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!

Pure Michigan November Events Roundup

November in Michigan is a unique combination of fall festivities and holiday cheer. From festivals to parades to local tree lightings, check out our roundup of great events happening around the state. For more suggestions of things to do this month in Michigan, visit michigan.org.

Michigan East CentralEast Central

First Frost Arts and Fine Crafts Festival
November 5 – 6, 2011, Flint
Take in a glass blowing demonstration and explore artist tables filled with creations made out of wood, fiber, clay and more. For more information, call (810) 234-1695 or visit http://www.flintarts.org.

Zehnder’s Bakery Holiday How-To’s
November 15 – 17, 2011, Frankenmuth
Learn how to prepare culinary creations like the experts, as the renowned Zehnder’s Bakery will offer classes on decorating cookies, building a gingerbread house, making a yule log and more. For more information, call (800) 863-7999.

Midland Santa Parade
November 19, 2011, Midland
Take in a fun holiday parade beginning at 10 a.m. at Midland High School. The route will go down Ashman Street to Main Street and ends near Cronkright. For more information, call (989) 835-5862.

Frankenmuth Holiday Celebration & Candlewalk
November 25, 2011, Frankenmuth
The city where it always feels like Christmas will kick off the holiday season with a candlewalk from the River Place to the Chamber Platz for the lighting of the Tannenbaum. The ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. Call (800) FUN –TOWN for more information.

Christmas Candlelight Walk
November 25 -26, 2011, Chesaning
Stroll down Christmas Tree Lane, take in a tree lighting ceremony near the railroad tracks that features the 1225 Steam Locomotive and enjoy Santa’s Village at the local fairgrounds. For more information, call (800) 255-3055.

Santa’s Arrival and Courthouse Lighting
November 29, 2011, Midland
Santa will have a busy night in Midland, as he will star in the city parade, be on hand for the courthouse lighting and then will open his magical house on Main Street. The fun starts at 7 p.m. For more information, call (989) 837-3330.

Reese Holiday Walk
November 29, 2011, Reese
The Village of Reese invites all to their holiday walk featuring horse and buggy rides, a soup cook-off and, of course, Santa Claus. For more information, call (989) 868-4291.




Grayling Christmas Walk
November 19, 2011, Grayling
The Christmas spirit will be in full effect with music, decoration and an open house with merchants from the Uptown District. Call (800) 937-8837 for more information.

Au Gres Chamber of Commerce Annual Christmas Parade
November 26, 2011, Au Gres
It will be a full night of fun in Au Gres, with a Christmas tree lighting beginning at 5:45 p.m., which will be immediately followed by the holiday parade, which concludes at the city pavilion with hot chocolate and a visit from Santa.




Iceman Cometh Challenge
November 5, 2011, Traverse City
3,700 cyclists from the United States and Canada converge on Traverse City for the Iceman Cometh Challenge – a 27-mile bicycle race through the Pere Marquette State Forest. Rain, sunshine, sleet, snow or ice – nothing stops this race. For more information, call (231) 922-5926 or visit http://www.iceman.com.

Toast the Season Wine Trail Event
November 5 -6 or November 12 -13, 2011, Suttons Bay
Choose your weekend and enjoy a special pour at each of the Leelanau Peninsula member wineries, gourmet food and a gift basket with a souvenir glass and an ornament. For more information, call (231) 256-2829 or visit http://lpwines.com/toast.

Santa is Coming to Boyne City
November 25, 2011, Boyne City
A Boyne City tradition returns for another year, as businesses will decorate the city with floats and offer shopping and hospitality. Santa will arrive on his sleigh with his elves during the holiday parade and will meet all the children at Old City Park. For more information, call (231) 582-9009.

Stafford’s Downtown Petoskey Holiday Parade
November 26, 2011, Petoskey
The party is in Petoskey for a holiday parade featuring floats from local businesses, marching bands and the guest of honor, Santa Claus. After the parade, bring the kids to meet Santa at Stafford’s Perry Hotel. For more information, call (231) 622-8501.

Michigan SoutheastSoutheast

East Lansing Film Festival
November 9 -17, 2011, East Lansing
Michigan’s largest and most diverse film festival will feature documentaries, shorts, student productions and independent films from around the world. For more information, call (517) 980-5802 or visit http://elff.com.

Tecumseh Holiday Open House
November 11 – 13, 2011, Tecumseh
Holiday shopping will be very festive in downtown Tecumseh, as lights and decorations will adorn the local businesses. For more information, call (517) 424-6003.

Silver Bells in the City
November 18, 2011, Lansing
Join 80,000 attendees in the state’s capitol city as we light Michigan’s official Christmas tree and experience a beautiful fireworks display cascading over the capitol dome. Enjoy local shopping and free admission to the city’s cultural institutions. For more information, call (517) 487-3322 or visit http://www.silverbellsinthecity.org.

Detroit Christmas Wonderfest
November 18 – 27, 2011, Detroit
Christmas Wonderfest is an indoor/outdoor international festival that will include an International Marketplace, a local showcase and gallery featuring work from the region’s finest artists, and a Central City Marketplace offering mementos from Detroit’s most beloved landmarks and cultural institutions. Wonderfest begins with the ceremonial Holiday season tree-lighting event on November 18. For more information, visit http://www.christmaswonderfest.com.

America’s Thanksgiving Parade
November 24, 2011, Detroit
A popular Michigan tradition, this year’s parade will have crowd favorites and new surprises with more than 75 parade units including floats, balloons, award-winning marching bands, clowns, specialty acts, celebrities and The Parade Company’s own Distinguished Clown Corps. For more information, call (313) 923-7400 or visit http://theparade.org.

