Melissa Rose Blog Design Review & Giveaway

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. Ours went by so fast I actually was a little down on Sunday because I knew Monday was going to be here and a long week was going to be ahead of me. Thanks be to God it was a great Monday and not to stressful. I was able to keep Julianne busy, distracted , entertained and active. I also was able to make dinner, clean up and give Julianne a bath and put her to bed. It was a long day but I now get to write a bit.

I recently started a new series on Netflix. Anyone ever seen Jericho? I love apocalyptic shows because they seem so real. I really want to finish the series real quickly because then I will feel like I have nothing else to watch. HA! I am also in the middle of reading The Hunger Games for the first time. I know. I watched the movie first and then realized I should have read the book first. Gah, but this is this first time I do that. I love it so far.

I wanted to post a recipe today because I baked a bit this weekend. I made a delicious plum crumble and accompanied it with yummy frozen yogurt. I also made a raspberry bundt cake with a lime icing for a potluck. Did I happen to mention that of the 6 desserts served, mine was the only one that was homemade? What has the world come to?

I also made some raspberry cinnamon rolls with lime icing. I had a ton of lime icing and raspberry puree left that I figured I could create something else. Half of it went to our neighbors (who have been real kind) and the other half we kept. Ahem...do you blame me?

Well, as you can see I had all the intention of posting one of these but I am holding off. I know. I am cruel but you will not be sorry.

Today I want to talk a little about my blog design. I finally broke down and paid to get a nice design for the website. It is really nothing too fancy but it is clean, fresh, and elegant, in my opinion. I kept trying to do it myself, but who am I kidding? I am not a code writer (I want to learn soon!) and I am not a designer.

I have been subscribed to Melissa Rose's blog called 20 Going on 80 for a while now and I have been keeping my eye on her blog design company for a while. She is a lovely 20-something gal who is not only a graphic designer but she is also a baker, photographer, knitter, and more! She claims to have hobbies that an 80 year old would have. LOL. Quite humorous.

Anyway, I finally caved and decided to buy one of her pre-made blog designs when she was running a special. The beauty and reason I caved is that she creates designs for the Blogger platform. I do not know when I will have the guts to switch over to Wordpress but for the meantime, I figure I have wasted to much time not having a nice look so I chose a lovely 3-column design and purchased it.

I am SO happy with my design and the process I went through to tell Melissa everything I wanted was super easy. She is super organized with a survey with questions asking what social buttons I would like on my page down to the column titles. It is all well done and done in the style of the pre-made blog you choose. I had my new look running within 72 hours with nothing to stress about.

How would you like to choose one of her designs?

Here are some examples of her designs:

Melissa has very generously offered to give ONE of my readers an opportunity to choose one of her premade blog designs for FREE, which is valued at $50.

Now remember this is only for people who use the BLOGGER platform. Good luck on the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Savory Zucchini Spelt Pancakes


I have been a little stuck with savory dishes lately since I have been quickly planning my weekly meals. I am hoping to get more baking done this weekend especially since we have a pool party. I am bringing a dessert and at this moment I am thinking cupcakes. Ryan has been requesting my lime cupcakes so I will probably work on those.

Anyone have grand plans this weekend besides preparing for kids going back to school? Ryan starts his job this next week and I have to say that I am going to miss him terribly. I am spoiled having him at home during the summer so when fall comes around the house sounds so quiet. Not only this but he ends up being lots of help with Julianne.

I am sure I am not the only one but I am trying to create a weekly schedule that balances morning and afternoon outings so that Julianne and I do not feel so enclosed in our homes. I was successful finding mom groups in Michigan to connect with but it is a little more challenging here. Facebook has been helpful but then I am finding that most groups require a yearly fee.

I feel like I am in a sorority or club and in high school all over again. I tend to rush things along but I know that it will take time getting to know people in our area. In the meantime, we have been meeting our neighbors and Ryan and I are planning on having people over for dinner so that is always good.

Back to food though, this week I worked with whole wheat spelt. The last few recipes had me using the white spelt flour but now I opened my big bag of whole wheat spelt and finished up using my ginormous zucchini. I love how it is in season but seeing that I am the only one who likes it in our house, besides having it in the chocolate bread, then I pick and choose recipes.

Savory Zucchini pancakes

I have been wanting to make zucchini pancakes for a while and have had Ina Garten's recipe pinned. I was not convinced that the recipe was going to cut it and I wanted to make some modifications. I wanted to try and vegan version and a vegetarian version to see what the flavors would be like.

