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.

Easy Appetizers for Spring Entertaining

by in Entertaining, Recipes, May 18th, 2012


Appetizers. Hors d’oeuvres. Starters. Nibbles. Snacks. Whatever you call pre-dinner eats, you can be sure that they will make a meal, offering your dinner guests early tastes and textures and a sneak peek of what’s to come in the later courses. As the spring season winds down, invite friends and family over to celebrate the warmer weather and serve a simple, quick-to-prepare spread of first-course munchies. Food Network’s no-fuss appetizers below are ideal for relaxed, casual entertaining, and include charred lemon-scented shrimp, velvety deviled eggs and bacon-wrapped veggies. Check out our recipe selections and tell us what you’re cooking up this weekend. 

Robert Irvine’s Antipasto Platter With Grilled Vegetables (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine is a go-to pre-dinner pick when you’re pressed for time or if guests stop by unexpectedly. This tray can be customized to any size party or taste preference, though some staple snacks include a mixture of hard and soft cheeses, buttery prosciutto, fresh vegetables, crusty bread and more.

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Best 5 Cucumber Salads for Spring

by in Recipes, May 17th, 2012


Light and refreshing yet filling and satisfying, cucumber salads are easy-to-prepare, quick-cooking side dishes that complement any spring menu. The key to crafting a cucumber salad is to start with fresh, firm cucumbers — like those pictured above from Food Network Magazine — and add simple, clean flavors. Check out Food Network’s top five cucumber salad recipes below to find a mix of creative and traditional takes on this classic spring dish.

5. Grilled Red Onion and Cucumber Salad With Yogurt-Mint Dressing — Bobby completes his 20-minute side by sprinkling tangy feta cheese on top.

4. Fresh Cucumber Salad — Made with English cucumber, cool honeydew and jalapeno, Claire Robinson creates a no-fuss salad that is both sweet and a bit spicy.

Get the top three recipes

Tofu Tacos — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 14th, 2012


Easy to find and simple to prepare, tofu can replace pork, beef, chicken and more in any number of recipes that you want to make meatless. Most tofu is sold plain (without added flavoring), though it can absorb any seasonings you add to it, similar to how meat adopts the flavor of a marinade. Whether you crumble it atop a salad, grill it with barbecue sauce or sear it and serve with Asian-style noodles, tofu is a hearty vegetarian ingredient whose uses are endless.

Food Network Magazine features firm tofu in 30-minute tacos (pictured above). To prepare, first slice the tofu, dust it with taco seasoning and sauté it until it is crispy and caramelized. From there, stuff the tofu in toasted tortillas along with lime-scented coleslaw, shredded mozzarella cheese and bright salsa verde.

Serve with Alton’s five-star Guacamole, made with fresh avocados, Roma tomatoes and pinches of cumin and cayenne, to complete this Mexican-inspired feast.   

Get the recipe: Tofu Tacos

Meatless Monday, an international movement, encourages people everywhere to cut meat one day a week for personal and planetary health. Browse more Meatless Monday recipes.

Best 5 Mother’s Day Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, May 12th, 2012


If you still haven’t gotten Mom a gift for Mother’s Day, it’s not too late to wow her with a loving, thoughtful present: a home-cooked meal. We’ve rounded up an entire day’s worth of Mom-approved eats and drinks, including fluffy waffles, citrus-shrimp pasta and a cool peach cocktail, so you can show her just how much you care. Check out Food Network’s top five Mother’s Day recipes below and tell us what you’re making for your mom this weekend.

5. Chocolate Waffles – Top Food Network Magazine’s cocoa-laced waffles with deliciously sweet chocolate syrup, fresh berries or a dusting of confectioners’ sugar to complete this breakfast treat.

4. Pasta Salad With Poached Shrimp and Lemon-Dill Dressing – Ready to eat in just 25 quick minutes, this in-season pasta plate features bright grape tomatoes and cucumbers, and it’s tossed with a zesty herb dressing.

Get the top three recipes

What to Watch: Food Network Star

by in Shows, May 11th, 2012

food network starYouTube Preview Image
Food Network Star kicks off its eighth season this Sunday night, but this year’s competition will be like nothing you’ve seen before. Three of Food Network’s finest chefs and superstars – Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis – are joining the contest, not as judges, but as guiding mentors to groups of five hand-picked Star hopefuls. With the advice and support of their coaches, finalists on Team Alton, Team Bobby and Team Giada will battle it out week after week in the ultimate job interview to prove they have what it takes to host their own Food Network show.

Get to know each of the contestants before Sunday night’s episode by watching a never-before-seen casting special on Saturday, May 12 at 9pm/8c. Alton, Bobby and Giada reveal why they chose each finalist for their respective teams and offer a behind-the-scenes look into this season’s competitive casting process.

Then tune in to the season eight premiere of Food Network Star on Sunday, May 13 at 9pm/8c to see which finalists are early favorites and who gets sent home first.

Cast your preseason Fan Vote now and join the #Star conversation on Twitter. Tell us: Will you be rooting for #TeamAlton, #TeamBobby or #TeamGiada

Family-Style Meals — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 7th, 2012

macaroni and cheese
On busy weeknights, there’s just no time to fuss with intricate, individually plated meals or time-sensitive dishes. Instead, you want to reach for recipes that encourage simple, family-style eating, in which there’s a big-batch dish in the middle of the table and your family can help themselves. Check out our three rustic, wonderfully informal dinners below and let us know what you’re making for Meatless Monday tonight.

Ina’s classic, deliciously gooey Mac and Cheese (pictured above) is a five-star fan favorite with almost 700 user reviews. She prefers a combination of Gruyere and extra-sharp cheddar cheeses to form the basis of her family-friendly recipe — the rich, nutty Gruyere balances the bite of the cheddar. Before baking, she arranges sliced fresh tomatoes atop her pasta-cheese mixture and dusts it with white breadcrumbs to add a barely there crunchy texture.

Giada’s Vegetable Casserole is another family-favorite recipe that can feed a crowd. She tops a layer of hearty potatoes, carrots, yams and peppers with sweet onions, chopped zucchini and tomatoes, and bakes this healthful dish until the veggies are tender and the Parmesan cheese topping golden brown. A final sprinkle of fresh basil finishes the dish before serving.

More Meatless Monday recipes

Greek Night — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 30th, 2012

spinach and feta pie recipe
Celebrate the flavors of the Mediterranean by cooking up a Greek-inspired feast tonight. Our meatless menu below is a three-course meal that mixes traditional tastes with new interpretations of classic recipes, including a cheesy vegetable pie, healthful salad and more.

Food Network Kitchens’ Spinach and Feta Pie (pictured above) is a contemporary take on a classic Greek favorite, spanakopita. Made with white rice, Swiss chard and golden raisins in addition to classic ingredients like garlic, spinach and tangy feta cheese, this savory pie is built atop layers of store-bought phyllo dough and baked until the crust is crispy and the filling warm.

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Pizza 101

by in Recipes, April 27th, 2012


A no-fail meal that is guaranteed to please even the pickiest eater, pizza is a family-favorite dinner choice. This weekend, instead of ordering expensive and greasy delivery, bake up a pizza at home with your family. Once the easy-to-prepare dough is made, most pies take just minutes to assemble and bake, and can be customized to everyone’s tastes. And don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy pizza paddle or stone — everyday baking sheets work perfectly. Check out our roundup of basic, non-traditional and sweet slices below then tell us what is your favorite pizza topping.

Just the Basics:
You can’t have pizza without a crust to support it and you can’t have a deliciously chewy, slightly crispy crust without making the right dough. If you’ve never attempted from-scratch pizza dough, making Food Network Kitchens’ Basic Pizza Dough is a great place to start. It’s a no-fuss, easy-to-follow recipe that uses just a handful of ingredients. Plus, one batch of dough yields two pizzas, so you can freeze one to have ready for later.

Spice up classic pies by dressing them with the Ultimate Pizza Sauce from Food.com. Made with concentrated tomato paste, fresh aromatics — garlic, celery and onion — dried herbs and just a bit of butter, this smooth, flavor-packed sauce is the ideal canvas on which to showcase your favorite toppings, like crumbled Italian sausage, creamy mozzarella cheese, salty kalamata olives and more.

A go-to pizza that is as traditional as it is tasty, Food Network Magazine’s Pizza Margherita (pictured above) boasts a light, simple sauce and classic cheese and basil toppings. Kids and grownups alike will enjoy slices of this tried-and-true pie.

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Ron Ben-Israel Bakes a Better Chocolate Cake

by in Recipes, Shows, April 25th, 2012


It is no secret that Chef Ron Ben-Israel tastes some of the best, most impressive dessert dishes around on his show, Sweet Genius. But did you know that Chef Ron also creates his own ingeniously inspired and impeccably decorated cakes? Yes, he is a New York City-based wedding cake baker who has a passion for designing whimsical confectionary creations that taste as heavenly as they look.

A few weeks ago I caught up with the Sweet Genius himself and we chatted about what it takes to make a classic, tried-and-true dessert: chocolate cake. Not surprisingly, Chef Ron shared that he has discovered two tricks to baking the best-ever chocolate cake and they are both easy, no-fail techniques.

Get Ron’s best-ever chocolate cake recipe