I have to say Betty Crocker is the best friend I've never met. Someone gave this Betty Crocker cookbook to me as a wedding gift. It includes all the classic recipes from meatloaf to banana bread. I will never get rid of this cookbook. It has never let me down. Every recipe I have tried has worked out. They are not always amazing, but they are never bad if you follow the steps. I partly owe my basic cooking skills to this book. It not only has recipes, but how to's and subsitutes to help you along the way. If you don't know a basic technique mentioned you can find how to do it somewhere in the book.
If I could only recommend one cookbook to a beginner cook it would be this one: