When you have free time watch cooking shows on tv, they will help with the basics. the easiest to learn (but the hardest to master) is Italian food.
Here are some easy ways to start:
Good starter dish:
Spagetti and Meatballs
1 package of spagetti
1 jar of Sauce (like Ragu)
2 pounds Ground beef
4 tablespoons of Parm cheese
1 1/2 cups of Italian Seasoned bread crumbs
Dashes of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of sugar
Combine raw ground beef, bread crumbs, cheese, and eggs in mixing bowl. Mix with hands kneading the ingredients together (I know this will feel nasty mashing ground beed with your hands but it is the secret to properly mixing it)
Make sure bread crumbs and meat well mixed. Take out 1/2 handfull of meat mixture and roll between your hands making a smooth meatball. Repeat unitl meat is gone. Cook meatballs in frying pan rolling over several times on medium heat for aboout 10-15 minutes until browned on the outside.
Place sauce in pot, put in sugar and dash of pepper. Place meatballs in the sauce and simmer on low for 15 minutes stiring frequently
While sauce is simmering, Place water in large, tall pot to boil spagetti. Boil water and place spagetting in water. Boild 10-15 minutes unitl soft but not mushy.
Drain pasta over sink.
Voila, Spaggetti and home made meatballs.
Red wine goes good with this meal.
Chicken cutlets and pasta:
1 package of pasta
1 jar of sauce
2 tablespoons of sugar
dash of pepper and salt
2-3 cups of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup of flour
2-3 tablespoons of Parm cheese
as much chicken as you need to feed everyone
Prepare pasta as mentioned in Spaggetti and meatballs
Prepare pasta as discussed above.
Take chicken and slice in 1/2 the flat way making very thin cutlets (like cutting a bagel) place on cutting board and pound with meatpounder or hammer to tenderize (dont mutilate but dont be afraid to hit it)
Crack eggs in bowl. put aside.
Place bread crumbs, parm cheese, salt and pepper (Dash) and flour in another bowl.
Take chicken and dunk it in the raw egg, then place in bowl of bread crumbs and flour making sure to coat the entire piece of chicken.
repeat until all chicken is coated.
Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in frying pan. Heat for a minute or 2 (unitl droplets of water jump out the pan when you sprinkle them in) Place coated chicken in frying pay and cook on medium high heat unitil cooked through (probably about 8-10 minutes on first side and 5-8 on the other side) make sure you dont burn and turn dow heat if the chicken seems to be cooking to fast.
Heat up sauce in pot with sugar.
Place pasta on plates, Palce chicken next to pasta, spoon generout amounts of sauce on pasta and Chicken cutlet.
red or white wine is good with this meal
Last but not Least Linguine with Clam/shrimp sauce
1 can of minced clams
1 package of linguni
salt and pepper
dash of dried basil
Several dashed of garlic salt
1/2 pund of frozen RAW shrimp
1 jar of clam sauce
Cook pasta as discussed above
defrost and skin RAW shrimp/put aside.
Take 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place in pot. heat on medium heat for 1 or 2 minutes but make sure olive oil doest burn, (dont want to start a fire but want hot oil when you throw in shrimp)
Place shrimp in the pot with the hot olive oil. Stir fry in pot for about 2 minutes (shrimp cook VERY fast) take can of minced clams, Do NOT drain/place clams and liquid from can and extra jar of clam sauce in the pot with the shrimp. Season with basil, salt and pepper, and garlic salt. Simmer shrimp in clam sauce for about 3 minutes at simmering boil.
place cooked linguini on plate, spoon on cooked clam sauce, clams and shrimp.
Even though cheese is not supposed to be used on seafood, i still like a little parm cheese on this dish.
White wine goes well with this dish.
And there you go, intro to italian food, These dishes are EASY and VERY CHEAP. Buy the small shrimp (60 a pound) to make it more affordable.
And the best thing is people that dont know how to cook think your a chef, they dont have to know how easy it is.