Cook with Amber

Fun, Fresh Recipes to Get You in the Kitchen


By Amber Kelley

Foreword by Jamie Oliver

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“Amber’s beautiful book is bursting with great ideas that make healthy eating a joy-and she’s done a great job covering all the bases that, in my experience, teens and kids really want.” — Jamie Oliver

Fifteen-year-old Amber Kelley is inspiring a whole new generation of eaters to get in the kitchen and have fun. She is the first winner of Food Network Star Kids, a member of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube family, and the host of her own web series on and YouTube. Her work has been recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama, and Amber has been featured on national TV networks such as the Disney Channel, E!, and NBC’s Today.

Now, Amber’s 80 most popular and delicious recipes have been hand-picked for her cookbook to empower teens to get in the kitchen. From nourishing breakfasts to start the day right, to school lunches to impress your friends, party ideas for every occasion, and even recipes for the best homemade facial scrubs to fight that dreaded teen acne, Amber shares her secrets for using the power of food to get the best out of her teen years. Includes 45 full-color photographs throughout.


© 2015 Jamie Oliver Enterprises Ltd, photography by Jamie Oliver Productions


I LOVE COOKING. I love the look on people’s faces when they try something I made and like it. I love the creativity of experimenting with different recipes and ingredients, and I love dancing around the kitchen, music blaring, house smelling amazing, and just making something delicious with my own hands.

I have been cooking for as long as I can remember, really. My mom taught me to cook because the only thing she knew how to do by the time she got to college was mince garlic, so she wanted my sister and me to learn to cook… because you gotta cook to eat, and you gotta eat to live. She thought of cooking as a life skill, like how to do laundry (which she also taught us how to do, and I don’t enjoy that nearly as much!).

But it turns out that cooking is more than that. For me, it’s a gateway to so many things—energy, fun with friends and family, a strong body, and clean skin—everything a teenager wants.

More and more, you see kids and teens cooking… and why not? We are capable, and we want to have a say in what we eat, just like adults.

So, this book is about taking control of your teen years. It’s about making easy, mouthwatering dishes that you can be proud of. It’s about throwing parties with your friends with food that you all can make together. It’s about prepping your own delicious school lunches and snacks so you’re never starving. It’s about using the power of food to help you be strong and have glowing hair and skin. Really, it’s about feeling strong, feeling good, and feeling like “I’ve got this!”

If you picked up this book out of curiosity and have never heard of me, you may be wondering why I have any expertise in writing a cookbook. I didn’t go to culinary school (I’m too young). My parents aren’t celebrity chefs, either. But my passion to share my love of cooking and eating wholesome, delicious food has lead me to a seat next to the first lady at the White House, to national television appearances, to cooking collaborations with celebrity chefs, to my own web series on Food Network—and, most important, it’s allowed me to connect with so many of you guys. And it’s very clear: we all need a book like this!

My wild adventures with cooking didn’t start so rosy, however.

When I fell in love with cooking as a little kid, I only thought of it as a fun activity where I got to eat my results (how can you not love that?!). That was until second grade, when I got bullied because the food I brought to school wasn’t “cool.” The so-called cool foods were all prepackaged—you know, those foods that have flashy colors and all those crazy cartoon characters. Now, my homemade school lunches were absolutely delicious, but my classmates assumed that if it wasn’t prepackaged, then it wasn’t cool. I was confused and hurt, and I would often come home crying because my classmates didn’t like my lunch.

Then, one day, I had a brilliant idea. I remember telling my mom, “You need to become a Food Network star and cook all of our family recipes to prove my friends wrong!” But her answer was (and I quote), “I’m too busy to be a Food Network Star.” Pretty hilarious, looking back on it now. But that was a good thing, because I decided then and there that I would just do it myself.

One night, I asked my mom to film me making dinner and we published it on YouTube. It turns out my grandma wasn’t the only one interested in our homemade videos and our YouTube channel grew. Then, I started doing weekly cooking segments at our local news stations, making national TV appearances, and just this past year, I achieved my dream to become the first ever “Food Network Star Kid.” But most important, I was thrilled to find there were many others who agreed that “being healthy is cool” and who loved the family recipes I was sharing.

Now, I’m a teenager, and while I no longer have friends bullying me about my homemade food, I have other challenges I face. It’s hard to juggle school, homework, afterschool sports, hanging with friends—and to have the energy to do it all. And let’s be honest: hormones are no fun, with mood swings and acne and feeling out of control most of the time.

Cooking and food was the tool that I used to meet my challenge in second grade, and it’s the same tool I use to face my challenges as a teenager! It connects me with my friends and family, it helps me combat my mood swings and acne, and it gives me energy to play volleyball, hang with friends, and makes me feel and look my best.

This is more than a cookbook. It’s a book about being a teen and how we can use cooking and food to enjoy every day of it. Being a teen isn’t easy, but with a fully stocked fridge and this book, we are going to master our teen years one recipe at a time.

Tips for Beginner Cooks

This book is for everyone, including those who are just getting into the awesome world of cooking. I know the whole food world can be really intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be hard! Here are some of my top tips to help you get started:

COOK FOODS THAT YOU WANT TO EAT! Not gonna lie: one of the best parts about cooking is getting to eat the end result. So, when you cook foods that you enjoy, it makes the whole process a lot more fun and rewarding.

