On the Blogs: Healthy Tips From Robert Irvine and Trending Pickles

by in Community, August 2nd, 2012

robert irvineThe Daily Meal: Even on the road, Robert Irvine eats well and stays fit. It may be easier than you think.

NPR: Wondering where all the watermelon seeds went? Don’t worry, the seedless variety tastes the same as the black-seeded, traditional kind.

Nation’s Restaurant News: Pickles are trending and on the rise amongst restaurant menus.

 

Huffington Post: The cupcake craze carries on. The world’s largest cupcake mosaic features more than 1,000 pounds of cupcakes.

Peeled to Perfection: DIY Centerpieces

by in Entertaining, August 2nd, 2012

pineapple flower vase
You’ve juiced the lemons for your lemonade and into the trash the peels go. If you’re a lover of all things DIY, you know a DIY tabletop opportunity was just missed. This summer, as you’re setting the table for your next summer-lovin’ soiree, keep in mind that the freshest tabletop ideas may be as close as your kitchen counter.

Instead of stacking the table high with pricey candlestick holders, high-maintenance flower arrangements, you name it, use something that’s already in your kitchen: vibrant, colorful fruit. With some ingenuity and bare-bones expertise, you can transform a rind, peel or even the fruit itself into a stellar centerpiece.

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Stacked Stuff: It’s National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

by in Behind the Scenes, Events, August 2nd, 2012

ice cream sandwichesYouTube Preview Image

Food Network Kitchens celebrate National Ice Cream Sandwich Day by seeing how many of the sandwiches they can stack at once — click the play button on the video above to watch.

Tell us in the comments: How many ice cream sandwiches do you think were stacked before the tower toppled?

To add a little more fun to your summer barbecues, bring along some sandwiches of the sweet variety. All you need is either store-bought or homemade cookies and several pints of ice cream in your favorite flavors — then scoop away! Read Squeezed in the Middle for ice cream sandwich recipes and inspiration.

A Gold Medal-Worthy Grilled Cheese

by in Events, Recipes, August 2nd, 2012

double grilled cheese with avocado and tomato
Grilled cheese is my jam. When I was younger, my dad would make my sister and me a grilled cheese sandwich every day after our morning swim practice. It was basically the best treat in the world. Stuffed with Colby jack cheese and buttered to perfection, my dad would slice it in half on a diagonal, rather than a boring down-the-middle cut, and we would gobble it up with big smiles on our faces. But those were my picky eater days. Now I stuff my grilled cheese sandwiches with lots of fun ingredients.

And what better event to pair with an all-American jazzed-up classic, like the grilled cheese, than the Olympics? So I’ve decided to share my grilled cheese — Olympic edition. It’s loaded with two kinds of cheese, juicy tomatoes and sliced avocados, then slathered with a healthy dose of butter and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and grilled to perfection. Try serving this tonight for the Olympic swimming matchups — invite your friends over and tell them to bring over their favorite ingredients for a grilled cheese sandwich soiree.

I’ve taken a classic recipe from Tyler Florence and made additions to it.

Click here to get Gaby’s Double Cheese Grilled Cheese recipe

Restaurant Revisited: Italian Village

by in Shows, August 1st, 2012

Robert Irvine at Italian Village

At Italian Village in Milmont Park, Pa., Rob Mellon Sr. and his son Rob Jr. desperately needed Robert Irvine’s help to return their 30-year-old restaurant to its early glory days. It was a big job: Robert and his team not only had to overhaul the menu and dark interior, but also remedy long-standing issues between father and son that were hurting the business. We checked in with the owners a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible intervention to see how the restaurant is faring.

Since Robert and Restaurant: Impossible visited, sales at Italian Village are up 18%.

The owners took Robert’s advice and reduced the number of menu items to about 30. Robert’s recipe for Drunken Penne remains on the menu and is a big hit: “Almost every night, somebody orders it,” says Rob Sr.

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Go Shopping at Your Local Hardware Store for Baking Tools

by in How-to, August 1st, 2012

hardware store tools
Sometimes inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places, like the neighborhood hardware store. I like to shop for kitchen “tools” like a DIYer hungry to tackle their project of the month. Strolling the aisles, I’m like a kid in a candy store with ideas for repurposing the contents of a handyman’s tool chest. Here are some tools that can pull double duty in the kitchen.

Blow-torch: This impressive-looking tool can be used for much more than soldering metal. It’s super-cool to use to toast meringue and usually cheaper than torches sold at expensive kitchenware stores. Think of me the next time you whip up a baked Alaska — it will be stunning.

PVC pipe: Just ask your friendly (and hopefully cute) hardware specialist to trim down one of those 700-foot white tubes you see lining the aisle. Let’s say you want to form individual ice cream cakes that are 3 ½ inches wide by 2 ½ inches tall. Go for it. Once you decide the size of the dessert you want to make, it’s easy to select the right pipe for the job. Ask your buddy to trim some into the exact number of servings you’re planning.

Get more double-duty tool tips

Give Pasta a Whirl

by in Food Network Magazine, How-to, August 1st, 2012

Broken Lasagna Tomato and Zucchini Pasta

Hot tips from Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:

As soon as you add pasta to boiling water, stir it vigorously for about 5 seconds to keep it from sticking, like Food Network Magazine did with the Broken Lasagna With Zucchini-Tomato Sauce. Each piece should be able to tumble freely in the pot. Don’t add oil to the water as is often suggested: It can prevent sauce from clinging to cooked pasta.

Tomatoes Go Beyond Salads — Summer Fest

by in In Season, Recipes, August 1st, 2012

heirloom tomato pie
We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers and our friends at HGTV Gardens to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today we’re exploring tomatoes.

Come August, tomatoes — heirloom, beefsteak, cherry and more — hit their peak. Plump and juicy, they scream summer with their sweet, slightly acidic flesh and bright hues. Perfect for summer salads, there’s arguably no combination more classic than a simple caprese brimming with ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fragrant basil. But, tomatoes’ versatility far surpasses the realm of summer salads. In fact, they’re fantastic in soups, pies, pastas and sides. Just give one (or more!) of these easy cooked tomato recipes a try.

If you plan on planting your very own tomato patch, be sure to check out HGTV Gardens for great tricks like mulching tomato plants heavily with hay or leaves, and tips like pulling off stem tops to prevent puncturing fruit when stacking. Before you get cooking, be sure to choose firm, noticeably fragrant and richly colored tomatoes that are free of blemishes. Store them at room temperature and use them within a few days.

Hosting a casual garden party? Pass around Rachael’s Roasted Tomato Bruschetta for a simple hors d’oeuvre. Ina’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup and Roasted Tomato Caprese make for a sweet start to any meal. Food Network Magazine’s Heirloom Tomato Pie (pictured above) serves as a bright main that needs nothing more than a leafy green salad in accompaniment.

Get more tomato recipes from family and friends