Game night!!! When these 2 words are uttered in my house, someone I know gets way too excited! His name rhymes with Tason. And let me clarify we are not talking video games or social silly games like Apples to Apples or Catchphrase, we are talking strategy board games. The hubs grew up playing games. From the moment he was old enough to count and add, he was playing card games with his brother and Uncle. For him games hold a sentimental value. I love that 🙂
I, however, did not grow up playing games. The only types of games I played were tennis, sports, hangman during long car trips and the occasional Uno. Growing up in warmer climates, my sister and I were not inside much and instead were always outside running, swimming, playing tennis (this was 70% of my childhood) and simply goofing around. Nowadays I will enjoy the occasional Wits and Wagers or Pictionary but the thinking strategy games are just not for me. Using my brain during games sounds exhausting 😉
So when I moved to the Midwest and was welcomed into this new family tradition, it was a bit tough. I am downright TERRIBLE at strategy games. Ask anyone who has ever played with me… literally THE WORSE. I am also HORRIBLE at math which doesn’t help. While Jason and I dated I tried really hard to play and enjoy it, but that did not go well. Instead we came to an unspoken agreement, the hubs kicks butt at games while I either cook/bake, relax with a magazine or these days, hangout with baby Poppy.
This works for us. It really does. I support my hubs in his gaming glory and he respects my need to sit out and be more of a cheerleader than an active player.
Recently we hosted a game night with my sis in law and her boyfriend! And although I did not take part in the gaming, I was head chef in the kitchen along with my tiny sous chef. I love low-key social gatherings like this where guests are having fun focusing on something else while I am whipping up some kitchen creations. My goal is not to make something super fancy or overly complicated, but wow them with a well executed classic meal.
For this game night, I went really simply and comforting classic: Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sticks. And let me tell you, it was the perfect meal for the occasion. Cooking with a 4 month old is a bit tricky to say the least, so finding recipes that are fuss free with little prep or chopping involved is the way to go. Also since the family was busy playing games, I wanted to serve up something that was easy and quick to eat vs a drawn out dinner.
For this tomato soup, all you need are: onion, carrots, high quality whole canned tomatoes, heavy cream and a little tomato paste. That’s it! 5 main ingredients, the rest you probably already have in your pantry! I spent a whopping $10! And trust me it taste better than any bowl of tomato soup you can get at a restaurant.
To dip into the tomato goodness, I made grilled cheese sticks. Essentially just gooey grilled cheese sandwiches cut into sticks for easy fun dipping.
Simple, classic and homemade. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Oh and of course we had some sweets… Salted Chocolate Chip cookies. These are KILLER! It’s hard not to eat a whole plate by yourself.
Next time you are in a gaming mood and need a belly warming easy meal, try this tomato soup and grilled cheese sticks. Your gaming friends will want to keep coming back to play games at you place 🙂
Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sticks
Serves 6 bowls, 8 cups
Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sticks is an easy, wholesome, inexpensive dinner whether you are hosting a game night with friends or simply cooking up an easy meal on a hectic night. In 40 minutes and with 7 ingredients you can serve up to 8 or make it for a small group and freeze the rest for a rainy day.
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 3 whole large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cans (28 oz.) whole peeled tomato cans
- 16 oz. vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup Heavy Cream, feel free to add more if you want it creamier
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (a little parsley works too)
In a large pot, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat, then add onion, garlic, and carrots. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir it in, cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Add canned tomatoes with their juice, broth, and water. Stir everything and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Let the soup cool and and puree it in a blender. Try to leave a little texture when blending. I like to do a few pulses in my Blendtec. If you have an immersion blender you do not need to let it cool and can puree it direction in the pot. Return soup to the pot and add cream, salt, pepper, basil. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Serves 6 (1 grilled cheese sandwich/3 sticks per person)
- 6 slices Colby Jack cheese
- 6 slices of mild cheddar cheese
- 12 slices white bread (I used Cottage bread)
Preheat the griddle to medium heat. You can use a skillet as well, but a griddle will heat more evenly and allow you crank out the sandwiches a bit quicker. I made all 6 on the griddle.
Place 1 slice of Colby Jack and 1 slice of the mild cheddar on 6 pieces of bread. Close the sandwiches and butter both sides. Make sure the entire outer sandwich side is buttered.
Place on the hot griddle. Let the sandwiches get a nice golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the sandwiches and cook until the cheese is melted and the other side is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
Let the sandwiches cool for 2 minutes and then slice into 3 sticks (I used a pizza cutter).
Serve soup in small bowls or large mugs alongside a bit platter of the grilled cheese sticks. If you have a very hungry crowd, simply make more grilled cheeses 🙂
Have fun eating your soup with grilled cheese spoons.
Note: This recipe can be doubled. Also make sure to save your leftover soup. Either a week in the fridge or a few months in the freezer. This makes the perfect rainy day lunch or dinner.