I’m writing this for my little brother, David. This is actually part of his Christmas gift. Merry Christmas little brother!

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And this has nothing to do with this post, but David is about to begin a prestigious nursing program and I’m so proud of him I could burst. To make a short story long, another hopeful future nurse recently asked him how many times he applied to this nursing program before he got accepted and what his backup plan was if he couldn’t get in. He was like, “Oh is it difficult to get in?” My little brother is so freakin smart. He’s also really low-key, and he’s going to kill me when he sees this.

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Anyways, David just moved out on his own and has mentioned that his steady diet of pb&js and canned soup is getting old. Then my brain said, “Light Bulb!”

So for Christmas I’m giving him a few of my favorite spices and cooking tools, and this list of easy tips to get comfortable in the the kitchen. Don’t worry Dave, if you stick to eating a bowl of cereal for dinner every night, my feelings won’t be hurt! But for the nights that you want real food, hopefully this will get you started-

1. You don’t have to get all fancy! If you have some kind of meat, a few spices, and a side (veggie, rice, pasta or potatoes are easy), you have a good, filling meal in 30 minutes or less.

2. Check out the Manager’s Specials on meat whenever you stop by the store. As long as you freeze it or cook it right away, its just as good as expensive meat, but for a fraction of the cost.

3. You can thaw meat out easily by putting it in a ziplock bag in a bowl of water.

4. I like to buy a variety of meat (usually Manager’s Specials) and then put them in individual ziplocks before freezing them, then I am just pull them out of the freezer and defrost one or two servings at a time easily.

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5. Easy Steak- put a little olive oil in a pan and warm it up on medium heat. Add some butter (the oil can get hot without smoking, and the butter will seal the moisture and flavor in the steak). Once it’s hot, place the steak in the pan with a garlic, pepper and rosemary. The pan should be hot enough that it sizzles when the steak touches it. Spoon the butter over the steak. Let it cook for about one minute on each side, until nice and brown. I usually put it on the George Foreman for another few minutes to get the inside a bit brown too, but that’s optional. And that’s how you make a dang good steak in just a few minutes.

6. Garlic and Paprika make everything tastier.

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7. Sometimes turkey makes a good dinner. Sometimes it makes a good fashion statement.

8. Quick and Easy Chicken- Season your chicken however you fancy (any kind of spice works for chicken). Pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of you pan, and warm it on medium heat. Put your chicken in the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Cut the chicken open to make sure it’s cooked in the middle. Voila.

9. Poke some holes in a potato, rub a little oil on it, and microwave for about 5 minutes. If it still feels firm, turn it over and pop it back in the mic for 3 minutes or so. And now you have baked potato to complete any meal.

10. Figure out how to make something and then invite your loving sister, brother-in-law, and nephew over for dinner!

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