Home/local recipes

Winners Announced in Downtown TC Chili Cook-off

Mt. Holiday White Chili Takes the People’s Choice Award in today’s Downtown Traverse City Chili Cook-off.

The snow finally arrived in Northern Michigan and the temperature was perfect for a day spent noshing on chili at the 18th annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off presented by Pepsi Cola, C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., WTCM and ABC 29&8, held today at the Park Place Dome in Downtown Traverse City.

Thirteen area restaurants entered 17 different chilies in the annual Chili Cook-Off.  The eateries competed in seven different categories as well as the overall favorite, the “People’s Choice” award.  Categories included:  1-Alarm, 2-Alarm, 3-Alarm, Seafood, Vegetarian, Ethnic, No Bean and White.


Over 1,800 people attended the cook-off with each casting a vote for their favorites in each category at this favorite culinary event.  The DTCA managed to raise approximately $13,000 in 2011 to help fund Downtown community events such as Friday Night Live. Revenue totals will be calculated this week.  Winners included:
1-Alarm – Red Mesa Grill
2-Alarm –  Lil Bo Pub & Grille
3-Alarm – The Omelette Shoppe
Seafood – Scalawags Whitefish & Chips
Vegetarian – Oryana: Lake St. Cafe
White – Mt. Holiday
No Bean – Chateau Chantal Winery and B&B
Ethnic – Red Mesa Grill
People’s Choice – Mt. Holiday, White


Competing restaurants included:

  • 7 Monks Taproom
  • Chateau Chantal Winery and B&B
  • Lil Bo Pub & Grille
  • Minervas: Park Place Hotel
  • Morsel (providing cornbread morsels)
  • Mt. Holiday
  • Omelette Shoppe
  • Oryana: Lake St. Cafe
  • The Red Mesa Grill
  • Reflect: Cambria Suites
  • Scalawags Whitefish & Chips
  • Union Cantina
  • Wingers Sports Bar: Holiday Inn West Bay
  • Zakey Middle Eastern Cuisine

All proceeds from the event help support such Downtown community activities as Friday Night Live, the Halloween walk, holiday activities and many other free downtown events throughout the year.

By |2019-12-19T15:13:23-05:00January 14th, 2012|Events, Foodie, local recipes, Traverse City|0 Comments

Simple Summer Pizza Recipe

Mealtickets summer pizza recipe image

My favorite summer lunchtime treat is a homemade personal pizza. With a few basic ingredients you can savor the fresh flavors of summer, and stay healthy too.

The best part is: it only takes 10 minutes.

Lunchtime Summer Pizza Recipe

1 whole wheat tortilla
handful of fresh baby spinach olive oil ( I use Fustini’s Persian LIme EVOO)
3-5 cherry or grape tomatoes

1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

slice of lunchmeat: ham or turkey

fresh basil leaves

sea salt & ground pepper

Summer pizza image

Step 1. Toss the spinach with a drizzle of olive oil. I love using the Fustini’s flavor-infused olive oils. Depending on your ingredients you can really change the flavor of the pizza just by replacing the oil.

Brush a little oil from the bowl onto the edges of the tortilla as well. It seems to help them brown instead of char.

Summer pizza image

Step 2. Top with tomatoes. If they’re small, cut them in half, if large, they can be quartered. Don’t have cherry or grape tomatoes? Thinly sliced romas or a fresh beefy tomato from the garden would be great. But you won’t need much. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground pepper.

Summer pizza image

Step 3. Top with remaining ingredients. I like to put the mozzarella down first then add lunchmeat and basil, torn into small pieces. This is where you can get creative though. One of my favorite add-ons is leftover corn-off-the-cob. If you have goat cheese instead of mozzarella, no problem. If it’s white cheese, and it melts, it will probably taste great. Top it with a little sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper.

Summer pizza image

Step 4. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Turn on the broiler to high, but leave the rack in the middle of the oven. Cook for 5 minutes. Cooking times may vary depending on your oven, so keep an eye on it the first time you make one. I often bake two at a time, side by side on a sheet and it takes the same time.

Summer pizza image

Step 5. Cut in quarters, or roll it up and eat it like a wrap.

Voila! A perfect light summer lunch for all the homebound travelers out there. Enjoy!

By |2019-12-26T15:08:39-05:00August 8th, 2011|local recipes|0 Comments

Summer Sippers: Cocktails from Northern Michigan

Cocktail recipes from Northern MichiganI love my Michigan Wine, but sometimes summer calls for a cocktail.

