Monday, December 1, 2014

Home for the Holidays

Even though my husband is an amazing Chef and can serve a five course plated dinner for 20 guests with ease, I tend to shy away from hosting parties like this simply because I like to take the path of least resistance. Being so busy in December, I want my husband and I to be able to enjoy our parties as much as our guests. With plated dinners over 6 or 8 guests, someone has to spend much of the time in the kitchen plating and serving. Unless you want to hire help. I feel entertaining larger groups is about being together and enjoying each others company, especially if youre entertaining family or friends who dont often visit. So I limit my holiday gatherings to two different types of meals that allow this: a cocktail and hors doeuvres party in the evening, and a buffet style brunch mid-day on a Saturday or Sunday.

Last year, our family gathering during the holiday consisted of 35 guests. I researched many different types of fun cocktails and collected the supplies. Premixing as much as I could the day before, and assigning the bar tending duties during the party to a family member, we offered festive Peach Prosecco Bellinis, traditional Tom and Jerrys, Calvados Martini, and what turned out to be the most popular, a rich Ultra Alexander Martini. Our menu, as it turned out, did not follow any theme or nationality. We simply choose items that we loved. We placed platters and slow-cookers here and there instead of filling a single serving table. Entertaining like this encourages guests to eat slowly, taking time in-between items to enjoy every plate, and helps to create a pace of leisure. In our hectic lives these days, it is nice to actually be able to slow down a bit. Of course the menu choices are countless with this style of meal, which is what makes planning them so fun. This is what we prepared:

   Caviar with Egg Crumbles, Diced Onion, Creme Fresh, and Tiny Buckwheat Pancakes
   Seafood Platter: Shrimp Cocktail, Crab Claws, and Raw Oysters with Creamed Horseradish, Cocktail Sauce, Lemons, and Tabasco
   International Cheese Display including Smoked Salmon, Egg Crumbles, Chopped Onion, Cream Cheese, Relishes, Breads and Crackers
   Fresh Fruit and Berries Platter
   Butternut Squash Ravioli
   Mini Gyros: Sliced Lamb, Chopped Tomatoes and Onions, and Mini Pita Bread
   White Rice
   Duck & Wild Rice Soup
   Assortment of Christmas Cookies, ours mixed with several of our guests, I like to mix them together on one giant platter.

Although the menu took a couple hours to prepare earlier that day, the only last minute things that needed attention were assembling the Seafood Platter and cooking the Rice. Everything else was either placed on a platter and refrigerated or in a slow-cooker to warm hours before. We were able to enjoy a leisurely cocktail, watch the fire, and listen to holiday music for an hour or so before our guests started to arrive. It is a good place to be.

It is so easy to prepare much of the food in advance and hold it until dinner. Guests can graze on delectable items for a couple hours, sampling things here and there while enjoying other activities. The thing I most appreciate about this style of dining is that much of the clean up can be done after your guests have left.

For Brunch the next day, a buffet is the rule of the day for me. The only thing here that needed last minute attention was pulling the Quiche and Chicken Sausage out of the oven. The soup and cider took care of itself in the slow-cookers. Everything else was prepared the morning before. We served:

   Butternut Squash Soup
   Maple Bacon Quiche
   Chicken Sausage with Sun Dried Tomatoes
   Festival Salad
   Applesauce Coffee Cake
   Spiced Apple Cider

Parties during the day take on a whole new family feel and you can follow brunch with some fun winter activities like building a snow man or ice skating. Most of the time, however, we opt for the good, old-fashioned indoor activity of playing board games together.

Do yourself a favor and simplify your holiday entertaining. You dont have to skimp on the menu to enjoy your gathering as much as your guests!

   -Christine Schiltz
Owner & Catering Director
Lake Elmo Inn Event Center

Monday, September 29, 2014

Apple Picking Time

Well, it’s officially fall.  The nights are cooling down and the leaves are starting to change ever so slightly.  This means it’s time once again to go apple picking!  Over the years we have worked closely with Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater.  Recently, we catered an event there and this month we featured an amazing apple dessert over at the Restaurant, using Aamodt’s apples.  

Event at Aamodt's Apple Farm
We wanted to take a moment and fill you in on some of the rich history that comes out of Aamodts Apple Farm.  

Harry S. Truman was president. The average American family earned $2,950 a year. Gas cost 16 cents a gallon. Just a few years post-World War II, young families were filled with optimism and ambition. It was a great time to start something new. For Thor and Lucille Aamodt, the America Dream meant starting their own family-run apple orchard. They purchased a pretty piece of land near Stillwater, Minnesota, that seemed to have just the right soil and climate for growing crisp, juicy apples. And even then, it was just a short scenic drive from Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Thor and Lucille put everything they had into the apple farm. With some seedling apple trees, a well-thought out plan for planting, help from young son Tom, and a lot of prayers, Aamodt’s Apple Farm was born.

A few decades down the road, Tom and his wife, JoAnn, expanded the farm to include over 6,000 apple trees covering more than 50 acres.

Today, the apple farm is run by the third and fourth generations of Aamodt apple growers. Tom’s son, Chris Aamodt, now runs the orchard, along with his wife Billi Jo and sons Andreas, Christopher and Geoffrey and also daughter Laura.  The youngest Aamodts will help out, too, once they’ve grown a bit.

Sixty-five years and a lot of delicious apples later, the picturesque apple farm still has the appeal that inspired Thor and Lucille.

If you are looking this fall to get out of the house for one last family outing before the weather turns cold, Aamodts is the perfect place to go.  You can explore the historic buildings on the farm, go apple picking and experience a little trip back to a simpler time.  They remain true to the original idea that your trip to the apple orchard should be educational, fun, relaxing—and delicious!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

“LOVE . . . exciting and new.”

Nothing makes John and I feel more proud than when people share their stories about getting engaged at our restaurant or that we helped make their wedding day so memorable. To know we can make those special occasions even more memorable is what makes our job so fulfilling. And we take that job very seriously.

At the Event Center this spring, we’ve created stunning new gardens designed with wedding ceremonies in mind to enhance your experience with us even more. Many new places have  been created on the property that can make delightful photo opportunities for couples, portraits, and large family pictures. With the addition of a beautiful cedar pergola, the gardens have been taken to a whole new level. Traditional “wedding” flowers have been added, including peonies, iris, roses, and lots of hydrangeas. In the center of your ceremony is a calming water feature. Lovely backdrops have been created in every direction you look. Additional design features will be added to the building throughout the summer. You will delight at the new surprises every time you stop by to look around.

If you are searching for a special location that provides easy wedding ceremonies at your reception site at no extra charge, then stop on by to see what we can offer you. You’ll always receive complimentary full coordinating services, on-site ceremony at no additional charge, onsite photo opportunities, full set-up and clean up is always included, full service dining in any style you wish, and all the extras you’ve come to expect from the Lake Elmo Inn Event Center. Not to mention, of course, our feature offering: the flavorful dining experience. The Event Center was designed with special occasions in mind, so all the little comforts are there for you: privacy suite; AV equipment, personalized announcements and greetings; lounge furnishings; and much more. Visit our website for helpful wedding planning information or call our Event Coordinators, Elaine and Cheryl, who have many years of experience planning weddings; and they love what they do. Full menu selections and pricing are available online at for your convenience, but a custom menu just for you is what we love to do.

Every person at our company is focused on helping you create the best wedding experience possible for you, your family and friends. Come back to the Event Center and see what we’ve done.

-Christine Schiltz
Owner & Catering Director
Lake Elmo Inn Event Center