I really intended to have relaxed by now. Summer vacation officially began for me last Saturday, and I had all sorts of fun plans: relaxing at the pool, workin’ on my fitness, watching funny YouTube videos.

And then it happened: work creep.

I’ve talked a bit about lifestyle creep before — the phenomenon where, as you earn more money and invest in “luxuries” they begin to feel like “necessities.” Work creep is similar (I say this like I didn’t just make the term up; whatever), but without the fun new acquisitions. Work creep is where, as you gain a little time here and there, you find a way to fill it with work. Am I the only one who experiences this?

I think part of the problem is that I always have a backlog of work: things I should have been doing all school year but have been ignoring due to lack of time. I don’t want to think about the emails I’ve forgotten to respond to, the dog I’ve forgotten to walk (just kidding, just kidding, she reminds me!), the cleaning I’ve forgotten to do. Ugh.

I literally — are you guys going to judge me for this? I’m going to tell you anyway — I literally have not done an official overall cleaning of any room in my house in . . . months. Like, every now and then I cleaned the toilet, threw some dishes in the dishwasher, or cleaned off the stove, but other than that (and laundry when absolutely essential — but no folding!), we’ve been on autopilot over here. And again, it’s not because I’m lazy, but because my schedule was jam-packed full of educating young minds, baking young cobblers (okay, this parallelism makes no sense), and sometimes eating and sleeping.

So now that I’m confronted with a beautiful, wide-open couple of months, it’s understandable that I’ve immediately scheduled the entire thing with all of my backlogged work. I’ve worked all day every day this past week on blog work. And there are baking projects, cooking camps, cleaning (good grief, so much cleaning), and packing for my impending apartment and classroom moves still to be done. I need a vacation from my vacation — but I know I’d just work through it as well. Good thing I love every ounce of work I do, right?

If you’re fueling your work creep, sweet potato fries are a good snacking choice. This recipe by Giada DiLaurentis is my favorite because of the delicious basil salt and easy lemon garlic mayonnaise for dipping. Fun fact: I use the dipping sauce for dipping roasted asparagus spears in, too! So good.

I’ve included a few tips for making your fries extra crispy if you like them that way. Enjoy these at a summer picnic or, okay, while cleaning. Sigh.

Do you experience work creep? Are you a workaholic (by choice or necessity), or can you turn it off?

One year ago: Blueberry Cream Cheese Almond Braid
Two years ago: Santa Fe Breakfast Bake

Crisp Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce

Recipe by: Slightly adapted from Giada DiLaurentis
Yield: 2 servings

These sweet potato fries are delicious — especially with their tangy lemon garlic mayonnaise for dipping! To ensure you get crispy fries, cut them very thin and spread them out on the baking sheet — they shouldn’t be touching or crowding each other at all. This might mean using several baking sheets. Also, depending on the thickness of your fries, you might need to adjust the cooking time up or down to obtain crispy (but not burnt to a crisp!) fries. Just check early and often — and remember they’ll crisp up a bit as they cool as well.

2 sweet potatoes, cut into thin “fries”
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Line two baking sheets (or more as needed) with foil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato fries in the olive oil and then spread them out on the baking sheets. Make sure they don’t touch and aren’t crowded. Bake until they’re golden and crisp, about 45 minutes (but check early and often in case your fries are thinner or smaller and cook faster.)

While the fries are baking, mix together the salt, pepper, and basil to make basil salt. Combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice in another small bowl to make the Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce. When the fries come out of the oven, sprinkle on the basil salt and toss them around with a spatula. Spread them out again to let them cool slightly (if you keep them in a heap, they’ll steam themselves and get soggy). Serve them with the Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce.

