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.

Slow-Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, January 28th, 2013

Slow-Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil SoupWhen you eliminate meat from your diet — even just one day a week — you likely end up craving the taste and texture of something hearty and beefy, something substantial to sink your teeth into. For that, look to lentils. These protein-rich rounds are indeed small in size, but they pack a surprisingly satisfying punch and a chewy firmness similar to beans. No matter which color lentil you pick up (there are almost as many varieties as there are colors of the rainbow), you can be sure that you’ll feel full long after eating them, thanks to their high protein and fiber contents. It takes little more than a drizzle of olive oil and tangy balsamic vinegar to complete a humble bowl of lentils, but these budget-friendly bites add heft to dressed-up plates like soups and salads as well, especially when combined with other hearty ingredients and bold flavors.

Food Network Magazine puts yellow lentils to work in its Slow-Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup (pictured above), simmered with fresh leeks, ginger and just a pinch of curry powder. Though warming winter soups are often thought to be weekend-only fare, this one is a go-to weeknight pick, since the slow cooker will do most of the cooking for you. Just prep the ingredients and set the machine to low before you leave in the morning, then come back later to a comforting soup made deliciously thick from the lentils. A last-minute addition of garlic, a bit more curry powder, plus refreshingly light lemon juice and fresh cilantro is all it takes to finish this fuss-free supper.

Keep reading for recipes

Beyond the Chopped Basket: What to Make With Quinoa

by in Shows, January 27th, 2013

Herbed QuinoaSo 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-2 competition, the focus is now on quinoa, which made an appearance in the entree round alongside squab, karela and peanut butter and jelly spread.

Extremely similar in taste and texture to the red quinoa that was featured on Champions, white quinoa boasts a subtle nutty flavor and becomes chewy-tender when cooked. These tiny morsels — a bit smaller than couscous — look and feel like a grain, but they’re actually seeds from a plant closely related to spinach. To become soft, quinoa needs time to simmer in liquid, which is why several of the Chopped competitors struggled to fully cook their variety in such a short amount of time. When it’s ready to eat, quinoa bursts open, shedding fine, slightly crunchy spirals to reveal a light, fluffy superfood that’s packed with protein and good-for-you nutrients. Since quinoa absorbs the liquid in which it’s cooked, try boiling it in chicken or vegetable broth instead of water for added flavor; if you don’t have broth on hand, just add a few drips of lemon juice to water to take the taste to the next delicious level.

Keep reading

10 Fun Facts About Chef Wanted’s Host and Mentor Anne Burrell

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, January 26th, 2013

Anne BurrellAnne Burrell may be known to most Food Network fans as the force behind her show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, or the author of the New York Times Best Seller, Cook Like a Rock Star. But did you know that Anne Burrell was once a teacher at the Institute of Culinary Education? After cooking at a Michelin one-star restaurant in Italy and New York hot spots Felidia, Savoy and Centro Vinoteca, she took the opportunity to spread her culinary knowledge and passion as a teacher and mentor to students.

On January 31 (10pm/9c), Anne Burrell will be putting her mentor hat back on as she helps top restaurants find an executive chef — the critical employee who can make or break a restaurant — on Chef Wanted. Each week, Anne Burrell will put four candidates through the toughest job interview of their lives, testing everything from their culinary mettle to business acumen. It all ends with the biggest test of all: running the restaurant.

Before it all starts, get to know Chef Anne Burrell better with these fun facts:

1. She’s helped Mario Batali (one of her own most influential mentors) compete in more than 20 Iron Chef America battles as his sous chef.

2. Chef Anne Burrell first met Mario Batali in a wine shop.

3. You’ll never catch Anne eating calf’s liver.

4. She can’t live without a food mill.

5. She would go crazy if she had to work in an office.

Keep reading

4th-Quarter Desserts — Football Fare

by in Recipes, January 26th, 2013

Pull Apart Touchdown CupcakesCome the fourth quarter of the big game, when the last bit of meat has been chewed off the chicken wings, the bowl of chips is dotted with just measly crumbs and nothing is left of the tray of sliders, only one thing remains: your sweet tooth. After a long afternoon of deliciously salty, savory snacking, it’s about time you dig into a game-day dessert to take off the sweet edge, right? Curb that craving at last by shifting the focus from hearty meats and cool dips to must-try baked treats and chilly ice cream sundaes with these must-try recipes from Food Network Kitchens, Alton, Paula and Giada.

Perhaps the ultimate game-day dessert, Food Network Kitchens’ Pull Apart Touchdown Cupcakes (pictured above) bring the football field to life with an edible landscape complete with end zones, a 50-yard line, a miniature football and rival players that is impressively realistic. To create, start with a batch of two dozen chocolate chip-studded cupcakes, then when they’ve cooled, get to work on setting the scene. If you’re baking with little ones, let them help you decorate these light, fluffy cupcakes with creamy peanut butter frosting, a blanket of grass-colored sprinkles, white-icing yard lines and colorful gummy “players.” You can get as creative as you’d like with the assembly, but remember, even if your final product looks more like an oblong hockey rink than a rectangular football field, this easy-to-eat dessert will still be satisfyingly sweet and a sure-fire win with your party guests.

Keep reading for recipes

Restaurant Revisited: Sapori D’Italia

by in Shows, January 23rd, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleIn addition to his expected mission of renovating the interior and designing a crowd-pleasing menu at Sapori D’Italia in Fountain Hills, Ariz., Robert Irvine faced the challenge of mending a broken family. Together with their sons David and Jonathan, owners Gasper and Maria Manno used to spend much of their time at the restaurant arguing, something that was downright disruptive to customers trying to enjoy a meal. After working with the family to discuss their issues with the restaurant and each other and spending $10,000 on renovations, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reopened the doors to Sapori in only two days. Today, the restaurant is a comfortable eatery with a made-over menu of full-flavored Italian classics to match. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Gasper to find out how Sapori is doing today.

Immediately following filming, Sapori’s revenue shot up nearly $8,000 per week for the first three weeks. Things have settled down a bit since then, with the weekly increase averaging a respectable “$2,000 more than the same time last year,” according to Gasper.

Keep reading

Best 5 Chicken Enchilada Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, January 23rd, 2013

Chicken EnchiladasThe big game is just days away, which means that it’s officially time to start planning your weekend tailgate menu. Whether or not you’re a fan of the teams taking the field on Sunday, almost everyone can appreciate the relaxing afternoon of TV watching, couch potato-ing and heavy-duty snacking that comes with this ultimate football showdown. Invite your friends and family over for a casual game-day bash and serve a spread of mingle-friendly dips, Buffalo-style wings and adults-only cocktails, all rounded out by a crowd-pleasing main dish: the chicken enchilada. Check out Food Network’s top five chicken enchilada recipes below — each a hearty, all-in-one meal that the whole family will enjoy  and cook up one at home this weekend.

5. Light Chicken Enchiladas — Stick to your New Year’s Day healthy-eating resolution while still enjoying this full-flavored dish, made with lean chicken breasts, just a splash of olive oil and a sprinkling of muenster cheese.

4. Chicken Enchiladas Suizas — Food Network Kitchens incorporates a touch of heat to its tomato-based enchilada sauce by adding a few Serrano chile peppers, but a scoop of Mexican crema mixed with shredded chicken helps to balances the spice.

Get the top three recipes

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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