Hoping for an Unharried Harry’d Halloween

by in Holidays, October 29th, 2011

harry potter butterbeer
The trick of October is for the monster mishmash of kids’-soccer watching, family apple-picking and pumpkin-patch prowling to lead up to a calm, cool finale: Halloween. For months my three boys, ages nine, seven and three, have plotted their costumes: a Harry Potter Quidditch player, a wizard — not Harry! — and a superhero dinosaur (whatever that is). My plans for what to serve while we carve pumpkins is less set in stone.

Inspiration for last-minute Halloween party treats, Harry Potter-style, came during a quick trip to Florida this week. After all, little wizards need food and drink for fruitful spells. At Hog’s Head, a pub at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, executive chef Steven Jayson told me Butterbeer, a drink the characters in J.K. Rowling’s now-classic series loved, is a favorite among the park’s Potter fans. Count my kids as part of that crew — after riding the Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster, not before. “Butterbeer is nonalcoholic and is served either cold or frozen; both versions are frothy and reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch,” he said. Sweet. He’s right about the taste given the thousands of drinks they pour daily, but I’d include cream soda in my description too; with each sip I tried to pull apart the components, knowing I’d want to stir up some at home.

Recipes for Butterbeer and more »

Easy Cheese Danish — The Weekender

by in Recipes, October 28th, 2011

cheese danish recipe
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that having people over for brunch is my favorite way to entertain. It has none of the frenzy of the weeknight, post-work dinner party and neither does it carry the gravitas (or booze demands) of a Saturday night event. Brunch is low-key, works just as well for families as it does for party-loving single friends, and can be made to taste great no matter what your budget.

What makes brunch so particularly good for entertaining is that the menu options are wide open. Sweet or savory, just about anything under the sun can fit comfortably under its umbrella. It can be as easy as bagels, cream cheese and toppings from the corner bagel shop (no true kitchen effort required on your part at all) to a full-on, home-cooked meal of eggs, bacon, coffee cake and more.

My favorite way to serve brunch consists of a giant skillet of cheesy scrambled eggs, oven-baked turkey breakfast sausage, an easy salad and one baked item that requires a bit more energy and work. That baked good is what makes it particularly perfect for The Weekender.

Dig into these Cheese Danish »

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Alton Brown’s Favorite Battle, Traveling With Ties and Looking Forward to Next Iron Chef

by in Food Network Chef, October 28th, 2011

alton brown
This afternoon, Alton Brown took to Twitter for a live Q&A session with fans and Food Network. Alton touched on topics from Iron Chef America, to current food trends and this Sunday’s upcoming premiere episode of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs — find out what he had to say.

Question: How do you decide what tie to wear on Next Iron Chef?
Alton: I do dress myself and I must confess, I travel with about 30 ties so that I always have choices.

Question: Do you get nervous when you walk into Kitchen Stadium?
Alton: I have butterflies in my stomach every time I walk into kitchen stadium.

Question: If you could challenge one chef to a battle, who would it be and what secret ingredient would you have?
Alton: If I could challenge an Iron Chef, it would be Morimoto: Battle beanie-weenies.

Alton’s favorite cookbook »

Enter for a Chance to Win Rachael’s Stoneware Lasagna Lover and Bamboo Spoonula

by in Contests, October 28th, 2011

rachael ray lasagna lover
Just in time for the Thanksgiving season, we’re giving away Rachael Ray’s Orange Lasagna Lover and matching Bamboo Spoonula. Melt cheesy lasagna, crisp a cobbler, serve a tray of tacos or use it as your fruit bowl — it’s that versatile.

You can buy one right now, but we’d like to give you a chance to win one. All you have to do is comment on this post by telling us which one of Rachael’s Thanksgiving recipes is your favorite and why. We’re giving away one orange Lasagna Lover and Spoonula to one randomly selected and very lucky commenter.

Features:
— Dishwasher-, microwave-, freezer- and oven-safe to 500 degrees F for convenience and versatility. The glazed interior is nonporous so foods won’t interact.
— Extra-wide handle holes allow you to get a good grip from any angle.

Find out how to enter here »

Fresh Ginger — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, Recipes, October 28th, 2011

ginger orange chicken cutlet recipe
People have been eating it for thousands of years, yet still no one can tell me why it should be peeled. So I don’t peel it, and neither should you. “It” being fresh ginger, the gnarly brown root that lives among the grocer’s Asian produce. And the flavor is so much better than dried — you must get to know it.

