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Each holiday I’ve tried to make it more special for my family by either doing crafts with the kids leading up to the celebration, going to a local festive event or involving them in the kitchen as we prepare to host.
Holidays are not only a wonderful time to gather, but a time to learn new things about what we are celebrating.
When I took my kids to the library the other day for story time, we noticed a large display highlighting Chinese New Year.
My daughter had many questions about it so we decided to borrow one of the children’s books to find out more.
It’s an adorable lift-the-flap book called “Dragon Dance” and it explains how kids and families celebrate Chinese New Year. After reading it, we were excited to plan our own feast.
Some quick facts about Chinese New Year:
- It’s a holiday that lasts 15 days and begins on the first day of the lunar new year
- 2016 is the year of the monkey which lasts from February 7 – February 13
- Families celebrate with fireworks or parades
- The color red is prominent and means good luck
- A big feast is typically eaten on New Year’s Eve
This was my first time creating a menu for a new holiday. The easy thing would be for me to order take-out, but we’re going for fun, not easy!
I’ll admit, I’ll take a shortcut if it’s available and that’s just what I did.
I headed to my local Walmart to pick up some Pagoda Express products. They had a great selection and we picked up quite a few.
I grabbed boxes of Chicken Potstickers, Chicken Eggrolls and Crab Rangoons. Pagoda products are made of 100% white meat chicken. Plus, there’s no MSG or artificial colors. (A wonderful alternative to take-out because you can’t be too sure about the restaurant’s ingredients.)
Once you get home, throw those boxes (OK, don’t throw them because you may break your dinner!), but situate them in your freezer and put on your apron.
You’re about to make your own Lo Mein! It seems intimidating, but I promise you can do it, and you may have some ingredients on hand.
This quick and easy Lo Mein will bring your Chinese New Year’s feast full circle and your family’s bellies will thank you for it. ?
Mom Tip: If you can, prep your vegetables the night before, that will take all of the work out of making this dish. Julienne your pepper, onion and carrot ahead of time and keep them fresh in an airtight container.
Also, if you buy pre-washed baby spinach and pre-sliced mushrooms, you can just dump that in your pan, as is, the night you make it.
- 8 ounces or half a box of Spaghetti
- 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
- 1 red or orange bell pepper, julienned
- 1 eight ounce carton of mushrooms, sliced
- 2 carrots, julienned
- 1 small onion cut in half, sliced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 8 ounces of baby spinach
- ¼ cup of your favorite Hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon water
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some salt to the water, cook Spaghetti to al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil in large skillet. Add carrots, peppers, onions and mushrooms (if using), and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until tender.
- To that, add crushed garlic and spinach. Stir mixture frequently until spinach incorporates and wilts.
- While that is cooking, mix ¼ cup of your favorite Hoisin sauce,1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce in a small bowl. Then, add it to your saute pan.
- Stir in Spaghetti to combine with vegetables and serve hot with your favorite Pagoda snacks.
You’ll notice that I used Spaghetti for the noodles. I chose it because it’s readily available and you won’t have to hunt it down in the supermarket.
Feel free to use Udon noodles or actual Lo Mein noodles. That would probably make it even better!
But, for those us that are short on time and only using ingredients in our pantry, Spaghetti will do just the trick.
Not only is this Lo Mein totally doable, it’s fast. I might add it to my dinner rotation even after Chinese New Year.
The price of Pagoda’s products just begs me to “take-in” instead of “take-out.”
If you want to try Pagoda products, head to Ibotta for a special coupon where you can get $.50 off 2 Pagoda products!
My favorite of all three that I tried was the Chicken Egg Roll. I cooked it both ways, too: in the microwave and in the oven. And I have to say, I was pleased with both.
Obviously, there is more crunch in the roll when it’s cooked in the oven, but I really don’t prefer one way over the other.
The sauce included was sweet, with a pinch of heat. My kids used the sauce for dipping and didn’t mention it being spicy at all!
What kind of vegetables do you like in your Lo Mein?