All summer long, you’ve voted for your favorite Food Network Star winners or Chopped judges in head-to-head matchups of their best grill-out dishes. Week after week, it was a tight race, and with the start of September just around the corner, it’s finally time to reveal the Summer Showdown winner …
Fall is right around the corner and it’s perhaps my favorite season. As a child, I always loved how the air cooled just the tiniest bit when I would open the front door and head out to my first day of school, almost as if nature recognized the rhythms spelled out in my school district’s calendar. (Looking back, I wonder if it was simply chillier at 7am than at 10am?) I knew the tiniest wisp of cooler air meant the holiday season would soon follow, and I have always been someone who enjoys the anticipation of an event as much as the event itself. (I love sleep so much that I actually enjoy being tired, and I have been known to stay up an extra hour just to relish the thought of sleep to come.) I loved entering a new grade, finding out who my new teacher would be and scoping out the classroom on the first day for familiar faces. I welcomed routine and structure — beyond just goofing around with my sister at the local Woolworth’s, playing on the carts and enjoying free pong, much to the chagrin of Jan, the store manager in a mustard-colored smock.
My daughters started school this week: third grade, second grade and two girls in first grade. All four girls are at the same school now, which means we can ride our bikes together. School supplies and fresh fall outfits are bought and tucked away in their closets. I’ve stocked up on lunch-packing supplies (LunchBots for four girls can set you back a bit!). Back to School Night is in two days, and there will be signups, forms to fill out and probably a few more checks to write. But it’s all just part of the routine — the seasonal cycles of growing up.
How do we make mealtime appealing to little kids but acceptable to us? With summer winding down and the first day of school approaching, I’ve started thinking of ways to make lunchtime fun and healthy. Here are my product picks.
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No matter how hearty the school lunches you may have packed for your children, chances are that by the time the last afternoon bell rings and they finally make it home after a long day, they’re ready for a snack. But while your kids may be hungry at 4pm and need something quick to fill their tummies, you don’t want this in-between meal to spoil their appetites for dinner, which is why it’s important to reach for snacks that are easy to prepare in the midst of supper prep and homework, and just filling enough to satiate them for a few hours. Check out Food Network’s top-five after-school snack solutions below for go-to picks from some of your favorite chefs.
5. Fruit Leather Roll-Ups — Just like the store-bought roll-ups in color and taste but made with far fewer ingredients, these easy-to-make bites boast a base of real fruit puree. You get to decide which fruits to use, so pick flavors you know your children enjoy, like grape, peach, apple or strawberry.
4. Galaxy Fruit Pops — Entice your little ones to eat fruit by using cookie cutters to shape watermelon and pineapple into their favorite shapes, like circles or stars. For older kids, follow Marcela’s lead and dust the juicy slices with chili powder for an unexpected hint of heat and taste.
Season 4 of The Great Food Truck Race is in full swing, and at this point it’s anybody’s game, as host Tyler Florence has pointed out. Whoever wins the $50,000 can look forward to many opportunities. The Season 3 winners, Seoul Sausage, went on to open a brick-and-mortar location in Los Angeles, where they sell their special kimchi balls, which became a perennial favorite during the run of the show. FN Dish is giving away five Seoul Sausage T-shirts to randomly selected winners for nominating the most appealing offerings that this season’s teams are bringing to the race.
To enter: Tell us in the comments which menu from this season’s food trucks you would most like to try. The contest starts at 3pm EST today and ends Thursday, Sept. 4 at 3pm EST. And don’t forget to watch The Great Food Truck Race on Sundays at 9pm/8c.
Gone are the days of shriveled, dried figs — at least for now. The plump, sweet orbs — actually flowers inverted into themselves — are now lusciously in-season, meaning they’re ready, willing and able to make your table’s acquaintance.
But there’s a catch with figs: Supple, soft and picked when ripe, the fruit is as fragile as a porcelain vase, and the journey home from the grocery store is enough to leave your little figs burst and bruised. Leaving them on the counter for a day or two also reveals the fruit’s intense perishability. The moral of the story: One must act fast when fleeting figs are involved.
With this looming expiration date in mind, FN Dish rounded up the ways to cook and bake figs into our favorite recipes. That way, they’ll disappear as they should.
When the alarm goes off, Food Network Magazine’s Nutty Fig Toasts are your only fighting chance of getting out of bed — yes, Monday too. The multigrain toast, ricotta cheese, roasted nuts and cushy fruit are steps above the cereal bowl.
America’s middle may be known for its lush green pastures and rolling hills, but it’s also home to some of the most comforting and creative food in the country, thanks to its focus on farming and rural, rustic living. On her all-new upcoming series, Heartland Table (Saturday, Sept. 14 at 10:30am/9:30c), Amy Thielen, a born-and-raised Minnesotan, is on a mission to introduce her Midwest to viewers through her signature takes on the classic dishes of the area.
Amy is a chef and a former restaurant cook who enjoyed a stint in some of New York City’s most revered eateries, but after years in the Big Apple, she moved home to Minnesota with her husband to raise their family. On Heartland Table, she’ll showcase some of her region’s most comforting and authentic dishes using only the freshest goods available, like straight-from-the-garden greens, locally sourced eggs and meat, and neighborhood produce. Now a cookbook author and blogger, Amy knows what it takes to turn out the hearty, family-focused food for which the heartland is famous, and she’ll show audiences how deliciously simple it is to make these meals in their homes, no matter which part of the country they’re in.
When it’s screaming hot outside, the last thing I want to do is slave over a stove. That’s why I set up the slow cooker and let that little miracle worker make dinner for me three times.
Dinner #1: For this mouthwatering pork (pictured above), set a large pork loin (or two) into the slow cooker, slather with whole grain mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper and dried thyme. Cook for four hours, then let it fall apart, right onto your kids’ miniature plates. Save the rest.
Dinner #2: Using a mix of BBQ sauce and plain ketchup (even sweet BBQ sauce is usually “too spicy” for our small kids), heat up the remaining pork in a pan and serve on toasted buns.
The latest stop on The Great Food Truck Race took the seven remaining teams to Portland, Ore., where city restrictions and an exotic cooking challenge awaited them. One of the stipulations was that the teams had to sell on private property, forcing most to make partnerships with local Portland businesses, such as bakeries, bars, restaurants and cafes. Two teams, Tikka Tikka Taco and Boardwalk Breakfast Empire, parked in Cartlandia and A La Carts Food Pavilion, two popular food cart pods that feature some of the city’s best mobile eateries. With all these options, it’s easy to see that Portland is a foodie’s paradise and the bustling restaurant scene is one that’s worth exploring. FN Dish has highlighted some terrific options from Food Network’s On the Road guide to Portland. Check them out below.