Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

Auntie Em’s Special Chicken Salad

I love to make and eat chicken salad, and people usually tell me they love mine… so you know me– I’m spilling all my secrets! (See The Holy Bird for some more chicken ideas and details.)

I normally roast or steam chicken breasts. (In my opinion, boiling them takes away too much flavor.) Steaming makes them really soft and tender to chew. Cut or shred them as coarsely or finely as you like.

This time I was pressed for time and used canned chicken. I didn’t hear any complaints!

Auntie Em's Chicken Salad

1. Prepare chicken- steam or roast chicken breasts then chop or shred, or drain canned chicken. Use 1 1/2 or 2 cups to make 4-6 servings.

2. Add 2 chopped Perfect Boiled Eggs.

3. Add a finely chopped medium apple.

4. Add 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped onion.

5. Add 2-4 tbs sweet relish

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Start with 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tsp salt.)

7. Mix and stir in 1/2 cup Miracle Whip. Add more if you like.

This is a great dish to specialize. I like fruit in my chicken salad- you can also use sliced grapes, craisins, or orange slices.

You can add nuts– I usually add pecans, sometimes toasted by cooking over low heat in a pan about 5 minutes. (till you begin to smell them)

You can add celery for more crunch and fiber, and fewer calories.

You can replace the Miracle whip with mayonnaise or Greek yogurt.

You can replace the chicken with tuna, chopped ham, or chopped roast.

Serve it with crackers or on bread. It’s quick and easy, and a good 2nd generation meal!


Perfect Boiled Eggs

It’s easy to go wrong when cooking eggs– mostly the culprit is over cooking! But even if you cook them right, peeling them can be a problem, and nothing is worse than trying to make deviled eggs and your whites have big gaping holes in them! Try Auntie Em’s simple tips and see if they help. They will be great to eat plain or to use in Auntie Em’s Savory Deviled Eggs, Special Chicken Salad, or Cornbread Dressing!

In a small saucepan, cover eggs with water and put the lid on the pan.

perfect boiled eggs

When it gets ALMOST to the boiling point, reduce the heat. There’s about a quart of water in here and I had the fire on high for about 7 minutes. There should be bubbles on the bottom of the pan, just beginning to come up.

perfect boiled eggs

Reduce heat to low; keep the lid on, and let simmer 10 minutes. Immediately pour off the water and cover your eggs with lots of ice-cold water. This is a good time to use up the old ice from a drippy ice maker, or that has stuck together at the bottom of the ice container! Leave them for at least 5 minutes.

perfect boiled eggs

To shell the egg, tap it gently on the side of the sink, then roll it against it. You want a fine web of cracks all round. The ice water usually makes the shell separate from the egg and slip right off. (If you’re making deviled eggs, it’s still a good idea to make a couple of extras just in case.)

To use in salads, I use this handy dandy little egg slicer:

perfect boiled eggs
For chicken salad, I rotate the sliced egg and slice again.

perfect boiled eggs

perfect boiled eggs

perfect boiled eggs


The Holy Bird

In the South, chicken is sometimes called the Holy Bird, because it was fed to so many preachers (usually fried) for Sunday dinner! (In the rural South, the midday meal is still called “dinner” and the evening meal is “supper.”)

Besides being so good for you, it is my favorite meat. I tried a couple of new things lately that I want to share with you. Normally I roast or grill it, but it can be tricky to get the right balance of done enough and tender. So I decided to marinate it in an herb/olive oil mixture. YUM!

I added a tablespoon or more of dried basil, parley, sage, and oregano, plus about a teaspoon of salt and pepper to a zipper bag; then about 1/4 cup olive oil. The longer you let it sit, the more flavor the oil will take on. Unfortunately, I’ve been working by the seat of my pants lately and didn’t wait at all.


Trim the fat, then cut the chicken into uniform, small pieces. Add to the bag and turn it until the chicken is well-coated. Again, the longer you wait, the more flavorful it will be. But it’s still good if you don’t wait at all.


Here’s where I diverged from my normal way– I would usually put it on the grill or on a rack in a 425-degree oven. Instead, I put them in a 9×13 pan, right on the bottom. I poured the remaining oil over the top. Baked at 425 for about 30 minutes. As always, I tested it with my handy-dandy meat thermometer! While it wasn’t brown, it was done. You could also have braised it (cooked in a skillet without adding more oil) at this point and it would be good too– But you would have to watch it and turn it — this was so much easier! There was enough for several meals and lunches… it’s been so crazy at our house there were no Second Generation meals happening; it was just plain old leftovers!


And then tonight I was preparing chicken salad for a baby shower tomorrow– I had to make enough for 24 sandwiches, and I’m the world’s worst at estimating how much I need, so I just figured A LOT! I wanted the chicken to be tender (not hard edges like you sometimes get with roasting), but full of its flavor, so I first thought I should boil it. But I’m convinced that when you get that wonderful broth, some of that flavor had to leave the meat itself– so I tried steaming it. This was my first time to do it; I used my steamer but could only fit 3 breasts in the pan, so I did the rest on the rack in my roasting pan, with water covering the bottom, and wrapped in foil.

First I trimmed the fat off and split the breasts a bit so they wouldn’t be too thick, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.


Put them in the steamer and on the roasting pan. (This actually looks like after they cooked.) They won’t brown cooking this way, so use your meat thermometer and get them to 180 degrees F. Once the water in the pan begins to boil, turn it down some, just enough to maintain a boil– boiling water doesn’t get hotter; it just boils out. I set the oven at 425. Both ways were ready in about 35 minutes.

DSC_0588 DSC_0589

Meanwhile, I prepared my “extras” for the salad. I like a LOT of stuff in there. Mayonnaise AND Miracle Whip, salt and pepper, pickle relish, celery, 6 boiled eggs, pecans, and (not pictured) an apple and about 1/2 c onion. (I probably could have used more onion.)


I toasted the pecans in a skillet for 5 minutes. It just brings out the flavor a bit more.


I had to split the mixture between 2 bowls because I don’t have one big enough for it all! But once it was mixed, I put it all back in one. All the flavors can get to know one another, and tomorrow I’ll serve it up with croissants. It’ll be very girly, but if you pile it on thick toasted bread, it’s hearty enough for guys too!



Candid Diversions

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living... And whatever else grabs my attention!

Christie In A Year - Extended

All About Agatha Christie's Work and Her Legacies

Gourmet Quilter Blog

.....because quilting is delicious!

European Royal History

Exploring the History of European Royalty


my searches for health

Bag of Cupcakes

celebrate. reward. encourage.

the domestic fringe

making life extraordinary