Moroccan Halibut en Papillote


Now that it’s officially summer, it’s time to cook light and easy dishes that won’t weigh you down after a day spent out in the heat. I love cooking seafood in the summer, and a nice, light fish dish is always my go to. It still packs a punch of protein but I always feel better after eating fish than a heavy meat dish.

This weekend, I had a friend over for dinner and we decided it was a perfect summer night for some seafood. We thought about making fish tacos, but after evaluating my pantry stock, I was inspired to make a Moroccan dish. I think I’ve mentioned my Try the World box subscription before, but I had some spices and couscous from last month’s Morocco box that I hadn’t tried out yet, and I was ready to experiment. We picked up some halibut fillets from Whole Foods and decided to make halibut en papillote (in parchment paper packets). Cooking fish en papillote may sound fancy, but it’s actually so easy and so quick. You just throw everything together in the little packet with some oil and it all cooks together. To learn how to make and fold parchment paper packets, check out these instructions.

For my Moroccan-inspired halibut, I seasoned the fish with a little salt first, then sprinkled kefta rub on top, added some tomatoes, garlic, raisins, and herbs to the packet, and drizzled it with culinary Argan oil. Argan oil is a traditional Moroccan oil, but feel free to use olive oil instead.

Once everything was ready to go, I folded up the packet (learn how to fold a packet here) and stuck in the oven.


12 minutes later, we had perfectly cooked flaky halibut.


The taste of this Moroccan halibut was so delicious and flavorful. The kefta rub gave it just the right amount of seasoning without overwhelming the flavor of the fish, and the Argan oil imparted a nutty taste. The tomatoes cooked down and the raisins (also typical to Moroccan cuisine) were a sweet complement to the spiced kefta taste. I served the halibut over couscous with sautéed green beans.


I will absolutely be making this dish again. You can also play with the elements of your packet and the vegetables you include and seasonings you use. Get creative and let this Moroccan dish inspire you!

Moroccan Halibut en Papillote
(makes 2 servings)

2 (6oz) halibut fillets
Sprinkle of salt
1 tsp. kefta rub
3 Tbsp. Argan or olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
Grape tomatoes, halved
Parchment Paper
Hot cooked couscous

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place one fillet on one half of each parchment paper packet. Lightly sprinkle each halibut fillet with salt. Rub 1/2 tsp. of kefta rub on top of each fillet.

3. Arrange garlic, tomatoes, raisins, and parsley to your preference with fish on one half of parchment paper. Drizzle with oil, about one and a half tablespoons over each fillet. Fold paper in half and crimp edges to seal. See instructions here.

4. Bake for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

5. Remove fish from packet and serve over couscous.


Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sugared Walnuts

After two weeks of craziness, a visit from my parents, and a last minute trip home to NC for Easter, I’m finally settling back into a schedule and can share some more recipes! Since I’ve had a few requests for this recipe after I posted a picture on Facebook, I wanted to get this one up first. Last night for dinner I made Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sugared Walnuts and it was so good! It’s more of a fall dish, but I had a squash I needed to use, and since this weather has been so unusually cold and rainy I figured it was justified. If you know anything about risotto, you know it’s not a quick dish, and this definitely took me a while since there were so many steps (from chopping to toasting to roasting to stirring for 20+ minutes), but the end result was definitely worth it. Plus, I felt super accomplished and I love getting that feeling from cooking. It’s something you made and while you don’t get to keep it forever like a work of art, you get to EAT IT, which is even better! There are few things I appreciate more in life than a good plate of food. 🙂

The recipe I used came from our new book, Cooking Light’s “Pick Fresh Cookbook.” It totally feels like an indulgent meal, but the best part about it is it’s only about 260 calories! I made a few changes, but mostly followed the recipe exactly since it was my first time making risotto. I omitted the pancetta since I’m not a huge fan of bacon in dishes (I know, some might consider it a sin). I also just used brown rice instead of Arborio, since I’m on a budget here and couldn’t justify $8 for a small container of rice. I hope you all enjoy the recipe as much as I did! And get excited to see a post soon about the recipe I created using the leftover roasted squash!

IMG_5176Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sugared Walnuts
from Cooking Light

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/4 cups uncooked Arborio or brown rice
1/2 cup chardonnay
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh lemon thyme (or 1 1/2 tablespoons thyme plus 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Optional: 1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I didn’t think the risotto needed cheese so I didn’t use this)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange nuts in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until toasted, stirring twice. Place nuts in a bowl. Drizzle butter over warm nuts; sprinkle with sugar and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Toss well to coat.

Combine squash and 1 tablespoon oil, tossing to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until squash is just tender. Remove from pan; stir in garlic. Set aside.

Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion to saucepan; cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Stir in squash, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with nuts and cheese, if desired.

Peanutty Baked Chicken

Love this book!

Love this book!

Today was an absolutely beautiful day outside. It was sunny and 70 degrees. And when the weather is nice, I feel inspired to cook. Since I work for a cookbook publisher, I have a lot of cookbooks at my disposal. I grabbed my Cooking Light “Complete Meals in Minutes” book and decided to try the Peanutty Baked Chicken recipe. A challenge for me has been learning to cook for one, so I try to find recipes where I can repurpose the leftovers for another meal. I made 2 cutlets (versus the called for 4) and ate one for dinner, then cut up the other to top a salad for lunch tomorrow. It worked out perfectly!

photo 2

The preserves I used

This recipe was so easy to prepare and it was yummy! Like I said, I only made 2 cutlets, so I halved the ingredients. My chicken took a little longer to cook than the recipe says, but I think it was because my cutlets were thicker than 1/2 inch. I also used fig preserves instead of peach chutney, mainly  because the grocery store didn’t have peach chutney, but also because I love anything fig. And fig preserves can be spread on a pita chip and topped with goat cheese for a delicious snack! So I knew I would use it in other ways. The fig gave the dish a bit of sweetness and it worked well with the peanuts. And the best part about this dish is it’s healthy – coming in around 280 calories!

I got some beautiful fresh green beans at the grocery store tonight so I made those as my side. I steamed the green beans and then mixed them with 1/2 tablespoon butter and seasoned to taste with garlic salt. So easy but so delicious.

Here’s the original recipe I followed:

photo 1

Look at those beautiful green beans!

Peanutty Baked Chicken Cutlets
From Cooking Light

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup peanuts
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
4 (1/2-inch-thick) chicken breast cutlets (about 1 pound)
Cooking spray
1/4 cup peach chutney

Preheat oven to 500°. Combine honey and mustard in a small bowl; stir well. Place peanuts in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Combine peanuts and panko in a shallow bowl.
Brush each cutlet with honey mixture; dredge cutlets in panko mixture. Place cutlets on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; lightly coat cutlets with cooking spray. Bake at 500° for 8 minutes or until done. Serve with chutney.