I like Martha Stewart. 

I couldn’t always say this out loud. Martha Stewart is a surprisingly charged topic. You love her or you hate her, and in graduate school, I didn’t have the confidence to take my stand on the issue.

Graduate School Angst

In California, the only non-boutique store close to my house was K-mart, home of the Martha Stewart Collection. Seeing how I sold all of my possessions before going to graduate school, my California kitchen was outfitted my Martha Stewart.

I hosted Thanksgiving once in my life. Looking back, I think I was scarred by my rude guests. After spending all morning cooking and making frantic phone calls to my mother, my guests arrived. Within minutes, one guest spotted the Martha Stewart tag on my tablecloth and went off on a rant on capitalism and I had a lot of nerve supporting her. My other guests began looking through my cookbook collection. The husband pointed out my five ingredient cookbooks and quick meal cookbooks. “Look,” he snickered, “she likes ‘quick’ meals and she only uses five ingredients.” Then they both laughed. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon apologizing, blushing, and washing more dishes than I care to admit.

Can you see why I left academia?

I’m still not ready to host Thanksgiving again, but I can say with confidence that I like Martha Stewart and I like making fast meals with very few ingredients.

Take that academia!

Me and Martha

While I like Martha Stewart, I am not totally sure she would like me.

I am an adoring student with an attention deficit disorder.

She starts to tell me what to do. I nod emphatically but pretty soon my mind is wandering.

Take this chicken salad.

Martha tells me how to poach the chicken breasts and I am totally with her. Great idea, Martha. I can’t wait to try it!

Then she starts rattling off the rest of the ingredients, raisins…

Raisins?! Manatee won’t eat raisins. 

She waits for my eyes to focus and then continues, yogurt, red onion, tarragon…

I think I will use red grapes, I love grapes. Did she say yogurt? I can’t eat yogurt! Yuck! And if I use red grapes, I can’t use red onions, this needs more color. And tarragon is gross. Don’t I have some green onions in the fridge?

By this time, I have totally lost Martha and she has lost her patience. She storms out of the room and I don’t even notice because I am plotting my own chicken salad. A simpler chicken salad, a Badger Girl chicken salad…

Thank You Martha Chicken Salad

Inspired by Everyday Food recipe

2 chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, quartered and peeled
1/4-1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, whole


  1. To poach chicken breasts: Place chicken breasts and onion in a pan and add water so that it covers chicken and onions by 1/2 inch. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let sit 12-14 minutes until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Let chicken cool and shred.
  2. While the chicken is poaching, you can prep your veggies.
  3. Mix chicken, green onions, grapes, celery, and chopped walnuts together. Add mayonnaise. Start with 1/4 cup and add more if you want a more moist salad. Top with whole toasted walnuts.
  4. Enjoy on a bed of spinach, in a lettuce wrap, or on a sandwich.


Recipe Review: I could not believe how fast and easy this was. Even with poaching the chicken breasts, this took 20 minutes tops.

I loved how you could taste each ingredient and how fresh it tasted.

I also think you could really have fun with this recipe. I would love to try fresh cranberries in there or throw in some chives. I know Manatee would love to see me throw in some water chestnuts instead of the celery. By keeping the ingredient list low, you are able to focus on the flavors and keep it easy.


What do you like in your chicken salad? Where do you stand on Martha, yay or nay?

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