It’s been one of those weeks. I’ve spent most of my time in an office, fighting the good fight and dodging obstacles with a deftness that comes only with years of bureaucracy-battling experience. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, after decades spent being a professional problem solver; but finding and implementing solutions isn’t always graceful, and after a while it wears on you.
So at the end of the day, I’ve been grabbing whatever edibles aren’t going to take a lot of time or energy to procure. Some night it’s a healthy choice, but most evenings it’s just a quick shot of easy calories. I might make some pasta and homemade tomato sauce from the freezer, but I’m more likely to get Chinese takeout, a sandwich from the deli, or an expensive box of glop from the Whole Foods hot section. As a result, both my health and wallet are suffering.
I can’t help being super busy. I’m balancing life, love, work, freelancing, the book, and a few minor health snags. When life ramps up like this – or maybe it’s always like this and I just can’t admit it to myself – the first thing to suffer is my diet. Lately I’ve been stuffing myself with pastries, take-out, and a myriad of other non-healthy 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 just can’t find the time to eat well, or those that have time to cook but hate the cleanup that usually comes with preparing your favorite dishes. What’s a tired, busy, hungry girl to do? Consider cooking in parchment packets, that’s what.
I’ve cooked in parchment before, but I’ve generally limited myself to fish and the occasional veggie 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. 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. You’ll find the recipe at the bottom of the page.
Win A Copy of the Parchment Paper Cookbook!
Are you dying for this book? Do you think it would make a perfect gift for your mom, or sister, or other loved one who wants to cook healthier while avoiding kitchen mess and drama? For one lucky winner, I’ve got a free copy of The Parchment Paper Cookbook.
It’s easy to enter the giveaway, just follow me on Twitter and then post this exact message:
Hey! @sstiavetti is giving away The Parchment Paper Cookbook. Want to learn how to eat healthy & avoid kitchen messes? http://www.theculinarylife.com/2011/the-parchment-paper-cookbook/
If you already follow me on Twitter, then follow the author of this book, Brette Sember. Then leave a comment here letting me know that you’ve added me and tweeted the post. A winner will be picked at random on Friday, November 18th.
Sage Pork Chops with Pumpkin and Cream
From The Parchment Paper Cookbook, by Brette Sember
Summary: If you’re longing for fall comfort food, the warmth of pork, pumpkin, and winter spices will wrap you in a culinary bear hug. 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
1. Preheat over to 400 degrees.
2. Cut two 20-inch pieces of parchment paper.
3.Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
4. Place the one pork chop in the middle of each piece of parchment.
5. In a bowl, mix all remaining ingredients besides sage leaves.
6. Pour half of the mixture over each pork chop, dividing it evenly. Top each chop with a sage leaf.
7. Fold the parchment. Brette has been kind enough to provide folding instructions on her website.
8. Bake for 20 minutes. Be careful when opening the packet, as hot steam will escape!
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