I’ve been obsessed with cake mix lately as you may have noticed. I got away from red velvet finally but then I found this lovely strawberry cake mix and thought the pink would also be perfect for the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

I’ve never tried strawberry cake mix until now. It did taste quite like strawberries and the batter is studded with little red specks which I think are supposed to be freeze dried berries. Like all my other cake mix cookies, these are so easy to make and perfect if you in a time crunch.

For those who are celebrating, Happy Lunar New Year! Wishing happiness and prosperity to you all.

This is the year of the snake. Similar to Western astrology, the lunar calendar is represented by 12 different zodiac animal signs, though they are assigned years rather than months.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated in various parts of Asia, with different traditions and food. I am most familiar with the Chinese and Taiwanese traditions. Unlike in the U.S., where the New Year is celebrated with just a single day, for the Chinese, the Chinese New Year spans 15 days.

The days leading up to the holiday involve a lot of work. Homes are usually thoroughly cleaned. Floors are scrubbed, walls are repainted, etc. The idea is to sweep away misfortune and make room for incoming good luck.

Usually a lot of food is prepared as well, ending with a very large feast on New Year’s Eve. No cooking is supposed to be done on New Year’s Day. On the first day of the holiday, there are usually fireworks (originally to scare off evil spirits), as well as gathering of close family members. Children pay respect to their elders and wish them a happy new year and are usually rewarded with red envelopes filled with cash. As a child, this was my favorite tradition!

In Taiwan, businesses usually are expected to give out red envelope bonuses to their employees as well.

Chinese culture has great belief in symbolism and there are various dishes eaten to bring good luck for the New Year.

One of the traditional dishes eaten during the New Year is a New Year Cake. It’s a very simple steamed cake, made with glutinous rice flour for a mochi-like chewy texture and sweetened with brown sugar. The name literally translates as “year cake.” It is supposed to be good luck to eat it because the cake name is a homonym for “higher year.” Thus, the belief is if you consume the cake, you will have a successful upcoming year. I always eat it simply because I love it, especially with its chewy texture.

Another tradition includes making homemade dumplings. The dumplings resemble the shape of ancient Chinese money, and are supposed to bring fortune. In the past, I’ve made homemade dumplings for New Year’s Day, but it’s more fun when there’s a large group.

There are also various candies eaten during the holiday.

DH and I don’t eat nearly as much fast food as we did during our college days, but we still sneak some in every once in a while, especially if there is some new menu item which I feel compelled to try. Here’s some things we sampled recently:

Burger King’s New Chicken Nuggets

Burger King has been advertising these chicken nuggets which look a lot like McDonald’s nuggets. We decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, we were not a fan. A lot of the chicken bites had a large chunk of fat inside, as you can see in the photo below. The breading wasn’t that crisp and the inside was a bit mushy. These were probably my least favorite fast food nuggets.

The one thing I really like about Burger King is their variety of sauces. However, my favorite nuggets is probably still Wendy’s.

Turkey Jalapeno Burger- Carl’s Jr

If you ever wonder whether those Carl’s Jr commercials with sexy actors eating burgers work, I’m here to tell you they do. At least they do on me. After seeing the recent commercials for the turkey jalapeno burger, off I went to go try one.

DH immediately pointed out that the burger we received looked nothing like the enormous sandwich the actor model is trying to take a bite of in the commercial. It’s quite true. The burger is not piled high with tons of ingredients, but it was pretty tasty. I like that there is a choice of a turkey patty, which is also less calories. I’m not a huge fan of jalapenos in my food though, so DH liked this one more than me.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich