Italian Marinated Eggplant

It should come as no surprise that Crowded Earth Kitchen features at least one or two new eggplant recipes every summer. When you emphasize “fresh” and “frugal” in your kitchen, eggplant has a way of emerging as a frequent star. This summer, as these lovely purple beauties make their way from our garden to our table, we’re trying something new. Italian Marinated Eggplant is best served cold as part of an antipasto platter, with a side of crusty bread, or as a salad ingredient with fresh mozzarella (shown above). Enjoy!

eggplant1Ingredients (Makes 1 quart)

1 large or 3 small eggplant Continue reading

Cheesy Hot Crab Dip

WIN_20160530_172010Seriously friends, Cheesy Hot Crab Dip is awesome. Set a dish of this on the deck with a bowl of tortilla chips at your next cookout, and it will surely disappear before the grill is ready. Summer is short. Have some delicious fun!

WIN_20160530_164641Ingredients (Fills one pie plate)

8 ounces light cream cheese, softened

8 ounces light sour cream

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)

12 ounces imitation crab meat, diced

1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon finely diced onion

1/2 teaspoon ground paprika

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese


Step 1) Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese in a medium size mixing bowl for about 30 seconds. Add all remaining ingredients except for the shredded cheddar cheese, and blend well.

Step 2) Transfer the cheesy crab dip mixture to a pie dish (9 inch diameter). Spread so that the top is even, and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.

Step 3) Bake your Cheesy Hot Crab Dip in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the dip is bubbly and the top begins to turn golden brown.

Step 4) Allow to cool slightly (5 minutes or less) before serving.

Bacon Wrapped… Watermelon?

WIN_20150327_185630Yes. If you are unfamiliar with the marvel of sweet pickled watermelon rind, I highly recommend you pick up a jar and try some today!

Watermelon Rind Pickles (16 oz Jar)

WIN_20150503_111724If you’re more of a do-it-yourself’er than an online shopper, feel free to message me for a recipe. Making sweet pickled watermelon rind takes some time, but is worth it if you enjoy this delicacy as much as I do.

Either way, once you have your sweet pickled watermelon rind, making bacon WIN_20150503_113227wrapped appetizers is a SNAP. All you need is a jar of pickled watermelon rind, a pound of sliced bacon, and toothpicks.

First, cut each strip of bacon in half, into two short strips.

Second, wrap each short bacon strip around a piece of pickled watermelon rind, and WIN_20150503_115432secure with a toothpick.

Third, place bacon wrapped pieces on a baking sheet with shallow sides. I recommend lining the baking sheet with foil, for easy clean-up!

Fourth, bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until bacon is crispy. Watch carefully so that your bacon wrapped watermelon doesn’t burn!

I can practically guarantee that your party guests will not only find these appetizers delicious, but they’ll make a great conversation starter as well!  Enjoy.  🙂

“Up North” Okra

WIN_20150723_184859I try to grow okra in my Up North garden every summer. Once in a while I get lucky and pick a few sparse cups of this delicious, versatile veggie. Most summers, well… trying to grow okra Up North is a bit like trying to grow rhubarb Down South. Some plants just know when they’re a long way from home!

WIN_20150723_175741Lucky for me, I have a brother-in-law Down South with a garden the size of a small farm. He’s generous in sharing vegetables (and I think he’s more than a little amused by my tiny okra plants). Whenever I am gifted with okra from Down South, I try different cooking techniques. Southern cooking is a mystery to me.

So, what’s an Up North gal to do?


In this recipe, we’re treating okra the same way I would treat eggplant strips or calamari. The result is tender on the inside, lightly crunchy on the outside, pleasantly seasoned, and very low in fat. Topped with a bit of parmesan cheese and red sauce, these little okra bites are fabulous. Try something new today!

WIN_20150723_180620Ingredients (Makes 4 – 6 side dish servings)

4 cups fresh okra, sliced into bite size pieces

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

WIN_20150723_1810091 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 cup of red sauce (such as Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce) for dipping


Step 1) Coat a baking pan with shallow sides using 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil.

Step 2) Pour beaten egg over okra pieces and toss with a fork to coat evenly.

Step 3) Sprinkle cornmeal, salt, and paprika over okra. Toss with a fork to coat evenly.

Step 4) Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn okra over with a spatula after 15 minutes.

Step 5) Transfer okra to a serving plate. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese while still hot. Serve with red sauce.