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.

The Pioneer Woman’s New York-Style Chopped Salad — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 13th, 2013

New York-Style Chopped SaladIf you’ve ever been to New York City, then you know there is no shortage of delis and markets in the city, at least some version of them studding seemingly every street corner in Manhattan. Along with ready-to-go products like bags of chips, boxes of cereal and bottles of soda, a now-signature sight at many of these stores is a bountiful salad bar, one that’s a far cry from the spreads of tepid romaine and vegetables from the past.

While visiting New York, the Pioneer Woman and her daughter grabbed lunch from one of these salad bars, known for a wide array of crisp greens, fresh produce, quality cheeses, nuts and dressings. After picking out their favorite mix-ins, they watched as the ingredients were quickly tossed, then hand-chopped into a wholesome meal. Ree’s daughter Alex was so inspired by the salad she ordered there that when Ree returned to their Oklahoma ranch, she re-created the experience for her daughter at home.

Video: Watch Ree make the salad

Restaurant Revisited: Drowning in Debt at Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant

by in Shows, May 12th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossiblePerhaps one of the most-persistent restaurant owners ever featured on Restaurant: Impossible, Carolyn Cuneo from Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant in DeFuniak Springs, Fla., admitted to Robert Irvine early on that she is “not very good with change.” After her husband, George, passed away six years ago, she’s been hesitant to make any updates to the eatery, a dark, wood-covered space serving mediocre Italian-inspired food. Carolyn was in thousands of dollars of debt, which Robert realized could be attributed to the large amount of free food she regularly gave away to her staff and customers alike. In just two days and with a $10,000 budget, Robert and his team worked with Carolyn to rethink her management habits and ultimately reopen Mom & Dad’s as a thriving restaurant worthy of a second chance. FN Dish checked in with Carolyn a few months after the renovation to find out how the eatery has been doing.

Immediately following the overhaul, Mom & Dad’s saw a 67.7 percent increase in sales. Although the growth has since slowed a bit, “business is still good and it will be a much higher percentage than prior years,” Carolyn says, adding that she’s making stellar progress on paying back her debt.

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Easy Mother’s Day Desserts for Dads and Kids to Tackle Together

by in Family, Holidays, May 11th, 2013

Lemon Tiramisu TrifleListen up, dads. Even though Mother’s Day is just a few hours away and you may not have bought the devoted mom in your life a worthy present yet, there’s indeed time left to gift her something from the heart, a present that she’ll surely appreciate. Instead of resorting to a bouquet of flowers from the local bodega, gather your kids in the kitchen and commit to making Mom an extra-special Mother’s Day dessert. While there’s a time and a place for fancy, intricate sweets, Mother’s Day isn’t it, especially if they are to be prepared by little hands. Can-do desserts are the treats of choice instead — those that deliver tried-and-true results every time. Check out a few of FN Dish’s favorite easy desserts below, then browse Food Network’s Mother’s Day Central for more recipe inspiration and entertaining tips.

A no-bake recipe that can be prepped in only 20 minutes, Food Network Kitchens’ Lemon Tiramisu Trifle (pictured above) relies on store-bought goodies like lemon curd and ladyfinger cookies to ensure that this dessert is a cinch to prepare. Once you and your kids have arranged the first half of the cookies in a dish, start layering them with lemon syrup, lemon cream and fresh berries. While the trifle is essentially done as is, it needs to chill for at least eight hours so that the flavors of the lemon, berries and cream marry and the ladyfingers become soft with syrup. This means that it’s best to make the dessert tonight or first thing tomorrow morning, so it will be ready to enjoy after dinner.

Keep reading for more recipes

Best 5 Pancake Recipes for Mother’s Day

by in Holidays, Recipes, May 9th, 2013

Almost-Famous Cheesecake PancakesThis Mother’s Day, instead of making Mom wait until dinnertime to enjoy a meal made just for her, treat her to a special morning treat of breakfast in bed. Deliciously easy to make in a hurry, pancakes are a no-fuss dish that both grownups and little ones crave, and they can be as simply or elegantly prepared as you like. Boxed mixes may indeed be convenient on hectic weekdays, but the taste and texture of a mix can’t compare to light, fluffy from-scratch pancakes, which are quick to prepare with everyday baking ingredients. Check out Food Network’s top-five pancake recipes below to find top-rated classic and dressed-up picks alike, then browse Mother’s Day Central for more tips on cooking for Mom.

5. Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes — Just as oatmeal cookies are made with oats, cinnamon and raisins, so, too, are Rachael’s kid-friendly pancakes, ready to enjoy in less than 25 minutes.

4. Tri-Berry Oven Pancakes — More like Dutch babies than traditional pancakes, Ina’s thin, golden-brown beauties are scented with orange zest and finished with mixed berries.

Get the top three recipes

Transforming the Familiar — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, May 7th, 2013

The Chopped judges have seen their share of odd, uncommon ingredients come out of the mystery baskets — haggis, goat brains and shad roe sack, to name a few. But sometimes what trips up the competitors more than any strange products is a selection of ordinary ingredients, like eggs, flour tortillas and apples. If the competitors are judged on their abilities to use the basket ingredients, they’ll have to think beyond omelets, tacos and fruit salads, for example, if they want to avoid the Chopping Block.

On tonight’s all-new episode of Chopped, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Maneet Chauhan and Marc Murphy welcomed four moms to the kitchen with baskets of familiar ingredients that home cooks would likely use. In the entree round, that meant a spread of mustard greens, pork butt, red quinoa and carrot baby food — products that, while perhaps difficult for these nonprofessional cooks, should have been a cinch to prepare for the chef-judges, who later tried their hands at this very basket.

Alex admitted that, with the exception of the baby food, “It’s like a nice, innocent little basket.” But that didn’t stop her and the rest of the panel from facing some of the same challenges the moms did, like how to make a tough piece of pork tender and how to quickly cook quinoa with limited time. During their friendly face-off, Marc resorted to using a meat grinder to break down the pork and make it into meatballs. Maneet incorporated the meat into a casserole-style dish, and Alex took advantage of almost every second of the competition to fully cook her quinoa.

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Restaurant Chefs Talk Dining Experiences at James Beard Awards

by in Events, May 7th, 2013

Aaron Sanchez and Zarela MartinezJust as movie stars vie for an Academy Award and television stars wish for an Emmy, food stars dream of taking home the ultimate prize in the culinary industry: a James Beard Award. Honoring a commitment to excellence, the James Beard Foundation recognizes those restaurants, chefs, and food and spirits professionals who’ve proved they and their businesses offer the quintessential dining experience — something to which their peers can aspire. In New York City last night, nominees from 20 categories, including Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Service and Outstanding Restaurant, gathered in Avery Fisher Hall with some of the biggest names in the industry, like Food Network’s own Anne Burrell, Ted Allen and Aarón Sánchez, for the chance to earn a coveted Beard medal.

Before the ceremony got under way, nominees, presenters, past winners and Foundation members strutted their stuff on the red carpet, and FN Dish was on hand to chat with them. For these passionate chefs and food people, there’s seemingly no insurmountable kitchen task or meal they couldn’t create flawlessly at home, but, still, given the award-worthy meals coming out of top-notch restaurants, Dish editors were curious: What meals do restaurant chefs prefer not to make themselves, and indulge in only when dining out?

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Baked Potato Bar — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 6th, 2013

Mushroom-Onion Potato

Not merely a starchy side dish playing second string to the meaty entree, the everyday baked potato can be the star of your dinner simply by topping it with a few hearty ingredients. When it comes to stuffing baked potatoes, think of the spuds as blank canvases through which you can showcase your favorite flavors, textures and ingredient combinations inspired by some tried-and-true dishes. They’re plenty filling on their own, but when finished with fresh or roasted vegetables, creamy cheeses, eggs and more, baked potatoes are transformed into all-in-one suppers that are budget-friendly and quick to prepare.

When cooking for your family, particularly if you’re trying to cater to little ones’ picky palates while feeding your own adventurous appetite, it’s best to bake the potatoes first, then let everyone add their preferred toppings. Set up a baked potato bar complete with salsa, sour cream, roasted peppers, herbs, sauces and just about anything else you can imagine, so each person can assemble his or her own meal and get exactly what they like.

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