Puerto Rican Inspired Empanadas by Carolyn Welker

page-0y wife and I take turns with my sister and her husband preparing dinner for wine night

every month. We played hostess last wine night with Puerto Rican inspired empanadas, which is
my wife’s recipe. If you’ve ever made empanadas, you know they are very time consuming to
make even with pre-made empanada wraps. We prefer to use Goya wraps and we decided to try
out fried and baked wraps this time to see how we liked it. We made shredded chicken, ground
beef and ground turkey empanadas all seasoned with the same ingredients. The ingredients were
as follows: adobo, sazón, pimentos, green bell peppers, onions, tomato sauce, and a little canola
oil. Sazón in particular gives the meat an orange tint, all of the spices give such a rich flavor and
scent. My sister and her husband had never had empanadas prepared this way and seemed to
enjoy them. Wine night is a time where we get to share a meal and spend time with family,
which has always been very important to my wife and I. This will be a lasting tradition that
we’ve carried with us from our childhood, which I’m sure we’ll pass on to our children one day.

Tamales by Brianna Garzes

page-0During the Christmas/New Year season my family likes to get together for a tamalada or
tamale-making party; we gather to cook, assemble, and eat the dish. Everyone, from children, grandparents to family friends, pitches in, in one way or another. This past year I participated with my fiancé’s family where each of us was assigned to cook the fillings, knead masa or prepare wrappers. I hadn’t practiced this tradition in years due to my family being distant, so not only did I not remember how to make tamales, but it also brought up childhood memories. I remember that we would gather at my grandparents’ house and I would help prepare wrappers because that’s all they allowed me to do at such a young age; I also remember playing with the pig head that they would have out before boiling. Although my immediate family no longer gets together for a tamalada, it is nice to know I can still practice this tradition for years to come with my soon to be in-laws.

Strawberry Shortcake by Brianna Garzes

Just this past weekend the 68th Annual Strawberry Festival was held in Poteet, Texas, which helped me decide to blog about strawberry shortcake. I could have chosen strawberries in general since they are what is being celebrated, but chose strawberry shortcake because out of all the strawberry desserts you can find there that is the most indulged one. Strawberry shortcake is a delicious dessert that I only have the chance of enjoying during late March or early April, when the festival is held. This dessert means a lot to me because although Poteet is very small and unknown, most people can relate strawberries to our city. Although you can easily purchase one at a food booth during the festival, my family likes to buy a flat of strawberries from a local farmer and use them to make our own. We smash the strawberries, add a little sugar to them, then serve them over a piece of shortcake and add whip cream to top it off.

Chicken Fajita and Marinade by Christopher Rodriguez

page-0Alright class, today I am going to teach you to make a simple marinade for chicken fajita. The ingredients consist of Italian dressing, salt, pepper, lemon juice and for a little extra spice chili pepper flakes. First we cut the chicken breast into one inch slices, not cutting them too thinly as they will shrink during the cooking process. You can also purchase chicken fajita already cut at you local grocery store, if you want to skip the cutting process. Next put the cut chicken into your container, I used a plastic Tupperware container with a lid to help minimize the mess. Next add your marinade into the container and mix thoroughly, I used my hands with plastic gloves, but a spoon will do fine. After the marinade is applied cover the container and put it in the fridge to sit for a few hours or over night. From here the chicken could go onto the grill as is or if one were culinary inclined a dry rub could be used next. I used a lemon pepper dry rub, but chicken fajita rubs are available at the grocery store as well. Now cook, serve and enjoy! This is a simple meal to prepare and I make it for my friends all the time. Good luck and happy cooking!

Pan Dulce by Brandon Hernandez

I got to spend time at my grandfathers this spring break Which I can guiltily admit I don’t do as often as I should. He has a live in maid with him and I happened to go over while she and my aunt were cooking a bunch of desserts and of course I got coerced into helping. They were extremely messy as they were baking from scratch pan dulce. Now, I have bought pan dulce for my grandpa for years as that’s his favorite dessert but never seen it made let alone helped! Cutting a long story short, my bread did not come out so good and I was a mess. My aunts and the maid had a perfect dessert bread come out of the old school oven just like the ones I would buy from the bakery all the years I would pick it up for my grandpa before I came over. I admit, I’ve never seen them make this bread before and I will never again attempt to make pan dulce again but it was an interesting perspective for seeing how such a dessert is crafted from my grandpas maid who used to be a bakery chef in Mexico when she was young. It was a fun experience (minus the mess I made) but I think I will continue to buy my grandpas sweet bread instead of help make it.

