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From Hot Cross Buns to Braided Loaves: 5 Easter Breads to Bake This Holiday

by in Recipes, March 20th, 2013

hot cross bunsToday is the first day of spring, which means Easter isn’t far behind. Both the season and the holiday celebrate renewal. So it’s fitting that one of the symbols of the Easter holiday is bread, for the fact that it rises from the use of yeast. Sweet yeast breads are a tradition around Easter time and can take the form of buns, rolls and even braided loaves studded with multicolored Easter eggs. These beautiful baked goods are great for breakfast, brunch or an after-meal sweet treat with coffee or tea.

You may think that baking bread is hard. Well, yes, it does take some time to knead the dough and then there’s the period when you’re waiting for it to rise, but, the end result is worth the effort. Plus if you’re only baking bread once every year, then why not just jump in and do it? Food Network has five great Easter bread recipes that are sure to make your holiday that much more special.

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Ravioli With Alfredo and Peas — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, March 18th, 2013

Ravioli Alfredo With PeasThe secret to stress-free weeknight cooking is having a well-stocked refrigerator and pantry that you can rely on to help piece together quick dishes on nights when you hardly have time to meal plan. When you make it to the grocery store on weekends or low-key evenings, fill up on staples you know your family uses frequently, plus a few good-to-have freezer ingredients that will ensure your dinners aren’t just simple to make but also deliciously interesting for the whole family.

Food Network Magazine puts store-bought ravioli and frozen peas to work in its recipe for Ravioli Alfredo With Peas (pictured above), a 20-minute timesaver that’s easy enough to make on a busy Monday night but impressive enough to serve to company as well. After making a richly indulgent sauce of cream and butter, add vibrant peas for a pop of color and then mushroom-filled ravioli — a next-level twist on the everyday ricotta variety — so they pick up the comforting flavors of the Alfredo. A final mix-in of nutty Parmesan cheese will thicken the sauce, while a shower of parsley adds freshness.

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Waffle Maker Magic

by in Family, Recipes, March 16th, 2013

Taleggio and Pear PaniniStorage is always an issue living in New York City, especially when it comes to much-coveted counter space; there never seems to be enough. It makes me pretty merciless when it comes to appliances and kitchen equipment. This also means I can’t afford to keep any one-trick ponies hanging around, so it was only logical for me to look beyond basic waffles when it came to cooking with my waffle iron.

A few years back I read about waffle grilled cheese in Jennifer Carden’s Toddler Café cookbook. It’s easy. Instead of cooking your grilled cheese in a skillet on the stovetop, you throw it into a preheated waffle iron doubling as a panini press. It’s a genius idea, and makes its way into my daughters’ lunchboxes a few times a week. My husband, Mikey, loved it so much that I would often gussy up the filling by using fresh mozzarella and tomato jam. It was the best of both worlds for him, from a culinary standpoint.

Then my eyes were opened even wider when my friend Silvana’s book, Cooking for Isaiah, came out. She had the brilliant idea of making shredded potato pancakes in her waffle iron. This works better in a standard waffle iron than a deep Belgian-style one, and is a fun twist on latkes.

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8-Spice Squash and Chicken Thighs Stew — The Weekender

by in Recipes, March 15th, 2013

Eight-Spice Squash and Chicken Thighs StewOne time when I was in college, I brought a few friends home for the weekend. It was a 4-hour drive from Walla Walla, Wash. — where we went to school — to my hometown of Portland, Ore. Knowing we’d be hungry, my mom had dinner waiting for us when we arrived. She’d made a big pot of her chicken curry, with brown rice to sop up the juices and plenty of garnishes like yogurt, diced apple and fresh cilantro leaves.

I was thrilled to see what she’d prepared. It was just the sort of flavorful, interesting food I’d grown up eating and didn’t see much of in the dining hall at school. My friends, on the other hand, weren’t so excited. I didn’t know it until we sat down at the table, but they weren’t fans of chicken on the bone or saucy dishes that include cooked raisins.

I am grateful that my parents chose to be amused by my friends’ collective reluctance to eat the meal and willingly served them lots of rice with just a little sauce for flavor. I am also appreciative that my parents made sure to make interesting food throughout my childhood, as it has made me a more adventurous eater as an adult.

Recently, I had a craving for a dish like the hippie curry that my mom served to my friends and me that night. A phone call to her was dissatisfyingly vague, so I did a little digging in the hopes that I’d find something with a similar flavor profile. What I settled on was Rachael Ray’s Eight-Spice Squash and Chicken Thighs Stew With Lentil Rice.

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Best 5 Hummus Recipes

by in Recipes, March 14th, 2013

Hummus DipInstead of looking to rich, indulgent dips to pair with chips or vegetables, try making better-for-you hummus, a traditionally no-cook mixture of ground chickpeas and extra-virgin olive oil. This smooth, creamy combination takes just minutes to prepare in a blender or food processor and can be easily featured alongside salty pretzels, crispy pita wedges and fresh crudité alike. Not just for appetizers or simple snacking, however, hummus also transforms everyday sandwiches, salads and pizzas into next-level meals with little effort or time. Spread it onto bread, mix it into dressings or use it in place of sauce on pizza for a creative twist to traditional dishes. Check out Food Network’s top-five hummus recipes below for a varied roundup of classic and inspired versions of this no-fail favorite.

5. Buffalo Wing Hummus — Enjoy the flavors of Buffalo-style chicken wings without the meaty bones in this lookalike dip, boasting a combination of barbecue and hot sauces, plus a pinch of paprika for subtle spice.

