I sympathize, believe me. This was my mom, and still is. But have no fear, my brother and I turned into pretty darn good cooks, and she has improved really a lot over the years, even though we still occasionally have to gently steer her away from MOM DO NOT PUT THAT INTO THE -- NO THAT DOES NOT BELONG IN CHICKEN SOUP. PUT IT DOWN.
Where was I? Do you know who Alton Brown is? He has a cooking show on the Food Channel called Good Eats, and you can find recipes from the shows and also links to videos here: Good Eats
He organizes shows either around a type of food (mushrooms, say) or a procedure like I don't know, "blending" or grilling. He is very good about explaining WHY to do things a certain way as well as HOW, and I've learned a lot from him even though I've been cooking for decades. He can be kind of funny too. And one of the best things is that simplicity in equipment and technique is one of his themes.
I think he has some books too, probably any one you could find in your local library or bookstore would be a good start.
I've heard good things about Mark Bittman's book How to Cook Anything. (He has a regular column in the New York Times, The Minimalist
, about cooking good things with as little fuss as possible.
If you have a "read the manual" or wanting to know about all the nuts and bolts kind of personality (or someone in your family) look into Cook's Illustrated magazine at your local library, or into one of their books like on baking. They are the engineer's/scientist's sort of approach to cooking, tinkering with old standard recipes to figure out what produces the best results (ONE teaspoon of flour? or ONE AND A QUARTER?!?), and then figuring out why.
If you are more about inspiration and discoveries, one of my favorite cooking blogs is The Kitchn
(no e), and especially look through their archives; you can search for things like "black beans".
Also, there no reason you can't have a good diet and eat good foods while using the cooking techniques you are using. I've turned a lot more to grilling and roasting from pan-frying as I started calorie counting, and there are days that go by now that I don't turn on my stove burners at all. Oh! and that's what sauteeing is basically, just a fancier term for pan-frying, and dollops and all those things are just fancier words for a "a spoonful". Dieting is deciding how big a spoonful you're going to use.