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Cookbook Giveaway: Food Network Magazine’s Sweet

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who don’t appreciate desserts, and those who possess insatiable sweet teeth. For the (far wiser, fun-loving) latter, there exists an endless Internet of blogged confections, pinned pastries and ‘grammed goodies to inspire treat seekers to break out their stand mixers. But when it comes to baking, precision (and testing and cross-testing recipes) is key. And that’s where an esteemed brand like Food Network — and its talented culinary staff — comes into play, empowering you with ironclad recipes for drama-free at-home dessert creation.

In the nearly six years that Food Network Magazine has been published, Food Network Kitchen has been enticing readers with spectacular sweets, from burger- or cheese-wheel-shaped fake-out cakes to trusty cookies, cupcakes and pies for big occasions and everyday celebrations alike. Now the magazine editors are publishing Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy and More (on sale Aug. 19), a book that gathers these myriad treats into clear categorized chapters for swift, sugary kitchen navigation.

Interspersed between the cleanly printed recipes and full-page photos are ideas for amping up basic recipes, like topping cupcakes with alphabet-shaped candies or rolling candy apples in surprising, savory ingredients. There’s something for everyone, from the wee kids to us fully grown kids at heart. (For example: We’re going to take a page out of our sister brand’s book by slipping a little rum into our next barbecue dessert with Boozy Cherry Chocolate Pies, shown above).)

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Red, White and Blue July 4th Berry Cake


The ultimate July 4th meal is eaten outside. It doesn’t matter where — sitting on your front porch, on a picnic blanket in the park, on a city roof, beachside — so long as you’re enjoying a warm summer night under the stars (and, if you’re lucky, watching fireworks). There is just something about the patriotic holiday that makes it best enjoyed in the company of a celebratory crowd (friends, family, neighbors, strangers). These red-white-and-blue cakes are the perfect ending for your festive meal. In addition to having the star-spangled palette, the cakes’ brown butter icing will hold up well at your alfresco gathering.

July 4th Red, White and Blue Berry Cake

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Airbnb is Trying to Make the Dinner Table Even More Awkward

They call it the ‘sharing economy.’ You get to share something in your life, say a car, and get a teensy bit of money for your trouble. The company who facilitates the sharing gets an absolute boatload of money. Everybody wins! One of the first websites to start this trend was Airbnb, a site that allows you to turn random rooms in your house into a hotel. Now Airbnb have turned their communal eye toward supper time.

In addition to having a stranger in your bed, you can now have a stranger at your dinner table. The new service gives home chefs the ability to ply their trade in front of an impartial audience, namely that weird dude who hasn’t left the spare bedroom in three days. You get some, hopefully positive, reinforcement. They get some, hopefully edible, grub. Airbnb gets more money. Again, everybody wins!

Of course, if you are the type that travels a lot, it would be really cool to taste some truly local cuisine wherever you go, so the idea does have some merit.

G. Garvin’s Ft. Lauderdale Travel Tips

Me and chefs Christy and Mike at Hot and Soul

Located just north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale has plenty to offer vacationers. As South Florida grows, so does its culinary scene. Dine on tasty seafood and check out the bars and restaurants by the marinas when you visit the beach.

Hot and Soul
Hot and Soul is the creation of husband-and-wife team Mike Hampton and Christy Samoy. They’ve lived in different cities and brought techniques from famous kitchens to Fort Lauderdale to create their own concept: International Soul Food. I had a great time in their kitchen making gnocchi and tasting pate. If you’re in town you just can’t miss this spot.

Southern Swank Kitchen
Southern Swank Kitchen is a new spot in Davie made by young chefs with a hip crowd in mind. I enjoyed their fun take on Southern comfort food, especially the drinks! The locals will keep coming because of its awesome atmosphere and live music.

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Out of Rice? Get it From a Vending Machine

Here in America, the notion of vending machines have undergone something of a makeover in recent years. Sure, you can still plunk down some change and get some stale chips or a soda. You can also, however, use them to buy fresh burritos and other full-fledged meals. China, however, has just taken this concept to whole new starchy level.

The South China University of Technology has just installed steamed rice vending machines throughout the campus. That’s right. Pop in some change and out comes a perfectly cooked batch of mushy rice. This is perfect for those times when you are carrying around cooked vegetables but nothing to eat them over.

