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.

Restaurant Revisited: Something’s Fishy at Joe Willy’s Seafood House

by in Shows, April 14th, 2013

Robert IrvineJoe and Dena White, owners of Joe Willy’s Seafood House in Fishkill, N.Y., looked to Robert Irvine to save not only their restaurant but their family too, as the stress of their declining business had put a load of frustration and tension between them. It was up to Robert to hone in on the most-critical issues plaguing Joe Willy’s and work with his Restaurant: Impossible team to attempt to fix them in only two days and with just $10,000. He quickly learned that many of the restaurant’s problems stemmed from its poor-quality food, made by Joe, the head chef, so he focused his efforts on implementing an improved menu that Joe could execute with ease. After 48 hours of renovations, Joe Willy’s reopened to a dining room full of guests with Joe and Dena at the helm, now working harmoniously. We checked in with Dena a few months after the transformation to find out how Joe Willy’s is doing.

Since its Restaurant: Impossible experience, the restaurant has enjoyed a significant boost in business, Dena says, explaining that “sales have tripled to quadrupled at times.” Since they’re now making a profit, Dena notes that it’s “much easier to pay bills, rent and staff, and make improvements,” and says that they’ve begun to catch up on their debt.

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Picky Eater-Approved: Meals to Make Dinnertime Easy

by in Family, Recipes, April 13th, 2013

Pepperoni Pizza PocketsAre family dinners a struggle in your home — you all but begging your little ones to eat something other than packaged pizza, chicken nuggets, and macaroni and cheese while your kids stare back at you, adamantly refusing even a taste of something more wholesome? If so, know that you could be in for more manageable suppers simply by letting them eat the meals they want but opting for homemade versions of them, instead of relying on store-bought varieties. While it’s indeed best to attempt to patiently introduce children to diverse groups of food, that approach may prove unrealistic in many homes. In those cases, embracing kid-friendly foods in from-scratch recipes for pizza, chicken nuggets, and mac and cheese may make for happier times at the dinner table. Your kids will be pleased because they’ll think they’re enjoying their favorite meals, and you’ll feel better knowing they’re eating wholesome, home-cooked food. Check out Food Network’s top takes on classic kid-approved picks like pizza, chicken nuggets, and macaroni and cheese below to find must-try meals that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters in your home.

Just like traditional pizza, Jeff Mauro’s Pepperoni Pizza Pockets (pictured above) boast creamy mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and a crunchy crust, but they’re formed into easy-to-eat pouches instead of an open-faced pie. The secret to Jeff’s recipe is starting with prepared pizza dough; having one on hand makes meal prep a cinch and ensures that these golden-brown beauties can be ready to eat in less than an hour. Serve each pocket with a side of Jeff’s sweet tomato-basil sauce, and let your kids indulge in this eat-with-your-hands meal with deliciously simple dunking.

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What’s the Most-Common Mistake Made in the Chopped Kitchen?

by in Shows, April 13th, 2013

Geoffrey Zakarian, Alex Guarnaschelli, Amanda Freitag and Ted AllenWeek after week, Chopped fans tune in to watch four eager chef competitors take their places in the kitchen for a chance to outcook the chopping block and score the coveted title of Chopped Champion. Not only facing off against each other, the contestants battle baskets full of mystery ingredients like shad roe sacks, black garlic, pig ears and duck hearts — products and produce that are so unusual that some chefs have neither seen nor tasted them before in their career.

Working with such oddball selects surely invites a host of unique problems, including overcooked proteins and underdone grains, but the most-common mistake made among chefs isn’t one resulting from obscure ingredients. Instead, it’s something that trips up even home cooks as they prepare everyday meals for their families.

