Quick and Easy Valentine’s Day Dinner Idea: DIY en papillote (cooking and serving in a paper wrapper)

 DIY en papillote (cooking and serving in a paper wrapper)Every once in a while I get a special request for a recipe. I usually oblige; never in a public way. Today is different.  Here’s how Ashley coaxed me,

 ‘You know so much about food and cooking.. you need to help us twenty-something gals…  the smart gals, the fit gals… the gals who still haven’t gotten their full act together in the kitchen.’

Violà! How did she know my passion is getting  people to prepare more meals at home? Have you noticed that learning to cook is frequently one of the top items on lists like things I wish I knew when I was twenty? Cooking is now perceived as a desirable lifestyle habit, if  you cook  healthy.  Even if you don’t cook regularly, everyone should have at least one meal they can showboat make reasonably well.  So listen up all you twenty-something gals.  This is the meal you can  add to your “life portfolio”! White fish and veggies en papillote

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner,  why not  forgo the restaurant fare and share  this rustically romatic dinner in the comfort of your home? Sounds good, but who has the time? You do, if you can spare 25 minutes. I promise you, it’s that easy. Not to mention,  you can rack up some extreme brownie points from the man! Pardon the pun.

It take’s 5 minutes to assemble the food and fold it into a parchment paper parcel (en papillote, pronounced ON-poppy-YOTE). Pretty cool, eh? But they’re more than just a fun way to serve something  wrapped up like a surprise.   What appears to be a flashy technique, is actually an ideal way to steam food, locking in flavor and moisture. While they bake for 20 minutes,  assemble a tossed salad.  Keep the anticipation building; wait  until you’re at the table to open the packets and create a  little dinner time drama.

Below is the recipe for the meal pictured in the images on this  post. Use it if you’re a recipe follower. If you like to wing it, here are some tips.  Use a firm fish. I used Wahoo (I had some in the freezer from a fishing promise fulfilled). I think swordfish would work nicely and even salmon. Choose any  potato you like. Yukon gold would be yummy; I went with a purple sweet potato just for something different. Top with a non-starchy vegetable, use one that complements  the colors in your other ingredients.

Final tip, don’t let folding the paper freak you out. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t even have to cut your paper into a heart, I just found it easier to fold  that way plus it tied into the Valentine theme.  Here is a quick video on folding the parchment paper. I have also described my steps in the instructions. Have fun. Happy Valentine’s Day!

White fish and veggies en papillote

Fish and Veggies En Papilotte

Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 20 minutes Total Time 25 mins
Serves (serves 2)     adjust servings


(serves 2)

  • 2 pieces of parchment paper about 15” X 24”
  • 2 – 4oz pieces of white fish (filet)
  • 1 potato (your choice) cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 8 mini zucchini, quartered
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed


  1. 1Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. 2. Fold each piece of parchment paper in half crosswise. Draw a large heart half on each peice with the fold of the paper along the center of the heart. Cut out hearts, open and lay flat.
  3. 3. On one side of the fold, place 2 sliced potato rounds. Sprinkle potatoes with garlic. Place fish  on top of potatoes. Top fish with julienne zucchini. Repeat with second peice of parchment paper.
  4. 4. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add lemon zest, lemon juice, dill. Pour half of melted butter mixture over each assembled fish  and vegetable combination.
  5. 5. Fold parchment paper over food to cover. Starting at the bottom of the heart, make small overalpping pleats all the way around to seal the edges completely. Make your last fold turn under.
  6. 6. Place both parchement parcels on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until the parchment puffs up.
  7. 7. Using kitchen shears cut open the tops of the  packets just before serving.


Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving As Served
Calories 336kcal Calories from fat 108
% Daily Value
Total Fat 12g 18%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Transfat 0g
Cholesterol 44mg 15%
Sodium 93mg 4%
Carbohydrate 44g 15%
Dietary Fiber 10g 40%
Sugars 21g
Protein 20g

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:

Calories 2000
Total Fat Less than 65g
Sat Fat Less than 25g
Cholesterol Less than 300mg
Sodium Less than 2,400mg
Total Carbohydrate 300g
Dietary Fiber 25g

Indulge on Valentine’s Day

This February 14, treat your Valentine to something sinfully delicious! Yes, you heard me. My mantra is moderation, not deprivation. Occasional indulgences can actually help keep you on track with good eating habits. As Dr. Jim Hill, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center suggests, “take a planned break from the rules.” So plan on this, English trifle that is light in calories and fat, but not taste. English trifle is a decadent dessert that can have upward to 600 calories and 25 grams of fat per serving. But the one I want to share with you, has 1/3 of the calories and 1/4 of the fat. This recipe was originally printed in The Raleigh News and Observer. How did they manage to lighten it up? Simply by swapping healthier ingredients for the not so healthy ones. For example, angel cake is substituted for pound cake. Evaporated skim milk and non-fat vanilla yogurt are substituted for whole milk in the custard. The substitutions have already been made in this recipe so all you have to do is follow along.

This recipe can be divided into four steps:

step 1:  Making the fruit sauce.

step 2:  Making the custard.

step 3:  Assembling the trifle.

step 4:  Preparing the whipped cream. Topping the trifle with whipped cream and adding fresh raspberries to garnish the top.

Because the fruit sauce and custard must be completely cool before you assemble the trifle, consider making them a day ahead, refrigerating overnight, and then assembling and finishing the trifle the following day.



  • 12 oz. bag frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
  • 16 oz. bag frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed
  • 1 cup reserved juice
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 recipe English custard (recipe follows)
  • 1 commercially prepared angel cake (about 14 oz.)
  • 1/2 pint  fresh raspberries for garnish
  • 8 oz. whipping cream


Fruit Sauce

Drain the raspberries and strawberries in a colander and reserve the juice. You should have about 1 cup. In a small saucepan, bring the juice and sugar to a boil. In a small dish, stir the lemon juice, water and cornstarch together to make a smooth paste; stir this paste into the fruit juice and bring to a boil again stirring constantly until a smooth sauce forms. Remove from heat. Set aside and allow to cool. When cool, stir fruit back into the mixture.

English Custard


  • egg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 level tablespoons  cornstarch
  • 1- 12 oz. can evaporated skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

In a medium saucepan, combine the egg, sugar and cornstarch. Beat with a whisk or electric beater set on low speed until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. (The mixture will appear dry at first, but will become liquid as you beat it.) Place the evaporated skim milk in a microwave safe measuring cup and heat 2 minutes on high until hot to the touch (this will reduce cooking time). Whisk the milk into the egg mixture while the pan is set over low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. If the mixture looks curdled, keep beating with a whisk until the lumps are incorporated into the pudding. Immediately remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Allow to cool completely before using in recipe. Add one cup of vanilla nonfat yogurt before assembling trifle. Can be made 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.


To assemble the trifle, cut the angel food cake into slices or cubes. Lay the pieces in the bottom of a straight-sided glass dish. Layer 1/4 of the fruit sauce mixture over the cake and top with 1/4 of the English custard. Continue layering cake, fruit and custard until all are gone. Beat whipping cream in chilled bowl until stiff peaks are just about to form. Add to top of trifle and garnish with fresh raspberries. Refrigerate until serving.  Makes 14 servings.


Nutrition Profile (per serving): 183 calories, 7 grams protein, 6 grams total fat,  3 grams saturated fat,  25 grams carbohydrate,  251 mg sodium

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Diane Boyd, M.B.A., R.D., L.D.N.


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