Fennel Seed & Paprika Potato Latkes

I have 2 obsessions {well, to be completely honest… there’s a lot more than 2…}: spices and Russia.

One of my closest friends, Lynne, lent me a book in 2007 called Tatiana & Alexander {PS, never lend me a book. Chances are, you probably won’t get it back} which is one book from a trilogy about Russian lovers during WWII. I devoured the 900+ page book in 12 hours, forgoing sleep in the name of love.

Ever since reading those books, I have had a mad love affair with Russia. I kid you not, if I meet someone who has an accent even remotely close to Russian, I pick their brain. I even asked my childhood friend who was born in Russia  if I could randomly email her questions I had about the culture. By the way, I hadn’t talked to her in years.

Anyways, Husband and I went to Scottsdale for our first honeymoon {I say first because someday we WILL be going to Hawaii} and in Old Town Scottsdale, there was a random Russian import store, so y0u know I had to go. I got my first set of true Russian handmade Matryoshka {or nesting} dolls. They are so dear to my heart – probably my favorite earthly possession.

Besides homemade Stroganov, I have never made a Russian dish {gasp!}, so I decided on Latkes, or драники {draniki}. Because the poor old potato is so monotonous, it makes a great canvas to experiment with my other obsessions; spices! Probably my favorite spice would be Paprika. But, since experimenting with fennel, I also love the fresh pop that fennel seeds give. That’s where the perfect marriage {like Tatiana and Alexander’s!} begins…

| Fennel Seed & Paprika Potato Latkes

Serves about 6

4 medium-large russet potatoes, peeled and grated

1/4 C chopped onion

2 TBS ground flax seed mixed with 6 TBS water

1/4 C whole wheat flour

1/2-1 TSP fennel seed

1/2 TSP smoky paprika

1/4 TSP salt

1/4 C olive oil {or 1/8 inch deep in your pan}

Ground fennel seed.

Latkes 1

Mix well the potatoes, onion, flax mix, ground fennel seed, paprika, salt and flour.

On medium-high heat {6th notch or so}, drop 2 TBS size flattened balls in the hot oil. In about 2-3 minutes {or until golden-brown}, flip the latkes for an additional 2-3 minutes. Set each cooked latke on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up the oil.

Serve with sour cream and chives {or plain soygurt}.

Latkes 3



Smash Spuds

A little while ago, I saw a picture on Pinterest of potatoes that looked, well… smashed. But not like mashed potatoes. No, Smash Spuds are different. I went back to see the recipe for it, but to my dismay, I had not pinned it. Good thing I like a challenge. I decided I would try to make a recipe myself!

Here’s what I did:

4 Russet Potatoes, halved

Olive Oil



Italian Seasoning

First, I used this trick that I learned from Rachael Ray: poke your potatoes about 4 times all around with a fork, then microwave them for 3 minutes {this lessens cooking time significantly}. Then, when they are tender enough for a fork to gently slide in, pop them out and place them on a large, greased pan. With either a meat mallet or a masher, gently smoosh the potatoes on one side, flip them over and do the same thing. Be sure to not mash too much, we need them to stay together. However, if they start falling apart, just mold them back into the original form with your hands {I had to do that, as you will tell by my picture}. These little taters are easy.

Next, drizzle over the top of each potato about a TSP of Olive Oil, then generously sprinkle with salt & Italian Seasoning, and crack some pepper over the top. Here was the tricky part for me: I figured a preheated 400 degree oven would work, but after the spuds just kept cooking, I figured I’d up the ante to get some crunch factor going, so 450 seemed to do the trick, for about 15 minutes, and out comes this golden, crispy delight.


*Statistics are approximate and can be calculated on www.recipes.sparkpeople.com

  8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 189.4
  Total Fat 5.8 g
  Saturated Fat 0.8 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 4.2 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 15.1 mg
  Potassium 802.9 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 31.8 g
  Dietary Fiber 3.4 g
  Sugars 1.8 g
  Protein 3.8 g
  Vitamin A 0.3 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
  Vitamin B-6 23.3 %
  Vitamin C 24.0 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 3.9 %
  Calcium 2.4 %
  Copper 9.0 %
  Folate 10.5 %
  Iron 9.5 %
  Magnesium 10.6 %
  Manganese 17.1 %
  Niacin 10.6 %
  Pantothenic Acid     5.6 %
  Phosphorus     10.5 %
  Riboflavin 4.3 %
  Selenium 0.9 %
  Thiamin 6.4 %
  Zinc 3.6 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Birthday Blues & Potato Wedges

My 23rd birthday was on July 2nd, but it didn’t feel like a birthday at all. I know, I know – the older you get, the less of a big deal it is, but hey – it’s not like I’m 30. Most of my family had left for California the day before, so it just felt… weird.

But thanks to my adoring, and simply perfect spouse, we had a wonderful date night the Saturday before, which we haven’t had in months. We went out for sushi downtown, walked around 16th street, then saw Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter {don’t laugh – it was amazing}, and ended the night with a tall boy beer down at Euclid Hall, a favorite of ours. This place serves their beers in brown paper baggies.

It still didn’t feel like my birthday, though. I felt left out and forgotten. So after much fuss, we finally got our family together {2 weeks later} and had a delightful BBQ. I felt that I could finally end this year’s birthday chapter.

You remember this recipe? That was one of the many delicious treats we had that night. We also had hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, fresh watermelon, and potato wedges. I LOVE burgers, and there’s nothing quite like french fries to pair with a juicy one. I didn’t want to do normal french fries {of course – do I ever want to do anything normal?}, so I made potato wedges. Similar in taste, but just a little different to shake things up. And they couldn’t be easier to make. Actually easier than normal french fries, but they seem much fancier – always a plus, if you ask me.

What you’ll need:

8-10 Medium Russet Potatoes

1/2 TBSP of Olive Oil

Spray Oil

Italian Seasoning




Preheat your oven to 375. Cover a 9X13 ish inch pan in foil {trust me, this is a quick-clean-up life saver}, spray the foil with spray oil, and cut the potatoes into 1 inch ish cubes {exactness really isn’t required}. Situate the potatoes in the dish, trying to make an even layer. Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes, and sprinkle the seasonings to taste. I like a little more Italian seasoning – I used about 3/4 of a TBSP. Give it a quick toss to coat everything, and pop in the oven for about an hour. After the hour, set your oven on broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the potatoes have a nice, golden crust. Serve alongside a yummy burger, and get back to mingling in your backyard!


Me, Courtnee and the sister Jo

PS This is one of the dresses I was talking about from the Arc!


*Statistics are approximate and can be calculated on www.recipes.sparkpeople.com

  10 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 170.5
  Total Fat 0.9 g
  Saturated Fat 0.1 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.5 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 245.4 mg
  Potassium 911.4 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 37.3 g
  Dietary Fiber 4.7 g
  Sugars 1.7 g
  Protein 4.3 g
  Vitamin A 0.1 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
  Vitamin B-6 31.5 %
  Vitamin C 70.0 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 0.7 %
  Calcium 2.7 %
  Copper 11.6 %
  Folate 8.5 %
  Iron 9.6 %
  Magnesium 12.4 %
  Manganese 16.9 %
  Niacin 11.2 %
  Pantothenic Acid     6.3 %
  Phosphorus     12.2 %
  Riboflavin 4.0 %
  Selenium 0.9 %
  Thiamin 11.4 %
  Zinc 4.1 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.