La Cuisine is Open for Business

We even have French market baskets…
PC: Lord & Co.

I haven’t been writing in the blog lately because my days have been filled with the most exciting adventure for us, to date…. We have opened a kitchen retail store, La Cuisine! Yesterday, April 1st began the online launch and we plan to open the French inspired storefront in July. Let’s just say opening a new business is pretty all-consuming but so energizing at the same time.

Cooking classes too… COVID-19 has separated us in more ways than one and it’s time to focus on rebuilding and maintaining relationships with those we love most – our friends and family. La Cuisine strives to provide families and homes with distinct culinary tools and skills to create delicious meals while cultivating memories in the kitchen and around the table, the heart of every home.

We are in the middle of some fabulous Grand Opening giveaways this weekend. Celebrate Easter while you win gorgeous pieces for your home. You’ll definitely want to check them out — just be careful to follow the giveaway rules for each day as we like to change things up a bit from day to day.

Staub Braiser giveawayGlasses Giveawaycookbook giveawaytowel giveawayBridal gift card
Enter to Win @LaCuisineBZN

In addition to our giveaways, rumor has it there may also be a giveaway this week from one of our partners, Ridgeline Spice Co. You’ll want to check out thier Instagram for details as well… @ridgeline_spice_co

What can I tell you about our store that is different from any other kitchen store? It’s all about community and building stronger small businesses together. We have partnered with Montana artisans and food creators to bring you the expertise and vision, along with custom products designed by our friends and neighbors. Just a few of our Montana partners include Earlywood Designs, Montana Block Company, Basiclai, LuLu Pottery, Rocky Mountain Cookware, Ridgeline Spice Co, Tipu’s Chai, Lavender with Love, and several more are on the horizon…

In addition to our Montana partners, La Cuisine will feature superior European products like Staub, Henckels, Zwilling, Bellarini, Denby, Swissmar, and many others. You will absolutely LOVE the quality of all our selections. whatever you need to outfit your kitchen and dining room – we have it or can get it based on your suggestions and requests. If your favorite item is just a little out of your price range, we have a deal for you! Get 20% off your first order of $75 or more by subscribing to be a La Cuisine Insider.

Don’t miss out on these amazing specials as we launch our online store and stay tuned for our Bozeman, MT storefront opening later this year. Be sure to also watch for our cooking class releases. We will be doing virtual and in-store sessions – we may even throw in a little entertaining classes (i.e. creating a tablescape, executing an elegant dinner party and more) to help you create a space where great laughter and precious memories begin.

I look forward to enjoying this journey alongside all of you! We appreciate your support.
Blessings,
Tina


So Many Thoughts…

Do you ever have those days when there are so many things to do, so many things to think about, your mind is literally swimming from one thought or idea to the next? I know this is typically a food or entertaining blog, but today I’m going to share all (ok, maybe not ALL) that is on my mind; and together we are going to make the connections and move forward from all these individual thoughts. I promise you – stay with me – we will unpack this in a way that will make sense and will hopefully bring you some personal clarity for those thousands of thoughts in your own mind, those same thoughts that may also be preventing you from moving forward. At least I am hoping the process does so for me!

  1. Why does all this matter? Because there is a reason these thoughts are on your mind, but what are you going to do about it?
  2. What is your word for 2021? Mine is DREAM.
  3. They said ‘build it and they will come,’ but what if no one shows up?
  4. What if no one likes me, or likes what I have to offer?
  5. Am I good enough? Do I know enough? What if I make mistakes? (yes, that is three questions rolled into one)
  6. When and how will I meet the RIGHT people who can help me move forward with my goals?
  7. When I fail, who will be there to help me up?
  8. What if I CAN’T do all I WANT to do?

Ok, let’s stop the list there because honestly I could go on for a really long time and I have my suspicions you may be able to, as well.

