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Find your new favorite recipe with Michigan Radio's Thanksgiving Cookbook

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the past year, to reconnect with family and friends, and to express gratitude for the all that is good in our lives.

But more importantly, Thanksgiving is a time to eat.

With those priorities in mind, Michigan Radio has compiled a number of favorite recipes from our own family feasts. Below you’ll find everything from the classics, like cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie, to more specific family traditions, like red chile or Portuguese sweet bread. The recipes are divided into Sides & Starters, Vegetables, Entrees, and Desserts, so you can discover a new recipe for any part of your family's feast!

We hope you give some of our Turkey Day treats a try, and have a happy Thanksgiving!


Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish

Susan Stamberg, NPR

First, an NPR Thanksgiving tradition.

Many long-time NPR and Michigan Radio listeners will know Susan Stamberg as one of the “Founding Mothers” of National Public Radio. She was the host of All Things Considered from 1972 to 1981, and then went on to host Weekend Edition Sunday from 1987 to 1989.

Every year, she shares her Cranberry Relish recipe with listeners across the country, and it’s a dish found on the tables of many Michigan Radio staffers.


  • 2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
  • 1 small onion
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs horseradish from a jar (red is a bit milder than white)


  1. Grind the raw berries and onion together. (I use an old-fashioned meat grinder. I'm sure there's a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind — not a puree.)
  2. Add everything else and mix.
  3. Put in a plastic container and freeze.
  4. Several hours before serving, move it from the freezer to the refrigerator compartment to thaw. (It should still have some icy slivers left.)

The relish will be thick, creamy and shocking pink. (OK, Pepto-Bismol pink)

Cranberry Sauce

Sarah Hulett, Senior Editor

This is a recipe I stole from somewhere and make every year:

Place one bag o' cranberries in a pot with 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup maple syrup, and 1 cup Vernor's (or "ginger ale" if you have no interest in keeping it real).

Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cook until cranberries pop and liquid reduces a bit.

Eat hot or cold.

Sweet and simple!

Fluffy Dinner Rolls

Alison Warren, Associate Director of Development

One of the foods I loved the most at Thanksgiving were my great-grandmother’s dinner rolls. Fluffy, buttery dinner rolls with just a pinch of sugar on the top. She was THE baker in the family and was always in the kitchen. Date bars, sugar cookies, the list goes on. But she was really known for her dinner rolls.

Like so many, she knew the recipes by heart and didn’t have a reason to write them down. (She kept some recipes, but they consisted of recipes cut from newspapers or from chocolate chip bags.)

After she passed, the bakers in my family did their best to recreate them, but their rolls couldn’t compare. My cousin got close, but it still wasn’t right.

We paged through countless cookbooks trying to find something similar. After a few more failures, we gave up.

A few years ago my Dad, an avid baker, got the cookbook that accompanied America’s Test Kitchen by Cooks Illustrated. He always looks in the bread section first hoping that we could find Great-Grandma Gertiser's rolls. Would we finally have something that tasted like Great Grandma Gertiser’s rolls?  

Long story short, while the rolls we found in that cookbook aren’t quite as good as the originals, they are the closest we’ve ever had. It will never replace the original, but we remember her love when the rolls take center stage on our Thanksgiving table. It makes me happy to know that through flour, yeast, milk, water, and sugar, my Great-Grandma Gertiser lives on and is a part of my kiddo's Thanksgiving traditions.

(This recipe isn't my own and was first published in the America's Test Kitchen Cooks Illustrated cookbook. When the recipe calls for brushing the top with water this is when we add sugar to make closer to Great-Grandma Gertiser's rolls)  

Rice Stuffing

April Baer, Stateside Host

Someone in my family introduced me to this. If you can find juniper berries, they add the most fabulous-slash-underused seasonal flavor. Like all great stuffings, it's solid in the bird, but also very, very good when poultry is not present. Make this your own, with corn, diced squash, or anything else that inspires you.

Makes enough to stuff a 20 lb turkey, with some left over.


  • 1.5 cups wild rice (*)
  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 6-8 cups your favorite soup stock. Water is also fine. 
  • Salt
  • 2-3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small or medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, chopped small
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 apples, cored and cut in ½-inch dice
  • 1/3 cup lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons juniper berries

* Sourcing note: Try this Native producer of Michigan-grown Manoomin 


In separate saucepans, combine the wild rice with four cups of liquid, and the brown rice with at least 1.5 cups broth or water (it's a good idea to double-check cooking directions for your rices, to make sure you're getting enough liquid. Salt both to taste. Bring both pots to a boil, then turn down to simmer. The wild rice will take a little longer than the brown. Think maybe 45 mins for wild and at least 30 mins for brown -- your mileage will vary.

