All Posts By Sara Levine

Sara Levine is a Senior Online Editor at and a culinary-school-trained home cook. Several years ago she quit her magazine job to go to Le Cordon Bleu, which led to a stint in Food Network Kitchen. Although cooking professionally wasn’t her thing, she loves frequenting restaurants and putting her own amateur culinary skills to work in her tiny kitchen.

Highlights and Winners from the 2015 James Beard Awards in Chicago

by in Events, Restaurants, May 5th, 2015

Chicago pride was on display last night at the 25th James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards, which have temporarily migrated from New York for a three-year run at the Windy City’s Lyric Opera. The ceremony’s host, Food Network’s own Alton Brown, may be a Southerner, but he was joined on stage by gala co-chairs Grant Achatz, Rick Bayless and Paul Kahan, three of Chicago’s greatest chefs. Rich Melman, founder of prolific Chicago-based restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award with a speech packed with pride for his hometown. Mayor Rahm Emanuel applauded the city’s food scene on the red carpet and in remarks on stage. When Food Network asked the mayor if he had any favorite places to travel outside of Chicago for great food, he didn’t miss a beat in retorting, “Yeah, Chicago!” And every time Chicago took home an award, the opera house boomed with cheers. Read more

Chicago Gears Up to Host 25th James Beard Awards

by in Events, Restaurants, April 29th, 2015

After 24 years in New York City, this year’s prestigious James Beard Foundation Restaurant & Chef Awards — often dubbed “the Oscars of food” — are moving west, to Chicago. More than 2,500 of the country’s top chefs, restaurateurs and food-media people will descend upon the Windy City this weekend, and editors will be there to fill you in on all the action. But the proud, food-obsessed host city has plans that extend well beyond Monday night’s awards ceremony and gala, hosted by our own Alton Brown. Whether or not you’ve got a ticket to the coveted awards, here are some fun ways to celebrate Chicago’s impressive dining scene — all are open to the public, and some are even free.

Need Chicago restaurant recommendations? Check out Food Network’s Newcomer’s Chicago Eating Tour to get our picks for the best burger, pizza, new restaurant and more can’t-miss eats.

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How to Dine Out: Eat Sushi Like a Pro

by in Restaurants, April 11th, 2015

Our all-new Web series, How to Dine Out, is full of tips and tricks that’ll help you dine like a regular, wherever you eat. First up, grab a seat at the sushi bar for a three-minute lowdown on the basics of sushi vs. sashimi, maki vs. nigiri and the all-important chopstick etiquette.

Check out more episodes of How to Dine Out. You might get inspired to try a new restaurant, or learn something new about your favorite cuisine. But you’ll definitely leave hungry.

Plus, find out about the New York City restaurants where we shot the series.

Party Peeps Are in the House: The Most-Adorable Peeps Treats Ever

by in Holidays, April 2nd, 2015

Fun fact: Most recipes that use marshmallows can be made infinitely cuter by swapping in Peeps. These sugar-coated chicks and bunnies are an Easter treat so beloved that Just Born, the company that’s been producing them for more than 60 years, makes enough Peeps in one year to circle the Earth three times. Back in 1953, it took 27 hours to create one Peep by hand with a pastry tube; yellow and white were the original colors. Today it takes roughly six minutes per Peep, and they come in a rainbow of hues and even specialty flavors like Chocolate Mousse, Blue Raspberry and Party Cake.

Once you’ve rounded up your favorite Peeps, the possibilities are endless. Peep dioramas never get old, but edible creations are our favorite. contributor and Sprinkles! author Jackie Alpers was just the sweet-treat aficionado to come up with adorable and tasty new ways to showcase Peeps, starting with the Technicolor cake pictured above. For a showstopping centerpiece for this weekend’s Easter spread, just press sprinkles, jelly beans and a rainbow of Peeps into a freshly frosted layer cake. Read more

Next-Level Macaroons for Passover

by in Holidays, Recipes, April 1st, 2015

Sorry, Francophiles, but in the macaron vs. macaroon debate, I must admit that I prefer the two-O variety. We’re talking the dense coconut kind that will be served at Passover Seders across the country this Friday night. The delicate, jewel-boxed French sandwich cookies (one O) are pretty and all, but for me, the rugged, toasty coconut ones are the stuff of nostalgia. Inexplicably, my grandmother, who was an excellent baker, used to serve the bite-sized macaroons that came in Manischewitz cans. Who knows how many years they’d been in her pantry, but I loved them.

