Oven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary and Vanilla and a History Lesson

by Dorothy Reinhold on December 23, 2016

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Today our Sunday Supper cooks are sharing recipes inspired by holiday music, movies and TV shows.

I was going to give you something lighthearted, inspired by the movie “Elf,” which I love, but I am in a more contemplative mood. Instead, this song, based on a true story from WWI, is so much more meaningful, especially today when we have troops abroad. It is one of my favorite non-traditional Christmas songs.

christmastruce2Ninety-nine years ago, soldiers on both sides of the battlefield put down their arms and celebrated Christmas with each other. It came to be known as “The Christmas Truce of 1914,” and if you have never heard this song – “Christmas in the Trenches” — I recommend you listen to it now. Singer/songwriter John McCutcheon introduces it, including the story of how a small group of veterans from that truce attended his concert. He sings it here.

The song it is a tribute to our troops and truly captures the spirit of Christmas. It reminds us that miracles can happen even in the midst of a terrible conflict, between soldiers fighting on opposite sides, whose governments have decided they are enemies, when men who had been at the bloody work of war paused to play. Listen to it as you read the lyrics below.christmas-truce-daily_express_4_4_09

Christmas in the Trenches

My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool,
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders to Germany to here
I fought for King and country I love dear.
‘Twas Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung,
The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung,
Our families back in England were toasting us that day,
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lying with my messmate on the cold and rocky ground
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound
Says I, “Now listen up, me boys!” each soldier strained to hear
As one young German voice sang out so clear.
“He’s singing bloody well, you know!” my partner says to me
Soon one by one each German voice joined in in harmony
The cannons rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war.

Christmas Truce 1914 As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” struck up some lads from Kent
The next they sang was “Stille Nacht,” “Tis ‘Silent Night’,” says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky.
“There’s someone coming towards us!” the front line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one lone figure coming from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright
As he bravely strode unarmed into the night.

Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man’s land
Christmas truce Germans With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand
We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave ’em hell.
We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own
Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men.

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night
“Whose family have I fixed within my sights?”
‘Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung
For the walls they’d kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone for evermore.

My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell
Each Christmas come since World War I I’ve learned its lessons well
That the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we’re the same.

ChristmasTrenches-_John_McCutcheon©1984 John McCutcheon/Appalsongs (ASCAP)
Album: Winter Solstice; original release date 1985

Today, as Christmas approaches, I offer comfort and care in a simple dish of Oven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary and Vanilla. It will go with all of your holiday meals, from breakfast to dinner, and we’ve even eaten it for dessert.

Close your eyes as you are eating it, and wish for peace.

Oven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary and Vanilla | www.ShockinglyDelicious.com

Recipe: Oven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary and Vanilla

Summary: The clean, pure flavor of apples caramelized in the oven shines through, with notes of rosemary and fragrant vanilla, in this rustic oven-baked applesauce.


  • Olive oil
  • 2 ½-3 pound apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (I used a mix of Fuji, Honeycrisp and Green Dragon; use what you like)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon Heilala vanilla paste
  • 1 teaspoon boiled apple cider


  1. Lightly brush some olive oil in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Turn oven on to 375 degrees.Oven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary and Vanilla | www.ShockinglyDelicious.com
  2. Add apples to baking dish, sprinkle with rosemary and bake, uncovered, for about 35 minutes. Test apples with a knife to make sure they are soft.Oven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary and Vanilla | www.ShockinglyDelicious.com
  3. If done, remove dish from oven, add butter, salt, vanilla paste and boiled cider. Mash with a potato masher, right in the dish, until apples are chunky and everything is mixed well. (Butter will melt into the hot apples.)
  4. Scrape into a serving bowl and either serve warm, or serve at room temperature.
  5. Serves 4-6.

SourceOven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary and Vanilla | www.ShockinglyDelicious.com

Recipe and food photos by Dorothy Reinhold | Shockingly Delicious

Sunday Supper

See this page for all the wonderful #SundaySupper dishes I have made since I joined this group, and links to all the other delicious dishes made by my fellow cooks.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Diet type: Vegetarian, vegan
Number of servings (yield): 4-6
Culinary tradition: USA (Nouveau)
My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 

Sunday Supper badgeOur Holiday Music/Movie/TV-Inspired Recipes

This week our #SundaySupper blogger crew is all about holiday inspirations, hosted by Tammi of Momma’s Meals. Check out the variety of things we have cooked up for you! Try this Oven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary and Vanilla or find something else from the menu below that floats your boat:

Party Appetizers & Snacks:

Festive Main Dishes

Sweet Holiday Treats:

Cozy Drinks:


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

takeabiteblog December 22, 2013 at 1:07 pm

There’s nothing better than homemade applesauce! I can’t even eat the store bought stuff because I know how much better it is to make yourself. The rosemary and vanilla add great flavor, I bet this came out fantastic!


Dorothy Reinhold December 23, 2013 at 8:06 am

Take a Bite,
It did, it did!


Shaina December 22, 2013 at 1:04 pm

There is almost nothing better than homemade applesauce. I refuse the eat the store bought stuff because it’s just so much better when you make it yourself. Rosemary and vanilla add such great flavor…I bet this came out fantastic!


The Ninja Baker December 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Love this story. I believe it was written into a play, too.

Your applesauce looks to be full of goodness, too =)

Happy Christmas, Dorothy =)


piesandplots December 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I remember learning about the Christmas Truce too and finding it very interesting. Love this recipe too!


Shannon R December 22, 2013 at 12:36 pm

What a beautiful story, thanks for sharing!


TreatsTrinkets December 22, 2013 at 9:21 am

This applesauce sounds amazing! Love the rosemary, and the history lesson. 🙂


Amanda @ MarocMama December 22, 2013 at 9:09 am

Your dish is lovely but the sentiment more so. I have tears in my eyes reading it. Yes, peace. peace. peace. Some people have a hard time understanding why we, as Muslims, celebrate Christmas. It’s a tradition I was raised with and will never give up. There is something magical and wonderful that can’t be replaced.


Martin D Redmond December 22, 2013 at 9:01 am

Wow! Amazing story and song! I hadn’t heard of this. Thanks for sharing. Your applesauce look better (and I’m sure tastes better) than the stuff I had when I was a kid!


Lizthechef December 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

It’s my job to bring applesauce to a big party – 20 folks – this looks perfect. Could I NOT peel the apples? signed, “Lazy Liz”


Dorothy Reinhold December 22, 2013 at 9:44 am

Because the apples don’t break down *quite* as much as they do stovetop, I would say you might be happier peeling the apples. Or peel half of them, and then you have some skin chunks but not too many. Whaddya think?


Family Foodie December 22, 2013 at 8:50 am

Love the history lesson and you are inspiring me to make this beautiful apple sauce! Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thank you for being such a big part of the Sunday Supper Family.


Liz December 22, 2013 at 8:34 am

Thank you, Dorothy. I always pray for peace. We live in a scary world. Happy Holidays to you and your family.


FoodieArmyWife December 22, 2013 at 8:23 am

Oh my heavens. Way to make me cry on a Sunday morning.


Merry November 30, 2015 at 8:59 am

What?! We have to stop listening to Christmas music after Christmas is over?! I didn’t get that memo…I try to stretch it out until at least March…then I take a break for a while and crack it out again in August. I’m such a dork.


Cindys Recipes and Writings December 22, 2013 at 8:09 am

Your applesauce sounds so inviting, Dorothy! Thanks for the history lesson too.


Audrey's Mamma December 22, 2013 at 7:49 am

Even though I knew that story, I cried reading it again. A beautiful peace. And I love your applesauce! So grown up!


Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers December 22, 2013 at 6:30 am

I never thought of oven roasted applesauce! This is genius! I love it!! This will be perfect with my pork dishes!!


Dorothy Reinhold December 22, 2013 at 6:37 am

Exactly right Jennifer. Perfect with pork or other roasted meats or poultry. Try it with sausage, as well.


Krayl @ An Appealing Plan December 22, 2013 at 5:54 am

This is a perfect side dish to serve with a holiday meal. Thanks for sharing!


Laura December 22, 2013 at 5:25 am

It is such a beautiful idea that people laid down their weapons and for one day celebrated together. To me that is the real magic of Christmas. Thanks for sharing.


Renee December 22, 2013 at 4:35 am

I’m so glad you shared this today. What a great story of peace at Christmastime.


Tammi @ Momma's Meals December 22, 2013 at 4:28 am

Wow….what a great story. I really enjoyed the inspiration from your dish. Thank you for sharing but also for introducing this fabulous new recipe, my daughter would love this!


Liz December 22, 2013 at 4:21 am

I made my first vanilla infused applesauce this year. Your rosemary version would be amazing with the pork I’m making on Christmas Eve…YUM!


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