I made Ina Garten's recipe to start and thought it was VERY bland. I substituted the flour for the whole wheat and I added some spices. Ryan tried the first pancakes and also thought there was something else missing. Once I added my ingredients we both had a vegan and vegetarian version and they were both equally delicious and a lot MORE savory.

Savory zucchini pancakes 1

SCORE! Don't you just love tinkering with recipes? I certainly do. I also miss my chemistry lab classes because I always like mixing different chemicals for our experiments. I guess that is why I like modifying recipes. I feel that a recipe can always be a little better. Is this pretentious? I think it is exciting, but I might be wrong.

So how do you eat these pancakes? I had them for lunch with a large green salad. YUM! We also just had them for breakfast with some diced tomatoes on top, fruit on the side and coffee for a complete breakfast. You can also have them for dinner with another side veggie or salad. There are so many possibilities.  I did not venture into the sweet and savory but if you feel like pouring some fresh maple syrup, you go on and try it and let me know how you like it!

Enjoy this recipe!!

Savory Zucchini Spelt Pancakes

by Noelle Kelly
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 min total

Ingredients (18-20 pancakes)
  • 4 cups zucchini, grated (1/2 a large garden zucchini)
  • 1 medium white onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloved, minced
  • 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten / OR 4 flax "eggs" (4 Tablespoons flax seed meal + 12 Tbsp warm water)
  • 1 cup whole wheat spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Grate zucchini and onion in a food processor or box grater. Place in a bowl and add seasonings, flour, and baking powder. Mix well.

Add beaten eggs to the mixture and let it sit for 5 minutes/ OR to make VEGAN, prepare the flax seed meal with the warm water and mix well. Let sit for 5 minutes then add to the zucchini.

In a non-stick pan or griddle pan, add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and let it cook for 3-5 minutes on each side. The pancake will rise and be golden brown. Flip to the other side and it will finish cooking in 1-2 minutes.

Serve on top of a salad or with marinara.

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Spicy Veggie and Egg Skillet and Good News

Hope everyone had a great weekend! It feels like we are finally settling into our home as we put the final finishing touches. 

We went garage saling this weekend and found some cool pieces of furniture for super low prices. I think I like this area for garage sales. Yay!

So I finally have some news to share with the blogging community. We are expecting our SECOND child. I am almost 4 months along and am due in February. Yes! Our children will be about 15 months apart so my hands will be quite busy. Ha. I will continue to venture with mt recipes for sanity. I will!
2nd pregnancy

I know Julianne will be so excited to have a play partner. We are longing for play dates because I can only imagine her being bored to tears with no one to play with except her parents. We have found several parks and maybe we will run into other families soon.

We are slowly getting to know people in our church so I know that in time we will have families to hang out.

In the meantime I continue onto my quest for quick meals.  I bring you this yummy skillet I saw in Better Recipes. It won for being the best meatless recipe and so I thought I would try it but I cannot do anything without adapting or modifying.

I thought it needed more veggies so I nixed the corn and added a bunch of asparagus and mushrooms. It made for a complete meal. 


I would make a green salad to accompany it for next time but we had plenty of yummy tomato sauce for dipping so we had some whole wheat bread for dipping.

For you vegans out there, you can leave out the eggs and add tofu if wanted.

yummy skillet

If you have noticed I am eating a wide range of foods and creating recipes that are not vegan but feel free to make your own substitutions to make them vegan. We enjoyed this recipe in our home and plan to make it again.

Any questions you have for me? I am here to answer them. I will be writing a post about how much lighter I am with this pregnancy. I am totally not having the same symptoms that I had when I was pregnant with Julianne and I was not even vegan with that pregnancy. 

My focus all around is having a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle that nourishes my family and my children.

Spicy Veggie and Egg Skillet

by Noelle Kelly

heavily adapted from HERE
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients (4 servings)
  • 1 pound red potatoes, washed and cut in cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups white button mushrooms, cut in fourths
  • 1- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons Tony Chachere's cajun seasoning
  • 6 large eggs, organic
Wash potatoes and dice into 1-inch cubes. Place in a medium pot and cover with water. 

Bring to a boil and boil potatoes for 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat, add onions, poblano peppers, and garlic and saute' for 7 minutes. Add asparagus and mushrooms and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, water and seasonings and bring to a boil. Boil for 7 minutes.
To add eggs: Make 6 cavities in the tomato mixture and crack each egg into each cavity. Cover the skillet and lower heat to medium. Cook until the eggs are to your desire. For poached cook for 10-15 minutes.