Meanwhile, in a pot or skillet, heat olive oil and add onion and cook over medium heat for 5 mins. Add fennel and continue to saute for about 5 more minutes. Add juniper berries and saute for one more minute. Then add the butter, and toss in the chopped apple. Turn off heat and stir in the pecans, and the rices when they're ready. Taste for seasoning and add salt if you like. The juniper flavor will blossom as the stuffing bakes.

If you're stuffing a bird, you might want to add another cup or two of broth before you proceed. You're going for moist stuffing, but not sopping. If you're serving strictly as a side, place in buttered baking dish and bake in a 325 oven for 20-30 mins. Enjoy!

Onion Pie

Carol Lawrence, Account Manager/Corporate Support

This “Onion Pie” recipe is a fairly new addition to the annual Lawrence-Dobrusin Thanksgiving celebration… but it is now a staple! The Ritz Cracker crust and Sweet Vidalia onions are an incredible combination. It is a guarantee that if you add this delicious “pie” to the menu for your family’s annual feast, it will be a required Thanksgiving side dish for years to come!


  • 1 cup Ritz cracker crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Paprika, to taste


  1. Mix Ritz crackers crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture into an 8-inch pie plate.
  2. Saute onions with 2 T of butter until clear, not brown. Spoon into pie crust.
  3. Beat eggs with milk, salt, and pepper. Pour over onions.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until firm in the center.

Aunt Loretta’s Famous Red Chile

Mercedes Mejia, Producer - Stateside

At Thanksgiving, family and friends in New Mexico will most certainly be enjoying some flavorful red chile on their turkey and mashed potatoes. Along with all the traditional fixings, there’s always a huge pot of red chile cooking on the stove. You can sop it up with a roll or flour tortilla or skip the gravy and pour it all over your food.

Red chiles
Credit user Kerinin / Flickr
Red chiles

My Aunt Loretta’s red chile is amazing. People eat it by the bowl. My husband, who is originally from the east coast, is obsessed with it.

You can make red chile with or without meat. Aunt Loretta writes, “I don't really have a real recipe for red chile but I will try to estimate the ingredients. So here we go...”


  • 1/2 pound of diced sirloin pork roast or pork chops
  • 15 dried red chili pods
  • 1/2 tablespoon of flour (optional) flour thickens the chili but can be omitted for gluten free if omitted add 3 or 4 extra chili pods
  • 3 tablespoons of canola oil or any vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of diced garlic
  • Salt, pepper, and granulated garlic to taste


  1. Add canola oil into frying pan stir in the diced pork. Season pork with salt, pepper and granulated garlic to taste. Fry until cooked and most of the liquid from the water in the meat and oil are gone
  2. While pork is cooking, soak the red chili pods in in boiled water. Do not boil the pods - just soak in water that has been boiled.
  3. Once the pork is cooked, add the flour and continuously stir over medium heat until the meat turns somewhat crusty and brown.
  4. Once the chili pods soften, put the pods into the blender and add the diced garlic, oregano and water. Blend well until the chili pods appear to be blended thoroughly. It should be the consistency of a thick sauce. If it is too thick, you can add more water.
  5. Pour the chili sauce into pan with the cooked pork. Simmer at rolling boil while stir continuously until the foam at top disappears. Add salt to taste. Enjoy!

So, there it is, if you want to add a little kick to your Thanksgiving meal this year -- go red.

Thanksgiving Fruit Salad

Ellen Perry, Account Executive Corporate Support


  • 4 Honey Crisp apples (red delicious are the original recipe), diced
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, diced
  • 4 pears, diced
  • 4 bananas, sliced
  • 1 bunch red grapes- cut in half depending on size
  • 3-5 large cans of mandarin oranges
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • Whipped cream, ~1 quart
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Mix all of the fruit together in large bowl. If you prep ahead of time wait on the bananas and mandarin oranges so they don’t get mushy.
  2. Add ~2 tsps lemon juice to keep fruit from turning brown.
  3. Add marshmallows close to the time of serving.
  4. Make the whipped cream the way you like it… I use powdered sugar and vanilla with a little Cream of Tartar to keep it from getting runny.
  5. Fold the whipped cream into the fruit/marshmallow mixture until it looks like a magical, fluffy cloud of goodness.
  6. Keep chilled until time to serve.

It looks lovely served in a clear glass bowl… Enjoy!
P.S. Wonderful for breakfast the next morning with a piece of pumpkin pie and coffee.

