Foods cooked on top of the stove usually need a little more attention than those made using other methods. This is especially true if you're not used to using your stove. Use the heat settings suggested in the recipes, but until you become familiar with the temperatures that are required to achieve the desired affect (like maintaining a slow simmer, for example), plan on babysitting the pot on the stove. Having a pot boil dry can not only ruin a meal, it can cause a fire.
The cooking vessels you use will make a difference, too. Food will burn more easily in an inexpensive discount store nonstick skillet than it will in heavier cast-iron, multiclad stainless, or hard anodized steel cookware. How well your cooking pan conducts the heat will make a difference as to how high you set the burner temperature. But, with some practice, you'll soon learn the perfect heat settings for each of your pans.
It might take a medium-high setting to sauté food in an inexpensive skillet and lots of stirring to prevent the food from burning, but you can accomplish the same task in your triple-ply nonstick stainless steel skillet when it's over medium-low heat, and with less frequent stirring.
On the flipside, a heavier pan will retain the heat longer once it's removed from the burner than will an inexpensive skillet, so food cooked to perfection in a heavier pan must be moved to a serving dish more quickly to prevent it from overcooking. This is especially true of foods like gravy that tend to thicken the longer they sit; gravy can turn from a succulent liquid to one big lump if it stays on the heat too long.
Stovetop cooking doesn't have to be intimidating. In fact, stovetop cooking methods like stir-frying are some of the quickest and most versatile ways to prepare meals. With the right instructions, it's easy to fix delicious meals for you and your family.
Once you've removed the meat and other ingredients you've cooked in the pan and rid the pan of any excess remaining fat, deglaze it by putting it over a medium-high heat and then adding enough cooking liquid to let you scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Doing this step before you add the other ingredients for your sauce or gravy gives more flavor and color to the result.