Apple Blue Crisps – A simple Summer Treat

Apple Blue Crisps - Simple Summer Treat Appetizer Food Photography - Little Rusted Ladle - WebFB
If you’re like Jena and I, every summer means having to come up with some appetizer or dish to bring to a friend’s party at the last minute. Sometimes that’s not so easy. Between cutting the grass, planting flowers, getting kids to summer events, and the endless parade of weddings, graduation parties or family summer excursions, those dishes to pass can sometimes cause us stress. Forget about the concept of creating something people will remember, or trying to make it healthy as well. Until now that is.
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Jena and I were working on a project for a client that involved creating a shot of multiple kinds of appetizers on different trays. We thought we were getting many choices, but only had a couple, so I had to come up with some more options and do it quickly. We had many ingredients to choose from, but nothing that seemed to really add any kind of visual excitement. Sometimes when in that kind of situation, you have to just trust your creativity and go with it. We had some cool dried apple crisps on hand, which were nothing more than dehydrated apple slices that were cut very thin and were very flat. My guess is they were weighted down to prevent curling. In addition to these, we had an assortment of cheeses, various dried fruits, nuts, and some fresh herbs. No breads were available and crackers seemed mundane, Dips or spreads were not an option because they needed to be finger foods. That’s when it hit me. Why not use the apple slices in place of a baguette slice or cracker and make a healthy, gluten free bruschetta appetizer? Kind of a portable salad.

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With the apple slice chosen as the edible canvas, we simply needed some color, texture and smell and flavor to give this canapé some life. What goes good with apples? Cheese. Blue cheese to be more specific. So do nuts and lettuce. By putting a few crumbles of blue cheese on the apple slice, we added a big punch of flavor. A whole almond added texture and a nice crunch, a few crumbles of freeze dried raspberries added great color and some tartness, a slice of dried apricot for more color and some sweetness, and a few fresh herb micro greens for the smell and splash of green to finish it off. What a great combination of flavors. Simple, fancy, yet achievable. In order to re-create them for this article, Jena dried some thin apple slices in the oven overnight, which only took about 10 minutes to prepare. All the other items we found in the grocery store or our gardens. The micro greens can be an easy find in the spring by simply planting a packet of fresh basil or cilantro seeds in a pot of soil and watering them everyday. Make sure they are in direct sun. When they start growing, you can use them as garnishes for cute appetizers like these. Feel free to substitute other chopped fresh greens or herbs for the micro greens if you want. Like everything we do here, there are no rules, so do whatever you want. Just think with your tastebuds about what each ingredient will taste like.

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A platter of these simple but healthy canapés is a beautiful statement for your next party. Your friends will be asking for the recipe. Tell them you got the recipe from LRL, or tell them you came up with it on your own. It doesn’t matter. You’ll be happy you delivered a fun appetizer that is perfect for the last minute summer party when seven layer dip from the deli just doesn’t cut it anymore. Enjoy the summer and don’t forget to cook with love and live to cook.

Jim & Jena
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Apple Blue Crisps - A simple Summer Treat
Prep time
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These tasty and healthy appetizers have all the elements of a memorable appetizer. Just pile the ingredients on and enjoy.
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: American
Serves: 24
  • 24 Dehydrated apple slices
  • 1 Cup Blue cheese, broken into ½ " pieces
  • 4 Dried Apricots, cut into 6 slices each
  • 12 Freeze-dried raspberries
  • 24 Whole almonds
  • 1 C. Micro greens or chopped fresh herbs like basil, or tarragon
  1. Place a piece of blue cheese on each apple slice and top with a small amount of remaining ingredients. Place on trays, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Baklava | Mother’s Recipe

Baklava Recipe with Honey and Almond - Little Rusted Ladle

Earlier this week, Jim wrote a wonderful tribute to his mother with her strawberry pie recipe.  Today I am sharing a recipe of my mother’s, baklava.
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I have sweet memories of cooking this dessert with my mom.  After making it by myself for the first time I can see why she needed the extra set of hands.  The phyllo dough in the recipe is quite thin and dries so quickly.  It can be quite challenging if you do not have a cooking partner.  The aroma of cinnamon and cloves filled the air as it was baking in the oven and instantly I had memories of my mom making this on special occasions. Although sometimes she made it just because I requested it, thereby making it a special occasion!  My mom, like many others, would do anything for me and I am so grateful she filled my life with all the memories of crafting and cooking together.

