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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Fine Art of Grilling

When spring finally arrives, our noses can pick up the smell of a barbecue from a mile away. It reminds us of the warm, sunny days ahead and lazy evenings enjoyed in the backyard with friends and family. With some creativity and planning, you can cook just about everything you serve up at your next barbecue, from the first course to the last,right from your grill.

Start with the appetizers. Cut baguettes into 3/4 inch slices, brush with olive oil and grill until slightly crisp. Serve with chilled bruschetta. Pair this refreshing dish with grilled shrimp. Clean some large shrimp, shelled and deveined, and place them on a metal skewer, alternating with chunks of pineapple. Place on the grill, brush the shrimp with sweet chili garlic sauce, turning frequently until the shrimp is cooked through. Serve immediately with your bruschetta while your guests watch you begin the next course.

Next grill your salad. That’s right, salad on the grill. Use romaine hearts cut in half, leaving the end on so it stays together. Brush with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Grill 1 to 2 minutes on the cut side on high heat. Serve whole or chop into a salad bowl.

One of the biggest challenges everyone seems to have is cooking a good steak on the grill. Too often they end up dry and lifeless. Most importantly, you need to start with a good piece of meat and a grill that has controllable heat. If you are using charcoal, arrange the coals so one side of your grill is much hotter than the other. Use high heat initially because you want nice grill marks on your finished product and to sear the outside of the meat, holding in the moisture. Season no more than 15 minutes before placing it on the grill, as salt pulls out the moisture and can dry out your entree. Also, bringing the steak close to room temperature before grilling helps it cook faster and more evenly. Be consistent and cook each side about the same amount of time. Watch the edges as you cook. You can see as the product cooks through. To ensure you have a medium to medium-rare steak, insert a thermometer and remove the steak when in reaches 125 to 130 degrees. Here’s a little trick to help you gauge how well-cooked your steak is just like the chefs do: Touch your thumb and your index finger together in the “OK” sign, and then press the fleshly part of your palm right below the thumb with your other hand. Feel how soft that is? That is the way a rare steak feels when you press it. Now touch your other fingers to your thumb, one at a time. As you move from your index finger to your pinky, the pad of your thumb will get progressively more firm. This is similar to how a steak feels: medium-rare (middle finger), to medium (ring finger) to well-done (pinky). Try it. Before serving your steak, let it rest for about 10 minutes after you remove it from the grill so the moisture will redistribute throughout the meat. Set a bit of butter to melt on top. Yum!

 Once your steaks are cooked, start your vegetables. Brush all with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. On the sliced zucchini, sprinkle with garlic salt; for the large mushroom slices, add Calgary steak seasoning; with asparagus, use lemon pepper; onion rings are great with cajun seasoning; and yellow squash with cinnamon sugar is delicious. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side on lower heat. Arrange them on a tray for guests to help themselves.

My husband recently dazzled everyone at our party by grilling the peaches. He cut them in quarters and grilled them for about 5 minutes. Then he placed them still warm on vanilla ice cream. They were incredible and so unexpected. It is a great way to end a fine summer evening.

So, as you can see, you can serve one grilled course or grill all four. Either way you will enjoy a wonderful outdoor dining experience on a fine Minnesota evening.

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