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.

Tina Fey and Fellow 30 Rock Writers Take Over Food Network Kitchens

by in Events, January 10th, 2013

Come the holiday season, most employees look forward to a company holiday party complete with casual, mingle-friendly eats — and maybe a cocktail or two — in the office break room or perhaps even at a local restaurant. But when you’re a writer for 30 Rock, the everyday seasonal shindig just won’t cut it.

This past December, to celebrate the holidays and the approaching end of 30 Rock‘s seventh and final season, Tina Fey and her fellow writers hosted their holiday bash at the ultimate destination kitchen — Food Network Kitchens — and what they ate was no ordinary cheese-and-crackers platter. More than two dozen 30 Rock writers and team members gathered in the expansive space to enjoy an evening of friends, plenty of laughs and a party-ready menu complete with dishes like cayenne-spiked butternut squash soup and linguini with a truffled cream sauce made by one of their own, John Riggi. We were on hand as they made their way into the kitchen, and we chatted with them about their thoughts on the end of 30 Rock, the food scene in the writers’ room and more.

Want to hear what Tina Fey and some of the other writers had to say and get an insider’s look at this private event? Click the play button on the video above to watch the exclusive video, then browse these behind-the-scenes photos to see the party unfold.

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VOTE: What Would You Cook for Bobby Flay?

by in Polls, Shows, January 9th, 2013

Bobby's Dinner BattleOn Bobby’s Dinner Battle, Bobby Flay‘s brand-new show premiering Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 10pm/9c, this professional chef and restaurateur visits teams of experienced home cooks across the country. These cooks are challenged to create themed three-course dinner parties to be judged by himself, a special guest and fellow competitors in the ultimate at-home cook-off. While some teams rely on advanced cooking techniques to showcase their star power, others turn out favorite classic recipes, but they all must learn to cope with the pressure of cooking for such a high-profile dinner-party guest as Bobby.

Imagine for a moment that you are one of the home cooks on Bobby’s Dinner Battle. What meal would you serve to such a famed food star, one who’s inevitably enjoyed meals from some of the very best chefs in the country? Would you opt for a no-fail crowd-pleaser that you’ve made countless times, or would you offer him an elegant feast of the finest dishes? Since Bobby is the master of all things barbecue, might you rely on sticky, saucy ribs to win him over? Would you try to impress him with your take on one of his own recipes, or would you simply direct him to your stove and saute pan and politely ask him to cook for you?

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Best 5 Easy Chicken Recipes

by in Recipes, January 8th, 2013

Best 5 Easy Chicken RecipesWhen the 6:00 p.m. dinner rush hits, reach for a tried-and-true staple that you know will win over even the pickiest eaters in your family: chicken. Quick cooking and cost effective, chicken is a blank culinary canvas through which you can showcase bold flavors and textures and experiment with new ingredients and creative cooking techniques. Check out Food Network’s top five easy chicken recipes below, each a flavorful meal that can be made in 35 minutes or fewer.

5. Chicken Piccata With Lemon and Capers — A complete, all-in-one supper, this hearty plate boasts tender chicken topped with a light, tangy white wine sauce and a simple side of rice studded with lima beans.

4. Chicken Tortilla Soup — Juicy chunks of lean chicken breast are the star of this Mexican-inspired recipe, which is laced with lime juice and brimming with Monterrey cheese, creamy avocado and crunchy tortilla chips.

Get the top three easy chicken recipes

Made-Over Veggie Lasagna — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, January 7th, 2013

Wild Mushroom and Cauliflower LasagnaIf you’re looking to update Mom’s tired, predictable lasagna to something fresh, seasonal and full of flavor, try recipes from some of your favorite Food Network stars, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Both chefs are sharing can-do recipes to help you transform this tried-and-true comfort food and put good-for-you winter produce to work. Check out their veggie-packed lasagna recipes below, then tell us in the comments: What’s your favorite way to enjoy lasagna?

Bobby’s big-batch Wild Mushroom and Cauliflower Lasagna (pictured above) is a rich, comforting dish made with two different sauces: a garlic-laced tomato sauce and a smooth, buttery cauliflower sauce with Romano cheese. He assembles this crowd-pleasing casserole by layering the sauce between partially cooked lasagna noodles, a creamy ricotta-herb mixture, sauteed mushrooms and a sprinkle of cheeses, then bakes the dish until it’s piping hot and bubbly. Let it sit for about 15 minutes once it’s removed from the oven before digging into the all-in-one supper, so that the melted cheeses don’t ooze out into a hot pool when you cut into the lasagna.

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Restaurant Revisited: Whiskey Creek Steakhouse

by in Shows, January 2nd, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleAt Whiskey Creek Steakhouse in Keyport, Wash., Robert Irvine found not just poor food and a dark, drab interior, but also untrustworthy staff members. After just two days, Robert had established systems that would help the owners, Pat and Karan Ziarnik, regain control of their restaurant and slowly pay off debt, and the eatery reopened as a welcoming, sophisticated steakhouse with crowd-pleasing food. We checked in with Pat and Karan a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible renovation to find out how the restaurant is doing today.

Pat and Karan tell us that October was a “very busy” month at Whiskey Creek Steakhouse. Since Robert left, they’ve begun to pay back some of their debt, and their overall financial situation is now “better than before.”

