A First Attempt- CNY

February 15, 2010

cny (20 of 59) wm

This weekend was filled with a few firsts......

We did celebrate CNY, although from the following pictures, you can tell we are complete novices.....

We didn't have a full blown CNY celebration complete with the outfits, pretty asian decor, red envelopes, etc....... but we did work on a little lantern project and I cooked an authentic meal.

You have to start somewhere right??

I am hoping...okay, I am praying that we will have our baby girl by next CNY and that will be cause for us to do it up right!!

So let's start with the little project. I know this is probably the easiest thing under the sun, but Sarah loved making and decorating the lanterns!! I set her up in the dining room so she could spread out....besides, the kitchen was declared a disaster zone, you'll see why in a few minutes.

It has been a long time since I whipped out the camera just to take snapshots....and honestly..... I miss doing it. I have been so focused on photography this last year and always trying to get the "perfect shot" that I rarely take pictures of the fun day to day things.... that needs to and is going to change.....

Getting Ready WM
Sarah spreading out her pencils and getting her work area all set up!!

CNY Collage wm
As you can see, she takes her artwork very seriously.....and oh yes, blue is her favorite color......at least it was today:)

WHY Won't it come out WM
This one make me laugh every time I look at it...... Our Elmer's Glue Glitter Pens were a little difficult to squeeze. Do you think she is a little frustrated?? LOL....her entire body was trembling because she was squeezing so hard!!!

Miss Sarah was not the only one frustrated this weekend........

Now I know why so many of you told me to go out to eat or to order take out.

Let me see....... the best way to describe my Asian Cooking experience......

I feel like I jumped into the deep end of the pool without learning how to swim first.

Do you want to know what I tried for my first dish??

Yeah, you guessed it...... Asian Dumplings!!!!

They were a lot of work........every inch of my kitchen was covered in flour........and by the time I was done making them, so was I!

Oh, and fool that I am..... I looked at the recipe and didn't think it sounded like enough, so I DOUBLED it....I was rolling dough ALL.DAY.LONG!!!

Dumplings WM


3 cups all-purpose flour
up to 1 1/4 cups cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup ground pork or beef
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 TBSP Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or to taste
3 TBSP sesame oil
1/2 green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
4 tablespoons diced water chestnuts
4 tablespoons diced carrots
2 slices fresh ginger, finely minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to form a smooth dough. Don't add more water than is ncessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine and white pepper to the meat, stirring in only one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well.

To make the dumpling dough: knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter.

Place a small portion (about 1 level tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumplings.

To cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don't stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If desired, they can be pan-fried at this point.

Dipping Sauce:

2 TBSP of Soy Sauce
1 TBSP of Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 tsp of minced garlic
1/4 tsp of minced ginger root
1/2 tsp of sugar
4-8 drops of Hot Chili Oil

They were A LOT of WORK......I was frustrated with the rolling, folding, and sealing of the dough. I wanted them to look pretty and they didn't.............BUT

THEY TASTED REALLY GOOD and they got the double thumbs up from the family:)

The main dish was not that difficult....but then again, after the dumplings, anything would have seemed easy!!

I decided to try out an orange chicken dish..........

cny (53 of 59) WM
I threw in some steamed veggies....carrots and broccoli and served it over white rice. If you would like the recipe click HERE. This one was definitely a keeper.....I will be making it again in the near future:)

So there you have it...... Our first attempt at CNY.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!! I am a little behind on blog reading, but should be around today........ I am OFF for the holiday....... Gotta love a three day weekend:)

BTW, in the recipe for the dumplings, it mentions only stirring the meat in one direction. Does anyone know the purpose of that? At first I thought it might have something to do with the meat and making it tough or overworked, but then I thought it might be an Asian Tradition or something to do with luck. If you know the answer...... let me know!!

This post was part of Recipe Monday. To see more great recipes or if you would like to post and link one of your own, visit Colleen at THE CRAZY EIGHT.


Sandra said...

