Autumn’s Favorite Foods: Pumpkin and Apple

Fall is in full swing and with it comes fantastic seasonal flavors! Read more on how to get your fix of the autumn’s iconic flavors on an orchard excursion or at a restaurant, shop or brewery near you.

Pumpkin spice season
This übertrendy flavor pops up everywhere these days, but Michigan’s offerings prove especially unique, with pumpkin spice appearing in martinis, craft beer, soup and other fresh finds.

After a show at Detroit’s Fox Theatre, nearby Centaur Bar specializes in martinis. Pumpkin spice, rum and coffee liquor warm tipplers’ cheeks in the two-story lounge. Across town, Germack Pistachio Company roasts pepitas (pumpkin seeds) a few blocks from their Eastern Market store. The third-generation owners recently expanded their operation of nuts and seeds to coffee roasting and hard-to-find spices.

With hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and toasted walnuts,
 the seasonal pumpkin muffins at Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann
 Arbor rank as a staff favorite. Store associates wear vintage aprons 
and pearls at Sweetie-licious Bakery and Cafe in Dewitt (and Grand Rapids). The family recipe behind Mommy’s Pumpkin Pie inspires a buttery crust and creamy, spiced pumpkin filling.

Mommy’s Pumpkin Pie at Sweetie-licious Bakery and Cafe in Dewitt, Photo Courtesy of Blaine Moats

Mommy’s Pumpkin Pie at Sweetie-licious Bakery and Cafe in Dewitt, Photo Courtesy of Blaine Moats

Four types of pumpkin ice cream—cinnamon pumpkin crisp, pumpkin chip, pumpkin roll
and, for the purist, 
plain pumpkin—draw pumpkin spice-lovers to Moomers Homemade Ice Cream in Traverse City. And the 1950s-theme House of Flavors churns out seasonal pumpkin pie ice cream in Ludington.

Crunchy pralines complement pumpkin cheesecake 
at The Underground Cheesecake Company
 in Traverse City. 
Hearty pumpkin cake doughnuts fill cases at Cops and Doughnuts,
 a police-owned bakery
 in Clare since 1896 (through a name and ownership change). Pumpkin seed salsa sold by American Spoon in Petoskey adds zest to chicken tacos.

American Spoon in Petoskey, Photo Courtesy of American Spoon

American Spoon in Petoskey, Photo Courtesy of American Spoon

Pumpkin spice goes boozy at a number of craft breweries, including the coffee-spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte, an ale at Detroit’s Atwater Brewery, the British-inspired Jaw- Jacker Pumpkin Spiced Ale at Battle Creek’s Arcadia Brewing Company and Ichabod, made with pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon, served seasonally at New Holland Brewing.

New Holland Brewing in Holland, Photo Courtesy of Nate Luke

New Holland Brewing in Holland, Photo Courtesy of Nate Luke

Apple country
It’s easy to get the ripest, crispest, sweetest and tartest apples. Just stop at any of the too-many-to-count fruit stands and farm markets that spring up from the 850 family-owned farms growing apples in Michigan.

The orchards of the state’s southwest corner draw visitors year-round, but fall brings the experience to fruition. Purchase a peck or two of Gala, McIntosh and Honeycrisp apples, or pick some at Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant and Winery and U-Pick farm in Fennville. Standing amid 100 acres of sweet-scented fruit trees with roots back to 1916, visitors wander the grounds painted in fall colors and sample treats, including apple pie, apple crisp and apple cider doughnuts.

Apple picking at Crane’s Orchard in Fennville, Photo Courtesy of Johnny Quirin

Apple picking at Crane’s Orchard in Fennville, Photo Courtesy of Johnny Quirin

In downtown Fennville, more flavors come into play at the rustic eatery Salt of the Earth, starring vegetables, meats, berries and fruits from the local landscape. Less than 5 miles away, Virtue Farm crafts Virtue Cider from Michigan apples.

Sampling at Virtue Cider in Fennville, Photo Courtesy of Johnny Quirin

Sampling at Virtue Cider in Fennville, Photo Courtesy of Johnny Quirin

The fifth generation is still growing apples (and peaches and cherries) at Fruit Acres Farm Market and U-Pick, a Coloma farm established in 1846. A half-mile south, sip on fresh-pressed cider at Grandpa’s Cider Mill.

Check out the Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guide for more great seasonal travel ideas.

Where’s your favorite spot to enjoy the flavors of fall? Let us know in the comments!

