Fish En Papillote (“Fish in Parchment Paper”)


This has got to be one of the simplest, healthiest, most delicious things I make. It’s pretty. It has a great presentation. There is next to zero cleanup, and it’s about as “clean” as you can get as far as recipes are concerned. Basically, you pick your veggies and fish, pick your herbs & other flavorings, pack it all up in a cute little parchment paper pouch, and then throw them in the oven. The fish and flavorings will steam and cook all together, blending flavors and creating an incredibly tasty dinner. Best of all – this can be ready start to finish in 30 minutes, which makes it a perfect weeknight meal, but it looks so nice that it could be served at dinner parties. 

FISH EN PAPILOTTE (serves as many people as you need it to) 
– 6 oz. of fish per person (any kind – I used cod here, but flounder, tilapia, monkfish, sea bass, salmon, etc. would work. You get the picture.) 
– Veggies. I would julienne squash, carrots, peppers. You can half cherry tomatoes. Cut onions or shallots into thin strips, cut baby potatoes into thin rounds. I used baby bok choy this time, and just put a couple of leaves into each packet, which was also really nice. 
– Herbs. Thyme is fantastic, savory is a bit stronger but also nice. Fresh is best, but if you add dried, add about half of what you would with fresh herbs. 
– Flavors. Thin rounds of lemon to top, a splash of white wine, super thin shavings of butter, etc. 
– Kosher salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 375. 

2. Prep whatever veggies you’ve decided to use.

lemon sliced into thin rounds, baby bok choy, halved cherry tomatoes, julienned zucchini, shallot cut into thin rounds

3. Cut a heart (like you did in grade school – half a heart on folded paper, then unfold) in parchment paper. Spritz one side with olive oil.



4. Add veggies to the side of the parchment paper with olive oil. Top with the fish, then lemons/butter/”flavors”. Top with salt & pepper.

 


5. Fold the other half of the “heart” over the fish & veggie combo. Working from the top, crimp the paper over itself into little pleats so it forms a little pouch. Make sure it’s a bit loose in the middle, so steam can circulate and cook the fish and veggies inside.



6. Put pouches on a baking sheet to catch any juices that spill, then bake for 20 minutes or so, or until fish is flaky and cooked through.  The parchment paper will puff a bit, and get golden brown in spots.



7. Serve pouches on individual plates. You can either cut into the top part of the pouch to eat directly from there, or you can open the entire pouch to empty the contents on the plate. The juices (and flavors) will stay concentrated a little more if you do it the first way, but either way, it’s a delicious dinner that I hope you enjoy as much as we do!

Tuna Chickpea Salad with Cucumber and Red Onion – No Mayo

Canned tuna can be so much more than something that’s mixed with mayo, onion, and celery, and served on a sandwich. Mayonnaise kind of skeeves me out, but I get that it’s unavoidable sometimes. This tuna salad, however, substitutes mayo with an olive oil-lemon vinaigrette, adds chickpeas, and some teeny tiny pieces of red onion and english cucumber. It’s fresh, light, and healthy – and actually keeps really well for up to 2 days – I think it’s a perfect lunch.

TUNA CHICKPEA SALAD WITH CUCUMBER AND RED ONION
– 2 cans tuna (a note about this – I know canned tuna can be loaded with mercury. If you can find it, Wild Planet has incredible canned, sushi-grade and wild-caught tuna)
– 1/2 english cucumber, diced into tiny pieces
– 1/4 red onion, diced into tiny pieces
– 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
– handful of parsley, chopped
– Kosher Salt & Pepper to taste
For Dressing:
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– Kosher salt (or Herbamare for a little extra boost of vegetables and minerals) and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. In a medium size bowl, combine chickpeas, tuna, and parsley.

2. Finely chop the cucumber and red onion. The tiny size of these pieces really “makes” this salad – the overall taste is just different, somehow, from a salad that would have larger chunks of cucumber and red onion. 




Remove the middle “seeded” part of the cucumber (even though english cucumbers are seedless) to get a little more color from the dark green skin of the cucumber.

  

3. Add cucumber and red onion to chickpea/tuna/parsley mix.

4. Combine dressing ingredients, adjust seasonings to taste.

5. Pour dressing over tuna/chickpea/cucumber/red onion mixture. Stir well to combine. If tuna seems a little dry, add more olive oil and/or lemon juice to taste. Serve by itself or in a wrap with some lettuce.



