You don't have to be a gourmet cook to throw together a fancy meal. All it takes is a little bit of knowledge, the right ingredients and some alcohol to drink while you're cooking away. I'm going to list ingredients that I almost ALWAYS have on hand in my pantry, fridge and freezer. I can't function in my kitchen without many of these ingredients. Please keep in mind that you can substitute. When I'm out of something, I'm a google freak. How else would I have known that you can use white wine instead of vermouth or vice versa.
I also love to have FRESH ingredients on hand. Which means FRESH herbs! and an actual lemon gives you so much more bang for your buck than juice in that little fake plastic lemon. Garlic. Ahhhh, love fresh garlic. I think you get the picture.....Of course, I live in Ohio. I grow fresh herbs outside all spring and summer, but without a greenhouse it's kind of hard to come by fresh herbs in the colder months. So, if I run out, I will use dried herbs if I have to. I hate to, but I will.
These items that I always have on hand (aside from your normal pantry spices and staples)are ingredients that can be used to make many "gourmet" recipes..so, here goes:
olive oil (extra virgin)
garlic bulbs (minced in a jar is ok too)
cracked black pepper
white vinegar or cider vinegar
heavy cream (whipping cream)
walnuts or almonds
brick of parmesan or romano cheese
frozen ravioli or tortellini