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.

Chatting With the Round-2 Winner of Chopped Champions

by in Shows, January 22nd, 2013

Chefs Walter D'Rozario and Vinson PetrilloIn an all-new season of Chopped Champions, 16 chefs, each with a previous Chopped win under his or her belt, are returning to the kitchen to face off for a second time in the ultimate multicourse cook-off. Although they’re no strangers to mystery baskets, these chefs are under more pressure than ever, as they’re competing not just for Chopped glory but also a spot in the finale where they can ultimately claim a $50,000 prize and the coveted title of Grand Champion.

Each week, four chefs will take their places in the kitchen and battle it out in the hopes of outlasting the chopping block once again. While three will crumble beneath the demands of Champions cooking, one will prove his or her culinary chops for a second time. Check in with FN Dish every Tuesday night after the episode to hear from the latest winner.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who won

Kid-Friendly Cheese Quesadillas — Meatless Monday

by in Family, Recipes, January 21st, 2013

Cheese Quesadillas
Just when you thought between the late nights at the office, your child’s after-school sports practices and a seemingly never-ending list of errands that you simply don’t have time to cook a from-scratch supper during the week, Paula introduces her recipe for Cheese Quesadillas (pictured above), a family-friendly dinner pick that is ready to eat in only 20 quick minutes. With just a handful of ingredients, she turns kid-approved favorites like cheddar cheese and soft tortillas into warming comfort food that can be finished with any number of Mexican-inspired toppings. If you have salsa, sour cream and guacamole left over from your big game tailgate last weekend, give those dips a second life atop the quesadillas — Paula looks to those tried-and-true favorites to complete this simple supper.

Cooking for adults or perhaps a young eater with an adventurous appetite? Try Rachael’s vegetable-packed quesadilla for another easy weeknight dinner. In her Wild Mushroom Quesadillas With Warm Black Bean Salsa, she flavors both cremini and shiitake mushrooms with fresh thyme and cooks the mixture with sharp white cheddar cheese inside tortillas until the cheese is melted and the tortillas have crisped slightly. A bold topping of warm salsa with hearty black beans, tender corn and barbecue sauce finishes this top-rated meal on a flavorful note.

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Beyond the Chopped Basket: What to Make With Plantains

by in Shows, January 19th, 2013

Onion-Crusted PlantainsSo often on Chopped we see chef contestants open their mystery baskets to find such odd, uncommon and downright scary ingredients — pre-cooked pig snout, pickled beef tongue or grasshoppers, anyone? — that it can seem nearly impossible for home cooks to put them to work in everyday meals. On other episodes, however, the ingredients are far less intimidating yet not quite familiar. That’s where we come in. Each week during the brand-new season of Chopped Champions, FN Dish will break down the whats, hows and whens of an approachable, family-friendly ingredient and share deliciously simple recipes for using it, so that you can show off your best culinary chops at home. Following last Tuesday’s round-1 competition, the focus is now on plantains, which made an appearance in the dessert round alongside spiral ham, water chestnuts and spiced rum.

A close cousin of the yellow banana, green plantains are similar in look and shape to the classic fruit, but instead of being peeled back and enjoyed raw at the breakfast table, they’re most often cooked so that they lose their signature tough, firm bite. Plantains aren’t quite as sweet as bananas, so they can be featured in savory dishes as well as sweet desserts, like they were on Champions, and they hold their shape well even when exposed to the high heat of the deep-fryer or grill. The key to successfully working with plantains at home is letting them take their time cooking. On Tuesday’s Chopped episode, Chef Sean Scotese explained, “Green plantains need a lot of love. They need to be fried or boiled until they’re soft and crispy.” Try your hand at plantains this weekend with easy recipes from Food Network Magazine below.

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Game-Day Dips — Football Fare

by in Recipes, January 18th, 2013

Lucky 7 Layer DipWhile the New Year ushers in thoughts of renewed resolutions, changes big and small and promises of fresh starts, it also culminates in a season of something else: football. To celebrate this football-focused month, FN Dish is bringing you weekly roundups of your favorite tailgate-ready munchies like juicy chicken wings, deliciously salty chips and dips, hearty sliders, decadent chocolate brownies and others to help you host the ultimate big game bash every weekend. Check back each Friday in January for a complete menu of must-try recipes, plus simple entertaining tips and more winning ideas that are sure to score touchdowns with your friends and family.

Leave it to simple bowls of chips and dip to bring together crowds of hungry football fans like nothing else. To the host or hostess , dips are the ultimate appetizer since they require no hands-on time to plate or serve after they’re prepped; just set them on the table and the job is done. For game-focused fans, too, chips and dip are a winning snack, as they can be enjoyed effortlessly without averting attention from the television. The secret to offering a winning spread of dips is making a few different kinds so that you know you’ll have something to please everyone.

Keep reading for recipes

The Return of the Worst Cooks in America

by in Shows, January 17th, 2013

Worst Cooks in AmericaYou may not be able to crank out a four-course dinner in an hour and your souffles may sink more often than they rise, but don’t despair because when it comes to grasping basic culinary know-how, you’re likely leagues ahead of the helpless kitchen novices on Worst Cooks in America.

