I love hosting game nights. Whether it’s a session of an RPG I’m running or simply an evening of playing awesome board games, it’s a lot of fun. Of course, like almost everything, gaming works up an appetite. So what kinds of game night foods can you serve?
There are some standard and stereotypical foods that go with gaming. Things like pizza, chips, Mountain Dew, and other junk foods. These are great. They’re easy to gather and people can munch on them throughout the night. Of course, they’re almost all a bit greasy or sticky. They also can get expensive if you’ve got guests with an appetite. And don’t forget that they’re called junk food for a reason. So what are some other options? Well, I’ve got two foods that are economical, really tasty, and moderately healthy that I like to serve at game nights.
Cheddar Chowder has become one of my favorite meals, period. It’s especially great for a group, especially in the cooler months that are coming up. What’s better on a nice snowy evening than board games and some steaming potato-cheese soup? I argue that there’s very little better. Cheddar chowder is perfect as one of your game night foods because it’s relatively inexpensive, it can feed a crowd when you double or triple the recipe, and it’s really tasty.
Here’s the recipe, in case you wondered.
2 Cups Boiling Water
2 Cups Peeled & Diced Potatoes
1/2 Cup Sliced Carrot
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1.5 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 Cup Margarine or Butter
1/4 Cup Flour
2 Cups Milk
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 Cups Crumbled Bacon
In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add potatoes, carrots, onion, salt, and black pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, then milk, and stir well until smooth and thick. Be sure it doesn’t boil. Add cheese to this sauce and stir until it melts. Add bacon to undrained vegetables. Add the sauce to the pan of vegetables. Heat through, being sure it doesn’t boil, and serve hot.
North Indian Chicken Curry
This meal is one I really enjoy, but it’s one that I rarely make unless we have company. That’s not because it isn’t exceptionally good, especially as one of my game night foods, but because it makes so much food! I know some people might read the word curry and say “Nope, not trying it.” For those people, just know it’s not the typical yellow or green curry you’re thinking of.
Once again, this is an inexpensive meal that goes a long way. It’s been a hit with almost everyone I’ve served it to, whether as one of my game night foods or just for fun.
Here’s the recipe, courtesy of the Food Network.
1 Whole Chicken, skin removed, cut into 12 or so pieces (We just use breast and thigh meat)
3 Tbsp Salt
3 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 Cup Ghee or Clarified Butter (We just use regular butter)
4 Cups Sliced Onion
3-4 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Minced Garlic
3 Tbsp Minced Ginger
2 Tbsp Minced Green Jalapeno Chili (We also leave this out)
1 Bay Leaf
2 Tbsp Garam Masala (There’s a bonus recipe for this below, or you might be able to just find some)
4 Cups Diced Tomatoes
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
4 Cups Potatoes in 2 inch Cubes
6 Cups Chicken Stock
Season Chicken with 1 Tbsp salt and 1 tsp Black Pepper. Set aside. In a large saucepan, heat the ghee/butter. Stir-fry the onions until glossy. Season with the remaining 2 Tbsp salt, 2 tsp Black Pepper, and Sugar. Continue to stir-fry until soft, but do not allow to burn.
Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno, bay leaf, and garam masala. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes until the spices bloom and become aromatic.
Add the reserved, seasoned chicken, tomatoes, tomato paste, potatoes, and 4 cups of chicken stock. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the mixture comes to a boil, lower it to a simmer and cook until the chicken is done (it should take around 30 minutes). Add more chicken stock as necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and sugar.
Sides and Bonus Recipes
Of course, as my wife has hammered into my head, a meal isn’t complete without some sides. Who knew? The same apparently goes for game night foods. So, to help round out your meals, here are the recipes for the Garam Masala (used in the curry) and a couple of delicious breads.
Garam Masala is a spice mix that is super tasty and makes the North Indian Chicken Curry what it is. I’d recommend going a bit lighter on the hotter bits unless you want your head to be on fire.
1 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
1/2 Tbsp Whole Cloves
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp Cardamom Seeds
3 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
3 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
4 Cinnamon Sticks
1/4 Cup Dried Red Chiles
1/2 Tbsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1/2 Cup Turmeric
In a large saute pan, combine the black peppercorns, cloves, cardamom seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, and dried red chiles. Over medium heat, cook just until slightly toasted, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and stir in the grated nutmeg and turmeric.
Transfer to a food processor and grind to a fine powder. Pass through a fine strainer. Allow to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. Use as needed.
This is a great, and surprisingly simple bread to make. We have it every time I make North Indian Chicken Curry as one of my game night foods. We got this recipe courtesy of Genius Kitchen.
4 Cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
2 Cups plain low-fat yogurt
Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the yogurt until the dough is too stiff for a spoon, then knead it in the bowl until it holds together well, adding more flour if necessary.
Turn it out on a floured surface and continue kneading for about 5 minutes, until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, covered with a towel, to rest for an hour or longer.
Take the dough out and cut it into 10 equal pieces. Form each in to a ball and press flat into discs. Heat a large frying pan or griddle, either seasoned cast iron or one with a good non-stick finish. Heat your oven to 500 degrees or have the boiler on (or both).
Take a piece of dough and roll it out, on a floured surface, until it’s about 8-10 inches across and less than 1/4 inch thick. Lay it on the griddle and cook it over medium head for about 4-5 minutes. It should puff up all over and there should be some dark spots on the bottom.
Slide a spatula under the naan and transfer it to the oven, directly on the rack for a minute or two. It should finish puffing up into a balloon and begin to color lightly on top.
Remove the naan from the oven and brush it lightly with butter, placing it in a napkin-lined basket.
Copycat Rosemary Bread
If you’ve ever been to the Macaroni Grill, you know their bread is awesome. It also goes exceptionally well with Cheddar Chowder. My wife and I managed to find a copycat recipe that we now make every time we have Cheddar Chowder. It’s a perfect compliment as one of your game night foods. Recipe is courtesy of Hungry Hungry Highness.
2 packets (1.5 Tbsp) active dry yeast
1 Cup Warm Water
1/4 tsp Sugar
1.5 tsp Salt
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2.75 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp mixed Oregano, Basil, and Garlic Powder (equal parts of each to total 1/2 tsp)
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1.5 tsp Fresh Rosemary
Combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir it gently with a spoon to incorporate. Let it sit and rise for 5 minutes.
Add the salt, olive oil, and 1 cup of flour. Mix for about 1 minute on a low setting. Change to the bread hook attachment.
Add the remaining flour, 1/2 Cup at a time. Once all the flour is incorporated, let your bread hook knead on high in the mixer for 5-7 minutes.
While the mixer is working, chop up the rosemary. Mix with the herbs and pepper, then add to the bread dough.
Thoroughly wet a clean kitchen rag and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to heat it. Place this over the bowl and let the dough rise for 40 minutes, or until it’s doubled in size.
Divide the dough in half and place the two balls of dough on a greased cookie sheet or baking stone sprayed with a bit of olive oil.
Beat the egg and brush it on top of the two dough balls.
Heat the oven to 175 degrees. Place the loaves in the oven and leave them there for 15 minutes to double in size.
With the loaves still in the oven, turn the oven up to 375 degrees. From the time you turn the oven up, it should take 20-25 minutes for the loaves to bake.
Take the loaves out when they have a nice golden color to the crust. Brush butter on each loaf and sprinkle with sea salt.
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