Dear Mom

Mom back in the days. Time and place are unknown.

Thank you for everything.

I was browsing through some of my old pictures from Iraq, and I came across this picture of my mom: a beautiful, elegant, fashionable, and most importantly, fierce Iraqi woman.

This International Women’s Day, and as we all celebrate the amazing women in our lives, I want to celebrate and thank my mom: a woman who did the impossible to help me get to where I am today. She truly defines what it means to be the best mom anyone could ask for.

I want to share one story about her.

In 2008, I was a refugee living with my mother and one of my brothers in Damascus, Syria. We had been living there for nearly two years after we had left Iraq in late 2006. And one day, I received the happiest news of my life: that I was going to the United States.

I had just received my acceptance letter to attend Union College in Schenectady, New York and also my student visa. I could not believe it at first, and I was so excited to go home and tell mom about it.

As I was climbing up the stairs to our fourth-floor apartment, with an acceptance letter in one hand and a visa in the other, it suddenly hit me: how am I supposed to leave mom alone in Syria?

My brother at that time was working in France, and so it was just mom and I for a few months. She was my best friend and support system. Her health wasn’t the best, and I knew it would be difficult for her to wave goodbye to her youngest child.

But I didn’t want to let these thoughts overtake my excitement, and I was so eager to tell mom about the great news I got.

It’s hard to put into words and describe the happiness I saw on mom’s face once I told her that I was going to finish my education in America. She saw her youngest child with an opportunity to receive the best education of his life. She was proud—and that made me even happier.

However, as we sat down to talk about it, I was starting to feel guilty that I might leave mom alone. So I asked her a very blunt question: “What do I do? Whatever you decide, mom, I will happily do it.”

And here’s why I said earlier that my mom is the best mother anyone could ask for.

“Throughout my entire life, I have worked so hard, and sacrificed so much, for you and your siblings to be successful. All I want for all of you is to finish your education and have a prosperous future. I give you my full blessings to go to America,” my mom told me with teary eyes.

Today, after nearly 10 years since the day I had that conversation with mom in our little apartment in Damascus, I am proud to say that I have made it in America.

After 4 years of separation, mom came to my my graduation from Union College in 2012.

But none of my successes in life would have been possible with you mom, and for that I say thank you.

 

 

 

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The Best Garlic Chicken and Mint Roasted Potatoes You’ll Ever Make

You’re probably wondering “mint potatoes?I came here for a dinner recipe, not a mojito!” Well, take a chill pill habibi and let me break it down to you. This is the best chicken I have ever made and I’m pumped to share my recipe with you.

The secret to this dish is time and foil. The reason why this chicken is so good is that it cooks very slowly until the meat falls off the bone.

As for the potatoes, I wanted to try something new. I was browsing through my spices and I saw a bagof dried mint which I haven’t used in a while. I really like dried mint in kebabs, but this time I wanted to add it to some potatoes because I freaking can. I am so happy that I did. The flavor was absolutely amazing.

Alright, enough talking and let’s get cooking! First let us start with what you need:

  • Chicken drumsticks: I did two per person, but ate about 5. I cook, I eat!
  • 6 medium size potatoes
  • 1lb green beans
  • 1 large onion: cut into thin slices
  • 6 large cloves of garlic. The more garlic the better.
  • Quinoa: 1 cup for two people
  • 1 bunch of finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Generous amount of salt and pepper

Time to cook!

  1. First, pre-heat your oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Grab a large bowl and dump all your chicken in.
  3. Using garlic press, crush all the garlic in the chicken bowl. If you don’t have a garlic press, you could use a cheese grater (what I did), or just finely chop it with a knife.
  4. Now add the parsley to the mix
  5. Add a generous amount of salt and black pepper. I did about one tablespoon each.
  6. Then add half a cup of olive oil in and get messy! Rub the chicken with all the ingredients that you added so that each piece is coated evenly.
  7. Please wash your hands thoroughly after that.
  8. Now move the chicken to a cast iron pan or a pyrex baking dish and tightly cover the top with foil. Make sure you seal it really well. I used two layers of foil. This will insure that the steam will stay inside which will make your chicken very juicy and tender.
  9. Now you will leave the chicken for 1 hour. Don’t touch it!
  10. Onto the potatoes: super easy. First cut them up into small pieces like in the picture above and put them in a baking dish.
  11. Add the dried mint, a touch of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and mix everything up. Use your god given hands. Best kitchen tools ever!
  12. In another baking dish, add your green beans and onions. Hit them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  13. Now toss your potatoes and green beans/onions into the oven.
  14. You thought we’re done didn’t you? How funny. Sorry, but there is one more thing: quinoa!
  15. Add your quinoa to a pot and then add some water. For each cup of quinoa add two cups of water. Now let it come to boil. Once it starts boiling, put the lid on, move it off the burner and let it sit there until the water completely disappears.
  16. Check on the veggies and potatoes every 15 minutes. They should cook in about 30 minutes. I like my potatoes to be nice and crispy on the outside so I let them sit in the oven longer.
  17. After 1 hour, take the chicken out and remove the foil. The chicken is now fully cooked, but not crispy. Who wants that right?
  18. Now turn your oven broiler on and put the chicken back in. Check regularly to make sure the chicken doesn’t burn.
  19. After the top side gets nice and golden, flip those drumsticks over and do the same.
  20. It took me about 30 minutes for the chicken to be golden brown on both sides. I promise you this: when you take the chicken out, you will be so happy. The chicken will look absolutely amazing!

