chinese new year party

Hosting a Chinese New Year-themed Superbowl party was a little ambitious. And maybe, just maybe, overkill for our small party of five. But you know what? Sometimes it’s fun to go overboard!

[If you’re just now joining us, I’ve wanted to learn how to cook Chinese food, I love themed parties, and the Chinese New Year took place just days before this year’s Superbowl.]

I researched a lot of different decoration ideas, but I didn’t want to get too crazy for what was basically a dinner party. Eventually, I decided to go with red and gold balloons, some paper lanterns (which my daughter thought were from the movie, Tangled), a red tablecloth, and red and white paper goods. I forgot to order Chinese paper placemats like I originally planned, but I did wrap red plastic flatware in a napkin and tied it with some gold ribbon. Then I used some red takeout boxes to hold the flatware and napkins, crackers, and – of course – fortune cookies.

party decorations

Knowing my tendency to let my party planning get out of control, I tried to keep the menu simple. I planned three appetizers, two main dishes and dessert.

Then . . . I decided to add some carrots to the appetizer course, just in case we needed something a little less salty. And then . . . I saw the cutest dessert idea in the HyVee sale paper: chocolate-covered strawberries decorated to look like footballs. Of course I had to make those, too!

chocolate-covered strawberries

See how cute they are? Well, except for that smudge. I’m not really what you’d call an icing expert. Now, on to the rest of my menu . . .

My appetizers were bacon-wrapped smokies, baked crab rangoon, chunky cheese dip and carrots. (I don’t like celery, so I didn’t think it was necessary to pretend just so we had a balanced veggie plate.) The bacon-wrapped smokies were unbelievable, although slightly overcooked. That’s what happens when you try to do too many things in the kitchen at once.

Or so I’ve heard.

[If you like bacon, make these bacon-wrapped little smokies. Making them is messy, but it is so worth it. And coming from me – who HATES getting messy – that’s something. These are SO good!]

The dip was just fine, and I even went back to the store to get Mark’s favorite crackers (Club crackers, though I prefer Wheat Thins!). And the carrots were . . . carrots. The crab rangoon, though? Not so good.

I LOVE crab rangoon. It’s my favorite part of Chinese food, and I was so excited to make it at home. Allison has a recipe for baked crab rangoon that looked delicious – and easy. It seems it was not easy enough for me, though.

I couldn’t find the wonton wrappers in my grocery store, so I subbed in mini phyllo crusts. Then I moved onto finding crab. Or, I should say, imitation crab. I don’t like seafood, so I was completely lost. And holding my breath. That fish department stinks! I bought some fake crab, though, and thought I was on my way. I don’t know. My friends said they were good, but I didn’t like them at all. Possibly because cutting up crab legs (I mean, flaking the crab meat, the fake crab meat) grossed me out.

Long story not short at all: I will not be making crab rangoon again. I will order it from the Chinese restaurant down the road and bring it home.

What worked GREAT was the beef skewers. Mark spent way too much on a piece of meat, but the marinade was so tasty I [temporarily] forgot about that. [You can probably expect to see my full take on the recipe on a Monday sometime soon!]

The General Tso’s chicken worked out . . . kind of. I used way too much red pepper flakes, but if you could get past the crazy heat (which, sadly, most of us could not), it was delicious. I’ll definitely make it again . . . sans the too-spicy red pepper.

The dessert was delicious. After all, what can go wrong with Oreos? And, well, we needed something super sweet after the super spicy chicken!

All in all, I have to say that a Chinese-themed Superbowl party works for me (linked up to Works for Me Wednesday). What’s working for you this week?

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