Are you new to cooking and need some kitchen confidence? These simple tips and tricks will help. 

By Lindsay Maitland Hunt
February 09, 2018
one-pan crispy chicken healthy-ish
Credit: Linda Pugliese

New to the kitchen? Here are my nine key pieces of advice to set yourself up for success, plus one of my favorite, easy dinner recipes from my cookbook Healthyish.

  1. Read the whole recipe before you begin, noting what equipment you’ll need. It can be helpful to pull out the pots and pans you’ll need to make cooking go smoothly.
  2. Be nice to yourself. Maintain a balance of trying new things and giving yourself permission to take it easy.
  3. Do any dishes that are in the sink before you start cooking.
  4. Prep the ingredients before you start cooking.
  5. Cooking gets easier over time. A recipe not coming out as expected is not a reflection of you.
  6. If you’re making a recipe that calls for the oven to be preheated, do it the second you start prepping. This way, it’ll be at the correct temperature and you won’t waste time.
  7. Put a damp paper towel under your cutting board to secure it to your countertop.
  8. Place a mixing bowl on your work area to use as a waste bin for easy cleanup. This way, you won’t always be reaching for the trash can.
  9. Use a bigger cutting board, mixing bowl, or colander than you think you need.

One-Pan Crispy Chicken with Herbed Potatoes and Onions


I love this kind of recipe—you put in 15 minutes of prep work on the front end, and then sit back and relax while the oven does the rest. If you want to pick just one herb, I suggest rosemary.


2½ to 3 pounds new potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 8 cups)

1 medium onion, diced

2  fresh rosemary branches

10 fresh thyme sprigs

5 fresh oregano sprigs

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 chicken legs (about 3 lbs/1.4 kg total)


1. Preheat your oven to 425ºF, with a rack positioned in the top of the oven.

2. Toss the potatoes, onion, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemon, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

3. Mix the mustard and butter together in a small bowl. Gently loosen the skin of the chicken and rub the mustard-butter underneath. Season the chicken legs with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

4. Place the chicken legs on top of the potatoes and nestle them in so they’re secure. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken registers 160ºF and the potatoes are golden brown and tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

5. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. This allows the chicken to reach 165ºF and for the juices to redistribute. Serve hot.

Healthyish Cookbook Cover

From Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt, published by ABRAMS c 2017.