Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Uncle Ken Cooking Challenge 2015: Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken 11/52

Hi Friends!

I asked John to recommend a "genre" for this week's challenge, and he requested Asian.  I found this recipe for Cashew Chicken and knew I wanted to try it.  Every single time I go out for Asian food, I order Cashew Chicken.  John's not a big nut guy, so I wasn't sure he'd  be excited, but he told me to go for it.  This recipe is completely delicious, and really easy to make.  There is definitely a kick to this recipe, so if you're not a fan of a little heat, cut back or eliminate the red pepper flakes.


2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks1/4 cup all purpose flour 1/2 tsp black pepper3 Tbsp canola oil3/4 cup soy sauce6 Tbsp rice wine vinegar6 Tbsp ketchup3 Tbsp brown sugar3 garlic cloves, minced2 tsp grated fresh ginger 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 1/2 cup cashews

1.Combine flour and pepper in resealable food storage bag. Add chicken. Shake to coat with flour mixture. 

2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 3 minutes on each side. Place chicken in slow cooker.

3. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sugar, garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes in small bowl; pour over chicken. 

4. Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours. Add cashews and stir. 

5.Serve over rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

As always, let me know what you think if you try this recipe!



I adapted this recipe and shared my adaptions.  The original recipe can be found here.


TIME: 11:15
LOCATION : family room
FEELING: good!
LOVING : the sunshine streaming through the windows
READING : It's What I Do
DRINKING : water, go juice, chocolate milk
ANTICIPATING : seeing Maddie's face tonight--she's been gone since the 20th!
LISTENING TO : my alternative rock station on Pandora
WATCHING : Better Call Saul, Blacklist
PLANNING : summer swim workouts
CREATING :  Project Life spreads like it is my job--huge update later this week!
NEED TO FINISH : recommendation letters--they never end.  : )
WISHING : that Dad felt better
MAIN GOAL : Keep going forward!

What are you "CURRENTLY" doing? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Uncle Ken Cooking Challenge: Easy Crockpot Sriracha Honey Chicken Wings 10/52

Hi Friends!

John posted this week's recipe on my Facebook page with a message that said, "We should try this." John's not a big social media guy, so I figured that if he took the time to share a recipe with me on Facebook, I'd better give it a try.  For those of you playing along with my cooking challenge, I know this is the second recipe involving Sriracha sauce, but I promise the honey takes a lot (but not all) of the heat out of this recipe.  These wings were incredibly tender and full of flavor--we will definitely be making this one again.  The original recipe was posted on The Slow Roasted Italian.  Our goal for next time is to make our wings look as messy as the one on the original recipe.  Practice makes perfect!

Easy Crockpot Sriracha Honey Chicken Wings

4 pounds chicken wing drumettes, frozen
3/4 cup Sriracha sauce (Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, the one with the rooster on the package)

3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
juice of one lime (about 1/4 cup)

In a 5 quart slow cooker on low add Sriracha sauce, butter, honey and lime juice.  Stir to combine.  Add chicken wings.  Stir until wings are well coated.  Cook on low 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Remove wings from slow cooker and place on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Drizzle sauce from slow cooker over wings.  

Set oven to broil.  Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 2-3 minutes until the sauce starts to caramelize.  Remove from oven, serve and enjoy.

COOK’S NOTE:  If you like a thick sauce coating, transfer the sauce to a saucepan and boil it until it cooks down, approximately 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then brush or drizzle the sauce over the wings.

You can also layer the sauce on the wings.  Coat wings with sauce, broil for 1 minute, and then remove from oven.  Coat with sauce, broil 1 minute.  Add more sauce, broil until sauce is caramelized.

You can use fresh wings.  Cook time would be 3-4 hours on low or 1 to 2 hours on high.

Instead of cooking the sauce down and broiling it you can mix up 2 tablespoons corn starch and 2 tablespoons water in a resealable container and shake it really well. Pour slurry into crockpot then cook an additional 30 minutes on high. 

As always, please let me know what you think if you try out this recipe!



Monday, March 23, 2015

A Peek At Maddie In Paris

Oh my gosh, I love the internet!  What did we do before Facebook and texting and Twitter and Instagram?  Case in point:  these lovely pictures of my middle girl enjoying herself in Paris...while she's in Paris.
I love that pictures are appearing in my feeds of Maddie smiling and happy and loving the City of Lights.  Her texts are all so happy.  And that makes me extremely happy.
I didn't get to see Paris until I turned 40.  It was a trip of a lifetime (thank you, Christy!).  I am so glad John and I were able to make this trip happen for Maddie.
Soak it all up, baby girl!



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Uncle Ken Cooking Challenge 2015: Shrimp Scampi 9/52

Hi Friends!

