Blizzard-Shmizzard! It’s time to cook!

picture taken by SM Traphagen
picture taken by SM Traphagen

So it’s a blizzard outside. 40 mile an hour sustained winds, -28 degrees, and over a foot of snow…….so what! Come on guys it’s WNY! We got this- right?

We may be stuck in our houses but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun. Instead of staring out the window, wondering when the weather will break, or what would happen if you dare touch metal with your lips out of sheer boredom (ralphy may not be around to save the day), may I suggest you take advantage of all the great ingredients WNY has to offer and make a fabulous meal today!

Yes it is true that WNY is still working it’s way up the cultural food map, and we are making very impressive progress, but there is still much to learn about the types and styles of food our area has to offer.  With such foods as smoked sausage, sponge candies, pierogi’s, Chevetta’s, Sahlen’s meats, Beef on Weck and the delicious treats of polish Bakery Chrusciki’s; there are ample ideas to arm yourself with a variety of menu choices right out of your own home. Now there is one catch- you need to prepare a little in advance. If there is one thing my mother always taught me it’s to “have your cupboards stocked with the basics”. Things like chicken stock, chicken broth, frozen spinach, peas and brussel sprouts, onions, garlic, olive oil, beans (cannolini)bread crumbs, butter, pastas, and (for me) Pomi for making sauces.  You can make almost anything with just the basics.

Weck rolls, and some great roast beef stocked in your fridge can set you up nicely for some Beef on Weck at lunch time. Or turn your  drab healthy rice dish into a wonderful colorful Quinoa and spinach side. Gluten Free Goddess, Karina, shares a great recipe for gluten free meatballs:

1 small to medium sweet onion
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled, cut in half
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into several pieces
1 pound of organic grass fed ground beef or buffalo- either works
1 pound of organic ground pork
1/2 cup Annie’s Naturals or Muir Glen Organic Ketchup
1 tablespoon organic molasses (this helps bind the mixture)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 to 1/2 cup gluten-free herbed bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (my secret ingredient)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Dash of red pepper flakes, for heat, if desired
Olive oil, as needed
Instructions:Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toss the onion, garlic and carrot pieces into a food processor and pulse until the texture is very finely diced. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, briefly stir together the ground beef and pork. Add in the processed onion, garlic and carrot mixture, ketchup, molasses, balsamic vinegar, parsley, gluten-free bread crumbs, sea salt and pepper flakes. Mix gently to combine. Try not to over-mix (over-mixing makes a dense meatball).
Rub a little olive oil on your hands and form the meatball mixture into balls (roughly the size of golf balls). Place them on the lined baking sheet. You should end up with about 20-24 balls.
Bake the meatballs in the center of the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until done (no longer pink in the center). Note: Smaller meatballs cook faster, so if your meatballs are smaller, check them at 20 minutes. If you make ginormous balls, Darling, they’ll take longer to cook through. Adjust baking times accordingly.
You could also fry the meatballs in a large skillet, using olive oil as well. But to be creative- take your gluten free meatballs, and while still mixing the meat and bread crumb mixture, throw a little chiavetta’s sweet BBQ sauce into the mixture for a great tasting meatball app.
Have some chicken legs lying in the freezer? Turn them into succulent roast chicken legs with a Weber’s hot mustard and tangy honey glaze.
There are so many options and great ingredients right in our own snow covered back yard. I guarantee that if you poked around your cabinets, you’d find that you have some of these items just waiting to be used. So while your sitting by your fireplace contemplating the weather- try making it a WNY kind of day; there really is no other way!
And for a great podcast check out my pal Donnie’s Eat up Episode on Buffalo
Stay warm and stay cooking!




Published by smtraphagen

SM Traphagen is a writer and novelist. Her works have appeared on, Accounting Today Magazine, St. Reds Magazine, The Culture-ist Magazine, Buffalo Healthy Living Magazine, among others. With a fiction novel written, the hope is to expand the world of fiction in fun and creative ways. Her love of writing fiction and food have culminated in a website that blends the two, including Digestion Suggestion and Untold Shorties.

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