Chinese Stir-Fry


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Chinese Stir-Fry by Norma Garza
Story and Photos by Claudia D. Cardona

When deciding what dish to prepare and eat, Norma Garza, assistant to the director of alumni events, felt adventurous.
Garza typically bakes desserts or makes Tex-Mex dishes, but today she remembered a recipe she saw for a Chinese stir-fry. Cooking has always been a task that Garza enjoys because of her love for detail-oriented tasks and planning.
“I love trying out new recipes. It’s like a new adventure every time,” she says.
Garza wanted to make something not too hard, but also not straight from a box. She does not cook too often for herself at home, but prefers to when she expects company.
At family gatherings, everyone looks forward to what Garza has prepared. For all of her nieces and nephews, she bakes their favorite type of cake for their birthday. Although she mainly bakes, she also enjoys cooking because it reminds her of her childhood. “I started cooking with my mom at a young age so I could start learning how to make her dishes,” Garza says. “That’s how all of our recipes got passed down.”
Garza says that the stir-fry is fairly simple and fast to make. A stir-fry is perfect dish for those who want a quick dish. The hardest part is cutting up the two cloves, so Garza advises to put the one whole clove into the dish.
This was the first time that Garza had made the dish, but it turned out successfully. After preparing the dish, Garza also added soy sauce to the stir-fry to add a little flavor.
“I always have to have some sort of spice or flavor,” Garza says. “Or else it just tastes to bland to me.”
Her final product was served alongside brown rice, which gave the perfect finish to a Sunday night dish.


  • 2 cups MINUTE Brown Rice, uncooked
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in strips
  • 1 medium Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, drained and juice reserved
  • 1/4 cup KIKKOMAN Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup KIKKOMAN Stir-Fry Sauce

Prepare rice according to package directions. Heat oil in non-stick large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; stir-fry 5 to 7 minutes or until no longer pink. Add onion, broccoli, ginger and garlic to skillet; stir-fry 3 minutes longer. Combine reserved juice, stir-fry sauce, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl; add to skillet. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add pineapple. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 2 to 3 minutes more. Serve over brown rice.

Zambian Twist on Chicken

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Inkoko Umusalu by Nebby Mutuale
Story and photos by Erick Cerritos

The Rev. Nebby Mutale, a graduate student in communication at St. Mary’s and a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, presently lives in the George Sexton House of Studies in San Antonio.

Mutale chose to prepare a dish that is fairly common in his home country of Zambia called Inkoko Imusalu.

Mutale enjoys cooking and many of the religious brothers in his residence appreciate the food he makes for everyone.

He says the dish is fairly easy to make, and most U.S. citizens shouldn’t feel intimidated to try it out.

Mutale is a full-time student and cooking is something he loves to do when he is not studying for his classes.

“Many are able to make inkoko umusalu in Zambia,” Mutale says, because it is quite easy to observe how others prepare it.



  • 5 lbs chicken thighs
  • 5 tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion
  • 1 Maggi Chicken Flavor Bouillon Cube
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo all purpose seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • salt to taste

Makes 10 servings.



Add chicken thighs to a large pot filled with water to just barely cover chicken and set to high for boiling. To pot add 1 tablespoon each of curry powder, black peppercorns, ground turmeric, and Adobo all purpose seasoning. Mix everything together and cook for approximately 15-25 minutes until chicken is cooked stirring occasionally.Chop 1 whole onion into small pieces (about pea sized) and set aside in a large bowl. Cut 5 medium sized tomatoes into medium sized pieces and set aside in bowl with onion. Chop 1 green bell pepper into small pieces (about pea sized) making sure to remove, stem, seeds and veins and set aside in bowl with tomatoes and onion. Finely mince 5 cloves of garlic and add to bowl. To a large, medium depth frying pan, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Once chicken is cooked, turn off heat and turn on medium depth frying pan. Remove chicken from pot and place in pan to fry until a deep golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Once browned, remove chicken and set aside. To frying pan, add chopped onion, tomato, green bell pepper, and garlic with about a tablespoon of lemon pepper and 1 Maggi Chicken Flavor Bouillon Cube. Stir and cover for approximately 10 minutes until all vegetables are cooked and make a slightly chunky soup consistency. Add salt to taste. Turn off pan. Add fried chicken back to frying pan with cooked vegetables and stir.


Bacon Avocado Pasta

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Bacon Avocado Pasta by Everaldo Avila
Story and photos by David Wilkins

St. Mary’s very own Everaldo Avila, whipped up a bacon, avocado salad that has been a dish in his family for many years. Originally, from St. Louis Missouri, Avila plans to join the Air Force after receiving his degree to pursue his dream job in the FBI.

“I have always wanted to be a FBI. agent since I can remember, especially since I leaved in a neighborhood that was treated poorly by the police department. I understand they mean good and I would hope I can add to that,” he says.

When asked why he had chosen St. Mary’s he explained he attended Chaminade College Prep and has a very strong connection with the University because Chaminade is a sister school to St. Mary’s. Avila was the first from his school that received the St. Louis Scholars Award.

“The scholarship actually gave me a full ride to St. Mary’s and if it wasn’t for that, I probably wouldn’t be here, but, luckily I am and I am grateful. I love St. Mary’s it has shaped me as a student and a person, plus I enjoy the family atmosphere,” says Avila.

Avila explained his favorite foods is Mexican but recently developed a taste for Italian.

“I basically enjoy any type of Mexican food; I really like the spices. Recently I’ve been eating Italian food so I’ve been cooking it a lot more,” he says.

This recipe has been in the Avila family for years.

“I don’t know why the dish is made every year or when it started but it is something that we do,” he says.

Avila advises when making the dish to follow the instruction closely except for the meats. The bacon and chicken is left up to the chief.

“If you enjoy your meats then double” says Avila.


Bacon Avocado Salad


  • 12 ounces elbows pasta
  • 5 slices bacon, diced
  • ½ cup of grilled chicken
  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, for garnish


Lemon thyme dressing

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil



To make the dressing, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and thyme in the bowl of a food processor; season with salt and pepper, to taste. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. In a large bowl, combine pasta, bacon, avocado, lemon-thyme dressing, salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnished with thyme.

Enchiladas de Mole

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Enchiladas de Mole by Valeria Perez
Story and photos by Ruben Dominguez

There are many authentic Mexican dishes, but for first-year graduate student Valerie Perez, there is one that means much more to her than a good meal.

“It reminds me of family,” Perez says, “I remember eating it often as a kid when I would visit my mother’s family who reside in San Luis, Potosi, Rio Verde.”

This dish, known to many as Enchiladas de Mole, is a popular dish in the Mexican culture. It is often served at weddings and Quinceaneras. The special sauce which originated from Puebla, Mexico, is a traditional ingredient of that particular area. This Oaxacan cuisine can be found used on many other Mexican dishes such as tamales, quesadillas, and chapulines.

“Mole is one of my favorite Mexican entrees to cook and eat because the sauce is different compared to other famous Mexican dishes.” Perez says.

The sauce that Perez enjoys preparing contains chocolate to give it a rich, sweet taste for its consumers. This is interesting aspect to the Mexican food enthusiast who prepares this dish quite often for dinner parties for friends in her hometown of Dallas, Texas.

“The mole sauce has a little bit of chocolate in it but you can’t really taste the chocolate when you try it,” Perez says.

In cooking this dish, Perez feels that she can connect back to her cultural heritage, something she appreciates about St. Mary’s University as well. She was inspired to make this dish after taking a Mexican-American literature course that has sparked her interest in knowing more about her roots. While the task to make them perfect is a challenge, learning to create a dish worth much more than just a great taste is an adequate reward worth the hardship.

If there was any advice on making the dish, the graduate student says to follow the instructions carefully, but not to be afraid to switch things up and put your own twist on things. This is the key to making the dish meaningful.

“Every time I make this dish, I want to make my critics remember it,” Perez says, “and to make all those that made it before me proud.”


  • 2 1/2 cups of cooked chicken, already shredded
  • 3 cups of warm mole sauce
  • 12 tortillas
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium size white onion, thinly sliced
  • Lettuce or any salad spring mix of your liking
  • Diced tomatoes, cucumber, freshly cut pineapples
  • Any type of salad dressing
  • Optional: basil, white shredded cheese, avocado
  • Two Frying pans