So I decided to share a collection of drink recipes made from Michigan wine, spirits and beer. Cheers!




Raz Be Daz  |  Recipe from Black Star Farms

To make this, pour ¾ glass of Black Star Farms Be Dazzled Sparkling wine, and then top off the glass with a little Black Star Farms Sirius Raspberry Dessert Wine.



True North Lemonade  |  Recipe from Grand Traverse Distillery

1 ½ – 2oz Grand Traverse Distillery True North Cherry Flavored Vodka
6oz of a tart lemonade, Simply Lemonade in the refrigerated section of local stores works great.
Add a splash of pomegranate, cherry, or cranberry juice.

Mix over ice and enjoy.




Strawberry Sangria  |  Recipe from 2 Lads Winery

1 bottle of 2Lads Rosé of Cabernet Franc
½ cup white sugar (more or less to taste)
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 cups ginger ale (Vernors if you can get it!)

In a large pitcher mix the wine, sugar, lemon and strawberries. Refrigerate for several hours, or up to a day. Add ginger ale just before serving over ice. Enjoy!



World Famous Cherry Wine Sangria  |  Recipe from Chateau de Leelanau Vineyard & Winery

2 bottles Chateau de Leelanau Cherry Wine
½ bottle Chateau de Leelanau Sparkling Cherry Juice
1 orange, sliced
½ pineapple, sliced
½ lemon, sliced
½ lime, sliced
1 qt fresh strawberries, sliced

Mix fruit and cherry wine together in large container, refrigerate. When ready to serve add sparking cherry juice and pour over ice.



Cherry-tini  |  Recipe from Uncorked Wine Bar

1 ½ oz. Grand Traverse Distillery True North Cherry Flavored Vodka
1 oz Peninsula Cellars Melange
½ oz Indian Summer Cherry juice
splash grenadine

Mix on ice, pour into a martini glass and garnish with maraschino cherries.



RBB Summer Shandy  |  Recipe from Right Brain Brewery

Right Brain Brewery Blue Magic Lavender wheat (made with local Lavender from Light of Day organics) or our Citral Wheat (made with local Nugget hops) mixed with Grand Traverse Distillery Wheat Vodka.



Applemosa  |  Recipe from Bel Lago Vineyard & Winery

Bel Lago Brut Rose Sparkling Wine with a splash of Apple Cider



Peach Fus”tini”  |  Recipe from Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars

½ oz. Fustini’s Peach Balsamic Vinegar
1 oz. Grand Traverse Distillery True North Vodka
Sparkling water & ice

Mix peach balsamic vinegar and vodka in a glass with ice. Add sparkling water to fill. Serve.



Blueberry Mint Lemonade  |  Recipe by Drink Michigan

1/3 cup fresh mint
1 cup of blueberries
4 cups of water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 bag or 8 lemons)
1 cup of Grand Traverse Distillery Wheat Vodka

In a blender, add the water, lemon juice, mint leaves, blueberries, and sugar. Blend until mixture turns pink. Let sit for at least an hour, then strain to remove blueberry and mint leaves. Add in your vodka, chill and serve over ice!

* For a family-friendly option, serve sans alcohol. A nice treat for the kiddos too.



Dragon’s Milk Ice Cream Float  |  Recipe by DinnerFeed

1 (pint, 6-ounce) bottle Dragon’s Milk Ale (New Holland Brewing)
6 large scoops vanilla ice cream
6 strawberries, each slliced into a fan for a garnish (optional)

Mound scoops on vanilla ice cream in bowls or glasses. Carefully divide and pour Dragon’s Milk over ice cream. (Pour slowly off to the lip of the glass. Dragon’s Milk is quite foamy.) Garnish with strawberry fans, if using, and serve.

* Might I suggest some Moomers ice cream if you’re in Traverse City, or if you’re at the grocery Hudsonville Ice Cream is also made in Michigan.


Remember, Buy Local also means Drink Local! Visit your local Michigan wineries, craft breweries and distilleries this summer.


By |2019-12-26T15:39:26-05:00June 23rd, 2011|local recipes, Traverse City, Wineries|0 Comments

10 Tips to Enhance Your Easter Meal

Fustini's Traverse City imageAdd Flavor to your Easter Feast with Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars.


