Every year for Mother’s Day, I make my mom a killer Mother’s Day brunch and this year will be no different. However, being a mom myself, I’ll definitely want to take the evening off, kick up my heels and have dinner taken care of for me.

My son is 3 years old so he hasn’t reached his potential as a culinary wizard (although that is a goal of mine) and my husband’s repertoire includes udon noodles and white rice so dining out has been my only option if I wanted a night off from cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I love to dine out but being on a low-carb diet and having a toddler makes it a little more difficult to dine out.

If you have young children who can’t cook yet and a partner who doesn’t cook, then read on. As I mentioned, my husband doesn’t cook much nor has he ever expressed much interest in learning how to cook. I think when you have one person who cooks and another person who doesn’t, the person who cooks just ends up doing all the cooking. I decided it was worth a try to hand over the reins for once and give him simple yet elegant recipes that I was confident he could execute well.

The first step is to talk to your significant other about your options for dining out. If there’s a dining out option that checks all the boxes (kid friendly, low-carb and mother’s day worthy) then by all means do what is easier but for me, nothing seemed to check every box. We discussed our options for dining out and we decided that dining in this year would be best due to my new dietary restrictions.

The second step is deciding a simple menu that will set your partner up for success. You want to choose menu items that have few steps and few ingredients. Simplicity can be beautiful. Also, oven recipes have less room for error than stove top ones, especially when it comes to cooking proteins. Three items is best to make a well rounded meal: a protein (vegan, vegetarian or meat/fish), something to nestle your protein in (could be mock carb or vegetables) and a separate vegetable dish because you can never have enough vegetables. The nestling is important because it makes for a beautiful presentation, AKA Mother’s Day worthy.

  • Tip: find well written recipes with photos and even videos if the recipes are more involved. Although, always opt for the simpler recipes.

The third step is to make it as easy as possible. This means try to remove as many hurdles as possible and do as much prep that you can ahead of time. I promised him that I would email him 3 excellent recipes and that I would buy all the ingredients necessary for the recipes. If you can do some of the chopping ahead of time, that would also help because knife cuts are actually one of the most difficult things for a novice cook. Uneven pieces will result in under cooked or burned pieces of food so this is more important than it sounds.

The fourth point is to roll with whatever turns out. This is probably the most important point. If this is the first time your significant other is cooking for you or they seldom cook, you don’t want to deter them from ever doing it again. After all, you’ve had plenty of practice so maybe they can practice the same menu for another special occasion. Also, as sappy as this sound, it truly is all about the effort and love that goes into it.

Another nice benefit of dining in is that if your idea of a perfect Mother’s Day dinner doesn’t satisfy toddler palates, you can easily have something else on hand for them. Maybe leftovers from brunch or something from the night before.

After talking to my husband about dining in, he was on board and off I went in search of the perfect Mother’s Day dinner that was simple, low-carb and delicious. Here’s what I requested. I’ll have to update this after Mother’s Day with a review and photos.

Slow Baked Salmon with Lemon and Thyme: It can take a couple of tries to get this one absolutely perfect because fillet thicknesses and ovens can vary but for the most part, you should get a beautiful salmon dinner. Remember point #4.

Photo Credit: Epicurious

Creamy Garlic Mashed Cauliflower: This recipe is arguable the most complex but knife cuts aren’t important because the cauliflower is steamed and then mashed. It also includes a nice video with step-by-step instructions.

Photo Credit: Ahead of Thyme

Roasted Asparagus: This is probably the easiest dish and requires very little prep. It’s also a spring vegetable and perfect for Mother’s Day.

Photo Credit: Skinny Taste

If dessert is a must, you can do something simple with berries and whipped cream with a sweetener such as Swerve or xylitol. You can also buy many nice low sugar ice creams such as Halo top and Enlightened. Both have dairy free options as well.

Remember to keep it simple and to appreciate the effort that your significant other put into it. Relax and enjoy your night off!

UPDATE: SUCCESS! My mouth is watering as I think about last night’s dinner. Hubby did such a good job pulling together this dinner. I was thoroughly impressed and very proud. I promise, I didn’t help at all but I did answer a couple of questions such as what is a rimmed pan (he’s not a native English speaker) and how much is a pinch of salt. I instructed him to use all five fingers instead of just two. He did forget to add the garlic butter to the cauliflower mash but recovered quickly by adding some of the cauliflower mash back into the food processor and mixing it in.

The salmon was so good that I am thinking of making the oven method my method of choice. You don’t get that crispy salmon skin but who cares when the fish is so moist and buttery. I accidentally cut the salmon fillets into 5 oz. pieces instead of 8 oz. so I told him he might want to check on it at 15 minutes. He checked on it at 15 minutes and then gave it an extra 2 minutes and the results were perfect. They were slightly thick fillets so the timing was spot on even though they were slightly smaller pieces.

I had a bunch of dill on hand so I gave that to him instead of thyme and I think that was actually better. Salmon and dill are a match made in heaven.

The cauliflower mash was so good, I did not miss mashed potatoes at all! In the past, I’ve heard “cauliflower mash just isn’t the same thing as mashed potatoes” or “if you mix potatoes with cauliflower it’s not half bad” so I never attempted to try it but WOW I was pleasantly surprised! I’m actually going to say that I prefer it over mashed potatoes! Maybe it was the garlic, butter and Parmesan but it was “G” double “O” “D” GOOD guys!

The asparagus was fork tender and the perfect accompaniment to the dinner. They were nice and easy and gave him the least amount of trouble.

The best part of the night was seeing the look of accomplishment on hubby’s face and enjoying a dinner that he put a lot of love and effort into. This one is a keeper and will definitely make it into our special occasion rotation or even on a weekend night. I told him that he could make this again next year. 🙂

One last note: This morning I woke up feeling great and not feeling like I cheated over the weekend. My stomach wasn’t mad at me and all is good in the world.

Tip: The night before he printed out the recipes and we went through them so he could ask any questions that he had. I talked to him about starting with the asparagus first and only popping in the fish into the oven when he was almost done with the cauliflower mash. He could add the asparagus back into the oven toward the end of cooking the fish to warm it up. This would result in everything being warm.

Baked Salmon Dinner with Cauliflower Mash and Roasted Asparagus
One More Photo for Good Measure 🙂