Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wok Express - Cedar Park

I mentioned in passing, in a previous blog, that we have a favorite Chinese take out. Actually, they also do delivery. Wok Express opened in 2002, when we were living in Cedar Park, we tried them as soon as we heard about them and they have been a favorite ever since. What is amazing is how consistently good their food is, only once did we have cause to complain because it arrived cold, and we got a free entree to compensate for that.

When we moved to Leander we were resigned to going to pick up our meal, but discovered that they actually do deliver all the way out here.

Rice and fortune cookie
We have tried most of the items on their menu and all have been great value for money. We now have our few favorites and will generally stick to one or other of them. The portions are huge, and one appetizer and one entree would actually be sufficient for all three of us, however we normally order two entrees for variety and have enough left over for lunch the next day. I have found that it also freezes well though I don't recommend storing it for very long.

Egg Roll (pork) 1.25

They have the most amazing egg rolls, all meals come with one egg roll, steamed rice and one fortune cookie. When we get a Chinese delivery we always use disposable plates and plastic knives and forks, reducing to an absolute minimum the amount of work involved in cleanup

Spicy Chicken Wings (8) 5.95

We normally start with spicey chicken wings or teriyaki chicken, both are really good and the prices are great.

Kung Pao trip delight

One of our favorites is Kung Pao triple delight: marinated chicken, beef and shrimp stirfried with celery, carrots, water chestnuts, and peanuts in a spicy brown sauce. The photo is supposed to be one serving, as I said, it is enough for three.

Hunan Shrimp

Another favorite is the Lover's Special,  On one side, stir fry white chicken breast meat and shrimp with Chinese vegetables in a white wine sauce; on the other side, beef and chicken is stir fried with vegetables in a brown sauce. On this particular occasion we had Hunan Shrimp, marinated shrimp stir fried with vegetables in a spicy brown sauce.

I highly recommend Wok Express. Give them a try, you won't be disappointed.

They are located at The Commons at Buttercup Creek
200 Buttercup Creek Blvd.  Suite 117
Cedar Park, TX  78613

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chipotle Mexican Grill - Cedar Park

We were keen to try Chipotle because their policies towards both their food and their employees are very applaudable. They claim on their website:  "...It means that whenever possible we use meat from animals raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones... And it means that we source organic and local produce when practical. And that we use dairy from cows raised without the use of synthetic hormones..."

The use of  "whenever possible" and "when practical", while removing any conviction that the food will be organic, is at least honest. I really like that they supply detailed information on the nutritional value of their menu here and, if their claims on their employment policies are true, then I really do not mind paying their somewhat higher prices for their food.

As always, we studied the menu online before heading to dinner, I have mentioned before that I wish that restaurants would serve smaller portions, at least with Chipotle's menu we could reduce the amount of food served by ordering two meals between the three of us.  We ordered crispy carnitas (pork) tacos - that is 3 to a serving, and soft, beef fajita tacos, also 3 to a serving, and one empty 'plate', (plastic, paper lined basket) - we added the optional guacamole (pricey at $1.80). Then we each had one crispy and one soft taco. This was more than enough for me, in fact I could only manage one and half tacos, Larry had two and half and he also ordered a margarita, though unfortunately they didn't serve frozen, only on the rocks. No wine, cold or otherwise, so I settled for a beer.

The food was served up very quickly, not the margarita, for some reason that took nearly as long as it took us to eat before it arrived.

I really wanted to like the food, given all the information on their website, but I didn't, the pork was not as tender as it could have been, and there was very little flavor to it,  the beef was not quite so flavorless, but wasn't great either. The salsa and guac were good. While I do enjoy breakfast tacos, they are not my first choice for dinner, but the chicken tacos served by our local bar-b-q restaurant, Smokey Mo's, are terrific and sad to say, even Taco Cabana's tacos are better, and cheaper, than Chipotle, however they may not be nearly as good for us 'whenever possible'.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Healthier banana nut muffins

.. OK, slightly healthier.

I freeze bananas when they are starting to get over ripe, and then use them to make banana nut muffins - works really well, if you let them defrost at room temperature first, then remove the top, you can squeeze them out like toothpaste, no mashing required.

4 frozen bananas defrosted
one third of a cup of melted Fleischmann's With Olive Oil
1 cup of Splenda brown sugar
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
half teaspoon of ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
half cup of wholemeal flour
quarter cup of flax meal
quarter cup of qia (Nature's Path Qi'a: Chia Buckwheat and Hemp Cereal, Cranberry Vanilla - really good)
quarter cup of oatmeal
quarter cup of chopped pecan nuts
quarter cup of chopped dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

lightly grease a muffin pan with olive oil spray wiped with paper towel

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the flour.
Add the flour, mix until combined
pour into a muffin pan and bake for 30 minutes