Roasted Carrot Soup With Thyme and Ginger (aka, “Finally Went to the Farmers Market”)

I finally got out today to go grocery shopping, so we can stop the whole “eating every meal as take-out” thing we’ve been doing. And we’re starting small. This roasted carrot soup is one of the simplest, most surprisingly delicious things I make. The roasted carrots get sweeter, and give the soup this depth of flavor that’s incredible. Since there are only 6 ingredients in this, make sure you get the best quality available – locally grown carrots, a good organic vegetable stock (I use either Pacific or Imagine broths, which are both amazing), etc. This soup tastes so flavorful and rich, you won’t believe so little went into it.

ROASTED CARROT SOUP WITH THYME AND GINGER (recipe source: Food52)
– 8 carrots
– 1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
– 6 cups vegetable stock (8 oz. = 1 cup, so 48oz.)
– 1 piece ginger, peeled, approx. 1 inch long
– Couple sprigs of thyme
– 2 garlic cloves, chopped
– Kosher Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
– EVOO

1. Wash carrots, then peel and cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Even though you’re peeling the skins, these still grew in the ground and are dirty. Peeling the skin is going to drag any debris from the carrot skin into the carrot itself unless you wash them beforehand.

2. Toss carrots with a glug of olive oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt.  
3. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, then broil on high until the brown and soften, flipping every five minutes or so. If the carrots get blackened edges a little, don’t worry – this actually adds a nice dimension to the soup.

2. In a smaller saucepan, bring vegetable stock to a boil, then add peeled ginger and thyme spring. Simmer 15 minutes (while the carrots are roasting).

3. Meanwhile, in the pot you’re going to use for your soup (I use a Le Creuset Dutch Oven for this, and just about everything else – it’s borderline impossible to mess up cooking in these), “sweat” the onion in 1 T. olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt over medium-high heat until soft and translucent.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant (90 seconds or so), then add carrots.

4. Remove the ginger and thyme from the vegetable stock and discard.  Add stock to the pot with the onion and carrot mixture. Bring to a boil and then simmer 5-10 minutes until the carrots are soft.
5. Using an immersion blender (this one looks fantastic) or a regular blender, puree the soup. If you use a regular blender, make sure your soup has cooled – if it’s hot, it could explode in the blender.

6. When soup is pureed, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with thyme sprigs to make it look pretty. We had this soup, a roast chicken, and a salad with local greens for the first meal I cooked in over a week. So good.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup


This roasted butternut squash soup just nails it. It’s basically pureed squash and chicken (or veggie) broth, some added vegetables, spices and a splash of heavy cream. I think it would be great for kids, or even baby food, minus the heavy cream and spices. That bit of info, for me however, is filed away under “for future reference”, at least for the time being. :]

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP (makes a giant pot of soup that freezes really well, too)

– 2 large butternut squash (squashes??)
– 2 celery stalks, chopped
– 2 carrots, chopped
– 1 vidalia onion, diced
– 6 cups chicken broth (this will depend on the height of your squash, though. I’d buy 64 oz. of chicken broth just to be safe)
– 1 T. butter
– 1 T. EVOO
– Splash of heavy cream, or up to 1/4 c. to taste
– Kosher Salt
– White pepper (this blends into the soup nicely)
– Freshly grated nutmeg
– 8-10 sage leaves, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Pierce each squash with a fork or skewer a few times. Cut each squash in half, length-wise, and scoop out the seeds and stringy things at the bottom of the squash. Rub with a couple of drops of olive oil, then roast, cut-side down, for approx. 30 – 45 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.




3. In your soup pot (I cannot say enough great things about Le Creuset ), heat 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil over medium high heat. Add chopped onion, celery, and carrot, saute for 10 minutes or until soft.  You want these to “sweat”, not brown, so make sure you give them some room, and salt them with some Kosher salt to draw out as much water as possible.

Look at this Farmers’ Market celery!!! Unbelievable.


 



3. When squash is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin. This should come right off, but cut away anything that remains. Roughly chop the roasted squash into chunks.



4. Add squash to the onion/celery/carrot mixture. Add chopped sage and approx. 1 T. of Kosher salt. Add chicken (or vegetable) stock until it just covers the squash in the pot. 

  



5. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour. 

6. After an hour, use an immersion blender to puree the soup into a creamy consistency. Breville makes great immersion blenders, and we are definitely registering for one, since the one I use (all the time) I won during a “Yankee Swap” at my very first job out of college at MSPCC.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender. Just make sure the soup is cool, because if it’s hot, it could explode in your blender (really).



