Baked Chicken Breasts and Veggie Patties – easy and delicious. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

During a recent trip to New York, my niece made a delicious oven chicken dinner for us all. I noted how quickly and easily the main dish came together. Apparently, this recipe has been around for a while, but it has somehow escaped my notice. I have added it to my menu rotation, especially since it seems to be a hit with some of my pickier grandchildren.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

Assemble and bake the veggie patties earlier in the day then simply reheat them during the last few minutes of chicken-baking time. Served with a dab of garlic aioli, they are quite yummy. Vary the seasonings as you would like.

And if you are looking for a homemade holiday gift to give, search no further than these chocolate truffles. Just be sure to keep some aside for yourself.

Chicken with Parmesan Crust

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange the chicken breasts evenly in the prepared dish and season with salt and pepper. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic powder until combined. Spread mayo mixture evenly over the chicken to cover completely. Bake for 30-60 minutes (timing will depend on thickness) or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. (If the topping is browning too quickly, loosely tent with foil.) Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 4 servings

Veggie Patties

2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium zucchini, grated
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt & pepper to taste

Place 3 inches of water in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil and place a steamer basket in the pan. Place potatoes and carrots in the basket. Cover and steam for 15 minutes or until just beginning to become tender. Remove from heat and cool completely. Grate zucchini and place in a cheesecloth or paper towels. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible before placing zucchini in a bowl. Grate cooled potatoes and carrots into the bowl. Stir in onion and seasonings. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Firmly press the mixture into six patties and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 60 minutes, until they are browned, carefully turning them halfway through the cooking time. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 6 servings

Garlic ‘Aioli’

5 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

In a small, shallow bowl, combine garlic and lemon juice. Add salt and allow mixture to rest for 10 minutes. Place a fine mesh strainer over another bowl. Using a rubber spatula, scoop the garlic and lemon into the strainer then press down with the spatula to get as much juice as possible. Discard the garlic. Stir mayo into the garlic-lemon juice until combined. Taste, and if the garlic flavor is overwhelming, stir in more mayonnaise. Stir in mustard. Yield: 1/2 cup

Cinnamon-Honey Truffles

8 ounces dark, bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao), finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cinnamon stick (about 1 1/2 inches long)
2 whole cloves
Pinch of sea salt
2 1/2 teaspoons butter at room temperature
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted

Place the chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, honey, vanilla, cinnamon stick, cloves and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour cream through a fine-mesh sieve held over the chocolate then allow to stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate mixture until melted. Add butter and stir to incorporate. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to set the chocolate. (If the chocolate isn’t set in that time, refrigerate for 10 minutes.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller or spoon, scoop out 1-inch balls of chocolate and place them 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Roll each ball in your hands to round them. Chill for 1 hour. Place cocoa in a small, shallow bowl. Roll the truffles in the cocoa, coating them evenly. The truffles will keep between layers of wax paper in an airtight container in the fridge for two weeks. Yield: 30 (1-inch) truffles

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