Two Pure Michigan Bakers Weigh in on Pie Day

According to our fans, Apple is the official flavor of a Pure Michigan pie! Between locally-grown apples, blueberries, cherries and many other delicious fruits, it’s no wonder why Michigan is a mecca for delectable pies, pastries and other mouth-watering delicacies. In advance of Pie Day (Jan. 23), two Pure Michigan pie experts weigh in on why Michigan is an ideal destination for owning a bakery and some other sweet bits of knowledge you might not know.

Pie from Achatz Handmade Pie Company in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Zack Achatz

Linda Hundt – Sweetie-Licious

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been very proud to call Michigan my home state.  I love the way we as Michiganders get to experience the seasons, each one intensely vibrant, and defined by its color, temperature, activities and the food it brings to the table!

Whether you’re picking fruits or vegetables from a tree, bush or garden, Michigan’s seasonable bounty is plentiful, especially our delicious, juicy apples that sets autumn apart from all the other seasons.

Michigan apples taste as close you can get to a crisp and sunny fall day here in the Great Lake State, and also happens to be the perfect fruit to make pies with!  At Sweetie-licious, one of the cutest little pie shops in the whole world, we use only Michigan apples for our national award winning apple pies.  Folks wait all summer for them, as the sweet aroma of cinnamon apple pies soothes our souls and secures our memories like no other comfort food can.

For the trueness of comfort food is indeed indisputable.  And pies are the ultimate in comfort, for they have the ability to carry on traditions and homemade goodness that takes you home…to beloved Pure Michigan.

Fruit Pies from Achatz Handmade Pie Company in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Zack Achatz

Ariel Achatz – Achatz Handmade Pie Company

Did you know Michigan is the top cherry-producing state in the nation and the third largest for apple and blueberries? What better use for a bountiful harvest than to use it in pies!

At Achatz Handmade Pie Company, we use 98 percent local Michigan ingredients. It’s a no-brainer to buy Michigan produce as it’s some of the best in the country, works well in pies, and grows in our own backyard.

AHPC is best known for their Michigan 4-Berry pie which uses Michigan blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and raspberries and their Apple pie which uses thinly-sliced Northern Spy Apples! Buying Michigan products allows us to work directly with local farmers that we know personally, and also lets us guarantee we get the best and freshest fruit.

Whether it’s blueberry, apple, raspberry, or strawberry-rhubarb, utilizing Michigan fruit in your pie this year for National Pie Day, January 23, won’t disappoint!

Baked Fruit Pies from Achatz Handmade Pie Company in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Zack Achatz



Looking for your own slice to celebrate National Pie Day? On Jan. 23, Grand Traverse Pie Company  will celebrate the delicious comforts of PIE during National Pie Day  by serving up a FREE SLICE of Michigan fruit pie – Apple Crumb or Cherry Crumb with ANY purchase all day long. Yum!



Achatz Handmade Pie Company was established in 1993 by Dave and Wendy Achatz, who began selling pies out of their home and at local farmer’s markets. AHPC soon outgrew their small home kitchen and moved to a 10-acre apple orchard in Armada – where they still sell today. AHPC now has 7 retail locations through Michigan and has been featured on Good Morning America and The Today Show. Don’t forget to like on Facebook and follow on Twitter! Pictured: Guest blogger Ariel Achatz.



Linda McComb Hundt grew up in Lansing with a huge sweet tooth, loving her Easybake Oven, and dreaming of owning her own pie shop someday. She married her high school sweetheart, John Hundt in 1985, graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Education and worked as a substitute teacher until 1989.

Later, Linda quit her job to pursue her life-long dream of starting her own pie shop business. As a home-based business, she sold her fare at farm markets and high-end restaurants. In 2005, the business grew into a retail café bakery in DeWitt. The entire business is based on love and nostalgia through the business’ mission, comfort food, vintage ambiance, and merchandise. Visit the Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe website, Facebook page and Twitter for more!

Michigan-Inspired Thanksgiving Recipes to Try this Season

Thanksgiving is  quickly approaching, and with it, the delectable meals and favorite foods that we look forward to all year long. What many people may not realize, however, is just how many of these delicious options can be cooked, baked or broiled with Michigan-made ingredients. Guest blogger Christina Carson from The Awesome Mitten shares a few Michigan-inspired recipes to consider this season.

Thanksgiving is the richest celebration of food in American culture, and I can’t help but get giddy about families working together in their kitchens and sitting down to a meal prepared with love when this season comes around. This year, I challenge you to take things one step further and support our amazing Michigan food businesses in putting your meal on the table. Bring as many local foods and products into your meal as possible – there are endless ways to do so!

