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.

Restaurant Revisited: Michele’s

by in Shows, September 19th, 2012

Restaurant: Impossible
In Corry, Pa., Michele Sventek needed Robert Irvine’s help to give her restaurant, Michele’s, a new look and better food. Perhaps more importantly, she needed Robert to teach her the basics of running a restaurant since she had no experience in the culinary industry. In just two days, Robert gave Michele’s a much-needed overhaul and taught Michele how to best manage her staff and maintain food quality. We checked in with Michele to see how her restaurant is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible renovation.

Michele says that compared to last year, sales have increased “about 40 percent.” Robert wanted Michele’s to achieve $12,500 per month in sales, and Michele is happy to report that she “can see it happening as we progress.”

The new decor at Michele’s has been well received by customers. “Everyone likes the brightness of it, especially the wall between the dining area and the bar, the fireplace (people are excited for winter to see it working) and the mirrors,” Michele explains.

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A Celebration of Desserts at the 2012 Vendy Awards

by in Events, September 18th, 2012

2012 Vendy Awards

If you’ve ever been to New York City, then you know that there is no shortage of places to eat here. Michelin-starred, James Beard-awarded, see-and-be-seen hot spots? We have plenty. Hole-in-the-wall joints with just 20 chairs and one server? Yes, they’re here, too. One of New York City’s most-beloved eating traditions, however, takes place not inside a room or at a table, but rather behind the windows of the street carts and food trucks that line the streets of almost every neighborhood in the city.

Every summer New York comes together to celebrate the city’s best sidewalk vendors and street food of all kinds at the Vendy Awards, an afternoon food festival that brings together big-time vendors and newcomers alike to support The Street Vendor Project, “a membership-based non-profit organization that stands up for vendors’ rights.” Vendors set up shop then dish out signature plates to lines of hungry locals while entering their food in one category to win the Vendy Cup, People’s Taste Award or the title of Best Dessert, Rookie Vendor of the Year or Best Market Vendor. This year’s awards took place last weekend on Governors Island, and we were there to taste the very best bites.

Savory plates of deliciously salty and spicy Mexican tortas, all-American cheesesteaks, Asian-style noodles, meaty kebabs and more filled the outdoor space, but it was the sweeter treats, the sugary, creamy and chilled desserts that wowed us the most.

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Lentil Quinoa Salad — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 17th, 2012

Quinoa and Bean Pilaf
Many vegetarians struggle to track down filling sources of protein, since it’s most often found in meat. But maintaining a meat-free diet doesn’t mean that you have to gulp protein shakes in order to get enough of this essential food group. Quinoa is a go-to grain that’s packed with protein and easy enough to make on a weeknight.

Melissa d’Arabian makes a five-star Lentil Quinoa Salad (pictured above) that works well as a hearty side dish or a brown bag-ready lunch option. After combining tender quinoa with smooth lentils, she tosses the mixture with green onions and fresh cilantro and dresses it with a light mustard vinaigrette. Watch this video to see how Melissa prepares this simple-to-make salad.

Similar to other healthful grains like bulgur, barley and farro, quinoa is a blank canvas that can be dressed up with your favorite ingredients. Check out more quinoa recipes below, and experiment with different combinations of vegetables, cheeses, crunchy nuts, simple dressings and more to find what your family likes best.

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The Great Food Truck Race Caption It: Staring Contest

by in Shows, September 14th, 2012

Nonna's Kitchenette on Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race

Come Sunday night, The Great Food Truck Race shifts into high gear as the final four food trucks cruise into Nashville, Tenn., more determined and confident than ever. There are only three weeks left in the competition, and Pop-A-Waffle, Nonna’s Kitchenette, Seoul Sausage and Momma’s Grizzly Grub must use everything they’ve learned so far to outsell their rival trucks if they want to make it out of Music City.

In the sneak-peek shot above from this weekend’s brand-new episode, it seems as though Nonna’s Kitchenette has lost some of its fire since their Truck Stop win last week. They’re no longer celebrating Randy the Razorback or reveling in their first-place earnings; instead, the New Jersey gals are sporting noticeably bleak stares, as they fixate on what’s immediately in front of them. On what are the ladies focused so intently? Are their blank expressions the result of seeing their next challenge or another crazy mystery ingredient?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out what’s going on, we’re challenging you, Food Truck fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

Which is your favorite food truck team so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Packing Lunchboxes for Picky Eaters — School Days

by in Recipes, September 14th, 2012

Ham Pinwheels
Food Network's Back-to-School HeadquartersSchool 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 in September 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.

