Sporty Snacks

A Twist on 
Classic Appetizers

A good number of sports involve the use of a ball. In honor of the sports issue, I’m sharing two sphere-shaped snacks. These fun size appetizers will be a hit with any crowd. Each of these recipes makes 18 bites. My boys loved the chicken bites and had a hard time limiting themselves to three each. For a crowd, you may need to double or triple the batch. We do like it hot, so you may need to adjust the hot sauce if you prefer a tamer bite.

Cheese Bites

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped bacon pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
Pretzels or crackers for serving

1. Mix together cream cheese, cheddar, garlic powder and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Form into 18 small balls—a mini scoop works great—and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
2. In a shallow bowl, stir together bacon, chives and pecans.
3. Roll balls in coating mixture.

4. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.

5.  Before serving, let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and insert pretzel sticks.

Buffalo Chicken Bites

2 cups shredded chicken—rotisserie chicken works well
3 tablespoons hot sauce—I used Tapatio brand
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons ranch dressing
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cooking spray
Ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, hot sauce, cheese, chives and ranch. Roll into golf ball-sized balls. Refrigerate as you set up dredging station.
3. Use three shallow bowls, fill one with flour, one with the beaten eggs and the third with panko and pepper—mixing the two ingredients to combine. Dip each buffalo chicken ball in flour, then the egg, then the panko mixture. Set the balls about 1” apart on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Spritz buffalo chicken balls with cooking spray.
4. Bake 7 minutes, flip balls and respray with cooking spray. Bake 7 minutes more.

5. Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping.