Sandra’s Saturday Savings: Fun Facts

by in Shows, January 29th, 2011

Sandra Lee Every Saturday morning in January, Sandra Lee teams up with the FN Dish to bring you budget-friendly tips for creating delicious dishes and meals for your family. From the supermarket to the stove, she’ll help you stretch every dollar and minute.

This week, Sandra shares some useful facts about grocery store prices and American eating (and spending) habits.

1. Freeze leftovers as soon as possible to maintain quality. Cooked meats can be frozen for up to 3 months.

2. In 1959, Americans spent $2.7 billion annually on frozen food. Today we spend $26.6 billion!

3. Boxed pie crust mix costs 73% less than refrigerated pre-made pie crust.

4. Check the unit price. Those little stickers on the grocery store shelves tell you how much you may or may not save by buying in larger quantities.

5. Americans spend approximately 4.1% of their annual income on food outside the home and 5.8% of their income on food in the home.

Want more tips? Sandra’s shows are full of ‘em. Catch Money Saving Meals on Saturdays at 9am/8c and Semi-Homemade Cooking on Sundays at 11:30am/10:30c.

Winter Warm Up: Comforting Meatloaf?

by in Recipes, January 28th, 2011
easy skillet meatloaf
Cooking meatloaf in small mini loaves makes quick work of this comforting dinner.

On the East Coast and around the country, as cities continue to be slaughtered by the snow, what better way to warm up than with cozy comfort foods? Recently I decided to mix up my normal mac and cheese routine with a meatier classic: Meatloaf.

Just like Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years I always wondered what was really in meatloaf. I remember dreading it as part of elementary school cafeteria lunches, scarred of the “mysterious meat.” But I knew there had to be some compelling, retro magic to the dish, since it pops up in every classic American sitcom.

I decided the best beginner’s recipe would be Mini Skillet Meatloaves from Food Network Magazine. The recipe calls for ground beef, pork or veal so I asked the butchers at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats what the best choice would be. On their advice I decided to kick it old school – after all I did grow up wondering “Where’s The Beef?”

So, the “mystery meat” mixture I created was a lot less mysterious and more grown up than I expected, including garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs, eggs, onions, milk and Worcestershire sauce – all combined to produce the most heavenly aroma on a cold winter night. And in 20 minutes, my sad meatloaf history was wiped away by these delightful pan-seared loaves. The scrumptious sauce added a surprising, delightful flavor boost – apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and ketchup. Amazingly, this recipe transformed my school lunch nightmare into a cozy cure for cabin fever. I also cooked up Bobby Flay’s sautéed kale as a healthy side for good measure, because I actually enjoy eating my vegetables as a grownup.

—Reena Mehta

Ooey, Gooey, Good: National Chocolate Cake Day

by in Holidays, Recipes, January 27th, 2011
Molten Chocolate Cake
Baking perfect Molten Chocolate Cake is easy with Food Network Magazine's step-by-step how-to.

You hardly need a dedicated day to appreciate the lusciousness of chocolate cake (every day is chocolate cake day in my mind), but an excuse to indulge is always welcome. So why not give an impressive Valentine’s Day sweet a practice spin? Go ahead and mix up Molten Chocolate Cake with this step-by-step guide from Food Network Magazine.

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Cupcake Wars: A Sweet Ride

by in Shows, January 26th, 2011
Kim managed to make her delicious auto-themed cupcakes look cool and sleek. "Quite a feat!" says Candace.

Cupcake Wars judge Candace Nelson is the founder and pastry chef of Sprinkles Cupcakes, the world’s first cupcake bakery. She joins us on the FN Dish each week to recap all the sweet details of the competition from her seat at the judges’ table. Here’s what she had to say about last night’s episode, LA Auto Show.

Cupcakes and cars are an unexpected pairing, and this week’s Cupcake Wars produced anything but expected results!

Kory stalled in the first round, producing a plain vanilla cupcake without any frosting. It was hard for me to believe that with a table overflowing with gas station goodies like nachos, cola and licorice, there wasn’t a single challenge ingredient incorporated into his cupcake! It’s a shame, but it was clear Kory had to go.

In round two, each contestant gave a very different spin on the car theme – Kim went futuristic with silver foil liners and a personalized fondant license plate. Evelyn went cheeky with fuzzy dice and whitewalls, though Brendan thought they were too kitschy for true car enthusiasts. Glenn went classic with an orange cupcake, a woody with surfboard and a whitewall tire cupcake cleverly positioned on its side. We were all a little confused about the orange theme but we hoped he planned to tie it all together in round three. We said goodbye to Evelyn.

Kim and Glenn's auto show displays were both impressive, but Kim's nailed just the right look.

In the third challenge, Glenn’s vintage filling station certainly told a beautiful story, but we find it too quaint for the gearheads at the Auto Show. Kim’s display was a striking mix of lights and chrome, which tied in perfectly to the look of her cupcakes and the theme of the day. She managed to make cupcakes look cool and sleek…quite a feat! Kim drives off with the win!

Bake up a batch of Kim’s winning Caramel Apple Cupcakes and check out FoodNetwork.com for more about Cupcake Wars, plus dozens of our best cupcake recipes.

Side Dish: More Food on the Web

by in View All Posts, January 25th, 2011
Everyone Loves Paula

A Super-Scientific Study Reveals Paula is Popular: In a new survey based on Facebook fan count, the Feast finds that today’s most-liked chef is none other than our Queen of Southern Cuisine. With 1,244,012 folks who’ve given her a thumbs-up, Paula beat out Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller and a few other Food Network stars. [thefeast.com] [Cooking with her biggest fan]

Sheryl Crow Pens Cook Book: This Lilith Fair veteran, along with personal chef Chuck White, is readying her compilation of “rock-and-roll flavored,” good-for-you recipes. Plus, it’s named If It Makes You Healthy, so, you know, it can’t be that bad. [eater.com]

Introducing Buffalo: Meet this new favorite meat. Why you should like eating buffalo? It’s part of the grass-fed trend, it’s lower in fat than beef and it’s so expensive it must taste great! [nytimes.com]

162 School Lunches Later: In a Morgan-Spurlock-meets-Jamie-Oliver move, one school employee ate school lunch every day for a year and chronicled it all in her blog. It took 29 days for the cafeteria grub (like “squirts of chicken foam”) to taste “fantastic.” [cnn.com via grubstreet.com]

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.

Super Bowl 2011: Pittsburgh Steelers (Food) vs. Green Bay Packers (Food)

by in Recipes, January 24th, 2011
Food fight! Wisconsin Skins vs. Steel City Skins.

No great Super Bowl party is complete without guacamole, Buffalo wings, nachos, onion dip and spinach-artichoke dip, but in addition to the classics, die-hard fans will want the authentic foods representing their favorite team. Sure, football is a game of skill, but imagine for a moment if the champion were decided based on the merits of menu, alone?

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Kristen Stewart Loves Food Network

by in News, Recipes, January 24th, 2011
Kristen Stewart, lover of vampires, werewolves and Food Network. Image from celebritymania.com.

In a recent interview with Vogue, Kristen Stewart shared some interesting tidbits: The Twilight star enjoys playing golf and guitar, she’s reading Anna Karenina and her new hobby is cooking. The latter so much so that she’s known for watching Food Network with her signature “frown of concentration” on her face. “I’m such a dork,” she tells Vogue. Stewart did more than talk about her hobby, she prepared lunch for the interview: Tortilla Soup with assorted fixin’s, and pulled pork sandwiches. You can make Kristen Stewart’s Tortilla Soup — she shared her recipe with Vogue — though you might want to leave out the garlic if you’re making it for your, you know, undead friends.

But don’t stop at the soup; whip up an entire Twilight-inspired menu (to serve after dark, of course). Some suggestions:

Vampire Blood Tomato Soup With Muenster Sammies

Stuffed Baby Bellas

Vampire Dip in a Fried Tortilla Bowl

Blood and Guts Potatoes

Vampire Kiss Martini

What would you serve to a Twilight star, or at a Twilight-viewing party?

Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Anna Altomari

by in Shows, January 24th, 2011

Anna had a little not-so-secret crush on Chef Robert.

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I didn’t even know that my friend Theresa had nominated me until I got the call and email. Then she said, “Oh, yes…didn’t I tell you?”

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Robert?
Chef Robert was so awesome. He taught me how to use a knife properly… but we fought about olive oil vs. grapeseed oil.

What did you take away from the experience?
It was fun to get to know everyone on the show. I realized I could cook if I just had the time and someone to show me how.

