A season of Thanksgiving… and Casseroles

If you’re from Minnesota, you get it. November is this sort of weird in-between time. Do the fall decorations stay up? After all, everything outside is still crunchy, orange, and dry, sort of the calling card of fall. Should you start holiday shopping? Already almost every commercial you see (yes, there are still commercials. I’m looking at you, Cord-Cutters) is giving us the message that Christmas is just around the corner, but isn’t it more like around 10 corners? What time is it anyway? We finally accepted that it could snow at any moment, now when it’s 4:00 it feels like 5:00, or is it the other way around? Here in the North Star State, we do a great job of diving into every season headfirst. We dust off our comfort food cookbooks, find winter boots that fit the kids (feeling proud when this happens before the first flake falls), and are simply thankful our faces don’t hurt when we walk out to the car quite yet.

I don’t know about you but time between the start of the school year and the holidays seems to move at a sloth’s pace. This is usually when the idea lightbulb goes on, brightening up the dark, empty monotony with thoughts of escape. Shaking things up this time of year, and maybe even for Thanksgiving, feels a little wild, almost dangerous, doesn’t it? What will the in-laws say? Instead of grand ideas of flying somewhere warm, road-tripping could be a new Thanksgiving tradition. Your TV isn’t the only one that broadcasts The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and you wouldn’t even have to pack your stretchy pants, just wear them on the road. Here at The Red Door Resort, we feel our proximity to the cities is a real treasure. We’re only two hours north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area so you can pack up, hop in the car, and before you can say, “Pass the cranberry sauce,” you’ll be here! 

Yes, the summers in our little slice of heaven are nothing short of amazing. Situated on the north side of Lake Mille Lacs, you couldn’t ask for a more gorgeous backdrop to your Minnesota family getaway. Like a buffet at your favorite restaurant, we cater to an array of tastes and preferences. Open water fishing on Mille Lacs, waterskiing, lakeside relaxing, and sandy bottom beaching. The winters here are glistening with beauty and so much ice fishing. Our Ice Castles have you wrapped in warmth and style, with amenities sure to please the avid ice fisherman, ice fishing doubter, and everyone in between.

This season is no different in the way of having unique and vast options at The Red Door Resort. Sometimes a change of scenery is the magic ingredient the family needs and up here, where cherished Minnesota memories are made, that’s what you’ll get. Rustic charm will surround you like a warm embrace in our idyllic cabins, and the stay could be the trip. Play games, warm yourself by the fire, or have everyone contribute their favorite flick and do a movie marathon. If you brought your cozy outerwear along for the ride, do some hiking in the adjacent Wealthwood State Forest, have a bonfire (smores aren’t just for summers, ya know), and let the kids get a good fresh-air-filled play session in before our playground gets really lonesome.  

Close your eyes and picture it. Thanksgiving 2023. You took the plunge! You’re embracing adventure! You packed your movie-binging pajamas, and your fleece-lined boots and cherry-picked board games that have the lowest rate of board flipping by the “enthusiastic” members of the family. You’re staying for Thanksgiving and the great news is our kitchens have all the comforts of home, keeping difficult hurdles to a minimum. You get settled, then take the 5–6-mile jaunt to Garrison to pick up all the necessities. You do the turkey on the grill, fill bellies with warm buttery rolls, the canned cranberry sauce sits untouched (as per usual), the parade is on in the background and maybe, just maybe, you buy a pie this year-gasp! Yes, the table is a little smaller, the vibe a little quieter, and the absence of certain relatives bittersweet, but do you know what hasn’t changed? The devotion to gratefulness, quality time with loved ones, fun, traditions, and pssst… maybe this year it’s a little better. Up here the air is different. It whispers, take your time…soak it in…release the pressure of obligations…and just make. those. memories. 

By hitting the road this year, you’re adding a little something new and savory to your Thanksgiving so, why not do the same with your festive feast? This recipe is a cozy and delicious spin on a sweet potato casserole with easy ingredients the whole family will love. 

Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes with Apples


• 5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 10 medium)
• 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
• ¾ cup butter, cubed
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice


1. Peel and cut potatoes lengthwise, in half; cut crosswise into ½ inch slices. Place potatoes and apples in a 6-qt. slow cooker. In a small saucepan, mix butter, brown sugar, and pie spice. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook until blended, 1-2 minutes. Pour over the potato mixture. Cook, covered, on low until potatoes are tender 5-6 hours.

2. With a slotted spoon, remove potatoes and apples to a bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Mash potato mixture, gradually adding enough reserved cooking liquid, if necessary, to reach the desired consistency.

Recipe and Photo credit: Taste of Home

If we polled parents, I would bet that most want the importance of family traditions etched in their kids’ memories. Waking up in a warm bed with the smell of good food wafting into their rooms with the strong knowing the day ahead will be filled with those who love them most (and maybe a killer game of Monopoly) is pretty much a parent’s dream. Sadly, we don’t have the power to choose which memories our kids will carry with them, and which ones will fade over time, but we do have right now. We can spend this time together, carrying forth our usual traditions, adding to them, or changing them altogether. While a holiday tucked away in a warm cabin with quiet nature and loving family surrounding us sounds like a page out of a storybook, the truth is that traditions can be enjoyed, and sweet memories can be made anywhere if we have our people along…and maybe a comfy pair of pants. 



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