This Magical Cooking Hack Will Change Your Life

Photography by Lisa Shin; Food Styling by Jamie Kimm.
I can’t remember when or how I learned about cooking in parchment paper, but I do remember a sense of disbelief and cynicism. In fact, I still feel it every time I cook something en papillote. There I am, folding the waxed paper over my food to make a cute little envelope before popping it in the hot oven, and all the while I am thinking, This is way too easy. This is never going to work. But you know what? It always does, and the food is light, flavorful, and delicious. And the best part of all? There is no crazy dish cleanup: Simply ball up and discard your used parchment paper, and enjoy.

So what’s the parchment paper secret? There is none. Just take your recipe's ingredients, place them in the middle of a long sheet of parchment paper, create a well-sealed little envelope by folding down all the sides, and pop it in the oven. Check out the magic that comes out!

Ahead, find three recipes that’ll have you cooking like an en papillote pro in no time.
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Photography by Lisa Shin; Food Styling by Jamie Kimm.
What do you get when you throw some sweet potatoes, Parmesan, spices, and eggs into parchment paper?
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Photography by Lisa Shin; Food Styling by Jamie Kimm.
This delicious, creamy goodness!

Smoky Sweet Potato, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Bake
Serves 1

Ingredients
1/2 of a small sweet potato (about 3/4 cup) scrubbed and cut into small chunks, about 1/4 inch wide.
2 eggs
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp butter, cut into small pieces
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2. Season the sweet potato chunks with the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper, and mound it into the middle of an 18-inch piece of parchment paper leaving indentations for the eggs to sit in.

3. Crack the eggs into the wells then arrange the butter pieces around the outside. Sprinkle the cheese on top.

4. Fold the parchment horizontally across the top, so that the most paper is on the sides. Twist the ends to make the pouch airtight. Bake for 30 minutes.
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Photography by Lisa Shin; Food Styling by Jamie Kimm.
Shrimp + cauliflower + lemons + spices = ?
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Photography by Lisa Shin; Food Styling by Jamie Kimm.
Spicy Shrimp With Cauliflower Couscous
Serves 1

Ingredients

2 cups small cauliflower pieces
1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
6 large shrimp, cleaned and de-shelled
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon (about 1 tablespoon), save the other half of the lemon for serving.
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika, hot or mild — your choice!
Black pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with an 18-inch piece of parchment paper.

3. Pulse the cauliflower pieces in a blender or food processor for 20-30 seconds, until they resemble couscous. Spoon the cauliflower into the middle of the parchment paper and top with the small pats of butter.

4. In a bowl, pour the lemon juice over the shrimp, and then stir in the salt, chili powder, paprika, onion flakes, and pepper. Spoon the mixture over the cauliflower.

5. 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 20-25 minutes.
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Photography by Lisa Shin; Food Styling by Jamie Kimm.
And, yep, you can even cook grains in parchment paper. This chicken and quinoa makes...
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Photography by Lisa Shin; Food Styling by Jamie Kimm.
Creamy Chicken & Quinoa
Serves 1

Ingredients

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

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

2. 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.

3. 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.

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

5. 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.
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