Sunday, June 25, 2017

Weekend Round-Up: Part One

A Sunday well spent brings a week's content
Tex-Mex Brunch Cups
Cook's Notes:These brunch cups are perfect for your next breakfast meal or brunch. They are packed with plenty of your favorite Mexican flavors, most of the assembly done ahead and can be made different sizes depending on which muffin pan you use. I used a large muffin pan but if use a smaller pan these cups can be used as appetizers. The recipe makes 6-7 large brunch cups.
Pair the meal with fresh fruit and Strawberry Shortcake Kebobs.  
  • 1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box  
  • 3/4 lb. Italian Sausage or Mexican Chorizo
  • 3/4 cup each sweet onion, diced and red and yellow sweet mini peppers, diced
  • optional 2 TB. green chiles
  • 1 cup Mexican 4 Cheeses (prepared package) 
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 TB.salsa
  • 1/2 tsp.cumin
  • 3 TB. heavy cream
  • dried parsley flakes

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a large skillet, cook sausage with peppers and onions. Add in chiles if using. Drain and crumble meat. Set aside.
  • In a blender mix eggs. salsa, heavy cream and cumin.  
  • Place two sheets of wax paper on work surface and sprinkle with generous amount of flour. Use one sheet of pie crust at a time. Since the diameter of the muffin cup was 3-1/2 inches I used a 4 inch bowl for cutting out pie crust circles. Press each round into muffin cup. You may have to reroll scraps to make 7 cups. 
  • Spoon into each pie crust cup a generous tablespoon of sausage, onion, pepper mixture. Divide the cheese mixture among each of the cups. Pour or spoon liquid carefully dividing among the  cups. Do not pour liquid over pie crust rim. Sprinkle each cup with parsley flakes.

  • Bake 17-18 minutes until filling is set. Let brunch cups rest in pan 5 minutes before removing.
Strawberry Shortcake Kebobs
Cook's notes:The concept is simple and can be tailored a myriad of ways. Start with a pan of baked and cooled shortcake or angel food cake. Choose a few other kebob-worthy items, such as juicy red strawberries, blueberries, pineapples chunks, etc – the sky is the limit here, thread the shortcake cubes and fruit onto the skewers, drizzle with white chocolate sauce and……And you’re all done!

  • 2 boxes strawberries
  • 1 box of white cake mix or 
  • 3/4 cup of Greek vanilla yogurt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cups of water
  • 1 bag of white chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp.shortening
  • 10 inch Skewers

  • Combine the cake mix, Greek yogurt, egg whites and water in a bowl.
  • Mix until smooth and pour into a greased cake pan or dish. (9 x 13)
  • Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean or according to directions on the box.
  • Cut stems off of strawberries.
  • Cut shortcake into 2-inch cubes. Place in freezer for 20 minutes to make them easier to thread on skewers. 
  • Take skewer and alternate strawberries and shortcake cubes. (I like to do three or four of each per stick).
  • In a glass bowl melt chocolate in the microwave with 1 tsp. shortening for about two minutes stirring every 30 seconds.
  • Drizzle white chocolate all over kebobs and place in fridge to set.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Healthy Friday

DID YOU HEAR? Amazon bought Whole Foods. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out in the market. Maybe just maybe some day my food shopping options will improve here in a small town.

Summer Fresh Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Mint Dressing
Cook's Notes: The official start of summer means more fresh fruit options in produce and abundance of farmers markets in your communities. Who can resist healthy juicy fruit drizzled with a tangy refreshing honey lime mint dressing! Recipe serves four.   
Salad Ingredients:
  • 2 cups diced watermelon, 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups diced cantaloupe, 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups diced fresh pineapple, 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • Optional fruits: strawberries, mangoes, kiwi
Honey Lime Mint Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • Optional 2 tsp. poppy seeds
  • Whisk together all of the Honey Lime Mint Dressing ingredients and chill for at least 20 minutes.
  • When ready to serve, chop watermelon and pineapple and add to a large bowl with blueberries/other fruit. Pour desired amount of dressing over fruit and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Cooking Tip:
The watermelon will release a lot of juice so I don’t recommend combining the fruit with the dressing until ready to serve. You could still combine the fruit together without the dressing and refrigerate (if making ahead) and just drain off any extra juice before adding the dressing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Celebrate Summer with Taco Thursday

Celebrate with 

Cook's Notes: Let's shake things up a bit and switch Taco Tuesday to Taco Thursday. 