Most of us think of ginger as the powder in the spice cabinet and use it mostly for baking. In Asia, where ginger originated, it’s more a savory ingredient. That’s because fresh ginger packs tons of warm, pungent, peppery flavor that works so well with meats and vegetables.

Though they can be used interchangeably, the flavor of fresh ginger is more pronounced than dried, sporting heavy citrus, even acidic, notes. In Asia, fresh ginger is an essential part of numerous classic dishes, including stir-fries, soups, sauces and marinades, as well as Indian curries.

Ginger-Orange Chicken Cutlets »

Fun With Fondue

by in Recipes, October 28th, 2011

Who says you can’t play with your food? Fondue is a warm bath of melted cheese, chocolate or blended fruit puree just waiting for you to dunk something into it. Best served with cubes of bread or freshly chopped fruits or vegetables, fondue can be made in a classic fondue warming pot or on the stove and later plated. Our savory and sweet fondue recipes below are quick-to-prepare snacks or light meals, so grab a fondue fork and start dipping.

Food Network Magazine’s traditional Fondue (pictured above) is made with gooey-good Gruyere cheese, crisp white wine and a healthy splash of cognac. Serve along with slices of tart green apples to balance the richly flavored cheese.

More fondue recipes »

Weeknight Potluck Playdates

by in Family, Recipes, October 27th, 2011

vegetarian lasagna recipeOnce three o’clock strikes, time seems to go to warp speed. Some days I feel like I’m on autopilot, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the monotony of motherhood — it’s okay to admit we don’t love every part, like homework and that whole work-life balance.

For this very reason, I make a conscious effort to not over-schedule my daughters with afterschool activities. I’m a firm believer in letting them have some time to wind down and enjoy the simple pleasure of playing at home. Still, I find myself exhausted come dinnertime these days. I may not be zipping from dance class to soccer every day, but suddenly thrown into single motherhood means I need to find new ways to ensure dinner doesn’t become boring — for me to cook, and for the girls to eat.

Get Jennie’s recipe picks fit for a crowd »

5 Ways to Drink Devilishly This Halloween

by in Drinks, Holidays, October 27th, 2011

wine for halloween
When there’s a chill in the air and a jack-o’-lantern on the porch, it’s time for wine that’s spooky in every place but inside the glass. Here are five wine options that will have you laughing like Vincent Price:

1. Wine for Candy:
A sweet-seeming red like an oaky Shiraz, Zinfandel or Cabernet will pair nicely with mini-Snickers or a fist-full of Jujubes.

2. Hard Cider:
If your Halloween will include bobbing for apples or caramel apples, ask your local wine merchant for their best hard apple cider. Recently fashionable among wine hipsters, hard cider has a delicious, farm-fresh taste joined by a light sparkle and a low alcohol content.

Wine with scary names »

Ina’s Favorite Fall Recipes and Alton’s Seasonal Eating

by in Food Network Chef, October 27th, 2011

ina garten
Ina Garten recently shared a few of her favorite fall recipes on the Today Show. The clip features her Roast Loin of Pork With Fennel, Creamy Parmesan Polenta and an Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake from her latest best-selling cookbook, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?

Alton Brown has teamed with Welch’s and Zagat to introduce the Taste of Harvest Guide for 2012, which includes a free downloadable guide for picking fresh, local and seasonal foods to encourage and excite people about eating produce. Fitness Magazine featured this must-have eating guide and spotlighted Alton’s love for the fall harvest, when nutrients and flavor are at their highest levels. The guide encourages shopping at farmers’ markets for fresh items to prepare at home and finding restaurants that are offering seasonal fare.

Find out what Paula and Ree are up to »

Best 5 Halloween Treats

by in Holidays, Recipes, October 27th, 2011

pecan caramel spiders
The Halloween season practically requires us to consume unusual amounts of sugary treats. This year, whether you are hosting a Halloween party or simply entertaining trick-or-treaters, offer homemade sweet snacks in addition to the community candy bowl. Our top five recipes for spooky Halloween treats are go-to classics that kids and kids at heart will enjoy.

5. Jack-O-Lantern Cupcakes — Sandra’s 30-minute recipe utilizes store-bought cupcakes, which she tops with rich, dark-chocolate frosting and shaped orange fondant.

4. Pecan-Caramel Spiders — Homemade caramel and pecan clusters become the spider bodies while licorice acts as legs and melted and shaved chocolate toppings add realistic color and texture.

Get the top three recipes »