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!

Fall Foliage, Football and Fun in Michigan’s Capital City

Whether you’re cheering the Spartans on to victory or paddling down the Grand River, the best way to view the beauty of autumn is to be a part of it. Lori Lanspeary from the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau shares her favorite ways to experience fall in Michigan’s capital region.

The only colors necessary for a Greater Lansing Fall Getaway are Green…and White. Whether you’re a die-hard Spartan fan who BLEEDS GREEN or a fan of some other color combination that when mixed together actually MAKES GREEN, a weekend in Michigan’s capital region should be on your bucket list before that WHITE stuff starts to fall.

It’s always a beautiful day for football when Michigan State University takes the field at Spartan Stadium. Tailgating is an East Lansing tradition as is exploring the expansive campus with the leaves crunching underfoot, visiting MSU attractions and cheering the Spartans on to victory.

Photo courtesty of the Greater Lansing CVB

Photo courtesty of the Greater Lansing CVB

We’ve got great fall leaf peeping here in mid-Michigan and you can actually get out of your car and take part in the experience. Visit our great u-pick farms such as, Uncle John’s Cider Mill in St. Johns or The Country Mill in Charlotte. Go ahead and find the best pumpkins in the patch or pick a peck of your favorite apples. And don’t forget to stop in to buy a gallon or three of the freshest apple cider, a dozen or so pumpkin donuts and a few delicious pies.

Photo courtesty of the Greater Lansing CVB

Photo courtesty of the Greater Lansing CVB

Still ready to see more color? Greater Lansing has so many different ways for you to enjoy the season. How about a River Town Adventure kayak or canoe ride along the Grand River or a beautiful trail ride at Sundance Riding Stables? It’s like seeing mid-Michigan’s majesty in a whole new way. Then hop aboard the Michigan Princess for a paddleboat ride complete with a delicious lunch, a sweet cruise on the Grand River and some pretty fall scenery. Sounds delightful, am I right? Another option may be to explore the Greater Lansing Makers & Shakers Trail and take a tasting tour of some of the small-batch, locally-sourced craft beers, spirits and wine.

Photo courtesty of the Greater Lansing CVB

Photo courtesty of the Greater Lansing CVB

Make it a Greater Lansing Fall Getaway and see your color tour in a whole new way. We promise you can return to your regular way of viewing fall color from your car seat on the way to and from Michigan’s Capital City.Lori

About the author: Lori Lanspeary is the leisure marketing manager at the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau. For over 15 years now she has been a #lovelansing advocate both personally and professionally. You can follow her weekly blogs.

Five Must Do Autumn Favorites in Charlevoix

If you seek a Michigan destination that offers exciting events and unique history while allowing you to slow down and enjoy the changing fall colors, Charlevoix may be a perfect spot for you!  Guest blogger Amanda Wilkin of the Charlevoix Convention and Visitor’s Bureau shares five things not to miss this fall and what makes autumn in Northern-Lower Michigan so special.

1. Attend Festivals and Events

Photo courtesy of Visit Charlevoix.

Photo courtesy of Visit Charlevoix

Harvest Festivals at Friske Orchards (Sept. 26) and Castle Farms (Sept. 27) put you right in the middle of the harvest spirit. Consider making  a fun family weekend trip out of it and check out both events!

Apple Fest (Oct. 9 – 11) is one of the most beloved fall harvest celebration in Northern Michigan, encompassing all of downtown Charlevoix. Area orchards bring 30 varieties of apples and delectable baked goods, while the art and craft show, family fun run, kids activities and historic boat cruise provide memorable events for the whole family.

Other events include the SummerFolk Concert (Sept. 28), Leif Eriksson Day Row and Run (Oct. 3), and the Grand Bridal Expo (Oct. 25).

2. Discover Extraordinary Fall Colors

Photo courtesy of Visit Charlevoix.

Photo courtesy of Visit Charlevoix

Whether you choose to tour the sights by car, boat, motorcycle, plane, bicycle or even foot, finding beautiful views in the Charlevoix area is simple. Jump in the car and travel the winding roads around Lake Charlevoix to see the fall foliage ablaze with color reflecting against the deep blue waters. Catch a ride on Sunshine Charters or Keweenaw Excursions to see the striking colors along the shores of Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan. Travel by foot downtown to do some shopping and dining amongst the beautiful bright yellow locust trees, or hit the trails of one of the 15 local nature preserves.

3. Experience the Great Outdoors

Photo courtesy of Visit Charlevoix.

Photo courtesy of Visit Charlevoix

Recreation is the name of the game year-round in Charlevoix. Savor the moderate temperatures of fall while you get your adrenaline fix by zip lining, sky diving or mountain biking. Not an adrenaline junkie? Get out on the water via kayak, canoe or paddle board and feel the relaxation sink in. You can also hit the links for a round of fall golf and enjoy gorgeous views and great seasonal discounts. Don’t forget to enjoy a nice walk along the stunning beaches of Lake Michigan at Michigan Beach, Fisherman’s Island State Park, and McSauba Recreational Area.

4. Delight Your Taste Buds

Photo courtesy of Visit Charlevoix.

Photo courtesy of Visit Charlevoix

Experience the best in local flavors by visiting one of the many wonderful locally owned restaurants, pubs, wineries and breweries in the Charlevoix area. Try the whitefish, a specialty that is caught daily by John Cross Fisheries and served in many of the outstanding restaurants.  Make sure to visit the area’s orchards and farm markets, and as an added bonus, you can take part in the hayrides, pumpkin patches and corn mazes!

5. Learn Fascinating History

Photo courtesy of Visit Charlevoix.

Photo courtesy of Visit Charlevoix

Charlevoix is bursting with history. Start your quest at the Harsha House Museum where you will find thousands of historic photos, Victorian antique collections, Ernest Hemingway history and much more.  Visit the famous Mushroom Houses by Earl Young and be transported to another time and place that is full of whimsy and enchantment. Take a tour of majestic Castle Farms to learn about the restoration of the 1918 buildings while enjoying the gorgeous grounds and Michigan’s largest model railroad. In addition, don’t miss these historic hot spots:  South Pier Lighthouse, the Victorian architecture of the Belvedere and Chicago clubs associations, and the Train Depot that opens periodically as a museum.

What do you plan to check out in Charlevoix this fall?

CharlevoixAmanda

About the author: Growing up in Southeast Michigan, Amanda spent time every summer visiting “Up North”, and became infatuated with Charlevoix at the young age of 12. After living in other areas of the country, she was thrilled to be able to move back to her home state of Michigan. Amanda feels incredibly lucky to live in Charlevoix, and much more, to spend her days promoting the Charlevoix area as a travel destination.