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!

Do you like what you read here? Shop Now for all the tools needed to make this awesome dinner on our sister site, La Cuisine, a French inspired kitchen store. We might be located in Bozeman, MT but we ship UPS nationwide.


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

2021 Meal Planning… Menu 4

Have I told you before I eat primarily beef? I am even happy to go bunless on a burger or wrap in lettuce to reduce the calories and carbs, as long as it is beef. Since the rules haven’t changed and beef is still off limits, I am compromising for a turkey burger. I started this menu using some inspiration from https://oursaltykitchen.com/paleo-turkey-burgers/, but chose to simplify life a bit by purchasing the Butterball all-natural turkey burger patties at the grocery store and therefore created my own version of keto, low-carb turkey burgers.

Served alongside the burger are zucchini fries and string beans. I’m not going to share my recipe for zucchini fries because, let’s just say, they weren’t very good. To be honest, the flavor was fine, but they look weird and the texture was odd, I believe because the almond flour was simply not fine enough. I would have rather cut the zucchini fries – just like fries – and roasted them in the oven, or even pan fried in a bit of avocado or olive oil. They would have been just as good – maybe better. The breading of an egg, almond flour and seasoning was to trick the mind and make us think we were eating french fries, but it is time to just be honest… they are either french fries or they aren’t. Tricking the mind into thinking we are eating something we are not only lasts so long. Eventually you just desperately want a stupid french fry – who cares how much fat, starch and calories are in it!? I am not encouraging any of us to go on a french fry binge, but honestly, I would rather have 2-3 really high quality french fries once a month than outcast them for life. Moderation, people, moderation.

In the meantime, I will do the best I can to eat what I should and how I should to get my body as healthy as possible. Just don’t tell me I’ll never again taste a grain of sugar, a bite of the best tenderloin steak ever, or in this case, a hot, glorious oil laden french fry.

Turkey Burgers

Course: Main Course
Keyword: keto, low-carb, turkey
Servings: 4


  • 1/2 cup sliced portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 med sliced onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 4 tbsp olive or avocado oil divided
  • 4 turkey burger patties Paleo or Keto version
  • 4 slices Vegan provolone cheese
  • 4 fried eggs cooked in ghee butter
  • 1-2 smashed avocado(s) (season with salt & pepper, add a tbls lime juice)
  • 4 lg lettuce leaves
  • salt & pepper


  • Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add two tbls oil and heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy about 10 minutes.
  • Add the peppers and onions to the skillet. Continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until the peppers and onions soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the vegetables from heat and set aside.
  • Add the remaining oil to the skillet and cook the turkey burgers over medium heat. Season with salt & pepper. Cook until browned on each side, about 5 minuter per, or until a meat thermometer reads 165°.
  • Top each patty with a slice of provolone cheese and melt.
  • Build your burger. Place lettuce leaves on a plate, then add an equal portion of smashed avocado, add the burger with melted cheese, top with vegetables and a fried egg.

I know what you’re thinking… She’s about ready to crack. It’s barely been one week and the woman is going to lose it. Listen to her talk about french fries! Truly, I am just trying to be real. I can do this because I want the benefits on the other side of it, and honestly, I am enjoying alot of these meals. I am cooking things I rarely do, or maybe have never even tried, and they are really good. However, I will be the first to say, in many cases it is taking more time and is more work to get all these vegetables prepped, cooked and everything on the table at the right time.

Overall, I would say we can adopt many of these low-carb principles forever. We could stand to eat far less rice and potatoes, we can easily remove buns from our burgers, add two-to-three times as many vegetables, and eat much smaller portions. We will be healthier, stronger, and more than likely, thinner. Here we go, quickly moving into week 2 and looking forward to it!

Are you interested in checking out the weekly meal planner? Download your copy today… (this file will keep updating as we move throughout the 6-week program)

And remember, please let us know how you are doing on your 2021 healthy eating goals! Do you like what you read here? Shop Now for all the tools needed to make this awesome dinner on our sister site, La Cuisine, a French inspired kitchen store. We might be located in Bozeman, MT but we ship UPS nationwide.


