Wow, this weekend totally flew by. Let’s see … a meeting at Nick’s school, a cub scout event, a trip to the movies to see Bride Wars (complete with a fire alarm and complete 10-theater evacuation), a decorating class at Pottery Barn, dinner out to celebrate my stepdaughter’s good report card and capping off the weekend with celebrating the Chinese New Year. Phew! I need to get back to work just so I can sit still for a few minutes.
Chinese New Year, and the Year of the Ox, officially kicked off on January 26th, but because we were away, we didn’t get a chance to celebrate it until today. Luckily Chinese New Year celebrations last for a full fifteen days, so we’re covered. Because the weekend was so busy, I was closerthanthis to calling for Chinese take-out to make it easier, but in the end, I decided to go with my original plan.
The menu? Garlic Noodles, General Tso’s Chicken and Happy Shrimp. How can you not love something called Happy Shrimp?
And now to deconstruct. I saw the Garlic Scallion Noodles recipe on Jaden’s wonderful Steamy Kitchen website awhile back and made a mental note to print it out. Both Madeline and I (and sometimes Nick) like Cold Sesame Noodles, so I thought this would be a nice alternative to try. And when it comes to Chinese New Year, eating noodles is a good thing – noodles are usually served at Chinese New Year’s celebrations to represent a lengthy life (and who doesn’t want that?!) and tradition says that the longer the noodle, the more good luck you’ll have. We all searched our plates to see who held the longest noodle. The recipe itself? A real winner. The Husband isn’t a fan of Chinese noodles in any form, and went back for seconds on this one. Incredibly easy to make and packed with simple flavors, it was a hit all around.
Next up is the General Tso’s Chicken. This is a tried-and-true recipe that I made a few years back, and it comes from Tyler Florence. My original write-up on it is here, and that post also includes a few pictures of Nick when he was three. I can’t believe he was ever that small – gosh it goes so fast! Although the recipe has a few steps to make the sauce, it’s still very simple and always a crowd pleaser.
And lastly the Happy Shrimp. Another recipe from Jaden’s site, I found this one today when I went to go see what suggestions she had for Chinese New Year menus. Loved, loved, loved this one. It suggests serving the shrimp over shredded lettuce, but since I had already come back from the store before finding the recipe, I ended up serving it over white rice. To make my rice a little stickier to keep it more in line with Chinese-style rice, I used a little less water when cooking it. Chinese-style rice is perfect for Madeline – nice and easy for her to pick up, since clumps stick together.
To say tonight was a good eatin’ night would be an understatement. Nick kept coming into the kitchen to see what I was making, wrinkling his nose after I told him each recipe, but when it came down to feasting on the final results, there was not one speck of leftovers to be had. Everyone went back for seconds, at the very least, and ahem, one even for thirds. Everything was absolutely perfect.
For table decorations, when I was at the Chinese grocery store today, I grabbed some of their free newspapers on my way out the door and used them to line the table. A lucky bamboo with information on the Year of the Ox sat in the center. Tradition holds that each child gets a lucky red envelope with an even amount of money in it as a small gift, so red envelopes were at the ready. I used white dinner plates and red napkins, since red is a very powerful color in Chinese culture.
Ever since I got a new camera, Nick has become more interested in taking pictures. I’ll catch him using the zoom and taking pictures at all sorts of different angles, and checking each picture on the screen until he is happy with what he shot. Normally I’d just include one picture of each dish here, but he took so many good ones that I included a few extra. He took every picture in this post himself except the last two. We just might have a budding photographer on our hands.
Happy Chinese New Year!