Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Stacks

Not very many people like beets. They definitely are an acquired taste, a taste I strongly suggest you try.  The first or second time may still gross you out, but I am telling you, try them prepared homemade or professionally (NOT FROM THE CAN) and you will be pleasantly surprised.  They are sweet, yet Earthy and rich in various nutrients.


Last year, I was out to dinner in Chicago celebrating my sister’s Master’s graduation.  We were at a restaurant known for their chicken and waffles, which were amazing.  Our table tried the beet appetizer on the menu, most guests at the table skeptical and uninterested.  However, the stacks of deep purple goodness were welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed.  Ever since we had this recipe I have wanted to create some type of beet stack similar to this one.  Unfortunately, Bryan is not a fan and so I never buy any while at the store.


Fortunately, Bryan’s mom planted beets in her garden this year so I received my first batch of beets last week.  You can’t get much more organic than produce from your own backyard.  I can’t wait to have a large yard one day so I can have my own garden!  So when Bryan came home with the bag of beets I knew I wanted to create a stack like the one in the restaurant.  I wanted it to be a simple bite that I could enjoy before our dinner  (Grilled Chinese BBQ Pork Tenderloin) and not be full.


I had some delicious, creamy goat cheese in the fridge that I sliced into small medallions as the 2nd star in my stack.  A simple sprinkle of parsley from my balcony garden and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar completed my creation.  These are very easy (although a bit messy, they stain your hands pink) to prepare and very beautiful.  Prepare these stacks and encourage your guests to try them.  So don’t be shy and quickly move on to your next blog, give the beet a try!

roasted beet & goat cheese stacks

Recipe by: Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 1 hour   |||   Servings: 4  |||   Difficulty: Medium

~8 beets (2 per person, depending on size)
~4 oz goat cheese
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Remove the stems and greens from the beets.
3.  Place the beets on some tin foil, leaving enough room to wrap up into a pouch.  Add the garlic cloves to the beets and drizzle with olive oil.
4.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and close up the foil pouches.  Place in oven directly on the rack.
5.  Once fork tender (about an hour) remove and use a paring knife to remove the peel.
6.  Cut the beets horizontally and stack them back up alternating with the goat cheese.
7.  Sprinkle with the parsley and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.
8.  Serve warm or chilled.



Tomato & Goat Cheese Endive Cups

{healthy & vibrant snack}


As you know, I am a big snack & appetizer fan.  Sometimes I get really sad when out to dinner if I accidentally max out on the appetizers.  No room for dinner!  However, it is really hard to pass up appetizers so I try to opt for healthy, less filling ones.

When we go out Bryan and I are always suckers for mussels or seared Ahi tuna bites.  If I am not having seafood for dinner, these are my go-to appetizers.  I am never left full and ready for dessert.  Veggie appetizers are few and far between so I have been experimenting with some ideas.

I have been compiling a list of some apps that I would like to serve when I host a Sip Happens party.  I am all about balance… a protein app, a sweet app, sweet & savory combo app, veggie app etc.  Since I am on a healthy and clean eating kick, using the endive leaves as scoops instead of crackers makes for a low carb, practically calorie free alternative.

This appetizer is a beautiful one to present with its vibrant colors.  The mixture can easily be adapted to your likes as well.  I love tomatoes anytime of the year so that was the main veg here.  I paired it with creamy goat cheese and thyme.  As summertime approaches, I will definitely be making this again as a caprese version!

tomato & goat cheese endive cups

Recipe by: Doughie
Hands on time:  15 minutes   ///  Servings:  about 18

3 endive bunches
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup of goat cheese crumbles
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp Agave nectar (or honey)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

1.  In a bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, thyme and spices.
2.  Drizzle over the tomatoes.  Refrigerate until serving.
3.  Gently, remove each endive leave for the core.
4.  Add the goat cheese to the tomato mixture.
5.  Spoon a bit into each endive cup.
6.  Serve immediately.



Pineapple Salsa

{take me somewhere tropical}


In light of my intense cabin fever, I am sharing my deliciously refreshening Pineapple Salsa recipe.  I am so damn sick of winter that I cannot even deal.  The few snow storms were fun and great and yadda yadda, but enough is enough.


 I think I officially got over the winter after a evening playing in the snow for 2 hours with Bryan and Chase.  We took a sled out and soared down the massive snow mounds in our neighborhood.  I pulled Chase in the sled for approximately 30 seconds before I keeled over thinking I was having a large heart attack.  Turns out I wasn’t, just an incredibly out of shape person.  We had a lot of fun outside, but that was enough for me for 365 days.  Bring on the sunshine.