Lockhart, Texas BBQ by Natalie Ibarra

page-0On nice days, my grandpa would like to take a trip to Lockhart Texas (to the east of San Marcos). I don’t know if you have heard about Lockhart, but there are a lot of BBQ places that have gotten great reviews, and have even appeared on the food channel. In Lockhart there is a BBQ place called Kreuz Market. It is a family owned restaurant. Every time we go there, we see the same people working the same thing they did when we last went. Their BBQ is amazing. Kreuz even has a thing where they don’t allow any BBQ sauce to be eaten there in their restaurant. If you don’t like it, they are more than welcome to escort you out. Ever since my grandpa took us to Kreuz, the family has continued to make trips out there to reminisce about the good times we had with him. To me, Lockhart will always be a blissful memory of my grandpa.

Christmas Tamale Making Tradition by Natalie Ibarra

page-0Every year in December, my family gets together to make tamales for Christmas and New Years Eve. It usually occurs during the second weekend of December. We all take the day off of work and get together at my grandmas’ house. We start at five in the morning and usually don’t finish till late in the afternoon. We make all kinds of tamales, from pork, to beans, to bean and jalapeño, to chile (pork in a gravy sauce with jalapeño), and chicken. My Tias (aunts) start by making the masa. Then when that is done, the young adults get to spread the masa on the cornhusk. Although this may seem easy, there actually is a technique to it. After we spread the masa we (aunts and young adult children) fill the tamale with the pork or whatever filling you like and roll them up. Last the Tios (uncles) put the tamales in the big pot and on to the stove. It’s a time were the family can be together and enjoy the time we have left with each other. It’s not every day that we get to see each other. Our favorite part of making the tamales is trying them when they are finished. For me, the tamale represents family quality time. Even though my grandma and grandpa aren’t here anymore, we still continue the tradition.

Mole by Brandon Hernandez

Christmas time is always the season i put on about ten pounds. I have various family members in the military and out of state, interracial marriages, family separations and such craziness allows for multiple meals and of different styles which I love! My father is for the most part separated from his family and rarely shows any nastaligic tendencies st anytime except for one specific dish that is a MUST for Christmas time, Mole. He loves it and goes out of the way of the family plans to make it at least five times throughout Defember. Well, I can’t stand it! I dont like the taste or the way it makes the house smell! But somethings are worth grinning and baring for the sake of loved ones; there is nothing quite like seeing a man in his fifties who is tall and wide enough to count as two men act like a child over a dish. He claims it was a rarity as a child when he was growing up and that they only had it once a year but being poor and the oldest of ten kids he would often defer his portions for his younger brothers and sisters. That’s why I don’t have the heart to tell him we all hate it, and eat it way too often all the month of Defember!

Guacamole by Victoria Zerda

Avacado, onion, tomato, cilantro, and lime are staples of Tex-mex cuisine, and Mexican cuisine in general. All of these items represent remnants of my culture and history: my family, our traditions, our holidays together, and the survival of my loved ones who have passed through my love of food that we once shared. My grandmother was a firm believer in guacamole goes with EVERYTHING; for eighteen years there was always a Tupperware container of guacamole (or more) sitting in my grandmother’s fridge every time I cracked it open.  At nineteen my grandmother became ill with Alzheimer’s and dementia; her memory of the recipe faded, and then her ability to cook, and then the Tupperware containers, filled with her beloved guacamole, disappeared too. This food item in particular is popular cross culturally, but for me, still represents my grandma mashing something together because there was nothing else at her disposal. For my family, guacamole will always be a food of comfort, nostalgia, love, and survival.

Tacos by Brandon Hernandez

my grandmother is the ultimate cook in terms of cooking for ten or more kids running in or out of the house! She knew how to work that stove! Potatoe and egg on one burner, bean and cheese on the other, and my favorite chorizo and egg. She was a human drive-thru, one kid runs in and runs out with a taco followed by the next cousin, then the next, and so on. As I grew up I realized that Tex Mex taco shops just don’t seem to cut it when I order chorizo and egg having been spoiled by the way my grandma used to make it with time and effort so I make my own. Every other taco I buy because I’m lazy but when I crave my favorite chorizo and egg I take the time and turn on the stove and do the best I can to replicate the taco with sentimental value and memory of my grandmother before her health decline. Fun fact, it really isn one of the very very few things I can make myself!