February 20, 2010

February Personal Day...12 Days of Me

Edit: For my Australian reader who doesn't have tater tots......here is a link. Do you have hashbrowns? You could probably use those. If not, make homemade fried potatoes and put them on top before baking. Also, someone asked about my canned green beans. My mom helps me can them...we just stuff green beans into jars, add canning salt and water and pressure cook them so I don't have a recipe.

Hey everyone, I actually got to feeling better yesterday so I did my meal planning day. This post will get long as I add in recipes, etc so settle in for a good read.

Hey everyone, it's about that time again. Time for my 12 Days of Me Personal Day. You can read all about my 12 Days of Me concept and my January Personal day right here. I've chosen the 19th of every month to be my personal day. This month I am concentrating on meal planning and a little organization in my kitchen. I have all my groceries bought and stacked on my counter so I'm itching to get started.

My meal planning will consist of a full day of cooking meals or partial meal items to have on hand. With all the girls' activities, my working from home and good tv on now at night (American Idol and Survivor), I don't want to spend anymore time in the kitchen at night than I have to. I LOVE to cook, don't get me wrong. But getting in and out of the kitchen at night means all that more time I have to relax and spend quality time with the family.

With that said, I am not a huge fan of freezing meals. I tend to forget what's in the freezer and then I always think stuff tastes funny if it's been in there too long. So I'm planning a few casseroles, some pre-cooked meat, some cookies, etc that will provide a few week's worth of meals. Everything about this month's Personal Day will be added to this post. So it may get long but check back for updated recipes, photos and more.

To pre-plan for my personal day, I started off by scouring my recipe books and the internet for tasty menu items. I made copies or bookmarked my recipe books with my final recipe choices. Next I made a huge grocery list of the items I needed for each recipe. The girls helped me shop this week for all of my grocery items. I made a trip to our local butcher shop for some meat too. It's thawing out so I will be ready to start cooking.

I'll post more about my personal day later but in the meantime I wanted to show you some other stuff that's been cookin' in my kitchen. I am bound and determined to get this house of ours in order. I have taken after my mother and have become very good at *collecting* things. And those piles of *things* are now organized into what I call *organized clutter*. It's not good. It drives me nuts. I'm not as bad as those hoarder people on tv but there's a lot of room for improvement. So I've decided to tackle small areas, otherwise it gets overwhelming.

Here's a project I did to spruce up a corner of my kitchen, one of my favorite rooms in the house because I dearly love to cook. I had this spinning, wooden spice rack that we received as a wedding gift. I love to use it but over half of the spices in it were weird ones I never used and some had never been opened. Those spices were over 15 years old, eww.
So I dumped out all the spices, washed the glass spice jars and soaked the lids to remove the old labels. New spices were added to the sparkling clean jars.
I also made new labels for the lids using my computer and PTI Kraft cardstock. I punched out the circle labels and adhered them to the jars with clear packing tape. Fancy huh? I could have done some laminating or some other method but the packing tape worked for me.
I cleaned up the wood spinner and gave it a coat of mineral oil just like I do my cutting boards. Spiffy!
This is the corner of my kitchen that I cleaned up. I have been reading lots of articles on organizing and decorating and there is one phrase/rule that keeps sticking out in my mind. Here it is: Only keep the items you really love. Get rid of the rest. That's a pretty big statement for me because I've collected a lot of stuff over the years. I like my stuff. Stuff is good. But I applied my new rule to this corner. I got rid of a cutting board with a drawer that I really liked. Liked, not loved. Now I can honestly say that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE everything in this corner of my kitchen. There's still lots of stuff, but it's the gooder stuff. I will never be a minimalist, let me just say that. I need my stuff sitting out. I'm probably more of a maximumist. Is that a word? More stuff is good. But I'm working on it.
Here's what I love in my new kitchen corner. I love my newly spiffied up spice rack spinner. I used it today and and it was so organized and clean and shiny! I love my glass sugar and flour jars that I got from Walmart. I use these two cooking items a lot so they have earned a place out on the counter. I love my fluted cookie jar with the silver lid that I got from Nell Hill's in Atchison, Kansas. (Note: Cabinets are natural cherry and countertops are a laminate called concrete...cookbook is The Amish Cook's Baking Book)
I even love the old tin measuring cups that are in my flour and sugar jars. Plain ol' cups wouldn't do, I had to find just what I loved.
I love this new cutting board I got at Bed, Bath and Beyond. It's made from renewable tree source and has a very rustic wood pattern. I've searched for one like this for a long time. To spiffy it up, rub in mineral oil about every 30 uses. I also love my Longaberger baskets that hold my cooking utensils. Many of my utensils are from my days of being a Pampered Chef lady and some of the old wooden spoons are from my Grandma's stash. I also love Bath and Body foaming hand soap.
And these items don't sit out but I love them so they're worth showing. I love my pepper grinder, nothing compares to freshly ground pepper. Don't used the canned stuff. Sometimes I love it so much that I need mass quantities. So I take a bunch of peppercorns and grind them up in coffee grinder. I found this old tin pepper shaker at an antique store and knew just what I'd use it for. So now when I need a teaspoon or so of ground pepper for a recipe, I reach for my shaker. I only keep a quarter cup or so in there so it stays nice and fresh.
So there you have it. I did it. I organized something. It feels good. What's next? Get this, Becky Higgins showed a little part of her kitchen on her blog and she uses glass jars as canisters too. Love it!

RECIPE SECTION(some of the recipes I'll be making):

Restaurant Style Salsa from The Pioneer Woman.....link is HERE. Oh is this good. I've searched for a recipe like this that you can make with canned good. This is THE ONE. I'm going to can whole tomatoes this summer so I can use those. I'm making this to go with some of the Mexican food I'm making.

Veggie and Cheese Bagel Sandwich from The Pioneer Woman....link is HERE. This is what I'll be making for my lunch on my personal day. I used to get these kinds of sandwiches with my girl coworkers when we lived in the city. Yum. Edit: I made this for lunch....so awesome!!

Mom's Pork Green Chili from The Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen section....link is HERE. I'll serve this with tortillas, sour cream, my canned jalapeno slices, some of that Restaurant Style Salsa and my mom's hot corn bread recipe. Edit: All of this is going with Eric to poker night...the fellas all love me. :)

Tator Tot Casserole recipe from my mom:
In a 9 x 13 pan, layer 2 lbs seasoned, browned hamburger, chopped carrots, small chopped onion, 1 can whole corn, 1 can green beans (I used our home grown, canned variety). Mix 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup and 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup and 3/4 cup milk. Spread over veggies. Top with bag of tator tots. Bake 350 for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. This went into the freezer with the baking time and duration written on the foil with a Sharpie.

Other recipes that I'm making are White Chicken Enchiladas, Three Cheese Stuffed Shells, and Chimichangas. I'll also be baking some chocolate chip/cream cheese cookie bars and browning up a bunch of ground beef to freeze for recipes. Good eats, indeed.


Lacie @ Creative Attempts said...

everything you do is classy even your tags to top your spices. I wish I could spend a day in your brain :)

Patty J said...

Great recipes, love your personal days idea and your kitchen is so beautiful and comfy!

Karen said...

Nice to see you had an organizing day. We are having unseasonably warm weather and I am itching to start my Spring cleaning. I am more of a minimalist. It is much easier to get rid of things I like because my kids are grown and I pass things to them. I can always visit my previous possessions. This makes it easier to purge. It isn't to early to put some things in boxes labeled for the girls. It will give them a start when they leave home. The recipes sound yummy. Didn't mean to write a book here, have a great weekend.

Wendi said...

OH MY! You are an amazing woman. I ♥ this post. Gosh do I need to take lessons from you! UGH! And I thought your cards were fabulous, wow! You are multi-talented!! ♥ all your ideas. Spice rack, ugh, mine is horrible! I too have glass jars on my counter. Guess I did one thing right!! Hehehe. Thanks for all the inspiration, creatively and organizationally!

Kimberly Ann said...

YEs, I'm back :)
I'm requesting the choc. chip cheesecake bar recipe - that sounds sooo delicious!

Unknown said...

Oh my word! I can't believe you've managed to make ALL this, right at the tail end of a cold. I did the same thing with my spices - dumped the old, washed the jars, and replaced a few with spices I use more frequently (turmeric, cumin seed, mustard seed, cardamon). The recipes look great - you can NEVER go wrong with PW! I'd be happy gnawing on a bunch of fresh cilantro, so the salsa totally speaks to me!

mitch47 said...