Earlier this week, Food Network hosted a Facebook chat with our very own Food Network Kitchens on all things back-to-school. Though questions ranged from how to fix healthy lunches to how to get out of a PB&J rut, more than a few of you asked for lunchbox picks for your decidedly picky eaters. So this week’s classroom lesson is all about feeding your fussiest eaters lunches that they’ll gobble up in no time.

The key to packing for picking eaters is variety. No kid — or grownup — wants to open his or her brown paper bag to find yet another turkey and cheese sandwich, cut in the same four squares, nestled next to another apple and juice box. If sandwiches are just about the only thing your little one will eat, try giving them made-over versions of their favorites in order to keep lunch interesting. Food Network Magazine’s Ham Pinwheels (pictured above) are five-minute sandwiches that feature deli ham and cream cheese rolled into a soft tortilla. Cut into easy-to-eat pinwheels, these wraps may offer the simple change in presentation that your child needs to be excited about new foods.

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Coleslaw and Football: A Culinary Touchdown

by in Recipes, September 13th, 2012

creamy cole slaw recipe

Not just for backyard barbecues anymore, coleslaw is a crowd-pleasing side that pairs perfectly with any hearty main dish. This weekend, as you’re prepping spicy chicken wings or saucy sloppy joes to serve at your game-day tailgate, look to no-cook coleslaw to complete your menu. For a mix of classic and creative preparations, check out our top five coleslaw recipes from your favorite Food Network chefs.

5. Apple-Raisin Cole Slaw – Thanks to a flavor-packed mixture of shredded cabbage, in-season apples and a pinch of celery seeds, Sunny says that her big-batch coleslaw is “crunchy, creamy, bright and tangy.”

4. Savoy, Lime and Cilantro Coleslaw – Refreshing lime juice and fragrant cilantro add light, fresh flavor to Tyler’s five-star recipe, made in just 15 quick minutes.

Get the top three coleslaw recipes

Restaurant Revisited: Paliani’s Restaurant

by in Shows, September 12th, 2012

Restaurant Impossible
At Paliani’s Restaurant in Burton, Mich., Robert Irvine found a decades-old Italian eatery in desperate need of a Restaurant: Impossible overhaul. He had only two days to tackle the filthy interior and disorganized kitchen at Paliani’s, and help give owner Marina Bufalini the tools to improve her management. We checked in with Marina to see how Paliani’s is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible renovation.

Marina is happy to report that since the transformation, sales at Paliani’s have increased. In June and July, the restaurant saw year-over-year growth of 46 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

Paliani’s has seen a mix of returning and first-time customers coming to see the makeover and taste the new food. While some longtime diners have struggled to adapt to the updated decor and menu, many new customers are pleased, as is Marina. Of the restaurant’s fresh look, she says, “I love the decor and how the light panels on the wall brighten everything and give the room more dimension.”

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POLL: Which Eliminated Food Truck Would You Bring Back?

by in Polls, Shows, September 12th, 2012

The Great Food Truck Race
Just four short weeks ago, Tyler Florence met eight eager teams of first-time food truckers, each with big dreams of running their own mobile business. But now, after a month of racing halfway across the country, only four of those hopeful teams remain after Under the Crust, Barbie Babes, Pizza Mike’s and Coast of Atlanta were eliminated in Los Angeles, Flagstaff, Amarillo and Fayetteville, respectively.

Though this competition is designed to separate the contenders from the pretenders, all eight teams were made up of food truck rookies with a similar lack of experience, so the race could have been anyone’s game. Do you think that the eliminated teams simply suffered a case of beginners’ bad luck, or did their tactics alone lead to their early exits? If you were to give just one team another chance at food truck royalty, which would it be?

Tell us: Which eliminated food truck team would you bring back if you had the chance?

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Double-Duty Dinners Turned Lunches — The Communal Table

by in Community, Recipes, September 10th, 2012

commual table back to school edition
School 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 in September 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 we’re kicking off the new school year with a classroom party of sorts. We’ve once again partnered with family and friends to host a Communal Table in celebration of all things back-to-school. In this virtual recipe swap, we’re exchanging a mix of kid- and adult-friendly meal ideas, lunchbox must-haves and more.

See what our friends are bringing to the table