First Friday: Recent Treats (October 2017)

It’s been several months since I’ve done one of these for some reason. Some recently-enjoyed treats and treasures…

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What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

I think I turned a weird age/life corner this year. It’s that corner around which you suddenly say things like, “I’ve never needed a vacation so badly,” or, “This vacation could not come soon enough!” But seriously, though.

Every year my extended family reunites for a week in early August on Cape Cod. It’s my happy place, and it would not feel like summer to me without it. But this year, since I was thinking and saying things like, “I’ve never needed a vacation so badly,” I knew I needed more than just to dip my toes in the Atlantic. So I unplugged. Almost entirely. And it was so wonderful. 

Whereas you know I’m usually one to snap photos of what I see and eat wherever I go, I left my phone behind and off most of the time. Here and there I took it out when I couldn’t resist, but overall, I checked no email, scanned no Facebook or Instagram, and instead rode a bike around town, slept on the beach, and savored the rest and recuperation a week out of our normal life provides. And now that’s how I’m going to try to vacation forever, because I can’t remember feeling so refreshed, as I do right now.

Here are a few shots I could not resist taking… how do you handle technology on your vacations?

3 Ingredient BBQ Sweet Potato Chips

First lesson I learned making my own potato chips is that I really need to invest in a mandolin slicer. How do I not have a mandolin?? (Any recs are appreciated!) Second thing I learned is that chip making might be my new hobby! So fun! So easy! So many ways to flavor! These easy chips will go with basically any summer meal or any meal or any empty hand seeking snacks! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 large sweet potato
* BBQ seasoning or rub spice mix (use your favorite or your own go-to blend–I like Trader Joe’s Coffee BBQ Rub)
* vegetable oil

WHAT TO DO
Wash and dry your sweet potato, leaving the skin on, then cut off the dry nubby ends.

Preferably using a mandolin slicer (or the slicer side of a stand grater, or as a last resort, a sharp knife), slice the whole thing up into even slices. Pat these dry with a paper towel. Then do it again.

Place the slices in a bowl and toss with a generous amount of your BBQ seasoning.

Heat 2 inches-depth-worth of vegetable oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat.

Working in batches, so that they don’t stick together or crowd the pot, fry your potato chips for 3 minutes.

Remove from the pot to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Sprinkle again with BBQ seasoning and transfer to a serving bowl.

Don’t forget to lick those fingers clean!

My Momma’s Perfect Granola

I don’t know why everyone doesn’t make their own granola. I also don’t know why I only *just* started making it myself! It could not be easier, and is completely adjustable to your own preferences, and so absurdly cost-effective that it just doesn’t make sense to buy it premade. My mother started making granola, in her words, because, “I did not like the price, the amount of sugar or the lack of flavor… so I started experimenting. The house smells sooooo good when you make it.” The result of her experimentation is the perfect basic granola recipe. We add it to yogurt with honey and fresh fruit in the mornings, sprinkle it on vanilla ice cream, or grab handfuls for snacks. This recipe is enough for about a week’s worth of breakfast bowls in our house, so sometimes I make it twice a week! I should probably just get larger storage containers and make double or triple the recipe each time! Now you try! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 1/2C old fashioned cup oats
* 1/2C coconut flakes
* 1/2C sliced raw almonds
* 1T flaxseeds
* 1T chia seeds
* 1/4t salt
* 1t vanilla
* 1T brown sugar
* 1T honey
* 2T good quality maple syrup (I’m definitely biased as a New England girl, but seriously, no Mrs. Butterworth’s! Invest in the real deal and you’ll see why!)
* 1 1/2T of any non-smelling or otherwise mild cooking oil (canola, grapeseed, sunflower…)

WHAT TO DO
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

Cover a baking sheet in foil and spray with a nonstick spray. Set aside.

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure everything gets coated and mixed well.

Spread the mixture out over the baking sheet. Be sure to leave some clumps here and there – these will turn into those yummy little cluster bites!

Bake 20 minutes, then take it out of the oven and let cool. The granola will harden and become crunchy as it cools.

Break up the granola and store in a glass jar or any air tight container.