Food service manager makes headlines with egg tacos
Excellent Egg tacos
Makes ¼ cup
• 2 1/4 teaspoons paprika
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 1 ¼ teaspoons garlic powder
• ¼ teaspoon cumin
In small bowl, blend all ingredients. Set aside.
Makes 42 tacos
• 6 pounds eggs, liquid
• 1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded
• About 1 ¼ cups chopped vegetables — fresh onion, green and red peppers
• 42 6-inch flour tortillas
• 2.5 quarts salsa, thick and chunky
Heat the oven to 350 F.
Beat eggs. In a spray-coated or buttered pan over medium heat, cook and scramble eggs in small batches until firm throughout, with no visible liquid egg remaining. Stir in taco seasoning, cheese and vegetable blend. Keep warm.
Place tortillas on a lined sheet pan. For each serving, measure ¾ cup of egg mixture onto one side of each tortilla, then fold the other side over it.
Bake 5 to 8 minutes, or until tacos are heated through.
Serve warm, with 2 ounces of salsa per serving.
(Recipe from American Egg Board, adapted by Ella Mae Scott, food service manager at Broken Arrow Elementary.)
Ella Mae Scott is sure her modified recipe for egg tacos tastes better than any tortilla-wrapped breakfast item McDonald’s has to offer.
And when the food service manager at Broken Arrow Elementary tried it out on her students last October, the students agreed.
“They loved it. They were like, ‘Are we going to have this next year … are we going to have this all the time in place of the burrito?’” Scott recalled, noting the breakfast burrito that is normally featured on Broken Arrow’s breakfast menu. “I had a couple kids that didn’t care for it, but I serve almost 100 kids for breakfast, so 95 percent of them, they loved it. And as a matter of fact, they want to celebrate, too, so … they want me to make it for them for breakfast again one day.”
The breakfast celebration Scott is referring to might happen in the near future, as Scott’s recipe recently was featured online in the January digital edition of School Nutrition Magazine. The flagship magazine for the School Nutrition Association is a national publication covering topics and tips related to school nutrition and reaching food service administrators nationwide.
Scott’s recipe is included as bonus Web content along with a new feature, “Kitchen Wisdom Says … ” that debuted in the January edition. The regular feature will highlight a recipe that has been modified and improved on by what the magazine calls “Kitchen Wisdom volunteers.”
One of those volunteers turned out to be Scott. In October the School Nutrition Administration reached out to districts across the country to develop and submit a modified recipe for what would be January’s highlighted food: breakfast tacos. Scott was one of three Shawnee Mission food service managers Nancy Coughenour, the district’s food service director, asked to participate in the challenge, each tasked with putting a personal spin on the oldie but goodie. The fact that Scott’s recipe was ultimately chosen, then, gives her both some district and national distinction.
But she said it wasn’t about making the dish more complicated or changing the basic components of scrambled eggs mixed with cheese — a simple but killer combination Scott said “you can never go wrong with.” Instead, she added a vegetable blend of onions and bell peppers and created her own taco seasoning from items already stocked in the Broken Arrow kitchen. Seasoning ingredients like paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and a touch of cumin give Scott’s tacos a flavor that doesn’t have “too much of a kick” but is mild enough for youths to enjoy, she said.
For the wrapping, she chose a flour tortilla over a crispy taco shell, since that was also already stocked in the kitchen. The idea, she said, was to be as economical as possible.
“There’s no sense in adding things that we don’t carry already, to keep it cost-efficient,” Scott said.
And then there was the finishing touch: “Got to have the chunky salsa.”
As a former food service manager for Wild Oats Market in Mission, Scott said she has had lots of experience with modifying recipes, converting conventional recipes into recipes using only natural ingredients. She also has an extensive background in cooking, which she said can be both a blessing and a curse.
“Because everybody wants you to cook something for them,” she said with a laugh. “They want you to cook all the time.”
Still, modifying egg tacos has fallen more on the blessing side of the scale for Scott, who says she hasn’t quite processed her feelings about having her recipe featured as part of a national publication.
“I’m still at ‘Wow.’ Because I just thought, it didn’t occur to me that it was national,” Scott said. “I just thought I was modifying a recipe.”
Scott said her egg tacos were being tested in other elementary kitchens in the district but may soon become a breakfast menu item sanctioned by Coughenour and district nutritionist Jill Funk, who both make final determinations on what is served for school breakfasts and lunches.
There would be a few hurdles to jump through before that happens, though. Charlene Devault, the district’s area supervisor in food service, said a lot of nutritional factors, such as calories and sodium content, would have to be taken into account. And perhaps the biggest hurdle of all would be the court of public opinion at other district elementary schools, Scott said.
“Whatever we do ... when we sample out anything, we always get the students, you know, their outlook on it, their opinion,” she said. “Because they’re the ones, you know, they have to eat it.”