4. Edamame Hummus — A key ingredient in Food Network Kitchens’ hummus is tahini, a soft sesame-seed paste that adds unbeatable silkiness to the easy recipe, ready to eat in mere minutes, thanks to timesaving frozen edamame.

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Chocolate Stout Cupcakes — The New Girl

by in Holidays, Recipes, March 13th, 2013

Chocolate Stout CupcakesIn the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, beer takes the kitchen spotlight each March. Even if you’re not much of a beer drinker, this sudsy ingredient adds a wonderful depth of flavor without overpowering a recipe. I love the idea of adding a splash to Corned Beef or Irish Stew, but this year my mind was set on cupcakes.

I enjoy a light lager on game day or a crisp IPA with my Friday night pizza, but, to me, stout is the ultimate treat. I’ve never been to Ireland, and I am no connoisseur when it comes to how to pour the perfect pint, but I can appreciate its deliciousness all the same. With its smooth chocolate and coffee notes, stout will be your next secret weapon in baking.

Dave Lieberman’s Chocolate Stout Cupcakes are the perfect treats to please a party crowd. The taste of stout beer is subtle but becomes delectably more noticeable with each bite. Even if you can’t distinguish the actual beer flavor, it enhances the chocolate and makes for a rich, not-too-sweet cupcake. Top it off with velvety cream cheese icing and you’ve found your pot of gold.

A few things to consider before making this recipe

The Most Satisfying Pasta Dishes — Comfort Food Feast

by in Family, Recipes, March 13th, 2013

Food Network Magazine's Skillet LasagnaThere’s a time and a place for classic Italian pasta dishes. You know, the kind where al dente spaghetti is lackadaisically draped over the plate and a few sprigs of basil are planted on top. This time around, we’re digging only pasta dishes that require a sturdy spoon to lift up every last layer. With dishes as comforting as these, it’s hard to believe it all started with rigid pasta. Thank goodness for the great art of boiling water, right?

Alton Brown’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese combines the classic elbow shape with freshly shredded sharp cheddar and hints of paprika and mustard. It’s just what you would expect out of the traditional baked rendition and, man, is it good. If you’re looking to move beyond the quintessential mac, try out Food Network Magazine’s Buffalo-Chicken Macaroni and Cheese. It’s spiked with hot sauce and loaded with store-bought rotisserie chicken.

This collection wouldn’t be complete without a recipe like Neelys Baked Ziti or a good lasagna. For once, the latter isn’t restricted to the casserole dish. Food Network Magazine’s Skillet Lasagna packs all that baked flavor using just the stove. Scattered with ground beef and two types of cheese, Paula Deen’s Baked Spaghetti fixes the strands into melted, bubbly form in the oven.

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The Apple of My Eye — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Recipes, March 11th, 2013

Apple-Cheddar Squash SoupIf I say apple, what kind of recipe comes to mind? I’m betting most of you thought about pie, and for a good reason. Who can resist tender apples tucked into a flaky, buttery crust? Once you get past the many variations of this classic American dessert, though, there’s a whole world of savory dishes to explore.

Apples work especially well with assertively flavored ingredients. The natural sweetness shines through when it’s sauteed or roasted, helping to temper earthy root vegetables and spicy foods. Last year one of my favorite combinations was roasting it with parsnips and onions. I’d give the whole thing a whirl in the blender with some vegetable broth for a thick, creamy, dairy-free soup (and vegan, too).

Keep reading for apple-centric savory recipes

Easy Grain Salads — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, March 11th, 2013

Mediterranean Farro SaladWhile rice is perhaps the most traditional starchy side dish, there are indeed other grains to swap in when you’re looking to switch up your usual dinner routine. Just like rice, easy-to-make farro, bulgur and couscous become tender and satisfying when boiled, and they stand up well to bold ingredients and flavorful sauces. Think of these grains as blank slates; use them as a way to put leftover vegetables to work, to experiment with new-to-you herbs and to introduce unfamiliar flavors to your family for the first time. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite grain salads below, then browse these photos to find more ways to cook with grains.

In her top-rated recipe for Mediterranean Farro Salad (pictured above), Giada pairs these slightly chewy bites with colorful produce like green beans and red pepper, plus black olives and chunks of nutty Parmesan cheese. A key element to her salad is the simple vinaigrette. To prepare it, just mix a splash of sherry vinegar with fruity olive oil and tangy Dijon for a light topping that won’t disappoint. Watch this video to see how Giada makes the salad from start to finish.

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Dinner in a Hurry: Quick-Fix Recipes for Meals on the Go

by in Family, Recipes, March 9th, 2013

Cheesy Gnocchi Casserole With Ham and PeasWhile there’s a time and a place for indulgent three-course feasts complete with slow-simmered sauces, stuffed meats and warm desserts, busy weekday evenings are not it. Often there’s barely enough time in the day to grocery shop let alone cook any food you may have managed to pick up, and when those days strike, it’s important to have an arsenal full of fuss-free recipes to rescue you from dinnertime stress. Known kid-approved picks and easy-to-make-and-eat classics will help you put a supper on the table that’s both deliciously simple and satisfying. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite quick recipes below, then tell us in the comments: What tried-and-true meal do you reach for on frenzied weeknights?

Perhaps the ultimate family-friendly meal, casseroles are one of easiest go-to dinners, as they boast the simplicity of an all-in-one supper and can often be made with whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. Food Network Kitchens’ 30-minute recipe for Cheesy Gnocchi Casserole With Ham and Peas (pictured above) puts the fridge and freezer to work with deli ham and frozen peas. Laced with fresh thyme and rich heavy cream, this Swiss cheese-finished bake is a cinch to prepare thanks to store-bought potato gnocchi.

Keep reading for more easy recipes