Simply Celebrate Life!
Wishing for love, long life and good luck!
Give me a reason to throw a party and I’m on it. I jumped in on this one first, because I LOVE Chinese food and second, because I will take every chance I can get to invite good luck, wealth, and posterity into my home! So turn on the music and take your friends and family on a Chinese adventure!
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is one of the oldest and most important festivals for the Chinese people. This upcoming Chinese New Year falls on January 23, 2012, and it is the year of the dragon. This celebration is a time for families to reunite, feast together and wish each other good fortune. The Spring festival is celebrated over a two week period. Families prepare for the new year by cleaning house, then pampering themselves with new clothes, a fresh haircut and then the focus is shifted to a FOOD Fest, our kinda party! So venture into the Orient and invite family and friends to welcome good luck and ring in the new year!
I couldn’t wait to share this party! Red, black and gold are such bold colors, the excitement just brought on an array of ideas! Most of the items I already had at home so my table palette was ready for some creative work! A gold charger enhanced our black and white square dishes. The great thing about having a dish and glass fanatic sister n law is that there is no need for me to go out and buy some when I can just raid her cabinets! Her white square bowls and black chopsticks with my dishes made the perfect pair!
Now I was having a hard time finding those Chinese gift envelopes! So, I made my own and hopefully I’m not criticized for my Chinese character art work! With a little red paper and gold glitter I think my envelopes turned out pretty good! So no excuses if those red gift envelopes are not easily available! I filled them with a few coins to share a bit of culture and good luck.
My flared red fan napkin and Chinese lantern imitation are my favorites besides the food. A simple red napkin folded accordion style seemed to complete the theme along with my DIY lanterns.
Center of the Table
These two lantern imitations became the center of attraction. Much thought went into buying lanterns just for this party, but when I get thinking, my thoughts lead me to think I can recreate just about anything and that part usually wins. In this case I was very pleased with the outcome. It was easy and very practical for my budget these days! I used a sheet of white 8×11 paper, drew horizontal and vertical lines(I glued with black ribbon) and placed over a drinking glass lit with a candle. A perfect yet simple way to set the tone.
DIY tissue balls have been pretty popular lately so once again my thoughts lead me to create these hanging red lanterns. I simply added some gold ribbon to hang from the bottom and resemble tassels. Pretty clever don’t you think!
Since my Chinese dishes became apart of my table decor I wanted to make them look fabulous and add an authentic beauty. So I made sure I used brightly colored vegetables and interestingly I found out that each food shared during this time has an auspicious meaning. Tables are laden with food, but also fortune. Many of the dishes are symbolic. So if you are anywhere near superstitious check out this website…. and find out exactly what you plan to serve and eat. I definitely made sure there was plenty of good luck, health, wealth and prosperity at our dinner table!
Appetizer – Fried Wontons with Sweet and Sour Sauce
This was a favorite. The children especially enjoyed this one, maybe because they looked like french fries and ketchup! Whatever the case they licked the plate clean!
Wonton package: Cut into thin stripes and deep fry until lightly crisp on each side.
Sweet n sour sauce store bought or check out my recipe below
Juice from one can of pineapple chunks
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Drops of red food coloring, optional
Mix together in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until bubbling. Reduce heat.
In cup combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Stir until smooth and add to small saucepan mixture Cook on low until mixture is thick and bubbly.
Delicious yet Symbolic Foods
Wonton Soup – Wealth and Heavenly Blessings
Egg rolls – Money, Wealth and Gold
Noodles – Longevity
Fried Rice – Proserity
Beef and Broccoli
Sweet and Sour Pork – Strength
Chinese Custard Tarts
These mini dessert cups were so cute and a big hit! I’m not the best pastry baker but these little things were easier than pie! Check out my recipe.
Sift 1 1/2 cups flour and 3 tablespoons sugar in bowl. Cut in 4 tablespoons softened butter and 2 tablespoons shortening until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add 2 tablespoons water and mix to form a dough ball. Knead for a few minutes, cover with plastic wrap and chill while you prepare the filling.
Beat 2 eggs and add 1/4 cup sugar. Gradually add 3/4 cup milk and 1/2 tsp nutmeg until well combined.
Save time and make the dough a day in advance!
Cut dough in half and roll out on a floured surface. Depending on how big your muffin tins are will depend on how big your circle will be. Cut out circles and press them into the tin muffin pans.
Spoon in the custard and cook in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes.
Let cool before removing from pan. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Can also be served with a dab of whip cream.
Dinner Drink – Tea
Our family favorite is Celestial Seasoning Tea! They have an array of flavors to choose from and decaffeinated too! We recently took a trip to Colorado and visited the Celestial Seasonings Tea factory. To our surprise the flavors were endless! Unfortunately anywhere out of Colorado the selection becomes minimal. However, we stocked up and enjoyed a nice pot of “Saphara”, a tropical blend of rooibos, citrus and coconut(add a little milk and honey and it’s amazing!) Not an orient original but a delicious just the same!
This tea pot was also a part of my table decor. Truly authentic and a great reason to dust it off and put it to good use!
Dessert Drink – Orange Martini Mocktail
I wanted a fancy drink idea to share with dessert so what better way to bring in the wealth (oranges are symbolic for wealth) than an Orange Martini Mocktail! Oh yes and this was another of Heidi’s cabinet raids!
In a blender combine the juice of 4 oranges, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups sparkling water(ginger-ale or 7up will work) and 2 cups crushed iced. Blend well and of course don’t forget to rim your glass with sugar tinted orange and a fancy orange slice ring!
These Chinese take out boxes were a Christmas clearance buy. I wasn’t sure what I was going to use them for at the time but they sure came in handy for this party! This was my way of saying “Thank You” to my guest for sharing an evening of fun and culture! I attached a fortune cookie and placed an orange inside symbolizing an abundance of wealth!