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.

So, What Did You Make? — Chopped After Hours Caption It

by in Shows, April 28th, 2013

Chris Santos, Aaron Sanchez and Marc MurphyWhen it comes to critiquing Chopped competitors’ unusual dishes, the judges aren’t shy about sharing their reactions to the meal; they’re quick to offer opportunities for improvement and suggestions for better offerings. If battles suddenly were to be flipped, however, and the judges faced off with the same mystery baskets as the contestants, would they be able to succeed where others have been chopped?

Last month FN Dish broke the news that for the first time, the judges will be taking over the kitchen in online-only After Hours battles, and on Tuesday, April 30, members of the panel will go head-to-head-to-head with the same ingredients that will be featured on that night’s show. After watching the competition unfold, it will be up to them to take what they’ve learned from the chefs — both successes and missteps — and try their hands at creating plates within the same set of rules and time constraints.

Take a look at the sneak-peek photo above from Tuesday’s judges’ battle. As Chris is concentrating on plating his dish, Aarón and Marc drop by for an early look at what he’s made. Are they there to distract Chris in the final few minutes of cooking, or do you think they’re asking to taste what he’s made? Will the judges prove to competitors everywhere that cooking against the Chopped clock isn’t so difficult after all, or will they struggle like seasons’ worth of competitors have before them?

Write your best caption

Meals to Make With Your Wallet in Mind

by in Family, Recipes, April 27th, 2013

Beef and Black Bean SlidersWhether you’re grocery shopping to feed just yourself or an entire family of 10, it’s easy for your total bill at the checkout counter to reach an uncomfortably high price, even if you’re stocking up on essentials alone. But you shouldn’t have to sacrifice nutrition for the sake of your wallet, and indeed eating well on a budget is easy to do. The key to making wholesome meals without breaking the bank is knowing which products to buy — and knowing how to best put them to use to get the most out of them in dishes that your family will enjoy. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite money-saving tips below, plus get can-do, kid-friendly recipes that are easy to prepare on a budget.

Make Each Ingredient Go Further
To stretch the value a somewhat pricey ingredient, like meat, mix it with far more inexpensive products that won’t distract from the overall taste or texture of the dish. The next time you make tacos, burritos or burgers, try swapping out a portion of the beef or chicken for mashed beans or rice; the supper won’t suffer, and you’ll use less meat to feed more people. In her recipe for Beef and Black Bean Sliders (pictured above), Ten Dollar Dinners host Melissa d’Arabian combines ground beef with cooked black beans to create moist, flavorful burgers on a budget. She forms the mixture into traditional patties, grills them and serves them on toasted buns with tangy coleslaw for a fuss-free 10-minute meal.

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Photo Tour: Behind the Scenes of the Chopped Kitchen

by in Shows, April 26th, 2013

Food Network's Chopped KitchenWhen it comes to cooking on Chopped, much is made of each round’s mystery baskets, filled with four unusual and often disparate ingredients that chefs are required to incorporate into their dishes. While these oddball picks are, of course, what add deliciously addictive intrigue and drama to the show, it takes more than just a spread of peanut brittle, Marsala wine, durian and wonton wrappers to outcook the chopping block. If the competitors want to survive three rounds of intense culinary battle, they must utilize next-level appliances and advanced tools, in addition to a myriad of common and eccentric products alike, to transform the basket ingredients and create a winning plate.

To make sure competitors can do that as efficiently as possible within the short amount of time they have to cook, the culinary team that works Chopped has outfitted each chef’s prep station with ready-to-go equipment and stocked the pantry and refrigerator with almost every ingredient imaginable. FN Dish was curious about those supplies and wanted to know what kinds of ingredients are awaiting the chefs in the multiple nooks and crannies of Chopped Kitchen, so we turned to the culinary producer of the show to answer questions and provide an insider’s look at the set. Find out what she had to say below, then get an exclusive look at the kitchen, peek inside the refrigerator and see what’s on pantry shelves by browsing behind-the-scenes photos.