7. Season to taste with nutmeg, white pepper, Kosher salt. Swirl in heavy cream for some richness.



— This soup will continue to blend the flavors, so when you think you’re “almost there” with the spices, STOP.  It’ll come together perfectly in a couple of hours!  You can even throw this together the night before, then reheat for dinner or lunch the next day to get that perfect flavor combination.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale “Au Gratin”

It’s butternut squash season!!  I look forward to this every year. Butternut squash is the basis for some of my favorite fall recipes, from soup to sides to main dishes. This side is savory due to the roasted squash and a light dusting of parmesan cheese, and has an added punch of health benefits with the addition of the kale. I could have eaten this on its own instead of as a side. It was great.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH & KALE “AU GRATIN” (serves approx. 4)

– 1 large butternut squash, roasted and cubed
– 2 cups kale, de-stemmed and chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, diced
– Freshly grated parmesan, approx. 1/4 cup

1. Cut the butternut squash in half. I’ve learned that the easiest way to do this is to poke a couple of holes in the squash while it’s still whole, and throw it in the oven at 400 for maybe 15 minutes.  It should soften enough in that time that you can cut it in half, lengthwise, without feeling like you’re going to cut off your fingers accidentally.


2. Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff at the bottom of the squash. Rub each half with a little olive oil, and place cut-side down on the baking sheet. Roast for approx. 30 – 45 minutes (depending on the size of the squash). Peel and cube squash – it should still be a little firm, but if not, don’t worry about it too much. Lower oven temp to 350.

3. In a saute pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil, and add chopped garlic. Stir until fragrant, approx. 90 seconds. Add chopped kale and stir to combine until wilted. Set aside.

4. Lightly mist a baking pan with olive oil, then add kale/garlic mixture and cubed squash. Stir to combine, then top with the grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for approx. 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.


Greek Yogurt Chicken


Greek yogurt is everywhere nowadays. I’ve started using it in baking, cooking, even in dressings. But a Greek yogurt coating? On chicken?? When I first read about this on Pinterest, I thought it sounded totally gross, but I was too curious to find out how it would be. Turns out, it’s healthy, flavorful, and creates a little tangy coating that keeps the chicken juicy. This recipe can be ready from start to finish in an hour, tops, which gives you enough time to make a nice side salad, or steam some veggies, and have yourself a nice glass of wine. We’ve used this recipe dozens of times, and it’s just one of the easiest, most delicious ways we make chicken.

GREEK YOGURT CHICKEN

– Chicken breasts
– 1 container greek yogurt (I like Chobani)
– Freshly grated parmesan cheese, approx. 1/3 cup
– 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 
– 1 tbsp. kosher salt
– 1/2 tsp. pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. In a “breading” bowl, combine the yogurt, cheese, and seasonings, stir to combine.

3. Place a cooling rack over a deeper roasting pan lined in foil. This creates a “convection” type of cooking for those of us with basic ovens (someday, Viking convection oven. I’m coming for you!).

4. Coat the chicken with the mixture. You really don’t need a lot of it – it’s a ton of flavor in even a thinner coating. 

5. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes, depending on your oven. It seems like some folks have had a lot of luck with this coating turning golden, almost “fried” looking, but whatever color it ends up being, just make sure you make a small slice to check that it’s cooked all the way through.

Farmer’s Market Quinoa Salad

Incredibly, I have never been to the Scranton Farmers’ Market until this week.  Holy crow, have I been missing out. Gorgeous produce, cheeses, meats,even flowers (!), all from local farms and farmers.

There’s really nothing better, food-wise, than farmers’ markets – supporting your community while being able to find out about what you’re eating and where it came from. I picked up some corn, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and basil, and decided to use a mix of red and white quinoa as a base for this salad. We ate it that day, then took it to Frontier Days, where it was delicious even cold.  The honey-lemon vinaigrette seems odd in theory, but adds a dimension of sweetness that adds to the overall flavors – a feta creaminess, a basil crispness, etc. This is a great end-of-summer dish to use up whatever vegetables you find at the farmers’ market (or, okay, the supermarket).