I'm impressed! Now just wait until you have your little girl; then you will REALLY get into it ;-)

Love that picture of Sarah trying to squeeze out the glue. Too funny.

Mimi said...

Lisa, you're amazing! Crafting, cooking AND photography, all going on together.
The pic of Sarah squeezing the glue is fab- I knew that her body was trembling all over before I even read it.
And your orange chicken looks delicious. Chinese cooking, from my experience, involves lots of prep and a messy kitchen- I just hope you got someone else to clean up!

And Happy Chinese New Year! I too hope you'll have the little girl for next year.

Rachel Cotterill said...

That looks great :) Happy Chinese New Year!

Jo said...

On the bright side, everything was tasty! You're photos are lovely. Sarah is a very dedicated artist :)

Loving the pink polka dot tights and heals in your previous post ~ Hope you all enjoyed a very happpy Valentine's day.

I hate to ask but I've heard this from others ~ why is the wait so long for your daughter?

Enjoy your extra day off ~

Wanda said...

Lisa, well, you've taken the plunge - it'll only get easier.....really! And your dishes look wonderful. BTW - dumplings done by hand look exactly like yours - that's what makes them real....and real good!

I'm hoping and praying with you (and many others) that your little sweetie will be with you, her forever family by next CNY!!! And that she will be wowed for years to come with your celebrations.

Sarah looks adorable with her art project. We can see that she takes it very seriously and I just LOVE that frustrated capture. Too cute! And you're right on about capturing all the moments and forgetting about the perfect shot once in awhile. We have to catch these moments. It's what memories are built on. The tiny moments where life really happens.

Oh...I have no idea why we can only whip or stir in one direction. Many of my recipes say the same thing. I'll have to find out now.

Enjoy your day off - and your well deserved break!


jenbusymom said...

Very fun way to celebrate, crafts and cooking! Hope you'll have a special little one to celebrate with next year! Happy Monday!

Chasing Dreams Photography said...

well I'm impressed!!! These look so good Lisa : ) You out did yourself girl!!
We ordered out LOL the recipe looks wonderful!!! Thank you for playing today. : )

Kerry said...

Lisa! Your meal looked lovely and sounds like it was fabulous. Good for you. It took me 3 CNY years of watching a dumpling pro before I attempted myself. I am not kidding- I took some lessons and thenb finally can do it and feel comfortable. I am not surprised based on your cooking skills that you got it- right away!
One key in getting the dumplings to stay and keep their beautiful form is pouring COLD water on the boiling dumplings three times.
(You may have already done this- but I never saw it in any of the recipes- our Mandarin teacher and her family does it that way).
Anyway- you did great. And Sarah seemed to have a blast.

Jodee said...

It looks like you had a great time! I bet you have a brown eyed beauty to celebrate with next year! Cute pictures of Sarah!

We are all home today too. I love three day weekends! Hooray for Presidents' Day!

Love Letters To China said...

Wow do those look amazing! I really have to hand it to you for trying such a difficult recipe. Did you use a pasta machine to roll out the dough? They look like professionally made dumplings to me. YUM! I don't think I'll be trying those out any time soon. ;-) The orange chicken looks great too. That one I might have to try. The photos are awe inspiring... I can only hope one day I'm half as talented as you are with your camera.

Sarah is so cute! I don't blame her for getting so frustrated with the glitter glue. They make those things for kids but adults have a hard time getting them to work!

Hope you're able to relax and enjoy your day off. You certainly deserve a break from the kitchen!


Shelly and Family said...

Looks like you kicked of your 1st CNY celebrations just perfectly! Great Job!

Sarah truly looks so excited and I think you have a crafter on your hands lol!

Hope you had a great weekend!

Talk to you soon...

Becky said...

Sarah is so cute! Love the pictures!!

I have not attempted actually making Chinese -- we go out to dinner - less work and more enjoyable! LOL

Have a great Monday!

Denise said...

