A Fresh Take on Frozen Favorites

by in Recipes, March 31st, 2011
No need to nuke these nuggets

Today is the last day of National Frozen Food Month, and while we love frozen margaritas, store-bought TV dinners are often laden with sodium, sugar and fat. Our fresh recipes for frozen food-inspired classics will turn a drab weeknight meal into a glowing dish.

Tired of greasy fish sticks? Try Parmesan Salmon Fish Sticks from food.com. Not only are they lightly baked instead of fried, they’re also made with heart-healthy salmon. Serve these sticks alongside a marinara or pesto sauce instead of the usual tartar for an Italian twist.

Rachael Ray’s Lazy Lasagna With Lamb Ragu, Spinach and Ricotta from cookingchanneltv.com is as simple to make as its name suggests. A quick meat ragu is tossed with pasta and ricotta cheese before being topped with creamy béchamel sauce. And there’s no need to spend time layering sheets of noodles — just add the prepared ingredients to a pan and bake away.

Panko Chicken Nuggets from foodnetwork.com are a healthy alternative to their freezer-section counterparts (you know, the ones that never seem to defrost completely). Japanese-style breadcrumbs can be found in most grocery stores and make these baked bites extra crispy.

With BBQ Chicken Pizza from food2.com, tangy barbecue sauce, creamy mozzarella cheese and shredded chicken top a store-bought pizza crust. Throw this pie in the oven any night of the week for a quick, crowd-pleasing meal.

The Latest from Food Network Stars

by in News, View All Posts, March 31st, 2011
Guy Fieri
Paula is putting on a new show.

Savannah Now is reporting that the Lady & Sons has added dinner theater to the dining experience at Paula Deen’s restaurant. Diners can now enjoy Hard-Hearted Hannah’s Playhouse presentation of ‘There’s a Bomb on Trolley 409!’ while sampling some of Paula’s best dishes. The Lady & Sons has rented basement space for the production and a buffet will be provided before the performance begins. For now, Hard-Hearted Hannah’s has dates available through October, and more dates may be added later. Tickets are $55 per person, which includes the dinner buffet and the performance. For information or reservations, visit www.hardheartedhannahsplayhouse.com or call 912-659-4383.

Alton Brown brought large crowds to Dauphin Island for a gumbo cook-off this past weekend, serving as judge for the gumbo competition. The al.com blog reported record attendance for the event in an area bouncing back from the BP oil spill.  Alton is a big advocate for local and sustainable seafood. The event featured 21 different teams cooking variations of the dish competing for the best flavor in the seafood and freestyle categories.  Before giving out the awards, Alton declared that gumbo is “the hardest thing I’ve had to cook” and took then questions from the audience.

The Food Network Fans are constantly looking for info and sharing links on where we can find favorite stars, discuss favorite shows, visit a book signing, or see an appearance in other venues. We invite you to stop by and visit at FoodNetworkFans.com

Charity Cake: Bid on a Custom Charm City Creation

by in News, March 30th, 2011
Duff
Duff loves sweets and good causes -- buy a cake to help Japan!

Everyone loves to eat cake, but it’s not often you get to help people by eating cake. In the wake of the devastating Japan tsunami, Duff and the Ace of Cakes crew are holding an eBay auction for a custom-designed Charm City Cake, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the American Red Cross.

The lucky winner gets a cake consultation at the Baltimore or LA Charm City Cakes location, where you and the staff will dream up the most outrageous cake since this cheeseburger-dog-fry combo:

Duff's Take on Fast Food

Hurry: The bidding ends on April 3 and the current price is at $1,826. Need inspiration? Browse Duff’s latest creations, or check out these custom cakes from FoodNetwork.com fans.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
You'll be as excited as Meredith Vieira when you get your custom-made cake.

Can’t shell out the cash for a cake? Help victims of the Pacific tsunami by making a donation at RedCross.org. Or, text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10.

