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The Cooking Light Way To Cook

The Cooking Light Way To Cook

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Our techniques for healthy, everyday cooking from 20 years of preparing flavorful food.

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Cooking in Parchment Paper

Looking for a portion-controlled, mouthwatering meal that takes seconds to clean up? Try cooking in parchment paper, or as the French say it, “ en papillote.”Although most French techniques have a bad reputation for being unhealthy (hello butter and salt!), cooking in parchment can be a light and flavorful, quick and simple way to cook. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

When you cook ingredients like fish, meat, veggies and herbs in a parchment paper packet, you’re steaming the ingredients inside using their own moisture — no added fat required. Plus, there’s no need to dirty pans, so cleanup is as simple as tossing the paper in the trash.

The French term for this cooking method comes from papillon,the French word for butterfly, since the paper resembles delicate butterfly wings when cut into a heart shape. You then layer ingredients on one side of the paper, fold the other side overtop, and crimp the edges to seal. (To get a visual on how to cook in parchment paper, check out this how-to.)

In addition to traditional parchment paper, you could use a plain paper bag, depending on what you’re cooking. Paper Chef also makes culinary parchment cooking bags available in stores nationwide. The packet becomes a single-serve portion to be served as a meal, making it easy not to overeat or nibble on leftovers.

You may see the packets puffing up in the oven as they cook due to steam building up inside. To open them, carefully cut into the packet or open the crimped edges with a knife to safely release the hot steam. (The puff of aromatic steam can be quite dramatic!) Once you’re done with your dinner, just toss the parchment paper and you’re left with minimal cleanup.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day .

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.


This technique is a hit with home cooks who love to entertain for good reason: It produces tender flesh that&aposs delicious warm or at room temperature, so you can make it long before guests arrive. We prefer cold-poaching, which means letting the liquid and fish come up to temperature together (rather than dropping a fillet into hot liquid), because the fish doesn&apost "seize up" (get tough) and remains silky. Also, skin-on fillets are preferable: The fat adds flavor, and laying them in the pot skin-side down prevents the pieces from sticking.

Use water as the poaching liquid when you want to infuse a fish with aromatics while it cooks. For this salmon, we added lemons, leeks, celery, peppercorns, and bay laurel.

Plus a FREE Jumpstart Kit when you join

Stay on track with expert advice from chefs and nutritionists. Learn tips for stocking your pantry, smart choices when dining out, ingredient swaps, and more!

Copyright ©2021 Cooking Light Diet is part of the Allrecipes Food Group. All Rights Reserved.

* The information on this site is not intended to replace medical advice. Before beginning this or any other nutritional program, please consult with your doctor.

** Members following the Cooking Light Diet lose more than half a pound per week, on average.

Mushrooms Nutrition

Mushrooms are one of the few foods (fungi, technically) that offer vitamin D. When mushrooms have been exposed to UV light, they can improve vitamin D levels in a healthy body. Another health benefit of mushrooms is their ability to improve the immune system. According to a study by Tufts University, white button mushrooms were proven to enhance the body&aposs immune response.

But button mushrooms aren&apost the only type of mushrooms to offer health benefits. Due to being picked at different stages in growth, the agaricus bisporus may vary in nutritional value. But most often, you can find that mushrooms of this variety are rich in copper, selenium, vitamin B2, and vitamin B3.

One more health consideration to keep in mind when cooking mushrooms or any healthy eats, make sure you choose and use clean, non-toxic cookware so chemicals don&apost leach into your food. This is particularly important when it comes to non stick cookware. To discover which brands are safe see our guide to non-toxic cookware.

One of our favorite clean cookware brands, Xtrema Pure Ceramic Cookware, is having a fall sale. Until October 21, 2019, grab an Extra 15% off of sale prices when you use the coupon code: FEAST15. 

How to Cook Chuck Steak

If you’ve ever browsed the meat department for a great cut of steak, there’s a chance you’ve noticed the surprisingly low price of a certain variety: the chuck. While it’s easy to be suspicious of such a steal on a piece of steak, the chuck is secretly one of the most underrated portions of the cow with tons of potential.

