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.

How to Holiday Shop on a Budget: Clever Gifts for $20 and $50

by in Holidays, December 7th, 2012

It’s no surprise that between shopping for dinner parties, holiday open houses, tree trimmings, decorations and, of course, presents, it can be easy to rack up a hefty spending bill as you celebrate the season of giving. This year, as you shop for close family members, distant relatives and relative strangers alike, let Food Network’s holiday gift guides rescue your wallet from the seasonal pinch. You’ve heard it before: It’s not the amount of money you spend on a gift but the thought you put into it that counts. Food Network’s collection of both quirky and classic items makes it easy to find presents that are both inexpensive and full of heart for everyone on your list. Check out a few of our favorite gifts below, then browse our entire collection of goodies in our gift guides, organized into two price increments: those less than $20 and those less than $50. Tell us in the comments below: What’s the best, most inexpensive gift you’ve ever given?

More clever gifts

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Fans React to a Fallen Favorite

by in Shows, December 7th, 2012

Chef Elizabeth FalknerThe Next Iron Chef Fan Post of the WeekShocking to say the least, Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s elimination last Sunday night was downright powerful and emotional, not only for Chef Falkner, her fellow chefs and the judges, but also you, Next Iron Chef fans. After all, given her string of successful Showdown wins and a first-place finish in the Chairman’s Challenge of Transformation, Chef Falkner seemed to be on the fast track to Redemption glory, and fans were just waiting for her to finally claim the title of The Next Iron Chef. On Sunday, however, things took a troublesome turn and, in a moment of striking déjà vu, she crumbled in the Chairman’s ingredient auction and a head-to-head Showdown against the rival she had chosen, just like Chef Anne Burrell did in this challenge last season. Despite a smart Caesar salad and fried anchovies, Chef Falkner was told that she would not become The Next Iron Chef, and within minutes, fans Tweeted @FoodNetwork and took to our Facebook timeline and blog to express their disappointment, confusion and sadness over her early exit.

Questioning Chef Falkner’s quick decline on the road to redemption, K. Patrice Williams posted a comment on Facebook (pictured above) that speaks to both Chef Falkner’s highest and lowest moments of the competition. “I can believe I cried when they eliminated her. I’m still shocked. I was convinced she was going to be The Next Iron Chef. How does someone [go from making] the best dessert any of the judges have ever tasted to getting eliminated the next week?” she wondered, echoing the sentiments of fellow Falkner fans.

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Jeff Mauro’s PB and J Blondie — 12 Days of Cookies

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 7th, 2012

PB & J Blondie
12 Days of CookiesIt’s time for 12 Days of Cookies, Food Network’s annual virtual cookie swap. Each day, visit us here on FN Dish for a peek at new holiday cookies, party-planning tips and top techniques for rolling, spooning, slicing, baking and decorating delicious sweet treats to give — or keep — from your favorite Food Network chefs.

Leave it to the Sandwich King to take what’s perhaps the ultimate American sandwich – the PB & J – and turn it into a deliciously sweet dessert. Instead of using actual peanut butter to guarantee a nutty taste, Jeff adds peanut butter chips and crushed roasted peanuts to the buttery batter, and he opts for fruit preserves in place of jams or jellies. Depending on what your family’s favorite taste is, top the batter with raspberry, strawberry or grape preserves and use a knife to achieve a swirly effect before baking these blondies.

Get Jeff’s PB and J Blondie recipe and check out 12 Days of Cookies for dozens more recipes and holiday baking inspiration. Then, join the conversation: Tell us what you’re baking this season and what your all-time favorite cookie is.

Host your best cookie swap yet with these easy party ideas

Bobby Flay’s Triple Chocolate Cookies — 12 Days of Cookies

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 6th, 2012

Triple Chocolate Cookies
12 Days of CookiesIt’s time for 12 Days of Cookies, Food Network’s annual virtual cookie swap. Each day, visit us here on FN Dish for a peek at new holiday cookies, party-planning tips and top techniques for rolling, spooning, slicing, baking and decorating delicious sweet treats to give — or keep — from your favorite Food Network chefs.

Chocolate lovers, beware: these over-the-top treats are packed with a sinfully decadent combination of bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and a duo of white and semisweet chocolate chips. For a crunchy bite amongst the smooth chocolate, Bobby adds a cup of chopped toasted pecans to the mixture before baking. Although this recipe calls for a few teaspoons of espresso powder, the cookies won’t take on a coffee taste; the espresso simply enhances the richness of the chocolate without adding flavor.

Get Bobby’s Triple Chocolate Cookies recipe and check out 12 Days of Cookies for dozens more recipes and holiday baking inspiration. Then, join the conversation: Tell us what you’re baking this season and what your all-time favorite cookie is.

Learn how to decorate cookies like the pros

Restaurant Revisited: Bronk’s Bar and Grill

by in Shows, December 5th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleFacing the imminent closure of their 11-year-old restaurant, Bronk’s Bar and Grill, husband and wife owners, Erik and Tracy Brunkow, turned to Robert Irvine for help in saving their business. This Lake City, Minn., eatery had been serving dishes made mostly from frozen food in an out-of-date, unadorned space, but thanks to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team, it reopened with a fresh menu and vibrant decor to match. We checked in with Erik a few months after the transformation to see how Bronk’s is doing now.

Immediately after the renovation, sales at Bronk’s grew significantly, doubling during weekdays and tripling on weekends. Erik says that customers have come from near and far to see and taste the changes, and everyone is wowed by the updated decor. “They say it’s brighter, fresher and more open,” he explains. “People are noticing our tin ceiling all of a sudden, which was there originally.”

Bronk’s is still serving the updated menu exclusively, and Erik notes that they’re using only fresh, never-frozen ingredients. He adds that the specialty sauces that Robert created have been extremely well-received by diners. “People want us to bottle them and sell them at the store.”

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Anne Burrell’s Pignoli Cookies — 12 Days of Cookies

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 5th, 2012

Anne Burrell's Pignoli Cookies
12 Days of CookiesIt’s time for 12 Days of Cookies, Food Network’s annual virtual cookie swap. Each day, visit us here on FN Dish for a peek at new holiday cookies, party-planning tips and top techniques for rolling, spooning, slicing, baking and decorating delicious sweet treats to give — or keep — from your favorite Food Network chefs.

A classic Italian Christmas cookie, the pignoli is made with just a handful of ingredients and takes only 35 minutes to prepare. Anne mixes up a light batter of almond paste, smooth powdered sugar and warm cinnamon, as well as lemon zest, which offers a bright, fresh flavor. After you’ve piped the dough into 1-inch balls, top them with crunchy pine nuts — pignoli — and bake for just 12-14 minutes until these two-bite cookies are a golden hue.

Get Sunny’s Anne Burrell’s Pignoli Cookies recipe and check out 12 Days of Cookies for dozens more recipes and holiday baking inspiration. Then, join the conversation: Tell us what you’re baking this season and what your all-time favorite cookie is.

Get recipes for past cookies

Sunny Anderson’s Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookies — 12 Days of Cookies

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 4th, 2012

Sunny Anderson's Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookies
12 Days of CookiesIt’s time for 12 Days of Cookies, Food Network’s annual virtual cookie swap. Each day, visit us here on FN Dish for a peek at new holiday cookies, party-planning tips and top techniques for rolling, spooning, slicing, baking and decorating delicious sweet treats to give — or keep — from your favorite Food Network chefs.

Just when you thought that timeless chocolate chippers couldn’t get any better, Sunny delivers these dressed-up beauties, made with crushed red or green candy canes and a pinch of fragrant pumpkin pie spice. The cool, minty flavor of the candy canes is balanced by the taste of the seasonal spice, which Sunny says “should be added to any of your chocolate chip cookie recipes for an added hit of warmth and flavor.”

Get Sunny’s Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookies recipe and check out 12 Days of Cookies for dozens more recipes and holiday baking inspiration. Then, join the conversation: Tell us what you’re baking this season and what your all-time favorite cookie is.

Get more top holiday cookie recipes

Macaroni and Cheese Two Ways — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, December 3rd, 2012

Baked Macaroni and CheeseThere are two kinds of people: those who bake and those who don’t bake – their macaroni and cheese, that is. For some, the classic combination of tender pasta and a creamy cheese sauce just isn’t complete until it’s been finished in the oven with even more cheese and perhaps a crunchy topping, but for others, this hearty, comforting meal is ready to eat just as soon as the stovetop mixture is made. For Meatless Monday dinner this week, try switching up your usual macaroni and cheese routine with these no-fail recipes for baked and no-bake versions of this family favorite.

Boasting four different kinds of cheeses — Havarti, Cheddar, American and Parmesan — Food Network Magazine‘s big-batch Baked Macaroni and Cheese (pictured above) is a fill-you-up dinner that will wow kids and grown-ups alike. To prepare, create a thick, rich sauce of butter, dry mustard and the melted cheeses, and mix it with partially cooked pasta. Once in a casserole dish, top the macaroni with extra cheese and a blanket of crunchy butter crackers before baking it until the cheese is piping hot and deliciously gooey.

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Tyler Florence’s Dark Chocolate Truffles — 12 Days of Cookies

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 3rd, 2012

Tyler Florence's Dark Chocolate Truffles
12 Days of CookiesIt’s time for 12 Days of Cookies, Food Network’s annual virtual cookie swap. Each day, visit us here on FN Dish for a peek at new holiday cookies, party-planning tips and top techniques for rolling, spooning, slicing, baking and decorating delicious sweet treats to give — or keep — from favorite Food Network chefs.

Not quite cookies but every bit as deliciously indulgent, these rich chocolate bites are made with just four everyday baking ingredients: cream, dark chocolate, vanilla extract and cocoa powder. Tyler’s truffles can be made a few days ahead of time, so look to his recipe if you need an easy yet elegant party-ready dessert or an edible holiday present that can easily be packaged and gifted to friends and family.

Get Tyler’s Dark Chocolate Truffles recipe and check out 12 Days of Cookies for dozens more recipes and holiday baking inspiration. Then, join the conversation: Tell us what you’re baking this season and what your all-time favorite cookie is.

Learn how to decorate cookies like the pros

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Midseason Review: The Craziest Moments So Far of The Next Iron Chef

by in Shows, December 2nd, 2012

Chef Amanda FreitagWe’re only halfway through this unprecedented season of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, and it’s already proven to be one for the ages. In just four short weeks, we’ve witnessed the first Chairman’s Challenge in which the rivals have cooked with their secret ingredients before, Kitchen Stadium’s very first food fight and an unparalleled chef alliance that left the judges’ panel a bit miffed and two rivals on the brink of elimination. When it comes to battling for redemption, nothing is predictable.

With all of the drama unfolding week after week, you can be sure that we’ve collected a now-overflowing batch of images that captures the most-memorable unfoldings from these unforgettable episodes. Want to relive the craziest moments of Next Iron Chef so far? Check out this season-in-review photo gallery and see just what this year’s group of rivals has been up to in the competition.

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