Scrimp Scampi is one of those things that sounds all fancy and difficult to make, but I promise you--this recipe is super easy--and delicious!  I think it took 40 minutes, start-to-finish, and that included the time it took me to peel the shrimp. I served it with crusty bread, and everyone loved it.  I will definitely be making this recipe again.

Shrimp Scampi

1 1/2  lb uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 TBL olive oil
2 TBL garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups white wine, I used Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 fresh lemon, juice only
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 C softened butter
1 TBL parsley
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
Thin spaghetti, or other noodle of your choice

Heat cast iron skillet with olive oil over medium high heat.  Add shrimp and cook until tender and no longer translucent. Remove shrimp and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium.

Add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes.  Do not allow garlic to brown--it will make it bitter.

Add white wine and lemon juice.  Cook until wine is reduced by half.  After it is reduced, add the Italian seasoning.

Reduce heat to low and add butter.  Stir until melted.  Add shrimp back into the sauce.  Add parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve over hot noodles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Uncle Ken Cooking Challenge: Blueberry Bars 8/52

Hi Friends!

The sun is shining and the snow is rapidly melting, which of course, makes me pine for all things summer--especially blueberries.  My love for blueberries runs deep.  Although blueberries are not yet in season, I am starting to see them at the grocery store (hooray!).  I'm not sure if baking falls under the "cooking challenge" rules, but I went with it, since this is a new recipe and it features my favorite fruit.  These bars are a snap to make, and they are just as yummy as they look.  Enjoy!!

Blueberry Bars
(Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs

4 cups (2 pints) fresh blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbl. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375, and grease a 9x13 glass pan. 

In a medium bowl, gently toss together the fresh blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.
In your electric mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, butter and eggs, and mix until the dough is moist but very crumbly. Divide the dough in half, and press one half into your prepared pan so you have an even layer of crust.
Then spread the blueberry filling mixture over the dough pressed into the pan. Take the rest of the crumbly dough and sprinkle it over the blueberries.

Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling and the dough has browned a little bit (watch the bars carefully towards the end of the baking time so they don’t brown too much and don’t dry out).

Let cool completely before cutting and eating!

As always, please let me know what you think if you try these out.  



Monday, March 9, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mom!

 Hi Friends!

It's another special day for the Hawley family--it's my mom's birthday!  Happy Birthday, Mom!  And for those of you keeping track, yes, we do have three family birthdays within a 10-day stretch! I saw this quote last week, and it made me think of my mom:

"The greatest acts of love 
are done by those 
who are habitually performing 
small acts of kindness." 
Victor Hugo

In honor of my mom's birthday, I present you with the following list: 

Top Ten Awesome Things My Mom Did for Me that Showed Me Great Love

10.  When I was in college, mom wrote me a letter each and every week.
9.  When we found out our beloved high school band director was going to be fired, Mom wrote a speech that she delivered to the school board urging them to reconsider.
8.  Mom cooked a fresh, homemade meal every day while we were growing up.
7.  Mom designed and sewed Emily's entire nursery set--comforter, sheets, draperies, pillows.
6.  Mom volunteered to be my Brownie troop leader when no one else would.
5.  Mom sat through every single football game I cheered at, no matter what the weather.
4.  Mom often sacrificed getting nice Christmas presents so that Tom, Christy, and I could get what we asked for.
3.  Mom always made sure we felt celebrated on our birthdays.
2.  Mom edited (and typed) every paper I ever wrote until I left for college.
1.  Mom taught me about unconditional love.  I would not be the woman I am today without having you to look up to as a role model.  
Happy Birthday, Mom!  Thanks for showing me in a million different ways how much you love me. I hope the year ahead is a wonderful one--filled with lots of love, laughter, and good memories!

I love you!



Friday, March 6, 2015

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Hi Friends!

Guess what day it is:  Friday--my favorite!  It's also my Dad's birthday! Happy Birthday, Dad! In honor of his birthday, I am going to reprint a post I wrote on my other blog about a trip my Dad and I took together back in 2007.  I am blessed to have all kinds of good memories of my Dad, but that trip is definitely one of my favorites.  I hope you have an amazing day today, Dad!  I love you big bunches!  XOXO