Of course, the turkey is the classic center of the plate for Thanksgiving. Plenty of turkey farms around the state are raising healthy birds ready to take center stage on your Thanksgiving table. If you’re thinking about getting a local pastured turkey, act soon – they often sell quickly!

After the turkey, getting more local products into your meal will be all about carefully selecting your sides and desserts to include seasonal produce and other products that are made in your community. While the growing season is coming to a close in November, you may be surprised at how much Michigan farmers have to offer this time of year. A bounty of greens and all the storage crops you can dream of – potatoes, apples, squash, carrots, beets, and more.

Read below for two simple recipes to be made with local produce and dairy that won’t take too much hands on time but are sure to wow your guests!

Apple Rosettes

Photo Courtesy of Christina Carson

Photo Courtesy of Christina Carson

Stunning apple rosettes like these have been making the rounds through the internet food world for some time now, and for good reason! They’re impressively beautiful, and absolutely delicious while also a light dessert that isn’t too sweet. This lightness makes them the perfect end to a rich Thanksgiving meal!

While you can always take things a step further and make homemade puff pastry, making this stunning dessert is amazingly simple with puff pastry from your local grocery store’s freezer section. To really kick things up a notch, make sure to buy the puff pastry made with all butter (the flavor is so much better!).

  • 2 apples
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • ½ lemon
  • granulated sugar
  • cinnamon
  • freshly ground nutmeg

First,  prepare the apples. Cut each apple in half and carefully remove the core, then slice each half into ⅛ to ¼ inch thick slices. Separate slices and place them in a medium bowl with the juice from one lemon.

Cover with boiling water and let sit for about 1 minute, until the slices are flexible, but not mushy! Strain water, and set apples aside.

Carefully unfold defrosted puff pastry (leave it in the fridge at least overnight to defrost), and gently roll it with a rolling pin to even out any creases and stretch it out just a bit. Cut the pastry into 2 inch wide strips that are 12 inches or less long.

Photo Courtesy of Christina Carson

Photo Courtesy of Christina Carson

One strip at a time, sprinkle puff pastry with a little sugar, cinnamon, and just a smidge of nutmeg. Line apple slices, overlapping half of each slice along the top half of the strip (as seen in the photo). Fold pastry up over the apples, then start at one end and roll into as tight of a spiral as you can.

Set each finished rosette into a large muffin tin or individual ramekins.

Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, until the pastry is browned on the edges. Let cool in pan about 10 minutes, then carefully remove each rosette and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve, if you’d like.

Butternut Squash Gratin

Photo Courtesy of Christina Carson

Photo Courtesy of Christina Carson

While sweet potatoes are a common Thanksgiving side, they don’t grow very well in Michigan due to the short summers. You can find them in the markets sometimes, but they’re not widely available. Sweet and smooth butternut squash makes a great alternative, especially when baked into this creamy gratin!

Find local butternut squash at your local farmers market, or a locally focused grocery store sourcing from Michigan growers. Additionally, seek out some rich local cream to make this dish a mostly local Thanksgiving treat! Calder Dairy (Carleton)  and Shetler Family Dairy (Kalkaska) are two of my favorite Michigan dairies to support.

  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 3 shallots, cut to a small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grated hard cheese (parmesan, pecorino, gruyere, and piave are all great choices)
  • 1 ¼  cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dry sage
  • ¼ cups breadcrumbs

Peel butternut squash, then slice neck into ⅓ inch thick rounds until you reach the edge of the seeded area of the squash. Cut the bulbous end of the squash in half and scoop out seeds. Slice each half into ⅓ inch thick half circles.

In the bottom of a square baking dish (8×8 or 9×9 will work just fine), layer one thin layer of the full squash rounds to create a base then spread all the half circles evenly on top of that base.

Sprinkle the shallots, garlic, and ½ cup of the cheese over the squash.

Layer the remaining squash rounds on next.

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, stir together cream, salt, pepper, and sage until evenly mixed. Pour mixture over the squash.

Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of the dish and cover with foil or a lid (if your dish has one!).

Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, then remove cover and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.

Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake for 20 more minutes.

Let cool slightly before serving.

What are you planning to make this Thanksgiving featuring local goods?

Photo Courtesy of Christina Carson

Photo Courtesy of Christina Carson


Christina Carson is a Northern Michigan girl through and through – addicted to the Lake Michigan coastline, our incredible local food system, and the mitten’s homegrown musicians. She shares her passion for beautiful, delicious, and joyful food through her blog and photography business - Toot Sweet! Keep an eye out for her monthly Michigan recipes on Awesome Mitten, and follow Toot Sweet on Facebook and Instagram!