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Mom didn’t cook a lot, but when she did it was fantastic!   She was a very picky eater so everything she made was kid-friendly.  Her most loved recipes were rotisserie chicken, dumpling soup, pork egg rolls, homemade alfredo pizza, rumaki, and of course my personal favorite, baklava.  I think she would have cooked more if it didn’t create such a mess.  She might have been on to something, as my syrup for topping the baklava boiled over creating the most ridiculous sticky situation!

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This day five years ago I lost this amazing woman.  Even before she became sick about four and a half years prior, I often thought to myself there is just no way I could handle it if anything happened to her.  I need her, but as time moves on and new joys come into my life my heart is healing.  It has been years since I have even tasted baklava.  The first bite brought me to back to days of her and I together at home, and on a day like today I needed that. This Mother’s Day, do something special with your family, and maybe make it an extra special occasion by sharing in some homemade baklava.

Jena and Jim

Baklava | Mother's Recipe
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Serves: 20
  • 3 cups almonds
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ½ cup butter melted
  • 1 pkg phyllo leaves
  • syrup
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups sugar
  1. generously coat jelly roll pan with the melted butter. layer 6 sheets of phyllo leaves, buttering each one with a paint brush.
  2. Spread 1½ cups of the nut mixture over the phyllo leaves.
  3. Layer an additional seven leaves with butter. Spread the remaining nut mixture over this.
  4. top with the final 6 sheets of phyllo leaves with butter.
  5. Score the baklava diagonally into a 2 or 3 " diamond shaped pieces.
  6. Bake for 1¼ hours in a 375 oven until golden brown
  7. While baking, prepare the syrup. Bring ingredients to a boil. Pour over the baked baklava and allow to return to room temperature.



Lynn | The Road to Honey - What a wonderful story about your mother. She sounds like truly a special lady and I am sure she would be proud to see you making this treasured recipe. It looks absolutely divine and I am certain my Persian hubby would love a few of these.

Amy - You said in the first paragraph that you are going to share the recipe for the baklava? I am not seeing it on the bottom like your normal posts?

It looks SO good! And thanks for sharing your sweet memories of your mom!

Co - I tasted baklava for the first time while in Miami last year. Had no idea how good it is. Thanks for sharing your special memories. Mother’s Day can be pretty tough for those of us who no longer have our mom. But I’m sure your mom appreciates your love for the baklava and she’ll be right there with you every attempt you make at her recipe.

Fresh Strawberry Pie – A Tribute to Mom

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If you look up the definition of Mother in Webster’s Dictionary, you simply get “female parent”.  However, anyone who grew up with a caring and wonderful mother as Jena and I both did, would think that definition is ridiculous.  Our mothers were so much more than that.  So much so, that as a tribute to them both, Jena and I have decided to dedicate the most of April and May to them as well as every other mom who makes a difference out there.  We are both writing separate articles about our moms, and including one of our favorite recipes of theirs.  I was lucky enough to go first.  So, without further ado, here’s a tribute to my mom Phyllis Jean Rude, who was my mom.

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Phyllis Rude was not unlike many mothers of her generation.  She was a stay at home mom, who raised my sister and myself with a lot of love.  She didn’t have to be a stay at home mom.  After all, she graduated near the top of her class from Marquette University as one of only a handful of women who graduated in the school of business.  She was extremely smart and was well on her way to a professional career when she decided to trade her professional aspirations when she gave birth to my sister and I.


Growing up with a mother like mine was a joy.  She was always there for me.  She made us breakfast in the morning, she would see me off to school and make us lunch and dinner.  Her cooking was almost always homemade.  I remember her spending hours scouring through magazines.  She’d cut out the ones that she liked and put them in file folders to be made another day.  It was funny, because she usually made the same things over and over, so I’m not sure when she planned on making any of those recipes she cut out.  There was one dessert that she made that I was always really excited about.  Her fresh strawberry pie.  Being a mother of the 50’s and 60’s meant she was barraged with convenience foods such as Campbell’s Soup, Hamburger Helper, Sloppy Joe Mix and the ever popular Jello.  What made her fresh strawberry pie recipe so wonderful was the effort.  Today you can buy fresh strawberries year round.  They are bright red, big and often very good.  However, back then, the only time she made that strawberry pie was during strawberry season, which was usually about three weeks to a month long.  During that time, she would go out to the strawberry farm and pick quart after quart of the most incredibly juicy and sweet berries you can imagine.  Since the strawberries were a seasonal and vine ripened fruit, there was literally only a day or two between when they were picked to when they had to be eaten or frozen, or the berries would get too soft or spoiled to eat.  This meant that there were literally only three to four times a year that we would get that pie.

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My moms strawberry pie wasn’t anything special in terms of the recipe itself.  After all, everyone made it back then.  I’m pretty sure Jello developed the recipe and thanks to good marketing and word of mouth, Jello sold a lot of product to moms looking for an alternate use to that jiggly gelatin dessert.  It’s basically fresh berries in a graham cracker or pastry crust, with a syrupy strawberry jello mixture spooned over the top and refrigerated.  I’m not a huge jello fan today, but as a kid, that pie was as close to heaven as I could imagine.  I would eat three slices in a sitting with no problem.  She’d make one, and it would be gone as soon as it was firm enough to cut.  I remember sitting in the kitchen and watching her make that pie.  She’s come home with the sun warmed berries.  She’d immediately wash and stem them and start making the pie.  She would keep enough berries for a pie and freeze the rest.  I of course would be right next to her eating them as fast as she was stemming them.  She would often say “if only you enjoyed picking them nearly as much as you do eating them.”  She was right.  I hated picking strawberries.  All that crouching and looking under the leaves to find the hidden berries.  I was often invited to help pick, but almost always declined in favor of playing with my friends.  Why not, I got the berries and the pie anyway.

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When the berries were stemmed, dried and ready, she would make the strawberry glaze, which was nothing more than water, sugar and cornstarch cooked in a saucepan, then strawberry jello mix stirred in and cooled until it was just thick enough to coat the berries. She said that if the mixture wasn’t the correct thickness or was too warm, it would soak into the crust and make a mess.  There was no room for error with this pie.  The pie was then refrigerated until the jello was firm.  I think she used the graham cracker crust because she was sick of spending the time to make a pastry crust only to have me devour the pie in less than thirty minutes.  I don’t blame her.  Cool Whip was the topping of choice, but I usually didn’t need it.  Heck, I didn’t need the plate.  I’d eat it right out of the pie plate if she let me.  She never did.  Something about “other people” wanting some.  Whatever!

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I always smile inside remembering the many fleeting fresh produce treats of my childhood.  However, the one that I am most fond of is that fresh strawberry pie.  Because it was made with local berries picked at their peak.  Mom would work hard to gather those berries, wash them, and spend time making those pies because she knew I loved them.  As she got older, the number of pies she made  dwindled.  However, every time she made one, an boyish excitement was renewed.  Last year I made her a fresh strawberry pie using the same berries from the same local farm.  I didn’t pick them, because I hate picking strawberries, but they were just as good.  There was a lump in my throat as I gave her that pie, because I realized I was now playing the part she had so many times over the years.  That was the last strawberry pie we shared, and like all those of my childhood, I will always remember it fondly.  She passed away last October, so this year will be the first Mother’s Day without her.  She was a great mom who could have been anything she wanted to be.  She chose to be a mother and I will always be eternally grateful for that sacrifice and for everything she taught me.  Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there who make all those wonderful memories for your kids.  You deserve more than a day.  Until next time, remember to cook with love and live to cook.


Jim & Jena

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4.0 from 1 reviews
Fresh Strawberry Pie
Prep time
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This classic strawberry pie is best when using farm fresh strawberries in season. You can substitute a fresh strawberry puree made with fresh strawberries and unflavored gelatin in place of the Jello.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8 servings
  • 1½ c. Graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 Qts. Fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed and cut in half lengthwise.
  • 1½ C. Water
  • ¾ C. Granulated cane sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 Pkg. (3ozs.) Strawberry Jello mix
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter and str until moistened. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 10" tart pan. Use a flat glass to make it even in thickness.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, finely chop 1 cup of strawberries and set aside.
  5. In a medium saucepan, combine water, sugar and cornstarch. Bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, then add Jello mix and reserved chopped strawberries. Remove from heat and let cool until slightly thickened but still liquid.
  6. Place strawberries cut side down side by side in bottom of cooled crust making one layer. Spoon half of the strawberry mixture over strawberries, making sure to cover all the berries.
  7. Layer remaining strawberries over sauce and finish by spooning remaining sauce over berries.
  8. Place level in a refrigerator until strawberry mixture has stiffened. Serve.

Judi Gnas - Simply beautiful in so many ways. A wonderful tribute to your Mom.

Megan @Meg is Well - I got teary eyed towards the end-such a lovely way to offer a tribute to your mom. Thanks for sharing!

