From My Kitchen to Your Table

A photo of a pie with the UB logo baked into the crust.

Work on an online cookbook to support Blue Table, UB's new food pantry for students. Build a sense of community, culture and support through celebrating food and cooking.

Project description

Alex Otero loves people and food. Since joining the UB cleaning staff 13 years ago, Alex has connected with faculty, staff and students throughout the university, sharing his love for food and his unwavering spirit of positivity and gratitude.

Those who know Alex know that he worries about our students, especially those who lack access to food or the sense of joy and community that comes with sharing meals and cooking with friends and family.

When Alex learned about Blue Table—UB's new virtual food pantry for students, he was eager to offer his support. In discussions with Mara Huber (Associate Dean and Director of the ELN), he began to envision a project that would build a sense of community around cooking, eating, and engaging in the cultural and social aspects of food.

Through this new project, Alex invites students to work on an online cookbook that will feature members of the UB community, sharing their favorite recipes and stories. Students will lead all aspects of the project from collecting and testing recipes, managing videos and photo shoots, and assembling and marketing the cookbook. All proceeds will support Blue Table and other activities designed to support UB students.

Check out two of Alex's favorite, go-to recipes!

Alex's Calzone Recipe


This is a quick and easy recipe that is also inexpensive. You can use whatever ingredients you like and may add some red sauce for dipping.


  • Ready pizza dough
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Diced ham (optional)
  • Peperoni (optional)
  • ½ stick butter 
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped or smashed)
  • Onions (optional)
  • Green pepper (optional)
  • Mushrooms (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut dough in half
  3. Stretch out pizza dough
  4. Melt garlic with butter
  5. Add garlic butter into dough
  6. Add cheese
  7. Add your choice of ingredients
  8. Add more cheese on top of ingredients
  9. Fold and seal the end of dough
  10. Cook at bottom of oven for 20 minutes or until golden (flipping once)

Alex's Steamed Yellow Rice Recipe

yellow steamed rice on a plate.

This is a traditional Puerto Rican dish that I often eat with my family. Although it contains several ingredients, they are not expensive and can be found in most grocery stores in the Goya aisle. I have tried to add measurements where possible although I never measure when I cook at home, so adjust to your liking.


  • Rice (yellow is traditional, especially at Christmas, but it’s cooked with Green Pigeon Peas!)
  • Sofrito Goya
  • Tomato sauce Goya
  • Adobo Goya
  • Garlic powder
  • Ham flavored seasoning Goya
  • Sazon Goya coriander and annatto
  • Chicken flavor bouillon Goya
  • Vinegar
  • Cooking oil
  • Can of Goya beans, drained


  1. Pour oil just on bottom of pot, add 1 tsp sofrito and pre-heat for a minute
  2. Turn to high and add ½ can of tomato sauce and stir
  3. Add can of beans add water until pot is ½ full (adjust size of pot based on how many you’re cooking for)
  4. Add hint of adobo and 1 pack of ham favor seasoning and 1 pack of sazon Goya, 1 pack of chicken bouillon
  5. Add 3 caps of vinegar and some garlic powder
  6. Stir water, let it come to boil
  7. When boiling, add rice to ½ inch under the water, and continue to cook until water evaporates (do not cover)
  8. Once water evaporates, lower to medium low, stir rice, cover and let it cook for 30 to 35 min, stir once more and let it cook for approximately 10 minutes longer or until done. If rice is still a little hard, add a little water to steam and cook, covered, for another 8 minutes or so.
  9. Serve with friend chicken or pork chops or meat of your preference. 

Project outcome

Students will lead all stages of cookbook development and sales including:

  • Project management 
  • Recipe cultivation 
  • Research and development 
  • Design and layout 
  • Copy writing and editing 
  • Digital media 
  • Marketing

Students will gain related experience and enjoy opportunities to engage with diverse UB offices and programs while building a sense of community around food and cooking.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment About a semester (3-5 months)
Start time Spring (January/February)
Level of collaboration Small group project (2-3 students)
Benefits Other
Who is eligible Anyone

Core partners

Project mentor

Mara Huber

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning, Director of

Experiential Learning Network

Phone: (716) 829-2834


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, sign up for the digital badge series
Fulfilling Academic Major/Minor Requirements

If you are planning to use this project to satisfy program requirements for your academic major or minor, it is your responsibility to obtain approval from your academic department prior to beginning the project. 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

Students will be asked to submit a video profile responding to the following questions/prompts: 

  1. Share a little about yourself and your background. 
  2. What does food mean to you? 
  3. What is your experience with cooking? 
  4. Why are you drawn to this project? 
  5. What would you like to get out of it? 
  6. What do you hope to contribute? 
  7. Anything else you'd like to share.