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!

Blessings,
Tina

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.

scale

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. Happy New Year!

Blessings,
Tina

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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

*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,
Tina

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


The Best Steak I’ve ever Cooked…

A new restaurant has come to town, and while locations are available elsewhere in the state which we have been known to enjoy, this one was new to Bozeman. Being the “good” residents we are, we made a reservation to check out the renovation and offerings. A bone-in ribeye was the temptation that evening, so we split it along with a couple sides and dinner salads. After all, who needs 16 oz of beef per person!? It was so unbelievably flavorful and mouthwatering, my husband has spent the last few weeks scouring the menus of other steakhouses to see who could compare. Since we hadn’t found a similar menu item, he suggested I stop by the local meat market and see if they had a bone-in ribeye. Well, of course they did, and it was on the menu tonight!

I didn’t do a whole lot of planning other than “let’s cook that – maybe a reverse sear would be good for that – add a potato and a vegetable. That sounds good.” In other words, there was really zero effort in the planning. At about 5:15, I decided it was time to get started. Within seconds, he was worried about how I was going to cook his precious red meat. I responded, “I don’t know. I haven’t decided, maybe reverse sear.” So, to YouTube he navigated and before you know it, he had the ideal video for me to watch. A pretty snazzy video, I might add, from Babish Culinary Universe. So, we decided to give it a try.

While the 1.6 pounds (yep, that’s right!) of ribeye sat on the counter with plenty of salt and pepper, I prepped the side dish, the Twice Baked Potato Casserole. After about 30 minutes, I put the ribeye in an oven safe dish at 250° for an hour. His instructions said to measure for a temperature of 115°, which I did not do, because honestly, I don’t follow instructions well in the kitchen. I do what makes sense, looks and feels right to me. To develop this skill just takes practice and truthfully, it doesn’t ALWAYS work. Today, a masterpiece…

What is important to note is that I needed this potato recipe to make this steak as perfectly wonderful as it was. Mind you, the pairing was not only perfect, but I have no doubt it was the bacon grease that made the difference. To reduce some of the calories and fat from the potato casserole I used less than half of the sour cream and cheese, so they aren’t quite as gooey, but still packed with flavor. I know what you’re thinking, I just cooked my steak in bacon grease, do I really care about fat content? Well, swap from one to make the other and it’s called “in moderation.”

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked, potatoes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 5 medium potatoes, cut in half red or yukon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 lb bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the potatoes halves, drizzled with olive oil and face down in a pan, covered in foil for an hour.
  • When soft, cut baked potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and bacon. top with the sour cream and cheeses.
  • Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with onions before serving.

Notes

*Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

*Recipe adapted from Babish Culinary Universe

I’ll be honest, this was undeniably the best steak I’ve ever cooked – and that is saying a-lot from this farm girl who has been cooking steak since I was about 9 years old! My barbecue grill might get lonely outside, because this was amazing…. I will definitely attempt a similar process with other cuts of beef. You probably could have even cut this with a fork it was so ‘melt in your mouth’ good.

I hope you enjoy as well!

Blessings,
Tina


Honey Barbecued Ribs

I’ve been making these ribs for nearly 20 years and the sauce never fails. In fact, it’s my go-to BBQ sauce over store bought any day. I make a jar and we use it for burgers, ribs, chicken or anything else worth of a good barbecue sauce. Add a little hot sauce if you like a kick!

Honey Barbecued Ribs

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: barbecue, BBQ, pork, ribs
Servings: 4
Author: Tina Cusker

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs country style pork ribs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tbls Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke, optional

Instructions

  • Place ribs in large kettle or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until juices run clear and ribs are tender. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients to create the BBQ sauce.
  • Place cooked ribs in a single layer on a large baking tray; sprinkle with garlic salt & pepper. Baste with first layer of sauce.
  • Grill ribs, uncovered, over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, continue basting with sauce and turning occasionally. Recipe cooks as well in the oven (400°) too!

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


Fish Tacos

With a little inspiration from Spend with Pennies, I put my own spin on some baked fish tacos made with a Rockfish from Alaska. No need to worry about left overs because there won’t be any!

Fish Tacos

Course: Main Course
Keyword: avocado, fish, flour tortillas, tacos
Servings: 4
Author: Tina Cusker

Ingredients

Rub

  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

Avocado Salsa

  • 1/4 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 lg tomato, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 4 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Taco Sauce

  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 avocado, smashed
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Tacos

  • 1- 1 1/2 lb rockfish, cod or other white fish
  • 1 tbsp roasted shallot olive oil
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • prepared (Black Bean & Corn or Mango Habanero salsa, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl. Rub into fish fillet(s). Place fish on a parchment lined pan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes until flaky.
  • Meanwhile, combine taco sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together until smooth and set aside.
  • Combine salsa ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  • Warm tortillas on griddle or in the microwave covered with a damp paper towel.
  • Assemble the fish tacos; tortilla, fish, avocado salsa, and fish sauce. Optional: Top with a black bean & corn salsa or mango habanero salsa and serve with tortilla chips.

Blessings,
Tina

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