From Our Community: Michigan Made Culinary Creations

March is Food and Agriculture Month in Pure Michigan! To celebrate, we asked our Facebook community to share their favorite Michigan made foods and recipes. All of the wonderful comments and submissions made us quite hungry for these mouth-watering culinary creations! Below is a round up of some our fans’ favorite Michigan foods, along with some recipes to help you unleash your inner foodie.

Michigan Made Foods and Dishes

Shelly Vandlen Photograhy

Photo courtesy of Shelly Vendlen Photography

Homemade Strawberry cheesecake with Michigan strawberries. The best berries ever! -Shelly Lehr Vandlen

Cherry Pie at the Cherry Hut in Beulah! Doesn’t get any better than that! -Anita Leeann Johnson

Cherry wine from Cherry Creek winery -Kathy Grogg

Asparagus and rhubarb from our garden, as well as cherries, blueberries, peaches, strawberries, raspberries from local farm markets! -Carolyn DeFord Solomon

Can’t wait for Asparagus Season! -Hybza Chiropractic

Love “Traverse City Chicken” served at Via Bologna’s of Clarkston. -Judi Lackey

Pasties…one question though…ketchup or gravy? -Gloria Pebley

Joanne’ s fudge on Mackinac Island! -Esther Uramkin

Fresh Michigan-grown vegetables. Photo courtesy of Roz's Diner.

Fresh Michigan-grown vegetables. Photo courtesy of Roz’s Diner.

Love all the fresh produce but, the Michigan tomato cannot be beat! -Valerie Babcock Dinger

Anything with wild Michigan blueberries in it!! -Charlotte Trayer

I enjoy each as it comes into season, beginning with rhubarb and asparagus. I am tapping my own trees for maple syrup for the first time! Come on, sunshine and warmer temps. -Elizabeth Kern

3-way tie: sweet cherries, Jonathan apples, maple syrup….oops, what about blueberries, strawberries, red and black raspberries, peaches, pears, asparagus, morel mushrooms, sweet corn…all fresh! -Martha Woodman Stiles

Peach cobbler made with Michigan peaches, local flour and butter from Farmers market, sugar grown and manufactured in Michigan. -Katy Blackhall

SotE_AsparagusSalt of the Earth in Fennville. -Jeff Weeks (Salt of the Earth is a rustic American eatery in the heart of the Southwest Michigan’s thriving agricultural region supporting local growers for many of their vegetables and fruits)

Michigan apples and home grown corn. -Jane Miller

Michigan Made Recipes

Beans & Greens
Recipe courtesy of Facebook Fan Chuck Marshall via Life in Michigan. Made with fresh Michigan kale, onions, tomatoes and basil.

Yields 6-8 servings.
One can each (14 ounces), red kidney beans, black beans, and navy beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1/2″ of a piece of fresh ginger)
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 bunches fresh greens (kale, collards, Swiss chard), washed, stemmed, and chopped
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground dried corriander
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayanne pepper
One 28 ounce can peeled and chopped tomatoes

Heat oil in a wok or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add garlic and ginger and cook about one minute.  Add onions, and cook until they are translucent, stirring occasionally.  Add wine, water, soy sauce, and the canned tomatoes, then stir in spices and salt.  Mix in the chopped greens.  Cover, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Then reduce heat and cook until greens are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Mix in the canned beans, cover, and again bring to a boil to heat through, stirring occasionally.

Simple Summer Fruit Salad
Recipe courtesy of Benjamin Twiggs Legendary Cherry Products.

1 can of Mrs. Twiggs Select Cherry Pie Filling
4-6 Cups fresh Michigan fruit, mix of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, etc.

Combine fruit with Mrs. Twiggs Cherry Pie Filling and serve. Try to keep a straight face when everyone asks for the recipe.

Grilled Chicken with Michigan Apples and Feta 
Recipe courtesy of Michigan Ag Council via Michigan Apples

Yields 4 servings.
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 5 oz. each)
2 Tbl. Olive oil
2 Tbl. Butter
2 Michigan Apples peeled and thinly sliced
4 oz. feta cheese
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme

Prepare hot fire in charcoal or gas grill. Brush chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken until juices run clear, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from grill to platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Melt butter in sauté pan over medium high heat. Add apples and sauté 2-3 minutes, until they begin to brown and become tender. Spoon apples over chicken and top with feta and thyme.

Do you have a favorite Michigan made food or recipe? Share it with us below!

Take a Bite Out of Michigan’s Produce Season

To celebrate Food and Agriculture Month in Michigan, we asked blogger Liz Della Croce of The Lemon Bowl to tell us how to take advantage of Michigan’s fresh produce season with fun family outings and a few delicious Michigan made recipes.

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Spring is right around the corner which means one thing here in Michigan: the growing season has finally arrived! As one of the nation’s largest exporters of produce, we do not take this time of year for granted. From ripe cherries to crisp apples to juicy blueberries and more, here are few fun ideas to make the most out of produce season and create long lasting memories with your family:

Visit a Farmers Market: Nothing gets kids excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables quite like a visit to a farm stand.  Whether you visit the same farmers market regularly or only pass a farm stand a few times a month, let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable each visit. Getting little ones involved in the buying process is an ideal way to get even the pickiest of eaters excited about trying something new. Check out this Farmers Market locator to find one near you!