You did great for your first celebration! I have never attempted to cook for it, we always have take out...so kuddos to you! I may have to try those dumplings one day, as well as the chicken dish. Have a great day off~

Faith Hope Love Photography said...

I feel exactly like you do...I was going through last years pics yesterday and was so sad that I don't have many of my own girls...and snapshots like you said. I am vowing to do much better this year!!
I am definately going to try the orange chicken...looks yummy. And the dumplings do to but I definately don't have the patience.
Looks like you had lots of fun with Sarah though ;)

Gail said...

I am very impressed Lisa with the dumpling making, as you know I tried it once and we now either order out or go out (which is what we did this year.) I will be trying the orange chicken...looks extremely yummy!

And I love the craft that Sarah did...he face on the last pic is priceless!!!! so hilarious.

Have a great Monday and day off, my friend!

Briana's Mom said...

I love the little artist in your house! She is adorable!

I am very, very impressed with what you cooked for dinner. We just went out to eat Chinese food. I still need to crack open my Chinese food cookbook!

Kam said...

That picture of her squeezing the glitter glue made me smile! Even before I read your text about it...I could just feel for her! How funny. We've all been there with those things!

I love your pics of food...they are always so stinkin' beautiful! Hope you're having a great Monday!

Patricia said...

WOW!! You are one brave cook!! Sounds like a ton of hard work, but those dumplings looked DELICIOUS!!!
So glad the main dish worked out for you...now you've inspired ME to make it! ;)

Gong Hay Fat Choi to you & your wonderful family!!

Sharon said...

Great pics and the food looks sooooo yummy! Great work for your first CNY celebration!

M3 said...

You rock, if you ask me! Those dumplings look awesome. I'm hopeless in the kitchen, so we ordered takeout... Maybe next year...

Robin said...

I love the snap shots ... my fav is Sarah squeezing the glue. Looks like you guys had a great time.

The dumplings look good ... I think you did a GREAT job! I would not have had the patients. The orange chicken looks yummy ... will have to give this a try.

Have a great day off!

3 Peanuts said...


I would say that was a VERY AMBITIOUS first CNY! It all looks GREAT. ANd just think, you'll be pros next year when you daughter is home!!! Your food looks beautiful. You should see the shabby photos I took of the delicious dishes Dave made. We were in such a hurry to eat...I snapped some awful shot. Yours could be in a magazine!!!!

We usually get decorations at a party store and make a few. Similarly, we order some dumplings and egg rolls and a few dishes and Dave made two last night. The various dishes symbolize things like noodles are for health and longevity and tangerines are for good health and long life too:)

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I'm not usually a huge fan of Chinese food, but those pictures look mouth-watering! The dumplings do sound like a tremendous amount of work, but they look fantastic, and I'm sure they will be easier if you ever decide to make them again, now that you've done it once!

The pictures of Sarah are great (love the bow!), especially the glitter concentration. That girl has got some major personality; no need to guess what's she thinking, it's all in her face!

Unspoken said...

WOW! That was impressive!

Anonymous said...

Wow - the food and photos look amazing! Your everyday photos look great - keep them coming! I hope too that next CNY there will be photos of your 3 children together!

Colleen said...

You are awesome!!! What a wonderful beginning to starting your CNY celebrations!!
You did MUCH better than me! I decided to wait until he end of the month to celebrate this year! Just couldn't get it together with still trying to unpack. I have no clue where our Chinese decorations are. lol I figure it IS a 15 day holiday so I have an excuse! lol
Have a wonderful week!!!!

Christine @ 12,450miles said...

Great photos of the craft project! Love this idea... maybe next year we'll try it.

And I think your dishes look wonderful! You should see my kitchen after I cook a Korean meal... wow, let's just say it takes me three nights to clean it up. (And your dumplings look MUCH better than mine!)

Jboo said...

Wow -- I am so impressed!! Good job Sarah and Lisa!! That glitter glue always does that. Your food sounds so yummy!

Hope you have a great week!


Deb said...

