Happy Chinese New Year! It is the Year of the Horse. People who are born under this sign are said to be cheerful, be skillful with money, and are very perceptive. They are said to be independent and may not listen to advice. They are thought to be wise, have many talents, are good with their hands, and like entertainment and large crowds.

Happy Chinese New Year! It is the Year of the Horse. People who are born under this sign are said to be cheerful, be skillful with money, and are very perceptive. They are said to be independent and may not listen to advice. They are thought to be wise, have many talents, are good with their hands, and like entertainment and large crowds.

To make a Chinese dinner menu easy, purchase the egg rolls at the local Chinese restaurant. If store-bought soup is desired try the house special, egg drop wonton soup or hot pot soup, if they have it. An appetizer, soup, vegetable dish, fried rice, and an entrée will make a pleasant dinner. A simple dessert may be added — ice cream with pineapple chunks goes very well with Chinese food.

You may already have Chinese five spice in your pantry; now is the time to use it again. Many of these recipes use that spice, if you don’t have it just use a combination of cinnamon, anise, ginger, clove powder and licorice root for the seasoning, or any combination of these.



Carrots, Ginger and Pot Sticker Soup

Serves 4-6

8     cups low sodium chicken broth

1     teaspoon sesame seed oil

½     inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into small matchsticks

16    ounce package of frozen pot stickers

4     medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into coins

1     cup frozen green peas

8     ounces shitake or white button mushrooms, sliced

1     jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced (Optional)

In a large saucepan bring chicken broth, ginger, sesame seed oil, and jalapeno (Optional) to a boil. Add pot stickers and carrots; simmer until carrots are just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add peas and mushrooms, gently stir to mix, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot.


Oven Baked Chinese Spare Ribs

Serves 6

2     racks loin baby back ribs ( 5 to 5 ½ pounds)

¼     cup brown sugar, packed

2     tablespoons garlic powder

½     teaspoon ground black pepper

1     tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder

½     teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of salt

½     cup hoisin sauce

2     tablespoons molasses

1     tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce

1     tablespoon rice vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut ribs into serving-size pieces. Set aside.

In a bowl stir together brown sugar, garlic powder, pepper, Chinese five-spice powder, ginger, and salt.

Brush meaty sides of ribs with spice mixture and pat into ribs to adhere to meat. Place ribs, meat side up in a large shallow roasting pan. Bake, covered for 1-hour. Carefully drain off fat.

In a small bowl stir together hoisin sauce, molasses, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Spoon mixture evenly over ribs. Bake ribs, uncovered, for 40 to 60 minutes more or until ribs are tender.


Bok Choy Asian Slaw

4     cups bok choy, finely shredded

3     large carrots, peeled and shredded, about 1-cup

¼     cup rice vinegar

1     tablespoon canola oil

1-2    teaspoons granulated sugar

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl combine bok choy and carrots.

In a bowl stir together vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle this mixture over vegetable mixture, toss and serve.


Stir Fried Green Beans

Serves 4.

2     tablespoons canola oil

3     cloves garlic, finely chopped

¾     pound green beans, trimmed

Kosher salt

1     tablespoon lemon juice

In a large skillet heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add green beans and some Kosher salt, to taste, gently stir. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until green beans are tender and browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.


Pork Fried Rice

Serves 4

1     egg, lightly beaten

½     pound boneless, center-cut pork chops, fat trimmed and cut into ¼-inch strips

2     teaspoons canola oil

1     tablespoon canola oil

4     scallions, trimmed and sliced, light parts only

1 ½   cups dry white rice, cooked according to package directions

1     cup frozen peas, thawed

¼     cup low-sodium soy sauce, use more if needed

2     teaspoons sesame oil

In a 12-inch skillet heat 2-teaspoons canola oil over medium heat. Add beaten egg and let cook, undisturbed for 1-minute. With a pancake turner flip egg over and cook an additional 30 seconds, until cooked through. Move to a cutting board and cut into 2 x ½ -inch strips. Set aside.

Increase heat under skillet to medium high and add 1-tablespoon canola oil and pork strips, stirring occasionally. Cook 3 minutes, until no longer pink, add scallions, rice, and peas. Cover with a sheet of foil and cook another 2-minutes. Fold in cooked egg, soy sauce, and sesame oil and heat through. Serve hot.


Chinese Five Spice Oven Fried Chicken

Makes 8 pieces.

1 ½   cups panko bread crumbs

1     teaspoon Chinese five spice

1     teaspoon garlic powder

Pinch of salt

¼     cup honey

1     tablespoon orange juice

1     fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a wire rack in a large rimmed baking sheet. Spray rack with vegetable spray.

In a shallow dish mix together panko, garlic powder, Chinese five spice, and salt. In another bowl whisk together honey, 1-tablespoon warm water, and orange juice.

Dip each piece of chicken into the honey mixture, shaking off excess. Roll in the panko mixture pressing to adhere to surface and place on the sprayed rack.

Bake chicken pieces at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle chicken with nonstick cooking spray and bake an additional 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 170 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove chicken from oven and serve immediately.


Chinese Almond Cookies

Chinese almond cookies are a popular treat for the Chinese New Year.

2     cups all-purpose flour

½     teaspoon baking powder

1/2    teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1/2    cup butter

1/2    cup shortening

¾     cup granulated sugar

1     large egg

2 ½   teaspoons almond extract

30    whole, blanched almonds (one for each cookie)

1     large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer beat the butter, shortening, and sugar. Add the egg and almond extract and beat until well blended. Add to the flour mixture and mix well. The dough will be crumbly at this point, that is what it’s supposed to be like.

Use your fingers to form the mixture into a dough, and then form the dough into 2 rolls or logs that are 10 to 12 inches long. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours (this will make it easier to slice the dough into circles).

Take a log and lightly score the dough at 3/4 inch intervals so that you have 15 pieces and cut the dough. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a lightly greased cookie baking sheet, approximately 1 1/2 inches apart. Place an almond in the center of each cookie and press down lightly. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Brush each cookie lightly with beaten egg before baking. Bake for 15 minutes to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and store in a sealed container.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.