Steaming Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

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Steaming Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Story and Photos by Emily Scruggs

Priscilla Ortega, St. Mary’s University senior psychology major, prepares her signature dish, spaghetti, by following a coveted family recipe.

When she moved from her family’s home in McAllen, Texas, into a house she shares with her sister in San Antonio, her mother’s spaghetti recipe was one of the comforts of home that Ortega brought with her.

The small campus and strong sense of community are two aspects of St. Mary’s that encouraged Ortega to attend school there.

While these attributes are reminiscent of the small town Ortega grew up in, making her family’s spaghetti recipe is the best remedy when she feels homesick.

Ortega learned the pleasant blend of spices that makes up the spaghetti sauce at the age of 10, under the instruction of her mother and older sister.

Since then, cooking has been a relaxing hobby for her, especially when she feels the stress of balancing school and work.

Italian ranks at the top of her list of favorite foods, along with the Mexican dish botanas.

Though she typically likes diverse dishes, seafood remains to be one type of food that she dislikes.

After graduating from St. Mary’s in May 2012, Ortega plans to attend graduate school abroad to study international relations or mass communication.

She studied in London for a semester during her junior year and cannot wait to return.

London boasts a diverse cuisine, ranging from fish and chips to curry.

Even with the variety of food that will be available to her, Ortega will still keep her family’s spaghetti on the menu.


  • 1 large onion
  • 2 T of butter
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 lbs of ground beef
  • 2 tsp of garlic salt
  • 2 tsp of onion salt
  • 2 tsp of crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp of pepper
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • 16 oz Ragu mushroom sauce
  • 1 package of spaghetti noodles
Serves eight.

Chop onion and sauté with butter and garlic. When onion and garlic have softened, sauté ground beef until completely brown. Add to beef garlic salt, onion salt, red pepper flakes, pepper and cumin. Once everything is softened and well- cooked, pour mushroom sauce over beef and warm over low heat. Boil spaghetti noodles for 10 minutes. Once noodles are soft, serve them on a plate and cover them with beef sauce. Serve in the company of crescent rolls.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Chocolate Fudge Brownies by Daniel Villarreal
Videography and Production by Emily Scruggs

Daniel Villarreal, a sophomore psychology major, makes his favorite dish: chocolate fudge brownies. An avid baker, Villarreal shares his coveted tip for making the best brownies.


  • 1 pkg. Betty Crocker Classic Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • 1 pkg. Hershey’s syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 9″ x 9″ pan


Pour Betty Crocker mix into a large mixing bowl. Add vegetable oil and water, stirring frequently. Next, add the egg. When mixture is mostly blended, add the Hershey’s syrup and stir until completely blended and smooth. Pour mixture into ungreased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. When a toothpick can be inserted and pulled out clean, the brownies are done. Let cool before serving. Serves nine.


Spaghetti by Analicia Perez
Videography and Production by Emily Scruggs

St. Mary’s University student Analicia Perez prepares a spaghetti dinner and reflects on her love of cooking.


  • bay leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • hamburger meat
  • tomato sauce
  • spaghetti noodles
  • mushrooms
  • onions
  • bell peppers
  • garlic


Chop onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and garlic finely. Boil water, sprinkling in a pinch of salt. Saute chopped vegetables in olive oil. Saute meat, breaking up all chunks. Put noodles in boiling water to soften. Add meat and sauteed vegetables to pot of tomato sauce and let mixture heat up. Add bay leaves to sauce mixture. When noodles are soft, drain in strainer and place in bowl or on plate. Pour sauce over noodles. Serve in the company of bread and salad.