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.

#TBT: Rachael Ray

by in Food Network Chef, October 3rd, 2013

Rachael RayIt’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.

You may know Rachael Rayas one half of the dueling powerhouses on the Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity and Kids Cook-Off series, or as the friendly face in the kitchen showing you how to make meals for a Week in a Day. But before she tackled these projects or launched her own lifestyle magazine and syndicated daytime talk show, Rachael was a 30-minute maven, the queen of quick meals who could dish up a full, hearty supper in just half an hour.

Rachael RayBorn in Glen Falls, N.Y., Rachael grew up in a food-focused family, then moved to New York City to run Macy’s candy counter and ultimately the store’s fresh-foods department. While in the city, she managed a specialty foods shop as well, but eventually returned upstate; it was this relocation that finally led her to the concept of 30-minute meals. She began teaching cooking classes called “30-Minute Mediterranean Meals” at the Albany market for which she was working, and given their enormous local popularity, it was only a matter of time before a regional television station welcomed her on board, launching her career in the television industry.

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Best 5 Applesauce Recipes

by in Recipes, October 2nd, 2013

Homemade ApplesauceWhile some jarred products (think ketchup and mustard) may indeed be best enjoyed straight from their store-bought bottles, applesauce isn’t among them, as it’s both simple and quick to make from scratch. All it takes to prepare a batch is a few crisp apples and a pinch of sugar, plus butter for richness and a bit of citrus; from there, you can dress up your recipe with warm spices, like cinnamon, or a glug of liqueur. Check out Food Network’s top-five applesauce recipes from Ina, the Neelys, Alton and more Food Network chefs to find classic and creative ways to turn autumn’s bounty of apples into a comforting seasonal dish.

5. The Neelys’ Homemade Applesauce — For added apple flavor in their 25-minute recipe, the Neelys stir apple cider into their simple mixture of fruit, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks.

4. Plum Applesauce — Juicy red plums add both color and sweetness to this big-batch applesauce, easily prepared in a rice cooker in just one hour.

Get the top-three recipes

Sunny’s “Scrambled Eggs with Personality” — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 30th, 2013

San Antonio MigasForget about the dry, tough scrambled eggs of breakfasts past. Sunny Anderson is introducing a new recipe that promises light, fluffy results full of flavor every time. Packed with crunchy tortilla strips, tender vegetables and pepper Jack cheese, her San Antonio Migas (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine are next-level eggs with Southwestern flair. “Migas are scrambled eggs with personality and texture,” Sunny recently told the magazine, which means they’re similar to the classic morning meal your family craves but dressed up with creative ingredients and textures.

The secret to making migas is layering flavors and incorporating them into whisked eggs before they’re scrambled. To start her 20-minute recipe, Sunny sautes tortilla strips until they’re buttery and crisp, then adds colorful bell peppers, green chiles and sweet onions. Together, the chips and vegetables will offer both crunchy and tender textures in the finished dish, while the eggs will be soft after just a few minutes of stirring. Be sure to lower the heat on the stove once you add the eggs to the pan, as too high a flame can dry them out quickly. Before serving, mix in chopped tomatoes, then top with creamy cheese for a fresh, bold finish.

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All-in-One Meals for Quick Dinners — School Days

by in Family, Recipes, September 28th, 2013

Cheesy Gnocchi CasseroleWhile intricately prepared dishes with multiple components may be exciting to cook for special occasions or weekend projects, busy school nights are no time to commit to making a complicated meal. On these hectic evenings when you feel especially pressed for time, stick with all-in-one dishes to guarantee a stress-free dinnertime. These one-dish offerings have multiple meal parts — like proteins, starches and vegetables — which means that you can serve your family a complete dinner by prepping only one recipe.

Kids and kids-at-heart appreciate the creamy comfort of melted cheese and potatoes, which makes Food Network Kitchens’ Cheesy Gnocchi Casserole with Ham and Peas (pictured above) a family-friendly staple. This go-to supper is a cinch to prepare in a hurry, as there’s no need to roll gnocchi from scratch. Just pick up a package of the store-bought variety, combine with deli ham and frozen peas, then top with Swiss cheese to create a simple dinner full of tried-and-true flavors.

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Food and Love: Better Together on Damaris Phillips’ Southern at Heart

by in Shows, September 27th, 2013

Damaris PhillipsBefore earning the most viewer votes to become the winner of Food Network Star, Season 9, Damaris Phillips told network executives that “Southern food is the food of love,” and this fall she’ll be able to prove that with the launch of her brand-new series, Southern at Heart, premiering Sunday, Oct. 27 at 10:30am/9:30c.

Similar to her date night-focused pilot on Star, Damaris’ Southern at Heart will showcase this Kentucky-born chef’s made-over Southern fare, featuring fresh twists and contemporary takes, plus offer can-do tips for cooks of every caliber. No matter if you’re a single gal or guy trying to impress that special someone, one half of a new couple or a spouse in a longtime marriage, Damaris’ contemporary recipes will have a place on your table, and her inspired ideas will be applicable to you.

