When my dad told me that his friend Rachael Ray was coming over for dinner, I was totally psyched. Then he dropped the bomb: I was going to have to cook the whole meal. I started with tostadas since they're superfast and easy -- and you can put whatever you want on them. Rachael likes hers with lots of salsa! To tell the truth, I wanted to just skip straight from the tostadas to the profiteroles. They're my favorite dessert. But we had to have dinner first. Dad made Rachael one of his special Topolo Margaritas, then we all sat down to bowls of corn soup and a big pot of chicken and rice. Having dinner with Rachael was totally fun, and cooking it wasn't half bad, either!
tips + how-tos
How to Roast a Chile
1. Using tongs, hold the chile over a gas flame, turning until it's blackened all over -- or place the chile on a baking sheet under the broiler and rotate every few minutes.
2. Place the roasted chile in a resealable plastic bag: let it sweat for a few minutes, until it's cool to the touch.
3. Peel off the blackened skin with your fingers. Pull off and discard stem and seeds.
Lanie's Top 10 Tips for Teen Cooks
1. Don't overplan. You'll drive yourself crazy, and the food might not turn out exactly how you had in mind anyway.
3. Start with something simple. If you try a difficult dish, you might get discouraged and not want to cook again.
4. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need on hand. You don't want to be in the middle of a recipe and find yourself short of something.
5. Play music while you cook. It'll help you relax. I like soundtracks from musicals like Wicked and Hairspray.
6. Clean up as you go -- or better yet, ask your parents to clean up behind you as you work. (Remind them that they don't have to cook tonight!)
7. Choose your own menu. If your parents tell you what to make … well, when do you ever want to do what your parents tell you to do?
8. Enlist a friend or sibling to pitch in. Cooking is much more fun when you have someone to hang out with while you work.
9. Keep the meal a surprise. Don't let your guests see (or taste) what you're cooking until they sit down at the table.
10. Have fun! Enough said.