All Posts In View All Posts

Easter Eggs and Good Deals with Melissa

by in View All Posts, April 1st, 2010

Melissa d'Arabian

Who doesn’t appreciate quick and easy budget-friendly dinner ideas? Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian’s show, Ten Dollar Dinners (Sundays at 12:30pm/11:30c), is all about making the daily dinner struggle a little easier without breaking the bank. We were excited to chat with Melissa about Easter, spring produce and her fresh new season of Ten Dollar Dinners, filming next week.

FN Dish: What are some of your favorite ways to keep costs down when you’re entertaining for a special occasion or holiday like Easter?
Melissa: One of the great things about Easter is you’ve got inexpensive proteins that are front and center. Ham and pork roast are two very inexpensive proteins that feed a lot of people, and they’re festive and feel decadent without being expensive. Another Easter-time protein is the egg. An egg runs anywhere between 12 and 17 cents, so even at two eggs a person you’re only talking 25 to 30 cents. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that, and an egg is actually really versatile. We tend to think of eggs only as breakfast, but I think that eggs as protein for lunches and dinners are often overlooked, so there are lots of opportunities with the egg that will save a lot of money.

In fact, on I have some recipes to use up hard-boiled eggs from the Easter egg hunt, because there’s only so much egg salad you can eat. But don’t waste those eggs. They’re great protein, not a lot of money and there are some creative ways to use them.

See Melissa’s tips for making perfect hard-boiled eggs, plus recipes for Asparagus with Tangy-Smoky Dressing and her Egg and Garlic Cheese Baguette. Also, see how she makes the cutest Easter cupcakes.

P.S. In case you missed it, watch Melissa whip up more Easter brunch recipes on the TODAY Show.

Read more

Hot and Spicy Showdown: Holy Mole!

by in View All Posts, March 31st, 2010
Steak Tacos Mole Recipe
Competitor Julie Merriman's Chipotle Rubbed Steak Tacos Mole

The heat is always on in the Ultimate Recipe Showdown kitchens, but it got even hotter this week with the Hot & Spicy competition. The contestants’ fiery flavors spanned the globe, from Thai chicken soup to Indonesian salad to Mexican tacos.

Once again, we sat down with Katherine Alford, VP of Food Network Test Kitchen and veteran URS judge, to get her tips on cooking (and eating) spicy foods.

FN Dish: Is a dish ever “too spicy” for you? Were you worried at all that one of the contestants might overdo the heat in this round?
Katherine Alford: Yes, a dish can be too spicy, if it’s hot just for the sake of being hot and taking your head off. The best spicy food has more than just incendiary heat. Even dishes that use habaneros, the hottest chile, should be balanced to play up its fruity quality. A good hot and spicy dish should have enough going on so that the heat is part of a larger taste.

FN Dish: The dishes in this round represented many diverse cuisines. What are some of the best international cuisines for spicy food lovers to experiment with?
KA: Of course the first that comes to mind is Mexican, as well as a wide range of Asian cuisines such as Szechuan, Vietnamese and Thai, Indian…or Indonesian like our runner-up. But what is interesting is that spices and chiles can be found in many cuisines…one of my favorite peppers is the Aleppo pepper that is used in Turkish and Lebanese food. It’s smoky, almost meaty, and it packs a punch.

Try Bobby Flay’s recipe for Tuna Crusted with Aleppo Peppers.

Read more

Bake Sale Fave? For Sandra, It’s Snickerdoodles

by in View All Posts, March 26th, 2010

Earlier this week, Sandra Lee was busy working on recipes in Food Network Kitchens. She took a break to sit down and chat with us about her new season of Sandra’s Money Saving Meals, premiering this Sunday at 12pm/11c.

FN Dish: This season’s premiere of Sandra’s Money Saving Meals is all about the Bake Sale. When you visit a table full of great-looking treats, what’s your pick? Cookie, brownie, cupcake, something else?

