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.