Cast-Iron Skillet Focaccia — The Weekender

by in Recipes, October 5th, 2012

cast iron skillet focaccia
I bought my first cast-iron skillet in my early twenties. I didn’t have much of a budget for cookware in those days and all the advice I read said that cast iron was the best bang for my buck. All I really knew is that I didn’t want to deal with flimsy, peeling, nonstick pans anymore.

I was initially a little nervous about introducing cast iron into my kitchen, because I’d grown up with a mother who hated cast iron with a passion. She thought it was too heavy, fussy to care for and entirely unsanitary (because you’re not supposed to scrub it with soap. My mother is a firm believer in the power of a good, sudsy scour).

When my parents got married, she actually got rid of my dad’s beloved collection of cast-iron skillets. Forty-two years later, those long-gone skillets continue to be one of the few bones of contention in their marriage.

With this history, it’s understandable that I was uneasy about my own cast-iron purchase. Turns out my anxiety was entirely unwarranted. I fell hard for that first skillet, so much so that I added several others to my kitchen in short order. If my husband tossed out my skillets, I do believe it would be grounds for divorce.

Before you heat your skillet, read these tips

On The Blogs: Apple Season and the First Lady’s Winning Cookie

by in Community, October 5th, 2012

applesHuffington Post: In a close race, Michelle Obama is the winner of Family Circle’s presidential cookie contest. Which sweet treat would get your vote: the first lady’s White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies or Ann Romney’s M&M Cookies?

Grist: Does the microwave zap vegetables of their nutritional goodness? Not as much as you may think.

CNBC: The world’s most-expensive wine ever sold directly from a winery goes on sale for $168.00 a bottle. What meal would you pair with such a pricey Cabernet Sauvignon?

Slate: Not sure what kind of apple to use for a recipe? Use this illustrated flow chart to help you decide.

SF Gate: Milk chocolate can be just as flavorful and sophisticated as darker varieties. No wonder Americans prefer it three-to-one.

After-School Snack Solutions — School Days

by in Recipes, October 4th, 2012

Hummus Trio
Back to SchoolSchool is officially in session, and just as kids may stomp their feet in protest all the way to the bus stop, so, too, might moms and dads as they face another daunting year of keeping their little learners full and healthy. As you think of the new school year and wonder how you’ll be able to do it all, look to Food Network’s Back-to-School Headquarters to help you make the grade. Each week this fall FN Dish will share can-do weeknight meals, easy lunchbox picks, after-school snack strategies and more from our best collection of recipes and tips.

It’s 4 p.m. and your child has just walked in the door from school. He’s hungry — really hungry — because he ate lunch hours ago. What do you feed him? It needs to be satisfying, of course, but not so filling that he won’t want to eat dinner. Instead of reaching for bags of salty chips and sugar-laden drinks, prepare for him a healthful after-school snack.

The Hummus Trio from Food Network Kitchens (pictured above) takes only 10 minutes to make and is a good-for-you alternative to creamy, cheesy chip dips. Made with just blended chickpeas, tahini and fresh lemon juice, the top bowl of hummus is a light and smooth no-fail classic. The bottom two bowls are dressed-up versions of the original, one featuring nutrient-rich spinach and soft artichoke hearts, the other pine nuts and sweet peppers. This snack in particular is ideal to offer if you’re feeding kids of different ages or with various tastes, as almost everyone will find their favorite flavor. Serve the hummus with crispy pita wedges, pretzel sticks and fresh vegetables, and watch your kids enjoy easy, delicious dunking.

Keep reading for more after-school recipes

Enter for a Chance to Win Chic Shelf Paper for Your Kitchen

by in Contests, October 4th, 2012

chic shelf paperIf you’re looking for an easy, quick way to add subtle elegance or a splash of color to your kitchen, look no further than Chic Shelf Paper. This high-quality shelf paper comes in more than 300 patterns and can be cut to fit the measurements for any project, so you can be sure to find the perfect style and size for your kitchen.

You can buy your own Chic Shelf Paper for 15% off with the exclusive Food Network coupon code: FNWFIFTEENOFF, or enter in the comment field below for a chance to win a roll personalized to your style and size specifications. To enter: Tell us one of your best kitchen decorating tips in the comments. We’re giving away one gift certificate valued at $74, good for one large 24” roll and two gift certificates valued at $41 each, good for one small 12” roll to three lucky, randomly selected commenters.

Read official rules before entering

Eat Your Prunes!

by in Food Network Magazine, October 4th, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes With Meringue Frosting
You’d never know it, but while testing recipes for Food Network Magazine’s September issue, we used prunes to make these Chocolate Cupcakes With Meringue Frosting from page 68 extra moist (pictured above).

Prunes have earned an unfair reputation, but this dried fruit amazed us: It allowed us to lower the sugar and fat in the recipe, and added tons of health benefits. (Plus, you could hardly taste them!) Prunes are a great source of potassium and magnesium and they’re an easy way to increase your daily fiber intake. One serving (about 5 prunes) has 3 grams of fiber, 293 mg of potassium and 16 mg of magnesium — all for less than 100 calories.

Restaurant Revisited: Whistle Stop

by in Shows, October 3rd, 2012

Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived at Whistle Stop restaurant in Hot Springs, Ark., he found an outdated dining space and dirty kitchen in desperate need of a makeover. Linda Todd, employee-turned-owner of Whistle Stop, needed Robert’s help to transform her restaurant into a profitable business and effectively manage her staff. We checked in with Linda to see how the restaurant is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible renovation. Hear from the owner below then take a photo tour of the restaurant and see before-and-after snapshots of the Whistle Stop’s dining room and buffet station.

Since Robert left, the restaurant has begun breakfast service, which Linda says “is doing pretty well” so far. “We started doing breakfast a little over 2 weeks ago and it is doing pretty well. Hopefully it will continue to grow.” She also notes that Brett does not work at Whistle Stop anymore.

Read more

Stuff It With Spinach — Fall Fest

by in In Season, Recipes, October 3rd, 2012

pork chops stuffed with spinach
fall festLet’s talk spinach. It’s the green at the center of family dinner dramas and the barrier to many kids’ elusive desserts. More often than not, kids just don’t want to eat their spinach. And if we’re getting down to it, who can blame them? When spinach exits the freezer as a rock-hard rectangle and is defrosted into a soggy mess, who’s going to be down for a side of that?

Now that we’ve made it to October, things start to look up for spinach because each leaf is crisply in season.

We’re all about the classics like Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip. But sometimes you have to level with the little ones, the picky eaters and the greenaphobes sitting around your dinner table. Who knows, maybe incorporating spinach into their lives little by little could mean straight Creamed Spinach this time next year. When you want to savor this green — and satisfy the whole family — look to Food Network’s spinach-stuffed recipes to make everyone happy.

If a recipe asks for the frozen kind, go ahead and swap in the fresh stuff. This time of year there’s no need to defrost. Go for baby spinach to reduce stem clipping, too. That way, spinach can melt into your meals in the best way possible.

Get more spinach recipes from family and friends

Win This Lunchbox!

by , October 3rd, 2012

PlanetBox Lunch Boxes

Packing a brown-bag lunch doesn’t mean you literally have to put it in a brown bag. Save money (and calories!) by bringing lunch to work, and pack it in something more exciting (and eco-friendly) than a plain old bag — use a stainless st...

Read more