As part of the traditions celebrating lunar new year, we had reunion dinner with our inlaws tonight. As usual, my MIL would cook a big feast. On top of the feast, she also makes the chinese snacks (which is a representative of “lucky” foods). Though they are the same ones every year, but I always look forward to having them since we only get them once a year. When things homemade, especially from MIL, I know they are a healthier and lighter version.

1. Fried Seasame Balls.  These are tasty balls of glutinous rice flour rolled in sesame seeds and fried. Some even are filled with red bean paste. In this case, she didn’t fill them. While sesame seed balls are available at Asian bakeries or dim sum restaurants throughout the year, they are popular during the Chinese New Year.

2. Glutinous Rice Balls. I’ve always enjoyed these although she makes them all year round. We normally sliced the balls, pan fry them with mushrooms, green beans, pork, and other vegetables. It makes a great meal and the boys love it!

3. Nian Gao (“higher year” or Chinese New Year cake). This famous cake, traditionally is fed to the Chinese Kitchen God. The sweetness in these cakes were to bribe the Kitchen God report favorably on a family’s behavior when he returns to heaven before the start of the New Year season. There are many regional variations, but but essentially this is made with glutinous rice and sugar, and steamed.

4. Turnip cake is a popular dim sum dish as well as a common appetizer served during Chinese New Year dinner, as a symbol of prosperity and rising fortunes. We would cut the cake in slices, lightly pan fried it for breakfast. The cake (wrapped in plastic wrap) would keep nicely in the refrigerator for a few days.