Chinese New Year Celebration: Recipes, Decorations and Gifts

By | Cooking, Crafts, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Soups | 7 Comments

Chinese New Year is on January 23rd. and according to the Chinese Five Element Astrology Calendar, 2012 is the Year of the Water Dragon. So we thought it would be fun to share some recipes, decorations and gift ideas with you all this week.

On Monday, we kicked it off with a delicious main dish that was perfect for this Chinese New Year Celebration, but easy enough for a weeknight dinner…Orange Mango Chicken. This dish is a must try…your family will love it!

Then yesterday, I shared the cute and oh so fun…Dragon Cupcakes. They were easy to make and could also be used for a child’s birthday party. Today we are sharing how we put the Chinese New Year Celebration together, complete with a fun project for the kiddos {or even you}, the Dragon Puppet. Everyone gets a surprise in the Party Favors, I’ll be sharing those tomorrow.

We found most of the decorations, except a few that I already had in my stash, at Factory Card Outlet. A simple red plastic tablecloth and gold metallic filler covered the buffet.

The red envelopes with gold on them {see them, laying on the buffet?}, I learned from Steamy Kitchen that the envelopes are for gifts for children. You want to add dollar bills, at least $2 and as much as you want, but always in even numbers, as happiness comes in pairs. I printed out and colored the Dragon Puppet, more on him later.

The little take-out boxes were filled with Fortune Cookies, chop sticks, a fan and napkins to match completed the decorations. I bought Chinese Yo-yos for the Party Favors, but they didn’t fit, so I just added them to the Buffet.

Chinese New Year Recipes

Orange Mango Chicken was not only delicious, it really brightened up the Buffet. Oranges, Mandarin Oranges and other fruit symbolize good health, good fortune and happiness and are an important part of a Chinese New Year Celebration.

We tried our hand at Wonton Soup, Doug even made the Wontons himself. They were pretty easy after we figured out the best way to fold them, Doug made a short video showing you how to make them. We are sharing the recipe over at Pocket Change Gourmet today.

And for a quick side dish, skewers with fresh veggies; broccoli, mushrooms, red peppers and leaf lettuce. The dipping sauce is Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and World Harbors Island Mango Marinade {extra leftover from the Orange Mango Chicken}. I displayed them on a bed of Chow Mein Noodles to add a little texture but also for snacking.

And, here is The Dragon Puppet. I found the pattern over at Craft Jr. and simply printed him out on cardstock paper and used my son’s Prisma colored pencils to color him. I love to color, it’s so relaxing! To make him into a puppet, I simply cut out the head and tail, added a strip of red construction paper about 1 1/2 inches wide, and glued on wooded skewers. And he’s sitting in a bowl with Fried Rice.

I think these would be a perfect activity for the kids to work on too. Even if it’s not for a Chinese New Year Celebration, it will keep them busy for quite awhile.

I’ll be sharing the details on the Party Favors tomorrow, so stay tuned for those. The drinks are orange juice mixed with Sprite, served in a wine glass and garnished with an candied orange slice on a skewer.

Update: Directions for the Party Favors

And for dessert…Dragon Cupcakes! I shared all the instructions on Cupcake Tuesday.

According to Feng Shui Forecast, “the year 2012 holds much promise and may be a major transition in your life. Whether it turns out extremely good, or really bad, will depend on how you ride the mighty Water Dragon!”

Hmmm…what do you think? I hope I can ride the Water Dragon well, so any transition in my life turns out good.

Be sure to come back tomorrow {Thursday} for a fun Chinese New Year Giveaway and the Party Favors!

Steamy Kitchen shares more traditional Chinese New Recipes and ideas, from 2011 and 2012.

Linking to…Transformation Thursday, Show & Tell Friday, Weekend Wrap Up Party, Saturday Night Special, Made by you Monday

Loaded Baked Potato Soup and Our Menu Plan

By | Cooking, Main Dishes, Menu Planning, Soups | 7 Comments

Our weather took a turn for the worse yesterday. After almost 50 degree days last week, I woke to big flakes of snow and below freezing temperatures again. Then came the freezing rain, more rain and a dark, dreary day. A perfect soup day!

I have been a HUGE fan of $5 Dinners for a couple years now. I pretty much stalk Erin and her awesome recipes! In fact, I regularly add at least 2 recipes from her blog to my Monthly Menu Plan.

Today I’m sharing Erin’s Twice-Baked, Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup recipe with you, but not from $5 Dinners Blog, but from her new cookbook…Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook. I was so excited when I received a copy in the mail, I want to try every…single…recipe!

I’m even more excited to offer a The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook to one lucky reader! ENTER HERE!!

All week long I will be celebrating my Blog Anniversary with you…my AWESOME readers!! I have some EXCITING Giveaways that you WON’T want to miss!