Though some chefs refer to the chuck steak as the “poor man’s ribeye,” this cut can be more luxurious than you ever thought possible. In fact, chuck steaks are chock-full of beefy flavor and have the potential to be one of the most tender steaks on the cow, as long as it’s cooked properly.

One of the most economical categories of beef, the chuck refers to the neck, shoulder, and chest of the cow. Due to its location, chuck cuts tend to be packed with connective tissues, which can result in gristly meat. However, chuck steaks come from the top blade of the shoulder, which can produce some extremely tender meat if not overcooked.

While the chuck roast, which is lower on the chest, is a popular choice for pot roasts, stews, and braised recipes, which give the beef ample time to tenderize completely, the chuck steak has been given less of a chance to shine—until now.

Whether you’re opting to grill, sear, braise, or broil, these methods will help you make a cheap cut of steak taste like a high-end meal.

Pan Searing

This quick and easy method for preparing the chuck steak is so simple even a beginner cook can master it. However, there are a few tips that will ensure that your seared steak is a cut above the rest.

One of the keys to perfecting a Pan Seared Chuck-Eye Steak is to season it with salt and pepper and allow it to chill in the fridge, uncovered, for up to 8 hours. While this might seem like an indulgent use of time, this step will allow the moisture within the meat to rise to the surface, making for a far better sear. While this step isn’t absolutely necessary for those in a time crunch, if you have a few hours to spare it can make a world of difference to your end result.

Once your steak is properly seasoned, heat some olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat before adding your steak and searing for 3 minutes on each side. Then, place your cast iron in a 450-degree oven and cook your steak for 5 minutes more.

After removing from oven, add butter, garlic, and thyme to the drippings in the pan, and spoon this liquid over the steak repeatedly for a couple of minutes. This basting will not only infuse some rich flavor into your steak, but also guarantee a juicy and tender texture. Let your steak rest for 5 minutes on a wire rack and slice against the grain before serving.

For an oven-free option, simply heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat before cooking your seasoned steaks 3-4 minutes per side, until browned. For this method, we𠆝 recommend tenderizing the steak first, which will make it slightly thinner and therefore more able to cook fully in the pan alone. To tenderize, wrap the meat in plastic wrap and pound with a meat pounder or heavy frying pan. If buying your meat directly from a butcher, you can also request to have your steak tenderized for you.

Take your pan cooked steak to the next level with flavorful additions, like Saut Steaks with Red Wine and Peppers and Steak Balsamico with Mushrooms.


While the chuck steak can certainly be grilled to perfection like any other steak, in order to get the most out of your meat it’s best to marinate your chuck steak for at least a couple of hours before it hits the grill.

Though any of the the chuck steak cooking methods will benefit from marinating or brining before cooking in order to add tenderness and moisture to this muscular cut of meat, with grilling this step is especially important. Because the grill cooks entirely with dry heat, this can quickly make your chuck steak turn dry and tough. However, if you give it proper time to marinate, this moisture and flavor will be retained in the meat throughout the grilling process.

To begin, add a simple marinade of olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper to a Ziploc bag with your steak and allow it to marinade for 2-3 hours. When you’re ready to grill, remove your steak, dry thoroughly with a paper towel, and season generously with salt and pepper. Preheat your grill to high and brush with oil to prevent sticking. Cook your steak for 5 minutes on each side for medium rare.

We𠆝 also recommend creating an herb butter to serve on top of the grilled steak by combining 4 tablespoons of softened butter with 1 tablespoon each of minced chives, parsley, and cilantro. This butter will help add some moisture and flavor to the meat upon serving.


Like its counterpart, chuck roast, chuck steak can also be braised until luxuriously tender. Begin by heating 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat until simmering. Add your seasoned steak to the pot, searing on both sides for about 3 minutes each, until browned.

Remove the steak from the pot and discard the fat from the pan before building your braising liquid. While there are many options for braising liquids, some we𠆝 recommend are beef broth, dry wine, beer, water, or cider, with the addition of liquid seasonings like Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce. You can also choose to add dry seasonings to your braising liquid, like Italian seasoning, thyme, basil, and oregano.

