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.

Portobello Parmesan — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, June 24th, 2013

Portobello ParmesanWhen it comes to classic Parmesan casseroles — those cheesy beauties piled high with mozzarella and tomato sauce — chicken and its vegetarian cousin, eggplant, tend to steal the spotlight. That is, until now. Instead of relying on those familiar favorites, try making earthy portobello mushrooms the centerpiece of the dish. They’re every bit as easy to prepare as chicken and eggplant, and they pair well with marinara-style sauce; plus, they’re hefty and satisfying, so you won’t be hungry soon after eating.

Meaty and substantial, the Portobello Parmesan (pictured above) for Food Network Magazine is a top-rated recipe that puts portobello caps to work. After slicing them into thin rounds, coat them in a three-part dredging process: flour first, egg wash next and cheesy breadcrumbs last to offer crunchy texture. Deep-fry the mushrooms until they’re golden brown, then layer them with a garlic-basil tomato sauce and a duo of creamy mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and bake for just a few minutes. Whether you serve this family-friendly casserole with pasta or feature it on its own, this easy dinner is a go-to favorite.

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Restaurant Revisited: It’s All Greek to Me at Angelo’s

by in Shows, June 23rd, 2013

Angelo's on Restaurant: Impossible In Woodstock, Ill., two cousins — Angelo Paloumbis and Angelo Mourelatos — have come together to run Angelo’s, their Greek-style restaurant founded by their fathers. Although this family business is now decades old, not much has changed since it opened 40 years ago; the unexciting menu, standard diner decor and family tension remain, and all are contributing to the business’ failure. Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team had just two days and a $10,000 budget to offer Angelo and Angelo a new outlook on their professional relationship, plus give their eatery an updated design and the tools to create fresh, flavorful food. FN Dish checked in with Angelo Paloumbis a few months after the transformation of Angelo’s to find out how the business is doing today. “Business is up 20 percent and is holding steady,” Angelo tells us, adding that the restaurant is now making at least a 10-percent profit. “We’re paying down debt with it,” he explains.

In terms of the decor, Angelo’s has taken advantage of the open floor plan Robert’s team created, even hosting large private parties in the redesigned space. Angelo adds that “the younger crowd loves” the updated style, and many of the servers have adapted well to their new station. The menu at Angelo’s is a mix of items from the original menu and the offerings Robert created. “We kept some things (sandwiches, salads, half the entrees, the appetizers) [and] added some of our prior entrees that people were requesting,” Angelo says. “The fried chicken, the roast turkey, the new hamburgers, the Greek lamb burger” are some of the most popular dishes. Many guests have been wowed with the fare at Angelo’s, and they’re especially pleased that they can pay with credit cards for the first time.

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Pier West Restaurant (June 16)
Pinehurst Country Lodge (June 9)
Bryan’s Smokehouse (May 26)
Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant (May 19)
Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant (May 12)
Smitty’s Restaurant (April 28)
Old World Italian Restaurant (April 21)
Joe Willy’s Seafood House (April 14)
Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering (March 24)
Soup to Nuts Diner (March 17)
Caseyville Cafe (March 13)
Maniaci’s Italian Restaurant (March 10)
Dinner Bell Restaurant (February 27)
Nanny Goat’s Cafe & Feed Bin (February 20)
Sapori D’Italia (January 23)
Windseeker Restaurant (January 16)
Whiskey Creek Steakhouse (January 2)

Mayo-Free Side Salads — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, June 22nd, 2013

Roasted-Pepper Pasta SaladThis 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 Friday, FN Dish is giving you a complete menu that is stress-free, and this weekend’s spread will be rounded out with sun-safe side dishes free of mayonnaise.

When temperatures spike and it becomes hot and humid outside, you may be tempted to turn your alfresco soiree into an indoor, air-conditioned bash for fear of unknowingly eating heat-spoiled dishes. But while you should always be sure to keep all food — whether it’s served outdoors or not — at appropriate warm and cold temperatures, you can decrease your risk of foodborne illness at outdoor cookouts by cutting one key ingredient from your side dish spread: mayonnaise. Mayo is made largely of egg yolks, and as they tend to spoil quickly, they’re especially prone to bacterial growth if left in the heat for hours at a time. Instead of trying to time your salad servings or shuttling the dishes between inside and outside, make mayonnaise-free recipes. Thanks to citrus-based dressings and simple vinaigrettes, these made-over sides are every bit as flavorful and satisfying as their creamy counterparts.

Ready to eat in just 30 quick minutes, Food Network Magazine‘s Roasted-Pepper Pasta Salad (pictured above) is a go-to potluck dish or simple side with which to entertain. This easy dish boasts crunchy almonds, sweet sauteed bell peppers and bite-size mozzarella balls mixed with short pasta and a lemon-olive oil topping. Finish the salad with a sprinkle of fragrant basil to add freshness and a burst of color.

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Caption It: Face Plant

by , June 21st, 2013

Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby FlayIt’s no secret that the finalists face a mountain of pressures week after week, cooking against the clock in all-or-nothing challenges, strutting their stuff for a crew of cameras and enduring hours-long evaluations that ultimately determine their futures. But what about the mentors, Alton, Bobby and Giada? They, too, grapple with a series of Star stresses, as it is, after all, up to them to narrow down the crop of contestants before you, the fans, choose your next star. The burden is on them to find each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, and give them the tools they need to show off the former and improve the latter, all while maintaining the distance and fairness of a judge. Alton, Bobby and Giada handle the job differently depending on the day, but for each of them, when the work becomes particularly trying, sometimes all that’s left to do is laugh.

