The Nation's Health + [recipe]

Smoked Gouda Squash Polenta and Was I Lost?

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

*First, a small confession... I may or may not have gone out run/walking this evening to avoid trick-or-treaters. Mainly because I didn't buy any candy and am not ready yet to be that "weird lady" who every kid avoids because she hands out fruit or trail mix. And let's be honest, I will be that lady some day. It's ok, I embrace it.

Has it really been almost three weeks since my last post?! Yikes. Where did I go, what was I doing? ...More on that later in this post.

Luckily for you all, I have one great recipe for you today. This recipe was sitting on my Pinterest board for months, just waiting to be made. In fact I actually bought a few groceries for it almost a month before actually getting around to make it. And and I am SO glad I finally did. Polenta has been on of those items that I never ate growing up (probably because I didn't know what polenta was until after I turned 20. Even then, I only saw it in those preformed logs at the grocery store... which didn't look particularly appealing. After having some real home made polenta, I knew I had to try to make it myself.

I found this recipe because: A. it's polenta and B. it has squash. I made a few tweaks of my own and viola - a dish I wanted to eat for every meal. I chose to use cornmeal instead of polenta and it turned out great.

Smoked Gouda Squash Polenta

1 (2 lb) butternut squash, seeded and quartered (peel before if you like)
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped (use a creative variety)
2/4 tsp dried sage
Salt and Pepper
6 c. water
2 c. cornmeal (or course cornmeal/polenta)
6 oz smoked Gouda, shredded
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F. Lay the squash on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil and roast for ~45 minutes or until tender. Transfer the squash to another dish and removed skin if you haven't already and mash coarsely (1.5-2 cups).

While the squash is baking, in a skillet, heat 1 T of olive oil. Add in the onion, sage, red pepper, and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown in color.

In a separate pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the cornmeal and 1 tsp of salt. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until tender and water is mostly absorbed (will make a thick porridge), ~35 minutes. Stir in the mashed squash, onion, pepper, Gouda, and 1/4 c Parmesan. Pour the hot polenta mixture into a foil or parchment lined baking dish (I like to use clay). Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

When ready for the final bake, sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese. Bake at 350F for 1 hour or until the top and sides are lightly browned and crisp (the center may still be liquid like). Let stand for 20 minutes before cutting.

This does not freeze well but is excellent eaten cold (refrigerator) the next day. Enjoy!!

What has been my excuse for no recipes and not even an even update? I wish I could say that I was off on some crazy fun adventure, but the reality is - I just didn't have an urge to make or cook anything for over a week. Ingrid, not cooking or baking? Something must be wrong (!) - I thought so too... even going so far as to see if I was running some kind of fever. The fact of the matter was that nothing even tasted good. I was practically living off oatmeal, soy milk, yogurt, and Kashi cereal... not a vegetable in sight.

Some kind of slump; I had to kick myself in the butt to get going and make something, ANYTHING, different. Lately I've made a few new items and really enjoyed them, but I'm still struggling with some foods that suddenly have no appeal. Spinach salad for example - I used to make spinach, edamame, raisin, cottage cheese salads almost everyday for lunch in grad school. Now, I can barely get down cottage cheese (bad experience with an off flavor) and spinach just hasn't been jumping out to me lately (even stopped eating it mid bite, and I can make myself choke down just about anything if it's healthy for me).

I have been out doing some exploring, but couldn't seem to get the photos downloaded off my camera. Not because the camera or memory card was corrupt, but I just didn't have the motivation (because for whatever reason 10 minutes is too much time out of my day... riiiiight). Although now that I have downloaded pictures, I realize I have more to share and write about!

I sure hope I'm out of this rut/slump soon! And back to my normally optimistic self.
Any suggestions?