Remember that old Betty Crocker Cookbook? The red one with loose-leaf pages in a three-ring binder that was probably splattered with pancake batter? We always had one on the shelf when I was growing up, but I hadn’t actually looked at one in years until the new edition landed on my desk. First reaction: “Who wants this old thing?” Slow realization: “This is a perfect how-to for a young person leaving home and setting up a kitchen for the first time.”

I thought the book was boring because it starts with this chapter of "This is a knife" and "Here are the pots and pans you should have," and I'm at the part of my life when I'm more like, "Good gravy, why do we have 17 Bundt pans?"

But I was that kid once! I took a stained copy of The Joy of Cooking with me when I went to college (still have it) and referred to it like a religious text. But the Betty Crocker Cookbook is even more user-friendly. And it has pictures … lots of great pictures.

Twenty-somethings love to cook! And unlike many of their parents or grandparents, they think of it as a fun leisure activity, not a grueling daily chore. That's partially because so many grew up in an era when a huge percentage of their meals were eaten out at a restaurant or out of a package.

Unfortunately, however, that means they missed a lot of tutoring at the apron strings. Betty Crocker defines and explains all the tools, techniques and terms a new cook needs to know. There's an entire two-page spread on beating, whipping and folding. The vegetable chapter has 10 beautiful pages of photos and descriptions of vegetables, followed by four pages of charts on how to cook everything from artichokes to zucchini.

The recipes are not mind-blowing. But when you want something mind-blowing you go to Pinterest, right? What this book does have is recipes for the way young people live now. Like roasted chicken sausage with potatoes and cheese, which is really similar to a lunch I throw together in the toaster oven on a busy Tuesday (there are two kinds of chicken sausage in my fridge right now). Moroccan chicken pie makes use of rotisserie chicken meat and packaged phyllo.

I get paid to eat at some really fancy restaurants and write about it, but at home I cook like my own grandmother (see: pot roast, peach pie). If you know some young people who need a surrogate grandma, you might introduce them to Betty Crocker.

Moroccan Chicken Pie

From the Betty Crocker Cookbook

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 3 cups shredded deli rotisserie chicken (from 2-lb chicken)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 16 sheets frozen phyllo pastry (14-by-9 inches), thawed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, finely ground
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
  2. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion in butter 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned. Stir in cinnamon and turmeric. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly stir in broth. Add raisins. Heat to boiling; boil gently 1 minute, stirring occasionally. In large bowl, stir together onion mixture, chicken, cilantro, salt and pepper.
  3. Place phyllo sheets on work surface; cover with clean, damp towel. Place one phyllo sheet in bottom and up side of pie plate, allowing excess phyllo to extend over edge. Lightly spray with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the ground almonds. Repeat layers, using seven more phyllo sheets and alternating position of sheets to cover bottom and side of pie plate.
  4. Spoon chicken mixture into pastry-lined plate. Using kitchen scissors, cut excess phyllo from edges. Layer with remaining eight phyllo sheets, spraying each with cooking spray and sprinkling with almonds. Fold excess phyllo under to form rustic crust edge.
  5. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.