Stella Uribe is Director of Community Affairs and Educational Grants for the McKinney Independent School District. She traces her traditions to a cultural background that consists of Mexican-American, Native-Indian, Spanish and German ancestry.

“Some of the traditions that come to mind from my Mexican culture involve spending time with family and friends to bake pan de polvo (wedding cookies) and to make delicious tamales for family gatherings,” she said.

Below, Uribe shares the following recipes for her favorite holiday dishes:

Pan De Polvo

6 lbs. flour
3 lbs. shortening
20 oz. sugar
1 yeast cake or 1 envelope of dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 cup strong cinnamon-anise tea *

* Tea is made by boiling 4-6 cinnamon sticks with 1 Tbsp. anise seeds.

With an electric mixer at high speed, whip shortening until very light and fluffy. Add yeast to lukewarm tea and whip into shortening. Add dry ingredients gradually until dough forms. Knead thoroughly until dough is smooth and silky. Dough may then be rolled  out and cut into cookie shapes, or for more traditional pan de polvo, shape into rings by rolling a small amount of dough into a small rope shape, then wrap it around finger to form a small ring. These may be placed close together on an ungreased cookie sheet as they will not spread. Bake at 350 degrees for about six to eight minutes. Cookies should not brown. Roll while warm in cinnamon-sugar mixture or when cool, roll in powdered sugar. Makes about 9 pounds.

Note: Recipe may be halved for easier handling.

From: Celina M. Trevino, San Diego, Texas




The process of making tamales can be somewhat challenging. Enlist family and friends to join you in this tamalada!


5-7 lbs. pork loin/beef (whichever you prefer)
Seasoning for cooked shredded meat:
½ cup chili powder
1 lb. of pure lard (shortening may be substituted)
1-2 Tbsps. of garlic
1 Tbsps. of cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut the roast into fist-size chunks. Put the chunks into a Dutch oven and cover with water. Boil for about 2½ hours or until meat becomes really tender. After the meat is tender, take it out of the broth to cool (and save the broth, because you will need it for the masa).
  2. Shred all the meat with a fork or grind it in a meat processor.
  3. Place the shredded meat in a large cooking pan. Add seasoning spices listed above to give the meat filling its flavor. 
  4. Add 1 lb. of pure lard.
  5. Mix together and cook on medium for about 20 minutes, then simmer for another 20 minutes.


4-5 lbs. of prepared masa (can be purchased at grocery stores)
1½ lbs. of pure lard
3 Tbsps. chili powder
Salt to taste
2-3 cups of hot water (may use broth from the pork/beef if you wish, for additional flavor)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the 4-5 pounds of prepared masa. It is best to cool to room temperature before processing. You will use your hands to break the masa apart. Sprinkle chili powder and salt all over the masa mixture. Add the pure lard into the masa and blend it in using a large spoon. Stir in half of the hot water or broth liquid into the masa and begin to mix. It should start to resemble a thick cake batter. Continue to add more hot water. Blend and work the dough until it is well incorporated with all the ingredients and is smooth.
  2. Once this is complete. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Preparing corn husks:

Combine corn husks, hojas, and enough hot water in a large bowl. Top the husks with a heavy plate to keep them submerged for 10 minutes.

Drain the husks, remove any corn silk and pat dry before assembling tamales. Begin to separate corn husks into 4-5 inch wide sections.


Lay 1 corn husk on a work surface with the wide end closer to you. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of smooth masa mixture into the center of the husk and with the back of the spoon, spread it into a 5-6 inch square. Place about one generous tablespoon of filling into the tamale. It will resemble a column in the center.

Fold one side of the corn husk over the filling, then fold the other side over the filling, and then fold the top down. If your corn husk doesn’t close because there is too much filling, tie the tamale loosely with a thin strip of leftover corn husk or kitchen string. Repeat with the remaining corn husks and filling. 

*Variations of fillings include adding cheese, jalapenos, chicken, etc.


Once the tamales are assembled, line a steamer basket with any remaining corn husks and layer the tamales inside the steamer basket, leaving enough room for them to expand slightly while cooking. Cover the tamales with a tight-fitting lid and steam for 1½ hours, or until the tamales are tender and pull away from the corn husks. Let sit for 10- 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 9-10 dozen, depending on size of tamales

From: Teresa Lamar Uribe, Freer, Texas