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.

Put Your Paws Up: Rachael Ray Rolls Out Food Truck for Dogs in NYC

by in Events, Food Network Chef, October 20th, 2012

Rachael Ray's Food Truck for Dogs

Just when you thought Rachael Ray had done it all, Food Network’s own 30-minute maven and the host of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off unleashed a “pup-up” food truck for dogs in New York City last week. This mobile canine caterer dishes out not your everyday kibble but human-quality meals like Chicken Muttballs, Beef Stroganwoof and Tail Waggin’ Turkey to packs of pooches across Manhattan. These “wet” dishes are part of the Nutrish Naturally Delish line of dog foods from Nutrish, Rachael’s own brand of dog food. We were on hand at the unveiling of this never-before-seen food truck and caught up with Rachael to find out why this truck is so important to her and learn the trick to preparing dog food from scratch at home.

A passionate dog owner herself, Rachael noticed that, in recent years, animal shelters have accumulated many unwanted dogs, so she took it upon herself to support them by donating all of her proceeds from Nutrish. “This is a way to raise a lot of money to help shelters large and small get the animals adopted,” she explained. She worked with Nutrish to create recipes similar to those she feeds her own dog, Isaboo, and makes sure that all of the food produced is wholesome and safe for pets.

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Afternoon Eats for Young Athletes — School Days

by in Family, Recipes, October 20th, 2012

Peanut-Raisin Granola Bars
Back to SchoolSchool is officially in session, and just as kids may stomp their feet in protest all the way to the bus stop, so, too, might moms and dads as they face another daunting year of keeping their little learners full and healthy. As you think of the new school year and wonder how you’ll be able to do it all, look to Food Network’s Back-to-School Headquarters to help you make the grade. Each week this fall FN Dish will share can-do weeknight meals, easy lunchbox picks, after-school snack strategies and more from our best collection of recipes and tips.

This week’s back-to-school lesson takes us out of the classroom and to the athletic field. So many kids are young athletes as well as full-time students, and they often go straight from school to sporting practices or games. For most, these commitments come hours after they’ve eaten lunch and demand high reserves of energy and focus for long periods of time, so it’s important that kids have munchies on hand to sustain them until supper. But it can be tough to track down munchies that are not only healthful and filling but also easily packed. On days when you know that your child will be running from one activity to the next, send off him or her with a few of Food Network’s favorite snacks for athletes, easy to eat on the go and deliciously satisfying, too.

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Trisha Yearwood 2.0: The Return of Southern Flavor

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, October 19th, 2012

Trisha YearwoodTrisha Yearwood is back with even more Southern charm in season two of her show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen. Join Trisha and her family in Oklahoma as they enjoy great music, delicious food and nostalgic stories. This season will be themed around celebrations such as Southern brunch, Sunday dinner and holiday gatherings.  The show will feature old family-favorite recipes like Miss Mickey’s Peanut Butter Balls, a No-Baste No-Bother Roasted Turkey and even lighter dishes like Corn Flake Chicken With Apple Ambrosia that are light in calories yet still full of flavor. Tune in tomorrow at 11am ET/PT to watch Trisha create delicious meals and tell great stories while surrounded by family and friends.

We caught up with Trisha to get the scoop on upcoming episodes and she told us that looking ahead, viewers can expect the return of everything they enjoyed about her first season: simple, relaxed food and plenty of family and friends in the kitchen. She’s especially looking forward to preparing dishes like a Thai-inspired salad and Black Bean Lasagna for her husband, musician Garth Brooks.

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Next Iron Chef Rivals Unite at New York City Wine & Food Festival

by in Events, Shows, October 18th, 2012

The Next Iron Chef: Redemption
With just two weeks to go until the premiere of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, eight of this season’s rival chefs, Nate Appleman, Amanda Freitag, Elizabeth Falkner, Eric Greenspan, Alex Guarnaschelli, Jehangir Mehta, Spike Mendelsohn and Marcel Vigneron, joined Alton Brown and reigning Iron Chefs Masaharu Morimoto, Marc Forgione, Michael Symon, Geoffrey Zakarian and Jose Garces for a night of competition-free cooking at the New York City Wine & Food Festival. Though the competition will certainly be fierce once the battle kicks off Sunday, November 4, last weekend’s Next Iron Chef event was all in good fun, the Iron Chef hopefuls coming together to chat with fans, watch sneak-peek clips of the first episode and dish out late-night party bites worthy of Kitchen Stadium.

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Restaurant Revisited: Oleander Bar & Grill

by in Shows, October 17th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible
For Kelli Truman and Abby Grabow, owners of Oleander Bar & Grill in Olean, N.Y., Robert Irvine’s visit to their restaurant was a much-needed effort to save the business they opened just six months earlier. This mother-daughter duo needed Robert’s help to transform the dark dining room into a comfortable space, rethink their tired menu and improve their strained relationship if Oleander were to have any chance at lasting success. We checked in with Abby a few months after Oleander’s Restaurant: Impossible overhaul to see how the business has been doing since Robert left.

In the first two weeks after the renovation, Oleander saw sales increase nearly 50 percent.

The restaurant’s updated decor has been well received by diners who “love the fresh, clean, modern look of the design,” Abby says. She also notes that “the serious burger, shrimp tempura and crab bisque are the best-selling items that Robert added” to Oleander’s revamped menu.

Though Jaye no longer works at the restaurant, Abby says that “the staff that remains is very loyal and everyone has been working together to rebuild business.”