Oh, I SO need some organization in my life! I got the "packrat' gene from my mother, and it drives my husband crazy! Yes, packrat syndrome CAN be inherited. Your personal day was very productive, and the recipes sound wonderful. I noticed in your TaterTot casserole that you use 'home-grown canned' green beans. I have been looking for a good canned bean recipe, and I wonder if you could post yours.

Heather said...

That was a great idea. We got a spice rack for our wedding too. I might have to SPICE ours up. :D

I made a card for the JUGS challenge and realized after making it...that I was totally inspired by you. I love your work.
If you would like to stop by and take a look. Here is the link: http://simplyhandmadebyheather.blogspot.com/2010/02/jugs.html

scrapfancy said...

I think I will have to check into the special day for myself. The idea of making up meals has always been a thought but with only 2 of us not sure. I cannot wait for the choc chip bar reciepe. The your ideas Mish.

scrapfancy said...

I think I will have to check into the special day for myself. The idea of making up meals has always been a thought but with only 2 of us not sure. I cannot wait for the choc chip bar reciepe. The your ideas Mish.

Rhonda Zamora said...

I am a FAITHFUL reader of your blog! I always enjoy your posts. Today, I have been introduced to Pioneer Woman . . . OMG, now I know what you have been gushing about!

Leonie said...

Hi Michelle. I am in Australia & I would like to make one of the recipes, I havn't heard of tator tots, could you tell me what they are so I can find similar over here. Thank you.

Kari D said...

Isn't it wonderful to have the things you love around you when you cook? I am with you, I love to cook and play in my kitchen. I always wonder what I could do to find more space in my very cramped quarters while still have the things I need close at hand! Thanks for the great ideas from your Day of ME! One of the things that you have taught us is that "focus is my friend." You seem to focus on a theme and give yourself permission to stick to it! You go, girl! So glad to hear that you are feeling better! Kari D

Joyce M said...

This is so funny. I just sat down to make new labels for my spice jars (the exact same set you have there with the same wooden rack). The are setting on the table next to me - so funny. I hope mine look as nice as yours and that they stay on this time. This last set is falling off.

Nicole Aspinall said...

long time reader, first time commenter :)

just had to say - we DO have tator tots in australia - EXACTLY the same but they are called potato gems! x

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links to the recipes
I'm going to try the Salsa and tater tot casserole. Love your blog

Eveline said...

I'm glad you felt good enough to have your personal day. I quit my job last Monday and the first week I'm not working (from the 1st of March) I'll start cleaning my house from top to bottom, paint my scraproom, sort out the children's book etc. I'm even looking forward to it.

Crystal M. said...

Just had to say that I ♥♥♥♥♥ PW's Veggie & Cheese Bagels!! I've actually been craving one for over a week now. Oh... I'll have to give in and make me some this week. Thanks for the inspiration in food and crafty stuff!

Edna Morrisedie said...

FYI--Tater Tots are called Potato Gems in Australia :-} You can get them in the Freezer section at any mainstream supermarket... some deli's have them fresh, well I wouldn't call them fresh, how about not frozen!!

Sue Ann said...

Great job on your labels!! I love my kitchen too ..... I live in that room!!!! Too bad you do not live closer to me we could do a weekly swap ..... cook for 2 dinners and then swap one!! My menu this week has Creamy Shrimp and Grits, Goulash, Chicken Cutlet w/ home made marinara sauce, potato/leek soup and pork chops w/ cranberry and creamed sweet potatoes. I have to plan the whole week every week because I live about 20 minutes from Whole Foods.

Michelle said...

I LOVE that you make Tater Tot Casserole! I have a recipe that's just slightly different that I got from my mom, that she got from her mom...

It's a staple dinner in our house. So good! Thanks for sharing the recipes and what you do on your 12 Days of Me. Such a wonderful idea....I've made a couple 12 Days of Me notebooks and gave them to my friends who are very busy people. They loved them so much! Thanks Mish, for sharing this idea with us. Have a wonderful week!

jbuffan said...

I would love to have a recipe for the choc chip/ cr cheese bars.
I wish my brain worked like yours , I dont know how you come up with all the adorable ideas.
Love everything about this blog.
I completely enjoy my time here.

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