What’s Cookin’ – Chicken en Papillote

We had a small dinner party Saturday night and I was looking for something creative to serve. I remembered a recipe that I haven’t made for a while, but is so easy and healthy and delicious!

Chicken en Papillote is from the “Colorado Collage” cookbook published by the Junior League of Denver in 1995. This is a beautiful cookbook and there are a number of them available on eBay if you’re interested.

Our guests were arriving as we were still putting this meal together and it is so simple, we were able to visit while we chopped and prepared and wrapped up these cute little packages. I wish I had a photo to post but, believe me, this is a fun dish that everyone enjoys.

Chicken en Papillote basically means chicken in paper. You need to have good quality parchment paper to wrap each serving in. I used a light weight brand once and the chicken juices soaked through the bottom and tore the parchment. We made a big pot of white rice to serve over and some crescent rolls. Yes, the Pillsbury crescent rolls from the can that YD calls crack because they’re so addictive.

Because we’re big fans of mushrooms, we also threw in some creminis. The beauty of this dish is you can really substitute any vegetable you like. While I haven’t tried it, I’m sure you could use other meats such as pork chops or tenderloin or salmon. People enjoy unwrapping their own little bundles of meat and veggies so it’s part of the entertainment, too.


Lobster Tales and Other Fishy Stories

A few nights ago, Youngest Daughter came over for dinner and we ordered in sushi. Hubby was having spicy tuna roll that he had coated in a thick paste of wasabi and soy sauce. We have both fallen in love with wasabi — the hotter the better — when it wafts up your nose and makes your eyes burn and closes your throat for a minute. Good stuff!

So YD asks if she can taste his spicy tuna roll and, of course, he says “Yes” and offers her a piece. She picks it up with her chopsticks and I have to intervene at this point and tell her she may want to just take a small bite of it because the wasabi is hot. She looks at me for half a second and proceeds to cram the entire piece into her mouth. Let’s count … five, four, three, two, one … and she spits the whole thing out onto her plate and runs to the sink to rinse her mouth. She is 31 years old — when do you think she’ll start listening to me?

This reminds us of our visit to Foster’s, a nice seafood restaurant that used to be in Scottsdale. We took her to dinner there probably 5 or 6 years ago and she decides she wants lobster for the first time. I ordered lobster, too, because it’s one of my favorites and we put on our little plastic bibs and get ready to feast. The server brings out a platter and sets it in front of YD and she kind of shrieks. “It’s looking at me. I can’t eat that.” She didn’t realize that it came out whole with eyeballs and everything. Since this was the most expensive thing on the menu, we had to dismantle it for her and hide the disgusting parts so she could eat her dinner.

A friend once told us about taking his family to a nice Italian restaurant and when his daughter was served her dish of pasta, she screamed so loud the entire place stopped breathing. He asked her what was wrong and she replied (still very loudly), “There’s a bug in my food and it’s still alive.” “How do you know?” he asked her. And she said, with everyone listening, “Because it’s testicles are still moving!” Clearly, she meant tentacles. Got a good laugh.

And finally, Hubby and I took a vacation to Cape Cod. What a wonderful time. I’d highly recommend it. We were having lobster in a very nice restaurant, apparently seated directly under a vent that ran from the kitchen area. All of a sudden, this aroma comes wafting through the vent that smells suspiciously like — oregano — or would that be marijuana. Hubby calls the server over and says, “Smell that? I don’t think it’s on the menu.”

What’s Cookin’ – Microwave Potato Salad

Okay, so this is a weird time of year to be talking about potato salad but we had a little thank you barbeque for our tile crew and I made some to serve with burgers and brats, Hawaiian salad, pico de gallo and chips. And the reason this dish is unusual is that I microwave the potatoes instead of boiling them. Fast and easy!

potato salad

Microwave Potato Salad

8 red potatoes

small bunch of green onions, chopped

1/4 cup mustard

3/4 cup mayonnaise


6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

20 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

potato circle

crop circle a la potatoes

Scrub the potatoes and leave the skins on — that’s where all the good vitamins are. Arrange in a circle around the edge of a plate and microwave for 6 or 7 minutes. Flip each potato over and pierce with a fork 3 times to let the steam escape. Microwave for another 6 or 7 minutes or until fork tender. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Then rough chop them.

rough chop the cooked potatoes

rough chop the cooked potatoes

In a large bowl, mix the mustard, mayonnaise, onions and salt. Add the potatoes, eggs and tomatoes. Mix well and chill. This makes about 12 servings and really tastes great!

If you’re having a mini potato salad craving during the winter months, you can just microwave a couple of potatoes and reduce the amount of all other ingredients to make a few servings.

mr potato head

mr. potato head is such a spud!

What’s Cookin’ – Calabacitas

Sunday, October 18 – I have included some minor revisions to this recipe since I made it myself and felt like I left out some cooking time originally. Revisions are noted in bold and italic.

My sweetie pie brother-in-law (hubby’s brother) came over to visit and help with the removing of painting tape and rehanging of blinds and curtains. Bless his heart, he brought a beautiful marinated steak to grill and the makings of Calabacitas. This is a dish that my mother-in-law made when they were growing up. I’ve never had it before, but I am going to be making it now!


It is a great way to use fresh veggies from your garden or the farmers’ market. He equated it to a Mexican succotash. It is very easy to make and so flavorful. It smelled stomach-growling incredible and tasted even better.


1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

olive oil

1 or 2 zucchini, diced

1 or 2 yellow squash, diced

8 oz. frozen corn

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (with juice)

1 or 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced

salt and pepper


In a large skillet, heat several tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic and onion and sauté on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to sauté as you add first the zucchini, then the yellow squash for another 20 minutes. They need a little time to soften. Then add corn, stir and sauté for a few minutes. Finally, add tomatoes and seasonings. Stir together, cover and reduce heat. Let simmer for 30 minutes.

The beauty of this dish is you can increase what you like, omit what you don’t, even add other veggies that appeal to you. He put in one jalapeño that had a little kick to it and I loved it. It had enough spice to heat your throat but not make your eyes water. 🙂 Of course, you could leave out the chili peppers if spicy food doesn’t agree with you.

We had it with grilled steak, but this would be a nice complement to any type of meat. Just served this reheated over scrambled eggs and it was wonderful! I am so glad to have something fresh and healthy to add to the kitchen repertoire. Thanks, bro!

What’s Cookin’ – Honey Lime Marinade

We eat a lot of chicken and I love the flavor a nice marinade adds before sauteeing or grilling. One of our favorite marinades came about with a little experimentation and it’s very tasty. Every time I whisk this mixture together, hubby walks by in the kitchen and comments on how good it smells.

Honey Lime Marinade

2 limes

3 garlic cloves

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup honey

2 T. rice vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt

Zest and juice the limes into a bowl. Finely mince the garlic and add to lime juice along with with the olive oil, honey, rice vinegar and salt to taste. Put chicken breasts and marinade in a ziploc baggie and refrigerate for at least one hour, but a couple of hours is better.

Chicken Breasts in Honey Lime Marinade

Chicken Breasts in Honey Lime Marinade

This marinade would also be great for fish, like tuna steaks.

What’s Cookin’ – Pico de Gallo

A long-time (I won’t say “old” because it sounds so awful) friend came to stay for a few days and made this absolutely amazing pico de gallo. It’s simple and wonderful and tastes so fresh …

tomato and avocadoPico de Gallo

1 large tomato

1 small onion

1 avocado

1 lime

salt and pepper to taste

*optional* jalapeño chili peppers – fresh, seeded and chopped; or canned, diced

*optional* cilantro, fresh chopped

Cut the tomato, onion and avocado into small dice. Zest the lime over them, then juice the lime over them and mix well, adding salt and pepper to taste. If you’re looking for a little heat or spiciness, add chilis ’til you’re happy. Although we’re not fans of cilantro, add it now if you like it. Chill. This is delicious on burgers or scooped with tortilla chips.

Microplane Adjustable Grater

There are a couple of Pampered Chef tools I bought at a party a few years ago that I love for the zesting and juicing.

For zesting, their Microplane Adjustable Grater is wonderful. I zest a lot of oranges, lemons and limes for recipes and we are fortunate enough to have a few citrus trees in our yard.


Citrus Juicer


 For juicing one or two pieces of fruit, I like their Citrus Juicer. Works like a dream and easily gets every last drop of juice.

What a great way to eat your fruits and vegetables!

What’s Cookin’ – Hawaiian Salad

Mom, apparently you should have published a cookbook because it seems so many of my favorite recipes that we make over and over are from your kitchen.

We are having a few people over for a barbeque on Sunday. We’ll be doing burgers, brats, pasta salad, pico de gallo, chips. As I’m running through this with hubby he asks, “Aren’t you going to make Hawaiian Salad?” This is another one of his all-time favorites and I usually have to make two bowls — one for company and one to hide away just for him. I have seen him eat right out of the serving bowl with a large serving spoon. Sorry, honey, but it’s so cute!

Hawaiian Salad

This salad could not be easier to make and it’s fast. This is the kind of thing you can put together quickly if company is on the way over. You just need these ingredients:


Hawaiian Salad

2 – 20 oz. cans Dole Pineapple Tidbits (drained)

4 – 11 oz. cans mandarin oranges (drained)

2 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup unsweetened flake coconut

8 oz. fat free sour cream

Mix it all together in a big serving bowl and chill. You can certainly adjust the amounts if you like more coconut, etc.


This salad is especially refreshing when it’s hot outside, but we eat it all year long.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!