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Marble Lane Scores 2012 Sandwich Showdown Win

by in Events, Food Network Chef, October 16th, 2012

Jeff Mauro and the Marble Lane Team at the 2012 Sandwich Showdown
It was an afternoon fit for sandwich enthusiasts last weekend, as Jeff Mauro joined nearly 20 restaurants for a Sandwich Showdown at the New York City Wine & Food Festival. Food Network’s own Sandwich King hosted the deliciously competitive event, which pitted sandwich maker versus sandwich maker in a battle of between-bread creations. While classic deli sandwiches made an appearance at this all-you-can-eat extravaganza, the dressed-up sandwiches — those that combined toasted, buttered bread, beefy cuts of meat, gourmet cheese and more — stole the show.

While planning for Thanksgiving dinner probably hasn’t even begun for most of us, event sponsor Whole Foods Market embraced Turkey Day leftovers with its Thanksgiving panini. Tender fresh turkey, smooth potatoes, sweet-tart cranberry sauce and more traditional staples were layered on herbed bread, grilled until crunchy and topped with a light sage drizzle.

In a showing of timeless comfort, Little Muenster cooked up a classic pairing: grilled cheese and tomato soup. Stuffed with richly decadent Taleggio cheese and finely chopped mushrooms, and served with cheese-topped tomato soup, these weren’t the everyday sandwiches from your childhood.

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Tortellini With Pumpkin Alfredo — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, October 15th, 2012

Tortellini With Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce
‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin, right? This fall, Food Network Magazine is thinking beyond pumpkin bread and pumpkin seeds with a family-friendly recipe for Tortellini With Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce. It’s a go-to weeknight meal that’s as decadent and satisfying as it is quick to prepare. In just 20 minutes, you can combine Alfredo mainstays like cream and nutty Parmesan cheese with the seasonal flavors of nutmeg and pumpkin to create a rich, hearty sauce that pairs perfectly with bite-sized cheese tortellini. When you’re shopping for the ingredients to the make this recipe, be sure to pick up pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling – the two cans can be scary-similar to one another, and the pie filling will be too sweet in this savory dish.

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Chopped Judges Dish Out Comfort Food at New York City Wine & Food Festival

by in Events, Food Network Chef, October 12th, 2012

Amanda FreitagOn a cool, crisp Thursday night in New York City, there was no better place to be than tucked inside Chef Marc Murphy’s swanky Midtown Manhattan restaurant, Landmarc, surrounded by the entire judges’ panel of Food Network’s Chopped. Yesterday together with Chef Murphy, Chefs Ted Allen, Amanda Freitag, Geoffrey Zakarian, Aarón Sanchez, Alex Guarnaschelli, Maneet Chauhan, Scott Conant, Marcus Samuelsson and Chris Santos kicked off the first night of the New York City Wine & Food Festival with a late-night party to celebrate the show with more than 100 hungry guests.

Each chef cooked up a signature creation, and while their plates ranged from savory snacks and beefy main dishes to sweet dessert treats, they were all reinvented, dressed-up versions of classic comfort food, like pasta, sliders, ice cream sandwiches and more.

Chef Freitag, pictured above, was dishing out an oversized batch of Truffled Orzo With Broccolini and Parmigianino Reggiano. This creamy, cheesy risotto-like pasta was pure comfort in a bowl.

More photos after the jump

VOTE: Sandra Lee’s Best Halloween Costume

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, October 12th, 2012

Sandra Lee
It’s no secret that Sandra Lee is the queen of Halloween. Year after year, we watch as this semi-homemade maven redesigns her kitchen into a themed masterpiece and cooks up ghoulishly simple eats and drinks to celebrate this spooky holiday. But perhaps most impressively, Sandra dons next-level Halloween costumes that all but transform her into the timeless characters she portrays. Some of her most-memorable outfits include Alice in Wonderland (pictured above), which she sported in last year’s Sandra in Halloween Wonderland; Audrey Hepburn, complete with a sky-high bun and signature sunglasses; and a sword-yielding Lady Marian.

This year we’re asking you, the fans, to relive Sandra’s top Halloween moments and vote for her best-ever costume. Check out all 18 of Sandra’s costumes here, and then cast your fan vote for your favorite look up to 10 times per day.

For more Halloween tricks and treats from Sandra, watch this collection of videos in which she shares no-fail tips and recipes to help you host a hauntingly easy Halloween bash.

Visit Food Network’s Halloween Headquarters to find recipes for scary-good sweet treats, party-ready munchies and more Halloween must-haves.

Restaurant Revisited: Valley Inn

by in Shows, October 10th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible
Valley Inn restaurant in Palos Hills, Ill., is a 40-year-old eatery with a history of success. Recently, however, the restaurant had fallen on hard times, and owner Dennis Ristucci needed Robert Irvine’s help to restore Valley Inn to its former glory. In only two days, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team tackled a dark, dirty dining space and low-quality food before reopening to a line of hungry customers. We checked in with Dennis to see how his business is doing a few months after its renovation.

Since Robert left, sales at Valley Inn have increased nearly 85 percent. Dennis tells us that the revised menu and updated decor “have drawn new interest from the neighborhood.” Among his favorite aspects of the remodel are the more inviting entry space and improved flooring.

Today, Valley Inn’s menu is a mix of the restaurant’s original dishes and those that Robert created, and Dennis says that “customers like the combination.” Additionally, he notes that the restaurant is no longer using any frozen food. Dennis tells us his staff are “more attentive to customers” and welcome diners “with big smiles and stories about the show.” He adds that “everyone has been doing their part and cleaning, too.”

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