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Sawdust Days Festival

Sawdust Days Festival is only a couple of days away. Can you believe that the city has been hosting this FREE event since 1972? Wow! It is completely run by volunteers. Profits are all donated to Menominee Park and the spectacular Festival of Lights that happens in December.  Not only are there rides  and music for everyone including Rock, Blues and Americana but great food, a flea market, multi cultural activities and events happening everyday right in Menominee park next to Lake Winnebago. A 5K run/walk is also happening on Saturday, July 6th at 8:30.

Lets not forgot the fireworks as well that are sponsored by Festival Foods. July 5th at 9:45 is when the show begins over Millers Bay. We plan on taking the boat out with some of our guests to watch the show over the Lake. It really is the best way to watch them if you ever get the chance. I have included some favorite pictures of  mine that were taken in past 4th of July events on the water.

Courtesy of Oshkosh Convention and Visitors bureau

Courtesy of Oshkosh Convention and Visitors bureau

July 4 2010 a night with our guests and friends.

July 4 2010 a night with our guests and friends.

Thank you Denise for taking this wonderful picture of us in 2010

Thank you Denise for taking this wonderful picture of us in 2010

Awaiting the darkness for the fireworks to begin

Awaiting the darkness for the fireworks to begin

Courtesy of Oshkosh and Convention Visitors Bureau

Courtesy of Oshkosh and Convention Visitors Bureau

Balsamic Berry Baguette

StrawberriesI just went strawberry picking on Monday to Prellwitz Produce in Ripon. The strawberries are bright red, huge and juicy this year because of all the rain we have been receiving. I wanted to share with you a  picture of one of the four flats that I picked this year. Because we are prime picking season, I thought I would share with you a strawberry recipe that I served this last week to the Miss Wisconsin board along with a a few other goodies that you will see in the upcoming weeks.

 

Balsamic Berry Baguettes

I baguette loaf sliced about 1″ thickness. drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 5 min. Set aside.

Toss sliced strawberries with 1/4 C sugar and drizzled balsamic. Go based your taste.  Set aside.

Mix 4 oz. cream cheese, 1/4 C powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla together. Spread cream cheese mixture on baguette. Top with strawberry topping.

Strawberry Balsamic Baguettes (2)

Country USA Music Festival

One of the biggest events in Oshkosh, and one event that brings in some of the biggest names in country music, would definitely be Country USA. Country USA is a music festival that is five straight days of non-stop music and fun! All five days include performances from superstars like Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, Billy Currington, Toby Keith, and Dierks Bentley this year. Talk about a lineup!  It is definitely a great place to go check out if you are looking to listen to some great country music and have a blast on a summer night.

The festival takes place from Tuesday, June 25 to Saturday, June 29 at the Country USA grounds, located right off of Washburn Street. Ticket prices vary and different ticket packages are available for purchase. Gates open between 1:30pm and 3:00pm depending on the day you attend the festival. This event has been going on for 18 years, and in my opinion is one of the reasons that Oshkosh gets its name as Wisconsin’s Event City. With such big time performers, you cannot deny that Country USA is one of the best festivals in the state!

Country USA 007

Photo courtesy of Oshkosh Convention and visitors Bureau

Apple Pie Egg Rolls

These little cuties are so fun to serve for breakfast or dessert and are a breeze to throw together. This morning I served them with the Salmon and Dill Frittata which by the way was a recipe posted before.

apple pie egg rolls

Apple Pie Eggs Rolls – Make 8

 

2 apples, peeled and diced, 1 TB lemon juice, 1/3 C sugar, 4 TB flour, 2 tsp. cinnamon 1/4 tsp. all spice, 1/8 tsp. salt, 4 egg roll wrappers (small size), and  1 egg lightly beaten

Whipped Cream dip
3/4 C heavy cream, 1/4 sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla

Directions

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and chop up apples. Add to a medium bowl. Add remaining filling ingredients to bowl and stir together until well combined. Allow mixture to sit for about 10 minutes.

Lay 1 egg roll wrapper onto a clean surface and brush edge with a 1 inch perimeter of egg wash.
Spread 2-3 tablespoons of the filling across one side of the prepared egg roll wrapper. You do not want to over stuff these.
Fold the sides over and brush with egg wash. Carefully roll filling tightly in the wrapper and press gently to seal.
Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and coat with a thin layer of cooking spray. Repeat until all the filling and wrappers have been used.
Bake egg rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. During the last 5 minutes of cook time, pull out and brush with a little melted butter and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. Put back in oven for remaining 5 minutes. Serve immediately with sweetened whipped cream.
 WHIPPED CREAM Dip: Place cream in a mixing bowl and whip with a hand mixer, on medium-high speed. As the mixture thickens, slowly add sugar until fully incorporated. Add vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form. I sprinkled a little cinnamon on top as well.

 

Brayton B&B gets an intern

For the last couple of years I have been talking about getting an intern. Fox Valley Tech, here in Oshkosh, has a hospitality and tourism program.  I thought it would be great to be able to give back to someone by providing experience and possibly a career path. I wasn’t seeing the big picture though until a past guest and I got talking about social media. I know many of my other innkeeper friends will agree that we all spend a great deal of time promoting our businesses through Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc. It seems endless  and at times mind boggling trying to shuffle running an inn by physically doing all the tasks at the inn and then behind the scenes as well with things such as this. So for the time being, instead of training someone to do everything at the inn, I decided to get an intern to do some of my blogging to start off with.

If you don’t know this about me, I like to do everything myself. I have a hard time giving up control. Ask my family and friends. So, having someone blog for me is a huge step of trying to let go and manage my time a little better. This process though will be baby steps. I will still be blogging every week myself with recipes, since sometimes I don’t even know what I am going to post until the day of. I will also still blog about personal events, and things that happen at the inn( I think), until I can give up more maybe down the line.

So, I would like introduce you to Kyle. No, you can’t see him, but you will be able to get a sense of who he is from his blog entries. Kyle attends UWO, works a full time job and now interns for me. Kyle is interested in marketing, so he hopes to gain experience from blogging, analyzing  my Facebook page and working with Google. My hopes is that he can take away some experience by using me as his learning device and I can gain a little more freedom from my computer. Thanks Kyle!

Miss Wisconsin 2013

I really feel like summer has arrived. Finally!  Other than the warmer temperatures, Oshkosh gets into full swing starting with the Miss Wisconsin scholarship pageant.

We are very excited that the Miss Wisconsin judges will be staying with us this year. They will have privacy of the entire inn to themselves for business and hopefully some relaxing time as well. Several of these judges have spent years in the pageant industry judging, volunteering, competing and or serving on the scholarship committee. They come from all over the country and we couldn’t be more excited that they are here with us.

The Miss Wisconsin competition will represent women from Wisconsin who will make their way to the Miss America pageant.  Winning the competition is not only a great milestone, it also provides the winner with a chance to get out and advocate for a cause that she feels very strongly about. Last year’s winner, Kate Gorman, promoted her platform ‘Take a Healthy Bite out of Childhood Hunger’ which helped to advocate for better nutritional habits. All the ladies receive an incremental amount of funding for the school of their choice for the effort they put forth for the show. Scholarships are given out by the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Foundation as well as by other sponsors that are proud supporters of the event. The pageant will be taking place in Oshkosh, at the Alberta Kimball Auditorium, starting June 19th - 22nd. 

Raspberry Shortcake

Can you tell that I am getting in the summer mood with all these fresh fruits. This was an amazing fruit cup the other morning, but made a great dessert for myself after dinner as well. Feels like summer!

Raspberry Shortcake – Serves 4Raspberry Shortcake

12 oz. fresh raspberries, 1/2 c sugar, 1/4 C amaretto, 12 slices (1/4″ thick) challah bread cut in chunks, and whipped cream.

In a saucepan, stir berries, (save some for garnish if you want it to look prettier), sugar and 2 TB amaretto over med. heat. Bring to a simmer. Stir in remaining 2 TB amaretto. Remove from heat. Spoon a TB of warm berry mixture into each cup. Top with a layer of bread cubes. Repeat layering 2 more times. Top with remaining sauce. Gently press down and refrigerate for about a half hour for the bread to soak up all the goodness. Dollop with whipped cream and garnish with more berries. Yum!

 

More Amazing Guests!

We all have met someone in our lives that makes an impact someway or another. Lucky for me, It happens a lot! Running a B&B gives me that luxury, since I get to meet so many different people from all over the world. They arrive as our guests, but leave as our friends.  This past weekend, I had the privilege in meeting 4 sisters. There is actually 5 girls and 3 brothers to this family. I am hoping one day, I will be able to meet the entire clan. I can only imagine that they are all just as wonderful as Ann, Margaret, Sue and Terrie.

When they first arrived, Ann asked me if I could tell they were sisters. I had to be honest, I really couldn’t.  They didn’t look like each other but I could tell that they all had their own unique personalities.

Ann, made the reservation. Though she wasn’t the eldest, she was the mother of the group. You could tell she was the glue. She held everyone together. Then there was Margaret from California. She was the funny one! She made everyone laugh, A LOT, including me. I have no doubts that if she lived in Oshkosh, we would probably be friends. Next was Sue. From the little bit that I could tell, she was the strong one.  My husband is always goofing around and she was able to dish out whatever he could give. It was a fun show just listening to the two. Finally, Terrie. She was quiet one. She absorbed everything that was going on around her; She listened contently and spoke wisely. She had a wonderful energy about her.

More importantly though than the unique personalities of these women, was the way they were around each other. They truly loved each other  and thrived when they were together. The bond that they hold is truly inspiring. It made me long for my sister who moved out to Napa Valley this past Autumn. So much so, that I called soon after they had departed.

I hated to see them leave. I wish they could have stayed much longer, but I know they have family that adores them. Thank you for choosing to stay with us while in the area. You four are an inspiration to someone that holds family near and dear.

caruso4

Waterfest is back!


Waterfest is truly described as a celebration of the Quality of Life that exists here in the Fox Valley. The name was chosen to help highlight one of the most valuable assets here, which are our waterways. What happens at Waterfest though, is much more than a celebration of the Quality of Life, it is a time where friends and family can get together for a great time out and get treated to a great line-up of music.

The concert series takes place at the Leach Amphitheater in Riverside Park, which is in Downtown Oshkosh and runs for 10 Thursdays all summer long starting on June 20 and ending August 29. Most nights will run from 6 pm to 10:30 pm with an exception of a few days starting at 5 pm. In the past, Waterfest has drawn in some great musical acts such as REO Speedwagon, Eddie Money, Alice Cooper, and many more! This year looks likes it is no exception to some great acts that include Kenny Loggins, Survivor, The Tubes, and others. So get out to the Fest for an evening and enjoy some fantastic tunes with our great community!

Below is a list of who what we can expect to see and hear this summer.

 

HEADLINERS:

June 20 – Hairball!

June 27 – Vic Ferrari

July 11 – Little River Band

July 18 – American English

July 25 – Survivor

August 1 – Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real

August 8 – Spin Doctors

August 15 – The Tubes

August 22 – Rusted Root

August 29 – Kenny Loggins

 

FOR MORE INFO ON BANDS, ADMISSION, OR ALUMNI CHECK OUT THIS SITE:

www.waterfest.org

Strawberry Bread

Well, its getting to be that time when I am thinking about strawberries. The conditions are just a little to wet and cool at night for the start of berry picking.  I was hoping I could pick some up at the farmers market this last Saturday, but no such luck. Festival Foods will just have to be my go to spot for the time being, which brings me to this latest recipe.   I played around with it to give you two variations. I glazed the top of one which gives it a pretty presentation and something extra to savor for a couple of bites. I served it with a strawberry butter that I got from the allrecipes.com site.

Strawberry Bread- Makes 2 lovesstrawberry bread

1 Stick butter, 3/4 C sugar, 3 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 C flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 3/4 C sour cream (divided), 2 C fresh strawberries, hulled.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Mix the flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

Mix 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix 1/2 of the sour cream into the wet. Mix 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the wet again. Mix the remaining sour cream in and then mix the remaining dry ingredients in. This makes sure everything is incorporated equally. Mix in the strawberries. Pour into two loaf pans. Bake 350 for about 50 minutes until center is done. Don’t overbake this. It will be dry and crumbly.

Strawberry Butter- Make 1/2 C

1 stick of butter, softened, 2 TB powdered sugar, and 2 TB of either fresh strawberries or strawberry jam. I used jam since I didn’t have any more strawberries. Blend and spread on bread!

Live at Lunch

One of my favorite downtown things to do in the summer is Live at Lunch.  I try to get down to the square a little early for a chair and relax in the sun while listening to FREE local artists performing.  Hosted by the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, the series runs nine weeks every Wednesday throughout the summer from 12:00 – 1:00. Each Wednesday there will be a downtown restaurant catering lunch. You can bring your own lawn chairs and/or blankets or grab a seat on the square. This is the 10th year that the Chamber of Commerce has been putting this event on, and it is a great way to get out and get connected with the Oshkosh community. This free event is family friendly, and provides a variety of genres for all to listen to. Every performance brings something new, so grab your blankets and chairs and head out to enjoy the weather, food, and great tunes! I have listed the performances below. Hopefully I will see you there.

Live at Lunch Schedule:

June 12, Cookie

June 19, John Kelley & Friends

June 26, Connor La Mue

July 10, Patchouli

July 17, D. Ruzicka Trio

July 24, Sly Joe

July 31, Erin Krebs & Jeff Johnston

August 7, Joe & Janice Marie Scheibinger

August 14, Rob Anthony

July 17, D.Ruzicka Trio

July 24, Sly Joe

July 31, Erin Krebs & Jeff Johnston

August 7, Joe & Janice Marie Scheibinger

August 14, Rob Anthony

 

Blueberry Muffins

My sister called me from California this past week and asked me for my recipe for blueberry muffins. I told her that she could go to my blog. She said that she did and these were not on there.  I couldn’t believe it, so I had to check myself. She was right. I make two different types of blueberry muffins, a dense version and a light version depending on the ingredients I have on hand. Don’t mistake this for my blueberry bread that was posted in the past. That is made with sour cream, which is amazing, but two different types of products. So, here is one version. My preference is the denser of two.

blueberry muffin2Blueberry Muffins- Makes 12 jumbo muffins.

3 C flour, 2 C sugar, 1 TB baking powder, 1 stick butter, 2 eggs, 1 C milk, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 C fresh blueberries and 2 TB melted butter

Preheat oven to 350. Put flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in a large bowl. Mix well. With your fingers squeeze mixture until it is crumbs. Set aside 1 cup flour mixture in a small bowl for use later as streusel. To the large bowl, add eggs, milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Gently stir in berries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Dribble melted butter over the mixture crumb mixture in your small bowl and toss with a fork. Sprinkle crumbs over batter. Bake 20-25 min.

Oshkosh Saturday Farmers Market

 

 

Courtesy of Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau

Courtesy of Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau

 

 

It is finally almost here! The Oshkosh Saturday Farmers Market! Saturday, June 1 through October 8:00-12:30, rain or shine on the 400 and 500 blocks of Main St and also the 100 block of Church Ave. Hey, that’s our street. Just step out the front door, head to the right before or after breakfast and enjoy the splendor of what Oshkosh’s Farmers Market has to offer along with free  music every week.

In June, this is what you can come to find at the market. Asparagus, beets, broccoli, bunch onions, flowers, herbs, lettuce, parsley, peas, plants, radishes, rhubarb, spinach and strawberries.

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Okay, I told you a couple of weeks back that I was a true lover of Tiramisu. There is a place here in town called Tamaras that I am a big fan of. She makes the most amazing cupcakes. Tiramisu is one of my favorites. I have bought several from her, but Scott has a hard time paying $3.00 for a cupcake, so it is usually my job to recreate something that we both enjoy. This recipe is a favorite of my husbands. He says he would pay way more than $3.00 for this little piece of heaven. I am quite overjoyed that I have come up with something that not only he loves, I love and our guests have gone crazy over as well. The key is the homemade mascarpone I think, which you have to make the night before. It  makes it a little more time consuming, but well worth it in my opinion.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tiramisu CupcakesTiramisu Cupakes -Serves 12

Cupcake batter- 1 box White Cake Mix, 2 egg whites, 1 egg, 1/3 cup oil, 3/4 cup buttermilk, 3/4 cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/8 cup coffee and 1 TB instant coffee crystals.

 Filling- Must be made the night before. Mascarpone(1 pint of heavy cream and 1 TB. lemon juice), 1 TB instant coffee crystals, and 1/2 C powdered sugar
Whipped Topping- 8 oz cream cheese, softened, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 pint heavy whipping cream
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees and a 12 Cup cupcake tray with liners.
 In a large bowl, whisk egg whites, egg, oil, buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla. Stir in white cake mix into wet ingredients. Fill cupcake liners about 1/3 full using only half of the batter.  With the remaining cake batter, add the coffee and the instant coffee crystals.  Scoop the coffee cake batter over the regular batter so that each cupcake liner is filled about 3/4.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until done. Cool completely!
For the filling, mix the heavy cream and the lemon juice together in a measuring cup. With a mesh strainer, lay over an empty bowl. Line your mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth both and put in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you should see only a little bit of whey in the cheesecloth. Toss and cheesecloth and add coffee crystals and powdered sugar to the homemade mascarpone. Whip slightly. Set aside.
 For the topping,  beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and then add in heavy cream and beat until stiff peaks form.
Now the fun part- assembly. Cut a hole deep out of the center of each cupcake. Spoon your filling into the hole of each cupcake. Pipe your whipped topping over the hole with the filling and top with chocolate shavings and cocoa powder.

Gus Macker and Irishfest all in the same weekend Downtown Oshkosh

Wow, the first weekend in June has so  much going on!final logo1

First off,  Winnebago County voted Irish Fest the Best Family Event and Best Local Festival!!! Congratulations!

This is the fifth year that Oshkosh brings Irish Fest to the Leach Amphitheater May 30 – June 2. Come and enjoy the music, the food, the dancers, the presentations, the vendors, the 5K, the raffle, and, of course, the fun in the beautiful park on the water. Everyone is welcome – you don’t have to be Irish to have fun!!!

The Cultural Village area of the festival will focus on Irish and Celtic heritage. Storytellers will be on hand to illuminate the people and events that have shaped the history and culture of Ireland and the Irish people.

The Irish Fest 5K Charity Run/Walk takes place on Saturday morning at 8am. Both runners and walkers will receive a T-shirt, refreshments and, best of all, free admission to Irish Fest on Saturday.

One of the most fun features of the festival is the Irish Fest Idol Contest. Any amateur entertainer is welcome to enter. Singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument, comedy – any type of performance art is fair game. The contest takes place Sunday and there will be great prizes, including cash and stage time at the 2014 Oshkosh Irish Fest.

A special Irish Fest Mass will be held on Sunday morning, June 2 at 10am. Music will be provided by members of Kennedy’s Kitchen and the Oshkosh Irish Fest Choir. For attendees of the mass, admission to the festival is free with the donation of a non-perishable food item prior to the service.

Don’t miss the medieval banquet on Thursday, May 30. The festivities take place inside the Pub Tent at 6pm. There will be music from the Oshkosh West Madrigal Singers, a five-course meal that includes cream of corned beef and cabbage soup, a variety of flat breads, Guinness-braised beef ribs, Irish-whiskey chicken legs, shamrock pork cutlets, Irish vegetable and potato pancakes. For dessert, there will be Bailey’s Irish Cream brownies. Beverages will include mead, beer, wine and soda. And, of course, in the spirit of the low-tech medieval age, no utensils will be allowed.

If you’ve never been to Oshkosh Irish Fest before, you’re in for a real treat. And, if you’re an Irish Fest veteran, the 2013 festival promises to be better than ever.

On the same weekend, Oshkosh also welcomes the Gus Macker for the second year in a row for the 3-on-3 Tournament!

The Oshkosh Gus Macker will be taking place in the Streets of Downtown Oshkosh, just blocks away from us, covering the 100, 200 and 300 blocks of N Main St and down High Ave., surrounding Opera House Square! The streets have all been repaved, widened and landscaped, making this the optimal location for an exciting 3-on-3 weekend with a great downtown atmosphere!

Spectators coming to watch the Oshkosh Macker will enjoy a mix of great basketball, music, refreshments and contests, such as 3-point, hot-shots and the SLAM DUNK contest.

And while you are here, don’t forget to take advantage of all of the festivities that are taking place within walking distance of the Oshkosh Macker site!  You can stroll down Main Street to see what the Oshkosh Farmers Market and Downtown Businesses have going on Saturday or stop in and check out the Annual Oshkosh Irish Fest Festival at The Leach Amphitheater, just a few blocks from the Macker Tournament site!

 

Fried Nectarines with Vanilla Mascarpone

First off, let me say that this is not my original recipe or picture. Her picture turned out much better than mine and I wanted you to get the full effect of how wonderful this really is.  However, I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share it with you. I served this as my fruit cup before breakfast, but I think it would make a wonderful after dinner dessert as well. This recipe and picture came from shewearsmanyhats.com.

Fried Nectarines with Vanilla Mascarpone – Serves 3-4

Fruit- 3 TB. butter, 4 C nectarines, sliced (6-7), 1/4 C brown sugar, 1/4 C amaretto

Mascarpone Topping- 8 oz. mascarpone, 4 oz. vanilla yogurt, 1 tsp. vanilla. (you will have some left over, but it is so tasty, you can use it on something else.

