The second animal of the Chinese zodiac, the ox is a symbol for the hard work, positivity and honesty that will be manifested in all of us in the coming 12 months, according to astrologers.

Celebrations continue for two weeks, concluding with the lantern festival on Feb. 26. Here are some Chinese foods from allrecipes.com to sample at home.



Mom’s Wontons

1/2 lb. ground pork

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3/4 lb. cooked shrimp, shelled, deveined and coarsely chopped

2 Tbsp. minced green onions

1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root

2 Tbsp. chopped water chestnuts

1 tsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

1 pinch white sugar

1 Tbsp. dry sherry

1 tsp. chili oil

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/4 tsp. sesame oil

16-oz. package wonton skins

Pinch garlic salt

1 egg white

In a large skillet, cook the ground pork over medium heat until no longer pink.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the shrimp, ground pork, green onions, ginger, and water chestnuts. Mix in the cornstarch, garlic salt, and sugar. Mix in the dry sherry, chili oil, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

Place about one teaspoon of the mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper. Bring points of the wrapper together (in a triangular shape) and pinch the edges, sealing them closed with egg whites.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Carefully place wontons into boiling water without crowding. (Work in batches if necessary.) When the wontons float to the surface, add a cup of cold water and allow the water to come to a boil again. Then remove from the boiling water. Serve as an appetizer plain or with dipping sauce. Extras may be frozen for later use.



Sweet and Sour Chicken

8-oz. can pineapple chunks, drained (juice reserved)

1/4 cup cornstarch

3-1/4 cups water, divided

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes

2-1/4 cups self-rising flour

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

1 egg

1 quart vegetable oil for frying

2 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

In a saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups water, sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice, and orange food coloring. Heat to boiling. Turn off heat. Combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Slowly stir into a saucepan. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.

Combine flour, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, salt, white pepper, and egg. Add 1-1/2 cups water gradually to make a thick batter. Stir to blend thoroughly. Add chicken pieces, and stir until chicken is well coated.

Heat oil in a skillet or wok to 360 degrees. Fry chicken pieces in hot oil for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove chicken, and drain on paper towels.

When ready to serve, layer green peppers, pineapple chunks, and cooked chicken pieces on a platter. Pour hot sweet and sour sauce over top.



Chinese Green Bean Stir Fry

This recipe is made for a large group but can be scaled down for a family dinner.

1 cup vegetable oil

13 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed

5 Tbsp. minced garlic

5 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root

2 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper

2 (8-oz.) bottles black bean sauce

1 cup vegetable oil

In a large wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Stir in green beans. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then stir in black bean sauce. Continue cooking until green beans are tender.



Fortune Cookies

1 egg white

1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a cookie sheet. Write fortunes on strips of paper about 4 inches long and 1/2-inch wide. Generously grease 2 cookie sheets.

Mix the egg white and vanilla until foamy but not stiff. Sift the flour, salt, and sugar and blend into the egg white mixture.

Place teaspoonfuls of the batter at least 4 inches apart on one of the prepared cookie sheets. Tilt the sheet to move the batter into round shapes about 3 inches in diameter. Be careful to make batter as round and even as possible. Do not make too many, because the cookies have to be really hot to form them and once they cool it is too late. Start with 2 or 3 to a sheet and see how it works.

Bake for 5 minutes or until cookies have turned a golden color 1/2 inch wide around the outer edge of the circle. The center will remain pale. While one sheet is baking, prepare the other.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and quickly move cookies with a wide spatula and place upside down on a wooden board. Quickly place the fortune on the cookie, close to the middle and fold the cookie in half. Place the folded edge across the rim of a measuring cup and pull the pointed edges down, one on the inside of the cup and one on the outside. Place folded cookies into the cups of a muffin tin or egg carton to hold their shape until firm.