Five Matzoh Dishes to Help You Survive Passover

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Photo by Quinn Dombrowski
We've found a few better ways to use your matzoh.
Leave the leavened bread at the store, folks; Passover is here.

The Jewish holiday observes the biblical story of the Exodus, in which Israelites were freed from Egyptian slavery. The story goes that after the Pharaoh finally released the Children of Israel (ten plagues later), the Israelites had to leave in such a hurry that they couldn't even wait for their bread dough to rise before baking it.

Today, the unleavened bread, matzoh (or matzo, or matzah, or matzot, or...ehh screw it), has become a major symbol of the holiday.

But just because matzoh doesn't rise doesn't mean it can't be delicious. We've already covered the classics -- including Matzah Ball Soup, Matzah Brei and the unleavened s'mores we've named S'matzahs -- but here are Five More Ingenious Dishes to Help You Survive The Feast of Unleavened Bread:

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Top 5 Discontinued Chips We Want Back!

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Photo by theimpulsivebuy
Apparently, chips can be wild AND mild.

Nothing lasts forever, and we both know snacks can change. Well, that is not exactly what Axl Rose sang, but his sentiments about ephemerality, I think, apply to junk food as well as love. In the world of chips, flavors come and go; here are five that made their mark and deserve a comeback.

5. Mozzarella Cheese Stick Pringles. Back in the day, Pringles issued a line of chips called "Restaurant Cravers," which, as you might guess, were supposed to replicate the flavors of popular mainstream restaurant appetizers such as Mexican layer dip, cheese fries, a fried (a.k.a. "bloomin'") onion, etc. Miraculously, the cheese sticks chips actually did taste of marinara sauce and fried mozzarella.

4. Wild and Mild Ranch Fritos. I'm convinced these chips were dusted with cocaine, so addictive were they from the very first crunchy, peppery bite. Many thought the flavor sacrilege because it was antithetical to the taste tenets of traditional corn-forward Fritos, which is perhaps why they never gained traction among die-hard Fritos fans.


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Top 5 Underrated Burgers in Houston (According to You)

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Photo courtesy Just Burgers
The Texas Burger at Just Burgers is a force to be reckoned with.
Well, Houston, you've proven your love of burgers yet again.

More than 1,100 people voted in our poll to determine which burgers in Houston don't get their fair due, and the results are in. It actually wasn't even close for first place, either. Forty-five votes separate first and second places, though the rest of the votes were a little closer.

Some of you wondered in the comments how the winner of last year's burger bracket, Rainbow Lodge, could be underrated. My answer? I don't know, guys, you picked these spots! I do think that all of the options were good ones, though, as they aren't places I would have immediately thought of when wanting a great burger.

Of course, they are now. And I'm on a mission to try them all.

Without further ado, here are the most underrated burgers in Houston.

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Top 5 Tortellini to Try in Houston

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Photo courtesy of Paula Murphy
Tortellini at Trevisio

For Lent this year I considered saying "basta" to pasta in an attempt to eat more vegetables and protein. Thank God I had a change of heart, because it seems like every day I run into another scrumptious macaroni dish. My penchant for stuffed pasta, in combination with my fascination with ring-shaped foods, means I naturally gravitate toward tortellini (and their more buxom cousin tortelloni). Here are five to try in Houston:

5. Tortellini al sugo rosa (Giacomo's Cibo e Vino). There are many things to love about Giacomo's, such as the inventive array of cicchetti and the succulent secondi, but if you do not sample stuffed homemade pasta during your visit, you have missed out. The meat and cheese tortellini can be dressed with three different sauces (parmesan cream, tomato, and tomato cream), all of which robustly flavorful. The sugo rosa (tomato and cream), however, is my favorite for the way it balances garden flavors with decadent dairy.

4. Tortellini with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (Papa Mio Italian Cafe). Old-school, Italian-American restaurants like Papa Mio can break the rules in terms of culinary propriety and offer things like a create-your-own pasta option rather than forcing diners into more traditional flavor combinations. Their plump meat or spinach and cheese tortellini go from merely satisfying to snazzy with the addition of some red-pepper pesto. If the mild heat overwhelms you, just request some extra grated cheese.


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Top 5 Banana Breads in Houston: Just Like Mom Makes

Categories: Sweets, Top Five

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Photos by Molly Dunn
Slather some butter on that warm banana bread and you're in heaven.
Good banana bread is moist; it's full of bananas; it's sweet, but doesn't make your teeth rot; it's comforting; and it's just what you need at the end of a hard day (or any day, for that matter).

While your grandmother or mom (or you) probably makes the best banana bread you've ever had, there are several bakeries around Houston serving up the classic sweet treat (some with a twist), and theirs might be just as good as Mom's, if not better.

Whether you prefer the addition of nuts (or no nuts), chocolate or fruit, or you like it plain and simple, you can find it in Houston, so here are our top five banana breads in the Bayou City.

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Bloody Good: Where to Partake of Palatable Plasma

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Photo by Emmanuel Boutet
Boudin noir before being cooked.
When I order steak at restaurants, I tend to make tired jokes about how rare I like it.

"I want my meat black and blue," I'll say. "Bring it to me still bleeding."

Though I don't literally want my steak bleeding onto my plate, there are some instances where a little blood in my meal makes it all the better. No, I'm not referring to when chefs season a dish inadvertently (see our October piece on horrific kitchen injuries). I'm talking about blood soup, blood sausage and any other dish that benefits from a little bit of the sanguine sauce.

In Houston, there are a number of restaurants at which you can get your fix. Just, maybe, don't bring your squeamish friends along. Cubed blood is not for the faint of heart. Or stomach.

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Top 5 Sodas to Try From Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
There's a lot to choose from.

To say that the drink selection at Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop in Rice Village is "overwhelming" is definitely an understatement. The store is like the Spec's for carbonated beverage aficionados, so be prepared to wander around in a partial daze as you take in the hundreds of different sodas. And if you're perplexed as to what to actually buy and try, you can't go wrong with these five appetizing varieties.

5. Boylan's Birch Beer Pennsylvania expats in Texas (like yours truly) especially appreciate the inclusion of birch beer in Rocket Fizz's beverage offerings. This refreshing soda, originally made with extracts of birch bark, has a truly unique wintergreen flavor. Naturally, it pairs well with hearty Pennsylvania Dutch fare, and also, strangely, Vietnamese food.

4. Melba's Fixins Strawberry & Cream Melba wasn't the first -- and probably won't be the last -- person to dream up the idea of drinking your pie. Her funky pie-inspired flavors include apple, key lime, and lemon meringue, but my favorite is the sweet summery strawberries and cream. It's great on ice on a warm day, or drop in a scoop of vanilla-bean ice cream for a wonderful float.

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Top 5 Weird Yogurt Flavors

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Photo by Bob Page
Our choice in yogurt flavors is very limited in the U.S. Not.

I will never understand America's obsession with yogurt; it just isn't my thing. (Frozen yogurt, on the other hand, is a product I can definitely get behind.) And the diversity in yogurt flavors actually intensifies my lack of interest. These days, it seems as if manufacturers are in some sort of odd competition to produce the strangest flavors, like these top five:

5. Stonyfield "Yotoddler": Banana & Pumpkin. I get that you're supposed to start your kids on vegetables early so they get used to having them as part of their diet. But why do pumpkin and banana need to come in yogurt form when they're both available in pureed form in jars? Fail.

4. Dannon Classics: Coffee. This flavor, I imagine, is a relic of the early 2000s, when the food industry started producing coffee versions of everything (the release of coffee Coca-Cola was the nadir of this era). Today, I'm pretty sure people look to Starbucks, not Dannon, when they need a sweet coffee and/or caffeine fix.


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I Mourn These Top 5 Discontinued Cookies

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Photo by theimpulsivebuy
Chips Ahoy Fudge Bites

In a world in which we have shelf space for Berry Burst Oreos, it's a mystery to me why any decent-tasting cookie is discontinued. I guess it's a fact of life that some of the most delicious baked goods go the way of all flesh while far crappier ones enjoy an interminable existence. Sigh. Here are five discontinued cookies I miss dearly:

5. Apple Newtons. Nabisco kept the other fruit-flavored Newtons (raspberry, strawberry). Why single out the admirable apple variety for demolition? And please don't pretend that apple cinnamon spice Newton is the same thing. I used to love warming these up in the microwave and eating them with vanilla ice cream.

4. Chips Ahoy Fudge Bites. Although Fudge Bites were clearly labeled "Limited Edition," I nevertheless hoped Chips Ahoy would consider making them a permanent member of their cookie family. Their simple design (a chocolate chip cookie kissed with a dollop of soft fudge) had broad appeal, and their taste was sufficiently decadent to make you feel as if you were eating a (almost) gourmet confection.

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Top 5 Pepperidge Farm Cookie Varieties

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
The ever-expanding roster of cookies from Pepperidge Farm

I grew up eating Pepperidge Farm cookies, not so much because my mother couldn't bake (believe me, she made a mean chocolate chip and walnut cookie), but rather because I think she liked to use the brand's system of naming baked goods after European regions and urban centers as a means of expanding my geographical knowledge. "You know," I remember my mom saying, "Bordeaux is a region in France famous for wine." My internal-child stream of thought: Whateverthiscookiesprettygoodhopesheletsmeeatthree. I remain an admirer of cookies from Pepperidge Farm, which has significantly diversified its offerings since I was a kid. Here are my five favorites:

5. Vanilla Crème Milano Melts. Though initially wary of this new flashy line of filled Milano cookies, I have been won over by the Vanilla Crème variety. This flavor reverses the traditional Milano format by stuffing a crispy oblong chocolate cookie with very sweet vanilla crème frosting (remember, that accent grave on the "e" makes it extra-special).

4. Chessmen. Who could predict that emblazoning shortbread rectangles with pictures of chess figures could make for such delightful cookies? And even if most of the appeal of Chessmen is derived from the pictures, their crumbly, buttery texture is reason enough to eat half a dozen or more with some milk tea.

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