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All Aboard Robert Irvine’s Restaurant Express

by in Shows, September 26th, 2013

Robert Irvine's Restaurant ExpressRobert Irvine may be known for rescuing America’s most dire eateries from the brink of failure on Restaurant: Impossible, but this fall he’s on a new mission: to find the most promising budding entrepreneur among a crop of restaurant hopefuls.

On his all-new series, Restaurant Express, Robert will challenge nine finalists to survive a culinary road trip across the West by proving not only their fearless culinary chops, but their business-savvy mindset, as well, if they want to keep their seat on the Restaurant Express bus. Week after week, it’s up to the contestants to demonstrate their staying power and impress Robert — a notoriously no-nonsense chef and experienced entrepreneur — by excelling in the host’s demanding challenges, both in the kitchen and out.

At the end of the journey, only one contestant will still be on the bus, and that person will have earned the title of executive chef and a leadership position on the team at the flagship restaurant The M Resort, Spa and Casino in Las Vegas.

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Best 5 Butternut Squash Soup Recipes

by in Recipes, September 25th, 2013

Squash Soup in Pumpkin BowlsNow that fall is officially here, the days are getting shorter and the nights chillier, which means it’s once again time to welcome warm, comforting soups to the table. Instead of sticking with everyday chicken noodle or the usual blend of broccoli and cheddar, take advantage of fall produce by opting for butternut squash soup. This autumn superstar vegetable is packed with good-for-you vitamins, and when it’s roasted and pureed into a silky soup, the results are creamy and satisfying — ideal for simple lunches and make-ahead dinners alike. Check out Food Network’s top-five recipes below for butternut squash soup to find classic and creative bowls from some of your favorite chefs, like Ina, Giada and Alton.

5. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Curry Condiments — The star of Ina’s curry-scented squash-apple soup is a toppings bar featuring fresh scallions, sweetened coconut and crunchy cashews.

4. Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini — Finished with a slice of cheesy toast, Giada’s smooth puree is made extra flavorful thanks to sauteed garlic, carrots and onions, plus chopped fresh sage leaves.

Get the top-three recipes

Chefs Unite for SHARE’s Second Helping of Life

by in Events, Food Network Chef, September 25th, 2013

SHAREIn the midst of the scary and often isolating world that is cancer diagnoses and treatments, SHARE, a nonprofit organization based in New York City, aims to shed light and foster a compassionate community with the help of volunteers who staff phone lines and offer individualized support for women battling breast and ovarian cancers. The friendly, reassuring voices answering calls from patients, families and friends are often those of survivors themselves, which makes them keenly experienced in navigating the uncertainty that lies ahead. Each year, female chefs from around the city gather to raise money to further SHARE’s mission of care at A Second Helping of Life, a walk-around tasting event showcasing their deliciously inspired eats and drinks.

Corn FlanThis year marks the tenth anniversary of A Second Helping of Life, and to celebrate this milestone, Chopped judge and Next Iron Chef: Redemption runner-up Amanda Freitag spearheaded the event as the executive chef. “I’m just supporting this amazing organization like I do every year … I just find it to be one of the best organizations for women who are going through this,” Amanda told FN Dish on Monday night at Manhattan’s Pier Sixty. When she wasn’t chatting with guests or graciously posing with fans for photos, Amanda worked alongside her culinary team to plate individual corn flans, creamy yet light bites served alongside a watercress salad with crumbled ricotta salata. “I wanted to capture the little bits of summer that we had left in the corn,” she explained of the inspiration behind her dish.

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Delivering on a Frequent Request — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, September 24th, 2013

After Hours battles task Chopped judges with the same rules and restraints as the competitors — identical basket ingredients, limited time on the clock and the stipulation that they must use every mandatory product in some way — which means that when they take to the kitchen, they’re bringing with them the experience of judging hundreds of rounds of competition. They often remark on the show that a contestant’s dish lacks seasoning, is overcooked or is too simple, but when it’s their turn to cook, will they be able to succeed where others have failed, and will they deliver on the frequent requests they make of the competitors?

On tonight’s all-new episode of Chopped After Hours, Amanda proved that she can indeed walk the walk, if you will, in the kitchen, when she decided to bake a cake for her dessert. “I’ve always wanted everyone to bake,” she told Ted, “so I find it only fair for me to bake.” Her dish, like Aarón’s and Marcus’ dishes, had to feature chicken-themed ingredients, including chicken suckers, farm-fresh eggs, fruitcake and chicken feet, but she didn’t let the oddity of these products stop her from the mission. After a quick 30 minutes, she ultimately proved that it’s possible to bake — and bake well — in the Chopped , as her fruitcake with a sweet marshmallow mousse “melts in your mouth, ” according to Aarón. “I want to put my money where my mouth is. I am always begging the chefs to bake … so I baked,” she told her peers when presenting the dessert.

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