Sunday, July 14, 2013

Those Lazy Days of Summer–Not!

by Estelle Jergens
Cake Artist at Zydeco Cakes
from the Piece of Cake Mysteries by Jacklyn Brady

It's summer y'all. The heat is climbing and so is the humidity. If you’re like me, summer means it’s time for barbecues and family reunions, church picnics and neighborhood block parties. At my house, that also means lots and lots of pot luck. My schedule at Zydeco Cakes is a busy one. Like most working women, I don't have much time to spend in the kitchen when I get home, and if I have the time I don’t have the energy or the desire to spend a lot of time cooking. The need to keep making extra dishes during the summer adds pressure to those busy months when all I really want to do is go home, put my feet up, and spend time with a cold glass of sweet tea.

My solution? A recipe I got from a good friend nearly 30 years ago. It quickly became a family favorite, and it’s always on top of the list when a niece, cousin or other family member needs a dish for a family event. It works beautifully for baby and wedding showers too.

Make it at night after work, stick it in the fridge so the flavors marry together, and it’s ready to serve the next day. It’s great served on rolls as a sandwich or scooped onto a lettuce leaf.

Summertime Chicken Salad
Serves approximately 20

For the Salad:
6-8 chicken breasts – cut into bite-sized chunks and cooked (You can use 3-4 cans of chicken if you want to save time)
3 packages of chicken flavored Rice-a-Roni
1 teaspoon almond extract (use real almond extract, not almond flavoring)
1 cup celery diced
1 bunch green onions diced
1/2 green bell pepper

For the Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise (use real mayo. It’s a much better taste than when made with another kind of salad dressing)
Juice of 1 lemon
Small amount of Milk

Add lemon juice and milk to the mayonnaise little by little, stirring together until it’s the taste and consistency you want. If your salad seems a little dry, increase the dressing. Remember the rice and chicken will soak up some of the moisture overnight.

Cook the Rice-a-Roni according to package directions using the almond extract.

Stir rice, chicken, vegetables and dressing together, mixing well.

Refrigerate overnight.

Jacklyn Brady lives on the Gulf Coast and writes the Piece of Cake mystery series set in New Orleans and featuring cake artist and trained pastry chef, Rita Lucero. Estelle Jergens is a valuable employee at Zydeco Cakes. The Cakes of Wrath (book #4 in the Piece of Cake mystery series) is coming September 3, 2013 and is available for preorder now. You can visit Jacklyn at or find her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. I've never heard of using rice for a chicken salad. It makes it a little more hearty. Also, the almond extract is an interesting twist! Thanks!

  2. I love chicken salad and rice a roni-never thought of putting them together. And adding almond extract. Hmm. Sounds good to me!