Friday, August 31, 2012

Plumbers, Electricians, and Peppers! Oh My!

To quote my friend Daniel Christian who wrote  the song, "Worse":
 Things are gonna get worse before they get better! 
Of course, Daniel was singing about an uptight drama queen, and I'm referring to a kitchen remodel. 
I wonder if Andy sees the irony. 

The plumbers came this week and ran new pipes and drains. The pot filler pipe is in place. The pipes/drains for the sink and dishwasher are prepped. The fridge line has been capped. There's a new gas line just waiting for its home in my new range. 

Then, Matt Harris, the world's best electrician, came and held our hands as he walked us through our project. He helped map out where new outlets, switches, and more wires would go. He drew me a picture of where the pendent lights would look best. He ran a cable line to the corner end of the kitchen so that I don't ever miss a second of BRAVO or FOODNETWORK or SESAME STREET simply because I'm chopping peppers. The pendent light boxes are in! There are wires where there ought to be wires and he cleaned up the wires from where the wires ought not to be.

Here are a bunch of BEFORE and AFTER DURING photos. 

Remember when the kitchen looked like this:
Well, now it looks like this:
Those are the cabinets that Andy built. No toe kick yet but they fit!!!! GO ANDY!
Remember the breakfast nook?
And now:
The Before:
The During:

Below, is the old command center, AKA the place where everyone stores their junk. (i.e. purses, diaper bags, tools, broken rubber bands, chewed up paper, pennies, empty hand sanitizer bottles, keys with no  known coordinating door, no ink pens, broken pencils….)
And now:
I'm commandless. Better than commando, I suppose. 
I think things just got weird. Let's change the subject! 

Other than no kitchen, life really is the same with the Dokulils. I've made Broccoli Beef from Also, I made a roast with carrots in the slow cooker and made mashed potatoes in the microwave. And you know what? Microwave mashed potatoes just might be my new go to way to cook potatoes. SO easy. FAST. And delicious! Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Last night, we had Stuffed Bell Peppers in the slow cooker. A friend/former student/now a college student (*sniff sniff*) gave me some green beans and greed bell peppers before she left for college. Instead of tricking Andy into eating a vegetable, he had a taste and then promptly hit DQ and made himself a burger on the grill. 
These had to have been the best stuffed bell peppers I've ever had! 
Here's what I did:

Stuffed Green Bell Peppers in the Slow Cooker
1. Cut off the tops of several bell peppers and scoop the seeds and ribs out. (I had a handy pepper scraper outer thing.)
2. Mix 1 lb. ground beef (I used ground bison) with 2-3 cups COOKED rice. (I used a long grain brown rice and I cooked it in the microwave! That link will send you directions for how to cook white rice in the microwave. Because mine was brown I found I needed to almost double the cooking time, but I honestly think either would be fine as its going to cook in the crock pot for awhile.) 
3. Add salt (a couple good pinches) and pepper and crushed red pepper and whatever else sounds good from your spice cabinet to the meat/rice mixture. 
4. Add in 1 cup of some tomato mixture. Diced tomatoes, rotel, crushed, whatever. (I used a cup of my friend, Ashely's, homemade marinara sauce!) 
5. Add in some grated sharp Cheddar cheese. (I always grate my cheese fresh because it just tastes and melts better.) 
6. Give it a good mix.
7. Stuff those peppers and set them stuffed side up (duh!) in the slow cooker. 
8. Top with more tomato sauce or whatever you used. (I gave each stuffed pepper an additional 2-3 T on top of tomato sauce). 
8.5 I had a bunch of extra filling - so I guess you could freeze it for another stuffing day… OR, do what I did and just dump it in around the peppers. 
9. Pour in 2-2.5 cups of chicken broth. (Just depends on how big your crock pot. I used a 6.5 quart-er for this and so I used closer to 2.5 cups.)
10. Turn the thing on and dinner's done! I set mine on high and it was ready in 4 hours. I imagine if I had used my smaller slow cooker it would have taken 5 hours on high. Most recipes say 8-9 hours on low. 

