Like buffalo chicken? Try these meatballs

One of the best things about going to summer picnics and parties is sampling a variety of new dishes.

While a potato or macaroni salad is always a welcome addition to any party spread, I like to try new things.

Buffalo chicken dip has become almost as traditional a picnic food as those standard salads.

At one party this summer, we were treated to a new version of that popular dip, buffalo chicken meatballs. And I loved them. (Thanks, Joey.)

Aside from being a lot less messy than buffalo chicken dip or wings, these meatballs are perfectly sized portions. Just spear them with a toothpick and you have all the flavors of a buffalo chicken wing or dip plus you have clean hands and haven't dripped anything on your shirt either.

When I asked Joey about the recipe, he said, "Oh, I just found it online."

Even when I find a recipe online myself that sounds interesting and it might even have good reviews it's better to know the cook than just to rely on a review.

Sometimes, even when a cook writes a review it just might read something like, "Oh, this recipe was just great and everyone loved it."

Then, the review goes on, "I only added this, and used less of that, substituted this for that, etc."

I looked for a buffalo chicken meatball recipe online, not only did I find it; I found dozens of versions of it.

These meatballs have also been featured on just about every TV show you could think of: Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart, The Today Show, The Chew and The Food Network. Guess I don't watch enough television.

Even though I have a huge library of cookbooks, a great collection of magazines and a pretty well-organized recipe file box, I often find myself just looking online for recipes.

It's not just laziness, it's quicker. But I hate the idea of getting rid of either my cookbooks or magazines.

I wonder what Marie Kondo (the popular Japanese woman who has made "tidying up" so trendy) would think.

Her advice for cleaning up clutter is to hold an object in your hand and ask yourself, "Does this (book, sweater, kitchen tool) bring you joy?" If the answer is no, toss it.

Usually my answer is something like, "Maybe, a little."

So, for a while longer anyhow, I'm keeping my books.

I'm also keeping a copy of this recipe I printed. It is filed, logically, under appetizers, and I'll be making it again soon. It brings me joy.

Buffalo chicken meatballs

Makes about two dozen

1 pound ground chicken

cup panko (or plain) breadcrumbs

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 small carrot, finely grated

1 stick celery, minced

2 green onions, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

teaspoon paprika

teaspoon kosher sea salt

teaspoon ground black pepper

? cup Frank's hot sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)

3 tablespoons blue cheese or ranch dressing (for optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a standard size baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, panko and egg. Allow the panko to soak in the egg for five minutes.

Add the carrot, celery, green onion, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Using your clean hands, mix together just until combined.

Using a spoon or a standard size cookie scoop, shape into firm meatballs and place onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake meatballs for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through (internal temperature of 160 degrees F.)

Remove from the oven, place the meatballs in a bowl, add the buffalo sauce and gently toss to combine.

Serve immediately, drizzled with dressing and extra green onion, if you want. (Or you can transfer the cooked and sauced meatballs to a slow cooker and keep warm.)n

(Wolbert is a former corporate communicator and English teacher, now indulging in her two loves, writing and cooking. She can be reached at rdwolbert@gmail.com or at her Sprigs of Rosemary Facebook page.)