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Cooking 101: Lesson 1

Posted by on Sep 7, 2011

Every year around this time, I have major realization that the snack bar at the pool will not suffice for dinner anymore.   So, I start my planning and get my game on for five nights a week of cooking.  

This is a big topic of conversation with my girlfriends.  What am I going to cook?  How do you cook that?  Takeout is too expensive.  I can’t cook unless I have a recipe.  I just want something EASY and FAST that is not sandwiches or cereal.

Welcome to Cooking 101.  Every Thursday this month, I’m going to write a post on an easy dinner, and I mean very very very beginner, that you can whip up.  Basic cooking:  no frills, no fancy ingredients and most importantly, everyone in your family will eat it.

I’m going to show you everything from where I buy it, what the ingredients are and what pot to cook it in.  I AM NOT A GOURMET COOK, but I do cook dinner at least five nights a week.  So take that for what its worth.  If I can cook it, you can cook it.

Okay, first lesson is …..

“Beef, its what’s for dinner.”

Beef filet, baked potato, chopped broccoli and green salad.


Filets of beef, made steakhouse style
Baked potatoes
Chopped broccoli
Green Salad

Optional caramelized vidalia onion topping

(Husbands #1 favorite dinner ever.  I made it on a Monday and it was like Christmas around here.)


Filets of beef–I buy the Kroger Ledbetter 6 oz. filets, that are 2 for $6 and they are wrapped in bacon. 
olive oil
salt and pepper

Optional, Vidalia onion sliced

Yukon gold potatoes–buy the bag at Kroger for about $4
sour cream

Two heads of broccoli

Green Salad
Green or red leaf lettuce–your choice
Garlic Expressions salad dressing

Go wash your hands.  Pour yourself a drink and get ready to start!



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
Wash your potatoes and prick them with a paring knife a couple of times.

Potatoes are "vented" and ready to go. Bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees.

Put directly in oven on the rack.  No need to wrap in foil.
These will bake for one hour.

Start working on your salad.  I highly recommend buying a Zyliss Salad Spinner.  It is a game changer.  I make a huge salad at the beginning of the week with all my “hard” ingredients–lettuce, carrots and celery.  I then store it in the salad spinner and it will last a good 3-5 days. 

Salad spinner, a game changer for dinner.

Before you make your salad for your dinner, put a portion in a smaller bowl and toss with “soft” ingredients such as cucumber, tomato, onion or avocado (things that all spoil easily).  This way, you can have salad with dinner every night and it is already made. 

Soft spoil-able ingredients for your salad. Here I have shaved vidalia onions, cherry tomatoes, avocado and cucumber, aka, the good stuff.

Now it is time to start working on the steaks and sides.

Bring your filets to room temperature.  Salt and pepper both sides generously.  If you want to get fancy put extra pepper on the steaks like Ruth’s Chris does.   This is called Pittsburgh style.

Turn stove to high heat and using a dutch oven or a large skillet–it needs to be a pan than can go in the oven–melt a couple pats of butter and about 2 Tsp olive oil together. Place the steaks in the pan and brown one side for about 2 minutes or until it develops a crust.  Then flip them and brown the other side for about 2 minutes.


A little smoky in this picture. Oh, if you could only smell it.

Put the pan with the steaks in them in the oven with the potatoes.  (Just keep it on 400 degrees) They will finish cooking in the oven now.  Cook these steaks in the oven for 10 minutes–that will get you a medium steak.  If you like well done, about 12 minutes will do.
Take out steaks (please use oven mitts and don’t forget how hot this pan is), and cover your pan with a top or foil.  Let this rest for about 10 minutes.

My filets are well-rested and ready.


**Optional Step–Caramelized Vidalia Onion Topping for Steaks**

After you retrieve your steaks out of the pan to “rest,” it is an absolute shame to let that good juju in the bottom of that pan go to waste.  So put that pan with the juju still in it on medium heat on your stove.  Slice an entire vidalia onion and saute it in that juice.  Continuously stir this so it does not burn.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until they are translucent, soft and brown.  Then place on top of your steaks (or potatoes too) for a fancy topping. 

Onions in the steak juju

Fancy topping on your fancy steak.

Wash and chop your broccoli.  Chop off the ends and then chop the stalk and all the way up into almost a small dice.  

Chop all of it, even the stalk.

Take a saute pan and fill about one inch up with water.  Place broccoli in pan and steam on the stove, covered on medium heat, until fork tender.  (This does not take long, about 5 minutes, so watch your time).  You want your broccoli to be tender and green, not brown and mushy.  When it is finished, drain broccoli in a colander.  Leave the pan on the stove, turn off the heat, and place 2 Tbs. of olive oil, salt and pepper in your pan.  Let this simmer for a couple minutes in the hot pan.  Then add back your broccoli and toss like a salad.  Now it is seasoned and ready to go.

Cooked and seasoned.

Potatoes should be done now.  Cut in half, and add butter, sour cream and any other toppings.  Plate up steaks, potatoes and broccoli.  Add salad on same plate or separate bowl if desired.

Finished product

You have passed cooking lesson 1.

Let me know how it went–send me an email at [email protected] or leave a comment. 

Cooking Lesson 2 will be…..drum roll please….FISH.