Middle Eastern Inspired Meal & Why We Make a Big Deal out of Dinner

I grew up in a household where we ate dinner around the table together every night. Every. Night. My mom is a great cook, and has a seemingly endless supply of recipes both on paper and in her head. I don't remember a time when my mom taught me how to cook, but I guess I absorbed a lot of her knowledge simply by watching. My sister, Lisa, has also taught me a lot about food. How to try things, how to tweak recipes, how adding dijon mustard to everything makes it better. 

When I was in college my roommate and I did nightly dinner together a lot. I missed those evenings when we graduated and I lived by myself. Cooking for yourself is hard! Portions for one?? Please. That's extremely hard to accomplish. When I met Daniel I was thrilled to be able to make dinners for two. I'm also thrilled that he's not a picky eater (ain't nobody got time for that). I look forward to the end of the day when he comes home, boots caked in mud, safety vest in one hand, lunchbox (or dinner box, as some West Virginians call it) in the other. We sit next to each other at the dinner table, sometimes we talk a lot, sometimes only a few words pass between us and we stay deep in our thoughts, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we talk about important things, sometimes we watch stupid youtube videos. Mostly, we just sit next to each other and share a moment, and a meal. 

I'm blessed to be in a position where I have the time to put a lot of effort into our food. To me, it's an act of love. The minutes spent rinsing, chopping, slicing, heating, stirring, and seasoning are minutes of silence that can express 'I love you', 'Thank you', 'I'm sorry', whatever it may be. This week, those minutes built a sentence that said 'I'm proud of you, and also, I really like middle eastern food so I spent $20 over the grocery budget this week, it'll be worth it, I promise.'

Dan had a recipe for 'Pakistani Chicken', I made a cucumber yogurt salad, mint lemonade, and we bought hummus and naan (both of which I should have made, but was a little short on time...)

Pakistani Chicken

2 1/2 lbs Chicken Breast
2-3 Cups of Plain Yogurt
6 Cloves Minced Garlic
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
2 Tbs Ginger (fresh, graded is best)
1 Small Onion, Minced
2 Tsp Ground Coriander
2 Tsp Salt
1Tsp Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients, except chicken, in a bowl. Transfer to large tupperware with chicken and let marinate. We let ours sit for 2 days, but a minimum of 4 hours will work too. We prefer to grill the chicken, but you could also pan fry it. 

Cucumber Salad with Mint Yogurt Dressing

4 Cups of Sliced Cucumbers (I prefer Armenian or Persian)
2 Cups Plain yogurt
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
2 Tbsp Chopped Mint 
1 Tsp Salt

Slice cucumbers. Mix all ingredients and let sit in the fridge till nice and cool. 

Mint Lemonade

1 Jar of Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade (any lemonade will work, but I like this one)
1/4 Cup Roughly Chopped Mint
1 Tsp Honey
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice

Pour about 1/2 cup of juice out of the jar (and enjoy it!). Add mint, honey and lemon juice and let sit in fridge for several hours. Taste, add more honey to make it sweeter, or more lemon juice to make it more tart!

This made a delicious summer dinner that didn't require me turning on the oven, stove, or staying in our tiny (and hot!) kitchen for very long, so that's a big plus. If you try any of the recipes let me know what you think, or what you changed!

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