Cafeteria staples that continue to wow  


Teresa Houston is a retired teacher and a food and cooking aficionado.

I taught school for 29 years and during those years I ate many meals in our school cafeteria.

At the high school, the students had names for what was served during the week — like won ton Wednesday (when we used to have Chinese food weekly) and chicken tender Tuesdays just to name a few — but one of the most sought out dishes year-round was the school’s tortilla soup.

Students and faculty members lined up on the days it was served and if you had last lunch you might be the one that had to scrape the bottom of the pot to get every drop that was left.

I got the recipe from the school librarian, Tammy Burns, who got it from another faculty member — and who knows how they bribed the cafeteria ladies to divulge the goodness.


The other item that every school cafeteria had was some sort of fresh baked bread or rolls. My high school in Gainesville was known for oatmeal batter bread. I can smell it baking just thinking about it.

It was served with a big pat of butter on it, and was oh so good. School cafeterias are not what they used to be, but the ladies and gentlemen who run the cafeterias are some of the hardest working school employees because they make breakfast and lunch for so many each day at their schools.

So, on the first Friday in May celebrate Lunch Hero Day. It is a day to recognize the employees that make each cafeteria and school a better place to be.

So here are those prized recipes. Enjoy each of them, and I hope it takes you back to a wonderful place in time.


1 large onion, chopped

4-6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons olive oil

Sautee the onion and garlic in oil until the onion is tender.

Then add:

2 cans of cream of chicken soup

1 can of Rotel

1 can chopped green chilies

1 tablespoon cumin

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 cups of cooked, diced chicken

Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Then add:

4-8 corn tortillas torn into small pieces

1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Cook for another 20-30 minutes to allow the tortillas to dissolve. Serve with broken tortilla chips on top of the soup.


¾ cup of boiling water

½ cup of oats

3 tablespoons of shortening.

4 tablespoons of sugar

2 ¾ cups of sifted flour

2 teaspoons salt

¼ cup of warm water

1 pkg. yeast

1 egg

In a large bowl stir the boiling water, oats, shortening, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water then add the egg and half of the flour. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl several times. Next add the rest of the flour, mixing with a spoon until well blended. Spread into a greased loaf pan. Let rise for 1 ½ hours and then bake at 375 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Brush the top with lots of melted butter.