Dining Solo: Recipes for the time-strapped teen

Finals French Toast Step 1
Combine eggs, milk, vanilla and dry ingredients in a bowl.
Photo By: Dan Baden
Finals French Toast Step 2
Grill slices until golden brown on each side.
Photo By: Dan Baden
Finals French Toast -- Viola!
Viola! Gorgeous, golden-brown French toast to fuel your finals day.
Photo By: Dan Baden
Study-Break Sandwiches: Cubanos
This sandwich originally comes from the island of Cuba.
Photo By: Dan Baden
Sports Starving Oven-Fried Chicken
Use a baking pan with high edges for this recipe, not a cookie sheet.
Photo By: Dan Baden
Pair chicken with stuffing
Pair chicken with stuffing, which can be made on your stove top pretty easily, and you've got yourself a very satisfying meal.
Photo By: Dan Baden

Everyone has to eat. For those of us who don’t have a stay-at-home mom to cook every snack or regularly miss family dinners thanks to school, sports or a job, we have to learn to navigate the culinary world for ourselves.

It’s actually pretty easy to take some time and learn to cook rather than subsist on Ramen noodles and Hot Pockets. Here are three simple recipes to get you started in the mysterious (not) world of cooking.

Finals-Morning French Toast

This recipe is pretty easy, but can get a little messy when transferring wet bread slices from the bowl to the griddle.

This dish is guaranteed to make your house smell great in the morning, and makes excellent leftovers for the next morning.

Ingredients: two eggs, 2/3 cup of milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon of both ground cinnamon and nutmeg, and six slices of bread

Recipe: With a whisk, beat together the eggs, milk, vanilla and dry ingredients in a bowl. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-high flame and grease lightly with oil. Dunk each slice of bread in the bowl for 5 seconds on each side, then place on griddle. Cook each side until its golden brown; flip slices with a spatula. Recipe source: Allrecipes.com.

Cost: For most teens living in a well-stocked home, the cost is free. But in case you need to buy these ingredients, the total cost should be less than 10 dollars.

Study-Break Sandwiches: Cubanos

This is probably the easiest recipe and one of the fastest to make. It’s also the cheapest, and most of the ingredients are found around the house. I make this all the time on my own, and it provides a perfect and tasty break from studying.

Ingredients: Swiss cheese, French baguette, pickle slices, ham (sliced), and mayonnaise

Recipe: Slice the French baguette open like you’re making a sub. Make sure to leave a hinge of connected bread on one side. For the best results, cut the baguette into sections to make grilling it easier.

Heat a griddle to medium heat. Lightly spread mayonnaise on both sides of bread, and then place single slices of cheese along the bread. Put the ham on top of the cheese, and then pickles on top of that.

With the sandwich assembled, place it in the heated pan, and then put a the heavy pan on top of the sandwich to smash it flat — a heavy, cast-iron skillet works great for this step. Then flip the sandwich and grill the other side. Then it’s ready to eat!

Cost: This recipe might require a run to the grocery store. Expect the total bill to be a little less than $19, but that provides enough ingredients for at least three sandwiches.

The I’m-Starving-After-Practice Oven-Fried Chicken

This was a fun recipe to do, from breading the chicken to the feeling of eating something really satisfying that you created that didn’t come out of a microwave. Be careful and be sure to use a high-edged baking pan. I made the mistake of using a cookie sheet the first time I cooked this and grease dripped from the pan down to the bottom of the oven and started burning, which set off the smoke alarms in my house.

This is the most difficult recipe, but the most difficult part is prepping the chicken to be baked. After that, this recipe is easy.

Ingredients: two pounds of chicken pieces, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, two teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 cup vegetable oil.

1. Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces;
2. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees;
3. Mix together well all the dry ingredients in a bowl or gallon-size plastic bag;
4. Grease a high-edged baking pan with cooking oil;
5. Brush vegetable oil on both sides of the chicken pieces;
6. Coat chicken in bread crumb spice mixture on each side, then put them in the pan skin side up, if they aren’t skinless;
7. Cook for 35-45 minutes, or until the juices run clear from the chicken when you poke it with a fork.
Recipe source: About.com Southern Food

Cost: Most households will have all these ingredients pre-stocked, but in case you have to buy these ingredients for yourself, expect to spend about $17-$18.