I’m so glad that I made these to share with you guys, because I had forgotten how much I loved them. I first had them back in my order-out almost every night days of my youth. I would always get a veggie wrap from a local waterfront restaurant on Chincoteague, and if I was lucky, these crispy potato rounds came alongside. That “luck” pretty much coincided with the fact that they had leftover baked potatoes from the night before.They eventually took the veggie wrap off the menu, and I started making my own spicy potato rounds.

Now, I don’t usually have extra baked potatoes hanging out, but it’s worth it to bake a few in advance to make these. I’ve also successfully done a quick cook on the potatoes by microwaving them for a few minutes, then letting cool for about 20 minutes before slicing and frying. They’re absolutely delicious, a cross between a potato chip and a french fry. And, I love the spicy kick that the Cajun seasoning adds! Make sure you add it as soon as it comes out of the oil, adheres to the potato much better while they are still hot. These make a simple sandwich for dinner a little more special. Enjoy!

I don’t watch a lot of “trash” TV, but I will admit that “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” (and various other sundry cities) is a guilty pleasure of mine. The new season started last night, so to mark the occasion, I made a dish from Teresa Giudice’s second book, Fabulicious. She’s full of herself, talks a lot of smack, and is completely wonky – but hey, what woman on those series of shows honestly isn’t? Surprisingly, the recipes that I’ve tried from her book have been good. A super quick marinara, which I’ve made a couple of times, and will be sharing later this week. And, these stuffed artichokes – which were absolutely delicious. A perfect side dish or light main course for the summer months!

Last weekend I went to see Titanic in 3D with an old friend, the very same friend I saw it with 6 times in the theater. I had to drive 3 hours to get to an IMAX theater (go big or go home – right?), so I took the opportunity to stop by Trader Joe’s on the way home to stock up on pantry staples. Artichokes are in season right now, so I picked up 4 and brought them home. I also picked up one of their artisan red wine salamis – they are so good diced up and topping a Greek salad, or in a pasta salad. Or, in stuffed artichokes.

I followed the recipe, up until the point of cooking method. I decided to bake them, as opposed to cooking them in a dutch oven on the stove top. Some other recipes called for parboiling the artichokes first, but I didn’t bother with that. Just let them bake a little longer. The sauce that forms in the bottom of the baking dish was absolutely delicious. Perfect to scoop up with the artichoke leaves you pull off to eat one by one. Will definitely be making these again, everyone really enjoyed them!

Grilled bok choy is one of my favorite vegetable side dishes. I usually cook it when we’re putting something on the grill anyways – steak, chicken, kabobs.  Often I’ll just keep the seasoning simple – olive oil, salt, and pepper. But, whenever I want something a little more special,  I made a wonderful spicy Asian vinaigrette to go on top before grilling.

Some people steer clear of bok choy because it falls under the cabbage category. If you think you don’t like cabbage, give this recipe a try. I too, was a “cabbage hater”, but bok choy really brought me around. It’s a very mild flavor, so it’s a great place to start. Feel free to play around with the flavorings in the vinaigrette too. I like the flavors that the soy sauce and Sriracha lend, but just most things in the kitchen, the possibilities are endless! I like to use  baby bok choy if I can find it, because it cooks so quickly and is tender. Large heads of bok choy will work as well, but you should quarter them before grilling.

I’ve lamented before about my ability (or, lack thereof) to get decent ethnic foods here on the Eastern Shore. One nationality that is well represented on our little island is Greece. I may not be able to get a burrito for 25 miles, but I can get a great gyro! I’ve come around to many Greek favorites in more recent years – feta, kalamata olives, and most importantly, tzatziki. It’s so deliciously cool and refreshing, and pretty much guilt free.

I’ll make a huge batch up whenever I make souvlaki for gyros, and leftovers keep great in the refrigerator for a couple of days. It’s a great afternoon snack, with a few wedges of pita bread. I’ve also discovered that oven fries (I made them with a bit of a Greek flair last time; lots of oregano and garlic) dipped in tzatziki is out of this world. I think it would also be wonderful along side grilled fish.

The key is to make sure you squeeze as much water as possible out of the cucumbers after shredding them. Tzatziki should be a relatively thick consistency. If you like it thinner, add some more red wine vinegar or lemon juice. I like to add a little bit of dill, just because I think it makes it a little prettier, but it’s optional. Dried dill doesn’t have that much flavor, so it’s not like it’s bringing that much to the party. Try this soon, it’s a healthy option that’s still full of flavor and very versatile. Opa!