For the fruit, melt butter in a saute pan. In a small bowl combine sliced nectarines and brown sugar. Add the brown sugar coated nectarines and cook over med. heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add amaretto and simmer over med. heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For the mascarpone topping, mix together the mascarpone and the yogurt until smooth. Add vanilla and mix well. Serve warm.

Festival of Spring at the Paine Art Museum

Many of you may be familiar with the Paine Art Museum for its wonderful exhibits throughout the year and with the Nutcracker over the holidays, but you may not have heard about Festival of Spring. This is a free outdoor festival featuring the Paine’s annual Spring Plant Sale and more than 200 vendors of original art, fine crafts, plants and garden supplies. There is also the corner flea market which is located at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Congress Street. there will be plenty of  great food and entertainment throughout the day as well. While there,  tour the Paine’s spring garden featuring more than 10,000 blooming spring wildflowers, tulips, daffodils and flowering trees.

Kick off the garden season at the Paine’s annual Spring Plant Sale widely recognized by gardening enthusiasts and master gardeners for its unique selection of rare and unusual plants. Choose from annuals including the “Perennial Plant of the Year” as well as a wide selection of unusual herbs and wildflowers.

Mingle with the Paine’s friendly staff and volunteers who are eager to offer recommendations and answer your questions. With more than 200 vendors of garden supplies, original art and crafts, it is a festival not to be missed, so plan on attending the Paine’s annual Festival of Spring on Saturday, May 18.

 

New Website Launched

Scott and I went to a national B&B conference known as PAII out in Las Vegas this past January. We had never gone to one of these national conventions before, so we really didn’t know what to expect. There were B&B’s from all over the country ranging in size from 1 room to literally the size of a small hotel up to 30 rooms. We met a lot of really nice people and came back with so much information. Because they are catering to a wide range of different size inns, some information didn’t pertain to us like how to brew beer at your inn. Hmm, that got Scott thinking that maybe we should think about getting bigger. Ha! Back to reality.

The biggest thing I walked away from was some new marketing ideas though. Being in the bed and breakfast industry is not a get rich quick profession or EVER for that matter. It really is all about the lifestyle though, which is why Scott and I love what we do. It works for our family.  We constantly get told from locals that they did not even know that their was a bed and breakfast in Oshkosh. You have no idea how many times we hear that. Our marketing budget is so small that we have to be sooo choosy on where we spend our marketing dollars. Because the majority of our business comes from our surrounding states, we tend to focus our efforts in trying to get our inn noticed by the greatest number of people. Our website is the window to that world. Now, don’t get me wrong, we want Oshkosh to know that we are here and hope that our Facebook and word of mouth referrals  will keep coming our way but we figured a new website might not hurt either.  One statement grabbed my attention while in Vegas.

It was said, that if you have a limited dollar amount for your marketing budget, put everything you got into your website if it is three years or older. Our website was just past that mark.  We have always gotten great reviews from it and I hated to change it, because I did like it so much. Now, I have always been one that appreciates honesty, whether you want to hear it or not. I have never been one to hold back so I hoped they wouldn’t either and they didn’t.  This presenter that we were listening to, put our website along with many others up on a big screen in a convention hall and started picking it apart. Man, I felt like I had a lot to learn. As small as I felt, I needed to hear the bad news which lead us to where we are today.

I decided to work with a company that we had been doing business with the last couple of years who focuses on the bed and breakfast industry in website design.  We spent almost a half a day just trying to come up with a font that was easy to read. Scott still isn’t happy with it, but I would love to know your thoughts. This company went out of their way to find out who we were were as a family, as innkeepers, information about Oshkosh , our clientele and our style. All things important when creating a website or our storefront for that matter, that appeals to the masses. The last couple of  months have been tweaking everything from information, to pictures, to the behind the scenes that only Google and many other search engines will appreciate. Our website just went live yesterday with a  few minor things that need to be completed.

I hope you like our new site and find it easy to use and navigate through. If you should have any thoughts one way or another on it, please feel free to share.

 

Tiramisu Bread Pudding

I know this is one day early but  my  new website goes live sometime on Thursday and I wanted to make sure you received your weekly recipe.  I may have never said this, but I am in love with Tiramisu.  I am constantly trying new recipes and adapting them to make them my own. I have been working on tiramisu in a jar all winter, but I am just not ready yet to present yet, but be ready, I am almost there.   I am ready though to share this one with you. I did find this recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine, but have changed it up a bit. I hope you like it. By the way, you will probably be seeing  A LOT more tiramisu recipes from me. This one is really easy and really good for breakfast or dessert.

Tiramisu Bread Pudding – Serves 8

1 1/3 cups milk, 1 1/4 cups whipping cream, 2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals, 6 eggs, lightly beaten, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup  brown sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 7 C Challah bread and 1/3 cup powdered sugar,

Creme Cheese Topper – 3/4 cup whipping cream, 1 ounce cream cheese, softened and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In large bowl stir together milk, whipping cream, and coffee crystals until coffee is dissolved. Reserve 1 tablespoon milk mixture; set aside.

Stir eggs, the sugars, and vanilla into milk mixture. Stir in bread pieces until moistened. Evenly divide among eight greased 6-ounce ramekins, filling each almost full. Place on a  baking pan. Bake 30 minutes or until puffed and set.
In small bowl combine powdered sugar and reserved 1 tablespoon milk mixture; stir until smooth. Drizzle over bread pudding. Dollop with Cream Cheese Topper.

 

New Packages Available for Summer

Yeh, Summer is finally here! I think we skipped Spring, but we got here either way.

We have put together 3 packages for you this summer. Two oldies but goodies and one new package. Whether you want to hit the trails or check out the lighthouses around Lake Winnebago on your bicycle or motorcycle, take it easy floating down the Fox River or taking in a band at Waterfest, we have got you covered.

Our newest package involves the bicycle or motorcyle.

The uniquely named Wiowash State Trail takes its title from the four counties it passes through: Winnebago, Outgamie, Waupaca and Shawano.

The trail is split into two sections. The northern section runs from Aniwa to Split Rock. The southern section runs for 21 miles from Oshkosh northward to Hortonville and offers opportunities for biking, walking, jogging and birdwatching.

As it traverses the countryside, the southern section of the Wiouwash passes through a number of interesting natural habitats. Segments of the trail run through prairie and wetlands, attracting hundreds of species of birds, including sandhill cranes. The trail also crosses Dagget’s Creek, the Rat River and Black Otter Creek. It’s a scenic and relaxing journey, whether you’re on foot or two wheels.

The nearby Mascoutin Valley State Trail is another quality trail opportunity. The 5.3-mile segment of the trail that runs through Winnebago County connects the communities of Ripon and Berlin. The trail passes along the edges of meadows and farm fields, affording wonderful views of the rural landscape. Wetlands appear at several intervals along the trail, giving trail users a chance to see birds and wildlife.

If your feeling a little more energetic, how about taking a ride around Lake Winnebago and visiting all the lighthouses?  It is roughly 71 miles around Lake Winnebago to see all the lighthouses? It is mostly flat, but there are some short steep climbs around the 50 mile mark. Personally, I think a trip on the motorcycle would be more up my alley. Either way though, we are going to pack you lunch for two for your journey.

Our other two packages you have seen before, but are highly requested each season.

Captain Scotty just purchased a new pontoon this season and he is anxious to get it out on Lake Winnebago. It is a little larger and a little newer. It will seat 11 comfortably and he will make sure to get you in the water and on your way. Special rates just for our guests, but if you want to rent the pontoon without staying with us., that’s okay too, I guess, but we like to give our guests the discounts.

Waterfest is also back this year and we have partnered with Brooklyn again to make you sure you get some food in your tummy before or after he concert.

Check out seasonal specials page for more details. http://braytonbb.net/packages/seasonal-packages-3/

 

Fruit n’ Pudding

The last two days have been heaven for me. I love this warm weather and am already dreading the cooler temps this weekend. Okay, back to the positive. Tuesday evening my family decided it was a good night to grill out with some brats, burgers and all trimmings to go with it. My job, to make pasta salad. I realized that I did not have a blog recipe for this week, so I wanted to be able to come up with something to serve my family for dinner that would do double duty for breakfast. I ran to the store and picked up a package of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, a pineapple and an apple. I washed everything, cut it up and through it in a bowl. I pulled out some cheesecake flavored instant pudding from the cupboard and sprinkled about 3 Tb over the fruit. I stirred it up and let it blend in the refrigerator for about an hour. It came out with a slightly creamy texture and wonderful flavor. I am sure vanilla pudding, banana or coconut would work just a great depending on your taste buds.

FRUIT N PUDDINGFruit n’ Pudding – Serves 6

Container of strawberries(sliced) , raspberries, blueberries, half a pineapple( diced) and one apple (diced) and one package of instant flavored pudding. I used cheesecake, but your favorite white flavor would work great too, I am sure.

Lets go shopping!

Downtown Oshkosh has so much to offer when it comes to shops and retailers and we are within walking distance to all there is to offer. Not only will you find some unique stores and finds, but  great deals are going on this May as well.

Looking to spruce up your clothing wardrobe? Downtown Oshkosh has many great 2nd hand clothing store options. Atomic Katz is a fantastic store where you will find vintage clothing from the 20′s to the 80′s along with mid century modern furniture. Chic to Chic carries mall  and name brand items 1/2 to 1/3 of the original price.  Frugal Fashion and Klassy Kids are both great stores for men, women and kids.

How about taking home something truly unique. One of our favorite stores is Soiree which offers a few antiques, salvaged curb goodies, and retro funk.  This unique store  brings an eclectic shopping mix to downtown. Crescent Moon offers specializes in antique salvaged or reclaimed material provided for reuse in building restoration, new home construction and decorative arts from vintage flooring, doors or moldings and so much more.   Satori Imports has been in business for 44 years and offers everything from clothing, incense, jewelry to health and body products. A truly unique shopping experience.

How about a good book or music selection? Apple Blossom Books is an adorable shop that is independently owned and family oriented that offers fun special events, a general selection of new and used books and special orders. Just a fun place to shop. Exclusive Company is “Americas oldest full line record store”. Starting out from the trunk of his car to now owning 7 locations in Wisconsin, this store is must to visit.

All this shopping is probably making you hungry, right? Downtown has got that covered too. Gardinas wine bar and cafe offers an interesting and varied wine list, craft beer list, and a great selection of craft bourbons, single malt scotches and rare dessert wines available by the glass, along with pizza, paninis and sandwiches along with specials each and every day. Cranky Pats Pizza, makes a fantastic thin crust pizza piled high with mushrooms(if that is your flavor) along with pasta and a full bar. Caramel Crisp is another historic place to stop into. In business since 1933 they still use the same original recipe for the caramel corn but now offering a full lunch menu, ice cream and the best cookies ever.

Participating downtown stores are offering gift cards.  May 11 (Mothers Day Weekend), Destination Downtown will be happening where the ultimate ladies day is celebrated.  Start the day off on May 11 where you can enjoy lunch, a style show, & tons of prizes and a silent auction. In the afternoon there will be great sales and discounts at local downtown businesses.

Of course, downtown has so much more to offer, but that is just a sampling of the shops you will find just a few steps out our front door.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I got the urge the other day for some chocolate chip cookies, but then I saw and opened a package of caramels and decided why  not put the two together in a bar. The only I might do differently the next time around is put them in a larger pan. They came out pretty thick, which isn’t a bad thing, but to make them go a little further, this might be an option.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Barssalted caramel and chocolate cookie bars

2 1/3 C flour, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted and cooled to room temp., 1 C light brown sugar, 1/2 C sugar, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 2 tsp. vanilla, 3/4 bag of chocolate chips, 10 oz. of caramel chips, 3 TB heavy cream and sea salt.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9″ square pan and set aside. In a med. bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Mix together the melted butter and sugar(s) on med speed until combined. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and  mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a med. microwavable bowl, combine the caramel chips and heavy cream. Microwave until the caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds or so for about 2 minutes until creamy.

Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan and smoothing the top. Pour the hot caramel over the cookie dough and spread evenly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Drop the remaining cookie dough on top of the caramel and spread evenly over the top. Sprinkle with  more sea salt.

Bake the bars for 30 min until the top is light brown. Cool completely before cutting.

Hey, look we were mentioned!

brayton_family-4Every once in a while, our name appears in an article, not necessarily promoting us specifically, but what may be around us or things to do in the area.  The first article is from Travel Wisconsin and as you can see Oshkosh made the list of things to do, see, and places to eat. The second article is a feature story for the Circus World Museum in  Baraboo. Though Baraboo is roughly a 2 hour drive from Oshkosh, it is an easy enough day trip for those who are looking for something different to experience. I hope you enjoy both articles as much as I did.

 

“Wisconsin’s Event City,” Oshkosh is home to over 1,000 events and festivals, including the famous EAA AirVenture and the Country USA music festival. The city on the western shore of Lake Winnebago also has more than its share of year-round fun. Here are our top picks for an Oshkosh weekend getaway, any time of year.

Where to brunch

Pilora’s Café dishes up the café essentials – friendly service and wholesome food – with a dash of originality. From jazz music in the background to some unusual menu items (like cornbread pancakes with Door County cherries and the Moroccan ham sandwich) Pilora’s makes a point of offering something different. They also brew Alterra coffee, so you can fuel up on a proper cup of joe before heading out for your Oshkosh adventures. 

Where to explore

The EAA’s AirVenture fly-in every August isn’t your only chance to experience Oshkosh’s world-renowned Experimental Aircraft Association. The EAA AirVenture Museum, open year-round, features over 200 historic airplanes, plus movie theaters, galleries, flight simulators, and two “hands-on” interactive galleries for all ages.

Where to shop

You’ll find a lot of unique shops on (and just off) Main Street. A few to get you started:

If big-name stores are more your style, The Outlet Shoppes at Oshkosh, across from the EAA, is home to 55 of the best. We recommend adding a whole day to your Oshkosh itinerary if you want to hit the outlets!

Where to get your culture on

The Grand Opera House, built in 1883, is the oldest operating theater in Wisconsin. It puts on a fun variety of entertainment, from the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra to musicals, rock ’n’ roll shows, and karaoke nights. The Paine Art Center and Gardens is a 1920’s estate with an amazing art collection and display gardens. Their Family Discovery Gallery offers hands-on art experiences for children. Admission: $9 adult/$5 youth. 

Where to go for dinner

Gardina’s Wine Bar & Café has a great menu of American/Mediterranean starters, cheese plates, salads and sandwiches, with nightly entrée specials. But it’s their pizza that steals the show. Bring an appetite and brace yourself for some tough decisions: there’s an impressive selection of wines, craft beers, and – bonus – individual-sized cheesecakes. Jam to live music Friday and Saturday nights. 

Where to stay

The Brayton Bed & Breakfast is just a short walk from Main Street. Warning: if you stay in this beautiful, friendly B&B, you might not want to leave…especially on the weekends, when you can enjoy an afternoon wine and cheese social in the living room, and homemade desserts later in the evening. Rates: $129.00-$299.00 nightly.

Learn more about all the fun Oshkosh has to offer here.

Liven Up Your Vacation: Visit the Circus World Museum

If you have enjoyed luxuriating yourself in your suite at Brayton B&B, drinking fine wine, eating local cheeses, and visiting the occasional museum, take a vacation from your vacation. Plan a day of highly charged entertainment at the Circus World Museum. The Circus World Museum is a two hour drive from Oshkosh; far enough away to be a significant day-trip, but close enough that you can still make it back to your suite for an evening drink. A premiere Wisconsin attraction, the Circus World Museum is a historical site that attracts thousands of visitors a year, and is loved by both children and adults.