Take a look at the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday’s all-new episode: Alton, Giada and Bobby have gathered at evaluation, and it seems that for Giada, the moment is simply too much to bear. She’s face-first on the table while Alton offers a well-meaning giggle and Bobby displays a look of apparent confusion. Do you think they’ve just endured a particularly difficult elimination, or have they taken a brief break from deliberation to relax among friends?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out what’s going on, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

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Best 5 Mojitos

by in Drinks, June 20th, 2013

Mojito SlushyTomorrow marks the first day of summer, which means it’s officially time to kick off the season of warm-weather eats and drinks. This weekend, add a little extra chill to your grilling and chilling menu with adults-only mojitos. Cool and refreshing, these easy-to-mix cocktails are go-to summer sippers, classically made with lime, rum and mint, although easily dressed up with fruits, plus a mix of citruses and liquors. Check out Food Network’s top-five mojito recipes below for crave-worthy concoctions from Guy, Giada, Tyler and more Food Network chefs.

5. Double-Apple Mojitos — Guy swaps in vodka for rum in his easy mojito, laced with apple juice and garnished with slices of red and green apples.

4. Orange Mojitos — Pair the fresh taste of lime juice with orange juice to create a sunset-colored sipper, ready to enjoy after just a few seconds in the cocktail shaker.

Get the top three recipes

Did You Miss the Meat? — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, June 18th, 2013

In most Chopped baskets, it’s the meaty protein or shellfish that trips up competitors, what with these ingredients that tend to be difficult to break down, clean, and cook properly and fully in a hurry. But in tonight’s brand-new episode of Chopped, the contestants found themselves with vegetarian baskets, which meant that when it came time for an After Hours competition, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Amanda Freitag and Marc Murphy were challenged to create entrees using golden beets, wheatgrass, tempeh and etrog citron.

While Alex and Marc admitted to being unfamiliar with cooking and eating these kinds of ingredients, Amanda told them, “I eat this stuff,” and she later admitted to being “a closet vegetarian.” For all three judges, the challenge was offering dishes that were both bold and hefty enough to be filling. Amanda stuck to a classic preparation of tempeh by featuring it in a spiced stew with curry, while Alex treated the tempeh like rice, turning it into a risotto-style plate with mushrooms and citrus. Marc, however, known for his fondness of meat-and-potatoes classics, made a tempeh-based burger that was anything but vegetarian, thanks to beef broth and bacon. After tasting each of their offerings, guest host Aarón told them: “I’m not crying for meat right now. You made satisfying meals that really sort of constituted a complete dish.”

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VIDEO: Danushka’s Not Impressed

by , June 17th, 2013

One of Food Network Star‘s most-contentious finalists ever, Danushka Lysek provided plenty of camera-worthy drama in her brief three-week run in the competition. She sparked rivalries among finalists, delivered unapologetic smirks, stares and eye rolls, and she even stupefied the Selection Committee with her seeming indifference to the challenges at hand. “My goal with doing this competition was knowing I’m not like anyone that’s on the Food Network,” Danushka said after being eliminated, and indeed she proved to be one of a kind.

Click the play button on the video above to watch Danushka’s best, most-hilarious reactions during her time on Star and see a mashup of some of her now-notorious faces. Do you think Danushka deserved more time to prove her commitment to the competition, or were the mentors justified in sending her home? Tell Star Talk what you think in the comments section below.

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Southwest Quesadilla With Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, June 17th, 2013

Southwest Quesadilla With Cilantro-Lime Sour CreamIf you’re new to vegetarian eating, the key to embracing meat-free recipes is knowing how to prepare a meatless dish that’s every bit as satisfying as one with meat. When you remove something like beef, pork or chicken from a recipe, it’s important to replace it with not just equally hearty ingredients so that you feel full after eating, but also with intense flavors and a mix of textures to keep the dish appealing. This will prevent you from getting bored with the same vegetarian standbys and allow you to experiment with new takes on classically meaty favorites.

In her 30-minute recipe for a Southwest Quesadilla With Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream (pictured above), Sunny Anderson replaces beefy proteins with hefty black beans, flavorful vegetables and bold spices. After sauteing onions and bell peppers until they’re sweet and tender, she adds fresh seasonal corn and pinches of red pepper flakes and cumin for subtle heat and smoky taste. Tossed with fragrant cilantro, this simple mixture becomes the base of the quesadilla filling, which is rounded out with spreads of refried black beans on the insides of the tortillas, plus a generous sprinkle of pepper Jack cheese. The secret to pulling off Sunny’s quesadilla is using 10-inch flour tortillas — those often reserved for burritos — so you can be sure the stuffing won’t escape when the quesadilla is flipped during cooking. Slice the quesadilla into eat-with-your-hands wedges, and serve each slice with creamy, cool sour cream laced with zesty lime juice and chopped cilantro.

Click the play button the video below to watch Sunny make her top-rated quesadilla.

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Restaurant Revisited: Sink or Swim at Pier West Restaurant

by in Shows, June 16th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleDespite the picturesque view from its waterfront location, Pier West Restaurant in Twin Lakes, Wis., couldn’t escape serious issues indoors, among them considerable debt and drab decor. With just $10,000 and two days to work, Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team relaunched owner Chip Walmsley’s business with a new menu and an updated design, plus gave Chip the support he needed to manage the restaurant and the foundation to mend his relationship with his family. FN Dish checked in with Chip a few months after the renovation to find out how the eatery is doing today.

“Business has been great since the filming [of the show]. We have definitely seen about a 25-percent increase in food sales,” Chip tells us. “We are taking things one week at a time … [and] following the standards Robert set up for us.”

Chip says “not one single customer misses the old look” of Pier West, and in terms of the new space’s features, his favorites are “the lighting and the floor.”

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