Santa’s Arrival & Tree Lighting in Plymouth
November 25, 2011, Plymouth
Grab the kids and head over to Kellogg Park at 5:40 p.m. to see Santa, sing holiday carols and witness the lighting of the city tree. For more information, call (734) 453-1540.

Fantasy of Lights Parade
November 25, 2011, Howell
It will be a full afternoon and evening in Howell to celebrate the holidays. Entertainment, including visits with Santa and live reindeer, begin at 3 p.m., followed by the Fantasy 5K Run and then the Fantasy of Lights Parade, each entry of which will be illuminated with at least 5,000 lights. For more information, call (517) 546-3920.

28th Annual Matthes Christmas Tree Festival
November 25 – 27, 2011, Ida
There’s nothing like a freshly-cut Michigan Christmas tree, and you can select your own at the Matthes Christmas Tree Festival. Also enjoy visits with Santa, refreshments and crafters. Call (734) 269-2668 for more information.

Michigan Southwest


Luminary Festival – St. Joseph
November 18, 2011, St. Joseph
Stroll down the candle-lit streets of St. Joseph and complete your holiday shopping as the local shops will be open late and many merchants will offer refreshments. For more information, call (269) 985-1111 or visit http://www.sjtoday.org/events/luminary-festival.html.

Battle Creek Holiday Parade
November 19, 2011, Battle Creek
The annual Battle Creek Holiday Parade has it all – classic cars, clowns, bands and, of course, floats. It will be fun for the whole family. Call (269) 420-4031 for more information.

Kalamazoo Russian Festival
November 19, 2011, Kalamazoo
This festival is the largest Russian Festival in the United States. Held at Western Michigan University’s Fetzer Center, the event features food, art, vendors and special performance by the Russian Embassy Children’s Choir. For more information, visit http://www.russiaanfestival.org.

International Festival of Lights
November 19 – December 3, 2011, Battle Creek
This two-week event kicks off with the Battle Creek Holiday Parade on November 19 and all of the displays have been updated with LED lights. One of the most popular lighting displays is the Twelve Days of Christmas which is located on the back lawn of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.bcfestivals.com/index.taf?s=4.

Upper Peninsula

Upper Peninsula

Christmas Tree Galleria
November 12 -20, 2011, Caspian
How do you decorate your Christmas tree? In Caspian, more than 50 trees with rural, ethnic and international themes will be on display at the Iron County Historical Museum Complex. For more information, call (906) 265-2617.

Paradise Christmas Bazaar
November 26, 2011, Paradise
It’s a shopper’s paradise in Paradise, as unique handcrafted holiday gifts will be on display at the Whitefish Township Community Center. For more information, call (906) 492-3434.

Starry, Starry Night in Grand Marais
November 26, 2011, Grand Mariais
Get a head start on your holiday shopping the Saturday after Thanksgiving as the local merchants and shops in Grand Marais will be  open late and offer spectacular shopping specials. For more information, contact (906) 494-2447.

Les Cheneaux Old Fashioned Christmas
November 27 – December 7, 2011, Les Cheneaux Islands
For those looking for some old-fashioned courtesies and northern Michigan charm, look no further than the tiny village of Les Cheneaux. Experience three tree-lighting ceremonies on November 28 and 29 and on December 7. For more information, call (906) 484-3935 or visit http://www.lescheneaux.org/Special_Events/oldfashionedchristmas.html.

Michigan West Central

 West Central

Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids
November 3 -13, 2011, Grand Rapids
Treat your taste buds in Grand Rapids, as more than 50 restaurants will feature a three-course menu for a fixed price of $25 in addition to their regular menu. Be on the lookout for some special items as well. For more information, call (800) 678-9859 or visit http://restaurantweekgr.com.

Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival
November 17 – 19, 2011, Grand Rapids
This annual event is for wine connoisseurs and novices alike. Take in a wine seminar, try some wine pairings with creations from local restaurants and try wine, beer and spirits from around the world. Adults $15. For more information, visit http://www.showspan.com.

Festival of Trees
November 17 – 27, 2011, Muskegon
The Muskegon Museum of Art presents 11 days of beautifully decorated holiday trees and wreaths decorated by local designers and sold during a silent auction. A holiday movie festival, Teddy Bear Breakfast with Santa and other holiday celebrations are offered. For more information, call (231) 720-2570.

Grand Haven Light Night
November 18, 2011, Grand Haven
Grand Haven begins the holiday season with its Light Night. Trees will be illuminated with holiday lights, and local stores will hold open houses with gift suggestions for everybody on your shopping list. For more information, call (616) 844-1188 or visit http://www.downtowngrandhaven.com.

Family Christmas in Muskegon
November 26, 2011, Muskegon
The lighting of the Christmas tree at Hackley Park in Muskegon is an annual tradition, with carolers.

Pentwater Festival of Lights
November 26, 2011, Pentwater
The village of Pentwater will be decorated for the season with shopping, dining, carolers, music, chestnuts roasting, horse drawn carriage rides and more. Santa arrives at 5 p.m. – just in time for the tree lighting ceremony.  For more information, call (231) 869-4150.

Nite Lites Drive-Thru Christmas Lights Display
November 18, 2011 – January 1, 2012, Comstock Park
Back for its 14th year, the Nite Lites offers more than 40 creative and animated displays with approximately one million lights, which covers over a mile of fun. 6 – 10 p.m. daily. For more information, call (616) 292-1431.