Best 10 Comfort Food Recipes of 2011

by in Recipes, December 27th, 2011


Whether it’s a bit chilly outside, you’re feeling a little blue or it’s been just that kind of day, sometimes you simply need a dish of pure, unadulterated comfort food. Find our top 10 comfort food recipes below and cook up a few to salvage any rainy day.

10. Chicken Fried Steak — Beef, not chicken, is breaded, fried and later topped with a creamy thyme gravy.

9. Fettucine Alfredo — Silky heavy cream, nutty parmesan cheese and butter add texture and flavor to this timeless Italian dish.

8. Braised Short Ribs — After simmering in a red wine-tomato sauce, the short rib meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender.

7. Southern Fried Chicken — Ready in fewer than 25 minutes, this traditional chicken features Paula’s blend of House Seasoning: salt, black pepper and garlic powder.

6. Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip — This gamed-day dip is a go-to appetizer pick, featuring tangy sour cream and spicy red pepper flakes.

Get the top five recipes »

Best 10 Dessert Recipes of 2011

by in Recipes, December 26th, 2011


Hope you’ve saved room for dessert. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 dessert recipes of the year that will finish any meal on a sugary note. Bake up a batch of 2011’s best today and celebrate the sweetest dishes of the year.

10. Pumpkin Cheesecake — Bake a rich pumpkin-cream cheese filling atop a crumbly graham cracker crust to create this family favorite.

9. Pumpkin Pie — Not just a holiday dessert, pumpkin pie can be enjoyed year-round with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or generous dollop of whipped cream.

8. Zucchini Bread — Fragrant cinnamon and nutmeg add warmth and subtle spice to Paula’s 5-star dish, made with grated zucchini and chopped walnuts.

7. Cream Cheese Frosting — Equal parts butter and cream cheese offer a tried-and-true taste to this favorite frosting, often featured with red velvet goods.

6. Southern Red Velvet Cake — This triple-layer beauty is frosted with a smooth cream cheese topping and dusted with crushed pecans.

Get the top five recipes »

Mushroom Pie With Pear Salad — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, December 26th, 2011

Think of this as a meatless beef wellington. Ready in just 45 minutes, this easy but elegant dish features portobello mushrooms, muenster cheese and breadcrumbs baked inside delicate, flaky pastry. To achieve a glossy golden crust, brush the dough with a beaten egg before baking. Serve with peppery arugula and slices of fresh pear for a light side dish to balance the hearty, savory pies.

Get the recipe: Mushroom Pies With Pear Salad from Food Network Magazine.

Meatless Monday, an international movement, encourages people everywhere to cut meat one day a week for personal and planetary health. Browse more Meatless Monday recipes.

Meet an 11-Year-Old Gingerbread House-Making Prodigy

by in Food Network Magazine, View All Posts, December 26th, 2011

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These gingerbread houses look like they could be from a holiday episode of Food Network Challenge, but they’re not the creations of a pro baker or sugar artist — they’re the handiwork of 11-year-old Lydia Gentry, who has snagged first place in her age group at the National Gingerbread Competition in Asheville, N.C., for three years running. Lydia’s mother, Michelle, credits her daughter’s gingerbread skills to the family’s ongoing remodeling projects: Lydia helped put an addition onto their real house. “After that, constructing a gingerbread house isn’t hard,” Michelle says. The only catch is that entries have to be 100 percent edible, so Lydia has to get creative with her supplies. This year, she won her fourth title with a holiday-themed cuckoo clock. Check out the winners at nationalgingerbreadhousecompetition.com, or see them in person at The Grove Park Inn in Asheville (290 Macon Ave.; groveparkinn.com) through January 1.

More photos »

Easy Homemade Gifts — Really!

by in Family, Holidays, December 23rd, 2011

Easy Homemade Gifts
This week is like the holiday Olympics for moms, jam-packed with recitals, school parties and hours of gift-wrapping. Homemade gifts have always been my favorite to give, and they’re the ones that friends and family talk about for years to come. In the past, spending hours squirreled away in the kitchen wasn’t an issue, but life is quite different these days.

