Endless Road Trip: Collingswood Pop Shop

There is more to South Jersey than the Real Housewives: there is food. We were recently visiting  to celebrate my future sister-in-law”s birthday and went to the Pop Shop in Collingswood, NJ. The name “pop shop” insinuates great ice cream floats, milk shakes, and fountain soda. However, I noticed that every waiter was wearing shirts touting their love for cheese. The shop was featured on Food Network”s Throwdown with Bobby Flay for their grilled cheese. The menu features the sandwiches from the show so some of us got that, while future sister-in-law ordered the trophy of dessert breakfasts – s”mores french toast. Then of course, we all gorged ourselves with desserts. Enough chit chat – on to the food.

S”mores French Toast:


Under the heading of “Fantastic French Toast Dreams,” you will find cinnamon bun french toast, banana”s foster, and even ham and cheese. But then you see the s”mores french toast on the menu and by chance see a waiter flaunting a pile of french toast, graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallow on what has to be a silver platter. Clearly someone at the table is ordering the s”mores french toast. Sister-in-law ordered it with a small amount of persuasion from the table and offers to give up half of their sandwich for a bite of the gooey french toast.  Well I got my bite in a trade for some bacon and cheese fries. The bite included savory fresh french toast  soaked with chocolate sauce. Then the marshmallow sauce that glues the stack of french toast together hits you. Your bite must include a piece of the top of the stack, since that is where the crunch of the graham cracker comes from. While I would never be able to finish an entire dish of it, I would suggest someone at my table order it again.

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Devilishly Good: Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

Pumpkin Devils on Horseback

One of my all-time, go-to apps is blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto, or as date eaters in the know call them, Devils on Horseback. They’re really simple to prepare and cook in a matter of minutes, plus their sticky-sweet-chewy-saltiness makes them sooo addictive.

I recently attended a fall potluck party and decided to autumn-ize my favorite devils by subbing the normal blue cheese filling with pumpkin goat cheese. They were just as delicious as the original version, with a festive seasonal twist. Your friends will rave about them, and only you will have to know the spooooky secret of these fall treats: they’re stupid easy to make.

Pumpkin Devils on Horseback

20 dates, pitted
1 small (about 4oz) goat cheese log
1/8 cup pumpkin puree
8 (thin!) slices of good prosciutto
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
black pepper & sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Let the goat cheese sit out for awhile so it’s nice and softened, then combine with the pumpkin puree. Add pumpkin pie spice and a couple pinches of S&P.

Stuff the dates with your filling – you want them to be nice and full but not overflowing, because obv the cheese is going to get melty in the oven and you don’t want a huge mess on your hands. I probably used about 1-2 teaspoons in each date?

Wrap each stuffed date in prosciutto. Just tear off a 1″ ribbon from the slice and stick it around the fruit. It doesn’t have to be perfect at all.

Place all your stuffed & wrapped dates on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake in the oven for just about 5-10 minutes. Once the prosciutto has kind of “melted” into the date and you can see the bottom of the dates slightly caramelizing, you’re good to go. Make sure to let these devils cool for about 10 minutes before serving – they get hotter than hell in that oven!

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Honeyed Strawberry, Avocado, and Almond Salad

Honeyed Strawberry Avocado Salad with Almonds

At this point I feel like I’m getting a reputation among my friends… a reputation for being the person who always brings the salad to the dinner party or cookout. Here’s the thing, though: salads are not boring if you do ’em right. I like to load mine with all sorts of vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and nice cheese. I’m also a fan of making my own dressing, which, on top of being better for you, adds so much more flavor and depth than your usual store-bought variety. (But if you are using a store-bought, my favorite brand is Briannas, which I’ve mentioned before in a similar recipe.)

I threw together one of my huge salads when I hosted our Bachelorette League at my place last week. Since I was making a big amount and I was a little crunched for time after work, I had my man help me out. And by “my man” I don’t mean my boyfriend Rob. I mean my man Joe. My man TRADER JOE. I got everything I needed from him for this dinner (including a bunch of cheap yet delicious wine, not pictured). Love u forever, TJs.

