Trisha Yearwood's Southern Appetizer

If you're looking for an appetizer to hold your hungry family over until the Thanksgiving meal, Trisha Yearwood's southern sausage hors d'oeuvres are perfect nibblers that your guests can enjoy while they wait.

In a culinary age when terms such as fried or stuffed can be considered taboo, country music star Trisha Yearwood is giving Americans a throwback to good old-fashioned Southern cooking.

And she's doing so without apologies.

The Grammy-winner knows she could have adapted her book, "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen," to make the dishes lighter, but then it wouldn't be the kind of food she remembers from her childhood in Monticello, Ga.

"We made a conscious decision when we decided to do this book that this cookbook was about the things that we grew up on," she says. "This is a Southern cookbook and the things that we grew up on and our family traditions."

Which is why Yearwood offers recipes for fried chicken (soaked in saltwater overnight for added flavor), stuffed pork chops, mashed potatoes and a devilish chocolate cake.

But the book isn't just heavy, rich foods. It also reflects how Yearwood has adapted her cooking for her family of three girls -- and superstar husband Garth Brooks -- in Oklahoma, where they live.

There's even input from Brooks in the form of a recipe or two: Yearwood jokingly calls him "Gartha Stewart."

When she's not touring or promoting a new record, Yearwood -- best known for hits like "How Do I Live" and "XXX's and OOO's (An American Girl)" -- says you'll find her in the kitchen, the most used room in the Yearwood-Brooks household. It's Yearwood, and not a hired cook, who makes most of the family meals, and it's a task she happily takes on the majority of the week, despite her busy schedule.

"I guess it's the entertainer in me. I love to make something for somebody else that they really enjoy," she says. "I really like for people to enjoy the food."

Yearwood hopes that besides great food, people who read her book take away from it the importance and ease of homemade cooking.

"It brings the family together," she says. "Even if you're cooking things that are not as low fat as other things, you're still probably eating better if you cook it yourself than if you go out and eat."

Recipe: Yearwood's Sausage Hors D'Oeuvres

Yearwood's Southern Recipe

Cold or hot, sausage hors d'oeuvres are a delicious appetizer. These easy, oddly addictive hors d'oeuvres from Trisha Yearwood's cookbook, "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen," can be cooked, then frozen for later use. Yearwood prefers Jimmy Dean's sage sausage.

SAUSAGE HORS D'OEUVRES

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 50 hors d'oeuvres

1 pound spicy pork sausage meat

10 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

3 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sausage, cheese and baking mix. Beat at low speed until blended. Season with salt and pepper.

Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls and arrange them 1 inch apart on a dry baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned. Drain on paper towels, then serve hot or at room temperature.

(Recipe from Trisha Yearwood's "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen," Clarkson Potter, 2008)

All content contributed by the Associated Press.

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