Homemade Beef and Bean Burritos

Talk about fast food. This quickie meal uses high quality store-bought ingredients, pantry spices, and fresh veggies to deliver an improved version of a fast-food staple. Nothing fancy here, but when your schedule is frenzied and you’re considering the drive-thru, consider this 20-minute DIY meal instead. Decrease the chipotle slightly if you’re serving less adventurous palates.

Fumiko’s Gyoza

Years back, my mother took a Chinese cooking course and learned this recipe. Our family, including my husband now, has loved it for years. Napa cabbage is terrific this time of year. A vegetarian version is simple to make by subbing the pork with black mushrooms and slivered carrots. And remember, practice makes perfect and imperfect still tastes wonderful, so have fun.

Prime Rib of Beef Au Jus

Nothing is more impressive on a holiday table than a roast prime rib of beef. Ask your butcher to prepare a 12-pound prime rib roast, with the fat cap left on and bones left in.

Carnitas de Lia

These carnitas are based on a recipe by Michele Anna Jordan that I’ve been using for years. Because the pork is braised in its own juice, these carnitas are much lighter than the traditional version.

Candied Bacon

Can anything be more decadent than candied bacon? Looking like savory-sweet lollipops, these are wonderful crumbled into cookies, served over ice cream or as a nibble with cocktails.

Big City Lamb Souvlaki

When I lived on Corfu, souvlaki meant skewered cubes of grilled, marinated pork. But on a trip through Athens seeking out the best street food and mezedhes, we found this lamb version to be utterly addictive; moist and tender with just the right amount of spice.

Iowa City Chili

There’s a chill in the air here in the Heartland, the kind of windy, rainy days that drill into your bones and create a hankerin’ for a rib-sticking bowl of chili. It’s also a great way to use up the last of your tomatoes and peppers, or to begin to use your new “puttin’ ups” (as Kurt’s grandma used to call them).

Braised and Glazed Five Spice Short Ribs

Braising renders tough cuts like these beef short ribs meltingly tender with relatively little hands-on cooking time (and the glaze makes the flavors even more intense). The ribs freeze beautifully, so cook up this extra large batch and stash half away for a later date.