So if you ever find yourself in China and need some rice, you now have another option. Here’s to hoping America installs vending machines that pop out spaghetti or deep-fried whatevers.

How Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos Get Their Kids to Eat Healthy

“This is not a restaurant!”

That’s what my mother used to say when either I or my brother dared to complain, question or even take too long to go through our dinner plate.
Don’t get me wrong — food in my house has always been good if not excellent, farm to table and as clean as it gets; but there are always a few food items in the life of a child that are able to make him or her shiver and possibly hate whoever dared to cook and serve them.

For me it was mushrooms and artichokes, and I’ve got stories for both.
I was around 7 or 8 years old and I remember that moment as if it was yesterday: It was about 3 p.m., I was on a school trip to the River Po region in northern Italy, and we had been walking all day and could not find a place to eat, as everybody was already home for their siesta. Our teacher finally found an open restaurant, or better, a restaurant that was closing down but not just yet. She convinced the chef to prepare “whatever he wanted” for a class of 25 hungry kids: “All right then,” he replied, “but the only thing I can make you is a risotto!”

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Food Safety at Your Summer Picnic

When it comes to food disasters at a picnic, ants are the least of your worries. Leaving food in the hot sun can present a food safety hazard. But these simple tips can help you feast alfresco with no fear.

Cool it: When you’re packing perishable food, including potato and pasta salads, poached salmon or cheese, it’s important to keep it as cold as it is in the fridge. That means packing it all in a cooler well-stocked with ice packs. Use a separate cooler for food and drinks, since drinks coolers tend to get opened more frequently, warming it up.

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G. Garvin’s Ann Arbor Travel Tips

Ron's Roadside BBQ

Ann Arbor is home to more than 300 restaurants — and that’s only within city limits. Aside from being home to the University of Michigan, this Midwestern city has a flourishing culinary scene that will be just one of the many reasons Americans will be visiting here on their next family vacation.

Grange Kitchen & Bar
I loved my experience at Grange Kitchen and Bar. Brandon Johns takes pride in knowing where the restaurant’s ingredients come from. This restaurant is his baby, and he’s gotten his family and friends involved in running it. I imagine this place will be a staple in Ann Arbor for years to come.

Zingerman’s Roadhouse
Zingerman’s is an institution in Ann Arbor. Their deli and creamery are legendary. Chef Alex Young founded the Roadhouse and is a James Beard Award-winning Chef. I had an amazing time in their kitchen and encourage everyone to try their fried chicken mac ‘n’ cheese and those chocolate-covered biscuits!

Ron’s Roadside BBQ
Ron started off catering with his father in Ann Arbor before moving to France to classically train. Afterward, he took his expertise to New York City and worked for Ina Garten before returning home. This place may be off the beaten path, but Ron’s barbecue comes from all of his experiences, and I can guarantee it’s some of the best food you’ll ever have.

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Better than Prison Food: Party Bites for Orange Is the New Black

Netflix’s favorite inmates are back tonight for a second slammer stint. Though the focus is Litchfield, weekly meals and smuggled snacks have practically become minor cast members — Red starves Piper after she insults her food — and provides necessary comfort — Nichols tells Alex, “There’s always hope tomorrow’ll be taco night.”

Since Netflix drops all of season two tonight, we know binge watching and eating may ensue. As you enter this new life sentence chapter, flash back to last season with these show-inspired recipes perfect for the all-night viewing party. Take a swig of your screwdriver, pop a cheese puff, and go willingly into this acceptable form of confinement.

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Why Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos Think You Should Go Camping This Summer

Growing up I had plenty of chances to camp, and when I say “camp” I mean for real: small tent, heavy backpack, dehydrated foods, rain cover and minimal underwear changes!

When my brother and I were young, my father would have us spend the summer roughing it on his small army raft: We would leave Fiesole, Italy, with a car loaded with luggage and our power raft on a trailer bed. My father would drive us to whatever place he and my mother had picked for our summer vacation, and the fun would begin. We always had a home-base minimal rental apartment to store luggage, keep some groceries, and eventually rest here and there, but the real vacation was exploring the coast with the raft. My father would seek the most-isolated beaches; we would spend the day fishing and eventually land the raft at shore, make a campfire and cook our prey. We would sleep under the stars and wake up to the sound of the shore — it was the ultimate adventure for me and my brother.

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