Pepperoni Cocktail Snacks

Emma Winowiecki, Digital Communications Specialist

My Grandma Ruthie was a very petite lady. Any mini version of an otherwise normal object, be it a tiny spatula or a little juice glass, will always be “Grandma-sized” in my mind.

pepperoni snack recipe
Credit Mary Winowiecki
Don't mind the Christmas-themed stationary. Grandma Ruthie's recipe is perfect for all holidays!

These pepperoni cocktail snacks are the ultimate “Grandma-sized” treat, as well as a staple at all of our holiday parties. They’re the perfect bite-sized combination of salty, cheesy goodness.

(And if you have picky eaters in your family, fear not: this is the recipe that let my mom trick me into eating spinach as a kid).


  • 2 packages sliced pepperoni
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 cups small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 eggs, beaten


  1. Mix the spinach, cheeses, onion, oregano, and garlic well. Add the eggs.
  2. Lightly spray a mini-muffin pan. Place a pepperoni in the bottom of each cup, then fill with the mixture.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Once cooled, you can also freeze them to serve at Christmas!
Homemade Buttered Noodles

Katheryne Friske, Host

If you've never made noodles from scratch, it's easy and fun. I use a dough hook with my stand mixer, but this can be done by hand and is a nice upper-arm workout! I've also used a bread maker for the dough. Just make sure you take it out as soon as it's mixed into a dough ball.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp salt (I like using garlic salt)
  • 1/4-1/2 c.=ups of water
  • 1:1 Water and broth for boiling
  • Butter (See below)

Measure the flour into a mixing bowl. Using your finger, make a well in the center and add yolks, whole egg, and salt. With hands, thoroughly mix together. (or dough mixer, bread maker). Add water 1 tbs at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition (only add water until the dough forms into a ball).

Turn dough onto well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Cut into smaller pieces. Roll them out one-at-a-time, making the dough paper thin and rectangular (do your best, it's tricky).

Keep remaining dough covered.

Using a pizza slicer or noodle roller, cut into 1/8-1/4 in thick noodles.

Sprinkle a bit of flour around to coat the noodles.

You can dry them for 2 hrs, but I like to just toss them in the boiling water+broth. For dry noodles, cool 12-15 minutes, otherwise it's only 8-9 minutes.

Clarifying the butter:

Melt the butter over low heat, don't over cook or boil it. With a slotted spoon or wire sieve, skim off the foamy milk solids that rise to the top.

Ladle the golden butter fat into another bowl or pan, leaving the milky white substance that sink to the bottom.


Bright and Warm Green Beans

Laura Weber Davis, Stateside Executive Producer

It's maybe sacrilege in the Midwest to stray from the rib-sticking delight of Green Bean Casserole, but several years ago I discovered it just wasn't working on my Thanksgiving plate the way I needed it to. I was looking for a veggie dish that added brightness to the palate. I traded out the fatty tastes of Cream of Mushroom soup for the acidic sensations of vinegar and lemon juice. What I got was the perfect side dish to pair with cut through the heaping helping of gravy coating everything on my plate.


  • 1 lb. green beans (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • 2-4 cups turkey stock
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup Apple cider vinegar OR 1 lemon
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper


Chop green beans into bite-sized pieces. Cut roasted red pepper into narrow strips and then bite-sized pieces. Boil green beans in turkey (or chicken) stock for 20-30 minutes, until desired fork tenderness. Add roasted red pepper in for the last 5 or so minutes of cook time. Drain stock from beans and peppers. Add 2-4 Tbs. of butter (to taste). Add vinegar or lemon, OR BOTH! Combine in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Voila! A lovely, traditional tasting, but bright, Green Bean side for your table.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Rick Pluta, State Capitol Bureau Chief

I have my grandmother’s cast iron pans hanging in my kitchen. I love the fact that I fry eggs and pancakes for my kids in the same pans Grandma Ribeiro used to make stuffed pork chops, or scrambled eggs, or green beans sautéed with onions. That’s 70 or 80 years of seasoning on those pans, by my reckoning. I’m the only one allowed to clean them. I’d clear out my kitchen and start over before I’d part with those pans.

This recipe is my go-to for bringing to a Thanksgiving potluck, and, truth is I’ve been told not to show up without this dish. I say “recipe” but it’s really kind of a throw-together thing for me. So, these measurements aren’t gospel.

Caleb Pluta
Rick Pluta with his grandmother's cast iron pans.


  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • Balsamic vinegar dressing

(You can use store-bought dressing - but you shouldn’t, because salad dressing is so easy:

My dressing “recipe” is:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Tablespoon or two of honey
  • Tablespoon or two Dijon mustard, or whatever you have on hand
  • Salt
  • Fresh-ground pepper

If you have some minced garlic, and you will, might as well throw that in. My uncle Wayne used to say the appropriate amount of garlic is “all of it that’s in the house.” I get by with two to four cloves minced.)


