Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cheese Box Crafts

Ever wonder what to do with those cute little cheese boxes that brie and camembert come in?  Well, obviously we must eat a fair amount of these types of cheese, because I came up with an idea to keep the boxes out of the landfill, for a while at least.  For a birthday gift for the little girl next door, who loves to collect "stuff", I decided to decorate some of these cheese boxes.  I went to the craft store and picked out some decorative papers in her favorite colors, namely pink and purple, but with some others mixed in.  I also purchased some Mod Podge-something I haven't used since grade school.  Then I set about measuring the boxes and cutting out the paper to cover the boxes.  That's the longest part of the project, cutting and measuring.  Next I coated the box with Mod Podge and pasted the paper onto the box, smoothing it as I went.  After allowing the paper to dry I then applied several coats of Mod Podge to the outside of the boxes allowing about 30 minutes drying time between each.  The end result I have to admit is pretty fun.  This is a good project to try with kids.  If their patience runs thin, have them help pick out the papers then cut them when the kids are doing something else and then later have them help cover the boxes.  If you find some of the boxes are real tight fitting, they'll be even more so after adding a layer of paper and several more of glue.  Mine all worked, but if necessary you can sand down any tight spots with extra fine sandpaper to make them easier to open and close.  So, next time you are going to throw out that cheese box...think about repurposing them and giving them away as gifts, or selling them at the school or church craft fair, or if you're not interested in any of that, give them to me...I'll make something of them!  In any case, enjoy the cheese, especially the Crave Brothers Petit Frere...mmmmm...delicious!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rumtopf Bread Pudding

Let me first apologize...I forgot to take a picture of the bread pudding...we were too busy eating!
We took it for a gathering with friends Sunday night.It turned out pretty darned great and was made even better by the addition of some Yahara Bay Cocoa Liqueur with Ice Cream whipped up by our host Kris.  Here's the recipe...if you don't have rumtopf, you can add any drunken fruit you have on hand, or just fruit in syrup if you don't want the alcohol.  The rumtopf was an experiment I tried last year after hearing about it on a food podcast.  What you do is get a large crock, some good rum, sugar and then all season long as different fruits come into season you add 1 lb of fresh fruit with 1 cup sugar and rum to cover.  You stop adding fruit in the fall and allow it to mellow until the holidays, when you serve it on top of ice cream or make it into other desserts like this one.  I got carried away and still have a large crock of rumtopf on hand.  It won't go bad's well pickled with the rum.  The traditional way to make it as they do in Germany is with only red fruits.  I like all fruit, so I used other colors too.
1 loaf day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups rumtopf with liquid
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp cinnamon
pinch salt
Bake covered with foil in a 350°  oven for 45 minutes to one hour, or cook in a pressure cooker on steam for 15 minutes, according the the directions on the pressure cooker, or do like I did, steam on the stovetop in a steamer for 2-3 hours or until a knife inserted in the pudding comes out clean.  Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or additional rumtopf or fruit on top. Dericious!