Here are some recipes to get you started 
Cook's Notes: Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos stuffed with wonderfully juicy, flavor packed Honey Chipotle Bacon Chicken and piled with crispy BLT Slaw topped with Cilantro Lime Crema! A flavor and texture explosion you might just crave for days. 
I was drawn to this recipe that used a new product Grill Mates Bacon Chipotle flavor in the marinade.
Shredded Pork Tacos with Root Beer Chipotle Sauce 
Cook Notes: Loved the idea of slow cooking a pork shoulder roast with root beer and chipotle peppers to amp up the flavor with a sweet and smoky taste .

Ever Ready Taco Special
Taco Salad
Cook's notes:
Looking for an easy summer meal? This taco meal can be ready in 20 minutes. It's a crowd pleaser. These shells were found as a bakery item at a local grocery store. If not available at your store there are other taco shells to choose from in Mexican food aisle.
Serves 4 and a suggested side fresh fruit

  • 1 lb. hamburger or Mexican Chorizo
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 TB. chili powder
  • 1 jar Raspberry Chipotle Salsa ( I used Mrs  Refro) 
  • 1/2 can refried beans
  • 1/2 package of Mexican 4 cheeses

Suggested Toppings
  • chopped lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes
  • prepared guacamole (dairy section) 
  • additional salsa
  • corn
  • black beans(rinsed and drained)
  • optional olives
  • Cook hamburger with onion. Drain and crumble. Add meat and onion back to pan.
  • Add in a jar of Raspberry Chipotle Salsa, refried beans, chili powder and cheese. Cook on low uncovered for 25 minutes. Stir frequently. Add meat filling to shell and layer with suggested toppings. 
Look for Taco Thursday Next Week 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes

Cherry Float Cupcakes
Cook's Notes: These cupcakes were a nostalgic step back in time for me. A cherry coke was one of my favorite drinks growing up. I have fond memories taking the bus downtown going to the library for my weekly stash of books and then going to Moudry Apothecary Shop in St. Paul, MN.  
Here my sister and I enjoyed cokes and egg salad sandwiches before we headed home. 
There are a plethora of recipes online for Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes.  After awhile I decided it was time to put my own spin on the recipe. 
Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes are a dessert that will float your boat! Or your taste buds. Or maybe even both. Buttermilk helps make the cupcakes moist and cherry coke/cola captures the flavors of a favorite drink. A half teaspoon espresso powder was added to  draw out the natural flavors of chocolate giving it more depth.  A recipe using a boxed mix is included at the end of this posting.  Recipe makes 10-12. If you are looking for more of a 4th of July theme use red, white and blue cupcake liners and star or red. white and blue sprinkles.
Cooking Tip: Avoid overbeating batter so cupcakes rise nicely.   
Cupcake Ingredients:  
  • 1-½ cups flour
  • 3 TB. cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. espresso powder 
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 8 TB. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup Cherry Coca-Cola
  • ¼ tsp maraschino cherry juice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Maraschino cherries, stemless
Cupcake Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
  • In a bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder and salt. Stir together and set aside.
  • In another bowl, combine the sugar and butter and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg until incorporated.
  • In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, Coke, maraschino cherry juice, and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  • Mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture on low speed, alternately with the liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.
  • Insert 1 maraschino cherry in the middle of each cupcake and cover with batter.
  • Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 TB. softened butter
  • 3 TB. cherry juice or Cherry Cola
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • milk 
  • 3 cups powdered sugar 
Frosting Directions:
  • Beat cream cheese and butter. Add in cherry juice or Cherry Cola, almond extract and powdered sugar. Add in milk beating until desired frosting consistency.  
  • Decorate with half a straw and cherry with a stem. Refrigerate 30 minutes to set frosting. 
Boxed Cake:
  • 1 box Devils Food Cake Mix 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Coke
  • 1/3 cup Maraschino Cherry liquid
  • 24 Maraschino Cherries
  • Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Make batter according to mix direction except substitute 1 cup Coke and 1/3 cup cherry liquid for water. Fill liners 2/3 full and add 1 cherry to the middle of each. Bake according to box directions and allow to cool completely.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tex-Mex One Skillet Dish

Just living is not enough
one must have sunshine, freedom, 
and a little flower.
Hans Christian Anderson

