Become a better cook, then show off your skills. This 12-week series will give you the tools you need to make a meal you’re proud to share with friends.

Growing up, it never occurred to me that cooking was something you had to learn.

I guess I thought that some people simply had the right instincts, like musical or artistic prodigies. They just picked up the knife and knew how to masterfully dice an onion.

That wasn’t me, and chances are it’s not you either.

For years, I just assumed I was a bad cook and made little effort to improve. But once I was out of college and living on my own, I desperately wanted to take my culinary skills to the next level.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved food. Going out to restaurants and trying new cuisines brings me pure joy.

At a certain point, I realized I wanted to be able to create that same excitement in my own kitchen, and I wanted to be able to share it with others. Yet I had no idea where to begin, and everything from chopping vegetables to searing meat left me in a panic.

Without basic kitchen skills, even the most simple tasks can seem incredibly daunting.

< Scroll ahead to see the recipe for Toasted Salt-and-Pepper Cashews >

We were all raised in an era of convenience meals, and some us were barely taught anything beyond how to open a box and press start on the microwave. Meanwhile, we’re constantly bombarded with mouth-watering images of food on social media, TV and in restaurants as chefs strive for a spot in our coveted Instagram feeds.

While all of this makes us hungry, it also evokes something else: a desire to cook satisfying, eye-catching meals at home and serve them to friends and family.

It’s incredibly satisfying to cook a delicious meal for yourself. Being able to share that food with others makes the experience even more enjoyable. It’s both empowering and fun.

However, if you’re missing those essential kitchen skills and are lacking confidence, cooking for others can be stressful or downright scary. I’m here to help.

Over the next 12 weeks, I’m going to help you push past that intimidation by teaching you simple kitchen fundamentals and techniques that will make you a better cook.

Each newsletter will include a basic recipe that utilizes those techniques. At the end of the series, I’ll give you a casual dinner party menu with recipes that you’ll be able to cook for friends and family. You’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come in such a short time.

I graduated from L’Academie de Cuisine, and over the past eight years, I’ve worked as a line cook, pastry chef and cooking instructor. I’m now a full-time recipe developer and food photographer. In 2016, I published a cookbook called The Gourmet Kitchen, and I share recipes every week on my blog, Savory Simple.

But even now, I can remember how frustrating it was to read recipes and not understand how to execute them (or to think I understood until my kitchen was on fire). It wasn’t that long ago for me, and I want to help you step out of your comfort zone in the kitchen, just as I stepped out of mine.

And you don’t have to go to cooking school to do it.

We’ll start simple, with chopping and organizing your kitchen essentials, and build on basic skills each week.

Next week, I’ll show you how to properly cut an onion — while keeping the tears to a minimum — and how to make an addictive caramelized onion dip.

In the meantime, here’s an easy toasted cashew recipe that comes together in minutes. You can play around with the spices, but what I love about this version is that it demonstrates how much flavor you can coax out of such basic ingredients. Pepper usually takes a backseat to salt, but not here. It gives these cashews a real kick without being overpowering.

These are best served hot or warm; they’re so addicting, you’ll want to make sure you have guests around to help you finish them.

Toasted Salt-and-Pepper Cashews

6 servings (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

HANDS-ON TIME: 8 minutes
COOK TIME: 7 minutes
EQUIPMENT: Skillet, spatula, slotted spoon, medium bowl

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups raw whole cashews
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the cashews and stir to coat.

Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently with a spatula, until the cashews are golden brown and fragrant.

Line a plate with paper towel. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the nuts to the plate to drain; do not pat them dry.

While the cashews are still hot, transfer them to a medium bowl and toss with the salt and pepper. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. (I recommend enjoying these as soon as possible!)

Show us what you're cooking!

Follow us on Instagram at @eatvoraciously, and share your photos of this recipe — however it turned out — using #eatvoraciously. We may feature your dish right here next week when we tackle the basics to setting up your kitchen.

If you have questions, message us on Instagram or email us at, and check out for more tips, tricks and great, simple recipes. Next week, we'll show you how to transform onions into an unbeatable caramelized onion dip.

Until then, happy snacking!