I loved the texture and flavor of these! I liked how it was skimpy on meat and heavy on the nutty, brown rice. Made me feel less guilty when I had seconds! But if you are one of those people who becomes invisible when you turn sideways - go ahead and use more meat and less rice. Whatever. It doesn't matter. It'll still be great!

Super good! And I guess its true - sometimes it really does take a village! Thank you, Laura, for the veggies! 
And thanks, Ashley, for the homemade jarred marinara! (And for holding my baby.)
And thanks Daniel for the quote that kicked off this post. 
And while I'm thanking people… Thanks for letting me have a bite of your ice cream cone, Laura. 
And Thank you Matthew for sleeping until 5am for the past couple nights. 
And thanks, Adam, for being such a great big brother and riding on the sidekick attachment that I bought you before jumping off and running away, making sure mommy gets her exercise as I leap and race after you before you can reach the street or the rocks or the neighbor's yard.
But most of all… 
Thank you Andy for destroying my old kitchen and building me a brand new one. With your bare hands.
Now… Get back to work!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Zippity Zoo Day

 You know I'm pretty lucky. I complain (probably a bit too much) about how tired I am because my 5 month old still gets up 1-2x almost every night to eat and my soon to be 2 year old has me running miles everyday. But really, I'm so lucky. I know it. I'm grateful. SO grateful.

I read this quote on Facebook once. I can't remember exactly how it goes… Or who to give credit for it… but its something like Thank God for the blessings you have today for they could be gone tomorrow.

My husband, Andy, doesn't have to get up 1-2x a night to feed the baby. He doesn't run miles everyday after a toddler. Most days he probably doesn't have to count to 100 in order to keep his patience. He probably has adult conversations throughout the day. He pees when he wants too. He eats when he's hungry. He sits when he's tired. He can set his pace for the day.

But he didn't get to go to the zoo on Wednesday! He didn't get to see the pure joy on Adam's face when he saw a crab trying to claw through the glass or the penguins jumping and swimming in the water, or the mama monkey nursing her baby monkey in the jungle. He didn't get to hear him say, "Oo-Oo-Oo" like a monkey. Or waddle like a penguin. Or make fish faces the whole way through the aquarium.

I did.

And it was so wonderful. It was like seeing the zoo for the first time through my son's eyes. We used to go quite frequently last year when he was a baby with Megan and her girls. But this time - he got it! He loved it. How cool! And how lucky are we!

Adam, Matthew and I picked up Gramma Heidi and met Megan, Brianna, Olivia, and Hudson at the zoo. 3 adults, 3 toddlers, and 2 infants. Too much fun!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nap Time Narration

Let's do this fast.

Kids are napping.
Dogs aren't barking.

Keep up.

Kitchen is gone. GONE! But that doesn't stop the Dokulils! In fact, this blog address is called, "Sheila in the Kitchen". And then somewhere after having a baby, I decided there was more to my blogosphere than simply food. Kids and food. That pretty much sums up my life and passion. Oh, and music. That's a pretty big one too. But "Sheila sings in the kitchen with kids" just didn't have the same ring to it.

Anyway, off topic. And I told you to keep up!

So with no full kitchen, we've moved to the basement where there is a bar. And a sink. And an outlet. And a grill outside! So, I'm still in the kitchen. Don't you worry!  Since I'm still technically in a kitchen I can still blog. Right? Right. Good.

Here are two recipes I've made. There are no pictures because my family ate them so fast. I tried to take a picture of the left overs but then I was worried you'd never come back to visit my blog so you'll have to use your imagination.

