Make like an apple and be saucy!

As an upstate New York native, I’m accustomed to having four distinct seasons and unlike here in Washington, DC, summers up north don’t wear out their welcome.  Fall has long been my favorite time of year, and I can barely wait to see the landscape explode into a riot of colors.  The days are shorter, the nights are cooler, and the urge to cook and nest takes hold.

When I think back to the autumns of my youth, I remember the excitement of heading back to school; rooting for our home team, the Purple Eagles, at Friday night football games; hiking  at Letchworth State Park (aka “Grand Canyon of the East”) and collecting colorful leaves for pressing between sheets of waxed paper; gathering glossy brown chestnuts in big paper bags from the huge tree down the block from my grandparent’s house; and eating lots and lots of apples.

The town I grew up in is pretty rural and surrounded by acres of farmland and many other similarly situated small communities.  My Aunt Cindy married into a family that owned apple orchards, and I recall her leaving bushel after bushel of Empire apples on my grandparent’s back porch for the rest of us to grab and enjoy.  My mother comes from a family of eight, and I’m the oldest of twenty-two grandchildren on that side of the family, so we went through A LOT of apples.  Empires are a cross between Red Delicious and McIntosh, and they’ve got a fantastic crisp texture and sweet-tart flavor.  Cindy also used to bring us gallons of freshly-pressed cider, and to this day, I’ve yet to find a cider (and I’ve tasted them far and wide over the years) that’s even remotely as good as the one her family made. So many ciders are overly sweet, and theirs used a combination of apples that ensured just enough tartness to prevent the flavors from being too cloying.

Apple tree at Heyser Farms

Guarding the apples

Each year, I look forward to the abundance of apples that the season brings.  I’m not much of a fruit eater, but I make an exception for apples, and you can find me eating them out of hand on a daily basis when they’re in season.  This past weekend, while passing through Colesville, Maryland, we stopped at Heyser Farms to pick up a bushel of apples (and some delicious cider, I might add) and take a brief stroll through the orchard.  To make use of the apple bounty, I’ve developed and road-tested a couple recipes that I’d like to share, along with a third recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart.  I recommend using a red apple variety that’s in season where you live, preferably one that’s crisp and not excessively sweet.  If you try any of the recipes, drop me a line back or comment on this post to let me know what you think.  And feel free to share your favorite way to enjoy apples too.  Happy cooking—and eating!

Smoky Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Serves 4

An original Sugar On My Tongue recipe

A few years ago, I made a paella recipe that called for lots of smoky Spanish paprika. It was my first real encounter with the ingredient, and today it’s become one of the staples in my pantry. There’s just enough in this soup to add a smoky depth and richness that nicely complements the earthy squash and sweet apple flavors.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large dice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium red apples (look for sweet/tart and crisp),
peeled, cored and cut into large dice
1 tsp lemon juice
1 small onion, diced
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1½ tsp coarse salt
1½ tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp smoky Spanish paprika
2 c chicken or vegetable stock
1½ c water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 sprig cilantro, optional for garnish
4 Tbsp light sour cream, optional for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  2. Toss diced squash with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and spread out on foil-lined baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle pinch of coarse salt over squash. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until squash is fork tender and lightly caramelized.
  3. While squash is cooking, toss diced apple with lemon juice, and set aside.
  4. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat and add onion. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, salt and spices and sauté for 2-3 more minutes, being careful not to burn garlic.
  5. Add apples, water and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until apples are fork tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Puree roasted squash in batches with the apple mixture, in a food processor or blender, until smooth, and return to saucepan. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Heat over low, thinning with more water if necessary, for 5-7 minutes before serving.
  7. To serve, ladle into shallow bowls, and top each serving with 1 Tbsp of light sour cream (optional) and a sprig of cilantro (optional). For some extra color and flavor, sprinkle some additional smoky paprika over the soup.


  • Kick up the heat by adding ½ tsp cayenne pepper to the onions in step 4.
  • Try using a couple different types of apples for a more complex flavor.
  • Sauté the onions (step 4) in smoky bacon fat instead of olive oil for more flavor, or try adding crispy bacon bits over the soup before serving.

Note: Get a printer-friendly PDF of this recipe here.

Ginger-Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

An original Sugar On My Tongue recipe

Nothing makes me salivate more than the aroma of sweet baking spices working their magic in the oven.  This super-moist quick bread offers an unexpected twist, thanks to the addition of fresh ginger and molasses. Their flavors add an extra layer of warmth and spice that’s perfect for Autumn.

Nonstick baking spray
1 cup all purpose (AP) flour, plus 1 tsp
½ c whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of grated nutmeg
½ c canola oil
2 Tbsp dark molasses
½ c granulated sugar
½ c light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ c apple juice, unsweetened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 c apple, peeled, cored and small diced
½ c walnuts, coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Prepare a 5”x9” loaf pan with nonstick baking spray like Baker’s Joy or use butter and dust with flour.
  3. Add flours, baking soda, baking powder, and spices to large bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. In another large bowl, add oil and sugars. Mix together with mixer on medium speed until well combined.  Add egg, molasses, apple juice and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  5. Reduce speed to low, and beat in flour mixture in three additions. Be careful not to overmix.
  6. In medium bowl, toss together grated ginger, diced apples, chopped nuts and 1 tsp AP flour until combined and lightly coated with flour.  Fold fruit and nut mixture into the batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Place pan on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, and bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 45-60 minutes.
  8. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.  Make sure bread has pulled away from sides of the pan (run a thin knife blade along the edges, if necessary, to loosen), and invert pan to remove bread.  Cool bread completely on wire rack.

Note: Get a printer-friendly PDF of this recipe here.

Roasted Applesauce

Makes 4 cups

Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

¼ cup water
5 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of coarse salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 lbs. assorted apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch wide slices
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of allspice
Pinch of ground cloves


  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  2. Combine water, lemon juice, and salt in a 9”x13” baking dish.
  3. Spread apple slices out in the dish, and scatter butter pieces and brown sugar over the apples.
  4. Roast in oven until apples are very soft, about 30-40 minutes.
  5. Transfer apples to a blender (or bowl, if using an immersion blender), add spices, and blend to desired chunky or smooth texture.
  6. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.  Applesauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


  • You’ll need about 3lbs of apples to get 2lbs of cut apples.
  • If using very sweet apples, try adding one tart variety, such as Granny Smith, to round out the flavors.

Note: Get a printer-friendly PDF of this recipe here. And find the original recipe here.


6 responses to “Make like an apple and be saucy!

  1. OMG …. Purple Eagles. Haven’t heard THAT in awhile :-). We love picking apples and will try out some of these recipes.

  2. I still have my purple satin band jacket…

  3. Debbie (Boyer) Burris

    Thanks for the memories! I can’t wait to try your recipes.


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