Arroz Con Gandules

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Arroz Con Gandules
Story and Photos by Felix Arroyo

In a world full of spices and flavors, where meals can make a person feel like it was prepared solely for them, Ari Rivera, a senior majoring in forensic science, chooses to create the most recognized and popular Puerto Rican dish, Arroz con Gandules.

Rivera, originally from Killeen Texas, has been a President’s Ambassador, served as a writer and former news editor for The Rattler and presently works for Residence Life.

After receiving her bachelor of arts degree in English-communications arts, Rivera returned to St. Mary’s to complete a second undergraduate degree in forensic science.

She hopes to find a position in San Antonio as a blood splatter analyst and eventually go on to work for the F.B.I. Rivera appreciates the community atmosphere at St. Mary’s and the many ways to get involved with the university and local community.

For Rivera, Arroz Con Gandules is a special dish since her father is Puerto Rican (her mother from Guam).

“I enjoy making food from both of their backgrounds. Both feature rice cooked in different ways combined with vegetables,” says Rivera.

Although her older sister is the one who first taught her how to prepare this dish, Rivera believes that she can now do it much better.

Known by friends for creating creative and colorful desserts, Rivera enjoys preparing this dish because wants to show that she can create a meal as well.

Rivera, who also enjoys baking, notes that her favorite dish, red velvet cupcakes which go great with this dish, always brighten her day she says as she serves.


  • small handful of roasted ham chunks
  • 1 tsp of Olive oil
  • 1 pack Sazon con achiote
  • Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tsp of Tomato sauce
  • Gandules (one can per 4-6 people)/ pigeon peas
  • white rice (one cup per 4-5 people)
  • water (one cup per every cup of rice)
  • 1 can of Vienna sausage
  • 1 pack of galdo de tamato con sabor de pollo
  • 1 T of cut salad olives
  • 1 tsp of roasted bell peppers
  • 1½ T of Recao/sofrito


Set a medium sized pot to heat medium and then pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place sliced ham into pot stir and let simmer for 5 minutes. Place cut Vienna Sausages in and let simmer for another minute. Pour 1½ tablespoon of ricao/sofrito into pot. Pour 1 teaspoon of tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of salad olives. Cut 1 teaspoon or small handful of roasted bell peppers and toss into pot. Pour one can of gandules/pigeon peas into pot fill cant with water and pour into pot. Drop one pack of Sazon con achiote and 1 pack of galdo de tamato con sabor de pollo into pot.  Sprinkle adobo seasoning to slightly coat the top of the sauce in pot. Pick up pot and mix or slightly shake to mix ingredients. Run water over 1 cup of rice to get rice clean and then pour into pot with a separate cup of water as well. Stir contents and let sit till rice turns a gold color and till rice is soft not wet. Serves 4-5 people.

Tropical Pineapple Cupcakes with Citrus Cream Frosting

Tropical Pineapple Cupcakes with Citrus Cream Frosting
Story and Photo by Denice Hernandez

A genuine love for food, a sweet tooth and a curious desire to try new desserts is all it takes to turn an ordinary chef into a cupcake fanatic.

Ari Rivera graduated from St. Mary’s University with a bachelor’s degree in English-communication arts, and is currently pursuing her second degree in forensic science.

“I would like to get into serology, pathology, or even research. I would really like to get into that and open up a bakery later in life,” she says.

From an early age, Rivera began exploring the world of baking with her mother and sister, and her love for oven treats has been growing ever since.

“I remember my favorite being pecan pie. My mom had me make it every thanksgiving since I was 12 I think,” she says. “My mom showed me different recipes and my sister has always been supportive of my cupcake love.”

In fact, Rivera’s recently perfected dish, tropical pineapple cupcakes with citrus cream frosting, was created from a recipe she selected from a cupcake book given to her by her sister.
Rivera brought baking back into her life after being inspired by a feature film she saw some years ago.

“My passion for baking was left on the back burner for a really long time, until 2007 when I watched Stranger than Fiction. I loved Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character and I realized, I definitely want to own a bakery like her one day,” says the aspiring pastry chef.

Although cupcakes and science seem to be worlds apart, Rivera says baking is a scientific process.

“It is scientific—the way chemicals, ingredients and flavors come together,” she says. Getting proportions right is often the most challenging part of the baking process, she added.

According to Rivera, the best part of a cupcake is, simply, the cake.

“So many times a cupcake is merely used as a vehicle for frosting that is often too sweet,” she says. “I prefer to focus on the quality of the cake in moisture and flavor and having frosting that tastes like more than just sugar.”

Spicy Asian foods are also a favorite of the cupcake chef.

Rivera says she enjoys the nurturing and feminine aspects of baking, but she also loves the art of making a mess.

The cupcake enthusiast admits to a couple of kitchen blunders in the past.

“I have spilled more mixes than I would like to admit,” the pastry chef says with a grin.

“I have even dropped completed pies outside. It was not funny at the time, but now I can look back and laugh.”

Rivera encourages beginners to have a sense of humor when learning how to bake, and most importantly, dare to experiment.

“You have to try new things all the time if you are going broaden your horizons. Take a recipe and give it a twist, you might be surprised!”



  • 2 slices canned pineapple in juice
  • 6 tsp butter
  • 3/8 c superfine sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 5/8 c self-rising flour
  • 1 T pineapple juice


  • 2 T butter
  • 3/8 c cream cheese
  • 1 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon or lime juice

Makes 12 cupcakes.

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place twelve cupcake papers in a muffin pan. Then, finely chop pineapple slices and set aside. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the egg. Add the flour to the mix and, using a large metal spoon, fold all the ingredients in the mix. Next, fold in the pineapple and pineapple juice. Finally, Spoon the batter into the paper cases. While cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting. Mix the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Then sift confectioners’ sugar into the mix and beat it all together; gradually beat in the juice from the lemon. Let the cupcakes cool before applying frosting. Once frosted, store cupcakes in refrigerator and serve cool.