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Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!
Ok, I’m a little early because the Year of the Sheep doesn’t actually start until Thursday, but we have a big busy week ahead of us and with this nice three day weekend we got a head start on the festivities. Chinese New Year is a tricky holiday because if you go all out and do all of the traditions it can be a little overwhelming! Depending on how you celebrate, the new year can be a two week event complete with special themed days, elaborate decorations, and elaborate menus.
Being part Chinese, I grew up celebrating Chinese New Year, but now that I’m the mom of the house I like to do my own Americanized take on the holiday (think “Chinese New Year Lite”). We still follow some of the old traditions. We set out bowls of oranges with lai see, which are red paper envelopes that have a bit of money tucked inside for luck. We scrub the house and sweep the porch to get rid of last year and we start the new year fresh ourselves (meaning haircuts for everyone!).
We also make some of the traditional foods, including long noodles for longevity and sweet sauces for a sweet year. Realistically, though, making everything from scratch would be crazymaking with the two kiddos and the fact that my Chinese background is more Out for Dim Sum on Sundays than it is Roasting Chicken Feet in the Kitchen. So, we picked up Tai Pei® frozen appetizers from Walmart in order to easily prepare some of our favorite treats: egg rolls, spring rolls, and pot stickers.
The rich flavors Tai Pei® appetizers bring are very traditional and bring back childhood memories for me. I love that they make it easy to include chicken, pork, shrimp, and vegetarian options in our celebration without making me haul out every pan in the kitchen. The sweet dipping sauce is also a little addictive, especially with the salty crispiness and fresh vegetable taste of the spring rolls.
Even if you didn’t think you’d be celebrating Chinese New Year, it would be easy to throw together a midweek celebration using some crispyTai Pei® appetizers, the included dipping sauce, and a few other accents. Traditionally the colors for the new year are red and gold so we used a few dishes with gold accents to highlight the foods, piled citrus fruits and lai see (available at your local Chinese market) into our red pie plate, and sprinkled confetti hearts on the table.
The food alone is enough to bring friends together, but we also like to celebrate our American Chinese New Year by introducing our friends to their Chinese horoscopes (Kyle and I are both dogs, Eva is a bunny, and Cal is a snake) and we usually pop in an appropriate movie. Pre-kids that meant Blood Alley, the John Wayne movie my grandmother was in, but these days it’s usually Mulan or Big Bird Goes to China.
However you’re celebrating, have a happy new year!