Lunar New Year Candy Bars

January 25 (2020): Asian Lunar New Year

Happy new year (again)! In an attempt to make edible spring couplets, Islander asked her adult ESL students to write Korean and Chinese greetings and well wishes on auspiciously red-colored confectioners candy bars. The activity was a nice break from the usual reading/conversation/pronunciation lessons for the day and gave her students a chance to share some sweet candy, traditions and information about their cultural observances of the lunar new year with others at school. Simply make this fun and festive food to ring in the Year of the Rat!



  • Red candy melts (Wilton brand)
  • White tube icing


Melt the candy melts according to the package instructions. Stir until smooth. Pour into rectangular candy molds. Cool to set. Unmold carefully onto paper towels.

Using a small round tip on the white tube icing, write short new year greetings in Chinese or Korean characters. Let dry but do not stack.


Mochi Matcha Bundt Cake

January 1: New Year’s Day/National Hot Tea Month

Most Asians have a tradition to eat mochi (glutinous rice flour) desserts on New Year’s Day. The sticky chewy texture of the food symbolizes that luck will stick around all year long while the “rice” spelling resembles the word “rich” for prosperity ahead. We have eaten mochi-based Filipino bibingka and Chinese gau many times before. But here now is our double take on this Japanese-inspired mochi matcha bundt cake recipe. The chocolate cake contains mochi for keeping the new year food tradition while the matcha green tea is for commemorating the month-long food holiday. The two-tone color of this mochi matcha bundt cake is a visual representation of celebrating both New Year’s Day and National Hot Tea Month.


(Adapted from PopSugar)


  • 1 box (1 pound) mochiko (sweet rice flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips


Grease a bundt pant and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the mochiko, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter with the sugar. Stir in the evaporated milk.

Add the vanilla. Beat in the eggs. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

Divide the batter in half into two bowls. To the first bowl, mix in the cocoa powder. To the second bowl, mix in the matcha green tea powder. Stir in the mini chocolate chips into the cocoa powder mixture.

Pour the chocolate batter into the bundt pan first and smooth it out with a spatula. Next, pour the matcha batter on top of the chocolate batter. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick or wooden skewer. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Invert the pan onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice to reveal the two-tone colored cake. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the slices before serving (optional)


  • This mochi matcha bundt cake bakes up a dull green but photographs okay in the light. Feel free to add a few drops of green food coloring in the matcha batter and mix well to make the hue brighter when baked.
  • Search our blog for other traditional New Year’s and hot tea recipes.

Marsala Veal

January 1: New Year’s Day (2015)

Inspired by the announcement that the Pantone company chose “marsala” as the color of the year for 2015, Islander cooked Marsala Veal for our first dinner of the new year—in our new home in the Gulf Coast area of Texas. We had moved from Southwest Texas only a few weeks ago during the hectic holiday season and are still organizing our kitchen and pantry.

According to Pantone, “Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness.”

We blogged about Marsala Chicken a few years ago. We revisited the recipe and used veal instead of chicken as the “propitious protein” for the new year and, like Pantone’s description of the color, Marsala Veal is a fulfilling meal, especially when served with other auspicious foods, such as noodles (“longevity”) or rice (“riches”).

Enjoy the color of the year as well as this recipe for Marsala Veal. Happy 2015!!!

(Adapted from the Food Network)


  • 4-5 veal slices for scallopini
  • flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • olive oil
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, cubed
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (baby bella, crimini, porcini, etc.), stemmed and quartered
  • 1 cup Marsala wine (sweet instead of dry)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with water to form a paste to thicken the sauce)
  • ¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped and for optional garnish



Dredge the veal in flour, shaking off the excess. Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Fry the veal until both sides are slightly browned, being careful not to overcook the slices or they will not be as tender. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. In the same skillet with the drippings, fry the prosciutto.

Add the mushrooms and sauté until brown. Pour in the Marsala wine and cook for about a minute. Stir in the chicken stock. In a small cup, make a paste with the cornstarch and water. Stir into the sauce to thicken. Put the veal slices back into the skillet. Simmer for about five minutes. Put on a platter and garnish with parsley flakes. Serve with pasta noodles or hot rice with the sauce poured over.


  • Good luck to Highlander in his new job in the Gulf Coast area of Texas (the reason we moved from our beloved San Antonio). Good luck to all our blog readers in the new year!
  • Search our blog for other new year’s recipes.