Recipe Road Test: "Lighten Up, Y'All" Stovetop Apple Pie

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Lighten Up, Y'all by Virginia Willis

LightenUpYallI have a weakness for pretty much any and all desserts, and for that reason (maybe just one more slice...okay, really, just one more...) I rarely make them at home.  But thanks to the Stovetop Apple Pie in Virginia Willis' new cookbook, Lighten Up, Y'All, the homemade dessert is back on my plate.

Made solely on the stove and with a minimal amount of butter, this dessert looks like a crumble and has the mouth-watering smell and flavor of apple pie, but without the dough. You can make up a batch pretty quickly so it's perfect for dinner with company, and is also easy to halve for the nights when you want something sweet without the temptation of leftover dessert. The first time I made it, in the photo below, I did cheat a little since my yogurt had expired (I know I cannot be the only one with this problem...) and used vanilla ice cream on top, but the vanilla cream from the recipe is also delicious.

I've tried a few other recipes from Lighten Up, Y'All (a Best Cookbook of March) and have enjoyed them all, most recently the Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy.  Willis is something of a miracle worker when it comes to making Southern favorites taste as good as you'd expect but made with healthier ingredients and techniques than tradition might call for.  


There are times in everyone’s life when you need something sweet. It’s a feeling that won’t go away, it’s a craving that needs to be sated. It’s emergency time and you think if you look at one more blasted tangerine or one more ding-dang frozen grape you are going to scream. I’ve got your back. This sensible splurge is sweet, crunchy, buttery, and best of all? It’s quick. And it’s also easy to toss together for company in nonemergency situations


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup quick oatmeal
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, hazelnuts, or walnuts
  • Pinch fine sea salt



  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 4 large apples, such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, peeled, cored, and sliced into sixteenths (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • Vanilla Cream, for serving



  • 1/2 cup plain 2 percent Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Line a rimmed baking sheet with a nonstick silicone baking mat. (Parchment paper doesn’t work as well because the sugar will stick.) To make the topping, heat the butter and oil in a large nonstick skil­let over medium heat. Add the oatmeal, brown sugar, nuts, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned. Transfer to the pre­pared baking sheet and smooth with an offset spatula into a thin layer. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, crumble into bite-size bits and set aside.

To make the filling, heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

To serve, spoon the warm apples into bowls. Top with pie topping and a dollop of vanilla cream. Serve immediately.

Calories 180
Fat 6 g
Carbs 31 g
Fiber 3 g
Protein 3 g

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