I'm super busy, balancing life, love, work, freelancing, the new book project, and a few minor health issues. When life gets crazy, the first thing to suffer is my diet. Lately I've been stuffing myself with pastries, take-out, and other unhealthy foods. No bueno, especially at a time when my body needs healthy food to cope with the day's mega-stress du jour.
That's where The Parchment Paper Cookbook comes in. This little book, packed with 180 recipes, is ideal for those of us who just can't find the time to cook a square meal, or those that have time to cook but hate the cleanup. What's a tired, busy, hungry girl to do? Consider cooking in parchment packets, that's what.
Think of the freedom: no pots and pans to wash. Just recycle or compost your paper, using less energy by cooking everything in one oven. And because there are no pots to wash, you use less water. You can't beat that with a stick!
I've cooked in parchment before, but I've limited myself to fish and the occasional veggie or fish dish. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to cook more in pouches, especially when it's so easy to prepare and cleanup is almost non-existent - plus, you seal in not only flavor, but nutrients. Perhaps it's because I never had a guide before. Thanks to Brette Sember, the queen of No Pot Cooking, parchment has become a more normal part of my daily cooking routine.
Parchment cooking, despite it's simple approach, actually provides the opportunity for some seriously robust dishes. Don't believe me? Check out some of these recipes from The Parchment Paper Cookbook:
- Lasagna Roll-Ups
- Scallops Gratin
- Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry
- Orange Teriyaki Shrimp with Rice Noodles
- Chicken with Sage, Brown Butter, and Sweet Potatoes
- Peanut Butter S'mores Crepes
None of those are dishes I'd refuse, especially if I could make them for cheap and not have a ton of dishes to scrub afterwards. And having made dinner myself, I've saved a lot of money and not compromised my health.
To tempt you further, I'm including a recipe from The Parchment Paper Cookbook. How about Sage Pork Chops with Pumpkin and Cream to salve your weary soul? Yeah, I thought you might like that.
Pork Chops with Pumpkin and Cream
by Brette Sember, The Parchment Paper Cookbook
Summary: This dish smells heavenly while baking, with moist, flavorful results. The parchment keeps all juices in the packet, which prevents the pork from drying out. Perfect! Brette says not to use canned pumpkin pie filling for this recipe, otherwise it will be too sweet.
Yield: Serves 2
- 2 boneless pork chops
- 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin (or freshly cooked pumpkin puree)
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pinch of ground clove
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 sage leaves
- Preheat over to 400 degrees. Cut two 20-inch pieces of parchment paper.
- Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, placing the one pork chop in the middle of each piece of parchment.
- In a bowl, mix all remaining ingredients besides sage leaves. Pour half of the mixture over each pork chop, dividing it evenly. Top each chop with a sage leaf.
- Fold the parchment and bake for 20 minutes. Be careful when opening the packet, as hot steam will escape!
Follow Stephanie J. Stiavetti on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sstiavetti