In honor of the opening of Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars expanded Traverse City location on Front Street, we’re sharing their Top 10 Tips for pumping up your Easter feast with a little Fustini’s flavor. Whether you’re a skilled chef or a fumbling amateur, the flavor infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars make kitchen creations come to life. So, stop in, pick up something new this season, and give your food some flavor!





10 Tips to Use Fustini’s this Easter

Fustinis Provencal Herbes image1. Brush pork tenderloin in Provencal Olive Oil, roll in bread crumbs, parmesan and Seasonello and bake.



Fustini's Pineapple Balsamic image2. Use Pineapple Balsamic to glaze ham.





fustini's blood orange oil image3. Add Blood Orange Olive Oil to candied yams.




Fustini's Sage and Mushroom image4. Substitute butter in mashed potatoes by using 1/2 Sage and Wild Mushroom Olive Oil and 1/2 chicken broth while mashing.




Fustini's Garlic oil image5. Saute  baby spinach in Garlic Olive Oil until soft, drain and fold spinach into sage and mushroom mashed potatoes.




Fustini's Lavendar Balsamic image6. Use Lavendar Balsamic and Tarragon Olive Oil on lamb.




Fustini's Ginger and Honey image7. Toss diced sweet potatoes in Blood Orange Olive Oil and roast at 350 degrees for 30 min. Carmelize onions in Ginger and Honey Balsamic. Toss with roasted potatoes and serve.




Fustini's Cinnamon Pear image8. Drizzle easter ham with Cinnamon Pear Balsamic and cook with apples.




Fustini's Lemon balsamic9. Egg salad sandwiches – dice up boiled eggs and green onions. Add Garlic Olive Oil, Lemon Balsamic and Seasonello and mix well.




Fustini's Cranberry Balsamic image10. Drizzle green beans with Porcini Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a splash of Cranberry Balsamic. Top with slivered almonds.





Have fun playing with combinations of your own, then share your recipes with us on our Facebook page. Fustini’s also features customer recipes on their website: www.fustinis.com.

By |2019-12-26T15:56:01-05:00April 15th, 2011|local recipes, Traverse City|0 Comments

Favorite Summer Recipes

Fresh from the Farmer’s Market recipes

I love simple summertime meals and sides that can be made quickly from fresh ingredients you can find at local farm markets and roadside stands. Here are a couple of my summertime favorites. Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy lunch or a super sidedish to take to the next family BBQ these are fantastic.

You’ll notice that some of the recipes have been enhanced by Fustini’s olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I’ve become a loyal fan of their products ever since they opened a store in downtown Traverse City. Now I’m hooked. I’m including these recipes by request from family and friends, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the resources for some of the secret ingredients. I hope you try them and enjoy!


corn and blueberry salsaCorn & Blueberry Salad

This recipe comes from Better Homes & Gardens. I’ve made it several times this summer with rave reviews. Serve it as a side salad or with a bowl of tortilla chips for quick dipping. Either way it’s a new family favorite.


  • 6  ears  fresh sweet corn, husked
  • 1  cup  fresh blueberries
  • 1  small  cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4  cup  finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1    jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped*
  • 2  Tbsp.  lime juice
  • 2  Tbsp.  olive oil (I like Fustini’s Persian Lime oil)
  • 1  Tbsp.  honey
  • 1/2  tsp.  ground cumin


1. In Dutch oven bring salted water to boiling. Add corn. Cook, covered, 5 minutes, or until tender. When cool enough to handle, cut corn from cobs.

2. In a serving bowl combine corn, blueberries, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeño. For dressing, in screw-top jar combine lime juice, oil, honey, cumin, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover; shake well to combine. Add to salad; toss. Cover and refrigerate overnight (up to 24 hours). Makes 6 to 8 servings.

3. *Hot peppers, such as jalepeños, contain oils that can burn skin and eyes. Wear plastic gloves when working with them. If using bare hands wash well with soap and water.

* My notes: I like to serve this as a salsa, so I dice the cucumbers and separate the corn to make it bit sized. Then I serve it with tortilla chips.


lunch pizzaTortilla Pizzas

These simple pizzas are one of my own creation. They make the best lunch. You could also prep a bunch with different ingredients and serve them as appetizers. They’re healthy, quick and a great way to clear out the fridge. I often change the toppings based on what I have leftover.