As my daughters grow, homework duties increased, and the list of recipients grew longer, I started re-thinking my homemade gift-giving strategy. I didn’t want to give up on the idea of hand-decorated cookies, but I began to realize I was in need of a compromise. Rather than start crossing names off my “nice” list, I decided to put friends, family and even my girls’ teachers in charge of the final product.

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Lamb Ragu With Mint — The Weekender

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 23rd, 2011


One of the basic truths of cooking is that there are as many pasta sauces out there in the world as there are home cooks. I grew up eating my mom’s long-simmered sauce that was bursting with zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions. My husband grew up eating a more basic marinara, studded with rounds of sausage (my younger self would have been very jealous that he got to avoid so many of the veggies).

These days my sauces tend to shift with the seasons. During the summer I like to prep an uncooked sauce of chopped tomatoes, torn basil, olive oil and salt. But as the days get shorter, I opt for thicker, heartier ingredients that have the ability to warm the kitchen and keep bellies satisfied.

With the holidays looming and houseguests streaming into town, a pot of filling pasta sauce is just the thing to make those big family dinners a bit easier. Right now my go-to recipe is one from Giada De Laurentiis for Lamb Ragu With Mint.

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Quick Christmas Morning Brunch Menu

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 23rd, 2011

It’s Christmas morning: There are a few half-eaten cookies and an empty glass on the table next to the tree, the kids are ripping open presents and Dad has been videotaping the entire event for hours. This is surely not the moment to worry about what to serve for breakfast. This year, instead of resorting to cereal and cocoa (though there’s nothing wrong with either!), serve a simple brunch featuring hearty dishes that are ready in 30 minutes or less and will leave the family full until dinnertime.

What better way to spread Christmas cheer than with Food Network Magazine’s light and fluffy Almost-Famous Cheesecake Pancakes (pictured above). Chunks of creamy cheesecake are incorporated into a classic pancake batter and each flapjack is cooked until golden brown and topped with a sweet strawberry sauce, featuring fresh berries and strawberry jam. Top each stack with a dollop of whipped cream — because it is Christmas, after all, and New Year’s diets don’t start for another week.

More Christmas morning brunch recipes »

Best 5 Christmas Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 23rd, 2011

Old-Fashioned HamThis Christmas, serve up a little holiday cheer in the form of crowd-pleasing recipes the whole family will enjoy. We’ve complied Food Network’s top five Christmas recipes below; prepare them all for a weekend’s worth of festive favorites and holiday classics.

5. White Chocolate Holiday Bark — Dried cranberries and pistachio nuts add color and texture to this sweet snack, perfect to give as a last-minute gift.

4. Baked French Toast Casserole With Maple Syrup — Prepare Paula’s indulgent casserole the night before and bake on Christmas morning for an easy brunch favorite.

Get the top three recipes »

A Holiday Surprise Cake

by in Holidays, How-to, December 22nd, 2011


I don’t know about you, but I love to make people happy. I strive for that moment in presentation when you hear an audible gasp of delight and surprise.

If I could, I would spend hours in the kitchen slaving away over a special dessert, but I can’t. And I am betting your time is valuable as well.

So that is why I could not be more excited to share this cake with you. It takes less than an hour to assemble, including prep. This stunning cake is so easy to make, but it can make a huge impact on your family and friends. They will be talking about it for years to come.

Let’s put it this way, if you can play with Play-Doh, you can make this cake.

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The Evolution of Christmas Cookies — Food Network Kitchens

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Magazine, December 22nd, 2011

sugar cookies
People are, understandably, very particular about their Christmas cookies. For many, the baking of holiday cookies is a ritual and tradition passed on from generation to generation.

For the December 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine, the editors at the magazine decided on a red-and-green cookie story. We in the test kitchens immediately got excited and started spurting out cookie-coloring ideas (doing our best to avoid the expected royal icing with food coloring): “green tea,” “dried cranberries” and “pistachios.”

By the next day, we were churning out colorful, delicious cookies. We made green mint-swirled meringues, lime buttons, dried cranberry butter cookies, green tea shortbreads and pistachio sables. But as the days progressed, we began to notice the cookies, although beautiful on their own, were not beautiful as a collection.

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