A group of friends and I have recently fallen into a tradition where we take turns volunteering to cook on Saturday nights – one of the (few) joys of communal dorm kitchens. This past week, many sleepless nights and the first cold winds of winter had taken a toll on all of us. Everyone had agreed that a warm meal and a long conversation would be the best Saturday evening medicine.

I had promised to play chef earlier in the week, and when I thought of what meal I could quickly make for my dear  friends desperately craving some TLC, the first thing that crossed my mind was grilled cheese. But we could all get your basic white-bread-and-Kraft singles-toast-cold-sandwich-served-under-a-florescent-light-in-a-crowded-dining-hall any day.

I was reminded of how my mother would pull out our panini press (one of the most cherished appliances in our kitchen) whenever my family was scrambling for on-the-go meals during the busy winter months of grade school. She could not make her sage and apple butter paninis fast enough as my sisters and I would literally grab them right off the grill. The beautiful sensation of the warm bread, sweet apple butter, gooey cheese, and fresh, flavorful sage is something that never failed to warm my heart. I wanted to give my friends this little taste of home. And judging by the empty plates and lingering laughs around the table, I think it was just the thing.


Mama Culbertson’s Sage and Apple Paninis 

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 10 min

Total time: 20 min


Makes about eight sandwiches.

  • 1 loaf of bread (sourdough or ciabatta works best) sliced
  • 3 granny Smith Apples
  • 1 pack of sharp cheddar cheese slices
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • Apple butter
  • Butter


  1. Wash the apples and slice them as thin as possible.
  2. Butter both sides of two pieces of bread.
  3. Spread apple butter on the inside side of each piece of bread.
  4. Lay a slice or two of cheese, some slices of apple, and a few sage leaves inside the two pieces of bread.
  5. If you have a panini maker, you can grill the sandwich on the griddle. If not, heat a pan on medium heat over the stove and grill both sides of the sandwich. You’re good to go when the cheese has melted and the bread is toasty!


best to you and yours,


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