Head to a U-Pick Orchard: Take advantage of the warmer weather and head to a nearby orchard. Picking your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to get the freshest produce available while also sneaking in a little exercise.

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Be sure to bring the whole family and get the kids involved. Little hands are great for picking ripe blueberries or sitting on Daddy’s shoulders to reach that perfect peach. This Michigan U-Pick Guide will help you find a nearby orchard and also guide you through what is in season and when.

Eat Seasonally: From the first asparagus spears in early spring to late-fall apples, eating with the season is one of the best ways to ensure that your family gets a full range of nutrients throughout the year. Additionally, when you eat fruit that was picked just a few miles down the road, you will get maximum flavor and peak freshness.

Create Something Delicious: As you eat your way through the season, here are a few tasty ideas for Michigan’s most popular fruits and vegetables:

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Apple Recipes:

Asparagus Recipes :

Peach Recipes:

Cherry Recipes:

Blueberry Recipes

What are your favorite ways to take advantage of Michigan’s world-class produce and agriculture? Do you have a favorite farm stand or u-pick orchard? 

Learn more about Michigan Agriculture in the video below.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.15.39 PMLiz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station.  She is a contributor for The Huffington Post and Cooking Light. Liz’s recipes and food photography have been featured on several websites including Shape Magazine, Food Network blog, The Cooking Channel, TODAY Food and more. 

Ten Reasons to Participate in
“Cool Brews. Hot Eats.” 2014 in Grand Rapids

Save your appetite – Cool Brews. Hot Eats. starts on February 17, 2014! For the second year in a row, Grand Rapids chefs prepare to wow the masses with two weeks of unique menu items, off-the-wall beer and food pairings and putting a twist on eating out in Beer City USA. Here are 10 reasons to participate in this year’s event from Experience Grand Rapids

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rpaids

1. It’s year two!  In case you weren’t involved last year, Cool Brews. Hot Eats. (CBHE) was born in 2013 as a community opportunity to celebrate the rich brewing culture we’ve cultivated in West Michigan.  It’s a chance for chefs and brewers to meet in the middle and concoct wacky pairings that will truly boggle your palette.  It’s also a chance to draw attention to some restaurants that utilize beer year round.

2. Cider is in!  This year, the powers at be have also encouraged chefs to utilize the abundance of local cideries to try a menu item with hard cider.  This is truly great news if you’re gluten free or not a huge beer lover. Check out One Trick Pony’s Cider Charcuterie option.

3. There’s no pricing structure that restaurants have to follow!  During Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids, many chefs prepare amazing meals based on a decided “two-for $” price, which can limit the ingredient options for chefs and the capacity to sample for the guest.  For CBHE, you can get one collaboration item off the menu to try, and hop all over town eating as many menu features as you can handle.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

4. On the other hand, these two weeks could be your chance to attend a full beer dinner affordably.  At an assortment of participating businesses, you can enjoy the full cooking with beer experience in five courses, aka the commitment meal.  Check out Amore Trattoria Italiana’s five course Beercentric Menu for a delicious example.

5. As part of the Grand Rapids Beer Week leading up to Winter Beer Festival, Experience Grand Rapids is excited to release the Beer City Ale Trail Map to the public!  This map features an extensive listing of the finest breweries, wineries and cideries around, so make sure you grab one when you’re ready to hit the Ale Trail.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

6. Everybody’s doing it! The whole city is rallying behind our proud Beer City banner in the week leading up to Winter Beer Festival.  This is the second year Grand Rapids has won Beer City USA and the week warming up to it is expected to be big for beer tourism around the city and surrounding areas.

7. Tap Takeovers! These will be all over town so ask your bartender where to head next.  For example, the Mitten Brewing Co. and Our Brewing Co. will be taking over at The Green Well, who reportedly use 7-10 gallons of beer every week in their cookery!

8. Hotels are on board the beer train as well.  The Marriott Springhill Suites North is including Beer City pint glasses at check in, or check out CityFlats Hotel for a complimentary growler and fill at check-in.  Click here to check out other participating hotels.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

9. Many of these collaborations include locally sourced, Michigan focused foods. From Bistro Bella Vita to Bobarino’s, these collaborations are another chance for local chefs to source as much as possible from the Mitten state!  Try Frank’s Kielbasa, locally smoked cheddar cheese, or the “Tim Allen” at Derby Station – a Pure Michigan Turkey burger filled with diced bacon, Derby Spice Blend, topped with Tandoori sweet potato fries, jalapeno mango aioli, avocado salsa and Mud Lake Farms mixed greens on a Little Rooster Brioche Bun.

10. There are so many great restaurants in the Grand Rapids area. Why not break up winter and try a few during these two weeks?  Click here to see a full list of participating restaurants and their menus. Try not to drool!

For more information on Cool Brews. Hot Eats. 2014 and other winter events in Grand Rapids, check out the video below.

Did you attend Cool Brews. Hot Eats. 2013? Tell us about your experience. Let us know if you’ll be at this year’s event!

Author: Lyndsay Israel originated in Northern Michigan and is now a dedicated Grand Rapids resident.  When she grows up, the plan is to teach high school English and Chemistry classes.  She writes to show how much she loves the mitten state!  Look for her articles at The Awesome Mitten and Experience GR, or follow her on Twitter @lyndsayisrael.