Andrea Payne and Cooking—A Winning Recipe

ILA Meridian students learning the art of nutrition and cooking this semester


Jason Chatraw

Andrea Payne, the ILA Meridian cooking teacher, shows off some of her class’s baked taquitos.

Julia Chatraw, Features Writer

When Andrea Payne helped cook at her local church, she never thought it would lead to her teaching students how to cook.

Andrea Payne, who teaches a cooking class at ILA, learned how to cook when she was about 10 years old. She helped her mom with dinner during the week growing up.

But what really started her cooking love was volunteering at church bakes and taking a culinary class in school. She attended college at Utah State, where she studied nutrition and eventually became a registered dietician.

Now she’s helping students learn the craft at ILA.

“I love food and teaching kids about healthy food and how to make recipes healthier,” Andrea said.

At the start of her cooking class, she explains what the class is going to make and reviews the different food groups.

“We make something to do with fruit, something to do with vegetables, something to do with carbohydrates, proteins and fats,” says Andrea. “That way they can get a better grasp on what they are making.”

Andrea’s favorite things to make are smoothies, cookies and tacos.

“I like snacks like protein balls and no baked oatmeal,” says Emily Beyer, one of Andrea’s students.

And while Andrea has plenty of expertise, she’s had her share of mishaps in the kitchen over the years.

“Once something called for cloves, and I used the entire clove instead of chopping it up,” Andrea said regarding one of her biggest cooking fails.

In addition to her cooking class, she teaches a running class on Thursday at ILA.

Here’s one of Andrea’s favorite recipes you can try at home:



4 ounces light cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup green salsa

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 whole green onion, sliced in half and then chopped

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 cup grated Monterey jack or mild cheddar cheese

12-15 small flour or corn tortillas

Kosher salt & Cooking Spray


1, Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix softened cream cheese, green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

3. Working with a few tortillas at a time, place 3-4 between two damp paper towels and microwave for 30-45 seconds, until tortillas are soft and pliable and don’t crack while rolling. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture ½ inch from the edge of the tortilla. Roll up tightly.

4. Place filled taquitos seam side down on the baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch each other. When ready to bake, spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

5. Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown. Serve immediately.



1 20-ounce bottle of ketchup

2 cups tomato sauce

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/4 cups red wine vinegar

1/2 cup molasses

4 tablespoons butter

4 teaspoons hickory flavored liquid smoke

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika (regular or smoked)

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper


1. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, mix together all the wet ingredients and then add the seasonings.

2. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken slightly as it cools.

3. Once cooled, the sauce can be frozen.