Anyways, enough talk of this dreary winter and onto my salsa.  I first made this to go with a citrus rubbed salmon.  I had a bit leftover so it went into the fridge and tasted even better the next day.  I started making the salsa to simply eat with chips.  The sweet and spicy pair nicely and the tropical flavor gave me a small glimpse of warmer weather.


Serve it plain with chips (like I did for the Super Bowl) or over grilled chicken or fish.

*Buyers Tip:  when deciding what pineapple to buy smell it and if it is fragrant that means it will be nice and ripe for serving.

Pineapple Salsa by doughie

Hands-on Time:  15 minutes   ///   Servings 6-8

1 pineapple
2 Tbsp red onion
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tomato
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 lime
salt and pepper

1.  Peel and core the pineapple.  Cut into very small pieces.
2.  Cut the tomato and red onion into a very small dice.
3.  In a serving bowl, combine the pineapple, onion, tomato, and cilantro
4.  Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
5.  Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over the salsa.
6.  Mix together and allow ingredients to sit together for about an hour.
7.  Serve with tortilla chips or over chicken or fish.




Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly

{Fa La La La La La La La La}

Christmas time is here and it is here on full blast!  I cannot believe it is already December and the year is coming to an end.  It seems like yesterday was the 4th of July.  There certainly is something about this time of the year that makes life a bit more merry.  The twinkle lights all over our town and all the neighboring ones as well.  The Christmas decorating contest at work.  The Christmas music nonstop on the radio.  The beautiful churches with their holiday displays.  I love it all and at this moment cannot get enough of it.  However, everyone knows around the beginning of the year it has been exhausted & it is time to move on.

The cheer just began last night in our home.  It was decorating night yesterday and today our house is glittering with the holiday spirit.  The weather is so chilly, the house cozy warm, and smells of winter pine & a gingerbread candle burning among the fake snow.  Today, I am able to take some time on Not So Doughie and share some of my favorite holiday decorations with you.  My family and I get to enjoy our decorations, but I want to share them with my readers as well.  

My family cherishes the true meaning of Christmas and we also love creating memories and remembering old traditions.  For the past three years, we decorate and usually have some type of easy/fun dinner.  Last night I decided to make some snacks to munch on while listening to Christmas music and decorating the house.  We are such snackers that it is something we do often instead of making a full dinner.  When made not so doughie the dinner is pretty healthy & very satisfying.  Yesterday, the menu consisted of the following:









In this post, I will be sharing my version of the famous & admired Buffalo Chicken Dip.  I first had this delicious bite of heaven made by my stepmom, Rachel.  I believe she made it for one of her first experiences with the Czuba Family parties.  It was gone in an instant.  Everyone loved it and I definitely fell in love, adding it to my regular creations.  The original version is doughie so I have made it a little not so doughie so that I can eat a lot more & not feel so guilty.  The recipe is super easy & such a crowd pleaser.  There are so many versions out there now, but I find using the stove is the easiest.  Serve the dip with crackers or the not so doughie alternative, celery.


{Click here for the recipe}

Now I would like to share some of my favorite holiday decorations with you & their special meaning to me.  I love my entire collection of Christmas items, but there are some that I look forward to unwrapping each year.  It is tradition in my family to place your special ornaments on the tree each year.  I have many that I place on the tree & they sure make me smile.


I love love love this sweater ornament!  I wish I had the sweater in human size.  I am obsessed with all things miniature.  I actually have a miniature chair collection.. sounds odd, but they are cute to find & I like putting things on them.  I will share my collection in another post.  But how adorable is this sweater ornament?  It hand-sewn and each year I wish I could wear it myself.  This ornament is special to me because I bought it for my first Christmas tree after college.  I lived in freezing Chicago then so it was perfect for that time in my life.


This one is pretty self-explanatory.  2011 was the first Christmas Bryan and I spent together & bought our tree as a couple.  After the holiday season, we cut a slice of the trunk to create this ornament.  Looks like we had a Charlie Brown tree, but the piece has since shrunk in size.  I used a black sharpie to write on the wood.  I had to go over it several times to become real dark.  Then I had Bryan drill a small hole in the top to hang the ornament.  Bryan, Chase, and I will always remember this special first Christmas together.


This is a new addition to my ornament collection.  Each year my mom buys me a new ornament that has a special meaning.  Whether it is in regards to the past year or something special about my life.  This cute gingerbread man is certainly meaningful to my life & especially my childhood.  As a baby, I had a little pink, I don’t know, bear? That we called Sweetie Heart.  It was about the size of this ornament and was a little cute guy that I loved and still do :)  Sweetie Heart still lives at my Mom’s with her other friends.  Last year, my mom bought me this Gingerbread Sweetie Heart so I could have one of my own on my tree each year.