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22 Comments on Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce

  1. Karen F
    June 15, 2012 at 1:27 am (9 years ago)

    These sweet potato fries look so tasty. How do you keep them from sticking to the baking sheet? Mine always seem to get stuck and then break apart when I try to flip them.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      June 15, 2012 at 1:53 am (9 years ago)

      Karen, that can happen here too. The olive oil helps, but to be honest, I DON’T flip them. Then when I toss them with the basil salt, I can be very gentle (kind of a nudge nudge motion with the spatula). You can also let them cool on the pan just a touch before tossing them so they have a chance to set a bit.

  2. Ingrid @ Jammy Chicken
    June 15, 2012 at 2:16 am (9 years ago)

    My motto is: any job will expand to fill the time available. So, by scheduling yourself silly you’re actually saving time. Or at least that’s how I try to kid myself. Anyway, I love sweet potato fries – I can almost convince myself they’re healthy (that rationalization, again).

  3. Emma Cossey
    June 15, 2012 at 7:11 am (9 years ago)

    This is exactly how I feel! Guilty of work creep and lifestyle creep, and my poor house really does need a deep clean. I’ll do it…after I’ve made these yummy looking chips 🙂

  4. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    June 15, 2012 at 10:43 am (9 years ago)

    Sweet potato fries are simply the best. And yours in particular look awesome! Great recipe!

  5. katie
    June 15, 2012 at 11:29 am (9 years ago)

    These look amazing! I love making sweet potato fries! Found you via Pinterest!

  6. DessertForTwo
    June 15, 2012 at 11:53 am (9 years ago)

    I adore sweet potato fries! I make them weekly 🙂

    And wow, I have a serious case of work creep. We work all day long (at really hard jobs–farming! ha!) and then we come home and force ourselves to do house chores. Why??? Why won’t we just relax?! Thanks for the reminder that we should 🙂

  7. Laura
    June 15, 2012 at 5:07 pm (9 years ago)

    I, too, keep a backlog of all the work to do…. At least it means we’re never bored? But at the same time, don ‘t forget to “schedule” yourself some rest 🙂

    The fries look wonderful, also!

  8. Autumn
    June 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm (9 years ago)

    Hi, Julie! I just discovered your blog through Tara over at Tea & Cookies, and I’m excited to read more. This post drew me right in, because it seems as though it could be a story right out of my own life these past two weeks. I just transitioned out of a full time job with a long commute into a part time online teaching job. I’m now laughing at myself for thinking I’d be less “busy,” as the work creep of lesson plans and paper grading somehow fills all my time. I keep thinking that if I could just be more disciplined, I’d get it all done my allotted prep times, but so far this hasn’t happened yet. Maybe by next week…? 😉

  9. Joanne
    June 16, 2012 at 1:14 am (9 years ago)

    I totally experience work creep! I am really bad about just relaxing and curling up with a good book, which I LOVE to do but never seem to have the time for. Weird. I bet these would be the precut snack to accompany a good book also!

  10. Jenny @ BAKE
    June 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m beginning to see the point in resort holidays, just ending up somewhere where there is literally nothing to do but relax! These fries look incredible!

  11. natalie@thesweetslife
    June 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm (9 years ago)

    oh boy can i relate to work creep–which is why i never seem to have a free moment, ever. thankfully, i work better with lots on my plate…i just have to force myself to take the occasional day off of all work-related things!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      June 23, 2012 at 3:49 am (9 years ago)

      Me too, Natalie! I really do work well under (a moderate amount of) pressure, fortunately or unfortunately… 😉

  12. Susan in the Boonies
    June 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm (9 years ago)

    Work creep, not so much.
    I struggle with sloth creep. Sloth is invading my life on every level. I’ve felt so bad, for so long, due to one little ailment and another. But I think I’m finally climbing out of the sloth-hole.

    The fries look yummy! It’s a fine, fine line with sweet potatoes, between steaming, and burning. You have to catch them at just the right moment!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      June 23, 2012 at 3:48 am (9 years ago)

      Sloth creep — LOL! That’s definitely a whole other story! I have to admit that sometimes over most summers that happens to me, too — though I’m wishing for it this summer 😉 Thanks, Susan!


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