Flan De Queso

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Flan de Queso
Story and photos by Holly Basaldu

Johanna Magee, a child of both Mexico and New York, shares with us her favorite dishes, some imprinted cooking experiences and an insight into why cooking is a part of her identity. A sophomore international relations and political science double-major at St. Mary’s University, Magee embraces cooking as a way to feel at home.

Studying far from home, Magee explains her aunt’s friend, an alumnus of St. Mary’s, recommended her to the university’s English program to assist her in bridging the gap between English and Spanish.

She also loves the home environment that St. Mary’s provides. Geography plays into another big part being close to Mexico—she’s never too far from her Mother.

“My mom’s food led me into the kitchen…I wouldn’t like the way she cooked something so I would end up going into the kitchen to see if I could redo it my own way,” she says.

My mother “is my inspiration. She is why I started into the kitchen in the first place,” Magee explains.

Influenced by the Italian family environment, Magee’s favorite type of dishes are pasta-dependent, which include lasagna and Penne de Vodka—a penne pasta with a tomato vodka sauce that has a creamy, rich taste.

Cooking helps her distress and results in having a delicious treat in the end. Enjoying time in the kitchen, she shows how to make Flan.

“This is the dish my mom taught me when I was young, and this is my favorite dessert,” she says.



Aluminum Foil

Baking Pan 9″x9″


Can Opener


Measuring Cups (½ cup)

Oven Mitten



Condensed Milk- 1 Can (14oz)

Cream Cheese- 1 Bar (4oz)

Eggs- 4 (large)

Evaporated Milk- 1 Can (12oz)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil- 2tsp or Non-stick cooking spray

Milk- ½ Cup

Sugar- ½ Cup

Pre-heat oven to 350°F .Drizzle EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) or spray with non-stick cooking spray and Sugar on the bottom of the Baking Pan. Heat the pan over the stove top on medium (this makes a sugary glaze on top) or put into oven for 3-5 minutes (till golden brown). Combine the rest of the ingredients into the blender and blend on high till you get a thick consistency. Pour the mixture into the pan over the sugary glaze. Cover the pan with Aluminum Foil. Bake at 350°F for 35m-45m, till golden brown (it will puff up and rise during the baking). Let cool at room temperature for 35m. Carefully in a knife along the edges, then flip the Pan onto a serving plate.

Strawberry Jelly Cake

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Strawberry Jelly Cake
Story and Photos by Selina Rodriguez

A good challenge and spending quality time with others is something that inspired Iris Bermea, an alumna of St. Mary’s Univeristy, to choose cooking as a hobby.

Bermea graduated from St. Mary’s with a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science and is currently working for Cadillac dealership.

“I enjoy the company I work for right now and plan on growing with it,” she says.

Bermea says her love of cooking and baking was inspired by her mother whom she watched cook just about every family meal since she was little.

“I remember always wanting to help my mom cook for our family and being really proud when everyone liked the meal we had prepared,” she says.

“She has taught me to cook every dish that I now know how to make and I am so grateful to her for that. I am trying to make some new dishes here and there though,” Bermea says.

In 2016, Bermea’s chili recipe won 2nd Place at the St. Mary’s inaugural chill cook-off.

“St. Mary’s was a great university to attend. I love the community-based environment; nothing compares to the friendships I made there,” she says.

“I thought I would prepare this new cake dish because I have a co-worker’s birthday coming up. I love making recipes with and for people. It’s a good and inexpensive way to make people feel special on their birthdays because they know you put in that effort for them,” she says.

“I don’t really have a favorite type of food. I truly love all kinds. I am not a picky eater at all but I love my mom’s chicken quesadillas if I had to pick,” she says.

To a fellow cook or baker, Bermea offers important advice.

“Never give up on trying to perfect a dish. It won’t always be a piece of cake, but just try to enjoy it and learn from mistakes you make. You will get better with practice and a positive attitude,” Bermea advises.


  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
  • 1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
  • 1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
  • 7 cups confectioners’ sugar

Makes 8 servings.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Then, in a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. For the frosting: In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the strawberry extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth. Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.


Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies by Daniela Borrego
Videography and Production by Holly Basaldu

Daniela Borrego shows us how to make sugar cookies from scratch, while telling us a little about her life in the kitchen. As we follow her into the oven we’ll also discover how she came to like cooking and why she enjoys it.


  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture in 2 batches until just incorporated.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out the dough on a floured surface, dusting with flour as needed, until about 1/8 inch thick.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely before icing, about 5 minutes.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes by Isabela Vasquez
Videography and Production by Sara Jauregui

Isabela Vasquez, freshman at St. Mary’s University, shows how she made Chocolate Cupcakes perfect for Halloween. Her interest in cooking and baking has allowed her to push her limits and try making cupcakes, a new method of baking for her. Isabela discusses how baking is easy as long as you know how to follow a simple recipe and add your own creative twist to it.


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Frosting
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line cupcake pans. In a large bowl, stir together all of the dry ingredients: the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Next add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be very thin. Pour evenly into the lined cupcake pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cupcakes test done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to cool completely. Decorate when cupcakes are completely cool.

Recipe makes 18 small cupcakes or 12 large cupcakes.


Almond Bread

Almond Bread by Maximiliano Lerma
Videography and Production by Claudia Arredondo

Maximiliano Lerma, a sophomore at St.Mary’s University shares a part of his holiday tradition by showing us how to make almond bread. He demonstrates how to prepare the almond bread that he typically gives out between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.


  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs and sugar for about 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and beat for 2 minutes Heavily grease 2 8×4.5 pans. Coat the greased pans with sugar. Evenly distribute the batter into the greased and sugared pans. If there is extra batter grease and sugar 1 8 mini loaf pan, then evenly pour the extra batter into 4 of the loafs. If you would like to add an extra crunch, take some fresh almonds, crush them, lightly dust with flour and then sprinkle the crushed almonds on top of the batter. Bake mini loafs for 20-23 minutes and the big loafs for 1 hour. Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes then remove bread from pans.

Caramel Apple Pizza

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Caramel Apple Pizza by Alina Fernandez
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 by Ana Claudia Irigoyen
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.