Celebrate the New Year and your family’s goals with an Asian-inspired meal and custom fortune cookies.
The new year is a great time to teach our kids the importance of looking back over the past year and celebrating our successes. It is also the perfect time to look forward to the future and begin planning what we want to accomplish in the coming 12 months. Kids of every age can learn valuable lessons and good habits by setting goals. A fun way to engage your family in goal setting is to incorporate a New Year’s fortune cookie opening event after a delicious Asian-inspired meal.
The first step will be to gather your family members’ New Year’s resolutions. A few weeks before New Year’s Eve, begin asking the members of your family what they hope to accomplish in the next year. For younger kids, you may need to give them some prompts to get them started. Gather 2 to 3 goals from each.
Next, write the goals out on 3- x ½-inch strips of paper, making sure to keep each family member’s goals separate from the others. Write each goal as if it were a fortune. For example, if Suzie has “Learn to play Concerto #5 on the piano” as one of her goals, you will write on the strip of paper “You will learn to play Concerto #5 beautifully on the piano.”
On or immediately before New Year’s Day, make the fortune cookie recipe that follows. Prior to shaping the cookie into the traditional fortune cookie shape, slip one goal into each cookie (again, keeping the goals separate by family members). Place each set of cookies into a colorful bag, a Chinese food takeout box, or use plastic wrap tied with a ribbon.
In keeping with the theme, make Asian Lettuce Wraps for dinner. You can incorporate the packaged cookies as part of the centerpiece to heighten the anticipation if you like. After the meal, let the fun begin. Pass to each person their bag of cookies. Take turns with each family member opening one cookie at a time, reading aloud the custom for tune inside. Watch as the smile spreads across their faces from the notion of successfully tackling their future goals.
Homemade Fortune Cookies
Makes 14 cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Note: You will need 14 fortunes written on 3- x ½-inch paper.
2 Tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 teaspoon salt
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix together until smooth.
3. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
4. Using a Tablespoon, drop batter for 3 cookies on the cookie sheet, making sure they are 4 inches apart. With a metal spatula spread the dough evenly into 3-inch circles.
5. Bake in the oven for 4 minutes until golden brown on the edges.
6. Wearing clean gloves or an oven mitt, remove a cookie from the cookie sheet with the metal spatula. Place a fortune in the center, fold the cookie in half over the fortune, and press the edges together. Gently fold the cookie in half in the other direction and place the seam side down in a muffin tin to cool and hold its shape. Work quickly, as the cookies will harden fast.
7. Repeat the process with the 2 remaining cookies.
8. Repeat until all the cookies are done, using a cool cookie sheet for each new batch.
Asian Lettuce Wraps
Pretty packages swaddled in romaine lettuce leaves, Asian Lettuce Wraps are easy for little hands to hold and help introduce your children to new tastes from across the globe.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
8 Romaine lettuce leaves, bottoms cut off
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup hoisin sauce
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Asian (toasted) sesame oil
1. Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry. Set aside.
2. In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in oil. Drain and set aside to cool.
3. In the same pan, cook the onion until tender. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and vinegar to the onions and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions and sesame oil. Cook for 2 minutes or until green onions soften.
4. Add the drained ground beef to the mixture. Stir until evenly distributed.
5. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the mixture (like a wrap or a taco) and enjoy.
Asian Lettuce Wraps provide a low-carb alternative to traditional tortillas. However, this mixture is delicious served in a whole-grain tortilla as well.
Written and photographed by Kristen Doyle