  1. Clean the Brussels sprouts by chopping the stem, and peeling off the outer leaves. Cut the sprouts in half. Toss with the garlic, half the dressing (which you made yourself because that’s the way to do it), and ground pepper and salt to taste.
  2. Spread the sprouts across Grandma’s 11-inch pan, lightly oiled. If you don’t have Grandma’s pan, use your own. A roasting pan works fine, too.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees (or get a little crazy and go to 425 degrees).
  4. Put the pan with sprouts in the oven. If you haven’t invested in a decent potholder, you’re now in trouble. (Fact check: I typically use a dry dishtowel to handle hot cast iron.)
  5. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, until the outer leaves are turning brown. Throw in the walnuts and quickly toss. Roast for another five to 10 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from oven, and dump the sprouts in a bowl. Toss with some of the remaining salad dressing. You have to taste as you go. You might get by with less than what you have left.
  7. Pour six ounces dry white wine in a glass. Enjoy while you wait for Thanksgiving dinner.

Steamed Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter

Christa Quinn, Account Executive Corporate Support

Browned butter lends a nutty flavor to anything that’s lucky enough to be doused in it. This time of year, Brussels sprouts are in a bounty in the markets, and what’s better, they can be prepared ahead of time.


  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, outer leaves discarded
  • 1 ½ to 2 sticks unsalted butter


  1. Prepare an ice bath (large bowl of ice water to shock Brussels sprouts after they’re steamed). Slice cleaned Brussels sprouts in half and steam until just tender. Make sure they don’t get over done. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer hot sprouts to ice bath. When they’re all nice and shocked, drain, pat dry and set on the counter in a bowl with a cover ‘til you’re just about ready to eat dinner. Go pour a glass of wine.
  2. Right before serving (15 minutes or so): Put butter in a stainless skillet (this is important so you can see the color of the butter as it browns) and heat on medium/low until it melts. DON’T LEAVE THE PAN LONGER THAN TO REFRESH YOUR GLASS OF WINE! Swirl the butter around until the solids start to brown. When the solids are a nice light brown color (caution, they go from brown to burned very quickly), immediate pour hot butter in a pyrex (or similar) vessel. I’ve poured the hot butter into a drinking glass before. Let’s just say it wasn’t the best idea.
  3. Put the prepped sprouts in the skillet and add the butter as you see fit. Heat ‘til warmed through (you’re gonna have to taste as you go…darn).
  4. Put in a dish and enjoy!
Danielle Seering's scalloped corn casserole
Credit Danielle Seering
Danielle Seering's scalloped corn casserole

Scalloped Corn Casserole

Danielle Seering, Corporate Sponsorship

This is my sister-in-law’s family recipe that I adopted about 10 years ago and is now a favorite for every Thanksgiving. It’s a bread! It’s a vegetable! It’s a starch! It’s got it all plus it’s super easy and delicious, so I also love bringing it to potlucks.


  • 1 can whole corn, drained
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients and pour into baking dish.
  3. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Creamed Cauliflower

Matt Shafer Powell, Programming Director

I would love to offer up my own creamed cauliflower recipe. It's probably terrible for you (lots of butter and creamed cheese) but it tastes really good and because it's cauliflower, you can convince others that it's healthy.

Also, the idea that I'm actually writing it up as a recipe is kinda funny. I don't usually measure anything and the ingredients usually consist of anything that looks good to me at the time.


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 4oz. stick salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese
  • 1/4 large sweet onion
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 cup of grated extra sharp white cheddar (any kind of cheese works, but the stronger the flavor, the better)
  • 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup freshly grated asiago cheese, divided
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, divided

1. Separate the cauliflower into florets and steam until soft (about 10 minutes if you're using a microwave steamer). Set aside.

2. Mince the garlic and onion. Saute the garlic in olive oil for about a minute until it starts to soften. Add the onion and saute for another minute.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the steamed cauliflower, garlic, onion, half of the asiago cheese, cream cheese, white cheddar cheese, half the rosemary, salt and pepper.