GO SIMPLE. Not all delicious dishes need a huge list of fancy ingredients. Sometimes the tastiest dishes are the ones made with a few simple fresh ingredients. Starting simple is a perfect way to ease into cooking. Once you get more comfortable, you can choose to explore more complex dishes (but only if you want to!).

CHEAT. Yes, you heard me. But not in school. Cheat when cooking! It’s totally okay to find shortcuts to make the job easier. Whether that be using an onion chopper to cut your onions, using your hands to tear lettuce instead of having to use a chef’s knife, or even using kitchen scissors to cut herbs, if you can find a way to make your life easier when cooking, do it!

ASK FOR HELP. No, it is not lame to ask for help. When I started cooking, I couldn’t even reach the kitchen counter. Asking for help will not only make it easier, but it will also help you in the long run! Learning from others is a huge key to growing your skills and improving.

HAVE FUN! Cooking is one of my favorite things to do, and I want you all to enjoy it, too! Play some music, dance around the kitchen, do whatever you want. As long as you’re having fun and eating good food, my mission is accomplished.

What About Knife Skills?

The biggest fear for most of us (and our parents) is that we’ll kill ourselves with kitchen knives. True, they can be dangerous… but only if you don’t know how to use them. My mentor Jamie Oliver talked to me about the importance of learning to handle a knife correctly, because that’s the key to safety. I totally agree, and I also think that you don’t need a bunch of fancy knife skills to create a masterpiece dish—there are amazing ways to cheat (see point #3 above)!

If you want to use a knife, then think about these tips:

Always have the knife pointed down at your side when walking.

Put the flat side of your vegetable or fruit on the cutting board, so you have a stable surface.

Put a wet paper towel under your cutting board so it doesn’t move.

Take a knife skills class. The way you hold the knife, place your fingers, and the type of food you’re cutting are all really important and hard to learn from just pictures in a book or a YouTube video. Look for a class in your area and gain skills that will last you a lifetime.

If you want to

Chop or dice vegetables or curly parsley: Use an onion chopper

Mince garlic: Use a garlic press

Slice vegetables: Use a mandoline

Chop herbs or chiffonade basil: Use kitchen shears

Cut chicken into bite-size pieces: Use kitchen shears

Chop lettuce or greens: Use your hands to tear the leaves

And while we’re at it, here is a glossary of the most common cutting terms:

CHOP: cut into bite-size pieces, about 1 inch/2.5 cm

CUBE: cut into little cubes, about ½ to 1 inch/1.5 to 2.5 cm

DICE: chop into tiny cubes, about ⅛ to ¼ inch/3 to 6 mm

MINCE: chop as finely as possible, at most ⅛ inch/3 mm

JULIENNE: cut into matchsticks

CHIFFONADE: cut into thin ribbons

SLICE: cut into flat, thin pieces

It’s Getting Hot in Here!

Heat is pure magic—it transforms ingredients into warm, bubbly scrumptiousness. But it can be intimidating to use the stove or oven at first. Here are some ways you can get that magic without any drama:

Get the lowdown on how your stove and ovens work from an experienced cook, and start by cooking with them so you are confident you know the equipment’s range’s ins and outs.

Tie long hair back. I have long hair and so does my sister. Tying your hair back keeps it out of your face, and out of the flames.

Use oven gloves when taking stuff in and out of the oven. I love using oven gloves rather than pot holders or oven mitts, because your entire hand and wrist are covered, and you don’t have to worry about the pot holder slipping.

Stay in the kitchen. Never leave a hot stove unattended!

nourishing breakfasts

Get Ready for School

Not only will these meals pump you up and give you energy to kick-start your day, but they will make you want to get out of bed.

Kelley Family Favorite Green Juice

Orange-Infused Steel-Cut Oats with Blueberries and Almond Slices

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata

Apple, Cinnamon, and Walnut Muffins

Very Blueberry Pancakes

Açai Bowl with Granola, Fruit, and Nuts

Homemade Granola


  • "The Double-Duty Weeknight Dinners section is a real star--showcasing how different delicious dinners, such as Grilled Flank Steak and Veggies, easily become tomorrow's tasty Steak and Veggie Wrap with Caper Dill Cream lunch."—School Library Journal
  • "Sure to be a popular addition to any cookbook collection."—Booklist
  • "You're so cool, you're so inspirational, and so young, it almost makes me want to cry you're so good, so young! Keep up the effort, you're really inspiring lots of people."—--Jamie Oliver
  • "You have really great skills."—--Rachael Ray
  • "Amber, you've got so much beautiful flavor."—--Curtis Stone
  • "Always has great recipes that are easy to make, and healthy, and that's the best part, healthy for kids."—--Bill Wixey, Fox News Anchor

On Sale
Oct 2, 2018
Page Count
208 pages
Running Press Kids

Amber Kelley

About the Author

Amber Kelley is a cookbook author, the host of her popular YouTube series Cook With Amber, and the winner of Food Network Star Kids. She is a member of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube family and the host of her own web series on and YouTube. Her work has been recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama, and Amber has been featured on national TV networks such as the Disney Channel, E!, and NBC’s Today. If she’s not eating or cooking — or talking about eating and cooking — you’ll find Amber on the volleyball court, hanging out with friends, and spending time with family.

Learn more about this author