Peruvian Chicken Vegetable Quinoa Soup

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Three weeks ago, high on adrenaline and eager to drive far, far away from the hellish heat of Texas, I posted here about my upcoming road trip.  I have a retraction to make, as  I was so excited to drive to Colorado and New Mexico with my son, that I may have glorified the whole travel by car thing.  This ugly realization set in on day two of our journey after an unfortunately loud Amber Alert was automatically texted to my phone at 2:30 IN THE MORNING, jolting my sensitive baby and me out of a deep sleep.  I’m all for being notified of children that have been abducted, but REALLY–how am I going to be able to help from my bed in the middle of the night?!  What followed was a few hours of tossing and turning, listening to my child talk to himself and call out to me over and over again until I made the brilliant decision to check out of the hotel super early and just get on down the road.  Only problem was I had left my suitcase sitting in the lobby and didn’t notice it was missing until we were an hour down said road.

It was at this exact moment that I decided to start drinking coffee (and not even the good stuff!) again after a three month hiatus.  Let me tell you what really helped keep me alert (and therefore, alive) though.   It was my tiny bottle of peppermint essential oil that I had decided to grab on my way out the door at the last minute.   I inhaled it like a delinquent teenager addicted to glue sniffing and also dabbed it onto my temples and the nape of my neck.  Boy, did it burn.  But that icy-cool burning sensation kept me awake!  And like a dutiful public servant, I left a trail of minty freshness at every disgusting rest stop along the way.  Despite the extreme fatigue, though, overall it was a gorgeous drive and when Spotify wasn’t being spotty, we happily zoomed along to one heck of a playlist. Continue reading

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Tunisian Spiced Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup

Based on my years of experience cooking for people with various tastes in food, eggplant lovers are a minority in the good ‘ole USA.  Recently, I was out with a bunch of girlfriends for dinner at an Italian restaurant and was pleasantly surprised to discover that three out of the seven of us were big fans of this versatile vegetable, “L’Enfant Terrible” of the Nightshade family.  As one friend devoured her eggplant parm, we talked about how our husbands won’t touch it and either will our children, which means we’re not getting any eggplant action at home.

Lucky for me, I can project my cravings onto willing clients.  One long-time client in particular really perks up when I mention doing something with eggplant.  I suggested a roasted eggplant and tomato soup, thinking I would do the usual Italian version, with fresh basil and some parmesan.  At the last-minute, though, I decided to go with something more unexpected, more exotic.  Continue reading