I swear I was born a beach bum.  And that is why I love this ornament that my stepmom Rachel bought me.  She said it instantly reminded her of me :)  Not only do I absolutely love the beach, but also the colors of this ornament.  If I didn’t live in the midwest I would be wearing flip-flops every day of the year.  I like the snowy season (pretty snow only, please), but this ornament brings a bit of warmth & beachiness to our tree.

I could probably post a picture of every single ornament on our tree & their significance.  However, that would make for a long post.  I may feature of few more throughout the holiday time & their meaning to me.  There are a few more Christmas items I wanted to share with my readers though.  If I have kept your attention this long, keep reading :)


Meet Doughie.  I spotted this adorable doughie shopping, skating, chef snowman last year.  I want to just gobble him up.  He is so chubby & really is representative of me.

Doughie = nickname & all things chubby and cute
Shopping = I could do it all day, everyday
Chef = Not So Doughie & love of cooking & food
Skating = The fun in my life


My mom started collecting her carolers years ago.  My sister and I were in love with them and so excited to pull them out of their boxes each year.  Her collection is very extensive & each one has meaning to her.  A couple of years ago, she bought me my first two carolers.  She said the man & woman represented Bryan & me and that throughout the years I could also start to collect the carolers.  The artist is very detailed and the figures look very cute & cozy.  I can’t wait to continue to add to my collection.


Alright people so I am already emotional because while writing this post the Meijer commercial where the family decorates the old lady’s house with Christmas lights just came on and had me in tears.  This last picture may cause these tears to linger a bit longer.  The cream & sugar Gingerbread houses belonged to my late Grandma Adrianne.  She loved holidays and made them so very special for all my family & especially her grandchildren.  I inherited a few of her precious belongings & this is one of them.  I don’t remember them growing up at all, but just knowing they were hers is special enough to me.  The best part:  there is still sugar in the sugar holder that I can’t seem to throw out.  I hope to keep these for many years and enjoy them in her memory.

I hope you have enjoyed my Christmas post & will leave you with a few more pictures.  May your holiday season be filled with joy, laugher, merriment & love.  Much love.

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Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

{a lucky pot}

When I started my job in the pharmacy I really liked how we had potlucks often to celebrate holidays, birthdays and achievements.  However, 1 & 1/2 years later I am starting to get a bit over them.  We seem to have them quite often and it can start to hurt my wallet.  I know I don’t HAVE to, but I always bring something delicious to share with my coworkers.  This was our second potluck in about a month and I was pretty creative for the last one {check out my Chicken & Waffle Bites Recipe}.  I wasn’t really in the mood to come up with an idea, get ingredients and make it after a long day at work and an intense workout class at Nth Degree.

Well, my idea of grabbing cheese and crackers for the potluck didn’t last long.  My coworker came to my desk and said “Sara, what are you making? I can’t wait because everything you make is so good and healthy too.”  Oftentimes, our potlucks are way doughie so I try to bring something not so doughie to fill my plate.  I told her I wasn’t feeling up for cooking and was going to just be like most of my coworkers and grab something at the store.  She said she would be willing to come up with an idea with me that we each could contribute to the dish.  I first thought a dip or maybe some snacks with a theme, but she suggested something more “food”.  I looked through a few of my blogspiration ideas and decided to go with a lettuce wrap.

It started with the idea to copy PF Changs Asian lettuce wraps then a taco lettuce wrap and finally I settled on a Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wrap.  Nicole offered to bring the toppings (blue cheese, Ranch dressing, tomatoes, onions).  I was in charge of making the tasty chicken and lettuce.  I have made shredded buffalo chicken sandwiches for my family before and they always seemed to come out dry and one-dimensional.  I guess I hadn’t figured out the ideal way to cook the chicken yet.  Until now.  These wraps were delicious!  My coworkers (once again) enjoyed my dish and I told Bryan to expect these for dinner sometime soon.  The chicken was so juicy, the flavor perfectly spicy, and the wrap is pretty healthy (and cheap too!).

So here I am once again, not upset I went through the “hassle” of making something to bring to the potluck.  I know I complained (to my coworker about bringing something and the beginning of this post), but in the end I love cooking and the greatest joy of it is seeing people gobble it up.  I received several compliments on the wraps and I really appreciate all the kind words from my coworkers about my food.  When the next potluck rolls around I hope to remember this post and the feeling I get when people get all excited about what Sara is bringing to the potluck.  My lesson:  count my blessings.  I am so happy to know how to cook and cook pretty well :)  I plan to continue to make my dishes for potlucks simply out of happiness.


{Click here for the recipe}