Cook's Notes: One Skillet Tex-Mex Casserole is a simple recipe that comes together in just 30 minutes. A one pot meal that features your favorite Mexican flavors that cook all in one pan. You can't beat that! It's a quick and easy weeknight dinner option with little clean up. Underneath the crunchy chips are cheesy goodness with protein and lots of Tex-Mex flavor. Depending on your barometer level for hotness increase or decrease spices and chiles and type of enchilada sauce.  The recipe serves four but can easily be doubled. Swap chicken for ground beef and long grain rice for orzo for other options.  Pair the meal with Cherry Float Cupcakes
  • 2 TB. olive oil, divided
  • 1 LB. ground beef or chicken rotisserie (about 3 cups cooked chicken) 
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1 cup mini sweet bell peppers, diced (combination red, yellow and orange) 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1-19 oz. can mild enchilada sauce 
  • 3/4 cup dried orzo or long grain rice (uncooked) 
  • 1-14.oz can steam fresh Mexicorn, rinsed and drained 
  • 1- 14.5 oz can Fire Roasted tomatoes 
  • 3 TB. mild green chiles, diced 
  • 1/2 tsp. each cumin, chili powder and smoked or regular paprika 
  • 1/2 can refried beans
  • 1-1/2 cups from package of Mexican 4 Cheeses

  • Tortilla chips, crushed
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Chopped avocados
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole 
  • Use a large fry pan with deep sides. Brown ground beef in 1 TB. olive oil, crumble and set aside 
  • Wipe pan clean and add 1 TB.olive oil to pan, Saute onions and peppers for 3 minutes and add in garlic and saute 2 more minutes more. 
  • Turn heat to low and add in cooked meat, chicken broth, enchilada sauce, corn, roasted tomatoes, chiles, spices, refried beans, uncooked orzo and cheeses. Cook uncovered on low for 30 minutes.  Water or chicken broth can be added the next day for reheating if needed.  
  • To serve choose some suggested toppings,     

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Weekend Round-Up

It’s been 22 years since Lorna Landvik, Minneapolis entertainer, debuted as a novelist with “Patty Jane’s House of Curl.” The story of Patty Jane, who began a Minneapolis beauty salon with her sister, was a favorite of readers and especially book clubs. Landvik went on to write nine more novels, but fans of Patty Jane and the friends who patronized her salon and performance space kept asking when she was going to write a sequel.
“Once in a Blue Moon Lodge” Landvick's newest novel, is a follow up to "Patty Jane's House of Curl". It is a multi-generational novel starring the ever charming Rolvaag family and their friends. It follows the family for over two decades as they navigate life's numerous ups and downs. Landvick writes in the style of Fannie Flagg. She creates characters that are quirky flawed but lovable.

Nora Rolvaag is a little lost after her mom, Patty Jane, decides to sell the family owned business. Craving a little solitude, she sets off on a weekend of camping that leads to some very unforeseen life-altering changes. This novel is a more ambitious and sprawling novel than “Patty Jane.” Action moves back and forth in time and from Minnesota to Norway. There are more characters, related in so many ways you have to be a careful reader. But like “Patty Jane,” this novel is suffused with love — between parents and children, between spouses or lovers, between people who are unrelated but considered family. There is a gentle humor and good-heartedness in all of Landvik’s books, a fondness for her characters that touches the reader.

This past weekend I caught up with Lorna Landvick in Park Rapids. Beagle Books, a small independent bookstore, in northern Minnesota hosted a book signing and presentation.
Landvick is comfortable in front of audiences as she is a veteran improvisational comedienne. Her  spontaneous performances "Party in the Rec Room” at Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis are a hilarious night of entertainment. And she makes her own margaritas right on stage. 

As an extra bonus she brought her ukulele along to entertain the book crowd. 
One of Landvick's trademarks at her book/ author Q & A sessions are a bag of Hershey's chocolates. You ask a questions-she fires a Hershey kiss (I might add with a great aim) to you and answers the question. 

It was an entertaining event to attend and a lot of eager readers buying books. 
Time to celebrate and remember all those special dads.   
Billy Collins remembers his father in this poem The Death of the Hat. It evoked memories of my growing up years when my father always wore a hat and an overcoat when leaving the house.
Collins writes...
"On Father's Day, The Death of the Hat. For all of the fathers out there and for everyone who had (or has) a father. Hats off to you."

by Billy Collins June 16, 2013

Once every man wore a hat.

In the ashen newsreels,
the avenues of cities
are broad rivers flowing with hats.

The ballparks swelled
with thousands of straw hats,
brims and bands,
rows of men smoking
and cheering in shirtsleeves.

Hats were the law.
They went without saying.
You noticed a man without a hat in a crowd.

You bought them from Adams or Dobbs
who branded your initials in gold
on the inside band.

Trolleys crisscrossed the city.
Steamships sailed in and out of the harbor.
Men with hats gathered on the docks.

There was a person to block your hat
and a hatcheck girl to mind it
while you had a drink
or ate a steak with peas and a baked potato.
In your office stood a hat rack.

