I gripe a lot about winter – the snow, the sleet, the ice, the hail, not to mention the blizzards! I used to dream about living in a place where it was warm all year round, but the older I get, the more I’ve come to appreciate the change of seasons, especially the turning of winter into spring. Would I appreciate spring as much as if I hadn’t endured an endless winter? I don’t know, but in the interest of science I’d be willing to give it a try. Three seasons might be the best of all worlds.
Yet there are good things about winter. Just ask the people passionate about winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating to name a few. My winter passion is all about staying inside, warm and cozy in a big sweater with a cup of tea beside me while I work at the computer or curl up in my favorite chair to read. Of course snuggly pets of all sizes are great at amping up the coziness factor.
Winter is a great time to entertain too. I love to invite close friends over for a cozy evening featuring a yummy homemade soup. One of my favorites I learned from my mother-in-law. She called it Pasta Ceci Soup. You may know Ceci beans better as Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans – one bean, many names. Served with a fresh crusty bread and sprinkled with shredded Romano cheese, this tomato based soup is great at chasing away the winter chill and giving you a big old hug of coziness from the inside out! And it’s super easy.
1 tablespoon of olive oil – oil should just coat the bottom of the soup pot. Too much and the soup will be oily.
1/4 of a large green pepper chopped
1- 2 cloves of garlic
1 large can tomato juice ( 46 oz.)
14oz can of ceci beans (a couple of ounces more or less isn’t a problem)
Salt to taste (remember that Romano cheese is already salty.)
Parsley (chopped if fresh) to taste.
Add the green pepper to the oil in the soup pot and sauté on low for about 10 minutes or until the pepper softens.
Pour in tomato juice, squeeze in the garlic, add the salt and parsley. Cover until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the ceci beans with the liquid, cover and bring back to a boil.
Cook the pasta in a separate pot.
Warm Italian bread is a must for eating with and dipping in this soup!
Talking about all this coziness has me almost looking forward to winter. Almost.
“Spellbinding, with magical prose, a wizardly plot, and a charming sleuth.” —Janet Bolin, Agatha-nominated author of the national bestselling Threadville Mysteries “Magic, Merlin, and murder are a great mix for this fun debut cozy.”
—Lynn Cahoon, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
“A charming, must-read mystery with enchanting characters. A fun and entertaining page turner.”—Rose Pressey, USA Today bestselling author
It’s time to work her crime-solving magic again . . .
Kailyn Wilde enjoys running her shop, Abracadabra, in the quaint New York hamlet of New Camel, where she lives with her six cats. Her family’s been here for centuries, and she’d like to keep up the tradition. But the place may never be the same if a big hotel gets built, so she does her civic duty and attends a town meeting along with her aunt Tilly . . . and Merlin. Yes, that Merlin—though he gets introduced to folks as her “distant English cousin.” The wizard is pretty grumpy about being transported here, but there are things about the modern world he doesn’t mind—like pizza.
Kailyn was prepared for a heated debate about the hotel, but she wasn’t expecting murder. When Tilly finds the body of a board member outside the schoolhouse, Kailyn doesn’t want any suspicion cast on the wrong person. She plans to crack this case, even if she has to talk to every living soul in town—plus a few departed ones . . .
“Pape has a sure handed balance of humor and action.” —Julie Hyzy, New York Times bestselling author