It’s the Big Game and you’re having a big party. Are you going to serve the same appetizers you’ve always served? Or this year, will you mix it up a bit and surprise your guests with some new offerings?

Of course, everyone has their comfort level and, when entertaining, you don’t want to wander too far off base with a dish that’s risky. If your crew loves your Mexican layered dip, and you walk in with duck liver pâté, you might get a chilly reception. (Don’t worry, you can bring the pâté to my house. The game will be on there, too!)

Even if you don’t want to wander too far astray, you can take familiar flavors and turn them into unfamiliar dishes. Buffalo Chicken Meatballs are a perfect example.

Wings may be the traditional application of the famous spicy/buttery Buffalo sauce, but wings can be messy to make (especially if you’re frying them) and certainly messy to eat. Not to worry, you can have your Buffalo chicken, sans the muss, fuss and bones, with this crowd-pleasing appetizer.

Ground chicken is combined with Buffalo sauce, onions, garlic, breadcrumbs and an egg before being formed into bite-sized meatballs and baked until golden brown. The cooked meatballs are then tossed in more Buffalo sauce, along with melted butter, and they’re ready to be dunked in an addictive, easy homemade blue cheese dressing.

The dressing is made with equal parts mayonnaise, sour cream and buttermilk. A little garlic, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a generous amount of crumbled blue cheese complete this flavorful dipping sauce. If you leave out the blue cheese and add some chopped chives or parsley, it magically transforms into ranch dressing. So if you have some blue cheese haters at your house, that’s your fix.

Want to take the idea a step further? Cut a baguette into 2-inch sections, split those in half crosswise, tuck a meatball or two inside, add a drizzle of the dressing and you now have Buffalo chicken sliders. Or, for your low-carb-loving pals, add some lettuce leaves on the platter and you’ve got Buffalo chicken lettuce wraps.

Not that there will be any leftovers, but if there are (who knows, miracles do happen here in Minnesota, even off the football field), you can add them to your favorite mac-and-cheese recipe. Garnish with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing and a little more Buffalo sauce and a new dish is born, one so good, combined with gooey cheese, creamy sauce and elbow macaroni, that it might be worth making the meatballs for that reason alone.

How ever you decide to serve them, be prepared to make them again. They may be an appetizing game-changer.


Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at Follow her on Twitter ­at