Favorite Memories Friday//Country Living Fair 2007

APRIL 1, 2011
Hi Friends!
Today I am happy to introduce a new series on So Very Vicki:  Favorite Memories Friday.  Each Friday I’m going to share a special memory with you.  I started this blog last year to serve as an on-line journal–a place I can record events and joys and memories.  I have so many wonderful memories.  By writing them down and sharing them with all of you, I feel like I can celebrate the goodness of the past.  Sometimes I will talk about big memories and sometimes it will be just a snippet of a good time.  I hope you enjoy this new series!
Week #1–Country Living Fair, Ohio 2007
My Dad and I love to shop for antiques together.  We can spend hours together slowly looking up and down the aisles of a good antique store.  Sometimes we chat along the way and other times we just stand side-by-side and quietly look.  Dad loves stores packed with tiny treasures tucked in display cases, while I prefer the stores that stock colorful kitchen items and fun toys and sewing notions.  Sometimes Dad shakes his head over the stuff I go ga-ga over (a rusted gate…a bag of old spools), but he always encourages me to buy what makes me the happiest. (Except that pink scale.  I really wanted that pink scale and he talked me out of it.  I’m still thinking about that darn pink scale!)   Some of my very favorite memories with Dad involve things that happened on our antiquing expeditions.  There’s been plenty of laughs along the way (What?  You only want $30 for that Bauer bowl?) and lots of bargaining along the way (but mostly by Dad; I’m still not very good at bargaining).
In 2007, Dad was diagnosed with colon cancer.  It was a scary time, but thankfully, everything turned out well.  Right around the time he was in the hospital, I saw an ad in my Country Living magazine about their fair.  The fair was to be held in Ohio, so I knew the drive from Chicago wouldn’t be too bad.  That fall, we packed my mini-van, programmed the GPS and headed to Morrow, Ohio together, just the two of us.
Have you ever taken a road trip with just your dad?  I highly recommend it!  The long car ride gave us plenty of time to talk and laugh (stop looking at the speedometer!) about anything and everything.  We managed to get lost a few times (because obviously we’re smarter than the GPS, right?), but we finally made it safe and sound to our bed and breakfast.  We stayed at the Kirkwood Inn, which served fantastic breakfasts that we ate in the house’s beautiful dining room.
You know what I remember most about the Country Living Fair?  This:
Woo-wee!  The fair was packed!!  I’m pretty sure they weren’t anticipating such a huge turn-out.  There were people everywhere!  As far as treasure-hunting at the Fair, we didn’t find too many.  But we did have a blast going to the Antiques Roadshow tent.  My dad is an Antiques Roadshow fanatic!  He loves that show.  When I found out that the show was going to be webcasting from the Fair and that they were going to have appraisers there who wanted to look at audience members’ treasures, I knew I had to get Dad involved.  I sent the Fair an e-mail and a picture of one of Dad’s treasures and they e-mailed back and said, “Bring it along!  We want to look at it!”  The hour we spent in the Antiques Roadshow tent was fascinating–my favorite part of the weekend!  Folks brought in all kinds of things, including an antique coffin.  Seriously.  Some stuff was worth a whole lot, and other stuff wasn’t worth much.  Dad’s statue was worth about what he paid for it (we were secretly hoping it was worth millions!).
My favorite antiquing of the weekend actually took place at the local shops.  I found all kinds of treasures including a few aqua bowls to add to my collection and an old locker basket from a community pool in Texas.
My very favorite part of our whole trip were the nightly dinners we shared at The Houston Inn.  We went there every night.  It was right across the street from our hotel, and the food and service was excellent.  The Houston Inn is famous for its frog legs.  In fact, there are frog statues all over the restaurant.  My Dad was like a kid in a candy store when he found out about the frog legs.  Apparently, he grandma was quite famous for her frog legs and my Dad had many fond memories of frog legs dinners on the farm.   I wasn’t so sure about the frog legs.  First of all, they were huge.  Secondly, they still looked like frog legs.  By the last night, though, I knew I would always regret it if I didn’t try the frog legs (he would have never let me live it down!).  The truth is, they weren’t bad.  They taste just like…chicken.  : )  Those dinners together each night were the best–Dad shared all kinds of old stories and memories with me.  I loved it!
We left Ohio with a few antique treasures and a life time of good memories.  Any time with Dad is time well-spent, for sure.
Thanks for the memories, Dad!  I love you.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Progress Report: OLW February 2015

Hi Friends!

Holy cow!  It's March!  I saw that quote this morning and I could completely relate. Christmas just happened, right?!?  The start of a new month gives me an opportunity to check in on my One Little Word:  Progress.  I still get a big bunch of happiness from coloring in my little circles every day after I make progress.  Thank you Elise!  
I am still plugging away on AbMat sit ups.  Perfect 28/28 in February! Woo Hoo!  I can definitely feel myself getting stronger.
I missed a few days of writing in February, but overall, I'm pleased with my effort.  I sent out a bit of actual mail this month, which I think is my favorite kind of writing.  I'd like to send out 15 pieces of happy mail in March.
Ah, the sugar goal.  This is definitely my hardest goal.  I wish it wasn't.  I'm going to keep plugging away on this goal.  Any day without sugar is a good day.

Last week I started wearing John's Fitbit, and it has definitely made me aware of my activity levels throughout the day.  I tell you what, there is no way you can accidentally get 10,000 steps a day--you have to work at it.  I am like a little walking goddess these days.  I'm excited to see how many times I reach 10,000 steps in March.  I'll keep you posted!

How are you doing with your 2015 goals?