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Country and cooking make a great pair for the holidays

The Christmas countdown is in single digits, my friends. As you’re struggling with last-minute gifts and menu planning, why not do both? And of course, you can count on your favorite country stars to come to the rescue.

Zac Brown just brought his show to the Nutter Center earlier this month. I know it’s too late to get tickets this time around, but consider a fan club membership as a gift for someone (or yourself!). Zac does not do the typical “meet and greets,” where an artist has a limited amount of time with fans. In order to see the maximum amount of people, it’s often, shake hands — smile — snap the picture — and on to the next person. Zac combines his love of cooking with his artistry with “eat and greets.” Zac and his band serve food to fan club members and special guests, cooked up by an entourage of chefs, all based on Zac’s recipes. His website offers special spices, sauces and cookbooks for sale.

While no one other country artist follows the “eat and greet” concept of the Zac Brown Band, you can still get some country cooking under your tree. “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen” on the Food Network stars country singer and Garth Brooks’ wife, Trisha Yearwood, cooking up her family favorites. Her books, “Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood” and “Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen” are must-haves. Not to miss: “Garth’s Breakfast Bowl,” chock full of eggs, hash browns, sausage, bacon and cheese. The results of which Garth told us he’ll be working off on his recently announced three year world tour!

Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman has her own show on GAC, “Kimberly’s Simply Southern.” Not only is she fun to watch, she’s fun to listen to in her sweet little girl voice. You can find all the recipes from her show on

One of the newest country cookers is Toby Keith’s daughter Krystal, who just released her latest album “Whiskey & Lace.” TK’s second daughter told me at the CMA’s in Nashville while her first love is music, “my second is food!”

After sharing some recipes on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, the response was so overwhelming; she began the Barnyard Bistro blog last spring. “I love sharing recipes and techniques with friends and family so the blog was the perfect way to both foster my passion for cooking and share recipes with fans.” Visit to find her father’s namesake recipe, “Toby’s Fried Bologna Sandwich.” And where did that come from? “You’ll find that sandwich on every ‘I Love This Bar & Grill’ (Toby’s restaurant chain) menu across the country. It comes straight from a skillet in my Grannie’s kitchen.”

She warns it’s not “your typical bologna sandwich,” which features thick slices of bologna, cheese and barbecue sauce. Served up with a nice beverage in a red solo cup, wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace for Santa this year?

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