Add your steak back into the pot with the braising liquid and cover with a tight, heavy lid before placing it in a 325-degree oven. Cook 2-3 pounds of chuck steak for about 1.5 hours, until completely tender to the fork. Check the internal temperature with a thermometer to ensure it’s reached at least 135 degrees before removing and serving.

For an Irish-inspired, Guinness infused steak, try this recipe for Guinness Braised Chuck Steaks with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes.


For a quick and easy steak fix, you can choose to broil your chuck steak, which will brown the outsides of your beef quickly while leaving the middle tender and pink. Start by seasoning your steak thoroughly with salt and pepper and allowing it to sit uncovered in the fridge for a couple of hours, time permitting.

Move an oven rack about 4 inches from the top of your oven and preheat the broiler to high. Add your steak to an oiled cast-iron skillet or baking sheet and broil for 6-7 minutes before flipping the meat and cooking the other side for 6-7 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the steak to guarantee it reaches 135 degrees for medium-rare. Let your steak rest, covered loosely by foil, for 5 minutes, which will help the juices within the steak settle.

Whichever method you choose, when it comes to cooking with the ultra-affordable chuck steak you’re all but guaranteed to be blown away by the flavors and textures that can be achieved with such an economical cut of meat.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 long skewers
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat a grill for high heat.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

The Cooking Light Way To Cook - Recipes

Salads and Salad Dressings –– Whether you're looking for a light summer menu for a sultry evening or just cutting calories, salads are an easy to prepare, cool and healthful alternative to everyday meat-and-potatoes fare.
Grilling With Teriyaki Sauce –– Add flavorful Asian tastes to your favorite grilled foods.
Chicken Grill Italienne –– Flavor infused for special occasions or everyday grilling.

Make-Ahead Mexican Starter –– Double, triple or quadruple this easy recipe and pack it in your freezer. Serve 12 ways on lazy days.
Kentucky Horse Race Pie –– Place your bet on the best pie to ever grace the winner's circle!
Sour Cream Collection –– Breads, cakes, cookies, dips, salads and more. Over 40 great recipes for sour cream lovers.

Escarole and Bean Soup –– For any season, a slow simmered flavorful authentic Italian soup.
How to Make an Italian Holiday Pie –– This recipe for Pizzagaina has been a treasured favorite in our family for many generations.
Tsoureki - Greek Easter Bread –– Tsoureki is a traditional Greek Bread served at the Easter meal flavored with overtones of orange and anise. It's shaped into a twisted wreath or a braid and has red colored hard boiled eggs tucked into pockets formed between the twists.

How to Boil Eggs –– Follow these simple rules and timings to produce great boiled eggs.
Versatile Meat Loaf with Variations –– Tasty ways to use ground beef.
How To Can Chili at Home –– All the techniques you'll need to know to successfully can foods at home.

Herbed Chicken Bites –– An economical and nutritious standby.
Prize Fudge - Cooking School –– Fudge is one of the most popular homemade candies, and one that is very often poorly made.
Making Egg Noodles at Home –– Homemade Egg Noodles are quick, easy and economical.

How to Make a Perfect Rich White Bread –– See why you should take the time to "scald the milk" when bread making.
How to Make Pierogi –– Step by step directions for making Pierogi and Filling.
Making Ravioli and Lasagna at Home –– Once you serve home-made ravioli and lasagna, you'll never go back to store bought!

Homemade Buttermilk –– Buttermilk is a healthy, low-fat addition to baked goods that helps to tenderize yeast breads and makes quick breads, muffins, waffles and pancakes lighter.
Biscuit Crust Chicken Pie –– Chicken Pot Pie with an easy to make crust.
How to Make Peanut Butter at Home –– In these times, it pays many dividends to prepare your own fresh and wholesome peanut butter at home.

Eat for Health and Strength –– Food choices are important in maintaining your proper weight.

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Pan Fried Oysters Recipe

Pan Fried Oysters produce a delightfully fresh tasting oyster within a crispy light crust. I, personally, have never had oysters that tasted as wonderful as these Pan Fried Oysters.

They were so easy to make and so absolutely delicious! When I think of this pan fried oyster meal, I start to drool!