Dreams can come true. Maybe all dreams aren’t meant to come true but just think about the process we go through, the growth we achieve when we chase a dream, EVEN if what we thought we wanted never becomes reality. Remember Garth Brooks’ song “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers?” For example, I wish I could sing. I can dream about having a gorgeous singing voice and sharing it on a stage, lifting up the hearts of many through my work. It’s a dream, and one that is never going to happen unless Aladdin’s magic lamp shows up. The joy of singing can be on my mind, but I am not going to prioritize that dream because in all honesty, it will never come to pass. There are plenty of other dreams that we think we want but The Higher Power knows it is not in our best interests.

On the other hand, I have dreamed for years about being an entrepreneur, owning my own business, being in charge of my own destiny. Could I fail? Absolutely. Do I know what I am doing? Kind of. Sometimes. Yes. No. I won’t waste your time covering all I know about being a business owner watching both sides of my family thrive, struggle, and slave away owning their own businesses. Bottom line – I know there is no yellow brick (golden) road along the way! But there are plenty of other joys and blessings – all for the taking by those who are willing to make the leap.

When I said my 2021 word is DREAM, it is because I am finally going to make my dream come true. The last 4-5 months of thinking, planning, dreaming, and imagining has been glorious. It has been hard, mind blowing, exhausting and inspiring, all rolled into one. This blog will soon not be just a blog. Yes, the blog is still going to remain and it will keep its identity as Montana Mountain Maven but it will link to a whole new sister entity, La Cuisine, a retail kitchen store. More on that story in the future, but I (we, thanks to the undying support of my husband) are going to make my dream come true – with eyes wide open there are no guarantees for success. What I can guarantee you, and myself for that matter, is that I will work harder than I have ever worked (and that’s ALOT!) to make this dream as successful as possible.

Will people come see me? Will they buy from me? Will they tell their friends good things about me? Will they like what I offer? I hope for all those things. And I spend hours every single day trying to make sure I am creating a YES to all those questions. I am building a brand, a social media presence, an e-commerce platform, designing an inviting, homey and beautiful space, drafting multiple revenue streams, networking, navigating partnerships and working to build a stronger, collective community of small businesses. There are times that I am exhausted. My brain hurts from so much learning, thinking, and decision making. But the beauty of it all? It makes me happy. I am at peace with my dream. I have learned over the past 50 years, everyone isn’t going to like me. Everyone isn’t going to love what I have to offer. Everyone is not going to be happy for me. And that’s ok. What matters is that the right people support me.

I’m sure you have already identified that many of my questions and ideas are rooted in self esteem and the “Imposter Syndrome.” Honestly, I believe it is our own selves who typically get in the way of any and all success. We talk ourselves out of why things won’t work. Are you doing that? How do you stop? I don’t have all the answers and that’s not what today’s post is about anyway. But I do have some insight to share.

For the last month, Andy Stanley with NorthPoint Community Church in Atlanta has been preaching about making good decisions, wise decisions. Honestly there could not have been a series more timely for our work right now. What I am learning through his messages is that God will bless my decisions when I have taken the time to be thoughtful, committed to His greater plan, and by making decisions that are wise, prudent and honest, rather than convincing ourselves it is the right decision. His messages are so much more than all that, and well worth a listen if you haven’t done so yet, but what has been so amazing since October 2020? Every day comes another blessing, another connection, another encouragement, another “message” pushing me forward, giving me the insight and guidance I need to make those wise, prudent and honest decisions. I am not saying all my decisions are right and will pay off! I know there will be hurdles along the way and some will cause me to fall on my face. But I can get up, and those who are encouraging me today and probably going to be the same people who will help me up when it matters most.

When I was in elementary and middle school, I was a sprinter. I can’t run a half mile, but I could run short distances and fast. With an older sister, just 13 months apart, there was a bit of competitiveness between the two of us. One day in a special track event, we had the opportunity to run against each other which rarely happened. I don’t know why or how, but at the gun, I tripped over my own two feet, falling flat on my face instead of sailing toward the finish line. Obviously, she beat me. That pivotal moment redirected any confidence I had in myself as a runner. I allowed the fear of tripping again to stop me in my tracks. It slowed me down when I did take a risk and run. The whole experience impacted my willingness to put myself out there and join the track team in high school. While I don’t have significant regrets about not running track; let’s be honest I don’t really like to run much more than 100 meters, but I do have regrets about so easily allowing one failure to impact me so significantly.

