Greetings and hello from the lovely planet Venus, where it’s cloudy and rains all the time. For our purposes, Venus is also known as Michigan.
For this month’s Foodbuzz 24×24 event, I hosted a Game Night — that’s with a capital G and N — and made oodles of easy-on-the-expensive-games snacks. I’m here to show you just how easy it is to have people over and serve amazing finger foods like tropical trail mix (above), asparagus frittata bites, blueberry-vanilla goat cheese on polenta dolce, cantonese roasted vegetables, and much, much more!
Err…just try not to make these foods all at once. These dishes dirtied themselves for your benefit in testing all the recipes out. I wouldn’t recommending doing this all at once!
At the end of this post you’re also getting the easiest recipe of them all: tropical trail mix.
planning board game night snacks
1. First of all, people aren’t picky. If you put out grub, they’re going to be happy. Chips and thick dips work for game night, as long as your guests aren’t clumsy Neanderthals. So do trail mixes of all kinds. Right here with step number one you’ve got savory and sweet already covered. But that’s just too easy. Keep reading if you want to get all fancy like.
2. Serve real food in bite size portions that can be skewered with a toothpick. You don’t want grubby hands mucking up your copy of Settlers of Catan hexes, do you? Well, I would, but then, I hate Settlers.
See that asparagus frittata there? It’s nice and dry and in little pieces.
3. Someone, let’s just call him He Who Shall Not Be Named, thought chocolate covered strawberries would be a good idea. After making them, Zach — er, He Who Shall Not Be Named — pointed out they were a bad idea, due to juiciness and instant garbage made by not eating the leaves. We ate the strawberries anyway, of course (duh!), but they weren’t allowed near the Dominion table.
4. All parties need an ice bucket and drink station. We can’t have the host sneaking drinks, now, can we?
“let” your guests bring food
5. Make sure your guests know you’re doing them a big favor by letting them slave away for you. They’ll be happy to bring things like really yummy seven layer dip with avocados on top instead of guacamole. Resist the urge to cackle evilly at your brilliance until you’ve ushered them out the door later.
6. Soft cookies > crunchy cookies when it comes to game night. Crunchy cookies will splatter crumbs all over your precious pieces and cards! Soft cookies hold their shape.
I was this close to making bite size cookies. But I didn’t. Instead I “let” Debi bring these cookies (as well as the dip above).
7. You can still be seasonal! This asparagus tart Linda brought, as well as the frittata bites above, have asparagus from my patch in them. Awesome!
8. Cut vegetables a bit bigger than bite size, and roast in flavory stuff. They’ll shrink to bite size and people can eat with toothpicks. See, these began bite size, so they got a bit small to be eating like that, but you know what? We soldiered on and still did!
9. Use timesavers, aka pre-made foods like hummus or polenta. Look at this. Blueberry-vanilla goat cheese. Sam’s had it in one-pound packages marked down to $4.81. I bought some prepared polenta — well, it was called something like “Billy Bob’s Corn Mush” — and cut it about one-quarter inch thick and fried it, then sprinkled some sugar on it.
OH. MY. GODS. These polenta slices were like fair food. Fair food, I tell you. And the goat cheese was just creamy, slightly sweet and slightly tangy and loads of blueberry-infused flavor smeared on top.
10. “Let” guests style your food for you. Debi arranged these strawberries, cheeses and wine. And did a great job! I might even “let” her do it as much as she wants in the future!
this is why we can’t have nice things
Bad Fang! Bad!
break out the skeezy cheeses and spicy mixes
I lied. Only one of these cheeses was skeezy. But I’m not the most adventurous cheeseophile. Linda picked them up at Whole Foods in Ann Arbor. That speckled one? That has mustard seeds in it. If you can imagine a mustard cheese, that is it. *Homer Simpson drooling noises*
There are also two goudas, a manchego, and one or two others I can’t recall.
Debi and Andy also brought this wasabi trail mix. More spiciness!
get down to business and play games
Armed with plates of relatively clean finger food and drinks of our choice, we settled in for some Serious Gaming. The cards in this game, Dominion, go through constant use and lots of shuffling, so we’ve already sleeved them in protective clear plastic.
No, I am not crazy. Every Dominion owner does this. Really. Trust me.
We got two games in, with a break in between for even more snacks, and I didn’t win either time! Take that, all you people who gang up on me saying I win all the time. I didn’t win.
list of the finger foods
Here are the finger foods I served at game night. I went overboard for purposes of this post, and recommend making one, maybe two max of the cooked items so you can spend more time relaxing instead of working and cleaning up!
• tropical trail mix
• roasted vegetables – cooked
• asparagus frittata bites – cooked
• roasted tofu cubes – cooked
• hummus and pita chips
• polenta crostini with blueberry-vanilla goat cheese — polenta was store bought but still cooked (fried)
• chocolate-covered strawberries – not a clean finger food after all!
• bread and cheese
Mini anything works too. I debated making mini pizzas, mini cookies, even quesadilla bites.
tropical trail mix recipe
Make this with unsalted nuts to keep guests’ hands clean. I’m a salt fiend and didn’t miss it. You can find unsweetened coconut flakes at natural/health food stores.
2 cups unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1 cup M&Ms
½ cup unsweetened coconut
½ cup banana chips
¼ cup Craisins®
Crumble banana chips in hand to approximately bite-sized pieces. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and store until serving.