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.

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Chef Estes Makes the Final 10 — The Next Iron Chef Caption It

by in Shows, November 2nd, 2012

For Duskie Estes, the opportunity to compete on The Next Iron Chef didn’t come easily. While the other nine rivals will face their first challenge during Sunday night’s premiere, Chef Estes has already battled — and won — two cook-offs on the Road to Redemption, an online-only Web series that pitted four chefs against each other in a three-round competition. Ultimately, Chefs Madison Cowan, Robert Treviño and Lee Anne Wong fell, but Chef Estes proved herself worthy of Kitchen Stadium glory with winnings in Battle Coconut and Battle Pineapple, and she earned the right to join the cast of The Next Iron Chef.

In this sneak-peek shot from the Next Iron Chef premiere, Chef Estes is seen with a no-nonsense glare and blank expression as she eyes fellow competitor Chef Elizabeth Falkner. Has a twist in the competition caused these chefs to take the spirit of friendly competition too far? Will Chef Estes be able to maintain her focus in the face of week-one stress?

Before you tune in to the Next Iron Chef: Redemption premiere this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out what has these ladies locked in a staring contest, we’re challenging you, Next Iron Chef fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this eye-to-eye moment in the comments below.

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Scary-Simple Tricks and Treats for Last-Minute Halloween Parties

by in Entertaining, Holidays, October 30th, 2012

Monster Cupcakes
With Halloween just hours away, you’re likely feeling prepared for this spooky-sweet holiday by now. Candy and costumes? Check, check. Trick-or-treat plans? Made them. Extra candy? Of course. But then your child comes home from school and announces that he’s volunteered to bring in treats for his classroom Halloween party tomorrow. What do you do? Instead of relying on your secret stash of candy bars to save the day, try preparing easy, kid-friendly sweet treats that will wow your child and surely be the talk of the elementary school.

To start, follow Sandra Lee’s lead and embrace the magic that is Semi-Homemade Cooking. Her Monster Cupcakes come together in just 20 quick minutes, thanks to pre-made unfrosted cupcakes. The secret to working with store-bought goodies is putting your own signature spin on them. These cupcakes, for example, become extra special and look downright homemade once you — or your kids — decorate them. Sandra opts for green-tinted frosting and colorful candies to create simple, silly monsters.

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Huevos “Ranch”eros — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, October 29th, 2012

Huevos When you’ve run through your repertoire of supper staples and want to add something new to the mix of weeknight meals, try thinking beyond dinner recipes and incorporating breakfast favorites into your routine instead. Offering just as hearty a meal as more traditional dinners, eggs can be dressed up beyond their everyday scrambles and be turned into satisfying dishes in a flash.

In their recipe for Huevos “Ranch”eros (pictured above), Food Network Magazine takes humble fried eggs to the next delicious level by preparing a rich tomato-bean mixture to serve with them. The secret ingredient in this combination is the chipotles in adobo sauce — they pack a hefty punch of flavor, a bit of heat and plenty of traditional Southwestern taste. Serve the eggs atop a scoop of beans and finish with slices of creamy, cool avocado and a sprinkle of Cotija cheese. As a crispy-crunchy side dish, deep-fry a batch of corn tortillas and finish them with a dusting of dry ranch dressing mix.

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Duff Goldman’s Halloween Candy for Grownups

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, October 27th, 2012

Duff Goldman
With the pint-sized costumes and hours of trick-or-treating that all but define Halloween, it can seem as though this spooky-sweet holiday is just for kids. But youngsters aren’t the only ones who can enjoy Halloween and especially the buckets of candy that come with it. Sure, store-bought miniature candy bars may be the treat of choice handed out to Batman, clowns and princess look-alikes on Wednesday night, but you don’t have to settle for individually wrapped peanut butter cups when feeding adults. For grown-up Halloween goodies, try making your own chocolate truffles with help from dessert extraordinaire Chef Duff Goldman, owner of Charm City Cakes bakeries in Maryland and California and the star of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes and Sugar High.

In partnership with Godiva, Duff recently launched Cake Truffles, a line of candy truffles inspired by classic desserts, and we caught up with him to get the secret to candy making for beginners and to find out his favorite truffle from the decadent collection.

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Alton’s Close-Up — The Next Iron Chef Caption It

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, October 25th, 2012

Alton Brown
After two hard-fought battles between Chefs Madison Cowan and Lee Anne Wong then Chefs Robert Treviño and Duskie Estes, the Next Iron Chef Road to Redemption wraps up tomorrow with a third and final Kitchen Stadium showdown, this time between victors Chefs Wong and Estes. The chef whose cuisine reigns supreme will join nine rival chefs in the journey to claim the ultimate culinary title on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, premiering next Sunday, November 4 at 9pm/8c.

Until the battle begins, however, it seems as though the focus in Kitchen Stadium will be on Road to Redemption host and judge Alton Brown. In this sneak-peek shot from tomorrow’s finale, Alton turns the cameras on himself for a few moments of close-up face time before revealing the Secret Ingredient. Is he simply working on a blooper real, or is this one-man show part of the battle? Will we see the Road to Redemption‘s other judges, Simon Majumdar and Iron Chef Jose Garces, in similar frames?

Before you watch Chefs Wong and Estes face off for Kitchen Stadium glory, we’re challenging you, Next Iron Chef Road to Redemption fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

Watch the final battle

Bobby and Giada Talk Food Network Star and First Days on TV

by in Events, Food Network Chef, October 25th, 2012

Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay and Julia Moskin
When Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis took the stage at New York City’s Times Center, it didn’t take long for these longtime friends and colleagues to start passing playful, well-meaning jabs to one another. The two joined Julia Moskin of The New York Times as part of a series of TimesTalks during the New York City Wine & Food Festival, and what followed was a lighthearted conversation about food, Food Network Star and their early days on the network. Never one to miss a beat, Bobby jokingly told the audience, “As you know, Giada invented Italian food,” while Food Network’s resident Italian superstar took the dig in stride before returning the favor to Bobby. She told the story of how he claimed on national television to have discovered a secret pasta-making strategy, when in fact it was she who deserved the credit.

In no time, their chat turned to the most-recent season of Food Network Star, in which Justin Warner, mentor Alton Brown’s Rebel With a Culinary Cause, scored the most votes from at-home viewers and was crowned Food Network’s newest star. Bobby and Giada, also mentors to teams of Star contenders, looked back on the season and agreed that while other contestants may have turned out better food, Justin “is a talented entertainer” and “has a real chance to make some noise” now that he has claimed the top prize.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, October 22nd, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

When autumn hands you a bounty of butternut squash, what do you do with it? You could caramelize it with butter, roast it until tender or serve it with pasta, but you might also puree it into a thick, hearty soup. Butternut squash pairs well with other flavors of fall, like pumpkin and cinnamon, and Michael Chiarello’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup recipe combines them all to create an in-season bowl of comfort.

To prepare, Michael first roasts butternut squash with a sweet and tangy mixture of balsamic vinegar and molasses before adding it to a pot of sautéed vegetables, coriander and a single cinnamon stick. A pass through the blender before serving guarantees that this hearty soup will turn out thick and smooth every time. For added texture, top each bowl with a dollop of creamy mascarpone cheese and a few crunchy pumpkin seeds before enjoying. Be sure to swap in vegetable stock or broth for the chicken stock to keep this meal meatless.

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Let the Cook-Off Begin: Rachael vs. Guy Returns for Star-Studded Season 2

by in Shows, October 21st, 2012

Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri

It’s once again time to roll out the red carpet because FN Dish is announcing for the first time the star-studded cast of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off Season 2. Just like last season’s competition, this year’s showdown will feature two of Food Network’s culinary A-listers, Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri, leading teams of celebrities as they battle it out over the course of seven weeks for top Hollywood honor and a sizable donation to the charity of their choice.

Competing in the Season 2 cook-off is a straight-from-Hollywood lineup: Chilli from the pop/R&B group TLC; actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried; designer, author and philanthropist Cornelia Guest; actor and reality television star Dean McDermott; actor Kathy Najimy from Sister Act; former NFL player, Super Bowl champion and MVP Hines Ward; singer Carnie Wilson from Wilson Philips; and two-time Olympic figure skater and three-time U.S. National Champion Johnny Weir.

Not your average cooking show competitors, these eight finalists are amateur cooks, having spent far more time singing, acting or performing for fans than braising or grilling in the kitchen. But what it lacks in professional experience and advanced culinary know-how, this group surely makes up for in energy, charisma and downright charm.

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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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