Baklava | Mother’s Recipe | Little Rusted Ladle - […] this Week Jim wrote a wonderful tribute to his mother with her strawberry pie recipe.  Today I am sharing a recipe of my Mother’s, […]

Cindy Wichgers Hayes - Beautiful Tribute…❤️👍🙌🌹

Thalia @ butter and brioche - What a beautiful tribute! Love photos too, I can’t get enough of them. Xx

Co - Beautiful photos, as always, and what a loving tribute to a wonderful woman whom you were fortunate to have as your mother. Those are special memories you will have in your heart forever, right where she wanted them, as did all those special moms who have gone before us.❤️XOXO

Claudia | The Brick Kitchen - Such a lovely post, and a wonderful tribute to your Mom – it sounds like she was an incredible woman. Thank you for sharing your experience with us xx

Avocado Key Lime Chia Pudding & Natural Dyed Table Runner

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I am still way too into shabby chic — more then I should be.  But hey, Its Mother’s Day.  If there is ever a time to embrace it’s now.   I want to share my sweet little table scape design along with a delicious healthy recipe.  Avocados are wonderful used in decor and well as desserts.  Try this Avocado and Key Lime Chia Pudding but don’t throw out the skins.  Avocado skins when mixed with water over a low heat make the most rustic pink colorant.
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We used the dip dye technique on a burlap table runner and found fantastic ombre results.
1. Start by adding the skins of two avocados to three cups of water over low heat for 1 hour.
2. Cut piece of burlap to desired length and width.
3. Roll the burlap and stick one end in for 3-6 hours.
4. Air dry.

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One lesson I learned from my Mom is that you can never have too much dinnerware.   The eclectic floral plates were collected from antique stores and estate sales around the state. We kept the centerpieces simple by casually laying roses down the center of our tattered barn wood table.

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Enjoy the outdoors this Mother’s Day and treat your Mom to a rustic picnic in the woods!


Healthy Avocado and Key Lime Chia Pudding
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 avocados
  • 1 bananas
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • ¼ c key lime concentrate
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs Chia Seeds
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 t Matcha tea (optional)
  1. Add all ingredients in blender and blend on low.
  2. refrigerate 20 min before serving


The Magic of Mangoes – Champagne Mango Mint Smoothie/Cocktail

Champagne Mango Mint Smoothie cocktail Recipe
It’s that time of the year again.  No, I’m not talking about the crazy love hungry birds chirping like crazy first thing in the morning, which now comes earlier thanks to that big glowing orb in the sky rising earlier every day.  I’m talking about champagne mango season.  With tulips blooming and the trees getting ready to explode with foliage, one can’t help but be happy.  This winter was not a bad one for us midwesterners, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t ready for nature to pull out it’s full box of crayons and start coloring away the drabness of winter gray.  A few years ago, we posted our article on champagne mangoes called Champagne Mangoes – Tis The Season, which of course I recommend you revisit.  I often look back at our old articles for reference.  I really liked that article because it was so beautiful.  It was fresh, light and beautiful thanks to Jena’s ability to capture that perfect moment.  Champagne mangoes lift my spirits because they are so wonderfully sweet and so beautiful.
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With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I thought we should offer up a quick recipe for you to try that mom just might enjoy on her special day.  It’s called a Champagne Mango Mint Smoothie/Cocktail.  Yes, you guessed it, this fresh and healthy eye opener can become an eye closer if you add rum or vodka.  Not to say I recommend you get mom drunk on her special day, but let’s be honest, Mother’s Day usually involves mom still doing the lions share of work that day.  So, she can have the healthy version in the morning when you make her breakfast in bed.  Then make her the high octane version at night when she’s had enough of us and just wants a cool spring libation while reflecting on the headaches we caused her.  So, go out buy some of these golden gems of spring.  Put them in salads, smoothies, or add them to sauces.  They are a great gift of nature.  See you soon.
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Champagne Mango Mint Smoothie
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This light and beautiful smoothie is the perfect way to start the day.
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 4
  • 16 ozs. chopped fresh champagne mango pieces
  • 6 ozs. Pineapple flavored greek yogurt
  • 6 ozs. toasted coconut almond milk
  • 6 ozs. ice cubes
  • 6 ozs. fresh orange juice
  • 6 leaves fresh mint
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
For an adult version, add 3-6 ozs. of rum or vodka to the mix

Jim & Jena

Mango Smoothies | StyleMyDay - […] Recipe: Champagne, mango, mint smoothie […]

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