I have a teen daughter who loves to cook. She started baking things on her own as soon as she could safely operate the oven, and her favorite gift to date was the electric skillet her chef aunt gave to her one Christmas so she could start making pancakes. Eventually, she became interested in preparing complete meals, but my cooking books didn't really appeal to her. She was looking for a guide that would instruct her through doable - yet appealing - meals. Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by sisters Megan and Jill Carle fit the bill perfectly.
Teens Cook includes recipes for breakfast, snacks, soup/salad, family meals, dinner for one, and dessert. The recipes include many that our family eats on a regular basis, like chicken and dumplings, vegetable lasagna, and eggplant parmesan. The soups sound delicious and include many of our favorites like French onion and baked potato. Ingredients lists are short and the directions are well-noted. One of the authors – Megan – is a vegetarian, so there is some talk of how to substitute ingredients out when you need to.
The cooking for one section seems very useful, especially for a teen who is on her own for meals at times. It’s a great skill to know how to cook fried rice or quesadillas for your dinner, instead of ordering pizza. I wouldn’t say that the recipes are particularly health-conscious since they often rely on butter, cheese, puff pastry, etc, but they will appeal to an American teen palate. There are also amusing anecdotes of the kitchen disasters that the girls have experienced along their culinary journey. The message that experimenting and making mistakes in the kitchen is an important one for all nascent chefs to hear. Check out Teens Cook if you are between the ages of 12-17 and ready to learn how to make meals you really want to eat.