Now you get to eat! I hope you enjoy this meal and share the recipe with your habibis

If you like my recipes, please follow We the Habibis on Instagram and Facebook. I really appreciate all of your support.

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The Best Bamya with Big Mo

We the Habibis’ first video ever!

Big Mo tried his very first Iraqi dish, Bamya, and he was a happy man. Bamya is basically an Okra stew with white rice: one of the most traditional Iraqi meals. And it just happen to be his bday today, so happy birthday habibi!

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Bacon Wrapped Prunes: Easy and Delicious Finger Food


Bacon wrapped prunes

Bacon wrapped prunes?! Yes please. Just take a second and stare at this photo.

When I posted this on Instagram, I said that I might have had 20 by accident. After much reflection, I can now say that it wasn’t an accident. They were just too damn delicious to stop eating them. Go ahead judge me. See if I care.

The best part about this snack is how easy it is to make. Here’s all you need:

  • Prunes
  • Bacon
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • Oven. No oven? Okay, a pan works too. No pan? I don’t why you’re here then.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cut each slice of bacon in half.
  3. Wrap each prune with a half slice of bacon. Make as many as you want.
  4. Dust these bacon wrapped prunes with black pepper. No salt needed.
  5. Add everything to a baking sheet and toss in oven for about 15 minutes. Then, flip these bad boys and let the other side cook for 15 minutes. If the bacon is not crispy golden brown, put them back in. Just keep an eye on it If you’re using a pan,  pre-heat it on medium high heat. Add the bacon-wrapped prunes in for about 5 -7 minutes per side. Then it’s up to you to decide how crispy you want the bacon.

That’s it! Turn your TV on to your favorite game, show, or movie and have fun snacking on these.

 

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Baba Ghanouj Recipe: Easy, Light, & Delicious

Homemade baba ghanouj
Homemade baba ghanouj

What is up, Habibi?! So like a bunch of people have asked me to share my baba ghanouj (aka ghannouj, aka ghanoush, aka ghanouge)recipe, and I’m here to deliver.

Please tell me you know what baba ghanouj is! No? Bruh…

via GIPHY

Basically, baba ghanouj is an eggplant dip/spread that is an excellent starter. Here’s how you can make it:

  • 2 medium size eggplants. Or you can get one giant eggplant! 🍆 😂
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs tahini (sesame-based condiment)
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 4 minced garlic cloves (or less)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste. I tend to use a lot of black pepper because it really brings up the parsley flavor

Now lets get to work:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Take your eggplants and stab them with a fork few times. This will ensures that they don’t explode all over your oven.
  3. Coat eggplants with olive oil, and hit them with some salt and pepper. Start rubbing. I have to admit, it always feels a little weird to rub an oiled eggplant. I don’t know why. 😂 
  4. Put eggplants in a baking sheet or a cast iron pan and toss them in the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Check on the eggplants after 30 minutes. They need to feel very soft. If they don’t, put them back in the oven.
  6. Now that the eggplants are nice and soft, take them out and let them rest.
  7. After they cool down a little bit, slice them lengthwise in halves. Take a fork, and scoop out all the inner goodness into a strainer. The eggplants will be very watery and you will need to get rid of as much water as possible.
  8. After you strained the eggplants, move them onto a cutting board and add the parsley and garlic on top. Take a knife, and start chopping.
  9. Then take a fork, and start mashing everything as if you’re making mashed potatoes. This will make the texture feel more like a dip.
  10. Add the tahini, half of your olive oil, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix well. Remember, you don’t want to add too much tahini, so just eyeball it. If you think you need a little more tahini,  go for it. But just be careful not to use too much.
  11. Add your salt and pepper and mix.
  12. The smell at this point will be incredible. So feel free to give it a taste. Might need some more salt or pepper. If you want more olive oil (which I always do) or more tahini, also feel free to add some more.
  13. Now move the mixture into a bowl, pour in the remaining olive oil on top and throw it in the fridge for few minutes.
  14. Serve with some pita chips…or just some good old pita.

And voila! Give this a try and let me know how it goes.

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