Honeyed Strawberry, Avocado, and Almond Salad

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Strawberry Fields Spinach Salad

Strawberry Fields Salad

This recipe is so simple I almost feel bad posting it as a “recipe”… except for I don’t feel bad, because it is SOOOO GOOD. You’ll see.

I originally experienced this heavenly combo during one of my weekly girls’ night dinner parties. I knew it was going to be a winner when I saw the dressing employed: Rich Poppy Seed Dressing from Brianna’s. Normally I don’t love bottled salad dressings, but this Brianna’s is different. I’ve been a big fan of their poppy seed dressing since I discovered it years ago. It’s an amazing complement to every sort of fruit (including peaches, as indicated on the bottle—and also avocado!)

The sweetness of the strawberries and the dressing is an obvious pairing with the tangy, creamy goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. The surprise here is the quinoa—usually I serve cooled quinoa in salads, but this one keeps it warm. This allows the goat cheese to melt into the quinoa and the rest of the salad ingredients, and slightly wilt the spinach. It all melts and mixes together just enough, not too much. The key? Slightly warm quinoa, not super hot right off the stove!

Sweet Strawberry Fields Salad

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Sweet and Spicy Triple Red Quinoa Salad

Let’s talk about cabbage. I love cole slaw—like, really love, it’s one of my favorite sides/snacks. Sometimes I will eat a big bowl of slaw for dinner. Is that weird? Probably. Other than cole slaw, though, I don’t really do much with cabbage. So I had to get a little creative with the huge head of crisp, red cabbage that came in our Johnson’s Backyard Garden CSA box last week.

Red Quinoa Cabbage Kale Salad

What’s my go-to when it comes to using up vegetables? Mixing them into some quinoa, of course. What’s my other go-to? Adding a runny egg to anything/everything. Using these two standby moves, I transformed a head of cabbage into a super flavorful, easy, and healthy dinner for the household. (Let me tell you, it’s fantastic living with a boyfriend and roommates who enjoy healthy cooking as much as I do.)

This warm salad is red on red on red on red! We’ve got red quinoa, red cabbage, and red onion mingling with kale, sour apple, rich tropical coconut oil, and sweet raisins. The addition of curry and red chile flakes kicks up the spice and keeps this combination from becoming too sugary. Make sure you don’t overcook your quinoa or produce—mushy quinoa is a bummer and you want to be able to savor the crispness of the cabbage, apples, and kale.

Sweet and Spicy Triple Red Quinoa Salad

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Stuffed Pumpkin 5.0: Bacon, Egg and Goat Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin


Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and those loyal ESers among you may have been wondering—what is Miss K going to cook inside a pumpkin this year?  (Or perhaps you had forgotten this annual tradition.  That would be understandable.  After all, it has been a whole year.)  Whether you are new around here or just want to refresh your memory, you can read about my other stuffed pumpkins here, here, here, and here.  For my pentannual pumpkin post, I decided to go in a different direction, mealwise.

Inspired by Mike’s round-up of butternut squash recipes, I recently made a butternut squash gratin, which bore a striking resemblance to my family’s typically breakfast casserole, but, you know, with squash.  As I was eating it, I had three thoughts: 1) I cut these potatoes too big. This has been a common problem for me lately.  More on that another day. 2) This would be better with bacon.  3) Aha!  I have discovered the secret to this year’s stuffed pumpkin!

And so, without further ado, I have just the recipe you need to impress your in-laws on the day after Thanksgiving.  That is, if everyone hasn’t already, at that point, vowed to eat only green leafy vegetables until Christmas.


Bacon, Egg and Goat Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin

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From App to Snack: Jalapeno Popper Popcorn

Fried foods aren’t really my bag.  They smell, look and sound good..but they leave me feeling kinda crappy.  Am I alone in this?

Well, I decided to remake an often-craved fried food in a slightly-better-for-you snack. Yep—I put the flavors of a jalapeno popper in my popcorn.

It happened and boy, am I glad it did.

Also, this popcorn has bacon.  Do you need any more convincing to make this?  I think not.

Jalapeno Popper Popcorn

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