For me, any day can be a reason to celebrate. As hard-working parents, we all deserve to take some time to appreciate ourselves and cherish the big and little things life brings us — I like to start with what's right in front of me.
Why not celebrate small things like our kids' smiles and laughter? The happiness we feel when we're together with friends and family? Or the fact that we're alive and healthy...there are so many reasons to celebrate, we just need to slow down and recognize them.
Here's my 3-step weeknight celebration plan. The key is to always keep things simple and to not get stressed, especially when it comes to the meals. This will ensure that your mini celebrations remain fun and don’t become a chore, which is why step 1 is...
Depending on your mood after the work day has ended, pour yourself a glass of wine. I'm going to put on my sommelier hat and recommend a refreshing Woodbridge Pinot Grigio, which is a well-rounded wine with a peach-citrus finish, and perfect for seafood and other light dishes. Or go for a smooth and flavourful Woodbridge Chardonnay, a wine that has nuances of baked apples and cinnamon (perfect for this time of year!) and is great to enjoy on its own or with smoked salmon, grilled chicken, and creamy pasta dishes. Relax and think about what you feel like preparing to eat.
No need to stress, use whatever you can find in your fridge and cupboards to make your meal. For example, leftover chicken or frozen seafood and a light cream sauce are perfect over pasta and comes together quickly. There's no need to make things complicated, stick to simple recipes like the following which are all regulars for me on busy weeknights. And don't forget to savour your wine as you cook!
Now, on to the recipes!
Prep Time: 12 minutes
1 box of pasta (any type you have on hand, enough to serve 4)
2 tbsps olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of protein such as frozen seafood (shrimp, small scallops, etc.) or left over chicken, or beans (if you are a vegetarian)
1 cup of veggies or any greens you can find in your fridge such as broccoli, broccolini, kale, green beans, rapini, etc.
1/4 cup of Woodbridge Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay
1/4 cup of 15% cooking cream
Cook the pasta as directed on the box.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce in a pan by heating the oil and sauté the onion, garlic and mushrooms.
Add the protein, mix well, and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Add the wine and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, until the liquid evaporates.
Add the cream and the veggies to the pan.
Put the lid on and let simmer for another 2 minutes.
Drain the pasta when ready and add it to the sauce. Serve with a fresh glass of white wine.
Prep Time: 20 min
If you're more in the mood for red meat, you can grill a steak with veggies or make these simple meatballs and serve them with tomato sauce. What I love about these meatballs is that you can freeze the leftovers and have them for lunch later in the week or pack them in school lunches. This meal pairs perfectly with a glass of Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon.
1 pound of ground meat (beef, pork, turkey, veal, lamb, or a mix)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsps of Italian parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil for frying
Add all the ingredients (except the olive oil) to a large mixing bowl and mix well.
Prepare the meatballs, making them as big or small as you like.
Heat olive oil in a pan set to medium-high and cook the meatballs until brown on each side and cooked on the inside.
Serve as-is or with a simple tomato sauce and a glass of Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon.
Makes: 10-30 meatballs, depending on the size.
Make things easy for yourself and cook enough food to have delicious leftovers for your lunch the next day or later in the week. It doesn’t take much longer to prepare and cook a few more meatballs, or some extra pasta when you are making a pasta dish. If you do have leftovers, your meals don’t have to be the same the next day. For example, if you have leftover pasta, combine it with fresh veggies, fresh Parmesan, olive oil and lemon juice, and turn it into the perfect pasta salad for your lunch.
1 cup of fresh veggies: snap peas, red peppers, celery, broccoli flowers, cherry tomatoes, or whatever you have on hand)
1 green onion, minced
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Juice from half of a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves (optional)
Mix all the ingredients together and package up for lunch the next day. That's it!
Sit back and enjoy your meal and your time together. Celebrate and appreciate all the great things you have, you deserve it! Napoleon famously said in reference to Champagne: "In victory I deserve it, in defeat I need it!"
See how simple it is to turn a regular weeknight dinner into a little celebration? Enjoy!