Pantry Organization and Polenta Muffins

While working to prep the house for Jill’s arrival, I have gotten a little organizing bug up my butt.  Last weekend Aaron and I organized two rooms, a closet and the garage. Today I decided to tackle the “pantry”. Our pantry is really just two cupboards. One cupboard is reserved for our everyday ingredients and spices and the other, that is less conveniently located, for less-used items.

I will admit, the pantry is really hard to keep organized.  I have purchased some stuff over time that has helped (like air tight plastic storage containers for pasta, rice and cereal), but I think I need more. This weekend I came up with a couple cool tricks.  Check out the organized pantry.

Here are a couple tips:

– See the spices on the bottom left? Those are the spices we use the most. They used to just be lined up all along the front of that shelf. That meant if we needed something behind them they would either get knocked over or twist and turn things to get to what we needed. Yesterday I picked up a small (9 in) lazy susan and now all the spices are tucked off to the side and even easier to get to.

– While organizing the pantry I found two partially used bags of polenta. Paper bags will with grain are not very easy to organize. But a light bulb went off and I thought about all the glass jars Aaron and I hang onto for storing leftovers.  I filled an old mayonnaise jar with the grain and it is now much easier to find and store. I took a few other things (trail mix and pasta shells) that were living in Ziploc bags and transferred them to jars as well.

There was a little but of polenta that didn’t fit in the jar, so I decided to whip up some polents cornmeal muffins. Now, I have never made cornmeal muffins, cornbread, or  anything of the sort.  This was a total experiment. Here’s the recipes I made up as I went along:

– 3/4 cup polenta
– 1/2 cup Multi-Grain baking mix (Trader Joes brand)
– 1 egg
– Pinch of both baking soda and baking powder
– 2 tablespoons brown sugar
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
– 1/2 cup fat-free milk (estimate)

I mixed everything together and poured it into a greased muffin tin (this recipe made 6 muffins). I baked at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

I sampled one fresh out of the oven with some butter. My thoughts?  Really good.  It was a pretty dense muffin with great flavor. I think the culinary term for the texture would be “toothsome”.  Some of the cornmeal was a little crunchy, but I didn’t mind.  Polenta cornmeal is ground coarser than regular cornmeal. If you made these with regular cornmeal I don’t think it would have that issue. For just making it up as I went along, I am pretty happy with the results – I will definitely be polishing off all six of these (well, now 5).

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