Come February, Food Network will kick off an all-new season of competition among the best of the worst in the kitchen, as Chefs Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay return to lead 14 of the Worst Cooks in America through a rigorous, no-nonsense Boot Camp. This year’s recruits have been nominated by friends and family who’ve had the unfortunate experience of tasting the smelly, nauseating and overall unappealing creations these culinary felons are notorious for preparing . Chefs Anne and Bobby have just seven weeks to transform these cooking disasters into fearless kitchen leaders, and at the end of that time, the top competitors from each team will face off in a final showing for Worst Cooks glory and a life-changing $25,000 prize.

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Best 5 Vegetable Soup Recipes

by in Recipes, January 17th, 2013

Ravioli and Vegetable Soup
Whether you’re fighting a winter cold, trying to escape the chill of January air or simply craving winter comfort food, look to hearty bowls of vegetable soup to warm you up in a flash. Check out Food Network’s top five vegetable soup recipes below for no-fail hearty suppers, complete with satisfying seasonal produce. Then tell us in the comments: What’s your favorite warming meal?

5. Ravioli and Vegetable Soup — Best finished with nutty Parmesan cheese, Food Network Magazine‘s quick-cooking soup gets its heft from store-bought cheese ravioli and escarole, a nutrient-rich green.

4. Provencal Vegetable Soup — Ina simmers potatoes, carrots and haricots verts until the vegetables are tender, then mixes in one final key element before serving: pistou, a traditional French mixture of garlic, tomato paste, basil, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
Get the top three recipes

Restaurant Revisited: Windseeker Restaurant

by in Shows, January 16th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Food Network's Restaurant: ImpossibleFor Windseeker Restaurant in The Dalles, Ore., the problems went beyond a tired dining room and lackluster food. They had been battling negative press for years, and owner Veta Bingman and general manager Patty Taylor faced a constant struggle to attract customers to their out-of-the-way location, despite the breathtaking river views that surround them. In just two days and with a $10,000 budget, Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team transformed the eatery into a sophisticated space complete with a high-quality menu that would improve Windseeker’s local reputation. We checked in with Patty a few months after Robert left to find out how the restaurant is doing today.

Comparing year-over-year numbers, Patty says that “Business is up by $30,000″ following the renovation, and she adds that the cost of food and wages has increased as well. Since their Restaurant: Impossible experience, the staff has not borrowed money from the restaurant.

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Chatting With the Round-1 Winner of Chopped Champions

by in Shows, January 15th, 2013

Chefs Kenneth Johnson and Sean ScoteseIn an all-new season of Chopped Champions, 16 chefs, each with a previous Chopped win under his or her belt, are returning to the kitchen to face off for a second time in the ultimate multicourse cook-off. Although they’re no strangers to mystery baskets, these chefs are under more pressure than ever, as they’re competing not just for Chopped glory but also a spot in the finale where they can ultimately claim a $50,000 prize and the coveted title of Grand Champion.

Each week, four chefs will take their places in the kitchen and battle it out in the hopes of outlasting the chopping block once again. While three will ultimately crumble beneath the demands of Champions cooking, one will prove his or her culinary chops for a second time. Check in with FN Dish every Tuesday night after the episode to hear from the latest winner.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who won

What to Watch: Bobby’s Dinner Battle

by in Shows, January 15th, 2013

Bobby's Dinner BattleIf you’ve ever felt overwhelmed at the prospect of entertaining a houseful of party guests or cooking a meal for your opinionated relatives, then you can begin to imagine the pressure under which home cooks find themselves on Bobby’s Dinner Battle, Bobby Flay‘s newest show that challenges three teams of home cooks to prepare three-course dinner parties for this professional chef and restaurateur. Although they don’t have formal culinary training, the contestants are not simply kitchen novices. They consider themselves to be some of the best home cooks in their area and pride themselves on their ability to craft full-flavored, restaurant-quality meals using advanced techniques in their kitchens at home.

Each week, Bobby will travel to a different city where new groups of home cooks must put their best culinary chops forward in themed challenges to create event menus with limited time and money. Bobby will be joined by a special guest in each city, and these esteemed dinner party guests will help judge the competitors on the taste and presentation of their offerings, plus how well they’ve embraced the given theme.

Tune in to the series premiere of Bobby’s Dinner Battle on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 10pm/9c.

An Entree Salad You’ll Enjoy Eating — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, January 14th, 2013

Big Greek SaladHow many times have you gone to a restaurant with a deliciously full menu of tempting offerings only to order that healthful, lower-calorie salad you think you should eat instead of what you really want? At the end of the meal, you’re still craving fettuccine Alfredo and now are a bit cranky because that bowl of lettuce leaves just didn’t fill you up, right? The same scenario likely plays out at home, too, as you wrestle with hankerings for pizza and instead tuck into an everyday tossed salad.

Now that the healthy-eating season is in full swing and it seems like everyone is committed to making smarter food and fitness choices in the New Year — well, at least in the month of January — it’s time to master the entree salad: that flavor-packed dish of not just lettuce and lemon juice but also other, more filling ingredients that surely won’t leave you feeling deprived. The key to enjoying a salad as a meal is to incorporate creamy cheeses, crisp vegetables, crunchy crackers, good-for-you grains and just about anything else you have on hand so that it becomes something substantial that you look forward to eating.

Keep reading for the recipes