The Sprouts: Kung - Hsi Fa – Ts’ Ai! (Gung Hay Fat Choy!)


We celebrated Chinese New Year with a BANG at O’s birthday party!  Lanterns, Noise Makers, a Dragon, Red Envelopes with Gold Coins and Fireworks (jumping on bubble wrap) were all part of the lively Dragon Parade!!  Followed by delicious dumplings, pork & vegetarian buns, good luck oranges and a twist on red velvet cupcakes.

The Chinese New Year celebrates the season for planting, as well as new beginnings. It starts with a New Moon (February 3, 2011) and ends with the Full Moon fifteen days later. There is still time to celebrate! In fact, February 18, is the Lantern Festival where kids carry lanterns in parades.

Follow these simple directions to make your own lanterns:

We found that yellow construction paper and a battery-powered tea light provided a great luminary effect!

Take a piece of construction paper or cardstock. Hold it landscape (long way horizontal) and fold it in half.

Along the fold, mark half inch marks starting an inch in from the left and ending an inch in on the right.

Then measure out and draw 2 inch lines along your ½ marks. (Start at the fold and measure 2 inches up.) Older kids can help you measure to practice math skills.

With the paper folded, have the kids cut along the lines. When they are done, unfold and glue the landscape ends together to form the lantern.

Cut a 1 x 12 inch handle and glue each side to the top of the lantern


Recycled CD Noise Makers

Here’s a great way to use the extra old CDs and paint sticks laying around your house--- turn them into Noise Makers for the Parade!

Decorate or paint a paint stick or 12 inch dowel

Cut 12 inch piece of twine, yarn or string

Tie the twine two inches down on the stick

Using a hot glue gun, glue a CD on each side of the paint stick (The knot of the twine should be at about the half way point of the CD. You may want to eye it before gluing.)

After the glue dries, tie beads at the end of the string and decorate the CD. We looked up the Animal Zodiac for each child and decorated with animal stickers affiliated with their Chinese Zodiac. O was born in the year of the monkey. As the kids move the sticks the beads make noise against the CD.


Red Velvet Cupcakes with Firework Inspired Sprinkles

Red signifies good luck in the Chinese New Year Celebrations. As we were planning the party, O announced that he wanted RED cupcakes!! I thought for a minute and red velvet cupcakes came to mind.

As I was exploring, I read that traditionally beets were used as a way to dye the cake. Avoiding Red AC dye made mostly from petroleum sounded like a good idea to me!!!! But would the kids eat beet cupcakes!!??!!?? Maybe with a SWEET frosting!!! The challenge was to use a recipe without too much chocolate favorite, as O is not a chocolate kind of guy and preferably egg-free. I adapted a recipe from My Diverse Kitchen. The test batch seemed to have a little too much beet flavor in the background, so I reduced the amount of puree to about 2/3 cup. The results are a vibrant RED cupcake! It is RARE that O eats anything but the frosting…surprisingly only a few crumbs were left.


Next time, I plan to experiment with reducing the beet puree a little more and adding raspberry puree with the seeds removed. I think the raspberry would compliment well with the lemon.

Red Velvet Eggless Beet Cupcakes

To prepare the beet puree, cook 2 beets in water with the skins on for 40-45 minutes until soft. Drain beets and let cool. Remove the skins, dice and puree in a food processor or blender with about 3 T water. You can adjust the amount of water as needed, to obtain your desired consistency.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 T dark cocoa powder

1 1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

2/3 cup fresh pureed beets

1/3 cup canola oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Mix all of the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir. The texture will be similar to brownie batter. Place in 12 cupcake lined tins and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until toothpick is clean.

Dreamy White Frosting

This makes enough to frost 36 cupcakes (it was a BIG celebration!). So cut by 2/3rds if you are frosting 12 cupcakes.

Mix together:

¾ cup whipping cream

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

4 cups powdered sugar

Start with three cups of powdered sugar and add more to suit your frosting thickness/sweetness. We used colorful sprinkles for a firecracker effect.

Here are a few books to explore to learn more about the Chinese New Year:

Celebrating Chinese New Year by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith

Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan's Chinese New Year (Reading Rainbow Books) by Kate Waters and Madeline Slovenz-low

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns by Carolyn Otto

Happy New Year! / Kung-Hsi Fa-Ts'ai! by Demi

Bringing in the New Year (Read to a Child!: Level 2) by Grace Lin

Yum Yum Dim Sum (World Snacks) by Amy Wilson Sanger (for food ideas)

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