Sandra Lee: Snickerdoodles. If they have a snickerdoodle, I’ll definitely buy that.

FN Dish: What’s your wallet-friendly take on this classic fundraising event?

Sandra: I wanted to show that it can still be inexpensive to throw a fabulous bake sale. And not just a bake sale that’s all about sweets, but a bake sale that also offers savory items. So that way, if you’re walking by, there’s no reason to say no. You can’t say, “I can’t have sugar because I haven’t eaten anything.” Well, we’ve got Ham and Cheese Pinwheels. Have that and then you can have a brownie! Cookies are always good, too; brownies already cut and packaged are good. Cupcakes can be good but glazes are better than high icing. Cake is great, but pieces should always be pre-packaged so you’re not touching it. Avoid anything that’s hard to slice and messy. Banana cream pie—not so much.

Read more

Party Food Showdown: Margaritas All Around

by in View All Posts, March 24th, 2010

The mood was festive on Ultimate Recipe Showdown Sunday as four competitors showed off their best party recipes. This week’s personalities were as fun as the food—we had a black-belt Grandma, a young clothing designer who poured himself a cocktail during the competition, a TV news reporter and a former rocker. Throwing a party with the four of them—plus fun-loving URS host Guy Fieri, of course—would surely be a good time.

Like last week, we sat down with Katherine Alford, Vice President of Food Network Test Kitchen, to get her take on the Party Food theme.

FN Dish: What makes party food a little more special than everyday meals?
Katherine Alford: This is when you pull out all the stops. You want a little wow and are willing to go the extra mile to make your friends feel special. Cooking for friends is such a generous act.

Read more

Comfort Food Showdown: All About the Carbs

by in View All Posts, March 17th, 2010

Ultimate Recipe Showdown Season 3 kicked off with the Comfort Food round on Sunday, and we’re already quite jealous of the judges. While host Guy Fieri runs the show and checks in with the competitors, these three folks with esteemed palates get to sit back, watch the live cooking action and taste eight dishes perfected by home cooks. Who wouldn’t want that job?

After each episode this season, we’re sitting down with Katherine Alford—Vice President of Food Network Test Kitchen and URS judge—and asking three questions about the week’s theme. Today she shares her insights on comfort food.

FN Dish: What makes a dish “comfort food”?‪
Katherine Alford: Something that hits an emotional cord, soothing, nurturing and generous. Comfort also can be inspired by who cooks for you, like a favorite friend or relative. Comfort food can come in a myriad of forms… but most likely at its base it’s got a serious carb thing happening, like mac and cheese, grilled cheese, or my favorite, a buttery baked potato. Read more

Inspirations from The Best Thing I Ever Ate

by in View All Posts, March 12th, 2010

Recently I’ve become obsessed with The Best Thing I Ever Ate—the problem is, this show makes me way too hungry. While I usually just salivate in front of the TV, after watching the “Meat-Fest” episode I got proactive.

When Michael Symon professed his love for the Large Format Feast at Resto in New York City, a lightbulb went off in my head: “That’s how I’m celebrating my birthday this year!” At the feast Michael described, the restaurant would procure a whole animal of your choosing and prepare it every which way for a three-course feast.

Read more

Good Food Garden at SoBe

by in View All Posts, March 5th, 2010

[pickle url=”″]

Hey, Sarah Copeland here from Food Network Kitchens. Last weekend, we spent 48 hours in a little land of green. Our latest Good Food Garden was a part of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami. It was an absolute pleasure to bring another garden to South Florida since the one we built there last year is now a thriving force that has inspired the kids of the South Beach Boys & Girls Club and their family food co-op that the community has come to depend on.

For two days, our garden sat smack in the sunny center of Jungle Island Fun Park, greeting kids and parents with lush patches of strawberries, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, squash and fruiting temple orange trees among a dozen other varieties of fresh foods. As always, wherever our gardens go, they invite the little ones to taste, touch, smell and learn.

