First, a stroll down memory lane…
Sometimes I am blown away by the memories we hold onto even if we don’t realize they are stored away. I picked up some apples this morning to make some homemade applesauce, which is one of my husband’s faves. As I was thinking over how I would prepare the applesauce, I had a flashback to being a little girl in my Nana’s home. Nana was my Dad’s mom. She was definitely not a great cook but she cooked with so much love for us that it almost didn’t matter. Anyways, I have vivid memories of our dinners with her. I can’t remember one meal in which there was not a bowl of applesauce at top of each of our plates. “Dessert” as she said…My dad also did this for us and he would take it up a notch. He would sprinkle it with cinnamon and warm it up a bit.
Then, I recall another memory. I am five years old and in kindergarten. Carmel River Elementary in beautiful Carmel, CA. I spent the first few months of my kindergarten life there before we moved back to Bakersfield where my mom grew up. So five year old me was in class and we were making homemade cinnamon applesauce as our daily project. Dang, I miss the good ole days of kindergarten. Life was tough back then!
Fast-forward many years and I was dating my now husband. I got to experience many new foods as he is Filipino (by the way, I am still confused as to whether I spell it Philipino or Filipino!) and one of the first memories I have is of his mom (aka Momma Glo) making these quick pastries filled with homemade apple sauce. I think all my memories of my in-laws are around food and traveling. They were like mini apple pies with a healthy twist because Momma Glo doesn’t like things too sweet. I mean she literally probably uses 1 tbsp. for every 5 that a recipe may list. Don’t let that fool you though.
Despite her concern for health, she still seemed to feed me constantly during the first year of our relationship. I couldn’t say no to the mini apple pies or the fresh baked empanadas or the addictive pancit (hint-it always shrinks in mass in the microwave so go ahead and add more to your bowl) or the crunchy lumpia, which are far tastier than the egg rolls in Chinese restaurants. Forget about the Freshman 15! I experienced the Filipino 15.
Ok, back to the applesauce now…
Excuse my tangent as I strolled down memory lane.
I find that applesauce still makes a perfect dessert that the whole family can enjoy. It’s made from fruit so it must be healthy, right?! Ha-ha.
As I said, my husband loves applesauce a fact I did not discover until six years into our marriage. I started playing around with basic applesauce and quickly realized that it is a versatile dish.
Depending on your taste preferences, there are many ways to mix it up. From simple cinnamon or ginger to a more holiday spiced approach, you can really design it to fit your family’s tastes. I love ginger, but my husband would rather not tolerate it if it can be left out of a dish. Since he loves the applesauce, I tend to not add it but it makes a really tasty compliment to the sweetness of the apple. With all of the other spices available, I can make a flavorful applesauce to suit the holidays without subjecting his taste buds to ginger. How can one not like ginger, by the way?
Now on to the maple molasses sausage…
Bet you thought I had forgotten it by this point. Honestly, the main purpose for the porky goodness that is the sausage patty in this recipe is to add some umph to the humble applesauce. Don’t get me wrong, we love sausage and we joke that our kids could survive on sausage and bacon (who couldn’t?) alone. There are lots of yummy sausages in the store, but it can be cheaper and more fun to make some at home. Like the applesauce you can play around with the ingredients and spices. If you want to go really crazy, you can even buy different cuts of meat and grind your own sausages.
For this recipe I didn’t go that far. I started with a pound of ground sausage and added some warm spices and flavor. I wanted it to be a slight twist on the traditional maple breakfast sausage. Maple and sage are such perfect counterparts to the ground pork.
I also amped up the flavor a bit with molasses, which darkens the sweetness of the maple as well as giving it the festive feel. The cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg help round out the flavor and mellow out the earthiness of the sage. I also think a dash of cayenne or red pepper flakes would work really well. My kiddos don’t care for the spice so I did not add it in.
Both of these recipes work well together but are also great stand-alone foods. With the applesauce, don’t let my recipe block your own creativity. If there is a spice you like or don’t, add it in or take it out. Use my recipe as a starting point and start creating…don’t be afraid. If you mess up, you can always opt for the chunky applesauce from your nearest Trader Joe’s and try again next time.
- 6 Apples of choice (I used Fuji) peeled, cut into large chunks
- 1 whole Star Anise
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 juice & zest of lemon
- 1 tbsp butter optional
- 1-2 tbsp honey optional
- Put apples, cinnamon and lemon juice in bowl and mix until apples are lightly coated with cinnamon.
- Put apple mixture into small to medium pan. I prefer a small to medium size Dutch oven if you have that available.
- Add in cloves, star anise, and butter if using.
- Add in about 2 oz. of water.
- Turn heat to low and let apples simmer slowly until tender.
- Once apples are very tender, remove from heat and add in lemon zest.
- Using either a hand masher or immersion blender, mash apples until desired consistency.
- If you prefer a sweeter applesauce, add in 1-2 tbsp. honey at this point while apples are still warm.
Maple Molasses Breakfast Sausage
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 tbsp fresh sage finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp fennel seeds crushed lightly with mortar & pestle
- dash ground clove (about 1/16 tsp)
- dash ground nutmeg
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- dash red pepper flakes or cayenne optional
- salt & pepper to taste
- In large mixing bowl, mix together ground pork and all the seasonings.
- Warm pan over medium heat.
- Add in about 1 tbsp of butter.
- Using hands, make small patties about 2-3 inches in diameter. They will shrink while cooking.
- Cook until first side is brown and slightly crispy.
- Flip and cook second side and golden brown and no longer pink in center.