If you’d like to become a better cook but are intimidated by the learning curve, take a page from Haylie Duff. The actress hosts “Real Girl’s Kitchen” on the Cooking Channel and cheerfully calls herself “the cooking school drop out.” After her lifestyle blog (also called Real Girl’s Kitchen) started taking off, Duff thought she might like to take some classes, but movie shoots kept taking her away, and eventually Duff concluded she could get by without lessons. “If I can learn through trial and error, so can other people,” she says. The new season of the show will feature a range of dishes, something Duff says she loves. “We’re not really ever stuck in one style of food.” Tune in for fresh takes on ramen, a “killer” steak and Greek meatballs. We got a little inside info from Duff on what her can’t-miss kitchen items are.

Fave flavors

Garlic is often a key part of any cook’s repertoire, and Duff is no different. She says a garlic press is “definitely” one of her must-haves, and anyone who’s ever struggled through chopping up a tiny garlic clove knows the feeling. “I feel like I use that so often because I hate having to sit there and chop garlic forever.

Skip the squeezing

Juicing lemons by hand is all too often a foolproof test to find out if you’ve got any papercuts. That’s why Duff recommends getting a lemon squeezer. “I put lemon in a lot of food, so any time that I can avoid having to pick out seeds and things like that, I love it,” she explains. “I feel like it’s my go to.”

Get by with a little help

Your knife skills may be without par, but there are times when it helps to get that little bit of extra assistance. That’s why Duff recommends a mandoline. She says she uses hers “any time I’m making salad where I want t thinly slice radishes or celery. I have an apple fennel salad in my cookbook that I love and you basically can’t make it unless you have a mandolin because everything is sliced really thin on it. It gives a professional feel to thinly sliced vegetables.”

Chopping skills

Your kitchen won’t be complete without a decent set of knives to get started. Duff says that’s pretty important, but acknowledges, “I have a bunch of knives, but the truth is I’ve got three that are just kind of my favorite, and I tend to go through those all the time. One’s a little a paring knife that’s serrated so it chops through everything that’s tiny, and then two big six inch and eight inch chopping knives.”

Haylie Duff's Veggie and Yogurt Sandwich

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

2 sprigs chopped fresh dill

2 sprigs chopped fresh mint

1 pinch sea salt

1 sliced carrot

1 sliced avocado

6-8 slices cucumber

1 handful arugula sprouts

1 handful chopped walnuts

Directions

Mix yogurt, dill and mint in a small mixing bowl.

Spread across both sides of bread.

Sprinkle with seal salt.

Layer remaining ingredients.