History

What sets the Circus World Museum apart from your average circus is its remarkable history. The circus, originally named ‘The Ringling Bros. Circus’, was founded in 1884 by the five Ringling brothers. The Ringling Bros. Circus ran for thirty-five years, and in that time expanded to an empire consisting of the three largest circuses in America. In 1959, after the circus industry had gone into decline and The Ringling Bros. Circus had long been closed, its gates once again opened. This time it was named the Circus World Museum, a museum with a mission to preserve the circus industry, so it could be understood and loved by future generations.

Sights

The Circus World Museum is home to several of the original buildings used by The Ringling Bros. Circus; these buildings are the largest groups of original circus buildings in North America. Located on the north bank of the Baraboo River, they date from 1897 and 1918, and the area they comprise is now a National Historic Landmark. As well as these historic buildings, artefacts from the old circus are displayed in the many exhibits on offer across the site. Here you can see everything from the cage wagons in which lions were kept, to original poster art advertising circus shows.

Performances

Of course it would be unheard of to go to a circus and not see a show. With the spirit of the original Ringling circus, there are a variety of shows on offer to suit a multitude of interests and tastes. Gymnastics, acrobatics, elephant shows, clown shows, and contortionist shows, are just a few of the performances on offer for visitors. Just make sure to look at the performance schedule on arrival so you won’t risk missing your favorite.

Eating and Drinking

If your trip to the Circus World Museum falls during the summer season, then their deluxe onsite restaurant, Cookhouse Grill, is open for business. If not, or if you would prefer to eat away from the circus, why not venture into Baraboo? Baraboo is a bustling city with a diverse range of eateries. Here you can sample the best burgers American cuisine has to offer, as well as some top-notch Mexican and Italian food.

Getting There

Driving is certainly the easiest, and most cost-effective, way of getting to the Circus World Museum, and will give you the chance to experience some of the beautiful scenery of Wisconsin between Oshkosh and Baraboo. It is important, however, that you consider safety before hitting the road. Whether you plan to rent a car or bring your own with you to Oshkosh, you must ensure that you are covered against breakdown in the Wisconsin area. Purchasing breakdown cover is simple, as it can be bought quickly and easily online, and there are many cheap deals to be found. While it is unlikely you will need to use it, breakdown cover is priceless for the piece of mind it will give you during your trip. Once you’ve got your breakdown cover in the bag, and have set a date for your trip to the Circus World Museum, simply jot down the directions below and you are ready to go.

Directions:

1.    Head northwest on Church Ave towards Central St(0.4 mi)

2.    Turn left onto Wisconsin St (0.5 mi)

3.    Continue onto Ohio St(0.9 mi)

4.    Turn right onto W South Park Ave(2.0 mi)

5.    Turn left to merge onto U.S. 41 S toward Milwaukee (2.4 mi)

6.    Take exit 113 for WI-26/County Rd N toward Waupun (0.4 mi)

7.    Turn right onto WI-26 S/WI-26 Trunk S/Co Rd N. Continue to follow WI-26 S/WI-26 Trunk S (21.5 mi)

8.    Take the Wisconsin 26 S/U.S. 151 S ramp to Waupun/Madison (0.4 mi)

9.    Merge onto US-151 S (1.0 mi)

10.  Take exit 147 to merge onto US-151 BUS S/WI-26 S/WI-26 Trunk S/Fond Du Lac St toward Waupun. Continue to follow US-151 BUS S/Fond Du Lac St.(1.6 mi)

11.  Turn right onto EMain St.(1.0 mi)

12.  Turn left onto WI-68 W/Fox Lake Rd. Continue to follow WI-68 W (9.5 mi)

13.  Continue onto State Hwy 33 W/W State St. Continue to follow State Hwy 33 W (44.8 mi)

14.  Turn left onto Washington Ave(0.6 mi)

15.  Turn right onto Water St. Destination will be on the left.

Antipasti Platter

Scott and I had some friends over the other night to watch the premier of the 2013 season of Mad Men. This couple we had over got us into watching the series, so the last couple of years we enjoyed some wine and a few appetizers together while dissecting the first few segments. Whenever we get together with this couple they always do such a great job of entertaining that I feel like I do not do our place justice. After creating this enjoyable platter, I thought it would be great to share it with our inn guests over wine and cheese. The bread I made is the recipe I shared with you a few months back (Crusty Bread). This time I just used pepperjack cheese and thyme to give it a more mild flavor with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I purchased some black and green olives with feta from the Festival Foods deli, along with a fresh mozzarella, sundried tomato and salami panini roll, hand rolled salami, Satori Monte Amori cheese and grapes.  The recipe below is for the tomato ricotta frittata which you could use for breakfast, but I prefer to serve it cold as an appetizer.

ANITIPASTI PLATETomato Ricotta Fritatta

3 TB olive oil, 1 large onion, sliced 1/4″ thick, 1 large tomato, sliced 1/2 inch thick, 8 eggs, 1/2 C shredded parmesan, 1/3 C fresh, coarsely shopped basil, salt, pepper and 6 TB ricotta.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over med. heat. Add onion slices and cook until softened. Transfer to a plate. Add tomatoes to the skillet and cook, turning once until edges are softened. Transfer to the plate with the onions.

In a bowl, stir the eggs, 1/4 C parmesan, basil and salt and pepper.

Spread the onion slices in the bottom of the skillet. Pour the beaten eggs on top and cook over med. heat until the eggs are set around the edges.

Place the tomato slices on the top of the frittata. Dollop the ricotta between the tomatoes. Sprinkle remaining parmesan on top. Bake the frittata until the top is golden and set, about 18 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes and then slide out of pan and let cool. Cut into wedges.

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