spinach leaves and uses to top just-cooked penne. Be sure to save some of the pasta water when draining the noodles; you can use the starchy liquid to loosen the sauce. Before serving, season the pasta and finish with a sprinkle of nutty Parmesan cheese. Click the play button on the video below to watch Giada made this go-to dinner.

Get the recipe

Restaurant Revisited: Good Food, Bad Vices at Benner Street

by in Shows, July 28th, 2013

Benner StreetFaced with a mountain of debt, Dorothy and Thom Williams, husband-and-wife owners of Benner Street restaurant in Bethlehem, Pa., were unsure if they would see their retirement if the dire situation at their business didn’t improve. They looked to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team to give their eatery the second chance it deserves, and when Robert arrived, he soon realized the root of Benner Street’s problems: its bickering owners, to start, plus its drab interior and poorly stocked bar. With just two days to work and a budget of $10,000, Robert helped Dorothy and Thom learn how to effectively manage a staff while he overhauled the restaurant’s design and revamped its menu. FN Dish checked in with Dorothy a few months after Benner Street’s reopening to find out how her business is doing today.

“Business is up 40 percent,” Dorothy says. “All the employees and family are excited about our new beginning and all are working toward our success.”

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Step-by-Step Pulled Pork — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, July 27th, 2013

Pulled Pork SandwichesThis summer, Food Network’s Grilling Central is packed with recipes for the entire family’s taste buds, boasting the best in burgers, dogs, chicken and more all season long. But with so many recipes, where do you start? Each weekend, FN Dish is giving you a complete menu that is stress-free, and the star of this weekend’s spread is tender, juicy pulled pork sandwiches.

The sweet, smoky flavor, the fall-apart-tender meat and the tangy, sticky sauce — you’ve surely enjoyed traditional barbecued pulled pork sandwiches at restaurants, but thanks to the Neelys’ recipe and step-by-step photos from Food Network Magazine, you can now re-create that tried-and-true taste at home. One 10- to 12-pound pork shoulder will make up to 12 sandwiches, so this top-rated recipe is perhaps the ultimate big-batch dish to feed a crowd; plus, the Neelys’ signature barbecue sauce is more smoky than it is spicy, so it’s a sandwich fit for kids and grownups alike.

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Poll: Did the Right Finalist Earn Salvation?

by , July 26th, 2013

Chad Rosenthal and Lovely JacksonDuring last Sunday’s episode, Lovely made a surprise return to the on-air contest after besting six previously fallen competitors on Star Salvation. Maintaining her “party on a plate” point of view during the exclusive Web series, she proved to host Robert Irvine her culinary chops and commitment to the competition. But now, looking back on her performance and her rivals’, do you think Lovely was the correct finalist to earn a second chance at stardom?

Do you think Daniela or Andres — the first two ousted contestants — warranted more time to show off their skills, or should Danushka have stayed, on account of her one-of-a-kind attitude? Would you have liked to have seen more from restaurant chefs Viet, Chris or Chad, or was Lovely indeed worthy of redemption? Tell Star Talk by voting below for the competitor you think most deserved salvation.

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Best 5 Grilled Chicken Recipes for Summer

by in Recipes, July 25th, 2013

Ring of Fire Grilled ChickenA simple blank slate that you can dress up with seemingly any and all flavors and textures, grilled chicken is perhaps the ultimate go-to family dinner, guaranteed to please kids and grownups alike. Given the versatility of grilled chicken, however, it can be challenging to know where to begin in transforming the meat into a flavorful, juicy meal. Check out Food Network’s top-five grilled chicken dishes below for crave-worthy recipe inspiration, and find out how Guy, Bobby, Alton and more Food Network chefs put their signature spins on this classic summertime favorite.

5. Asian Barbecued Chicken — The secret to this weeknight-friendly dinner is finishing the chicken with a sweet, tangy homemade barbecue sauce featuring five-spice powder, garlic, hoisin sauce and honey.

4. Chipotle-Mango BBQ Chicken — Guy lets a mixture of mango, chipotle peppers and cilantro do triple duty in his simple recipe: It serves as a marinade for his bone-in chicken, a glaze with which to baste the meat while cooking and a finishing sauce to serve on the side.

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Star-Worthy Pastas to Make at Home

by , July 24th, 2013

Nikki DinkiWhen it comes to cooking in the Food Star Kitchen, mediocrity will never suffice. Week after week, Star finalists must turn out camera-worthy meals that are both deliciously inspired and intelligently presented. But just because mentors demand excellence on the plate doesn’t mean the rivals have to concoct complicated dishes that take hours to prepare; easy-to-make, quick-cooking offerings are also acceptable, and the finalists proved that with their preparations of classic pasta dishes duringlast week’s episode.

Damaris PhillipsDamaris‘, Stacey‘s and Nikki‘s pastas were among the simplest prepared during the Mentor Challenge, so much so that you can make them easily in your home kitchen. Nikki’s Fire Island Burst Tomato Pasta with Lemon Herbed Goat Cheese Balls is a family-friendly plate that puts seasonal cherry tomatoes to work. Nikki starts by sauteing the tomatoes with garlic until they’re soft and sweet, then she tosses the sauce with linguini and tops it with a sprinkle of fragrant basil and mint. For an indulgent finish, she studs each plate with a few goat cheese balls, which she’s rolled with bright lemon zest and fragrant basil, mint, rosemary and thyme.