For the last 30 years I have been an educator, safely, an educator. Yes, I have done some different things over the course of my career and ventured into slightly new territory but in a nutshell, I have and will always be an educator. Very soon, my story will change and chart a new course. I am allowing my dream to take root, building upon a strong foundation and I hope you will join me. We will be online, in a store, in video, in writing (check out this blog regularly!) and maybe even someday soon in hard-back print! There is such a journey ahead of us and plenty of wisdom behind us. There are family and friends cheering alongside us and hopefully at times, holding us up. It all starts with a dream and I’m ready to make it come true.

It starts with a dream.
Add faith, and it becomes a belief.
Add action and it becomes a part of life.
Add perseverance it becomes a goal in sight.
Add patience and time and it ends with a dream come true.
–Doe Zantamata

I pray that God will richly bless us, as well as every single one of you!
Tina


2021 Meal Planning… Menu 9

I grew up making and enjoying a broccoli casserole made with Campbell’s soup, frozen broccoli, rice and cheddar cheese. It’s a fabulous recipe and one I would be willing to make tomorrow, if only…. Apparently rice is not in my future anytime soon, but chicken and broccoli certainly are. I was yearning for something a bit creamy and chicken sounded more tasty today than fish. Don’t get me wrong, the fish we’ve had lately has been phenomenal – except the halibut. That’s a conversation for another day, but I’m going to have to get creative with the rest of the halibut because all it did was remind me why I used to never eat white fish unless it was fried along with a whole bunch of ‘chips.’

I’m a bit off topic here, so let’s get back to the chicken and broccoli.

chicken & broccoli

While I did do a bit of recipe surfing to make up my mind what I wanted to make for dinner, this is truly my own recipe and one I’m very proud of. It was so good, I had to separate myself from the table so I wouldn’t go back for seconds. The next time I make it, I plan to try coconut creamer rather than whipping cream to ensure a dairy free version. I did use thighs because, simply, that’s what was in the freezer. Breast meat is never as moist as dark, so when I use breast meat, personally, I might opt for chicken breast tenderloins but with the sauce it is unlikely the dish will be dry unless you happen to overcook it.

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2021 Meal Planning… Menu 8

No, I didn’t get lost. No, we didn’t fall off the bandwagon.

Yes, we’re still eating more healthily and truly enjoying it! But life has been busy too. I’ve found as empty nesters, we just don’t need “daily” meal plans. There is almost always leftovers so we’ve been cleaning out the fridge for starters. We have been out of town and skiing a bit, so full kitchen prep simply hasn’t been in the cards. Making wise selections in a restaurant, or even in the produce aisle at the grocery store with some packaged salads has simply been a reality at times. Yes, sometimes life gets in the way of our meal plans but it doesn’t mean we have to give up on our goals. Another thing that has kept me focused is I know for a fact that one (minor) cheat meal out of 21 very focused meals is not going to ruin it all. Sometimes we need a little encouragement to stay the course.

Chicken Cauliflower Parmesan

Recently when we were home for an evening meal, I found an interesting recipe for Cauliflower Parmesan in the Delish online magazine, but it wasn’t going to be sufficient for us without some (meat) protein. We are not, and never will be vegetarians! Originally, all I wrote on the recipe was “add chicken!” In the end, I revised a great deal of the recipe AGAIN because of what I had on hand and what is on my “approved” food list. For instance, the original recipe called for 1 1/2 c. marinara sauce. I’m really not to be eating tomatoes at all right now, and honestly, I’m not a big fan of a ton of sauce anyway. So, reducing it to only 1 cup was sufficient. I think I could even go down to 3/4 of cup and it would be okay. If you do need the moisture to protect those chicken breasts, consider cutting the marinara sauce with some water. You’ll save money and calories, still having plenty of good flavor. By the way, it turned out beautifully and I would make it again in a heartbeat! Better yet, there’s a second meal waiting in the fridge.

Chicken Cauliflower Parmesan

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cauliflower, chicken, parmesan
Servings: 4
Author: Tina Cusker

Ingredients

  • 12 oz riced cauliflower
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I used caramelized garlic olive oil)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 c marinara sauce
  • 1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese divided
  • 1 c shredded mozarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375° and prepare an 11×7 baking dish.
  • Layer the riced cauliflower on the bottom of the dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Top with thin chicken breasts (consider cutting at least in half horizontally) or chicken thighs and marinara sauce.
  • Sprinkle with mozarella and half of the Parmesan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Top with remaining Parmesan, basil and red pepper flakes.
  • Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese are turning golden brown. Double check your chicken for doneness with a meat thermometer before serving.

I served a fresh green salad on the side with a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar and oil. Beautiful color and a very easy meal. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Blessings,
Tina

Copyright © 2021 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.


2021 Meal Planning… Menu 7

It has been a full day for healthy meals straight from our kitchen. We started off with some good, old fashioned egg salad sandwiches. Truth be told, they weren’t quite ‘old-fashioned’ but they were super healthy while still being very tasty.

Start with your bread… Manna from Heaven low carb bread. I followed “The Blood Sugar Diet” recipe, but needed to make a quick substitution due to the lack of psyllium husk powder in the grocery store. Due to a quick Google search, I opted for 2 tbsp ground chia seeds which I already had on hand. Check out my video making the bread, which I guarantee we will have again…

Next up, the Greek Yogurt Egg Salad from Damn Delicious. Instead of a crispy, warm baguette, I served a deconstructed sandwich with a small wedge of Manna from Heaven bread, a large lettuce leaf and 1/2 an avocado sliced alongside 2 scoops of egg salad.

And it’s now time for dinner…. man, we are eating well today!

Are you craving spaghetti? How about a low-carb, no sugar compromise with zucchini noodles and turkey meatballs?

Garlic Butter Zoodles with Turkey Meatballs

Course: Main Course
Keyword: butter, garlic, noodles, turkey, zoodles, zucchini

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 c grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp caramelized garlic olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb zucchini noodles (zoodles)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Turkey Meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix ground turkey, egg, parmesan, oil, parsley and spices to a large bowl using a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
  • Using a medium sized scooper, portion out the meatballs on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes.

Garlic Butter Zoodles

  • Melt butter in a large skillet; add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add zucchini noodles and toss in the garlic butter; squeeze the lemon for the juice.
  • Cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed.
  • Top with the meatballs and sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese.

The only thing that would make this day better for food would be a hot, fresh chocoalte chip cookie straight from the oven…. A girl can dream, can’t she? 😉

Blessings,
Tina

Copyright © 2021 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.


2021 Meal Planning… Menu 6

The best part of this meal plan is I’m trying new recipes and adding in foods I rarely cook. I am learning something new every day and there has yet to be a bad meal, which is certainly keeping us far more motivated. How can you beat Cornish Game Hens on a Monday night, not to mention a full set of leftovers for a second day?!

The recipe I selected is from KetoDietApp.com. Aside from adding mushrooms and not opting for the orange sauce, I did a great job following the actual recipe. The riced cauliflower stuffing was so moist, the hens so incredibly flavorful, a true win for the meal plan. You gotta try this one – whether for guests or just an ordinary day needing an extraordinary dinner.

Check out my video below walking you through the recipe…

Because of the veggie heavy riced cauliflower stuffing, I recommend serving with a side salad. However, I went ahead and roasted a side vegetable as well. I had three rutabagas in the fridge, peeled and chopped them. After tossing with caramelized garlic olive oil, salt and pepper, I roasted on a sheet pan for 40-45 min at 400°. It’s been years since I’ve had rutabagas and they were awesome! Think of them a bit like a buttered sweet potato, somewhat similar to a Yukon Gold potato – but healthier. Run, don’t walk to your grocery store and get some today…

And be sure to let us know how your Cornish game hens turn out!

Blessings,
Tina

Copyright © 2021 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.