About how many ingredients are stocked in the pantry and refrigerator?
About 70 in fridge and about 200 in pantry

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Best 5 Halibut Recipes

by in Recipes, April 25th, 2013

Thai-Style Halibut With Coconut-Curry BrothEasy to make and widely available, salmon, tilapia and cod are often touted as go-to picks for family-friendly fish dinners, but if you’re looking to dress up your usual seafood selection, try a new favorite: halibut. A mild white fish that’s firm and meaty in texture, halibut stands up well to bold flavors and ingredients, plus it can be cooked in a number of ways and is quick enough to prepare on busy weeknights. Whether you opt for a simple, light marinade of olive oil and lemon juice or prefer a more adventurous fillet with spices, herbs and sauces, there’s a halibut preparation to please every taste. Check out Food Network’s top-five halibut recipes below for easy dinner inspiration and a mix of can-do dishes that will impress your family and party guests alike.

5. Broiled Halibut With Ricotta-Pea Puree — An all-in-one dinner that’s ready to eat in only 25 minutes, Food Network Magazine’s halibut is brushed with paprika, then quickly broiled and served with tender carrots and onions, plus a bright, cheesy puree.

4. Grilled Halibut Fish Sandwiches With Tartar Sauce — You don’t have to wait until the start of grilling season to master Rachael’s next-level fish sandwich. She sears the fillets on a stovetop grill pan, then serves them with juicy tomatoes, cool lettuce and creamy tartar sauce on hearty rolls.

Get the top three recipes

Quiz: Are You the Ultimate Iron Chef America Fan?

by in Shows, April 23rd, 2013

Iron Chef AmericaDuring more than 10 seasons of Iron Chef America competition, five new Iron Chefs have been welcomed to the Chairman’s elite team of culinary superstars, an ever-changing judges panel has filled the seats at the table, new rules and altered expectations have changed the way battles are done, and hundreds of Secret Ingredients have been unveiled beneath a single altar. Throughout the years of transformation and growth, have you, Iron Chef fans, kept up with what’s gone down inside Kitchen Stadium?

As you prepare for the upcoming tournament of champions (premiering Sunday, May 5 at 10pm/9c) in which the Chairman’s standing Iron Chefs will compete against one another in an unprecedented series of battles to become the Grand Champion, brush up on the ins and outs of this ultimate culinary contest. Test your memory of past battles and Iron Chefs’ winning records, plus your understanding of judging criteria and the significance of Secret Ingredients to find out if your knowledge of Iron Chef America reigns supreme.

Take the quiz now

Regional Favorites, Family Matters and Tacos and Tots on Triple D Tonight

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 22nd, 2013

Guy FieriOn tonight’s all-new episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (10pm/9c), Guy sets off to find the best of the best of two classic comfort foods: tacos and tater tots. He rolls into Tacoma, Wash., to taste the over-the-top pork tacos and deep-fried four-cheese tots at Dirty Oscar’s Annex before heading to Denver’s Highland Tavern, set in a century-old building that was once the site of a brewing company. There he digs into the ultimate pastrami sandwich, piled high with melted cheese, an over-medium egg and creamy coleslaw, plus golden-brown tater tots and crispy puffed pigs’ skins.

Before he takes off, catch Guy in a marathon of episodes during which he’ll discover local favorites like both red and green chiles in Santa Fe, N.M., and family-run hot spots from New York City all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia. Don’t miss a minute of the coast-to-coast action as Guy chats with two brothers in Brooklyn who are splitting duties behind the bar and in the kitchen, then meets a father who’s working with his kids at his authentic Chinese restaurant and pulling traditional noodles by hand.

Take the trip with him starting at 6pm/5c — follow along and bookmark the restaurants as he goes, and try your hand at the recipes.

From north and south to east and west, Guy’s been everywhere. Next time you’re traveling, download the On the Road app or check out this map to find all of Guy’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives destinations.

Go behind the scenes with Guy

Make Tonight Taco Night — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 22nd, 2013

Poblano, Mushroom and Potato TacosWhile most tacos boast heft and flavor from a filling of ground or grilled meat, it’s indeed possible to stick to an all-vegetable stuffing that offers the same level of sustenance. When eliminating meat from tacos — or any dish at all — it’s important to replace it with similar ingredients that are every bit as hearty and full-flavored so that at the end of the meal, you feel satisfied and content, not craving something else.