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Charred Tomato Gazpacho — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, July 22nd, 2013

Charred Tomato GazpachoTomato season is officially upon us, and while recipes for marinara sauce, salsa and BLTs offer easy ways to put these fresh beauties to work, there’s one tomato-focused dish that’s perhaps as quintessentially reminiscent of summertime as is a juicy, ripe tomato itself: gazpacho. Traditionally served cold, gazpacho celebrates the best tomatoes’ natural sweetness, and when rounded out with peppers, garlic and spices, delivers a simple but satisfying soup.

In its recipe for Charred Tomato Gazpacho, Food Network Magazine puts a smoky twist on the classic dish by starting with grilled tomatoes and finishing the dish with toasted cumin- and coriander-scented olive oil. Once the tomatoes are blistered, blend them in two parts with garlic, vinegar and a pinch of sugar to create a smooth puree, and chill the mixture for at least a few hours. The secret to this bowl’s creamy-looking texture is the addition of water-soaked bread; by adding these cubes to the blender, the gazpacho takes on a thick texture and becomes instantly heftier. Top each bowl with chopped cucumbers and bell peppers for a crunchy bite, then drizzle with the olive oil for an extra-special finish.

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Restaurant Revisited: Barely Edible at Hurley’s American Grille

by in Shows, July 21st, 2013

Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived at Edibles Restaurant & Pub in Horsham, Pa., it didn’t take long for him to realize the “misguided family” that owned the business was as much of a contributing factor to its failure as was the eatery’s filthy interior, “blah” decor and unappealing food. Husband and wife John Sr. and Butzy Hurley have been at the helm of their business for nearly 30 years, but despite their presence in the kitchen and at the front of the house, their staff, including their children, John Jr., Heather and Jennifer, and their nephew Steve, noted a significant lack of leadership. This, coupled with John Sr.’s strained relationship with his son, had contributed to Edibles’ $4,000-per-month losses, which Robert had only two days and $10,000 to attempt to rectify.

For the first time in six seasons of filming Restaurant: Impossible, Robert believed the best and most important means of improving a restaurant would be to change the business’ name and rebrand it with a descriptive, engaging and enticing identity, which is how Edibles became Hurley’s American Grille on opening day. Read on below to hear from John Sr., Heather and Steve, and find out how Hurley’s is doing a few months after its relaunch.

“The first couple weeks were great,” Steve explains of the time immediately after filming. “I feel like we’re busier, but our bills are higher because of the expenses of new staff.”

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Dressed-Up Hot Dogs — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, July 20th, 2013

Chipotle Chili Cheese DogsThis summer, Food Network’s Grilling Central is packed with recipes for the entire family’s taste buds, boasting the best in burgers, dogs, chicken and more all season long. But with so many recipes, where do you start? Each weekend, FN Dish is giving you a complete menu that is stress-free, and this weekend’s spread features dressed-up hot dogs.

Ketchup and mustard may be two of the most traditional hot dog condiments, but you can surely dress up the everyday dog with deliciously creative twists on toppings. Like burgers and grilled chicken, hot dogs are blank canvases that can showcase seemingly any flavors you like or ingredients you have on hand. Try thinking of ingredient combinations you know work well together and using your favorite meals as inspiration to develop a next-level hot dog, like the ones featured below.

Showcasing the timeless pair of chili and cheese, Food Network Magazine‘s top-rated Chipotle Chili Cheese Dogs (pictured above) are full of bold, smoky flavors. The star element of this dog is the bold chili, featuring crispy sauteed bacon, cumin, meaty pinto beans and tomatoes. Once it’s thick and rich, spoon the chili atop snappy grilled hot dogs, then finish with shredded pepper Jack cheese, cool sour cream and scallions. Since this recipe calls for footlong hot dogs instead of ballpark-style dogs, it’s best to use hoagie rolls for buns. These hefty loaves will support the size of the hot dog and the weight of the chili; plus, they boast heftier dough than traditional hot dog buns.

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First Family of Mississippi Barbecue Coming to The Shed

by in Shows, July 19th, 2013

The ShedFor the Orrison family, barbecuing isn’t simply a habit; it’s a way of life they’ve adopted in Mississippi, where they run a string of successful ‘cue joints called The Shed. This loveably quirky and offbeat bunch is known for their over-the-top personalities and offers food to match, specializing in finger-lickin’-good ribs and from-scratch barbecue sauce. Together, brother-and-sister duo Brad Orrison and Brooke Lewis — the founders of The Shed — along with their parents, Daddy-O and Mamma Mia, are shining a light on their barbecue business as well as their day-to-day adventures on an all-new upcoming series, The Shed.

Premiering Sunday, Aug. 4 at 10pm, then airing every Monday night at the same time, The Shed will follow Brad, Brooke and an entire cast of “ShedHeads” inside the wild happenings at their restaurants. It will show off the eccentric dynamics at work as they run their business, compete in national ‘cue competitions and maintain a strong family bond — all while observing “The Shed Philosophy.” From the muddy swamps and garages to the bull-shaped barbecues at their holiday-lights-clad restaurants, the Orrisons prove what makes their brood one-of-a-kind and their award-winning meats worthy of the hype.

Watch a preview of The Shed