My kitchen gospel is this: everyone should have one company's-coming dish they can make very, very well, even under trying circumstances. That one dish will covers office parties and potlucks, and the times you have to cook for a date-person. I believe in a very short shelf of cookbooks -- Betty Crocker, the Joy Of Cooking, and YouTube ... that does it for me. Learn to improvise after you learn the basics. Stay away from fads and, face it, you simply cannot low-fat and low-cholesterol every dish on earth. Eat less. If the entree is upscale, serve a simple dessert; if the entree is pedestrian, serve a supreme dessert.