Thanks to the new, effective systems in place, Pat and Karan perform “a lot more double checks” to deter costly staff actions. Recently two staff members were let go, “mostly because they were caught doing other wrongs,” they tell us.

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New Year’s Resolution: Go Meatless on Mondays

by in Recipes, December 31st, 2012

Minestrone SoupWith only hours left in 2012, you’re likely already looking ahead to the New Year and perhaps wondering how you can incorporate smarter eating habits into your meal routine in 2013. Instead of overhauling your current diet, cutting out entire food groups and committing to a fat-free lifestyle for the next 365 days, trying sticking to a healthy-eating resolution that allows you to take small, simple steps to a smarter approach to food. One way to kick off the New Year on a healthful note is to embrace Meatless Monday, a national movement that encourages everyone to eliminate meat from their diets just one day of the week, Monday or any other, for the sake of their own health and that of the planet.

In celebration of Meatless Monday, every week on FN Dish we share a roundup of vegetarian recipes — some made-over versions of classically beefy plates, others naturally meat-free, but all full-flavored, can-do dishes. Start 2013 on a healthful note by checking out a few of Food Network’s all-time-favorite meatless entrees below, and check back each Monday to find more simple vegetarian meals that will wow your whole family.

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Cheers to 2013: Eats and Drinks for New Year’s Eve Parties

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 29th, 2012

Fried OlivesWhen it comes to New Year’s Eve parties, there are often just two kinds of get-togethers: the casual bash complete with an expansive guest list, and the intimate, elegant event with just one special person or perhaps a small group of friends. When planning for the first gathering, think ease and simplicity, both in terms of food preparation for a crowd and also logistics like serving and plating different eats and drinks. For the dressed-up dinner party, look to elaborate yet accessible dishes to match the fancy flair of the event. We’ve rounded up Food Network’s favorite party-ready menus to fit both kinds of celebrations, plus a collection of creative and classic cocktails alike that will help you ring in 2013. Check out our top New Year’s Eve recipe ideas and effortless entertaining tips below, then tell us in the comments: How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve?

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VOTE: A Next Iron Chef Lamb Cook-Off — Rival Recipes

by in Shows, December 29th, 2012

Chefs Duskie Estes and Eric GreenspanIn true finale form, last Sunday’s eighth and final episode of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption featured no ordinary cook-off, but a next-level contest designed to celebrate current Iron Chefs and test the future Next Iron Chef. While most Kitchen Stadium competitors find themselves presented with a single Secret Ingredient, the top two rivals, Chefs Amanda Freitag and Alex Guarnaschelli, met an altar of more than 12 different ingredients inspired by the flavors of Southwest, Japanese and Mediterranean cuisines, and they had to cook with at least two offerings from each culinary category to honor long-standing Iron Chefs Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and Michael Symon. Although the rivals took different approaches to their appetizer and dessert offerings, their main dish presentations were strikingly similar, both showcasing juicy lamb loins as a sign of respect for Iron Chef Symon. The judges were impressed with both chefs’ balanced, beautifully cooked entrees, but ultimately it was Chef Guarnaschelli who took home the coveted title of The Next Iron Chef.

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In Their Own Words: Next Iron Chef Rivals’ Journals Revealed

by in Shows, December 24th, 2012

The Next Iron Chef: Redemption JournalHave you ever wondered what the Next Iron Chef: Redemption rivals were thinking when, on the first episode, they opened their coolers on the beach to find fateful ingredients from battles past? Or when in episode 4, they entered the kitchen to find an altar of canned products? Have you wondered how they felt when their friends and fellow chefs were eliminated after hard-fought battles, or simply how they managed to stay organized and efficient within the chaos of cooking under pressure?

Before filming began for the season, each rival was given a journal to use during the competition, and it was in these personal notebooks that the chefs shared their ideas for challenges, reflections on eliminations, plus must-have ingredient lists, inspirational reminders and more, week after week. Their handwritten notes, some beautifully legible in colorful markers and others scrawled in barely recognizable penmanship, tell their stories on the road to redemption, and at the end, create a scrapbook of sorts of their time in the competition.

Want to see what each rival wrote in his or her journal? Flip through the below photo galleries to get an insider’s look at actual pages from their journals plus behind-the-scenes photos from some of their most memorable challenges and showdowns.

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Appetizers for Christmas Entertaining — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, December 24th, 2012

Toasted RavioliEven though the holidays are all about indulgence and your plans for the next 48 hours likely include a seemingly endless buffet of ham, beef, turkey or pork, there are indeed ways to work in a few meat-free bites, especially during the appetizer course. As you prepare to host a holiday get-together, look to Food Network’s roundup of simple-to-make, meatless starters to impress not only vegetarians but hard-core meat-eaters alike. Check out a few of our favorite party-ready appetizers below, each a flavorful combination of traditional holiday tastes and ingredients, then tell us in the comments: What’s your favorite holiday appetizer?

No longer reserved for the pasta course alone, ravioli make go-to party-ready appetizers when served not under a saucy topping but as eat-with-your-hands snacks. When preparing its Toasted Ravioli recipe (pictured above), Food Network Magazine saves time in the kitchen by using store-bought fresh ravioli instead of making these cheese-filled beauties from scratch. After a quick dip in herbed breadcrumbs, the ravioli are deep-fried until golden brown and crispy on the outside and warm on the inside. Serve a bowl of your favorite marinara sauce on the side for easy, delicious dunking.

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