A few years back, some friends and I got into a real Saturday night routine. We'd gather at someone's house, order Chinese food, and bring out the games — Settlers of Catan, Risk, Monopoly (old-school!), you name it. When the food arrived, we'd take a break and fill up our plates. I'm thinking it's time to bring back these Saturday game nights — but this time, I'll do the cooking!
Perhaps I'm biased, but I think Chinese take out is perfect fare for a night of board game action. It feels fun and casual — a break from our usual routine. The big plates and bowls of shared food also seem to go with the communal, convivial atmosphere of a friendly game night. As the main course, stir fries can be adapted for a few or for many, and they are easy to customize for a wide range of diets: vegans, folks who like meat, friends with food allergies. Prepping a lot of stir-fry ingredients and then firing batches at a time ensures that everyone gets exactly what they want.
Make It Happen:
Cooking this full spread makes the most sense if you're the one hosting the evening. If you have some friends who love to cook, you might ask them to bring the ingredients for the egg drop soup or the fortune cookies (with game night-themed fortunes in them, of course).
Making sure this meal comes together quickly so you don't miss out on the game fun is all about prepping everything ahead. Choose your stir fry ingredients and make sure they're chopped up into bite-sized pieces. Mix some a few of the sauces in jam jars, ready to be shaken and added to the pan. The rice will stay warm if you leave it covered on the back of the stove, or you can make in the morning and reheat it to serve. The stir fries themselves are ready in just a few minutes, so just wait until everyone is hungry and then set up a stir fry buffet on the kitchen counter.
Realistically, you'll probably want to choose just one or two of the appetizers: scallion pancakes, egg drop soup, or the dumplings. The pancakes can be prepped shortly before your friends arrived and then quickly cooked on the stovetop. The egg drop soup is ready in seconds and makes a nice appetizer for people to sip until dinnertime. If you're feeling drawn to the dumplings, make them several days ahead (or even months!), freeze them on baking sheets, and then gather them into a freezer container once solid. You can cook them while still frozen, but may need to add an extra minute or two to the cooking time.
Sound like a plan?! What do you like to serve your friends on game night?
(Images: See linked images)