As a beginner cook, you may feel overwhelmed by this new uncharted territory. Cooking is not as daunting or as complicated as you are lead to believe from the chefs on the food channels. Why has cooking become too complicated, and so frightening? Many are intimidated by the sight of the appliances that occupy their kitchen, but cooking is something you can conquer and succeed in.

I was fortunate to have taken cooking during my teen years in school. The basic recipes taught me to build on my experience and little by little get enough confidence to try more complicated dishes though I skip recipes with a long list of ingredients. I have found the simpler the recipe the better the taste.

My advice for the new cook is to take small steps and slowly build your repertoire of recipes. It is rewarding to make a delicious meal for you, your family, and friends. Five tips about basic cooking come to mind:

1) Learn several outstanding, but easy recipes that you are proud to make for guests and holidays.
2) Always gather all your ingredients and tools needed before starting a dish
3) Read recipes from Twitter, blogs, or recipe books. Examine the ingredients to determine if the recipe is something you and your family would enjoy.
4) Check out cooking sites that have easy to follow and ingredients that are easy to obtain or you have right in your kitchen. Suggestions include: Allrecipes, Better Homes & Gardens Recipes, and The Kitchn. Don’t forget about WebMD and Mayo Clinic for healthier version recipe.
5) Recipes are guides and do not have to be followed exactly. Yes, some ingredients and measurements must be followed exactly for proper baking or cooking (ex. Flour, baking powder) but many ingredients can be lessened such as salt, sugar, oils, herbs or spices.

You will learn from your mistakes, but every time you make a dish that is delicious, and not out of a package, you are stepping into the world of cooking.

Try this easy family favorite and company-worthy no fail recipe

Chicken Breast with Tomato & Mozzarella
Serves 4

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (cut in half – four 4 oz pieces)
2 Slices of Mozzarella Cheese (cut in half to place on chicken breasts)
4 Slices of Tomato
½ Cup Unseasoned Bread Crumbs
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
¼ Teaspoon Salt
¼ Teaspoon Pepper
Aluminum Foil
Instant Read Digital Thermometer

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2) In a flat plate place ½ Cup Bread Crumbs add ¼ Teaspoon Salt and ¼ Teaspoon Pepper mix well.
3) Coat the four Chicken Breasts with the Bread Crumb Mixture.
4) Place the Chicken Breasts on a pan lined with aluminum foil.5) Place Mozzarella Cheese on Chicken
6) Place Tomato on top of the Mozzarella Cheese
7) Drizzle Olive Oil over each Chicken
8) Place in oven and Bake for 35 minutes. 9) Insert Digital Thermometer to ensure the chicken is completely cooked (180 degrees)

Serve with steamed rice and side salad for a quick, healthy delicious meal.
Happy Cooking!

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