Whenever I talk with someone who has not experienced the Good Food Gardens through the eyes of a child, I talk about the magic that happens there—the lure of the plants that are a world of wonderment to a child who may or may not know that the food they see on their plate started as a tiny seed. The magic was at work full force this weekend as kids tucked their noses into the orange blossoms, felt the furry sage leaves and tasted spicy, vibrant arugula.

But the real magic happens in the homes and lives of the families the garden will touch now that it has been relocated to its permanent home, the Naoma Donnelley Haggin Boys & Girls Club in Delray Beach. We hope the things they will grow, taste and cook because of their exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables in their own backyard will inspire generations of healthy eating. It’s the magic of a movement that believes Good Food is for everyone.

– Sarah Copeland

Spokesperson, Good Food Gardens

SoFun in SoBe

by in View All Posts, March 3rd, 2010

Burgers, beaches, bubbly, BBQ, Bobby Flay—what more could you want in a weekend? All of the Food Network stars came out for the 2010 South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and we caught some of them on camera during the whirlwind of parties, seminars and grand tastings.  


Check out our favorite video highlights from the festivities as recorded by FN ClipChick.

[pickle url=”″]

Brian Boitano Vlogs from Vancouver

by in View All Posts, February 25th, 2010

Brian Boitano was in Vancouver this week re-living his Olympic glory. Long before he became a Food Network star, Brian won figure skating gold in the 1988 Calgary games. We’re guessing he had a pretty good seat for some of this year’s figure skating competitions, but he also went up to Canada to do some cooking.

Check out Brian’s Vlog from Vancouver and try some of the fun Olympic-themed recipes he prepared for the Today Show, where Meredith Vieira helped whip up his super-easy bean dip. If you’ve got five minutes and a food processor, you can too! It would be excellent to snack on with some pita chips or raw veggies while watching the Women’s Free Skate tonight.

And for more Brian, catch the new season of What Would Brian Boitano Make, premiering March 7 at 1 pm.

[pickle url=”″]

Garlicky White Bean Dip
Crab and Avocado Crostini
Mini Pastrami Sandwiches
The Gold Medal Cocktail
Baked Vancouvers

-Sara Levine

Paula’s Cupcake Palette, Naturally

by in View All Posts, February 11th, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcake
I recently befriended a pastry chef, who inspired me to try my hand at baking. While her idea of baking includes creating pastel-colored French macaroons from scratch to perfection, I thought I would start simple. My husband’s favorite: Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cupcakes for Valentine’s Day! I have always loved Paula’s butter-filled recipes.

But who knew it would be next to impossible to find real red food dye in New York City? After searching in below-freezing temperatures I finally found red natural food dye. I seriously thought if Mr. Ace of Cakes Duff could find vibrant colors for Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, my NYC search would be a breeze. Whole Foods to the rescue. Not exactly the bright red I was hoping for, but perhaps a more romantic crimson? I started combining the ingredients for the batter, which surprisingly include cocoa, white vinegar and buttermilk. How appropriate for Paula: buttermilk. She’d have it no other way.

Lastly, I added the 2 full tablespoons of dye the recipe called for, which made the batter not red but…FUCHSIA! I was mystified, and when my husband entered the kitchen he wondered aloud what inspired me to make hot-pink food for him on Valentine’s Day. He knows I am absurdly girly but this was taking things to the next level. I still decided to pop them in the oven, hoping for a 20-minute miracle of luscious red deliciousness.

The cupcakes came out more maroonish than red (think Jersey Shore tan, a la Snookie). Once they cooled, amid a few bumps in the otherwise creamy cream cheese icing, I smoothed on the frosting and voila! Next time maybe I’ll use regular food coloring. Paula Deen’s Red Velvet cupcakes had gone slightly south but my loving husband ate them with his eyes closed, promising they tasted not only delicious but red.

—Reena Mehta