Cooks Exchange

Interesting foods make for a good vacation

While traipsing around Disney World and then the Texas Hill Country, we ate some interesting foods.

Of course, Disney restaurants and hotels offered some delicious and international meals. One of my favorites was a butternut ravioli with a butter sauce at the Grand Floridian Hotel, and much to my surprise, that hotel also serves a cold strawberry soup like the recipe I shared two weeks ago.

The crème brulee at Be Our Guest (Beast’s castle) was crunchy and creamy just like it is supposed to be. I was wishing my daughter and I hadn’t agreed to share it.

When my granddaughter and I arrived in Texas, one of my best friends had a pot of tortilla soup and artisan bread and butter waiting for us. Now, is that a welcome or what?

Dinner at El Toro in Baytown is a must. From one location, the owners now have three. Lilly, my friend and I ate at two of the locations. Both were equally good, and good tamales are hard to find.

After the Baytown stop, we were on our way to Kerrville and Ingram to float away stress on the Guadalupe River. We stayed in cabins with full kitchens, so we did some cooking, especially breakfast. One of the friends we stayed with made an interesting French toast with the help of a new Tupperware bread cutter/tart maker. She cut the whole wheat bread into rounds, put spoonsful of cream cheese and jam in the center of the round and topped that with another bread round. She then crimped the edges, buttered the pocket sandwiches on both sides and put them in the microwave for two minutes. These are dusted with powdered sugar and served, making a quick breakfast trip, which is great since school is starting.

Like some Mexican restaurants, Mamacita’s in Kerrville makes a mean avocado dipping sauce. In Fredericksburg, I fell in love with Rustlin’ Rob’s Texas Gourmet Foods. I went home with jars of candied jalapenos, chocolate strawberry peanut butter (perfect for pocket sandwiches) and honey pecan butter. For those interested in quality gourmet foods, check out the website,

I thought I would share some recipes that come from my travels. Tortilla soup is a time-saver now that school and organizational meetings are back in full swing. The pineapple sweet and hot jalapeno party dip is unusual and so good. And for dessert: crème brulee.


1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

2 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth

1 (16-ounce) can chunk chicken

1 (15-ounce) can black beans

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers drained

Open the cans of corn, chicken broth, chunk chicken, black beans and diced tomatoes with green chilies. Pour everything into a large saucepan or stock pot. Simmer over medium heat until chicken is heated through. Top with crispy tortilla chips, avocado slices, cheese or sour cream or all those toppings.

— Recipe partially my friend’s and


1 (8-ounce) cream cheese

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple

1 (8-ounce) (1/2 a jar) of Rustlin’ Rob’s Candied Jalapenos

1 cup slivered almonds and a few to garnish

Soften cream cheese. Chop candied jalapenos into small pieces. Mix the cream cheese, jalapenos, almonds and crushed pineapple with juice. When finished, garnish dip with remaining almonds. Chill and serve.

— Recipe from


2 cups heavy cream

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup light brown sugar (or as much as needed)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the heavy cream, egg yolks, granulated sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk together until the mixture is a consistent color and the sugar has dissolved.

Divide the crème brulee mixture between individual 7-ounce size ramekins. Carefully set the ramekins in a larger baking pan, making sure they are spaced apart.

Place the pan in the oven. Carefully pour hot water into the outer pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins (do not let water get into the ramekins).

Bake the crème brulee at 300 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour (the temperature of the water bath will affect the actual cooking time). Start checking the ramekins after 45 minutes (it could take up to 1 1/2 hours total). They are done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

When cooked through, carefully remove the ramekins from the baking pan and place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then place the ramekins in the refrigerator and chill for 6 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle a thin, even layer of the brown sugar over the tops of each ramekin. Using a kitchen torch, melt the brown sugar until it just starts to bubble. If you do not have a kitchen torch, place the ramekins under preheated broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the sugar is caramelized. Serve immediately.

— From

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.