  • 12 large fresh live oysters, shucked*
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup bread crumbs**
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Lemon wedges
  • Hot sauce

Place shucked oysters in a colander to drain.

Dip drained oysters in beaten eggs, and then in bread crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper (coating each oyster thoroughly). Set aside to dry at least 1/2 hour.

NOTE: An easy way to coat the oysters with the bread crumbs is to place the crumbs in a resealable plastic bag, add egg-dipped oysters, seal bag, and then gently shake.

Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan (I like to use my cast-iron frying pan) to 370 degrees F. or until quite hot.

Fry oysters until golden brown on one side, then turn over each oysters carefully to brown the other side, approximately 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Fry oyster until golden brown and edges are curled. Do not overcook or overcrowd in frying pan. Remove from frying pan and serve immediately.

Serve with Lemons Wedges, Tartar Sauce, Cocktail Sauce and/or your favorite hot sauce.

Our favorite way to eat pan-fried oysters: Place an oyster (or oysters) on a slice of good-quality French bread, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice on the oyster, and then add your favorite hot sauce. So good!

* Learn How To Shuck Oysters. May also used fresh-shucked bottled oysters (found in the refrigerator section of the meat section), if desired.

** Check out Making Homemade Bread Crumbs. Use may also substitute soda cracker crumbs, cornmeal, and/or Panko crumbs for the bread crumbs. You can also mix any of these in the the bread crumbs. Your choice!

How To Store Fresh Oysters:

Keep the unopened oysters cold but do not store in water! Remember, oysters are alive and need to breathe, so never seal them tightly in a plastic bag.

Sandwich a layer of live oysters between two (2) beds of ice. Place them deep side down (to retain their juices). I do this in a portable (picnic-type) chest cooler. Never immerse live oysters in fresh water or melted ice – it will kill them. Oysters stored this way will keep for 2 days. This is the method to use if you plan on using the fresh oysters soon.

Store live oysters in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F. if they are not to be used immediately. Place them deep side down (to retain their juices) in an open container. Cover the oysters with a damp towel or layers of damp newspaper. Oysters stored this way will keep up to 5 to 7 days.

Open (shuck) shortly before serving – not more than 2 hours. The colder the oyster, the easier it is to shuck. Keep oysters cold at all times, partly for safety and very much to enhance flavor and texture.

More Delicious Oysters Recipes:

Angels on Horseback
So easy and simple to make and so delicious! These oysters make a great appetizer. My husband just loves these! My husband and I can make a dinner of these oysters! Give them a try – if you are an oyster lover, you won’t be disappointed.

Grilled Oysters
Oysters can be cooked in their shells on your barbecue grill. The heat from the grill steams the oysters and pops the shells open, while poaching the oyster inside.

Oyster Cocktail – Oyster Shot – Oyster Shooter – Oyster Martini
The oyster cocktail, a popular West Coast treat, originated in a San Francisco restaurant around 1860 by a miner back from the gold fields. Makes a wonderful first course for your dinner party or just as a treat for your oyster lovers!

Oysters On The Half Shell
To those people who love oysters, there is little that can compare with a cold, plum, raw oyster that is sipped from its shell. Served with a homemade Mignonette sauce or cocktail sauce and it is perfect!

Comments from Readers:

I am 56 years old and I love to cook good food. Never, Never have I had oysters so delicious as tonight. I found the recipe on your “Whats Cooking Amereica.” It was the Bomb! I have cooked pan fried oysters for years, with panko crumbs, cracker crumbs, flour, dipped in egg, no egg, fried in butter, oil, and so on. Tonight surprised me so much! I must let you know, you are my new “chef” hero. Thanks Linda, you made my year in food! – Cindy in Coeur d Alene, Idaho.

Divide leftover cooked brisket into small portions and place in shallow airtight containers. Refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 months.

The best thing about cooking brisket is that it’s really hard to mess it up. While some beef cuts, like steaks and beef tenderloin, can go from luscious to overdone in a matter of minutes, a brisket is much less touchy. Just be sure to give the meat plenty of time to cook until it’s tender. Your patience will be rewarded with a rich, hearty meal.


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