Side Dish: More Food on the Web

by in View All Posts, March 29th, 2011
And we thought we had weird pancakes

Mac & Cheese Pancakes? The story goes something like this: Famed NYC chef Kenny Shopsin had a patron who only ate either mac and cheese or pancakes. One day, said patron couldn’t choose between the two and asked Shopsin to decide. The result is a serendipitous combination of the disparate dishes, and now Shopsin is showing us how they’re made. [youtube.com/TheNewYorkTimes]

DIY Easter Candy: We’re looking ahead to Easter, and we’ve been busy baking up the most festive desserts yet: springtime cupcakes, a new kind of carrot cake and more. Well here’s another totally adorable idea: a deviled egg-inspired Cadbury Creme. [seriouseats.com]

Cooking Beets and Spinning Beats: The New York Times profiles “Lunch Breaks,” a web video series that combines hip hop and healthy cooking, helmed by famed break dancer Richard Colon. Its verdict? “Think of Wayne’s World meets the Food Network — with a funky beat.” Fun! [nytimes.com]

Kitchen Things You Can’t Live Without: 13 chefs weigh in on their five favorite kitchen tools. They range from the commonly used (pepper grinders) to the totally personal (special spoons). We’re still unclear on what to do with one chef’s tweezers. What can’t you live without? [huffingtonpost.com] [Food Network Store]

Here’s our round-up of food news, trends and happenings across the web. Check back for more, and tell us what else you’re loving in the comments.

Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Recap, Round Four

by in Shows, March 27th, 2011

In the last round before the finale, four veterans experienced the other side of the chopping block.

The cast and producers of Chopped get this all the time from fans, on Facebook, on the street, at festivals: Yeah, sure, those judges of yours can pick apart a dish all day long—but could they handle the pressure on the HOT side of the chopping block? For four of our judges, this episode finally put that question to rest for good.

From our newest regular critic, Maneet Chauhan, to veterans Amanda Freitag, Geoffrey Zakarian and Aarón Sanchez, the energy and enthusiasm was incredible—and so were the nerves! In the judges’ lounge before the battle, Geoffrey acted cool as a cucumber (as always), but I didn’t believe him. Aarón was hopping up and down with nervous energy and even more bluster than usual—a different person than the sensitive, hilarious judge you see seated at the Block. Amanda confessed to some butterflies, too, but as a formidable competitor who came in third on The Next Iron Chef, we knew she would be vicious at the stove. Maneet, also a NIC veteran, seemed the least ruffled to me.

For me, this battle was the most anticipated of the whole series. But for the judges, it was the most dreaded. It is not easy to criticize the work of your friends, colleagues and peers, face-to-face, on national television, let alone to chop three out of the four, and Alex Guarnaschelli, in particular, was not looking forward to it. But everybody came in knowing that this was for charity and for fun, and that only one Chopped judge was going to come out on top. So we started the clock and got down to business.

Of course, our judge/competitors had a huge advantage over the average Chopped contestant — they’re all top-flight New York City chefs with years of experience, they know the palates of their colleagues, they know the kitchen inside and out, and not only are they not afraid of cameras, they know how to seduce them.

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Food Network Magazine’s Cookbook, Great Easy Meals, Made the NY Times Bestsellers List!

by in Books, News, March 25th, 2011

It’s true! Food Network Magazine’s new cookbook, Great Easy Meals, is officially a New York Times Best Seller. The new cookbook is packed with 250 simple meals that are perfect for weeknight cooking, including 50 new ten-minute dessert recipes. The book also has dozens of cooking tips from the Food Network Kitchens, menu-planning ideas and looks inside the kitchens of your favorite FN stars. Food Network Magazine featured a few of the super-easy, super-fast desserts in its April issue. Here are a couple of favorites:

Grapefruit Mousse

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Behind the All-Star Chopping Block With Geoffrey Zakarian

by in Shows, March 25th, 2011
Chef Geoffrey Zakarian faces off against three of his fellow Chopped judges this Sunday night.

There’s just one spot left in the Chopped All-Stars finale battle on April 3, and four esteemed chefs are determined to lock it down. In the previous three All-Star battles, some chefs didn’t quite know what they were getting into when they stepped onto the Chopped set. In Round Four, however, these chefs are intimately familiar with the intensity of the show — but they’re usually seated on the judges’ panel.

Geoffrey Zakarian, Aaron Sanchez, Amanda Freitag and Maneet Chauhan are accustomed to doing the chopping, not being on the chopping block, but all four were excited to turn the tables and compete for their favorite charities. We chatted with Chef Geoffrey about the experience of being a Chopped competitor, the camaraderie among his fellow judges, and where he’ll be watching the battle unfold this Sunday night.

Did you hesitate at all before signing on to compete on Chopped All-Stars, since you know just how tough it is?
I didn’t hesitate a bit. It was terrific, although it’s very difficult. I’ve done Iron Chef and this I believe is more difficult. Everything is wilderness. I mean, 20 minutes? It’s borderline impossible when you really come to grips with what you’re trying to do. It was as hard as I thought it would be. I was ready to do it, but when you get there in the morning it’s very nerve-wracking.

