For Valentine’s Day – Skip the Mayo

On Friday, one of my friends tried to convince me that I should bake a salmon fillet coated with mayonnaise and whole grain mustard and serve it to my boyfriend* for Valentine’s Day. I disagreed.

“Do you have any recipes without mayonnaise?” I asked.

“No, it’s good,” she insisted. “My dad used to make it every Sunday.”

I’m sure he did and I believe it was decent, but for someone not particularly gifted in the kitchen, a fish fillet with a polarizing dressing leaves too much room for error.

“What about chili?” I asked. “That’s good in the winter. And it’s easy.”

Beans,” my other friend replied.

I couldn’t argue with logic like that. So the next day, I did what I do every time I’m on the hook to make a meal and clicked on over to RealSimple.com where I found a recipe for Herb Crusted Chicken with Baby Kale and Oven Baked Croutons. (Note: I changed the name from “Pan Drippings Croutons” to “Oven Baked Croutons” because, quite frankly, I don’t see the need to call attention to something so unpleasant.)

In any case, doesn’t that sound so elaborate? Well it wasn’t. It was a 40-minute, one pan meal and the most intense prep required was tearing up pieces of bread. It’s practically idiot-proof.

In fact, the only mishap I had was setting off the smoke detector while baking the chicken – but that’s such a normal occurrence in my house that I don’t even count it as a problem anymore.

“It’s really sensitive!” I yelled to my boyfriend said as I jumped up and down underneath the alarm while waving a dish towel. When it finally stopped screeching, I said, “Just so you know, that’s probably going to happen whenever I open the oven tonight.”

He shrugged.

A few minutes later, as I was about to take the croutons out, I warned him again, “Here we go. Just wait for it.”

But to my surprise, the alarm didn’t go off – a first in Cucina Nova. I couldn’t understand why until I looked around the corner and saw him fanning the smoke detector with the towel.

“I’m on it,” he said.

I had a moment. A good one.

And then I tossed the kale in some pan drippings and plated this meal.

dinnerI’m happy to report that dinner was such a success that I decided to give an encore presentation for breakfast.

bfastTwo meals and not an ounce of mayonnaise in sight. That’s how I do.

*One month/Tinder/Dentist/Great; I’m as shocked as you are.

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