Winter White

Winter White | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I never quite know what colours to love in winter. All the soft sundresses and bright blouses of spring and summer have been put away for the season. The deep, rich mustard, maroon, navy and emerald tones of fall are getting tired. Warm, winter clothes seem to only be made in dull, muddy colours that match the slush outside the door – and get boring so quickly.

It’s this time of year, that I always start to flirt with winter white and the first pastels of spring. It’s like hitting refresh on your wardrobe, starting back at the beginning and getting ready to begin sneaking the spring clothes back out.

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Dress Sophster-Toaster
Tights ModCloth

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All photos by me.

High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne

High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I’ve been making some variation of this “lazy” lasagne all of my adult life. I call it lazy because it doesn’t involve any fancy bechamel or ricotta layers and doesn’t require you to make your own sauce completely from scratch. There’s still a long list of ingredients, lots of chopping and dicing to do and lots of opportunity to add love, but it’s not an all day affair. Adapting my recipe to be vegetarian, and then adapting it again to be packed full veggie protein sources, over the past few months has added a few more ingredients and steps, but I would still call it a happy medium between instant and scratch.

High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog

This lasagne is packed full of vegetarian-friendly protein sources and fibre. Switching my recipe from ground beef based to vegetarian has made it much more hearty, healthy and filling! With protein coming from the lentils, mozzarella, Parmesan (make sure you find vegetarian cheeses made without rennet, or just skip the Parmesan), veggie ground round, cottage cheese and kale, I would bet it comes pretty close to having as much protein as a regular meat lasagne, maybe even more.

High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster BlogHigh Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog

High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne

Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a side.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 4 spines of kale, leaves picked
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 portion “veggie ground round”
  • 3 cups prepared pasta sauce
  • 1-3 tsp sriracha
  • 1/3 cup vegetarian Parmesan
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 3 springs of thyme
  • 1 package fresh lasagna sheets
  • pepper

Method

  1. Cook lentils according to package directions, set aside.
  2. Add garlic and onion to large pan with olive oil over medium heat. Cook until soft.
  3. Add green pepper and cook until soft.
  4. (Optional) Add a handful of sliced mushrooms at this point and stir in if you like, I don’t because I’m allergic.
  5. Place kale on top to wilt for two minutes.
  6. Add veggie ground round, break up and stir in. Heat through and then add cooked lentils.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in prepared pasta sauce. Season with sriracha and pepper.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Spread a large spoonful of this filling into the bottom of a 9×13 pan to prevent sticking.
  10. Form a layer of lasagna sheets in the pan. Spread 1/3 of filling on top. Sprinkle with 1/3 of mozzarella and Parmesan.
  11. Form a second layer of lasagna sheets and another 1/3 of filling. Sprinkle again with another 1/3 of mozzarella and Parmesan.
  12. Form a third layer of lasagna sheets. Mix thyme into the cottage cheese and spread on top.
  13. Form the final layer of lasagna sheets and filling. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
  14. Cover the lasagne with foil and bake on the centre rack for 35 minutes (or according to the pasta package instructions).
  15. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbling.
  16. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog High Protein Vegetarian Lazy Lasagne | Sophster-Toaster Blog

All photos by me.

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Dreaming of a White Christmas | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I once read that we imagine Christmas as snowy thanks to Charles Dickens. All of his Christmas stories feature a cold, snowy Christmas season, even though the holiday is only a few days into winter – and rarely sees more than a slight dusting of snow in reality. Scholars think this is because Dickens’ childhood took place during an unusually cold decade and he grew up seeing more Christmases with a heavy blanket of snow than not.

When I first learned this fact, it remind me of my own childhood, growing up in the snow belt of Southern Ontario. It was normal for us to get a few big snow storms in November, I even remember having snow ball fights with my brother on his birthday at the end of October, and have that snow stick around and build through March and sometimes into April. My mom had a running joke about dreaming of a green Christmas and I remember wondering what that would be like, since I had only known white Christmases. As a teenager, the snow seemed lighter, but it was still always there. Then I moved to where I live now in the Niagara Region microclimate where most Christmases are brown and a snowfall before January is highly unusual. Sure driving is safer and there’s no shovelling to do, but I find myself missing the snow very much at Christmastime. There is just something so magical about a soft, fresh, downy blanket of snow covering the houses with colourful Christmas light glowing from underneath and the way the city seems so quiet and still before people have left their warm homes and covered the snow in footprints.

That’s why I was so excited when we got a big snow storm last week! It’s nearly all melted away now, but I made sure to get out and enjoy as much of it as I could while it was here, starting with grabbing my camera and heading out the morning after the storm to capture the city all done up for Christmas.

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All photos by me.

Lots of Time to Get it Right

Lots of Time to Get it Right | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Now that the puppy is getting older, more mature and more laid back, I feel like I have a lot more time, or energy, – somehow more than I had before – to explore my creativity. I’ve been setting goals for myself lately to not just use this extra energy to explore and practice my photography hobby, but to also have more fun with it. Sometimes the more structured and planned out photo sessions, like this one, can be really stressful. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect and get the right shots before the sun goes down, I get too cold, I get too frustrated and lose confidence in myself, etc., and it can really take the fun out of it.

I’ve caught myself saying the title of this post to myself and those around me nearly every time I pull my camera out. I’m encouraging myself to take it slow, take a chance, and not worry about getting something worth sharing with anyone. Just doing it for me. Strangely, I feel like this push to be creative, more than striving to be good, is inspiring me to grow as an artist, even after a lifetime of exploring this hobby.

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Dress Larmoni
Coat Old Navy
Scarf H&M
Tights ModCloth
Shoes ModCloth
Mittens Roots
Button Sparkle Collective

Photos by me and Matt Harrison.