News Column

Country Comfort: Nashville celebs share recipes for their favorite foods

May 28, 2014

By Susan Pierce, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

May 28--CMA Music Festival launches June 5, the annual pilgrimage of country music fans from across the United States into downtown Nashville for four days of concerts, autograph signings and fan club parties where they'll chow down with their favorite stars.

But you don't have to go to Nashville to eat like the stars.

A new cookbook from CMT and Southern Living, "Country Music's Greatest Eats" (Oxmoor House, $24.95) serves up favorite dishes from 30 of Music City's superstars and rising stars. Each recipe includes a profile of the artist by author Tanner Latham and why the recipe is their favorite. The accompanying 70 colors photos will make readers' mouths water.

The range of recipes within its 267 pages spans steaks to vegan dishes, along with gluten-free pasta, soups, sides, pancakes and pies.

Check out Florida Georgia Line's favorite Serrano Pepper Burger. Amy Grant reveals that cooking is how she stays grounded when she gets home after being out on the road. She shares a pot roast recipe she says she perfected in a roasting pan that belonged to the grandmother of husband Vince Gill.

Scotty McCreery won the "American Idol" singing competition, but bragging rights for cooking in his family are claimed by multigenerations of females. He submitted his great-grandmother's pound cake recipe, his paternal grandmother's Spanish flan and his maternal grandmother's broccoli cornbread.

And is it any surprise that Alan Jackson -- whose hit lyrics include "Where I come from it's cornbread and chicken" -- gave up recipes for Philly Cheese Chicken Sandwich and his favorite chicken salad?

"I need recipes that are quick and easy to make and that don't require a special trip to the grocery. Being a working mother of two toddlers, time is of the essence when you have two little ones ready to eat," says Allison DeMarcus, wife of Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus.

The former Miss Tennessee and Country Music Television show host is serving as Southern Living's spokeswoman for the new cookbook and has appeared everywhere from television retailer QVC ( 13,000 cookbooks sold in eight minutes!) to Access Hollywood.

She reveals that her husband makes an "incredible lasagna," but it's her mother's breakfast casserole that is a favorite of her three recipes in the book.

"I absolutely love Sara Evans' Missouri Dirt Cake -- it's insanely good! I also love Wynonna's broccoli cheese casserole and Sara Darling's pumpkin bars," says DeMarcus.

Rossville'sLauren Alaina has a four-page spread that features her childhood favorite -- a blackberry cobbler made by her grandmother, Linda Suddeth. Alaina recalls that, as a kid, she would sing for the family's entertainment while her mother, aunt and grandmother were in the kitchen cooking. She says she was 5 before her grandmother started cooking with her.

"I remember making biscuits and gravy with my Nana. We would sing songs while we were cooking. There is a song from Winnie the Pooh called 'Up, Down, Touch the Ground' that I remember us singing. I also remember that I made a mess and there was flour all over me and the kitchen," says the singer.

She says she has since learned to make the cobbler but, even though she follows the recipe exactly, "it just doesn't taste as good as hers."

Alaina, 19, recently moved into her own apartment in Nashville, where she cooks for friends and family. She says she is developing her songwriting skills and working on her next album.

"I make teriyaki chicken, quinoa and a great grilled cheese. I got a panini maker for Christmas and I have used it to make various types of grilled cheese sandwiches. I think that has become my specialty."

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

This is Lauren Alaina's favorite dessert made by her grandmother, Linda Suddeth, who owned a local restaurant for many years.

Blackberry Cobbler

2-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Whipped cream or ice cream

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together blackberries and sugar in a medium bowl. Let stand about 20 minutes or until fruit syrup forms.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and milk in another medium bowl. Stir in melted butter until blended. Spread batter in an ungreased 8-inch square baking pan. Spoon blackberry mixture over batter. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake for 45 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream. Sprinkle with additional ground cinnamon if desired.

Note: If using frozen berries, thaw them in a sieve over a bowl to catch the juice.

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When Wynonna Judd's teenage daughter, Grace, needs a comfort food, she asks for this casserole passed down from Wynonna's great-aunt.

Grace's Favorite Broccoli-Rice Casserole

1 16-ounce package frozen broccoli florets

1 pound processed cheese, cubed

1 10-3/4 ounce can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup cooked white rice

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Table salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 6-ounce can French fried onions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare broccoli according to package directions. Stir together broccoli and next six ingredients in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon broccoli mixture into a lightly greased 11- by 7-inch baking dish. Top with fried onions.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

Serves 8-10.

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Sara Evans says her mom always made this dessert, and sometimes Evans' children ask for it for their birthday cake.

Missouri Dirt Cake

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 8-ounce frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 5-ounce box instant vanilla pudding

2 cups milk

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 package chocolate sandwich cookies, 36 cookies crushed and divided

Whisk together cream cheese and whipped topping in a large bowl.

Prepare pudding using 2 cups milk. Fold pudding and powdered sugar into cream cheese mixture.

Press three cups of crushed cookies into lightly greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Set aside remaining cookies.

Spoon pudding mixture over cookies. Sprinkle reserved cookies over pudding. Cover and chill three hours. Serves 12.

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Allison DeMarcus submitted this recipe of her mother's, Jane Alderson, executive director of the Miss Tennessee franchise. The casserole is a family Christmas breakfast tradition.

Breakfast Casserole

6 slices white bread, crusts removed and cubed

1 1-pound package milk ground pork sausage, cooked and drained

8 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups shredded mild Cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place cubed bread on lightly greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Crumble sausage over bread.

Combine eggs and next five ingredients in a large bowl and pour over sausage. Cover and chill at least eight hours.

Remove baking dish from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 40-45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

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Miranda Lambert's favorite recipe is the meatloaf made by her mother, Beverly Lambert. "It's been the choice birthday dish for me and my brother since we were little," writes the singer.

Mama's Meatloaf

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 pound ground pork sausage

18 saltine crackers, crushed

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 onion, finely chopped

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided

1/2 cup ketchup

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine first eight ingredients and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a medium bowl just until blended. Place mixture in a lightly greased 11- by 7-inch baking dish, and shape mixture into a 10- by 5-inch loaf.

Bake for one hour. Remove from oven and drain.

Stir together ketchup and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar; pour over meatloaf. Bake 15 minutes more or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 160 degrees.

Remove from oven, let stand 20 minutes. Remove from baking dish before slicing. Serves 10.

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(c)2014 the Chattanooga Times/Free Press (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

Visit the Chattanooga Times/Free Press (Chattanooga, Tenn.) at www.timesfreepress.com

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Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)


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