4. Mix on high for about five minutes until creamy. Add more salt and pepper if desired.

5. Scoop into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining asiago cheese, smoked paprika and rosemary on the top.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

7. Broil on high for 5 minutes.

8. Take a photo and tell us how it turned out! (just kidding, I don't know what I would do with other people's pictures of food)

Red Skinned Sweet Potatoes

Rebecca Kruth, Reporter/Host

This was the first dish I ever contributed to my family's Thanksgiving. It was the first year after I moved, and my mom had tasked me with bringing something to dinner. I had no idea what to make, so I asked my co-workers at the high school where I worked at the time for suggestions. My department head assured me that I would stun and delight my people with this recipe for red skinned sweet potatoes. She said that when she made it, she would have to stop her guests from trying to lick the pan once all the potatoes were gone. My people seemed to enjoy it very much, though no one tried to lick the pan. Not that I saw anyway. :)


  • 4 lbs red-skinned yams, peeled, cut into 1” slices
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of ground ginger
  • 2 cups mini-marshmallows
  • 1 cup sliced almonds


  1. Preheat to 375. Arrange potatoes in 13x9 glass dish. Combine sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over potatoes; toss to coat. Cover dish tightly with foil.
  2. Bake potatoes 50 minutes. Uncover, and continue to bake until potatoes are tender and syrup thickens slightly, basting occasionally, about 20 additional minutes.
  3. Increase oven temp to 500. Top potatoes with marshmallows and almonds. Return to oven; bake until marshmallows begin to melt - about 2-3 minutes. But watch carefully lest you torch the yams.

Serves 8 to 10 people.


Sandy's Southern Fried Chicken

Holli Eaton, Director of Corporate Sponsors & Major Gifts/Donor Relations

My mom Sandy Eaton makes the best fried chicken!! The recipe came from her mom, Isabelle Pourchot (my Nanny) who made batches of fried chicken for our entire family (Therman “Therm” Pourchot, my Grandad; Jim & Sandy Eaton, my mom and dad; and Julie, my baby sis) on Sundays, right after church.

My Nanny and Grandad were Southern Illinois farmers so we would eat the freshest chicken, mashed potatoes, garden fresh tomatoes and green beans, and cherry cobbler for dessert. Their little house on the farm smelled “heavenly” with the scents of fried chicken and cobbler lingering in the air for hours after our Sunday dinner.

Chicken – purchase local farmers market fresh chicken breasts, thighs, and legs. Soak the chicken overnight in water and salt the night before you are ready to fry it.

Preparation – drain the chicken and pat it dry with paper towel. Use a medium bowl to prepare a mixture of 2-3 cups flour, paprika for color, and a tablespoon of pepper, and garlic salt. Roll each piece of chicken in the flour mixture and make sure all surfaces are fully coated.

Pre-heat electric skillet - pour about ½ inch deep of vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan while it is cool and then warm the skillet to 350 degrees. Place the chicken pieces (no more than 4-6 depending on the size of pieces) in the pan on medium heat and leave a little space between each one. Cook the chicken slowly and with patience. Do not turn the chicken over (important tip) until a golden crisp is formed on the first side of the chicken that is face side down in the pan. You may cover the skillet with a lid partially to avoid the oil splashes throughout the frying experience. When you see a golden crisp on the first side of the chicken, carefully turn it over and repeat until all sides of the chicken leg, thigh, or breast look the same. The chicken is done when all sides are a golden brown color and a temperature gauge (placed in each piece) reaches 180 degree. Generally each piece of chicken takes about 30 minutes. Note - it you are frying large pieces of chicken it may take more time.

Keep the fried chicken warm - place the cooked chicken in a warm 200 degree oven on a cookie sheet (do not cover the chicken) and start another round in the frying pan. Add more oil carefully (always keep about ½ inch of oil in the skillet) before frying a new batch of chicken.

Dinner suggestion - cook a big buttery batch of mashed potatoes and homemade gravy (using the small bits of chicken pieces in the skillet - add milk, corn starch) and toss in a loaf of homemade bread!

Sandy and her southern fried chicken
Holli Eaton
Sandy and her southern fried chicken.

Vegetable Pot Pie

Brad Gowland, Digital Tech Specialist

One of my best friends in college (hi Ashley!) used to make these incredible little pot pies in ramekins for all of the vegetarians and vegans at our Friendsgiving parties in a drafty old student house on Lawrence St.

I loved her recipe - but I can't possibly keep a stick of butter out of a good pie crust, and I bake mine in my trusty 12" Victor cast iron skillet. If you love it as much as I do and want an excuse to make it again with a twist - this makes for a perfect pasty filling, just fold over a few pie crusts into pockets and bake on a sheet of foil.


