Have you ever cooked with parchment paper? I haven’t but I’m intrigued with the notion of how you can use parchment paper to make frugal, fun, and delicious meals. That’s why I’m welcoming my friend Brette Sember with her guest post on Suddenly Frugal today.
Brette is the author of The Parchment Paper Cookbook: 180 Healthy, Fast, Delicious Dishes!, published by Adams Media. She blogs about parchment paper cooking at No Pot Cooking as well.
Brette is no newbie to the food world. She writes the popular food blog Martha and Me and has two more cooking-related books coming out soon–The Organized Kitchen and The Muffin Tin Cookbook, both from Adams Media (which published Suddenly Frugal and Toss, Keep, Sell!, by the way).
Sember is a former attorney and author of more than 35 other books, including How to Parent with Your Ex, The Complete Credit Repair Kit, and The Divorce Organizer & Planner. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband, two children, and two golden retrievers. (That’s Brette with her pups, below.)
Imagine a home cooked dinner that is healthy, frugal and requires almost no clean up. It might sound like a dream, but it’s definitely doable with parchment paper packet cooking, which I’ve written about in The Parchment Paper Cookbook (Adams Media). Parchment paper is inexpensive (about $3.99 for a roll, which at about 41 feet long, will allow you to make many meals). All of your food cooks neatly in one packet, sealing in flavors and nutrients. You save money because you can cook your entire meal in one oven (no burners) and you don’t have any pots and pans to scrub when you’re done, reducing your hot water usage. You’ll also save time and be more apt to cook at home because it is no fuss and no mess.
Parchment paper cooking is so simple. Just layer your ingredients on the parchment and fold (see the simple instructions). Bake in the oven and serve. You can make individual packets that each person at your table gets to open like a present (kids love this) or family size portions to share.
I want to share one of my favorite parchment recipes that is incredibly wallet-friendly. First of all, it’s made with chicken thighs. Unless you’re buying your own whole chickens and cutting them up, chicken thighs are the most economical part you can buy. Secondly, this recipe lets you stretch your head of broccoli farther than you could ever imagine. Buy a head of broccoli, not florets (which are more expensive). Cut off the florets and use those for another meal, but save the stems for the parchment dish. Peel the stems with a vegetable peeler and cut them into thin coins. Cook these with your florets and save the coins for this dish. Presto– a free vegetable! This recipe has some other frugal elements. Save the bleu cheese dressing that comes in the little plastic tub with your take out chicken wings and use it in this recipe. Also, when you finish a bag of pretzels, save the salt and little crumbs at the bottom for seasoning in dishes like this. It also tastes great on vegetables.
Chicken Thighs with Broccoli Cheese Packets
Makes 1 packet (make as many packets as you have diners)
1 boneless skinless chicken thigh
¼ cup cottage cheese
1/3 cup chopped cooked broccoli stems
1 tablespoon bleu cheese dressing
Salt from the pretzel bag to taste
Pepper to taste
Pinch of Italian seasoning
Pinch of onion powder
1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
1 small cooked broccoli floret
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut a 14 inch piece of parchment paper and place the chicken in the center. Top with cottage cheese, broccoli, bleu cheese, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and onion powder. Sprinkle cheddar on top and place floret on the top. Fold the package, place on a baking sheet (which will not get dirty and simply makes moving the packet easy) and bake for 20 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (poke into the packet with an instant read thermometer to check).