The first one is barbecued chicken breasts on skewers. I followed a recipe from cooks illustrated. We LOVE cooks illustrated. I used to get their subscriptions in the mail but now I subscribe online. Its green! Its also way more convenient. This recipe is pretty fabulous. I cut up the chicken into 1 inch bite sized pieces and pulsed bacon in the food processor until it was a paste. Weird, I know. But keep up. They told me to do it. I made the barbecue sauce they suggested though I'm sure a bottled favorite would also be good and easier and less clean up which is something I really should have considered when making this in my fake kitchen. Especially when I'm the dishwasher and there's bacon paste stuck to my food processor guts.

Anyway, the chicken gets salted and hangs out in the fridge and then a spice mixture is sprinkled on. Then the bacon paste and sauce is smothered on. I then skewered the suckers and put them onto a HOT grill.

Go get a subscription to cooks illustrated so you can make this. Its good! Trust me.

The 2nd recipe is from Crockpot365. Here's the link:
Its called Crockpot salsa chicken. Its so good! I followed the recipe using thawed chicken breasts, a can of Rotel, whatever was left in the pace picante salsa jar plus some water that I used to get every last bit of salsa out of the jar, half a bag of frozen yellow corn, black beans. And per the author's suggestion I added something creamy at the end. Heavy whipping cream to be exact… Not a lot. But enough to make it taste rich and purty. I also added garlic powder because everything is better with garlic. At the very end I seasoned with salt and pepper, shredded the chicken, added it back to the sauce and served the deliciousness with whole wheat tortillas and cheese. The toddler ate it and even had 2nds. We'll be making this one again.

Speaking of that kitchen and keeping up… Its a family affair in the demo department. Adam has been helping daddy move things out of the kitchen, 
my dad came up to tear sh*t up,
 mom came up to see the Grandkids, 
and Aunt Linda got down and dirty and pulled staples! 
How about that?!?

Life is moving fast. Time is precious. The end.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Everyday… Its a-getting closer...

Blink. Adam is almost two years old. Blink. Matthew is four months old. Blink. Andy is really old. Blink. It happens fast. And everyone tells you that. But how can it be this fast? The days blur together like one of those cartoons books where you flip through the deck fast to watch the scene play out. The days are over before they've really began. I have to remind myself this sometimes. "I can't wait until nap time." Or, "I can't wait until bedtime." I can wait. 

We had some family pictures taken by the fabulous DeEtte Rustermier. I can't wait to get them in the frames! Here some of my favorites: 

I dabble in cloth diapers. I love Gdiapers. LOVE. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Andy is a wonderful husband. I really like him. Can't you tell? It takes awhile for a marriage to find balance after becoming parents. No one tells you that. But it does. You have to hold on really tight.

The kitchen project is zooming by too! Andy has just about finished the cabinet bases. Next weekend, he's going to start the demo. I'm hoping this demo phase allows me the opportunity to lose some weight.
Allows me the opportunity. 
That feels funny in my mouth. 

We're going to move the grill down to the patio and I have a crock pot. 8 weeks of grilling and crocking. Crocking… That feels funny too.
Below, is an idea of the new layout. The big one is my pantry. Moving counter clockwise - the coffee station, the stove with cabinets on either side, a corner cabinet (not pictured), the work station, then the peninsula that will sit on the sink cabinet. 
 Here's the apron sink. Hello Lover! I'm ALMOST excited to wash dishes. 

We're about 90% sure on the Cambria Torquey for the counter. Its Quartz. We love how its durable and a bit more chaos, circus, crazy, messy, kid friendly than, say, granite. And much more durable than marble. Though I do love marble. 

Here's a two-tiered pendant I'm really fond of for the eat-in kitchen area. Its from restoration hardware. Though I think I could find something bigger (30'') and cheaper. 
I'm saving my pennies for…………..
I love these. I want these. I need these. And maybe you need them too. Maybe you just don't know it yet. They're from

Adam has been cooking for us often! He's quite skilled with a skillet.  

As for the rest of our world… Its going faster than a roller coaster.

One day he will sleep all night. But I can wait. Its going too fast. Love like his - came my way.
Now, potty training on the other hand………….