Eating it up

I recently began my own Eat-it-Don't-Move-It Challenge.  This means I'm planning meals with the goal of eating up all the half-boxes of pasta and random ingredients in my cupboard and fridge so I don't have to move them.  The corollary: once we eat it up, we can't buy more until after we've moved (this goes for ice cream, too).

Now that I'm paying attention, it's a little embarrassing to admit how much food I have around.  Granted, a good portion of the real estate in my cupboard is taken up with pots of things like green curry paste, hot sauce, water chestnuts, green chilis, and various kinds of jams and jellies -- hardly the makings of an entire meal.  But aside from those, I have an awful lot of partially-used foodstuffs (I love that word).  Today, I found five kinds of rice, three partially used bags of noodles, two half-boxes of pasta, 3/4 cup of couscous, a third of a box of polenta, three open containers of cocoa . . .  and the list goes on.

So what to make with these remnants? 

Well, here's what I came up with today.  I managed to use up my couscous, two half-packages of soba noodles, a partial package of macaroni stars, and a cup and a half of random dried beans.  I found all the other ingredients (except for cilantro and green onions) in my fridge . . . further proof that a purge is required there as well. 

Couscous-star salad:  cucumber, feta, red onion, random types of olives, couscous, tiny macaroni stars, sun-dried tomatoes from a jar, olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, and cilantro.

Soba noodle salad:  soba noodles, Judy Fu's peanut sauce, garlic chili sauce, green onion, cilantro, and black sesame seeds.

Dinner:  borlotti and cargamanto cranberry beans with brown rice and Mexican toppings -- chopped lettuce, cheddar, salsa, plain yogurt, and hot sauce.

I think I should get bonus points for coming up with dessert . . .

This one uses up one of my containers of cocoa and whittles down my other staples.  It's a recipe my mom used to make a lot when we were kids -- I think my sister and I called it "hot water cake." In any case, it'll provide a good accompaniment to the vanilla ice cream dregs I found in the freezer.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
from my mother's kitchen

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs. cocoa, plus 1/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk (lowfat or nonfat is fine)
2 Tbs. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 3/4 cup super hot tap water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In an ungreased 9x9 pan (or 8x8), stir together flour, sugar, 2 Tbs. cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  When combined, stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla with a spatula or a fork.  Once it turns into a batter of sorts, mix in the nuts if you are including them.  Spread the batter in a thin, even layer in the pan.  Sprinkle the brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa evenly over the batter. Pour the hot water over the top (resist the urge to stir it in -- just let it sit on top). Bake for about 40 minutes, until it puffs up, the top looks done, and it's all bubbly around the sides.   Cool for 15 minutes (at least) before serving.


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