Today, there are few cookies I love more than a well-made macaroon, so it’s just a plus that they’re a Passover-friendly dessert. I devoured an amazing one recently at RareSweets, a charming bakery that opened in Washington, D.C., last fall. Caramelized and crunchy on the outside, moist and chewy within and not too sweet, it was exactly what I want in a macaroon, or any cookie, for that matter. Lucky for us, the bakery’s pastry chef and owner, Meredith Tomason, shared the recipe with FN Dish. She incorporates many family recipes into her menu, and says this one was a staple at various holidays throughout the years.

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A Food Lover’s Guide to Austin for SXSW

by in Events, Restaurants, March 12th, 2015

This year’s South by Southwest festival is more food-centric than ever. The SouthBites lineup is back for its second year, now encompassing dozens of programs on the growing intersection of food and tech. There’s a pop-up food trailer park of the same name where you can refuel with kimchi fries and fish tacos between panels. But Austin is always good to food lovers, no matter when you visit. The Texas town is home to epic barbecue, world-class Tex-Mex (breakfast tacos galore!) and pioneering chefs. If you’re heading to SXSW, here are some must-try spots. And if you’re not lucky enough to attend this year, consider these just a few tasty reasons to book a trip. Read more

Beyond Banana Bread: New Ways to Use This All-Purpose Fruit

by in Family, Recipes, March 7th, 2015

Bananas are one of the most-versatile ingredients out there. Of course ripe bananas make a satisfying snack all on their own (even better with some peanut butter). They’re a key smoothie element and a favorite topping for hot or cold cereal, and once they’re speckled and overripe, banana bread comes calling. But that’s just a slice of what bananas can do. Food Network Kitchen used bananas plus two other simple ingredients in five genius recipes that transform the all-purpose fruit into entirely new dishes. Watch the video to see how to make these ridiculously simple and fun banana treats. Read more

5 Nontraditional Valentine’s Day Dining Ideas: No Reservations Required!

by in Holidays, Restaurants, February 13th, 2015

On most special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, my husband and I look forward to splurging on dinners out at new or favorite restaurants. But not on Valentine’s Day. One too many overpriced set menus with boring choices (“free” glass of sparkling wine included!) ruined that for us. We usually plan an elaborate menu to cook at home, but enough people have wised up to staying in on Valentine’s Day that the scene in Whole Foods can be just as bad as a “romantic restaurant.” So this year, let’s try a new game plan. Maybe a romantic dinner doesn’t have to mean an expensive fixed-price menu or hours spent toiling in the kitchen. Maybe it’s just splurging (calorically) on a favorite comfort food together, something fun that satisfies at a low price, without a reservation made weeks or months in advance — and nobody has to wash dishes. Here are five ideas for nontraditional Valentine’s Day date nights. Read more

Layered Is the New Chopped: Try a Layered Salad for Every Season

by in In Season, Recipes, February 12th, 2015

These stacked salads from Food Network Kitchen prove dinnerworthy with layers of greens, seasonal vegetables, protein and crunch. Get inspired by the season (we’re currently obsessed with winter’s tasty beet-and-Brussels combo), or make a layered take on the classic wedge that’s a crowd-pleaser anytime of year. Read more

6 Snow-Day Recipes from the Pantry

by in Recipes, January 27th, 2015

Pizza delivery is a pipe dream right now for snowed-in East Coasters, and it may be a few days before many can get to the store for fresh provisions. Fortunately, you don’t have to subsist on frostbitten leftovers from who knows when. Food Network Kitchen worked up these six comforting recipes made exclusively with nonperishable pantry ingredients. At first the rules seemed daunting — no fresh produce, no dairy, no fresh herbs, not even a squeeze of lemon! — but these recipes turned out so delicious that your family will never know. Plus, they make fun and easy cooking projects to keep cooped-up kids and adults occupied.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta
If you’re snowed in, or just way too tired for a trip to the store on a busy weeknight, this comforting pasta (pictured above) is perfect. Think beef stroganoff meets chicken paprikash (without the meat). The sauce is uber-creamy without the help of cream. Instead, the combo of evaporated milk, flour and mustard does the trick.

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