Loaded Baked Potato Soup

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 6 large or 8 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 bunch scallions {green onions}, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons flour, all-purpose
  • 6 cups milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, sharp {I use mild and colby blend, that\’s what I had on hand}
  • 4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • Sour Cream for garnish


  1. Directions for the Stove Top:
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes in 13×9 glass baking dish with about 1 cup water. Cover with aluminum foil and steam-bake for 45-50 minutes, or until fork tender. Cool and cut into chunks.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter or margarine. Add the white parts of the scallion or green onions and the crushed garlic, saute’ for 2-3 minutes. Add the baked potato chunks and saute’ for another 2-3 minutes. Reserve the green part of the scallions for garnish.
  4. Vigorously whisk the flour and milk into the sauteed vegetables. Let cook over high heat until the mixture bubbles and begins to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the shredded cheese. Let simnmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until desired consistency.
  5. To each serving, add a pinch of crumbled bacon, a pinch of the sliced scallion tops and a dollop of sour cream.
  6. Directions for the Crock Pot:
  7. Bake potatoes the same as directed above. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter or margarine, add the scallions and garlic, cook 2-3 minutes. gradually add flour and stir 1-2 minutes. Slowly add milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking after each addition until 1 1/2 cups have been added, then add the remainder of the milk. Cook, stirring occasionally until mixture bubbles.
  8. While milk mixture is cooking, cut potatoes into chunks and add to CrockPot. After the milk comes to a slight boil, remove from stove and carefully pour into CrockPot. Stir in cheese.
  9. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Serve as directed above.

Our Menu Plan

Monday ~ Roasted Chicken, Baked Potatoes

Tuesday ~  Asian Chicken Wraps {from $5 Dinners}, Rice

Wednesday ~ Tostadas, Spanish Rice

Thursday ~ Easy Baked Ziti, Garlic Bread, Salad

Friday ~ Chili Cheese Dogs, French Fries

Saturday ~ Chicken N’ Noodles, Mashed Potatoes, Corn

Sunday ~ Shanghai Wings and Oriental Noodles

Monday ~ Chili, Cornbread Muffins

Be sure to follow the button in my sidebar all week long for the Blog Anniversary Giveaways.

And don’t miss the $100 Visa Gift Card from Apartment Guide!

I’m linking to…Menu Plan Monday, $5 Dinner Challenge, Delicious Dishes, Made from Scratch, What’s on your Plate

Taco Soup Recipe

By | Cooking, Main Dishes, Menu Planning, Soups | 8 Comments

One of our favorite recipes to warm us up during the Fall and Winter is Taco Soup, it’s delicious and super quick…15 minutes on the stovetop using only one pan makes for a quick meal and clean-up.  Or if you like you can add all the ingredients to the Crockpot and let it simmer for a dinner ready when you are.

With a little crumble of tortilla chips, shredded cheese and a spoonful of sour cream to top it off it makes the best tasting meal to chase away the chills. This recipe makes enough for a hearty dinner and lunch the next day.


Taco Soup


  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 small Onion, chopped
  • 1 can (48 oz) Tomato Juice
  • 1/3 cup Sugar, a little less
  • 1 cup Frozen Corn
  • 1 package Taco Seasoning
  • 1 can Chili Beans


  1. Cook Ground Beef and Onion, drain. While Beef is cooking, add all ingredients to the crockpot.
  2. After the Beef and Onion are drained, add them to the crockpot. Simmer on low for 4 hrs or on high for 2 hrs.
  3. Serve with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese and sour cream.


Top 10 Favorite Super Bowl Food Recipes

By | Appetizers, Cooking, Soups | 2 Comments

Are you cooking for the Super Bowl? We love serving appetizers and treats at our get-togethers. I thought it would be fun to pull together a post of my Top 10 Favorite Super Bowl Food Recipes!


Mini Taco Cups

Sweet and Tangy Chicken Wings

Sausage Cheese Balls

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Loaded Baked Potato Skins


15 Minute Taco Soup

Cowboy Chili


Super Bowl Cupcakes

Twix Bars


Peanut Butter Swirl Bars

Need more Super Bowl Recipes? We have 50 for you!!

50 Super Bowl Recipes

12 Football Shaped Treats

Chicken Riddle Soup and Our Menu Plan

By | Cooking, Main Dishes, Menu Planning, Soups | 9 Comments

Well, are you surviving the weather? We had about a foot of snow last week, with more coming today and ice tomorrow. I can handle the snow…but ice, I hate!

Our menu plan went pretty well last week, except by Friday, I was just too tired to cook, so we ordered take-out.

Sunday morning I made a crockpot full of Sloppy Joes, two Lasangas, Sausage Breakfast Casserole, a batch of Cranberry Bread, Chocolate Chip and Snickerdoodle Cookies, and was done in about three hours. We had some good friends that had a death in the family, so I wanted to take them some meals and treats for the week. I just doubled everything, and we put some meals in the freezer for Doug and the boys while I’m gone to Blissdom.

