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 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

Ingredients

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

Fajitas

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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!

Blessings,
Tina

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


Chicken & Egg Salad Sandwich

Chicken & Egg Salad

Servings: 6
Author: Tina Cusker

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked rotisserie chicken, chopped
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 20 grapes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 cup pecan peices

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Serve equal portions on bread of your choosing. Add a pickle or baby cucumber as a garnish.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

ingredients for chicken soup

When recently hosting a small family meal, my husband requested a “beer can” chicken. I was, after all, looking for a gluten free meal that required a minimal amount of prep so I could enjoy our company as well. While I didn’t really roast it on a can of beer (which is pretty darn good, I might add), I do have a ceramic baking dish with a cavity for a half can of beer and a basin for the chicken to rest upside down while it bakes. Rub some ghee butter over the chicken skin, and sprinkle with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. You have a very moist full-size bird that only needs a bit of carving and some flavorful vegetables and a salad to make a healthy meal.

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mushroom sauce & mashed potatoes

Coq au Vin

6 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup flour
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 chicken breast halves, skinless
3 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
3 chicken drumsticks
3 tablespoons caramelized garlic olive oil
1/4 cup brandy
2 cups red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb button mushrooms, white or portobello, brushed clean & quartered
10 oz. frozen baby or pearl onions, thawed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 4-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pot.

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