Divide mixture between 4 plates and serve with whole wheat bread for dipping.
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Veggie Spelt Pasta Salad

I feel like my meal planning and recipe creating juices have returned to me. Does it take a change of location and different kitchen for this to happen? Well,whatever it is I will gladly embrace it.

Nothing has changed in our home since moving. Since I am still working from home, managing a certain schedule to maintain sanity is dire! I am trying to plan more the night before for lunches and dinners. Ryan will soon start his new job and we have talked about the importance of saving money, so planning lunches is really important. It is not only important for him but also for me. I do not have a lot of time to just prepare meals. I need something that I can put in a bowl and eat quickly so I can prepare Julianne's meals as well.


I am not feeding Julianne the same foods that I am because we are not feeding dairy at all so I have only been focusing on whole fruits and veggies with occasional eggs here and there.

After receiving my 2 boxes of spelt rotini pasta I decided to make a pasta salad. My mother would make these salads frequently as we were growing up. Pasta is not only delicious warm or hot but it is really delicious cold especially with the right ingredients.

spelt pasta salad 1

I had a nice bunch of asparagus to use so that went well with some fresh red peppers and cucumbers. I added crumbled feta cheese but pickled tofu or sliced green olives could substitute for the feta to give the salad the desired sharp and tangy flavors. These were all items I had on hand so you can always substitute your favorite veggies too.

The salad makes 2 big large lunch portions which Ryan and I quickly devoured yesterday. SO how about that spelt pasta? YUM! I definitely prefer it to whole wheat pasta even though I will still eat it. Their certainly was no graininess in this pasta and it was very flavorful. It takes 4 minutes to cook and it cools quickly too. What a plus!

Spelt pasta salad

You have to find some of Nature's Legacy Tri-Color Spelt Rotini because it is definitely worth it. It is healthy and cheap. Make sure to check out Nature's Legacy store to see where you can find this product. You can also buy it from their store as well.

Enjoy the recipe!

Veggie Spelt Pasta Salad

by Noelle Kelly
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Keywords: boil dressing salad lunch vegetarian spelt asparagus summer

Ingredients (2 large lunch portions)
    Pasta Salad
    • 3 cups cooked spelt pasta
    • 1/2 cup chopped English cucumber
    • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
    • 1 cup blanched asparagus, blanched
    • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup light crumbled feta cheese
    • Vegan option: sub in pickled tofu or 1/2 cup chopped pitted green olives
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
    • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • crushed pepper
    Pasta Salad
    Cook pasta according to boxed directions. Drain after cooking, place in a glass bowl and drizzle with a little oil and let cool. Chop the veggies.
    Chop up the asparagus. Place in boiling water for 3-5 minutes and then blanch them so they stay nice and green. Drain.
    Add the asparagus and the rest of the veggies to the pasta. Add the feta cheese or vegan options. Make the dressing.
    For dressing
    Crush the garlic and place in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a small fork. Pour dressing over salad and mix well.
    Refrigerate overnight or consume immediately.
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    Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

    Hello lovelies! I am so excited to finally be posting a recipe!!! Can you tell? Ryan and I have been really tired of eating out and now that our kitchen is all set up I have been busy making quick and fresh meals.

    Now that we lie in the East Coast we have different shopping options I am not really familiar with. Giant, ACME, Wegmans, and Weis. Where do I begin? I am SO happy that I at least have a Trader Joe's 20 minutes away from us and I am personally shocked I have not been able to visit yet. Whole Foods is also availlable but the closest one is 30 minutes. We have an employee-owned 24-hour grocery store right by our home but it is limited in its produce. 

    I love finding new places but my goal is to find FRESH produce and even try to find local farms for produce. I cannot sign up on a CSA because I am just too late on that so perhaps next year.

    This past weekend we went to Amish country, specifically Lancaster and I found some great produce for super cheap. I forgot to take a picture of the monstrous cantaloupe we have been enjoying. Julianne loves it too! I also bought a huge quart of tomatoes for 1.99 and a giant zucchini for baking.

    top of zucchini bread

    Last night I quickly shredded my zucchini, half for a baked good and the other half for some planned dinner cakes.

    So what did I bake? Well, let me start by saying that my huge incentive was Torye Santucci. She contacted me a few weeks back, before we moved and asked if I would love to try some spelt products. I agreed but I was not sure when I would get to trying them but with the 2 weeks I hardly cooked I started thinking about recipes. 