Follow us @lacuisinebzn

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

2021 Meal Planning… Menu 3

Most of us have experienced days that take on their own identity, their own schedule. That was Day 3 of our new meal plan, so leftover fish was the only option for dinner, pushing the promised Chicken Fajitas to day 4, but menu 3.

I think its safe to say, it was worth waiting for!

Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled, mixed with chunky chicken sausage, sautéed spinach, mushrooms and onions. Add some chopped avocado on the side and you will be full for hours! This can be cooked as a scramble or an omelet, your choice.
Decaf Tea

Lunch: Left over salmon and roasted cauliflower

The cravings were pretty strong today. I should win a gold medal for passing right by the Christmas caramels in the pantry! I tried to keep the urges at bay with extra water and some cashews for snacking. I have to admit, the touch of salty seemed to do the trick for an hour or two until I was again wishing for a little sweet treat. There is something about being told you can’t have something and therefore that’s all the mind wants.

Dinner: Chicken Fajitas with a sprouted corn tortilla shell
Smashed avocados, lettuce & vegan shredded Mozarella cheese

chicken fajitas
Low Carb Chicken Fajitas, Keto Approved
I made some tweaks to the fajita recipe, simply to keep them more mild for my personal preferences. I did not include any chili powder and maybe only a 1/4 tsp of cumin. Due to the fact we aren’t supposed to have any condiments right now, I elected for the ground mustard rather than the Dijon, and instead of chicken thighs I used breast meat. The meat was incredibly tender and flavorful – pretty much perfect with the adjustments. No cilantro – it’s one of the herbs this family does not eat at all, and only 1 pepper, 1/2 red and 1/2 orange. Gosh, I guess I made more changes than I thought… I also never use red onion because my husband doesn’t care for them, and my preference is vidalia sweet onions, but it was less than half. As a result of all these edits, I’ve provided my altered recipe below…

The fajita is layered with cheese on the bottom, topped with a dollop of smashed avocados (mixed with a bit of lime juice, salt & pepper), lettuce, chicken mixed with peppers and onions and topped with a tablespoon more cheese for color.

Low Carb Chicken Fajitas

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: fajitas, keto, low-carb, mexican
Servings: 4


Fajita Seasoning

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • 2 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 2 tbsp ghee butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 1/2 lb chicken breast, chopped (for stir fry)
  • 1/2 med bell pepper, red
  • 1/2 med bell pepper, yellow or orange
  • 1/2 med Vidalia sweet onion

For serving…

  • 1 1/2 small avocados, smashed
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Vegan (non-dairy) mozarella, shredded


  • Combine all the ingredients for the fajitas seasoning.
  • In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, mustard and fajita seasonings. Toss in chicken chunks until well coated. Let chicken marinate while you prepare the vegetables.
  • Slice the onions and peppers.
  • Heat 1 tbls. butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook another 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  • Melt the remaining 1 tbls. butter in the same skillet and brown the chicken. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until heated through. Return the onion and pepper to the pan to heat.
  • Compile the fajitas in the corn tortillas; avocado, lettuce, cheese, chicken, onions and peppers.

I can honestly say the meals are really superb – flavorful and filling – which is so important to keep me focused and on-target. I hope you’re finding the same success if you’re following along with us. We would love to hear how you’re doing!

Do you like what you read here? Shop Now for all the tools needed to make this awesome dinner on our sister site, La Cuisine, a French inspired kitchen store. We might be located in Bozeman, MT but we ship UPS nationwide.


Follow us @LaCuisineBZN

Copyright © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.

2021 Meal Planning… Day 2

In case you missed it, we’re on a diet. Oh, I hate that word! So, we are on a new “meal plan” to try and reset my leptin resistance and finally lose some excess pounds. The plan was prescribed by my naturopath and I figure we’ve got nothing to lose except a little fat…

It has been another successful day. I’m feeling great, and keeping the faith that I can do this! The cravings are certainly there at times, but diligence and perseverance are winning! The best part is I’m really not hungry throughout the day. Starting off with a high protein breakfast really makes a huge difference in my world. There might also be something to sharing this journey with you. After all, studies show that when we openly share our goals and state them out loud, we are more likely to achieve them. I know I do better when others are counting on me; I am far more accountable to you than to myself. I can make excuses to myself but you will certainly see right through that!

