Jennifer Segal is the chef and photographer behind Once Upon a Chef, a family-friendly recipe blog featuring tested and perfected recipes with step-by-step photos.
From roasted vegetables to cornbread muffins, here are ten easy recipes to jazz up your weeknight dinners.
1. Roasted Carrots with Thyme (pictured above) — Roasting carrots in a high temperature oven until caramelized and tender-crisp intensifies their flavor and brings out their natural sweetness. Try serving them with any roast chicken or fish dish.
2. Mexican Rice Pilaf with Peas – This Mexican rice seasoned with tomato paste, chili powder and cumin pairs perfectly with all your favorite Mexican foods.
3. Creamy Butternut Squash Polenta — Made with frozen puréed butternut squash and instant polenta, this creamy side dish comes together quickly and pairs perfectly with brisket or New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp.
4. French String Beans with Shallots – With only one tablespoon of oil and three simple ingredients, these beans are a simple, healthy and elegant side dish that goes with just about anything.
5. Quinoa Pilaf with Shiitake Mushrooms, Carrots & Pecans – Eating healthy should never leave you hungry, which is one of the reasons I love quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Here, I’ve gussied it up with sautéed onions, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and pecans to make an earthy and hearty dish.
6. Curried Roasted Carrots — These roasted carrots seasoned with honey and curry powder are a spicy and sweet treat. It’s all too easy to eat the entire pan standing at the stove!
7. Garlicky Roasted Broccoli with Lemon & Parmesan — Roasting broccoli in a blazing hot oven until crisp-tender and lightly browned is the way to go. Fresh lemon and Parmigiano-Reggiano take the dish up a notch.
8. Cornbread Muffins — Baking might seem a little ambitious at dinnertime, but these cornbread muffins are easy to make and the perfect side to any BBQ or Southern-style dish. My kids love them so much that I’m constantly swatting their little hands away from the bread basket so they don’t fill up before the main course.
9. Spaghetti Squash Gratin – Spaghetti squash is a low-carb, low-cal alternative to pasta; when cooked, it miraculously transforms into golden, spaghetti-like strands. Here, I toss it with marinara sauce and top it with crispy breadcrumbs and cheese, then bake it in the oven until golden brown.
10. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar & Honey — These brussels sprouts are roasted in a high temperature oven until crispy and golden, then doused with a touch of balsamic vinegar and honey. They’re as addictive as french fries!