The day the war was declared
everyone in the street was wearing a hat
and they were wearing hats
when a ship loaded with men sank in the icy sea.

My father wore one to work every day
and returned home
carrying the evening paper,
the winter chill radiating from his overcoat.

But today we go bareheaded
into the winter streets,
stand hatless on frozen platforms.

Today the mailboxes on the roadside
and the spruce trees behind the house
wear cold white hats of snow.

Mice scurry from the stone walls at night
in their thin fur hats
to eat the birdseed that has spilled.

And now my father, after a life of work,
wears a hat of earth,
and on top of that,

A lighter one of cloud and sky--a hat of wind. 

We marked the day with a family summertime favorite
Mexican Chocolate Ice-Cream Pie 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Part Two: Sweet Treats

Sweet Treats for Father's Day
Cook's Notes: A chocolate dessert is top of the list for this day. Turtle Parfaits are irresistible , decadent and so easy to put together.  They are sure to be the star attraction at your dinner.  The size of the glassware determines how many servings but about 6 parfaits. 
The parfaits are made with your favorite brownie mix or homemade recipe and two ice cream toppings.  How easy is that!
Turtle Parfaits

  • 1 pan 8 x 8 baked brownies 
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup Heath Bar Bites
  • Chocolate sauce 
  • Caramel Sauce 
  • Whipped Cream 
  • Mix pecans and Heath Bar Bites, set aside.
  • Make two or three layers depending on size of glassware.
  • Each layer has a large spoonful of crumbled brownie, a sprinkle of nut mixture and a drizzle of caramel sauce ending with whip cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.  
 Chocolate Cherry Float Coke Cupcakes would have been my second choice .

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Strawberry- Rhubarb Almond Bars

Strawberry-Rhubarb Almond Bars  
Cook's Notes: Pair your favorite pie filling with a yummy, buttery, almond crustAs a time saver the sauce can be made the day before or use a shortcut of a 10 oz. jar of strawberry-rhubarb preserves.  
Filling Ingredients:
  • 2 cups diced rhubarb and 2 cups diced strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 TB. Grand Marnier
  • ½ TB. lemon juice
  • 1 TB. grated orange or lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
Filling Directions:
  • In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water and stir to dissolve.
  • Add rhubarb and simmer on low 15 minutes, add in strawberries, cinnamon, lemon juice, zest and cook 10 minutes longer.  
  • Remove from heat and add in Grand Marnier.
  • Puree in blender or pulse a few times in blender keeping in some fruit chunks.
  • Refrigerate several hours to thicken.
Almond  Crust Ingredients: 
  • 4 oz. almond paste from an 8 oz. box (reserve other half in plastic wrap and placed in a zip loc bog to store for another use) 
  • 2 cups flour plus 1 TB. 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp.salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract 
  • 8 oz. cold butter, cubed
Almond Crust Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 9 inch glass pan with 2 sheets of foil. The edges will overhang. Make sure the foil corners are pressed in tightly to pan.  Spray foil with cooking spray.
  • Cut almond paste in pieces and place in a food processor with 1 tablespoon of flour, pulse into crumbs. Add in flour, powdered sugar, salt, baking powder and almond extract.   Pulse briefly and add in butter cubes in two batches. Process in short pulses until well mixed. The dough will be crumbly.
  • Reserve 1-1/4 cups of crumb mixture and set aside. 
  • Take remaining crumb mixture and press into an even layer in bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes until crust is puffed and just starting to take on some color. 
  • Carefully spread filling in an even layer over crust layer. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. 
  • Bake 30-32 minutes until filling is bubbly and top crust is golden. Cool to room temperature. Hold foil edges and place bars on a cutting board. Cut bars from foil and place on a plate. Refrigerate 30 minutes to set.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Greek Chicken Pasta Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dressing

Greek Pasta Salad
Cook's Notes:A creamy pasta salad lightened up with a yogurt dressing and all your favorite Greek flavors. It's perfect for your next potluck, BBQ or picnic. 
For easier prep chicken can be made the day before. Recipe serves 4-6 and adapted from 
  • 3 chicken breast, boneless and skinless
  • 3/4 cup Lite Greek vinaigrette 
  • 2 cups dry pasta such as fusilli, penne, or farfalle (can use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta)
  • 1- 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lite Miracle Whip
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 TB. lemon juice
  • 1 TB. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1- 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups seedless cucumber, chopped
  • 3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Halve each chicken breast and place in a zip loc bag. Add in 3/4 cup Lite Greek Vinaigrette. Seal bag place in a bowl and refrigerate 1-1/2 hours.  Drain and cook chicken at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Let meat rest 5 minutes and slice.  
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, stir together the Greek yogurt, Miracle Whip, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dill, parsley and oregano in a large bowl.
  • When the pasta is done cooking, drain and pour the pasta into the large bowl adding the Greek yogurt mixture and diced chicken chunks. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion, and feta cheese to mixture and stir gently until ingredients are well coated. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. You can add a little extra dill and lemon juice, if desired. Serve.
Note: Make the pasta salad at least 4 hours ahead for flavors to meld. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Weekend Round-Up Part Two

