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09th Jun 2019

This secret (and cheap) cooking hack will change your life

Bish bash bosh.

Trine Jensen-Burke

I am always on the hunt for things that can: A: Make eating healthy easy peasy. And B: Still be fast and yield as little clean-up as possible.

The thing is, those three are for the most part mutually exclusive, no? Like; if I want to cook something wonderfully fresh and healthy from scratch, the kitchen usually ends up looking post-apocalyptic. And if fast and convenient is my boo, then healthy tends to have to go out the window.

Until now.

Ever since I discovered this genius cooking trick, our dinners have without a doubt become both healthier and faster – and the clean up time? Greatly reduced.

Enter parchment paper. The unsung hero of your kitchen drawer.

Seriously; once you have started cooking your dinners wrapped in parchment paper, you will kick yourself and wonder how come you never knew about this fabulous food hack before. The French did, mind you. They even have a name for food cooked this way; en papillote.

And it could not be easier: All you do is is put whatever you are cooking into the parchment paper, fold the waxed paper over your food to make a little envelope, pop it in the oven, and voila, wait a while and out comes magic. (Or, you know, really really tasty food.)

The best bit? There is no crazy dish cleanup: Simply ball up and discard your used parchment paper. Done.

Still skeptical? Here are two recipes using parchment paper you need in your life:

1. Creamy Chicken & Quinoa in parchment paper

(Recipe serves 1)


1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup dried quinoa
1/4 cup cream or half & half
4-5 button or cremini mushroom slices
1 onion round, sliced thin
1 tsp butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp cream cheese, regular or light
3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Two slices of lemon
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 250 ºC.

Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with an 18-inch piece of parchment paper. Pour the dry quinoa into the middle of the parchment paper. Layer the mushrooms, then slice of onion, the small pats of butter, and the cream cheese on top of the quinoa. If you are using a soft or whipped cream cheese just plop it right in the middle. If you are using cream cheese from a block, lay it lengthwise across the vegetables.

Place the chicken breast on top, and season generously with salt and pepper. Then, layer the thyme and lemon on next. Carefully pour the cream over the whole thing.

Fold the parchment horizontally across the top so that the most paper is on the sides. Twist the ends to make an airtight pouch.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. To serve, either unwrap the pouches or cut them open with scissors across the top. Be careful, because some hot steam will escape. Don’t eat the lemon rings or the twigs from the thyme (unless you want to). They are for seasoning only.

(Recipe via


2. Asian-Style Halibut in parchment paper

Fish in parchment paper is a game changer. Trust me.


1 small head bok choy, thickly sliced, or 4 baby bok choy, ends trimmed

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise

2 halibut fillets

1/2teaspoon black pepper

3 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced on a diagonal

zest from 1/2 orange, cut into matchstick-size strips

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 1/2teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons grated gingerroot


Heat oven to 250° C. Tear off four 15-inch squares of parchment paper or aluminum foil and arrange on 2 baking sheets.

Divide the bok choy and bell pepper evenly among the squares, place the halibut fillets on top, sprinkle with black pepper, and top with the scallions and zest.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, oil, and ginger. Spoon the mixture evenly over the halibut.

Top each fillet with another square of parchment or foil and fold the edges over several times to seal. Bake for 15 minutes.

Transfer each packet to a plate. Serve with a knife to slit open the package. Be careful of the steam that will escape.

(Recipe via