First, You will need two frying pans. Place the mole sauce in one of the frying pans and set over medium low heat. Have a plate covered with paper towels ready. Meanwhile, add the vegetable oil in the other frying pan and turn the heat to high. Once the oil is hot, turn down the heat to medium and start frying the tortillas in a fast pace, turning once. The tortilla should turn soft but without any excess oil. Place the tortillas over the paper towel-covered plate to absorb the oil. Keep them warm. After frying all the tortillas, dip them one by one with the help of kitchen tongs (or your hand and a large spatula) into the warm mole sauce, making sure it is completely submerged. This is also a step that’s done quickly, to avoid breaking the tortillas. Place the tortilla onto a plate and add the chicken filling right at the center. Fold the tortilla in the tube form and, with the help of your spatula, place the enchilada on your serving plates. If needed, spoon some more mole sauce over the enchiladas. (I use one plate exclusively to assemble the enchiladas before placing them on the serving dish). Just before serving, garnish with the crumbed cheese and finely sliced onions (and/or) basil. Prepare the salad with lettuce, spring mix. Add the diced tomatoes, diced cucumber and pieces of pineapple onto the salad. Cut the avocado and add it onto the salad or on the side. Makes 3-4 servings.



Caramel Apple Pizza

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Caramel Apple Pizza
Story and Photos by Guillermo Avelar  

They key to happiness is doing what you love—a mantra that Alina Fernandez has adopted for her life.

Born and raised in Eagle Pass, Texas, Fernandez is pursuing an undergraduate degree in exercise and sport science.

She has had exposure to the field by working at her hometown as a physician assistant and is always searching for opportunities to further develop her skills.

Fernandez started attending St. Mary’s in fall 2014.

“I chose this university because it’s small and it has a strong community feeling. Also, I enjoy the personalized attention students get with faculty as it maximizes my learning process,” Fernandez says.

Fernandez describes cooking and baking as one of her favorite hobbies.

“I am comfortable cooking and baking anything; it is my way to take a break from life whenever there is too much academic pressure,” Fernandez adds.

“I decided to bake an Apple Carmel Pizza because, despite the fact I don’t really have a sweet-tooth, this dessert is probably the best dessert there is. I enjoy eating it, and so do everyone else,” she says.

Although the process takes between two to three hours, Fernandez assures that it is “extremely easy and fun to make.”

The dish requires mixing ingredients to form different pastes to spread on top of the cookie crust.

Fernandez likes this dessert so much because “it looks like a pizza, but it tastes like a cookie.”

Additionally, she explains how the Apple Caramel Pizza adds healthy ingredients, such as apples and walnuts, to make it taste better and be healthier.

As with everything Fernandez prepares, the best advice is to “make everything with love, and add a little pinch of joy, as well the obvious, of having fun throughout the process.”



  • 3/4 cup of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of walnuts
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • 1/2 lb of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cups of powder sugar
  • 1/2 cup of caramel sauce

Makes 8-12 slices



First, preheat oven to 300°F to toast walnuts. To make the dough, in a large bowl, mix 1/2 a cup of softened butter with sugar until everything is evenly mixed. Add to the large bowl an egg and 1 tsp of vanilla extract and beat it together until a smooth paste is created. Then, in a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon until evenly mixed. Combine the mixture of both bowls thoroughly. Once this is completed, cover the dough and place in the refrigerator from 30 minutes to 4 hours. In a baking rack, place the walnuts and toast them on the oven for 10 minutes; set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 12-inch pizza pan for crust. Remove dough from refrigerator and form a circular shape on the pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crust is slightly brown; remove and allow crust to cool completely. Meanwhile, slice both apples thinly (you can use club soda to prevent apples to turn brown) and place aside. For the frosting, beat cream cheese and ¼ cup of butter in a large bowl. Add powder sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and ¼ cup of caramel sauce and beat it until completely combined. Finally, spread the frosting evenly unto the crust and place sliced apples and toasted walnuts on top. To finish, drizzle caramel as preferred.





Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

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Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

Story and Photos by Clarissa M. Yanar

Upon entering the kitchen the smells of a previous meal filled the air, the chef was ready to bake with and apron on and an eager look on her face; the next few hours were sure to be eventful and most of all flavorful.

Ana Claudia Irigoyen, a Senior Marketing major, starts by explaining that the cookies she’s about to make are addictive, “So Beware!” While getting things out to begin she mentions she might pursue baking as a career, “I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and take a few cooking classes, maybe have my own place one day.” Her marketing degree might help her in the business side of her bakery and her passion will be translated into everything she makes.

Being a St. Mary’s student makes Irigoyen feel more confident about her dreams because of how her professors motivate her on a daily basis. “All my professors know me by name and know what I want for my future,” says Irigoyen. What she says she loves most about being here is that it feels like a “close community” and everyone gets involved in helping her reach her success.

Her tips for baking can be thought of as well as the tips for life. She says her number one tip for baking would be, “Don’t be afraid of failure. Some of the greatest recipes were thought to be failures!” Watching the passion she put into her baking proved that she knew how to experiment with flavors to get the best outcome.

Irigoyen’s favorite things are all sweets, so she loves to bake cakes, cookies, and anything that will fill her sweet tooth. Her favorite dessert is tiramisu, “I have never made it myself because of the fear that I won’t meet my own expectations in capturing all the sweet goodness.” She says her kitchen is her sanctuary and her oven is where the magic happens. What’s her favorite part? “I love turning on the oven light and watching my creations happen, “ she says.

This specific recipe was chosen because it is the first thing her mom ever taught her to make. “There are few ingredients, it’s simple, and most of all it’s fun to make, “ says Irigoyen. She loved baking ever since that time and she couldn’t think of a better recipe to showcase.

Of course, like every good chef she has advice on preparing her recipe. While making the cookie balls before putting them in the oven, “Try to use only the tips of your fingers. The batter will be sticky so don’t worry if they don’t look perfect, they will taste great either way.”


  • 1 Stick of Butter
  • 3oz of Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla
  • 1 Cup of Flour
  • ½ Cup of Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Pack of Oreos
  • 1 Large Cookie Sheet
  • Wax Paper


First you always have to remember to preheat your oven. In this case leave it at 375 degrees F. Before you start prep your cookie sheet because later on your hands will be sticky. Place a sheet of wax cooking paper on cookie sheet. The first step to making your batter is to whip the butter with the cream cheese with your mixer at a medium speed. When they are completely whipped, add your sugar and vanilla to mix and keep beating. With the mixer still going at a steady speed, sprinkle the flour in to the mix at a slow place; not all at once. After all the flour is sprinkled in the mixer, add the chocolate chips and keep mixing at the previous speed until mixture looks even. In a separate bowl crush the Oreo’s finely. You can also use a food processor for a finer crumble. The next step is to start to make balls from the flour mixture and cover them with the crushed Oreo’s. When placing them into your Oreo crumble try to cover as much as possible, but they don’t have to be completely covered. Place each ball about an inch apart on the cookie sheet. When all the batter is balled up place your cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.


Gateway Tofu: A re-introduction to an often misjudged dish

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Gateway Tofu, a re-introduction to an often misjudged dish

 Kelly Baron, Information Management Systems major, is a brilliant tech student with a savvy taste palate.

When not in school, Kelly works for a global tech-startup called S&P’s Capital IQ in New York. The company provides financial services to compete with the Bloomberg Terminal.

Far from home, Kelly says she loves St. Mary’s University’s community aspect and dedicated professors that teach here.

“The business school here is really good, and their MIS (management information systems) program is cutting edge.”

As demanding as school can be, Kelly always makes time to cook her own meals, and always from the best ingredients.

“I stick to a plant based diet. Whatever’s in season. I also like imported cheeses, cured meat, tofu and lentils”

Her New York roots have cultivated her culinary talents by surrounding her with the cultural diversity that resides there. Kelly says her favorite cuisine is Southeast Asian and Moroccan, but she is always interested in anything new.

She calls this particular dish Gateway Tofu because she says it’s a great intro for people that have never had tofu.

“It’s easy to make and is ready in 45 minutes. With some TV and a little wine, you’ve basically got the perfect set-up for a sweet date night. “

Kelly encourages those that have tried tofu before and not liked it to give it another shot.

“Poorly prepared tofu is the most common reason some people haven’t taking a liking to it. The best recipes come from the culture’s that have it the most. I recommend Ma Po Tofu for those starting out.”


  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons mild honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound firm tofu, drained


Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine the onion, oil, vinegar, wine, dill, mustard, honey, and salt. Pat the tofu dry with paper towels. Slice the block 1/2 inch thick. You should get 12 pieces. Place the tofu slices in a baking dish that can hold them in a single snug layer. Pour the marinade over the tofu. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the marinade is no longer liquid, and the onions are crisp and caramelized. Serve as a vegetarian entree on top of a bed of lentils or rice. The tofu is great room temperature or warm.

From Big Girl Small Kitchen online, by Peter Berley.