Greek Noodle Casserole — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, November 30th, 2012

Giada's Greek Noodle CasseroleThough winter isn’t officially here according to the calendar, early sunsets and chilly nights mean that it’s fast approaching. As someone who loves daylight and loses steam once the sky goes dark, it’s around this time each year that I put my antihibernation plan into action.

During these darker months, my natural inclination is to burrow down — to stay close to home and not surface again until the warmer days return. While this might have been an appropriate survival strategy during another era, in my current life, it initiates a most unpleasant spiral of isolation. This is no good for anyone.

And so I fight back against this tendency to hole up using food. I throw dinner parties and invite friends over for spur-of-the-moment potlucks. I organize brunch outings. I make extra large batches of soup and carry it to harried neighbors. And at least once a weekend, I make an extra large casserole, just in case.

These days, one of my favorite recipes is Giada’s Greek Noodle Casserole. It’s essentially a slightly simplified version of Pastitsio and ends up tasting like an exotic, homemade version of Hamburger Helper. For those of us who grew up on the stuff (it is what my dad would make on nights when he was in charge), that makes this endlessly comforting and familiar. Perfect for combating short days and cooking as your Weekender.

Before you get cooking, read these tips

5 Simple Ways to Cut Calories

by , November 30th, 2012

olive oil
Calories can be sneaky, finding their way into your diet when you aren’t looking. Too many of them make it hard to maintain a healthy weight. Try these 5 simple things to save calories throughout the day — we promise you won’t miss them.

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The Next Iron Chef Bromance: Chefs That Plate Together, Win Together?

by in Shows, November 30th, 2012

Spike Mendelsohn and Marcel VigneronSomething unprecedented happened on this past Sunday’s episode of The Next Iron Chef. For the first time in Kitchen Stadium, two chefs chose to plate together, which led to their dishes being judged side by side. Was it a good or bad decision on their part? Did it tarnish the sanctity of the competition?

It’s been evident from the beginning of Season 5 that Chefs Mendelsohn and Vigneron have had an alliance. Episode 4 showed viewers how deep their friendship goes. The two competed against one another in the secret ingredient elimination challenge and made the decision to plate their lobster dishes together. But were they to be judged together, sent home together or allowed to win together? All the rival chefs were up in arms by their actions. Ultimately the judges chose to send home Chef Mendelsohn.

FN Dish wants to know, what would you have done if you were a judge? Do you think what went down in Kitchen Stadium was fair? Would you have liked to have seen both chefs saved? Or would you have eliminated both chefs for their antics?

VOTE HERE

Enter for a Chance to Win This Award-Winning Coconut Cake

by in Contests, November 29th, 2012

Penisula Grill Coconut CakeIf you’re a dessert lover, then this is certainly the sweet treat for you. This award-winning 12-layer coconut cake is rich, indulgent and loaded with plenty of toasted coconut and fresh vanilla. The New York Times called it “a little slice of heaven.” Bobby Flay even said the cake was his “all-time favorite dessert” when it was featured on his show, Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Having a slice of this decadent, light-as-air cake is without a doubt the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.

You can buy your own coconut cake here (or take a trip to The Peninsula Grill in Charleston, South Carolina where it is served), or enter in the comment field below for a chance to win one. To enter: Tell us your all-time favorite Food Network cake recipe in the comments (must include recipe URL to qualify). We’re giving away the cake to one lucky, randomly selected entrant.

Read official rules before entering

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VOTE: The Next Iron Chef Secret Ingredient Bracket Challenge Finals

by in Shows, November 29th, 2012

NIC Secret Ingredient Bracket Challenge FinalsThere are some pretty strange and unusual ingredients that get used on The Next Iron Chef challenges. But what secret ingredients have been the hardest for the competitors to work with? The culinary team in Food Network Kitchens weighed in on this question and came up with eight of the most difficult secret ingredients from the previous four seasons.

But what’s the absolute hardest ingredient used on The Next Iron Chef? You get to decide in this bracket challenge. In Round 1, you had to narrow down the eight to four. In Round 2, you had to choose the two finalists. Now’s your chance to vote for the one ingredient you want to win.

