Top 5 Baked Good Recipes to Try for Easter

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Photo courtesy of Two In The Kitchen
Peanut Butter Gooey Easter Bars

In terms of food, Easter is traditionally all about eggs, ham, and candy. This Sunday vary your spread of sweets with some cookies, bars, cakes, pies, etc. Food bloggers near and far have designed some incredible Easter-themed baked goods, and I've picked my five favorites.

5. Peanut Butter Gooey Easter Bars. Gooey is a funny word. It's a positive descriptor when applied to food, but in most other realms comes off pejoratively; for example, "that wound is so gooey" and "there's some sort of gooey film covering the bottom of my bookshelf." Anyway, I digress. These bars offers a divinely rich flavor thanks to the inclusion of peanut butter M&Ms in addition to peanut butter proper and mellifluous interior created by the inclusion of sweetened condensed milk.

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Photo by Lizzie Mae Early
Coming-Up-Carrots Cupcakes

4. Coming Up Carrots Cupcakes. So named because they look like carrots emerging from soil, these cupcakes have a moist cocoa base of devil's food cake and a crown of mascarpone cheese frosting dusted with crushed Oreos. And on Easter, each cupcake counts as one serving of vegetables.


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Top 5 Ravioli to Try in Houston

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Photo by Arturo's Uptown Italiano
Veal Ravioli with Walnuts

Ravioli? Seems so...square. Yes, boring, pedestrian versions abound (thank you, Chef Boyardee). Fortunately, Houston is a bastion of innovative takes on stuffed pasta. Try one of these five standout plates and rethink your stance on ravioli.

5. Veal Ravioli (Arturo's Uptown Italiano). "Earthy" is perhaps the best word to describe Arturo's ravioli. The pasta pockets are filled with supple calf meat, then dressed with with a decadent truffle butter sauce and walnuts, making for a dish that sings of autumn and Italy.

4. Tortelli di Bietola (Giacomo's Cibo e Vino). This dish's description -- "ravioli stuffed with Swiss chard, ricotta, goat cheese, sage butter sauce" -- may leave you initially wondering, "Where's the meat"? After one bite, you'll think, "Who the hell cares?" The pairing of two cheeses with a robust herb such as sage and the botanical fiber from the chard means that these ravioli pack a punch in terms of texture, cream, and flavor.

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How to Make Pizza Rustica (Italian Easter Pie)

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
This is a pie worth waiting for.
Every Easter, I thank god for my Italian ancestors. That's because at a young age I was introduced to my favorite Easter dish, Pizza Rustica, also known as Italian Easter pie.

Pizza Rustica is actually not a pizza at all, but rather a savory, almost quiche-like enclosed pie filled with ricotta, eggs and plenty of Italian meats and cheeses. What better way to celebrate the end of Lent than with tons of sausage, ham, and salumi?

Growing up, we ate the pastry every Easter Sunday morning (after working up a serious appetite from an intense egg hunt, of course). My aunt usually brings it straight from a Brooklyn deli, but I haven't made it back home for the holiday since moving to Houston. I truly miss the "pizza" (and I'm not the only one), so I've learned to make it myself. And it's just as good as I remember.

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Fish on Friday: It's a Good Thing

Categories: Lunch

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Photos by John Kiely
Doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice to have this for lunch.

It's a cinch to give up meat for Lent on the seafood-abundant Gulf Coast. But I grew up in the landlocked Midwest, and during the weeks leading up to Easter my parents had a fondness for baked haddock, one of the fishiest-tasting fish I know. I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese.

When I balked, my parents told me I was lucky, as they abstained from meat every Friday of the year when they were young. That threw me, as I'd always thought it of a give-up-stuff-for-Lent sort of thing, a question of sacrifice and spiritual discipline. So, why did the rule change, and where did the practice originate?


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Ever Wanted to Go Vegetarian? Now's the Time as Beef, Pork Prices Soar

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Photo by Cgoodwin
Santa Gertrudis beef cows graze on King Ranch in Texas
Thanks to a drought across much of the major cattle-ranching states and a deadly pig virus, we may soon be doing what those pesky Chick-fil-A cows are always encouraging on the billboards: "Eat mor chikin." Or veggies. Or tofu.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports that beef prices are the highest they've been since 1987, and pork prices are up 13 percent from last year, just in time for the start of grilling season nationwide.

David Anderson, a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University, tells NPR that the reason behind higher-than-average increases in beef costs is in large part drought, particularly in Texas, the nation's largest producer of beef cattle. Drought leads to fewer feed crops, which leads to fewer cows. Coupled with an increase in demand for American beef in China, we're looking at a small supply and big prices.

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This Week in Food Blogs: Uni Revolution and Pink Tacos

Categories: Leftovers

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Photo by Mai Pham
Uni is about so much more than sushi.
Hank On Food: Hank attended the Goose Island Preview at Hay Merchant recently and taste-tested a few beers from the brewery. He enjoyed the Sofie, which he says tastes of citrus (even though it is a Belgian-style Saison), as well as the Rasselbock, a dark wheat ale with hints of malt and plum. His favorite was the Bourbon County Stout with Intelligentsia Coffee -- he gave it an A+++.

Food & Wine: Chelsea Morse of Food & Wine explains that more and more chefs and restaurants around the country are using uni in many of their dishes, such as at Provisions in Houston, where you can enjoy the roasted garlic and guanciale pizza topped with raw sea urchin. Could uni be the new bacon?

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Five New (& Easy!) Sides for Your Easter Meal

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Photo by jules
Sweet potatoes and fresh herbs make this dish a winner.
Whether it be a lavish brunch or a potluck dinner, we love a good Easter Sunday meal. Unfortunately, the same deadbeat dishes seem to make an appearance year after year. This time around, we're giving the usual suspects (think scalloped potatoes and buttered peas) a bit of a makeover.

Here are five ways to turn those tired sides into something special:


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Make a Classic Southern Dessert: Hummingbird Cake

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Photos by Molly Dunn
It's a classic Southern dessert, and it's downright divine.
If you're from the American South, then there's a 99 percent chance you have heard of Hummingbird Cake. To me, Hummingbird Cake is like a cross between Pineapple Upside Down Cake and banana bread. When you add the sliced bananas and pineapple chunks to the batter, its texture is much thicker than an ordinary vanilla cake, more like that of banana bread, and when baked, it is caramelized and sticky like a Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

But, why is it called Hummingbird Cake? Do hummingbirds eat bananas? Pineapples? Pecans? Cream cheese frosting? The only thing I have seen hummingbirds eat is the red sugar water my mom puts in their feeder.

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Breakfasting at Einstein Bros.

Categories: On the Menu

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Coupon enticement

Breakfast is the meal I am least likely to eat out. (Brunch, a different story). I'm not usually in the mood to consume a lot of food early in the morning, especially if I am going to go running, which is my usual matutinal practice.

Last week I happened to finish my workout a bit earlier than usual and found myself still within the window of time to order some breakfast fare. I wanted something savory, quick, and probably involving a bagel.

Now, this last preference should have led me directly to The Hot Bagel Shop , but en route I passed by Einstein Bros. and thought, why not? Then, I remembered I had a coupon for $1 off any breakfast sandwich and that sealed the deal.


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2014 International Festival Celebrates Australia...But Hold the Vegemite, Please

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Image courtesy International Festival
This year's poster was designed by local artist Carlos Hernandez. You can buy one online!
I'm excited about this year's International Festival highlighting Australia for two reasons: One, it gives me an excuse to post the music video for Men At Work's brilliant 1980 song "Land Down Under" (see the next page), and two, I honestly don't know much about Australian food.

Being that the festival is hosted here in Houston, a number of local chefs will be coming out to showcase their cuisine, but there will also be Australian chefs and vendors introducing Texas to the wonders of food from Down Under.

Hot on the heels of Houston's Second Annual BBQ Festival, the International Festival is hosting a "Texas vs. Barbie Cook-Off" competition on May 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Hermann Square Park featuring local chefs and restaurants. The festival will also have a concession area with food from more than 40 restaurants, some of whom will be trying their hand at Australian cuisine.

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