Speaking to a crowd at the Borgata Hotel Spa & Casino in Atlantic City, longtime Chopped judge Geoffrey Zakarian said that the most-prominent error in competitors’ dishes is seasoning. No stranger to the highs and lows in the Chopped kitchen, he’s tasted his share of meals that have proved to be near disasters simply because chefs used too little of two of the most-basic ingredients found in restaurant and home kitchens alike: salt and pepper. “Nobody puts salt and pepper in their food,” he said. “Amazing. Shocking.”

What cooking conundrums do you struggle with in the kitchen? Tell FN Dish in the comments below.

What Kind of Restaurants Do You Want to See in Food Network On the Road?

by in Community, April 11th, 2013

Food Network On the RoadWhen it comes to summer road trips, the only thing more frustrating than unexpected construction detours is finding yourself in an unknown city with no ideas for where to eat. Instead of resorting to drive-through fast food, stop by a local hot spot favorited by Food Network stars with the help of the On the Road app.

Packed with detailed city guides, must-try dish recommendations and cuisine-specific road trip suggestions, this travel-friendly app makes it easy to find chef-approved eateries highlighted on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, The Great Food Truck Race and more. Say you’re passing through the Oklahoma countryside. With just a few swipes and taps, you soon could be enjoying saucy barbecue ribs at one of Guy’s Triple D hangouts.

One of the most-prominent features of On the Road is its custom-designed Best-Of lists. Food Network sifted through its vast restaurant listings to create the ultimate go-to guides to comfort food, all-American pie, sandwiches and breakfast classics, so not matter what part of the country you’re in, you’re sure to find top-notch eats and drinks nearby.

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Best 5 Deviled Egg Recipes

by in Entertaining, Recipes, April 11th, 2013

Traditional Southern Deviled EggsMuch is made of hard-boiled eggs immediately before and after Easter, but these two-toned beauties are a welcome party starter throughout the year. This weekend, whether you’re hosting an elegant spring dinner party or simply enjoying a casual night with friends, look to platters of deviled eggs to be the star appetizers of the evening. While they’ll curb pre-dinner munchies, deviled eggs aren’t so filling that they’ll weigh down appetites, plus they’re easily customizable with a myriad of ingredients, so you know you’ll find a style of egg that suits your tastes. Check out Food Network’s top-five deviled egg recipes below — all top-rated dishes that can be made quickly with ease — from Anne, Sunny, Melissa, Bobby Deen and Paula.

5. Truffled Deviled Eggs — Fresh truffles are extremely pricey, so Anne opts for truffle oil — an ingredient that’s a bit more modest — to add rich flavor to her top-rated eggs. But be sure to use only the amount listed, as truffle oil can easily overpower the dish.

4. Crunchy Deviled Eggs — After stuffing the egg whites with a tangy combination of lemon juice, mustard and pickled jalapenos, Sunny adorns each egg with canned fried onions for a crispy textured bite.

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Memphis BBQ Tour, Coast-to-Coast Chow, and Bar Food and Bon Bons on Triple D Tonight

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 8th, 2013

Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and DivesAmong locals in the South, it’s common to believe that one style of barbecue reigns supreme, that a signature blend of spices and use of the sauces, rubs and techniques turns out real-deal ribs, pulled pork and brisket, and others’ versions aren’t true ‘cue. In tonight’s marathon of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy‘s delving into the world of Tennessee barbecue with a tour of Memphis hot spots. His first stop is Leonard’s, an almost-100-year-old institution specializing in classics like meaty ribs and chopped pork; then he heads to Tom’s Bar-B-Q for a deliciously speedy meal made with Mediterranean flavors.

After a weekend in Memphis, Guy takes off to discover authentic German dishes in Chicago and a Honolulu food truck serving Island-style fare before setting his sights on the city. He’s at The Sparrow Tavern in Queens, N.Y., known for its elevated takes on bar food, including the Bifteki Burger Sandwich, before moving on to Indianapolis. There he stops by Zest to taste its signature Tomato Bon Bons, stuffed with cheese and coated in sausage.