How It Works

Round 1 was November 15-22. The top eight secret ingredients were narrowed down to four.

Round 2 was November 22-29. The remaining four ingredients were narrowed down to two.

The finals are this week, starting November 29 at noon. You choose the winner from the two finalists. Vote below now.

On December 6 we will announce the winner at noon.

VOTE HERE

Nuts About Pecans

by , November 29th, 2012

pecans
Buttery, crunchy, plus full of flavor and healthy fats — so many reasons to go nuts over pecans!

Pecan Basics
Dating back to the 16th century, pecans are the only tree nut native to North America. The name “pecan” comes from the Native Ame...

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What to Watch: Holiday Specials, New Episodes from Your Favorite Shows

by in Shows, November 29th, 2012

A Very Chatty Christmas With Paula DeenCan’t wait to start the holidays? This weekend, Food Network has all new episodes including exciting holiday specials to get you in the spirit — you won’t want to walk away from your television set.

Paula, Trisha and Jeff have new episodes showing their individual take on the holidays. Giada teams up with HGTV’s Sabrina Soto to renovate a deserving family’s kitchen and family room. In a special episode of Barefoot Contessa, Ina and her husband Jeffrey take a trip back to Brooklyn. On The Best Thing I Ever Made, watch Food Network chefs create holiday treats that are perfect for gift-giving. Plus there are new episodes of Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day, Sandra’s Restaurant Remakes and Guy’s Big Bite.

Paula’s Best Dishes: A Very Chatty Christmas

When Paula and her longtime friends, sisters Amy and Suzette, get together in the kitchen, it’s a fun-filled day of cooking and catching up on old times. Paula makes Crawfish, Bacon and Mushroom Stuffed Beef Tenderloin. Amy and Suzette make an Eggplant Rice Dressing. For dessert, Paula reinvents the classic fruitcake as a bread pudding and serves it up with whiskey sauce. It’s a Southern meal worthy of the holiday, all wrapped up in love and memories.

Tune in: Saturday, December 1 at 9:30am/8:30c

More holiday specials after the jump

Restaurant Revisited: Rohrer’s Tavern

by in Shows, November 28th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleAt Rohrer’s Tavern in North Bend, Ohio, Robert Irvine found an outdated eatery with an unadorned dining space and basic-at-best food to match. Lisa Kendall is the owner of this decades-old restaurant, and she needed Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team to help Rohrer’s avoid a looming closure. We checked in with Lisa a few months after the transformation to see how her restaurant is doing now.

After the renovation, Rohrer’s saw year-over-year growth of $20,000 for the month of September. Lisa explains that while the restaurant used to attract only local customers, it is now “pulling people from other neighborhoods” as well.

“Everyone loves the new look and for the most part loves the menu,” she says. Rohrer’s is still serving most of the menu items that Robert created for them, and they’ve added a few of their previously popular dishes to their list of offerings.

Since Robert left, the kitchen staff has been held “accountable for everything,” Lisa explains. She now challenges them when they tell her that something cannot be done, and says she has “made it clear that I am not just the owner. I am the boss and manager.” She adds, “Criticism is still something that no one in the kitchen likes, but I do it as constructively as possible.”

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Enter The Next Iron Chef Pantry Cook-Off Challenge

by in Shows, November 28th, 2012

Pantry ChallengeHow many times have you been caught without a plan for dinner? It can happen, right? You end up scrounging around in the pantry or the cupboards looking for something you could turn into a meal. Oftentimes you may even find yourself cooking with canned foods. Take, for example, a can of tuna — it can become a pretty good pasta puttanesca with the right recipe. Food Network is challenging you to a pantry cook-off challenge to find out what you can make.

On the latest episode of The Next Iron Chef, the Chairman’s challenge had the chefs cooking with canned foods with the goal of transforming the ingredient into something worth plating for the judges. Some of the cans available were properly labeled and others had question marks — just to throw the chefs a curveball. Though the chefs didn’t seem very keen on the challenge, they took it in stride. Now it’s your turn: Which canned food would you choose and what would you make out of it?

Choose the ingredient and tell us what you would make.