Star-a-Day: Nikki Dinki

by , May 26th, 2013

Nikki DinkiYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month’s premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

A food blogger living in New York City, Nikki Dinki, 29, follows a semi-vegetarian diet. After growing up a picky eater, she was determined to change her culinary habits, so she set out to learn how to cook. Nikki’s able to combine her background in acting with her passion for cooking by hosting a cooking show online.

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3 Ways to Make Kids Say, “Yay, Asparagus!”

by in Family, May 25th, 2013

3 Ways to Make Kids Say, Kids don’t always love eating the green stuff. But instead of offering less of it, one of my favorite techniques is adding things they do like to any given dish. Take asparagus. Our toddler loves lemons, so it’s a go-to trick for encouraging her to try new foods. (It also works for previously refused foods, but I’m sure that never happens at your place.)

1. Our favorite way to make asparagus is sauteed in a pan with olive oil and a handful of peas. Add a few shavings of salty Parmesan cheese on top and let the kids squeeze their own lemon at the table.
2. Or try asparagus on homemade pizza with big drops of fresh ricotta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.
3. Never underestimate the power of roasting veggies. A pan of asparagus with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of salt will be amazing after 10 minutes of roasting at 425 degrees F. You might even get a cheer, but I always settle for at least a bite.

Try these kid-friendly recipes

The Neelys’ Top 5 Summer Grilling Tips

by in Food Network Chef, May 25th, 2013

Pat and Gina NeelyWho better to kick off the season of outdoor cooking and all things barbecued, grilled and smoked than Food Network’s own First Family of Barbecue, Pat and Gina Neely? Together, this culinary power couple has been known to put their signature spins on authentic Tennessee ribs, comforting potato salads, and traditional grilled chicken alike — the must-have dishes for the ultimate summer cookout. FN Dish caught up with the Neelys at the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival earlier this year to chat about what it takes to master the grill at home and to learn their secrets to better barbecue. At a live cooking demonstration on the beach with their fans, Pat and Gina cooked a quick meal of grilled shrimp and pineapple kebabs with mango salsa, explained the ins and outs of some classic warm-weather recipes, and answered fans’ questions about all aspects of summertime cooking and entertaining. Find out what they had to say below, and get their top-five tips for enjoying a stress-free summer at the grill.

5. It’s a good idea to start the grill on medium heat and rub the grates with oil before adding anything to it. This will help prevent food from sticking.

4. When making kebabs on wooden skewers, be sure to soak the sticks in water for a while before you put them on the grill. Otherwise, the dry wood will catch fire and burn quickly.

Get the Neelys’ top three tips

10 Crowd-Pleasing Picnic Salad Recipes

by in Recipes, May 25th, 2013

potato saladWhether you’re having a picnic, a backyard cookout or a family reunion, a salad is always a good idea to have on the menu, for three reasons: It’s easy to make, most recipes can be made in advance, and it’s great for serving a crowd of hungry family members and friends. And those hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks and other grilled main dishes need a great side to round out the offerings.

If you’re looking for that perfect picnic salad recipe, Food Network has 11 dishes — including potato salad, pasta salad and green bean salad — that are sure to be winners this Memorial Day weekend. For more ideas for summer entertaining, check out Food Network’s Grilling Central.

Get the Picnic Salad Recipes

Star-a-Day: Lovely Jackson

by , May 25th, 2013

Lovely JacksonYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month’s premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Born Connie Jackson, Lovely, 27, adopted her nickname when she was a child, as the baby of her family. She’s a culinary school graduate with a bachelor’s degree in culinary management, and she lives in Los Angeles. As a private chef for high-profile clients, Lovely works to bring glam to the kitchen through diamond-studded knives and edible diamonds.

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WATCH: Food Network Stars Reveal Their Nightmare Chopped Ingredients

by in View All Posts, May 24th, 2013

Just imagine what the contestants go through every round on Chopped when they each stand in front of a mystery basket, getting ready to open the lid just as the clock goes off. It’s surely a feeling of dread as to what ingredients they might find inside, maybe even something that could cause nightmares, like an odd piece of offal, an exotic fruit or even candy.

FN Dish caught up with Food Network stars including Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Anne Burrell, as well as the judges themselves and other famous faces, to ask: “What’s your nightmare Chopped ingredient?” Watch the video above to hear which ingredient causes the most nightmares.

What’s your nightmare ingredient?

How to Bring Your Lunch to Work: A Guide With 7 Easy Tips and Recipes

by in Recipes, May 24th, 2013

ham sandwichEating lunch in the office can get pretty expensive if you’re buying your lunch every day. Not to mention, it can get pretty boring. Really, what are your choices for lunch: soup, salad or sandwich? If that’s all you’ve got to pick from, you might as well pack your own soup, salad or sandwich and save a lot of money at the same time. Once you take into account how much you’re paying for lunch in a year, that number alone might convince you it’s time to start packing.

In honor of National Brown-Bag It Day, which is tomorrow, May 25, FN Dish is giving you the guide with seven easy-to-follow tips on how to make packing your lunch a breeze. And being budget-conscious doesn’t mean eating boring dishes, so you’ll find there are some great recipes to choose from below, too.

Get the Lunch Packing Tips

Turkey and Blistered Green Chile Burgers — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, Holidays, May 24th, 2013

Turkey and Blistered Green Chile BurgersFor the last few years, my husband and I have been in the habit of visiting friends in Northampton, Mass., for the long Memorial Day weekend. We make the trek from Philadelphia on Saturday morning, arriving sometime in the early afternoon, very ready for several days of catching up, early cocktail hours and lazy meals.

One thing that’s always particularly fun about these weekends is that these friends take their grilling very seriously. We live in an apartment without a stitch of outdoor space, so I’m always excited to have an opportunity to cook outside on a real, live flame (my everyday cooktop is an ancient, soul-less electric stove).

Two years ago we experimented with grilled pizzas (a huge success!), and last summer we cooked up a buffet of sausages, from-scratch veggie burgers and a mountain of grilled vegetables. As our visit approaches, I’ve had my eyes open for new recipes that might work well on their deluxe grill.

Before you start cooking, read these tips