9 Simple, Kid-Friendly Snacks Perfect for Playdates

by in Family, Recipes, July 8th, 2015

English Muffin PizzasWith summer in full swing, and four kids under the age of 7, we’ve got friends of all ages coming and going all the time. To keep things simple but still plenty of fun, I have a roster of easy and (almost) universally liked snacks for kids. Here’s what we’re serving.

English Muffin Pizzas (pictured above): For more of a meal, these English muffin pizzas can be topped with your choice of fixings, like olives and broccoli.

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Take a Seat at the Table for Valerie’s Home Cooking

by in Shows, July 8th, 2015

Valerie Bertinelli is showing viewers how easy it is to prepare modern versions of her family favorites. Starting Saturday, Aug. 8 at 12|11c, the Golden Globe winner, best-selling cookbook author and co-host of Kids Baking Championship invites her closest friends over for mouthwatering meals and, of course, lots of laughs on Valerie’s Home Cooking.

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Heading Off on Vacation? Don’t Forget to Pack These Food-Focused Books

by in Books, July 8th, 2015

The World on a PlateWhen summer heats up, there’s only one thing to do: pack your cooler, grab a good book and hit the beach. Even when we step out of the kitchen, our minds never wander far from delicious dishes, and we like our literature the way we like our pantry: overflowing with mouthwatering food. These are the books you’ll find in our beach bags this summer.

The World on a Plate by Mina Holland
If you’re looking for a book to double as an imaginary culinary vacation, The World on a Plate is the book for your beach bag. It won Best Culinary Travel Book in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, and it’s easy to see why. Holland’s writing is open and engaging, and she teases your appetite, one country’s specialty dishes at a time. The food dances to life through history and cultural context. Once you read it, you’ll never again be able to peruse your pantry without seeing the storied histories and secret lives of some of your favorite ingredients — right down to the cinnamon and sugar in your favorite cookies. It’s a culinary and historical tour of world cuisine that includes everything from the most-prevalent flavor profiles and pantry staples to each cuisine’s signature recipes. The World on a Plate is the perfect summer read for the soul that has a serious (and seriously hungry) case of wanderlust. Order your copy here.

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One-on-One with Master Pastry Chef Ron Ben-Israel

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, July 8th, 2015

Ron Ben-IsraelAt his New York City studio, Ron Ben-Israel imagines, creates and designs towering, expertly adorned cakes for all occasions. But on the all-new series Cake Wars, this master pastry chef won’t be in the kitchen, baking against the clock; rather, he’ll be overseeing the contest as a lead judge. Each week it’s up to him, fellow pastry chef Waylynn Lucas and special guests to dole out themed baking challenges that test the competitors’ time management and on-the-spot ingenuity, as well as their baking prowess.

Recently FN Dish caught up with Ron at a special screening of Cake Wars at Manhattan’s International Culinary Center, where he’s an instructor, to chat with the judge about all things to do with sweet competition. From his favorite cake-frosting flavor combination to what he looks for in a well-designed creation, read on below to hear from Ron in an exclusive interview.

What can fans expect from the season? What are you most looking forward to?
Ron Ben-Israel: It’s a new show, actually. Even though it’s similar to Cupcake Wars, it’s bigger and better. You know, cupcakes look nice and cute, but they are small. Even when we talk about cake — four, five, six, seven tiers. In the main challenge, they get four hours to build a cake, and … the themes are so crazy, from The Simpsons to Hello Kitty to Girl Scouts. So we don’t want to see miniature; we want to see over-the-top.

Your cakes take hours — days, even — to make. Could you imagine having to turn out something spectacular in such a short amount of time?
RBI: The hardship is not so much the four hours; it’s not being able to divide the task to a few days, because normally you bake the cake, then you chill [it] and you make the fillings … Here, everything comes together. But the reality is, if you have [the right] state of mind and organize, you can achieve what you want, and that was the hardest thing for me — not being able to go to the kitchens, because everybody has their own set kitchen, and say “Clean up, guys. It’s a mess.”

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From Trash Fish to Treasure — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, July 7th, 2015


Things got fishy tonight on an all-new Chopped when Ted Allen announced that the entree basket would contain something known as trash fish, or porgy — a type of fish that used to be a cast-off. That along with olive tapenade, blood oranges and vermicelli (rice) noodles made up the required ingredients, which proved challenging. Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Geoffrey Zakarian took on the basket during a new installment of Chopped After Hours.

Amanda’s plan gets off to a rough start as she tries to deep-fry the rice noodles and realizes they’re not getting crisp. She makes some adjustments to speed up the process. “I cranked this, too, because I know my other chef competitors, they would like to use the fryer as well,” she says. “Look how considerate I am!” Geoffrey is convinced otherwise, asking where she put his pink peppercorns, which are actually on the ledge above his stove.

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Guess How Much Time You Spend Eating on an Average Day

by in News, July 7th, 2015

Guess How Much Time You Spend Eating on an Average DayHow much time do you think you spend eating and drinking, on an average weekday? How about on an average day during the weekend?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released its annual breakdown of how we Americans spend our time each day — the American Time Use Survey — and it turns out that, on average, we spend only 1 hour and 8 minutes of every weekday consuming food and drink, and not much more than that — only 1 hour and 17 minutes — eating and drinking on weekends and holidays.

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Ultimate Mac ‘n’ Cheese Casserole: The Best Thing to Happen to Pasta, Cheese and Bacon — Party of Two

by in Recipes, July 7th, 2015

Ultimate Mac 'n Cheese CasseroleI know, I know, it’s July and you may not want to turn on that oven. But I’m here to convince you that this ultimate mac ‘n’ cheese is THE casserole dish you need. You’re going to want to make it — no matter the heat — after you read what’s in it.

Ooey-gooey, cheesy and bacon-y pasta: It’s all here, and it will surely tempt you. Why? Because the orecchiette pasta is covered with the silkiest sauce of Gruyère and sharp white cheddar. Because crispy bacon pieces are sprinkled throughout the dish AND on the top. Need I say more? The orecchiette pasta is the perfect shape for this dish because the cheese and bacon nestle into the pasta’s earlike grooves to give you the ultimate mac ‘n’ cheese experience. And perhaps best of all, in keeping with the Party of Two theme, this recipe feeds two people, which means that you won’t end up with a heaping amount of leftovers, as is often the case with classic casseroles.

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Pack Your Bags, and Don’t Forget the Sabotages: It’s Time for Camp Cutthroat

by in Shows, July 7th, 2015

Alton BrownYou know those sleepy summer camps that encourage community, camaraderie and nighttime kumbayas by the fire? This is not that. Led by none other than the master saboteur himself, Alton Brown‘s Camp Cutthroat takes everything you know and love about classic Cutthroat Kitchen — the over-the-top challenges, demanding judges and tight time constraints — and brings it to the great outdoors for a five-part tournament that shines a (hilarious) light on the most-evilicious sides of summer camp.

Premiering Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 9|8c, Camp Cutthroat takes place not in the cozy confines of the traditional Cutthroat arena but outside in the rural woods, which means that the 12 chef contestants will have to contend not only with each other, but also Mother Nature and, of course, the themed sabotages Alton has up his camp-uniform sleeve. From unforeseen wild animals and pesky fellow campers to a murky lake on the grounds, this adventure will test the competitors in downright diabolical ways before ultimately culminating in a finale that crowns one rival the Camp Cutthroat Champion.

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