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Summer is here and the June gloom has finally burned off! Weather like this makes me crave really light and fresh flavors. But…my tolerance for staying in a hot kitchen and cleaning up after a tiring day of work & baby is low. You may think I am going to say – Take it outdoors and grill! I have an even simpler idea – cooking en papillote.

Sounds fancy doesn’t it? En papillote is a French term for cooking in parchment paper. It’s very easy, with minimal clean up and super healthy! Sometimes I do a complete meal – halibut & veggies for example or sometimes when I need a side dish and I am feeling lazy I’ll just do veggies this way.

Veggies in parchment

Veggies in parchment

Here is my recipe for cooking halibut en papillote (adapted from Martha Stewart):

  • 8 asparagus spears, cut in half
  • red & yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach, well washed
  • 1 medium leek whites only, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • fresh thyme
  • 2 6-ounce halibut fillets, about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • freshly chopped parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using two 12-by-17-inch sheets parchment paper, fold each sheet in half crosswise.
  2. Place 1 sheet of parchment flat on a work surface. Place half of the asparagus, garlic, spinach, leeks, peppers and 2 lemon slices on one side of the crease; season with salt and pepper. Place halibut on top of veggies, season with salt, pepper and thyme top with another lemon slice and drizzle about 2 tsp. of olive oil.   Fold parchment over ingredients. Make small overlapping folds along the edge to seal.
  3. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake until packets have puffed, and fish is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer packets to individual plates. Serve immediately, opening packets at the table. Garnish with any remaining lemon slices & parsley.

Veggies wrapped up and ready to go!

You can use any combination of veggies….summer squash, baby carrots, shallots, fresh peas the possibilities are endless!  You do want to make sure that veggies will cook uniformly so keep that in mind when you choose & cut your veggies.

Pre-pregnancy when I wandered the aisles at Target or Babies R Us I would get completely overwhelmed by all of the gadgets and products for baby.  Mostly what went through my mind was, “What in the world is that for?” or “Why would anyone need that?”.  Thankfully I’ve learned to filter through a lot of the unnecessary items by watching my more experienced mommy friends and through some trial and error of my own.

I’ve come across two items that I can’t live without when it comes to leaving the house with baby.

1. Munchkin Powdered Formula Dispenser

My friend Simone had one of these and told me I just had to get one.  “Pish posh”, I thought.  I just filled a Tupperware with formula and put in a scoop. That worked for about a week…

When you have a baby that is cranky and in need of a bottle STAT, you don’t want to fiddle with a scoop.  This is especially true if you are traveling or only have one hand free. (You learn to do a lot of things one handed when you have a baby, trust).  Pre-measured formula for 3 feedings is ready to go in this dispenser!

2. Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser

When I first saw this I thought, “I have one of these for my dog”.  Then I thought, “That is GENIUS!”  I’ll admit, I have gotten even more forgetful since I have had a baby.  I hated being caught out and about without a plastic bag to dispose of dirty diapers.  This solves that issue, and it is one of my favorite gadgets.  The bag dispenser hangs right on your diaper bag with a roll of scented (yes, scented) bags in which to put the yucky diapers.  Genius, right?!

These are two things I am definitely packing as we get ready to take off on our first airplane trip with little A.

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