In its easy, big-batch recipe for Poblano, Mushroom and Potato Tacos (pictured above), Food Network Magazine cooks up two of the beefiest vegetables available — mushrooms and potatoes — to add to their corn tortilla shells. After sauteing tender Yukon golds until deliciously crispy and golden brown, cook up a cremini mushroom mixture featuring buttery onions and a duo of fresh herbs and garlic. Mild roasted poblano peppers and a splash of Mexican crema add contrasting smoky-cool flavors to the mushroom filling, which is married with zesty lime juice before being served. After stuffing the shells with the potato and mushroom-pepper combination, let your family help themselves to a spread of traditional toppings including cheeses, salsa, guacamole and lettuce so that everyone can finish their tacos with their favorite add-ons.

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Restaurant Revisited: Father’s Second Chance at Old World Italian Restaurant

by in Shows, April 21st, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible“Old, old, old, old” were the first words Robert Irvine said after arriving at the drab, outdated Old World Italian Restaurant in Murrells Inlet, S.C., a 16-year-old eatery owned by George Hayek Sr. and Teresa Hayek. This husband-and-wife duo started the business with their son, George Hayek Jr., after the latter had graduated from culinary school. In the last five years, they’ve noticed a steep decline in customers, which ultimately has resulted in losses of nearly $1,000 per day and the complete elimination of their retirement savings. With just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team tackled fresh, modern updates to Old World Italian’s old-fashioned decor, its bland menu and unstructured management in an effort to give the Hayek family a second chance at success. FN Dish checked in with George Sr. a few months after the transformation to find out how his business is doing today.

“I am happy to report that the makeover has been a smashing success,” he tells FN Dish. “Our sales are up 35 percent since the show has left.”

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Breakfast in a Hurry: Easy Recipes for Quick-Fix Morning Meals

by in Family, Recipes, April 20th, 2013

Egg-in-a-HoleIn the midst of the hustle and bustle that is inevitably your morning routine, it can seemly nearly impossible to serve your kids a breakfast of anything other than cereal, and while of course weekdays are no time for leisurely prepared flapjacks or made-to-order omelets, it’s important to send your little ones to school with a wholesome meal in their bellies. Quick-fix recipes that can be made easily and eaten in a flash are welcome timesavers, and kid-friendly picks like egg-in-toast, breakfast-style pizza and better-for-you ganola bars are go-to classics. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite simple-to-make recipes below for no-fuss morning meal ideas and must-see tips.

The ultimate all-in-one weekday breakfast, the Pioneer Woman’s Egg-in-a-Hole (pictured above) is a kid-friendly favorite that’s ready to eat in only five quick minutes. Using the rim of a round glass, remove a hole in the center of a piece of bread — whatever kind you have on hand will work — then drop it in a buttered skillet and fill the hole with a cracked egg. In less than a minute, the egg will have begun to set within the bread and it will be ready for a gentle flip. Ree recommends letting the egg cook just until the yolk is soft — any longer and it won’t be runny.

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Welcome Home, Sea Salt! — Justin and Sunny Team Up to Rescue Local Kitty

by in Food Network Chef, April 18th, 2013

Sunny AndersonIf you follow Sunny Anderson on Twitter, then you know that the Home Made in America star is perhaps the ultimate cat parent. Her “kitty crew,” comprising Truffle Tycoon, Cheddar Cheese and Milky Mouth, seems to all but rule Sunny’s home — and her Twitter account, which is often hacked by her feline friends. They drop by to share self-portraits, stories of their days alongside their human and pictures of the cozy bed they snuggle in.

So when Sunny found out that her friend and fellow Food Network star, Justin Warner, found a stray cat near his Brooklyn restaurant, Do or Dine, she just couldn’t help but welcome the wide-eyed kitty into her home. On March 21, Sea Salt became the newest member of the Anderson family, quickly transitioning from needy rescue cat into comfortable house pet. “Meow, I’m healthy … the sweeties @Do_or_Dine bathed me, shewwt I feel like a milli,” she tweeted from Sea Salt’s point of view, with pictures of the gray-haired beauty attached.

A few months ago, FN Dish chatted with Sunny during the Thanksgiving Live! pre-show, and she said that if she adopted another cat, she would call it Tater Tot. When it came time to naming her newest addition, however, “Sea Salt just jumped into my head,” she told us.

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