SEPTEMBER QUINOA SALAD
Ingredients (serves 6-8 as a side dish)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed really well
1/4 c feta cheese, crumbled
3 ears corn, cut off the cob
2 tomatoes, diced
2 zucchini, seeds removed (just drag a spoon down the center after you cut them in half) and quartered
vidalia onion, sliced
basil, julienned
EVOO
2 garlic cloved, minced

Honey-Lemon Viniagrette:
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 tablespoons honey
1 garlic clove, minced 
kosher salt and pepper to taste

1. Make the dressing – combine all the ingredients in a small mason jar, adding the honey last so the spices can absorb into the lemon juice. Shake it up and let it sit while you make the rest of the dish.
2. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if you want to make this completely vegetarian) to a boil. Rinse the quinoa really well – this is important, since the “dust” that collects on the outside of the quinoa is bitter and will ruin any dish you make if any of it remains. I have a really fine-woven strainer that I bought specifically for rinsing quinoa – otherwise it’s a total PITA trying to get the “dust” off it thoroughly.  Add quinoa to the boiling chicken broth, turn the heat down to medium low, and put a lid on it. Let cook until the broth is absorbed and the quinoa is soft and fluffy.
3. In a different saucepan, cook garlic in 1 tablespoon EVOO over medium high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the corn, zucchini, and onions, and a little salt/pepper.  Let cook about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the cooked quinoa and give it all a good stir.
4. Chop up 2 tomatoes, and add to the quinoa/veggie mixture.
 
Look at these Farmers’ Market tomatoes!!  Gorgeous.

4. Add feta, stir it all up so it gets melty and combines everything together nicely.  Then julienne some basil. 

Let’s julienne some basil!  First, clean some leaves, then make a little stack of them. Roll them tightly together like a cigar, then slice thinly from the top down to get perfectly ribboned basil. It’s kind of insane how amazing chopping basil makes your kitchen smell, every time.


5. Add dressing to the salad, mix well, then top with the julienned basil. Serve and enjoy.

Breakfast Burritos!

I’ve never been much of a breakfast person. I tend to subscribe to the ´╗┐whole “food doesn’t fit into a specific time slot” theory of eating, which basically means that if I’m craving pancakes, it’s usually for dinner, and whatever leftovers I have from the night before (especially pasta), it’s what’s for breakfast.  That said, I am completely obsessed with breakfast burritos. Not only are the healthy, versatile, and filling, but you can make a whole batch of them and freeze them, then nuke them individually for maybe 2 minutes and your breakfast is ready to go. For those people who love sleep and consequently are pretty hurried in the morning (me), these are a great timesaver, and a much better option than the sodium breakfast sandwiches available at just about any of the places you can stop at on your ride in to work.
HAM, ASPARAGUS, & CHEDDAR BREAKFAST BURRITOS
Ingredients (serving size can be whatever you want it to be – it’s usually 1.5 egg whites per burrito, and other ingredients to your desired filling, so this recipe made 8 burritos):
– Eggs
– Breakfast ham
– Vidalia onion, diced
– Asparagus, chopped
– Grated Cheddar
– Small whole-wheat wraps – don’t use the regular burrito size, because these will be enormous
– Butter, EVOO
– Kosher salt and pepper to taste

 1. Dice up 1 vidalia onion and maybe 1/2 a bunch of asparagus. Asparagus spears will naturally break off at the part of the stem that gets woody if you just bend it until it snaps.

2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When melted, add the asparagus and the onion, cook until soft. Remove from heat and transfer the asparagus/onion mixture to a plate.
3. Dice some breakfast ham, and add to the pan that the onions and asparagus were in. Cook until browned, then remove from heat and transfer ham to the plate with the asparagus/onion mixture.
´╗┐
4. Using that same pan, melt a small tab of butter and add eggs that have been whisked. I used mainly egg whites, maybe 1-2 egg yolks. Yolks are chock full of cholesterol, sure, but they mainly just gross me out. Scrambled eggs though – yummo! Once these are set, leave them in the pan but turn off the heat.
5. With your little assembly station ready (scrambled eggs, ham/onion/asparagus mixture, cheddar cheese, burritos), place one burrito on a flat surface, then add eggs, asparagus/ham/onions, and cheddar. I am pretty terrible at rolling burritos, so I can’t even tell you if this is where the ingredients are meant to be placed, or how to roll them well. I kind of just winged it, and they turned out fine, which means I’m sure you’ll be all set, too. 

6. Once you’ve rolled your burrito, roll it up in a paper towel (this will help it not get soggy when you microwave it, I find that Viva “choose-a-size” is perfect for smaller burritos), and then wrap that tightly in a piece of aluminum foil. Put the assembled, paper-toweled, foil-wrapped burritos in a freezer ziplock bag. 

When ready for breakfast, remove one of the burritos, remove the foil (as I learned from watching my babysitter when I was 6 microwave a hamburger still in foil, microwave + aluminum foil = bad news bears), and heat for 1 minute on one side, flip to the other side, and microwave for 1 minute more.

These are super tasty, and keep really well too. I thought that 1 burrito might be too little, but it ends up being a perfect breakfast portion for both me and Brad, which says enough!