I need to plan some time to cook like that more often, it really cuts down on time in the kitchen during the week. And it’s nice having the mess only once.

Today’s recipe comes from a Pampered Chef Cookbook…Kids in the Kitchen. There are so many cookbooks that I love, and just simply forget to use them. A couple weekends ago, we were heading out to buy Nick a new catchers mitt for baseball, and I wanted to fix a quick lunch before we left.

This made a ton of soup, there were 6 of us for lunch and we had plenty leftover for lunches during the week.


Chicken Riddle Soup


  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped medium
  • 3-5 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 packages Chicken Flavor Ramen Noodles {just the noodles, I didn’t use the seasoning packet}
  • Chicken {either a cut-up whole fryer, pieces of chicken or boneless skinless chicken, whatever you like to use}
  • 5 cups water


  1. Add water to large saucepan, add chicken, onion, celery, carrots, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper and boil on stove for about 30 minutes, depending on how large your chicken is. This will make a nice stock for the soup. Drain saving the liquid, and vegetables.
  2. Saute’ garlic in butter until slightly brown. Add the vegetables and saute’ slightly. Meanwhile, remove bones from chicken.
  3. Add stock {liquid} back into saucepan and bring to boil, add the vegetable and garlic mixture, chicken and noodles {be sure to break them up a bit} Boil for about 5 minutes.

Note: The recipe calls for using boneless skinless chicken and cooking it in oil, but I like the flavor of the broth when you boil the chicken. So I changed it up a bit. You could certainly use the boneless skinless chicken if you want.

Our Menu Plan…

Monday – Soup {Chicken Riddle Soup} and Sandwiches

Tuesday – Kung Pao Chicken {Barbara Bakes recipe}, Rice

Wednesday – Quesadillas, Chips & Salsa

Thursday – Baked Italian Chicken {$5 Dinners recipe}, Salad

Friday – Pizza

Saturday – Doug cooking for new series

Sunday – Chicken Marsala {GoodLife Eats recipe}, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Salad

Did you have a chance to check out the adorable Charm Necklaces and the Free Vista Print Calendar? HURRY, the Necklace deal ends tonight at midnight and the Free Calendar ends tomorrow (Tues) at midnight!

I’m linking to…Tempt My Tummy Tuesday,$5 Dinner Challenge, Menu Plan Monday, Mouthwatering Mondays, Delicious Dishes

Italian Sausage Soup and our Menu Plan

By | Cooking, Main Dishes, Menu Planning, Soups | 8 Comments

A couple weeks ago I told you about the Johnsonville Pastaville Italian Sausage Recipe Contest, and how they are offering cash prizes.

I decided to try my hand at creating a recipe using Johnsville Italian Sausage. This soup tasted really good, it was a little spicy for my taste, but Doug and the boys liked it.


Italian Sausage Soup


  • 1 pound Italian Sausage, cut into pieces and browned
  • 4 cups beef broth (canned or homemade is fine)
  • 1 can (14-15 oz) Italian-styled stewed Tomatoes
  • 1 can (14-15 oz) Northern Beans, undrained
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup green peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper


  1. Slice and brown Italian Sausage.
  2. Add all ingredients to crockpot and cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours.
  3. Serve with Italian Breadsticks. I found these at Walmart in the bakery, they are Italian Garlic and Herb, and are $3.00 for 12 breadsticks.

Our Menu Plan this week has a little change in it from when I posted our Monthly Menu, I will be going to New York City on Thursday and Friday for the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Holiday Bake-Off!! I’m beyond excited!!

Please stop by tomorrow, check out the amazing giveaway they are offering you and leave a comment!

I’m sharing a video of my #1 visited post and Holiday Bake-off entry!

Our Weekly Menu Plan:

Monday ~ Italian Sausage Soup and Breadsticks

Tuesday ~ Teriyaki Chicken (scroll down), Rice and Veggie

Wednesday~ Nick’s Birthday

Thursday ~ Beef & Bean Chimichangas (done, frozen from a double batch in Oct)

Friday ~ Eat Out (Mama in NYC)

Saturday ~ Appetizers and Baked Potatoes

Sunday ~ Doug’s Birthday

Don’t forget to enter the $50 Silhouette Supply Bundle Giveaway ending Wednesday!

Casey and I had fun creating a Texas Longhorns Tatoo for him…

I think next time we need to trim a little closer, but he was happy with how it turned out.

The tatoo paper for the Silhouette is really cool, and remember, you don’t have to own a Silhouette machine to use the supplies.

I’m linking to the Blog Parties in my footer, please visit them! You might just find one or two that are new to you!

Quick Recipes

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