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Cider-Mustard Glaze

A good glaze recipe earns its keep, and this is no exception. Tart cider vinegar balances a generous serving of light brown sugar, and the whole-grain mustard seeds add spicy heat and texture. This sauce goes well with meats that don’t have too strong a flavor: pork or chicken marry nicely and don’t compete. Make this a fall meal with roasted sweet potatoes and apples, or lean into summer flavors with ears of grilled corn or peaches.

Day Dill Pickles

A snappy, crisp pickle is an essential go-to recipe for any home cook. Thankfully, your search can be over. This easy recipe combines standard elements—dill, garlic, and mustard seeds—with Persian cucumbers instead of the classic Kirby. That’s good news because Persian cucumbers have a high skin-to-flesh ratio, which makes these pickles extra crunchy. Using apple cider vinegar (as opposed to more traditionally used distilled vinegar), adds a distinct tart-sweet note to the spears. Some serving ideas: serve whole with hors d’oeuvres, chop and stir into salads, or muddle up with vodka for a twist on a dirty martini.

Simple Syrup

Once you realize how easy making simple syrup is, you’re likely to keep a batch in your fridge at all times. The syrup is just equal parts sugar and water, boiled until the sugar is dissolved and suspended in a liquid. This means that you can sweeten any drink and get an even dispersal of sweetness throughout. Sugar syrup easily takes on other flavors, so once you’ve got the hang of the method, try infusing it with ingredients like cinnamon or lemon peel. Add your pick after the syrup comes to a boil and let the syrup take on the flavor as it cools. Remove before bottling for a subtle flavor, or leave in for something more intense.

Make It Yourself: Hummus

Hummus is so common now that some people might not even realize that hummus is not a food, but in fact a kind of dip. So, what’s in hummus, then? Well, it’s made from chickpeas and tahini (aka sesame paste) with garlic, lemon, olive oil, and ground coriander for seasoning. It’s easy to make, especially with canned chickpeas, and it’s tastier than anything store bought. Once you get the hang of how to make hummus, you can tweak the flavors to your liking. Try mixing it up with roasted garlic cloves, roasted red peppers, or even jalapeño.

Oven Baked Chicken Tenders

There are many benefits to making a freezer-aisle staple like chicken tenders at home: not only do you get to control the ingredients in the recipe, but it can be a fun project to master this classic three-step breading process of flour, egg, and breadcrumb coating. Once you’ve got the hang of this method, it works with a variety of meats and vegetables. For example, if you wanted to make chicken-fried steak (well… an oven-baked version in this case), this method would work. Eggplant would work equally well, too. Bonus: This big-batch recipe makes 12 servings so that you’ll can get a few different dinners out of one session of cooking.

Sheet Tray Pizzas

The truly genius element of this pizza isn’t its cheesy layers of fresh parmesan and mozzarella. Or the hot Italian sausage that gets baked in bubbling tomato sauce until it’s crispy on top, but still juicy inside. Or even the thin fennel slices that fan out across the top, creating a frond-like pattern and adding a hint of sweetness. No, what sets this mouthwatering grandma-style pizza apart from others is the fact that you can freeze it right in the sheet tray it’s made in, for up to one month. That’s right, DIY frozen pizzas. The recipe makes two full sheet trays, so you might want to bake one off the night you make it—and save the other for a night when you want to put dinner on the table in 10 minutes.

Coconut-Cashew Granola With Mango & Pistachios

Coconut and mango are a match made in Hawaii heaven. Most granolas call for olive oil or butter, but here, coconut oil adds extra coconutty intensity. If you can’t find pre-toasted coconut chips, you can make them yourself. Heat oven to 350° F and spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool then proceed with the recipe as written. If you want to go totally coco-crazy, serve with dairy-free coconut yogurt. Brands like Anita’s, So Delicious, or Silk are available in the refrigerated section of your supermarket.

Make It Yourself: Birthday Cake

Sure, you can make a cake from a box, but once you know how easy and delicious the real deal is, it’ll be hard to turn back. Instead of creaming butter and sugar together, this cake uses a mixture of vegetable oil and melted butter, which means it comes together quickly. Not to mention, the crumb is rich and dense with classic yellow cake flavor. And, it wouldn't be a classic birthday cake without fudgy frosting. This one uses both semisweet and milk chocolate to create a rich ganache-style frosting. Spread over the cooled cake in generous swoops using an offset spatula.