When we had Sunshine with us last year her mom invited us to her house for supper and made dumplings, she made it look incredibly easy, but she has done it for a life time! She served cold shredded cucumber/almonds tossed with a speck of vinegar with it. It was really good!

Love the pic of Sara squeezing the guts out of her glitter glue!

Enjoy your week!

Tutus and Choo-Choos said...

You were very brave to make the meal yourself!

Your little crafter did an excellent job on the lanterns.

Wanda said...

Lisa....me again. Now that you've conquered the dumpling dough you CAN do anything.

But...in case you want dumplings without all the dough making - you can buy wonton wrappers (that's what the dough is) in the frozen section of most grocery stores. It is a lot easier and faster and is almost as good.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CM said...

Good for you! Dumplings, wow, that's amazing for a first try!

BTW, your snapshots are so precious!

Casey said...

Happy Chinese New Year!!! Sarah looks like she had a great time with your latern project!! Glue and all!! :) So cute!!

I have the same wall color and I love it!! :)

I might try my hand at your dumplings. I'm the worst cook, but I would like to learn how to do those... and they look yummy.

Lisa said...

Oh my goodness Lisa, I am TRULEY impressed!!!! The latern project that Sarah did was so cute and the food...WOW!!!!!!!! I think you did a FABULOUS job!! : )

paige said...

my goodness lisa, between you & your amazing images, you should be on food network.
the dumplings look divine!!!

& i'm praying she's here by the next CNY too!!!!!

Dita said...

I just LOVE the candids of Sarah, but if those are candids...well, uh, I wouldn't have known it...looks professional to ME! I laughed so hard at the picture of her squeezing that glue out. I know I make that same face when I'm frustrated...I almost cried I laughted so hard.

The dumplings and chicken dish look incredible. I am so dying to try them! YUM...however, I don't think I will venture the dumpling route. I'd lose my patience halfway through rolling that dough.

Another gorgeous meal you've created and a memory for everyone. Hopefully this is the last CNY without your little dumpling!


Loved the photo collage of Sarah, great technique!

Don and Lisa Osborn said...

Now we just need a mei mei to help celebrate!!!

Great job on your first attempt. I'm sure you'll have many happy years making dumplings with your dumplings.


Robin said...

Better get all tha dough rolling done now because when you have two little ones running around it will be impossible!(believe me I know)

I think you did a great job. We are celebrating with our travel buddies this coming Friday. I can hardly wait. Seven little children from China running around, fun stuff!


Lucy said...

Happy Chinese New Year Lisa! Your celebrations sounded perfect! I had to laugh because the same thing has happened to me in the kitchen cooking Chinese food. Before I know it, I realized I have spent the entire day cooking something that sounded SO much easier than it was. Good news is that it will be that much easier the next time you do it! Your craft is adorable, Sarah looked like she had a blast. Your photos, as always, are gorgeous! I really can't wait for your referral, what an exciting year you have in store for you and your family!!!

Missy said...

YUM!!! Those dumplings look delish and I am just plain impressed you took on that task! I love the way they photographed, too! Great pics!
I love, love the pics of Sarah having fun and being crafty. It's nice to see her getting excited about making the lanterns. Just think this time next year, you will be photographing the two of your girls together. I cannot wait! xoxo

Michelle R Photography said...

We made those same lanterns, too. They are lining our entryway. Although, we didn't decorate them like Sarah. We just cut, stapled and taped to the ceiling. Sarah went the extra mile! And that scrunched up face of hers is TOO CUTE!!!

How funny, but I made that same orange chicken recipe with rice last night. I have tried some of Jaden's other recipes before (thanks to PW) and really like her stuff. Plus, that is far more my speed that the dumplings. You are so good. I wouldn't have had the patience for that. I felt gourmet because I was squeezing real oranges and lemons for the juice for the chicken recipe. lol Seriously, I would love to have your gift in the kitchen. And seriously... your food photography is amazing, too.

Have a great week!

Lourie said...

Wow! You really went all out! You are brave. I would have chickened out and ordered take out.

Courtney said...