  • 1 medium tortilla or sandwich wrap
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh washed baby spinach
  • 1 tsp. olive oil (I like Fustini’s Meyer Lemon olive oil)
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced, or 3-4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh torn basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • optional ingredients: thin sliced ham or turkey, or fresh cooked corn cut from the cob


1. In a small bowl toss the spinach with the olive oil to coat. You may want to brush the edges of the tortilla with oil to help prevent burning as well.

2. Evenly spread the spinach leaves on the tortilla. Top with sliced tomatoes, and any optional ingredients, followed by mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with fresh basil, salt & pepper.

3. Cook on an oven-proof sheet under the broiler for 5 minutes on High, or until cheese begins to bubble and brown. Remove from oven, cool and slice in quarters to serve.



crystal margarita imageCrystal Margaritas

While I am a loyal Michigan wine fan, I have to admit we love to make frozen margaritas for summer parties. After experimenting with similar recipes we created a custom blend for our favorite spot in the summer: Crystal Lake. Sip carefully…brain freeze is not fun, but these margaritas are.


  • 1 cup tequila blanco
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (typically 4-5 limes)
  • 1 cup triple sec
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup Rose’s blue raspberry cocktail mix
  • ice


1. Add liquid ingredients to the blender. Fill with ice. Pulse on high until desired consistency. Pour into pitcher. Consistency varies; add more ice to mixture and blend again if necessary.

2. Serve with salted rim or crystal blue sugar


tequila sangria imageTequila Sangria

For a twist on sangria, a summertime favorite, try this high-octane punch. But beware, the fruit soaks up much of the spirit so consume with caution. It packs a tasty punch. Adjust the time the fruit soaks to control the strength of the drink versus the fruit.

This recipe comes from Viva Margarita, by W. Park Kerr.


  • 2 green apples, cored, cut into wedges and thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges and sliced
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges and sliced
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups Tequila
  • 1/2 cup Brandy
  • 2 oz. triple sec
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 bottle St. Julian sparkling apple cider
  • 1 bottle St. Julian sparkling cranberry cider
  • 6 cups ice
  • handful of raspberries


1. Place sliced fruit in a large bowl or pitcher. Add cloves, tequila, brandy, triple sec, lemon juice and lime juice. Stir and chill up to 12 hours. Stir every few hours

2. When ready to serve add sparking ciders and ice. Serve in large tumbler glasses with ice. Be sure each glass includes some of the fruit. Garnish with fresh raspberries before serving.

* My notes: I use 2 bottles of Michigan sparking cider by St. Julian winery, instead of 2 bottles of apple-cranberry cider. I told you, I like my Michigan wines!


By |2019-12-30T09:57:21-05:00August 3rd, 2010|local recipes|0 Comments

Holiday Recipes from Jacquie Caters

Enjoy the Holidays with fantastic recipes from Jacquie Wilson

Our Adventure in Wine Tasting tour was a success again this year, in part due to the creations of chef Jacquie Wilson. Chinese Cinnamon Pork, Brie with Stroopies and Pumpkin Soup were some of the favorites. Jacquie offered to share the recipes with me, and I’m passing them on to you. Enjoy!


brie with Stroopies photoBrie with Stroopies

We love how Jacquie always finds unique but accessible ingredients and then combines them to make simple but impressive dishes. This one is perfect for your next dinner party, and goes wonderfully with sparking wine, like the 2 Lads Sparkling Pinot Grigio.



Slice Brie, with rind on, into thin slices. Cut Stroopies in half, top with Brie. Serve with Medjool dates and other dried fruits.

In case you’re wondering, as I was, Stroopies are wafer thin waffle cookies with caramel in the middle, originally from Holland. But you don’t have to travel far to pick them up in Northern Michigan. They’re available at Peninsula Market on the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, and also Mary’s Kitchen Port on Front Street near Downtown Traverse City.


thai pumpkin soup photoThai Pumpkin Soup

Jacquie always finds a warm and hearty soup that pairs well with wines. Gewurtraminer is one of those wines I really love when paired with food, and this pumpkin soup, with it’s hint of spice, was great with the Peninsula Cellars 2007 Gewurztraminer.



1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
4 shallots, minced
2 small fresh red chili peppers, chopped
1 Tbsp chopped lemon grass
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups peeled and diced pumpkin
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk



In a medium saucepan, heat the peanut oil and butter over low heat. Cook garlic, shallots, chilies, and lemongrass in oil until aromatic but not browned. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Cook until pumpkin is tender.