Did the experience change the way you judge at all?
We always knew it was hard, but this just really emphasized how hard it actually is. The reality is whether you get bad ingredients or good ingredients, it’s hard. It’s almost harder when you get good ingredients! When you’ve got rack of lamb, sometimes all the plates turn out the same. With some wild stuff, you get a small chance of putting together some very interesting combinations.

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Nadia G. Unplugged at South Beach

by in View All Posts, March 24th, 2011
Meet Nadia G., Cooking Channel host and South Beach reporter extraordinaire

At this year’s South Beach Food & Wine Festival, Cooking Channel’s Nadia G. — the hilariously irreverent host of Bitchin’ Kitchen — was on the ground chatting it up with everyone from Duff Goldman to our newest Iron Chef, Marc Forgione. Check out some footage from this Canadian rising star’s whirlwind weekend down South.

At the Best Thing I Ever Ate at the Beach party, Nadia posed a question that’s bound to get any chef fired up: What’s the worst thing you ever ate?

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During the day, Nadia chatted with Guy Fieri about cooking with kids, a subject near and dear to both of these personality-packed chefs, who also share a penchant for tattoos.

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Then Nadia hung out backstage during Guy’s standing-room-only cooking demo, which truly looked like a rock concert. Check out her guest appearance on stage — it was a surprise to everyone, including Nadia!

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Want to see more Nadia G.? Check out more videos from South Beach on our sister blog Devour and catch Bitchin’ Kitchen on Wednesdays at 10:30pm/9:30c on Cooking Channel.

 

March Meatball Madness

by in View All Posts, March 24th, 2011
Dressed Up Swedish Meatballs - Image Courtesy Food Network Magazine

If you are like me, you grew up eating meatballs in their most traditional sense: tossed in an Italian tomato meat sauce next to a heaping scoop of spaghetti pasta. Well, this is only one way to enjoy the minced meat creations. But have you ever had meatballs on a stick? Or have you featured them in a chili-based soup or combined them with bulgur wheat, pine nuts and lamb? These meatball concoctions are loaded with fun flavors.

While the traditional version is topped with a thick gravy alongside lingonberry preserves, this recipe for Swedish Meatballs from foodnetwork.com offers an updated twist. These golf ball-sized bites are flash fried, skewered with a pickled cucumber slice and served with lingonberry-cream dipping sauce.

Use the word “meat” loosely and try David Rocco’s recipe for Tuna Meatballs from cookingchanneltv.com.  For a mix of sweet and savory, David minces sushi-grade tuna and combines it with breadcrumbs, pine nuts and raisins before frying the balls and glazing them with a simple balsamic rosemary reduction.

Such classic Mexican flavors as cilantro, chili and mint are highlighted in Food.com’s recipe for Authentic Sopa De Albondigas (Meatball Soup). Better make an extra large batch of this timeless sopa – one bowl and you will be hooked.

Lamb and onions are sautéed then stuffed inside a hearty mixture of bulgur, mint and allspice in food2.com’s recipe for Kibbeh Meatballs. For a refreshing touch, serve these two-bite meatballs alongside a light mint yogurt dip.

Side Dish: More Food on the Web

by in View All Posts, March 22nd, 2011
Duff Goldman: Ace of Ice Cream

Duff’s New Ice Cream: This Ace of Cakes has partnered with Blue Bunny to create four cake-themed ice creams. Here’s the scoop on the new flavors: Chocolate Lovers Triple Chocolate Cake, Strawberries are Forever Shortcake, I Do I Do Wedding Cake and Red Carpet Red Velvet. We’re already screaming for them. [eater.com]

Bolivia’s Quinoa Conundrum: Global demand for quinoa is so high these days those farming it in Bolivia are having to give it up as a dietary staple. As richer countries discover the super food, which is packed “with an exceptional balance of amino acids,” prices for quinoa have skyrocketed, making local consumption dwindle. [nytimes.com]

Alice Waters’ Daughter (Shockingly) Loves Salad: The Wall Street Journal profiles Fanny Singer, daughter of legendary chef Alice Waters, and reveals several noteworthy bites:  her first word was “lobster,” she doesn’t use a microwave and her biggest food indulgence is spending roughly $150 on 12 biodynamic limes. [wsj.com]

Restaurants and Bars Helping Japan: Here in New York, some local restaurants are donating proceeds from special menus to Japan’s relief fund. The New York Times shares a few of these spots, while Grubstreet.com has listed some local bars lending a hand. What establishments in your area are doing the same?

Here’s our round-up of food news, trends and happenings across the web. Check back for more, and tell us what else you’re loving in the comments.