Tuesday’s Menu…

Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled, mixed with chunky chicken sausage, chopped avocado and a small handful of steamed spinach
Decaf Tea

Lunch: 1 hard boiled egg
10 cashews + 4 almonds
3 Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers topped with goat cheese

Dinner: Honey Garlic Sockeye Salmon
Roasted Cauliflower, tossed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper
Side salad (spinach, romaine, mushrooms, zucchini, cucumber & pecans tossed with balsamic vinegar and avocado oil

I was able to find the Harmless Hunny sugar free honey at Rosauer’s Grocery. It does have a bit of an aftertaste but once it was cooked with the soy sauce, garlic and lemon juice, and glazed over the salmon, I didn’t notice it at all. Normally, I will not use any sugar substitutes, but of course for this recipe it was worth a try.

Again, this salmon came from Peelers Alaska Seafood food truck that sells in front of SIMMS in Four Corners. Check out his Facebook page or website, https://www.peelerswildalaskaseafood.com/ for more information on his schedule and offerings. They can be found frequently in central and western Montana and are well worth the trip.

I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow’s menu (teaser… chicken fajitas), and I can honestly say when I have tried a diet (meal plan) before, that’s rarely the case. I am not feeling deprived, haven’t had any acid reflux this week, and haven’t had any afternoon sleepiness. Let’s just hope the scale at the end of the week agrees with me!

Do you like what you read here? Shop Now for all the tools needed to make this awesome dinner on our sister site, La Cuisine, a French inspired kitchen store. We might be located in Bozeman, MT but we ship UPS nationwide.


Follow us @lacuisinebzn

Copyright © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.

2021 Meal Planning… Day 1

Over the past 4-6 months, I have struggled to lose a single pound. It has been increasingly frustrating. I am eating far less, exercising far more and while my husband has lost 15 pounds with our lifestyle changes; me, zip! Did I mention he doesn’t exercise? (Can you just hear the snarkiness in my voice? WTH?) I asked my naturopathic doctor to reconsider my thyroid meds or to just help me dig a little deeper. Fortunately she heard my frustrations and we did a comprehensive blood workup. The diagnosis? Leptin resistance. That’s when the body is so backwards it thinks it needs to store fat because otherwise it might starve instead of burning fat. Since hanging onto fat was the opposite of my goals, action was required.

Of course, this all happened three weeks before Christmas and since I’m no fool, or better yet, I just desperately wanted to be successful once I started a new meal plan, I told her we would start on January 4th after all the company was gone and the special meals had passed. For three weeks, the ABC meal plan allows ZERO sugar, very few carbs, but a-lot of proteins and veggies. No red meat (AGGHHHH – this is a beef girl talkin’!), no dairy and no alcohol. Well, the last point is moot for me – I drink very little anyway so that’s not exactly a sacrifice. But sugar, red meat and good old fashioned cheese? I am all too aware this is going to be an adjustment. After 3 weeks, a few things can be returned to the menu, but it’s not until after 6 weeks that you can bring some of the favorite foods back into the diet.


So today, Day 1, was a glorious first day. Yes, I have been desperate for a itty bitty cookie or a tiny bite of candy ever since dinner finished, but I am persevering because I haven’t been hungry since first thing this morning. Please just go get me another glass of water…

Breakfast: 2 Egg & Chicken Sausage Bowl
I fried two large eggs in ghee butter, served aside 1/2 large avocado and 4 mini chicken sausage links. Tomorrow, I think I’ll make it again, but I’ll scramble the eggs and truly make a “bowl” out of it with chopped sausage and avocado mixed in with the egg. I bet a little spinach would brighten it up as well.

Lunch: 10 (cold) large shrimp
A handful of fresh vegetables & hummus plus 3 Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers
6 cashews

Dinner: Garlic Parmesan Fish (we had Black Cod from Alaska)

Roasted Vegetables (onion, zucchini & mushrooms, tossed in caramelized garlic olive oil, seasoned and baked for 22 min, 425°)
Tossed green salad w/ white balsamic & avocado oil (spinach, greens, cucumbers, chopped zucchini & a couple cherry tomatoes for some color)

Technically tomatoes are a no-no in these first three weeks, but seriously, I have a lot of leftover cherry tomatoes from Christmas and a couple can’t possibly ruin it all.

Hands down, an amazing dinner. If all the menu items I have selected for the week ahead are this good, we are gonna kill this and the weight will come off when my body resets itself. (I think they call that positive thinking, so I am going with it! ) I saved some of the excess fish seasoning so I can make this recipe again next week. If you’ve never tried black cod, it might be the moistest, most amazing white fish ever. If you happen to live in Bozeman, check out the Peeler’s Seafood Truck that comes to SIMMS Fishing in Four Corners. It is the absolute best Alaskan seafood available in the Gallatin Valley. I’ve grilled it, baked it, fried it in a pan for fish tacos – but every single time it just melts in your mouth.

I hope by sharing this plan with you, you are not only inspired to join us on this journey but you will help cheer us on to thinner waistlines, healthier bodies and down right 2021 happiness. Please feel free to share your ideas and menu suggestions. We would love to hear your successes and well wishes.

Do you like what you read here? Shop Now for all the tools needed to make this awesome dinner on our sister site, La Cuisine, a French inspired kitchen store. We might be located in Bozeman, MT but we ship UPS nationwide. Happy New Year!


Follow us @lacuisinebzn

Copyright © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.

A last minute dinner party… Oh, so good!

When you grow up on a farm, you learn at a young age steak does not always have to be saved for a special occasion.  But a last minute dinner party can come together easily with a few staples from the pantry, and a quick trip to the local meat market.   Recently I  took to a reverse sear strategy for bone-in ribeye and every time we have had company since, it’s the first request by my husband. So I decided to oblige again, while also trying my newest favorite cheese in some French inspired au gratin potatoes. Dinner turned out perfectly, especially the new potatoes so I’ve decided to share with you as well. Unfortunately, once the company arrived, the photo ops diminished, so all you’ve got this time around are prior to baking.

(unbaked) AuGratin Potatoes
Au Gratin Potatoes (unbaked)

Au Gratin Potatoes

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Keyword: au gratin, baked, cheese, potatoes


  • 8 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt and pepper, each
  • 6 oz. Gruyère cheese
  • 3 oz. mushroom & scallion jack cheese (Kindred Creamery)


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Peel and rinse the potatoes before slicing thin.
  • Layer potatoes and sliced onions, and half of the cheese in a 7×11 baking pan.
  • Melt 1/4 c. butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour.
  • Add cream, chicken broth, salt and pepper; stirring to mix in. Bring to a boil.
  • When thickened, pour over the potatoes and onions.
  • Top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 75 minutes until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender.
  • Let set for 5 minutes before serving.


Recipe © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.

In case you missed the previous post with the reverse seared ribeye, I’ve included it here as well. But look at those amazing beauties! Thanks so much to Daniel’s Meats for never letting us down.

Bone In Ribeye, seasoned

Bone-In Ribeye Steak

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Resting Time10 mins
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: reverse sear, steak
Servings: 2


  • 1 1/2 lb bone in ribeye
  • steak seasoning (I used Weber Steak 'N Chop)
  • bacon grease, or ghee butter
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove
  • thyme sprig


  • Season the steak thoroughly with salt and bring to room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 250°. Bake the ribeye in an oven proof pan for one hour.
  • Heat a cast iron pan with the bacon grease (use the grease from the bacon in the twice baked potato recipe) or ghee butter, until very hot.
  • Carefully add the ribeye straight from the oven. Sear until crisp and brown on the underside, 5-10 minutes, depending on how hot your pan is.
  • Turn over, adding 1 Tbsp of butter to the top of the meat, the garlic and thyme to the pan. As the steak cooks ladle some of the bacon grease, thyme and garlic over the top of the meat.
  • Remove the steak from the pan to a cutting board to rest. Cover with a foil blanket for 10 minutes.
  • Slice into one inch strips and serve.


*Recipe adapted from Babish Culinary Universe

Looking to top off the menu? How about a Caesar salad, roasted vegetables (tomato, zucchini, mushroom & sweet onions, tossed in caramelized garlic olive oil) and finish with some warm apple rhubarb crisp à la mode.

Enjoy, and blessings,

Copyright © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.