In a blender, blend the soup in batches to a smooth consistency. You could sprinkle fresh basil over this for a garnish.

Recipe inspired by Chef Paul Silva


chinese cinnamon pork photoChinese Cinnamon Pork with Fustini’s Cinnamon Pear Balsamic

Perfect for a Christmas party or maybe Chinese New Year, this dish is full of flavor, tender and juicy. We served it with the Ancho Chili Double Dutch Chocolate Porter from Right Brain Brewery. Yum.



2 whole 1 lb. pork tenderloins. Ask your butcher to remove the silver skin and clean up the loin


2 cloves garlic
2 green onions
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp dry red wine
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tsp red food coloring, optional

Note: adding red food coloring to the marinade give the mixture that distinctive Chinese red color. It bleeds slightly into the meat for an unusual red ringed look.



Finely chop the garlic and green onions. Combine honey, brown sugar and ine in a large bowl. Add chopped garlic and onions. Stir in cinnamon and then the soy sauce. If you are using red food coloring, add it now.

Place tenderloins in the bowl, coating them well with marinade. Cover bowl and marinate the meat for at least 2 hours, turning occasionally. May be left in the refridgerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Remove the meat from the marinade and place them on a broiler pan. Reserve marinade for basting. Bake until cooked through, about 45-60 minutes, basting often. Cool

fustini's cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar graphicCut the roasted tenderloin into 1/4″ slices and transfer to serving plate. For the Coup de accoutrement, drizzle with Fustini’s Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar. It’s the perfect compliment to this delicious dish. If you haven’t been into Fustini’s in Downtown Traverse City, and Petoskey as well, you’ll want to check them out before the holidays for a taste of something special. You can also order from them online at www.fustinis.com.


This recipe originates from www.greatpartyrecipes.com/cinnamonpork.html


bagel chips with chive puree photoBagel Chips with Ricotta, Chive Puree and Proscuitto

This tasty morsel was a great bitesize appetizer that’s easy to handle when sipping from a glass of wine.

Sometimes there’s no reason to mess with the recipes of other great chefs. In this case Jacquie looked to the experts at Food & Wine magazine.

Here’s a link to their version of this simple appetizer.


I hope you’ll try some of these tasty morsels this holiday season. Jacquie made them simple enough for everyone to prepare. But if you’d really rather bring in the pros, send Jacquie an email to contact her for catering.






By |2019-12-30T12:13:25-05:00November 22nd, 2009|Check This Out, local recipes|0 Comments

Brandy’s Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

pumpkin patch photoOctober is the perfect time for pumpkins, and pumpkin recipes


Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. Costumes, decorations and pumpkin carving…what’s not to love? So to celebrate the season I’m sharing two of my favorite pumpkin recipes: Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Biscotti. Enjoy!



Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

I believe this recipe originally came from Martha Stewart. My copy has been written and re-written on so many scraps of paper over the years that I’ve lost track.



1c  fresh pumpkin seeds, rinsed

5T  sugar

1/4 t.  salt

1/4 t. cumin

1/4 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. ground ginger

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 1/2 T peanut oil



Heat oven to 250 degrees, bake seeds until dry. Cool.

Mix 3 T. sugar with the rest of the dry ingredients and set aside.

Heat oil in non-stick skillet on high. Add pumpkin seeds and 2 T. sugar. Cook until sugar melts and begins to carmelize (about 1 minute). Add hot seeds to dry ingredients, mix well. Cool and serve.


pumpkin maple biscotti imagePumpkin Biscotti

This recipe couldn’t be more simple and delicious. With only two ingredients it’s perfect to have on hand when company stops by, or when you just need a quick fall snack. Thanks go to Jacquie Wilson of Jacquie Caters for this fantastic combination.



1 pkg. Way North Foods maple walnut biscotti

1 jar  Brownwood Farms pumpkin butter


Spread the pumpkin butter on one half of each biscotti. Arrange neatly on a plate. Garnish with fresh fruit.

Looking for something to sip while you savor? This pairs wonderfully with Black Star Farms Siruis Maple dessert wine. Unbelievable!


Have some great pumpkin recipes that you’d like to share? Visit our fan page on Facebook and join the discussion.

By |2019-12-30T12:38:42-05:00October 8th, 2009|Check This Out, local recipes|0 Comments