For the crust:

  • 1 stick frozen butter
  • 1 cup chilled flour
  • Ice water

For the filling:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • A few medium carrots (or a couple big carrots, or lots of small carrots), chopped
  • 1 large celery stick, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, in 1/2" cubes
  • 1 medium yukon gold potato, in 1/2" cubes
  • 1 cup frozen peas, corn, or any other mixed vegetables you like
  • 6 cloves garlic (y'all I love garlic)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • ~1 cup vegetable broth
  • Sage (fresh and minced or dried and powdered is fine)
  • Thyme (same as above)
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Olive oil


  1. Preheat your oven to 425. I make the crust first, then keep it in the fridge until the moment I need it. The trick is to work fast while everything is cold. Cut the butter into the flour on a cutting board. Once combined enough that the butter is about pea-sized, start working in the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough just holds together in a ball. Flatten the dough into a rough circle just a bit bigger than the pot you'll be baking in (I even lay the pot over the disc of dough to check). Lay out on a sheet of parchment paper and set aside in the fridge.
  2. Start cooking the vegetables. I like a stainless steel or cast iron skillet, but any big pan you have for sauteing and frying will work. Start with the onion, then the carrots, the onion, the celery, and last, the potatoes. Make sure not to crowd too much - if vegetables start piling up, work in batches. Add the garlic once the potatoes are just shy of fork tender (they'll finish in the oven), cook for about a minute.
  3. If you had to cook in batches, add everything back to the pan. Stir in the flour (my Aunt Sue gave me the tip to use browned flour for gravy, but no need if you don't want to), then gradually stir in vegetable broth until you're happy with the consistency of your gravy. Add the frozen vegetables, then sage, thyme, pepper, and salt to taste.
  4. Move your filling to the skillet you'll bake the pie in, filling it about 2/3 of the way up. Working quickly, lay the crust over your filling and press against the sides of the skillet. Run a knife around the rim to trim away any extra crust, then slice a few slits in the center of the crust. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is flaky and golden.
  5. Defend the pie for first dibs for all the vegetarians at the table. Everyone will want in on it.

Intern MorgDan’s Butter Chicken

Dan Netter & Morgan Womack, 2022 Interns

Say you and your closest reporter friends want to sit down and enjoy a horror movie over a pippin’ hot dinner just before the Thanksgiving Holiday.

What are you making? What else but butter chicken.

Interns Dan Netter (left) and Morgan Womack (right) with their buttered chicken.
Dan Netter
Interns Dan Netter (left) and Morgan Womack (right) with their buttered chicken.


  • 2 tablespoons of choice oil
  • Half a large onion
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic
  • A quarter stick of butter
  • 3 to 4 Chicken breasts or thighs
  • Turmeric 
  • ½ teaspoons of pepper
  • ½ teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne red pepper (“red stuff” -Morgan) (Add more to your own taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of Garam Masala (“ohhhh yeah, I love smelling this stuff.” -Dan) (Don’t skip this, you can probably find it at most Meijers)
  • 8 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • ⅓ cup of plain or vanilla yogurt
  • ½ cup of heavy cream OR half and half (add more depending on color at the very end)
  • ½  tablespoon of lemon juice (add more to own taste)
  • 4 servings of white rice


  1. Put on a pot of white rice.
  2. Cut chicken into bite size chunks, no bigger than a large male thumb.
  3. Oil up that pan! Add diced onions and minced garlic on medium heat. Wait until onions have become caramelized. Move the garlic around enough that it does not burn.
  4. Add chicken to pan. Cook the outside on medium heat. Should take 2-5 minutes.
  5. Season the chicken with the turmeric, salt, pepper, chili powder, ginger, cayenne pepper, and garam masala. Add turmeric to your liking. Stir in seasoning well, making sure most chicken has some garam masala on it. After you season the chicken, take a whiff of the garam masala. Doesn’t it smell like Christmas? I think so too. 
  6. Add in the tomato sauce. Add in tomato paste. Mix well.
  7. Add in yogurt and choice of cream, until the red sauce has turned a cool orange.
  8. Add in more paste or choice of cream as needed to adjust to color. See picture below.
  9. Add in lemon juice.
  10. Mix in more spices to taste.
  11. Serve on a bed of white rice.
Dan Netter
This is what it should look like, hopefully!

Tailgate Pot Roast

Tyler Scott, Weekend Host

Here’s a recipe with more of a gameday flavor, since the Ohio/Michigan game is almost always the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This is how we fend off the cold. It’s pretty tasty. Drunk people think it’s marvelous.

Note: Best served with a hearty side of mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese.


  • 2-5lb chuck roast
  • Half-gallon apple cider
  • Lots of black pepper
  • Some onion powder
  • Some garlic powder.
  • Baby carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Large red onion.

Vigorously season the roast with the dry spices (LOTS of black pepper. More than you think).

Sear the sides of the roast in an oiled pan.

Move the roast to a crock-pot on high.

Fill the crock pot with the chopped onion, and as many baby carrots and halved or quartered potatoes as you’d like.

Add apple cider to the crockpot, enough to cover most of the roast and vegetables.

Let stand on high until the cider starts to boil. Reduce the heat to low and let that thang cook down for 4-6 hours or until it looks ready.


Apricot, Orange, Cranberry Bread

Lester Graham, Reporter - The Environment Report

I've been using this recipe for the holidays for many years. It comes from The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking: Recipes and traditions from Jesuit bakers around the world by Brother Rick Curry, S.J.

No, I'm not Catholic, but I know a good recipe book when I see one.

Curry writes that this recipe comes from the Queen Elizabeth II (QE2), a retired British ocean liner that since has been converted into a floating hotel. His aunt, Winifred Curry, got the recipe from the ship's chef.

Lester Graham's Apricot, Orange, Cranberry Bread
Lester Graham
Lester Graham's Apricot, Orange, Cranberry Bread


  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped apricots (in the winter, I usually can only find canned apricots)
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups cranberries, picked over a chopped in a blender


  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the orange zest and eggs, one at a time. Add the orange juice and milk and beat until mixed thoroughly. It will appear curdled.
  3. Add the flour mixture and beat until it is just moistened. Mix in the apricots, walnuts, and cranberries.
  4. Place baking rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Butter and flour five 5 1/4 x 2 1/4 loaf pans (the small ones)
  6. Pour batter into the pans. Bake for 45 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick. Remove the bread from the pans, transfer to a wire rack and let them cool on their sides.

(These breads, wrapped well in aluminum foil and plastic wrap, keep for one week in the refrigerator or frozen for a month.)
I've never had to store the loaves, because they are consumed very quickly. I serve them with a dollop of real whipped cream.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jodi Westrick, Director of Digital Audiences

I've always loved baking cookies, mostly because my dad was a huge fan of baked goods and was my biggest customer. I first made these cookies in November 2014 (my Tumblr account confirms) in a time I was trying a lot of new recipes because I had lost my dad earlier that year and was still having a hard time returning to his favorites. These light, fluffy cookies have quickly become a friend and family favorite (I call the fall "pumpkin chocolate chip cookie season"), and are requested at every Thanksgiving. I think my dad would have approved, too.

Jodi's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are always a big hit at the Thanksgiving table - and the Michigan Radio newsroom.
Jodi Westrick
Jodi's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are always a big hit at the Thanksgiving table - and the Michigan Radio newsroom.


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (any will work, but I've found the OG Libby gives the ideal texture for the cookies)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I live by Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips - they elevate this cookie)

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Combine and beat butter and sugar in separate bowl, then add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, and mix well. Add in flour mixture gradually (I usually split it into three), then fold in chocolate chips (you just fold it in!).

Drop by tablespoons (or use a cookie scoop) onto baking sheets. Bake 15-18 minutes or until edges are firm (15 minutes works best in my oven!).

Bourbon Balls

Steve Carmody, Mid-Michigan Reporter/Producer

My wife Debra and I lived in Louisville, KY for six years. We added quite a few recipes for our holiday table. One favorite is bourbon balls.


  • 3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn sugar
  • 1/2 cup Kentucky bourbon
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar


  1. Mix the vanilla wafer crumbs, pecans and 1 cup confectioners' sugar in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Add corn syrup and bourbon. Stir to mix well.
  3. Shape into small balls. Should be about 50 bourbon balls.
  4. Roll in 1/2 confectioners' sugar to coat. Store in a foil-lined container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

The longer the bourbon balls sit, the better they will be.

Pumpkin Pie

Steve Chrypinski, Marketing Director

My wife makes this pumpkin pie every year. It's a recipe handed down from her mom, Barbara Bell, that she first came up with in 1956.

Barbara Bell's 1956 pumpkin pie recipe.
Credit Steve Chrypinski
Barbara Bell's 1956 pumpkin pie recipe.

The recipe calls for 1 cup of pumpkin, which is normally canned pumpkin filling. A few years ago there was actually a shortage of pumpkin pie filling and my wife had to visit several stores to find any.

That Thanksgiving, after a particularly frantic day of baking and cooking, she pulled the pie out of the oven and we all noticed that it looked rather pale, without it's usual lovely caramel brown color. When we tried a piece we discovered the problem: she had completely forgotten to add the pumpkin filling that she had searched so hard to get! Believe me, brown sugar and scalded milk pie is nothing to write home about! We all had a good chuckle over that and my wife completely denies that the glass or two of wine she had that afternoon had anything to do with the mistake!


  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups scalded milk
  • 1 pie crust


  1. Mix the ingredients well. Add to pie crust.
  2. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 350 degrees for an additional 45 minutes.

Aunt Olivia’s Baklava

April Van Buren, Producer - Stateside

Food always tastes better when someone else makes it for you. That’s why my favorite Thanksgiving dessert is my Aunt Olivia’s baklava, which is sticky, flaky, heavenly goodness.

Full disclosure: I have never actually made this. But I HAVE eaten it and can vouch for its tastiness. So if you are feeling ambitious, it’s a good way to impress your family. (Although, if you can find a Greek Cypriot aunt to make it for you, I’d recommend that option instead.)

Purchase a one-pound package of phyllo (or Fillo) pastry sheets (available at Russo’s International Market in Grand Rapids, certain Meijer stores, and most international grocery stores). Let thaw unopened in refrigerator a couple of days before using.



  • 3 cups finely ground pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup ground crisp dry toast (zwieback works great if you can find it)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar

Combine together and set aside.

Aunt Olivia's Baklava
Credit Aunt Olivia
Aunt Olivia's Baklava


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 lemon

Cook sugar, honey, and water until beads form — about 10 minutes. Add juice from 1/2 lemon.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt 1 pound butter.
  3. Grease a large 16x10 pan.
  4. Once you have the filling and syrup made, open the package of phyllo sheets, place on counter, and cover sheets with a damp tea cloth.
  5. Now you’re ready to assemble the baklava. Begin alternating layers of phyllo, butter, and filling. (Please note the syrup is added after baking.)
  6. First put 2 or 3 single layers of phyllo sheets in pan and use spatula to butter the sheets, covering entirely. Then continue to layer one sheet at a time, butter the sheet, then sprinkle filling mixture
  7. Continue layering one sheet, then butter, then the filling until all the filling is used. Put the last 3 layers of phyllo on top without the filling in between, then butter again.
  8. Cut partially into diamonds (first three layers) with sharp knife.
  9. Bake in 350 oven for about 30 minutes or longer—until brown on top. Take out of oven and pour entire syrup mixture over it.
  10. When cool, cut with sharp knife. This recipe makes 80-90 pieces.

Note from recipe author: “Gosh! This seems so long and complicated! No one will want to make it! But it’s really easy once you’ve done it once.”

“Pink Stuff”

Jodi Westrick, Director of Digital Audiences

The Westrick family fondly refers to this recipe as "pink stuff." My grandma made it for every family get-together for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it's actually "orange stuff" - it just depends on the holiday.

text message from Jodi's mom
Credit Jodi Westrick
A helpful tip from Jodi's mom, Rosemary.

If you make this for Thanksgiving, I highly recommend using orange Jell-O to coordinate with your Thanksgiving table settings. Also recommend providing plastic cups so your guests can keep it away from the warm food on their plates - it will melt!


  • 2 packages of Jell-O (sometimes 3)
  • 8oz Cool Whip (or more)

(As you can see, this recipe is VERY exact)


  1. Prepare Jell-O according to the packaging (2 cups boiling water, 1 cup cold).
  2. Set in fridge for one hour - until it is like an egg white consistency.
  3. Take out and mix until fluffy. Fold in cool whip
  4. Place in glass bowl/serving dish. Refrigerate.

A note from my mom: The key is catching the Jell-O at just the right time, just when it's starting to thicken. When you whip it, be prepared: it sprays all over!

Portuguese Sweet Bread

Rebecca Williams, Senior Editor

This is a recipe my mom found somewhere (she doesn't remember where) when I was a kid in Mitchell, South Dakota (home of the Corn Palace). It's the most delicious homemade bread I've ever had, and the one recipe that says Thanksgiving to me more than any other, mostly because I associate it with my mom, and helping her in the kitchen when I was little. The nutmeg and lemon peel make it delicious, and it's really good to make sandwiches with leftover turkey the day after.


  • 1 potato cooked in ~1 ½ c water
  • 1 package yeast (1 pkg = 1 TBSP)
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled – or just softened
  • ~5 cups flour (all-purpose or bread flour


  1. Cook the potato in water; drain reserving 3/4 cup water. Cool to 110ºF.
  2. Mash potato until smooth, then measure 1/2 cup, add milk and butter. In large bowl, soften yeast in potato water for 5 minutes. Stir in condensed milk, sugar, eggs, nutmeg, lemon peel and the potato mixture.
  3. With a wooden spoon, gradually stir in ~4 1/2 cups flour (I use the mixer and dough hooks).
  4. Spread remaining 1/2 cup flour on a board and turn out the dough onto it. With floured hands knead dough adding flour as needed to keep it from sticking to hands. Knead until smooth.
  5. Let rise, covered, in greased bowl until doubled in size (~45 minutes). Turn out of bowl onto lightly floured board and knead 2 or 3 times.
  6. Lightly grease cookie sheet, form dough into 1 large loaf or 2 small rounds – or shape into rolls. Cover and let rise for ~45 minutes.
  7. Bake at 325º for 50 minutes (loaves), or 400º for 12 minutes (rolls). Cool on a wire rack.

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Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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