Will you continue to work on your culinary skills?
I would like to, but my work keeps me so busy and my mom continues to cook for me. Maybe if I find a nice boyfriend, I would have someone to cook for.

If you could have a do-over of the challenge that sent you home, what would you do differently?
I would follow my gut instinct and start cooking the duck first, then chop things up as I was cooking. The chopping got me behind.

When you presented your final dish, how did you feel about it?
My dish looked good; the only thing that didn’t make it on the dish was the sauce. I knew though from the end of the challenge it would be me to go home. I was tearful the whole night even past elimination. The cast was like family and I was leaving.

What advice would you give to future Worst Cooks competitors?
Be prepared to live with strangers that will become your friends and enjoy the experience. It’s hard at the time but afterwards, you’ll have lots of fun stories.

What was the first dish or meal that you attempted to cook back at home after being eliminated? How did it go?
I made an omelet and it came out great! My mom was gone so I had control over the kitchen.

What was your most memorable or funniest moment while shooting the show?
Every day was memorable. I have never laughed so much. We had a great cast.

Read Erika’s Exit Interview, find out more about Worst Cooks in America and catch the show on Sundays at 9pm/8c.

Worst Cooks, Episode 4: He Said, She Said

by in Shows, January 24th, 2011

After a lighthearted burger challenge, the recruits had to prepare elegant meals for Chefs Anne and Robert. Erika and Anna ran into major problems.

After each elimination on Worst Cooks in America this season, chefs Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine share their candid impressions of the booted recruits with the FN Dish. This week, at the season’s halfway mark, they bid farewell to Anna from Robert’s Team and Erika from Anne’s Team.

Erika surprised Chef Anne by coming a long, long way during her stint in boot camp.

Anne on Erika: At first, I wasn’t taking her seriously. She started out making the bologna quesadilla and drawing hearts and flowers with spray cheese on Saltines. And then she actually got a lot better. She buckled down but would revert back sometimes.Erika actually did transform herself a lot. She’d been on Beauty and the Geek, so at first I thought, this girl is just about being on TV. And then I started to take her a little bit seriously. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and she actually won a challenge or two. She made it halfway through.

Anna's first dish, a frittata cooked in inches of olive oil, earned her a nickname from Chef Robert.

Robert on Anna: Olive Oil Anna. She’d put a gallon of olive oil in everything. She’s Italian and her mother told her she’s not married because she doesn’t know how to cook. Her mother, a great Italian cook, wouldn’t let her in the kitchen. Anna got her act together and was pretty good by the end. She did very well; she got her station clear and she would work well, but then she’d mess it up, overcooking and over-seasoning. We had the one-on-one meal together. Oh, it was awful. She works long hours at the hospital; she still lives at home with her mother. It would be interesting to see if she’s done any cooking since the show.

See what Anna and Erika are up to in their exit interviews. And don’t forget to vote for your favorite Worst Cooks recruit in our Fan Vote, up to 10 times per day.

Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Erika Rumsey

by in Shows, January 24th, 2011
This challenge was not Erika's finest moment: She served crackers decorated with squeeze cheese.

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I have always loved the idea of cooking, but could never really figure it out. I live on processed foods. Some of my favorites include hot dogs and macaroni and cheese! I once microwaved a cookie to get it warm. I realized that two minutes was way too long when the microwave caught on fire.

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Anne?
Be organized! Mice en place (or whatever that was).

What did you take away from the experience?
I overcame my fear of the kitchen. I’m not afraid to at least TRY and cook.

Will you continue to work on your culinary skills?
Now that I have learned some helpful tips, I can’t wait to continue cooking at home!

If you could have a do-over of the challenge that sent you home, what would you do differently?
I wish I would have been more relaxed. My nerves got the best of me.

When you presented your final dish, how did you feel about it?
I felt so proud. I knew Chef would probably hate it but I couldn’t believe I actually made that!

What advice would you give to future Worst Cooks competitors?
Pay attention, be relaxed, and FOCUS!

What was the first dish or meal that you attempted to cook back at home after being eliminated? How did it go?
I bought a mandolin and attempted to make the potato cake. The potatoes were way too thick and it took forever. It was not good at all, but I did use a non-stick pan!

What was your most memorable or funniest moment while shooting the show?
Starting a fire on the first day and almost crying when I had to tear apart a chicken.

Read Anna’s Exit Interview, find out more about Worst Cooks in America and catch the show on Sundays at 9pm/8c.