After an incredibly hot and humid summer, cool temperatures finally returned to the Big Apple this week, renewing and exciting its battered, worn down citizens. Walking down the street, you once again saw sweaters, scarves and close-toed shoes.  Though the rain fell almost daily, New Yorkers had the weekend to look forward to…Saturday did not disappoint one bit, with its warm temperatures wrapped up in cool breezes. One could almost mistake this weekend for the Fall.

Of course, right as the good got great, Sunday came along and changed everything, with its hot weather and gross air. I curse you, present-weather and long for 2 days ago.

My husband and I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather on Saturday by going hiking in the Ramapo Valley Reservation in New Jersey, about an hour’s drive outside of Brooklyn. We were pretty excited to spend the day doing the 8.5 mile hike around Bear Swamp Lake.

Hiking is not something we usually do, but this summer seems to be a mixed bag of new experiences. As we made the climb up Hawk Rock, wound back down through the forest, crossed small brooks and made several grueling ascents to spectacular views, we couldn’t help but spend a good portion of the hike feeling a sense of calm from the storm of this year. Even as our legs burned from the climb, it was pain that soothed us.

Ramapo Valley Reservation

A day before the trip, I made up a chickpea and roasted red pepper salad along with some homemade granola to accompany us on our hike. Throw in a couple of Clif bars and you have yourself a crunchy meal that served us well as we made our way through the sometimes strenuous, off-path hike. It was pretty awesome.

Picnic for our hike

We can’t wait to do this again…as soon as the weather returns to its previous state of bliss, of course. Until then, it’s back to skirts, flip-flops and uncomfortable misery.

In the meantime, make these snacks to get you through the end of summer.

Recipes: Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Salad and Nutty Cranberry Granola

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Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Salad

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 large red peppers, roasted and skinned or about 2 cups from a jar (instructions for roasting your own)

3 cups of cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned (about 2 15-ounce cans)

1/4 cup of parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp of chopped mint

3 Tbsp of capers, rinsed

2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice or red wine or sherry vinegar

1/4 tsp of salt

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Cut the peppers into half-inch wide strips and put them in a large bowl together with the chickpeas, herbs and the capers. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, garlic and oil. Pour over the chickpea mixture and combine.Serve immediately, or refrigerate it for a day.

Enjoy!

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Nutty Cranberry Granola

my own recipe- enjoy!

3 cups old fashioned, rolled oats

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Start things off right by mixing up the dry ingredients (oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon) in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl mix up the wet ingredients (honey, oil and vanilla) and add this mixture to the bigger bowl.

Mix well and spread onto a large baking sheet. Try to keep an even layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring the oats after about 15 minutes. (I do my granola for about 30 minutes, since I prefer a crunchier texture.)

While the granola is baking, toast your nuts in a large skillet over low heat. I added a tiny sliver of butter to bring out the flavors. When toasting the nuts, be careful not to let them burn. I only allowed them to be on the heat for about 5 minutes and I watched them like a hawk. Let them cool and then chop them up to your liking (I separated the pumpkin seeds, since I didn’t want them to be chopped.)

Once the granola has cooled, add the nuts and dried cranberries. Mix well and serve!

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