What a great first attempt. I am not sure I would have given it a try. I would probably be opening the phone book to fin the nearest restaurant!

Carolin said...

Oh wow, you really did do it up!!! Way to go on the dumplings, those are both mine and our daughter's favorite thing to order!

We cheated and went out to eat. But I would like to try making them from scratch some time. We did one year at a CNY celebration for just the kiddos but some parents were freaked out by the raw meat and that was the last year that was done!

These Are The Days said...

I am also impressed. Looks so yummy and I think your little sweetie had a blast doing the crafts.

Kim said...

Great snap shots. The glitter glue face is so cute and of course I love her bow!

By the looks of your dinner photos it looks like dinner was a success. Have a great week!

Sylvia said...

Looks like Sarah had a great time celebrating CNY! Love the look on her face as she tries to get the glitter glue out!

Virginia said...

Those dumplings look yummy! And I love all of the photos of Sarah, she's is so adorable! I hope and pray you can celebrate CNY with both daughters next year.

Anonymous said...

Your pictures are amazing! Your food looks amazing too! I think your first attempt at CYN was fabulous!
I just love your blog!

Unknown said...

I love your every day ordinary pictures. I think they are spectacular : ) and you know what? Your every day ordinary days ARE spectacular!

I pray you will have your baby next year also! Many prayers for that sweet Lisa! Many, many prayers!

Catherine said...

Happy New Year!! Mmmm...those dumplings look yummy! Great job taking on such a large project. Think I'll take the suggestion though to order in when I get in the mood for Chinese food.

Sweet pictures of Sarah making the lanterns. Your candid shots are beautiful and capture such sweet images of your daughter.

Unknown said...

What great photos! {Love your home decor by the way.} And the recipes sound delicious. Hope to try them soon :)

Valerie said...

oh my gosh! between you and dita...I am not worthy.

I bow to you and your talents and culinary desires.

I'm happy if the food on the table did not come from a drive thru window, unless the day ends in a "y" of course.

I'll be over here, hiding under my shame rock....and your house is clean...how is that possible..

I need a 12 step program...

4D said...

You are amazing but buy the wrappers and save yourself a ton of work. Much easier with premade wrappers and making a huge batch is a lot easier.

Cute pics as always!

Keep smilin!

TanyaLea said...

I am completely IMPRESSED!! The most we did was go OUT for dumplings and Chinese...I had orange chicken, so I definitely have to try your recipes. You are so ambitious and inspiring at the same time. And I think your dumplings look pretty good to me! Love the photos...but missed the one of your kitchen with the flour everywhere!! LOL! ;) Happy CNY!

Blessings and Hugs,
~ Tanya

Mei Mei s and Mayhem said...

Wow, what a great job for your first CNY. We always take the easy way out and go out to eat. No option for take out because we live in the middle of no where and 25 minutes to the closest town.

Both of your recipes look Yummy but I dont think I have patience to do homemade dumplings, did it was and not again! ha

JMCS said...

Let's just say I am seriously craving some Chinese food after seeing your gorgeous pics girly and I love the pics of Sarah celrbrating CNY. Looks like she had a blast. Thanks for sharing.:)


a Tonggu Momma said...

My neighbor (who taught me how to make dumplings) said that they take all day, create chaos in your kitchen and disappear in less than ten minutes. Sounds like you did everything "right."

CC said...

we made about 1000 dumplings. ;) YUM!

We also always make dragons and parade around the house with friends.

Cindi said...


You are so sweet to check in and make comments on my blog. I am more determined than ever to make it work this time!

Happy Belated Chinese New Year! Honestly, you did alot better than I with the celebration, this year! Glad to have a "heads-up" about the dumplings - I haven't tried to prepare those, yet.

Sarah and Nick have grown so much. Yes, our 12-year olds are becoming much more "teen" than "boy." :-(
Around here, that's a tough stage for son and parents.

Jeni said...

I have not visited you in a long time. I am so going to try those dumplings!!! mmmm