Some Things Never Change
Nostalgic Naturals
Cook's Notes: Recently I came across on the Internet a recipe that sounded familiar.  I was sure I had seen this recipe somewhere in my collection of cookbooks. I tracked down my 1974 copy of Betty Crocker's Desserts Cookbook purchased at what I would call a bargain by today's standard $3.95!
Sure enough there on p. 16 was Hot Fudge Sundae Cake.   
I do recall making this cake many times because it was easy and called for ingredients readily available and was a kid friendly dessert. Of course one can never go wrong with a dessert that has lots of gooey chocolaty goodness in it.  Hot Fudge Sundae Cake makes its own hot fudge sauce as it bakes and has a chewy, almost brownie-like layer on the top with thick, hot, rich chocolate sauce on the bottom. No matter how many times a dessert gets renamed it always remains a nostalgic favorite.
My Weekend Splurge 
Hot Fudge Sundae Cake (aka) Hot Fudge Cake or Chocolate Cobbler
My updated version substitutes hot coffee for the water. I used butter instead of oil and added in 1 TB. Kahlua at the end. 
  • 1- 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter, diced into 1 TB. pieces and melted
  • 1- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1- 3/4 cups very hot water or coffee
  • 1 TB. Kahlua
Topping (optional)
  • Sliced strawberries and bananas
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Whipped Cream 
  • Chopped toasted walnuts
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 by 9-inch (or 11 by 7-inch) baking dish, set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together 3/4 cup granulated sugar, flour, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt for 20 seconds. 
  • Pour in milk, melted butter and vanilla and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until well blended. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking dish.
  • In a mixing bowl whisk together remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, remaining 1/4 cup cocoa powder and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Pour mixture over batter and spread into an even layer. Add Kahlua to hot water or coffee and pour evenly over top, do not stir.
  • Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes until center is nearly set (it should still wiggle slightly). Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 
  • Serve in bowls topped with strawberries, bananas, ice cream and pecans if desired.
  • Serve warm. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weekend Round-Up Part One

An Excursion to New York Mills, MN
Saturday on the way to Hackensack, MN from the Twin Cities I took a side trip to New York Mills, MN for Elisa Korenne's book launch. I posted a review of her book in May.
New York Mills,a population of 1,230, is located in the northeastern part of Otter Tail County, the heart of Minnesota Lake Country. Not only does it boast excellent fishing and recreation lakes but it also is the home of manufacturer Lund boats. The Lund trademark is regarded as a symbol of quality to all in the boating industry, and their boats are a common sight on the lakes of Minnesota as well as around the world. 
It was only fitting Elisa would have her book launch at New York Mills Cultural Center as this is where her story began. 
The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is housed in a historic 1885 brick mercantile building. Here you will find visual and performing arts, classes, films, and an annual philosophy competition called the Great American Think-Off every June.

The center’s gallery hosts about 10 exhibits per year that showcase visual art such as paintings, ceramics, photography, printmaking and textiles. A monthly program series features evening music in an intimate space with seating for 125. The gift shop sells work by regional artists and Iittala glassware, a famed Finnish line that reflects the town’s cultural heritage. Across town, the city’s sculpture park features larger-scale work by local artists.

The book launch was sponsored by Friends of the New York Mills Library. Since Elisa is originally from New York, New York of course there had to be bagels. 
The wording on the cake references Elisa's song lyrics from her album also found in her book. 
It’s a hundred miles to nowhere
And nowhere’s where I’ve been
Can’t seem to get to somewhere
Though I keep trying

Not only did Elisa sign her new book for guests

but entertained the large crowd with one of her songs from her new CD Concrete 

and treated the crowd to a reading from her book. 
A surprise visit from her New York, New York parents for the occasion added to the festivities as well as   
meeting Elisa's special guy Chris. Together they brought their love story full circle back to New York Mills, MN 

Elisa and Chris photo credit by Krista Rolfzen Soukup (Elisa's publicist)