Go behind the scenes with Guy

The Customizable Pizza — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 8th, 2013

White Pizza With BroccoliniEndlessly versatile and suitable to kids’ and grownups’ tastes alike, pizzas are ideal meals for vegetarian eaters, as they can be made the same way with or without meat, and a lack of protein won’t sacrifice flavor or substance. If your weeknight routine has you ordering delivery pies on account of their ease and timesaving beauty, try embracing a fresher alternative that’s every bit as simple and quick to prepare: homemade pizza.

The secret to effortlessly making pizza at home is relying on prepared dough. Although you can make from scratch and then freeze Food Network Magazine‘s Basic Pizza Dough if you have the time, picking up already made dough from the supermarket or local delivery spot is just fine, especially if you crave the signature crust from your neighborhood pizzeria. Keeping ready-to-go dough in the freezer for fuss-free meals will save valuable time in the kitchen on hectic nights.

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How to Put Your Freezer to Work, Plus Frozen Meals Made Fresh

by in Family, Recipes, April 6th, 2013

Homemade Frozen Chicken FingersOn hectic weeknights when it seems like there’s just no time to cook, few things are more welcome than ready-to-go meals that require little-to-no prep time. Occasionally that may mean takeout or delivery dinners, but it certainly doesn’t need to, especially when you have a fully stocked freezer on which to rely. Whether you find yourself with extra food after a party or a lazy weekend of making big-batch soups or casseroles, commit to building up your freezer supply by saving the leftovers for those nights when you can’t get to the grocery store or be bothered to make supper from scratch.

The secret to increasing your freezer supply is knowing how to freeze food safely and properly for best-tasting results later. No matter what it is you want to freeze, be sure to let it come to room temperature after it’s cooked and before you add it to the frigid-cold freezer; doing so will help avoid spoiled food and the overwarming of anything surrounding it.

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Want to Be on Food Network? Apply Now to Get Cast on Future Shows

by in Community, Shows, April 4th, 2013

Tyler Florence on The Great Food Truck RaceIf you’ve ever found yourself watching Food Network in your living room and thinking, “I can do that, too,” or, “I want try what they’re doing on television,” now is your chance to go from Food Network viewer to on-air contestant.

We’re currently accepting applications for the fourth season of Tyler Florence‘s The Great Food Truck Race — the multi-week showdown that challenges food truck teams to outsell one another in a coast-to-coast road trip — plus an all-new competition series hosted by Tyler, Food Court Wars. Whether you’re an experienced restaurant chef or a novice home cook, if you think you have the dedicated passion, enthusiasm and charisma to impress Tyler and a national audience, we want to hear from you.

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Best 5 Asparagus Recipes

by in Recipes, April 4th, 2013

Roasted AsparagusGiven that most produce is available in grocery stores year round, it’s easy to forget that fruits and vegetables indeed have seasons in which they’re at their peak of freshness, when they’re the most colorful and flavorful — and not to mention the most economical. For asparagus, that time to shine is early-to-middle springtime, which means that the bundles at farmers’ markets and supermarkets right now are some of the best you’ll find all year. Celebrate the season’s bounty by putting asparagus to work in quick, family-friendly recipes like vegetable side dishes, healthful salads and quick pastas. We’ve rounded up Food Network’s top-five asparagus dishes — a mix of traditional and creative takes on this simple-to-make vegetable — ideal for casual weeknight suppers and dressed-up dinners alike. Check out our favorite picks below, then browse Food Network’s entire collection of asparagus recipes to find more fresh inspiration.

5. Corn and Asparagus Salad — In just 20 quick minutes, Paula dresses tender asparagus and vibrant corn with a sweet and tangy vinaigrette for a light side dish that complements any hearty entree.

4. Quinoa Salad With Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Black Olives — Think of quinoa as a blank canvas through which you can showcase favorite ingredients and textures, like Bobby does in his five-star recipe by adding to it trimmed asparagus, fresh thyme and creamy goat cheese.

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