You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m sort of obsessed with fall. Fruity baked desserts, hearty soups, colored leaves–it’s all great. But it’s not just my fondness for cinnamon spiked pumpkin bread that makes me love this season. Nope. When the air turns crisp and I slip on the first sweatshirt of the season, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t apple picking or pumpkin carving. It’s football. And not just any football, Ohio State Buckeye football.
I’m a big fan. And by “big” I don’t mean I wear an OSU sweatshirt on Saturdays and give high fives for touchdowns. No, I’m more of a jump up and down, bite my fingernails, scream, yell, tweet, and fist pump kind of fan. I was raised on Buckeye football. In fact, some of my fondest memories with my dad are of watching football together–him teaching me what a “down” was and explaining why being tackled behind that imaginary green line was a terrible, terrible thing.
For those of you who aren’t fans, I can tell you it’s been a rough year for Buckeye fans. I’ll admit, we’re pretty spoiled in Buckeye nation. If we’re not in the running for conference champs, we get all hot and bothered. But some pre-season scandals left us with a newbie head coach, a freshman quarterback, and some serious work to do. When we started the year off 4-3, I had to take some deep breaths and remind myself it was a building year.
Then there was last night. Unranked OSU vs. 15 Wisconsin. A night game. In the big house. Believe me, Buckeye fans still remember the night game last year when Wisconsin crushed our hopes for an undefeated season on their home turf. I dreamed of sweet revenge, though I knew in reality our chances were slim…or maybe not.
The Buckeye defense came out charged up and ready to work, and our rookie quarterback showed some serious composure running for two touchdowns and throwing a beautiful, off balance pass for the game winning touchdown in the final 30 seconds. But Wisconsin was tough, and they certainly didn’t make it easy. My heart rate is still accelerated from all the excitement. I’m sure games like this shave years off my life. It’s totally worth it.
In honor of the big win, I bring you Crispy Chicken Fire Balls. They have Sriracha sauce in them, which I’m totally obsessed with, and a fantastic crunchy coating that gives way to creamy, spicy, meaty centers. Served with some blue cheese for dipping, they make a perfect game day snack.
I promise I’ll be back to apples, pumpkins, truffles, and the sweeter sides of fall next week, but for now, I’m celebrating. Whip up a batch of Fire Balls and celebrate your own favorite team!
Crispy Chicken Fire Balls
Yield: about 16 balls
Recipe inspired by Sweet Pea’s Kitchen
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
2-3 Tablespoons Sriracha sauce (depending on how much heat you want)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions (I forgot these, and they were still great, but they add a nice flavor if you have them on hand)
3/4 cup flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3-4 cups coarsely crushed corn flakes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl mix together shredded chicken, sriracha sauce, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and green onion.
3. Shape mixture into 1 1/2 in round balls.
4. Put flour, eggs, and corn flakes in 3 separate shallow bowls. Roll each ball first in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the corn flakes.
5. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until corn flakes are crispy and golden. Serve immediately with blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping.