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.

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

Best 5 Easy Dinner Recipes

by in Recipes, April 24th, 2012


Though there’s a certain time and place in which it is exciting to experiment with hands-on, over-the-top recipes that require planning and patience, your busy kitchen at about 6 p.m. on a weekday is not it. Instead, that time calls for a no-fuss meal that your whole family will enjoy, and that can be quickly and effortlessly prepped. We’ve rounded up Food Network’s best five go-to dinner recipes, so that even on the busiest evening, you can cook up a complete, feel-good meal.

5. Grilled Pork With Grape-and-Arugula Salad — Lean boneless pork chops need just 5 minutes to marinate in a shallot-thyme vinaigrette to ensure they adopt bold, full flavor.

4. Tomato Gorgonzola Soup — A drizzle of cider vinaigrette before serving balances the richness of the creamy, cheesy soup, made with sweet onions, fresh garlic and crushed tomatoes.

Get the top three recipes

Cheese-Stuffed Portobellos — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 23rd, 2012


An ingredient nearly as beefy as meat, portobello mushrooms are hearty, earthy vegetables that can be roasted, grilled, sautéed and more. Once you break off their stems, portobello mushroom caps are roughly the same size and shape of the average pancake, and can hold their form when cooked. This durability means that they are often treated like meat patties. Paula features them in her Portobello Mushroom Burger, finished with a pesto mayonnaise and peppery arugula.

Food Network Magazine’s stuffed mushroom (pictured above) boasts a filling of vitamin-rich spinach, fresh tomato and pecorino and mozzarella cheeses. After the caps are quickly broiled, they are topped with the spinach mixture and creamy ricotta cheese, and are cooked again until the stuffing is warm. Serve each mushroom with a refreshing celery salad for a quick but satisfying weeknight dinner.

Get the recipe: Cheese-Stuffed Portobellos

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.

From Soil to Table: Natural Recipes for Earth Day

by in Holidays, Recipes, April 20th, 2012

Earth Day is this Sunday, April 22, and with that comes the chance to rethink our approach to clean, smart eating and cooking. This weekend and into the spring season, try to incorporate more wholesome, plant-based foods into your everyday meals. Joining the Meatless Monday movement is an easy way to lower your intake of animal products just eat meat-free one day a week, Monday or any other. In celebration of Earth Day, we’ve rounded up a collection of natural recipes that feature fresh, seasonal ingredients like carrots, potatoes, rhubarb and more, so that you can enjoy what you’re eating and feel good about it too.

If you can’t find rainbow carrots like those pictured above, stick with the classic orange beauties when preparing Food Network Magazine’s Coriander-Glazed Carrots, made with fresh citrus, crushed coriander seeds and a sprinkle of cilantro. This quick-cooking side dish complements simply roasted seafood,  grilled chicken and more.

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Asparagus and Cheese Tart — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 16th, 2012


Whether you like them savory or sweet, studded with fresh vegetables or ripe fruit, tarts are easy to make and as versatile as they are tasty. Crispy, golden brown and deliciously cheesy, Food Network Magazine’s tart (pictured above) is built atop store-bought puff pastry dough, saving you time in the kitchen and guaranteeing a light, flaky crust. To assemble, brush the dough with a shallot-fontina-egg mixture and arrange on top blanched in-season asparagus. Finish with a sprinkling of grated lemon zest to perfume the tart as it comes out of the oven.

Paula’s Fresh Fruit Tart is made with colorful berries and kiwi, and is ready to eat in less than an hour.

Get the recipe: Asparagus and Cheese Tart

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.

Inexpensive Eats: Low-Cost Recipes for Tax Day

by in Recipes, April 14th, 2012


It’s that time of the year again — Tax Day is looming and you’re feeling the financial pinch in your wallet. Once Uncle Sam has claimed a good chunk of your paycheck on April 17, there may not be room for fancy meals and decadent ingredients. But eating on a budget doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor or nutrition. Check out our list of low-cost, easy-to-make meals that will keep you cooking at home without breaking the bank.

One of the most wallet-friendly dishes you can make, pasta is a guaranteed family favorite and will easily feed a crowd — just one pound of noodles can be split among six people. Top your choice of pasta with Food Network Magazine’s five-star Perfect Marinara Sauce to create a low-cost Italian supper in no time. Experiment with other flavor-packed sauces, like Alfredo Sauce, Basil Pesto or Vodka Sauce, to add variety to your pasta-recipe repertoire.

Not just for kids and picky eaters, grilled cheeses are the ultimate building-block sandwiches. They’re naturally inexpensive — just butter, bread and cheese are needed to craft a classic recipe — but can seem more indulgent by adding a few extra flavors. Cooking Channel‘s Kelsey Nixon whips up a traditional yet creative Grilled Cheese Sandwich by stacking tart Granny Smith apple slices, crispy bacon and cheddar cheese on mustard-spread bread and grilling the sandwich until golden brown. Check out Food Network Magazine’s roundup of 50 Grilled Cheeses for more gooey inspiration.

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Polenta With Roasted Tomatoes — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 9th, 2012


Let’s talk polenta. Less coarse than grits but grainier than mashed potatoes, polenta is made from cornmeal and boiled with water or stock until thick and combined. From here you can add any number of ingredients — like cream, butter, cheeses, fresh vegetables and herbs — to transform it into a hearty, rich dish. You could also let the polenta cool completely then shape it and bake or deep-fry it. Giada’s Fried Polenta fingers are deliciously warm and cheesy, and when dunked in marinara sauce, they mimic classic mozzarella sticks.

Food Network Magazine’s polenta (pictured above) is traditional and rustic, cooked on the stove until it becomes soft and creamy. This Italian-inspired recipe calls for instant polenta, which tastes the same as the original but cuts down on long cooking times. Before serving, top each comforting bowl with tender Swiss chard, sweet roasted tomatoes and mild, crumbly farmer cheese.

Get the recipe: Polenta With Roasted Tomatoes

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.

Hop to It: Make Your Own Easter Sweets

by in Holidays, Recipes, April 5th, 2012


No matter how much candy you may find in your Easter basket or waiting for you in dozens of hidden eggs, on Easter Sunday there always seems to be room for another piece of something sweet, right? This holiday, after you finish another successful dinner of roast lamb or glazed ham, celebrate creative and traditional treats by baking up a few of Food Network’s favorite Easter desserts, like Coconut-Covered Bunny Cake, Hot Cross Buns, Carrot Cake and more. Kids and grownups alike will enjoy these after-dinner indulgences, and you’ll be pleased because they’re a cinch to put together.

A go-to, last-minute dessert, Food Network Kitchens’ Easter Bunny Cake (pictured above) is a no-bake recipe that can be made in just one hour, thanks to pre-baked or store-bought cake. After building the bunny and covering it in creamy buttercream frosting and sweet coconut, embellish it with any extra Easter candy you have on hand, like licorice and jelly beans. Check out how the Kitchens assembles their realistic-looking rabbit.

A holiday staple in many homes, Easter Egg Bread is light, flaky and bursting with a refreshing light lemon flavor. Food.com’s recipe yields a golden-brown loaf that is dotted with colorful shelled eggs and drizzled with a sweet citrus glaze. Save leftover slices of bread for breakfast tomorrow and spread each with a thin layer of room-temperature butter before enjoying.

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