    Ms. Santucci works for Purity Foods, a company that has created Vita-Spelt and Nature's Legacy. They make all kinds of flours, like whole wheat and white spelt flour, and all kinds of pastas, pretzels, granola and more. The company was kind enough to send me 1 large package of whole wheat white spelt flour and white spelt flour and two kinds of pastas.

    What is spelt? I love the company's explanation because it feels how it is described. 

          Spelt is an ancient grain widely recognized for its many health benefits
    Triticum spelta, the scientific name for spelt, 
     is a hardier and more nutritious cousin to modern wheat (Triticum aestivum). 
    Some taxonomists classify spelt as a parent of wheat.

    A big plus for our family is that spelt pastas retain its texture so it is not grainy like whole wheat pasta. Ryan really dislikes grainy pasta so I will be convincing him with these products. Spelt does contain gluten but it is a different form of gluten that is in whole wheat and is easier to digest. I do not personally have a gluten intolerance so I cannot confirm this.

    Spelt flours can be substituted for all flours and as I will show in my new recipe I feel like that it makes for delicious and moist breads.

    zucchini loaf 

    I took a recipe I worked with 2 years ago and revamped it. We ate 2 big slices warm from the oven and Ryan gave it a BIG 2 thumbs up. I believe he went back for seconds. :-)  Enjoy the recipe!

    Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

    by Noelle Kelly
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 60 minutes
    Keywords: bake bread breakfast brunch dessert vegan vegan recipes on recipage chocolate zucchini summer

    Ingredients (2 big loaves)
    • 3 flax "eggs" ( I used 3 Tbsp ground flax seeds + 9 Tbsp water)
    • 1/2 cup applesauce
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 3/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk
    • 1 3/4 cups vegan sugar
    • 2-1/2 cups Vita-Spelt white spelt flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup cocoa
    • 2 cups grated zucchini
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts
    • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
    • dark chocolate chips for sprinkling
    Grate and dab the zucchini between paper towels to remove excess moisture.
    (You can use a food processor to grate zucchini)
    Chop the walnuts and spray two 9" x 5" pans with non-stick spray.
    Beat together the eggs substitutes first and set aside for 5 minutes. Add the unsweetened applesauce, vanilla, milk and sugar.
    In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and cocoa. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and mix together. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
    Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Divide the 1 cup of walnuts between both pans and pat into batter. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips for each pan and press into batter.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
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    Moving update

    I really made myself post because we have been SO busy there is hardly any time.

    We moved out of our Michigan home last Wednesday and started our 2 day trek to Pennsylvania on Thursday.

    It took 4 1/2 hours to load the truck and luckily we were blessed with lots of help! I almost panicked and thought we were not going to have enough space for our crap. We had gotten rid of so much already I did not want to think we needed to rent a smaller truck for more stuff.

    The home was cleaned, luckily I found a fabulous Groupon deal for house cleaning that helped me from breaking my back. All I really had to clean was the oven and refrigerator. What a deal! It was super strange to have all the space in the duplex. Julianne did not know what to do with all the space.

    She ignored all her toys and went for outlets, cables and more. She even found a roll of paper towel to tear up. It was funny.

    Ryan and I drove separately. He drove the big Penske truck, which had a trailer in the back for my car, and I drove his car with Julianne in the back. I was very thankful for all the prayers because even though we split the trip between 2 days (6 hour increments), she took all her naps which were 1 1/2 hours long! Yeah!

    Another plus is that we skipped taking toll roads and took a more scenic drive through Pennsylvania. It was gorgeous and very woodsy and hilly.

    We did take occasional breaks for lunch, feedings, and even coffee breaks.

    Nothing like trying to stay awake on the road.

    The nice thing about almost arriving to our destination was going through Lancaster, PA, Amish country. We plan on going this weekend since Ryan's sisters and my mother-in-law are in town. I will report back. They have been here in PA and will be here the WHOLE week helping us unpack and playing with Julianne.

    It has been a total blessing and a huge help. Moving with a baby is challenging. It is doable but it is challenging. 

    The biggest excitement is that besides Julianne being so mobile she pulled herself up ALL by herself. She was so proud, now all she has to learn is to plop herself on the floor safely.

    This stage is fun but also very scary. Outlet covers and security gates for our multiple floors will be ordered and more child-proofing will be required. I know I will not be there for ALL her tumbles but I am sure a vigilant mother. 

    Stay tuned for pictures of our new place!

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