June 11, 2014 12:00 PM

When Kimberly Schlapman isn’t logging miles on a tour bus with her Little Big Town bandmates, chances are you’ll find her at her home in Brentwood, Tenn., channeling her creativity in the kitchen. Whether it’s filming her Great American Country cooking show Kimberly’s Simply Southern, grilling out back with her husband of seven years, Steve, or baking cookies with her little chef-in-training, 6-year-old daughter Daisy, that’s where the singer feels most comfortable. “We love to gather around the kitchen,” says Schlapman. “Daisy will walk in and go, ‘I need sugar, flour, marshmallows, cherries … Oh, and I’ll also need butterscotch chips!’ It takes me forever to clean up our messes, but I don’t care, they’re memories we’re making in there.”

That love for cooking has long run in her family, she says. “In the South, the way the women take care of people is by cooking for them,” says the Cornelia, Ga., native. “If you broke your arm or if you had surgery, my mama is going to show up at your house with a casserole to make you feel better.” And Daisy has been quick to embrace the family tradition. “She started making cakes for people when she was 3, for birthdays, if they’re sick, whatever,” says Schlapman. “Back then they weren’t very edible, and she still doesn’t follow recipes, but over the years she’s figured out her ratios and she makes some pretty tasty cakes!”

Schlapman also likes to do some culinary experimenting of her own. “My sister makes out-of-this-world potato salad and deviled eggs. So I thought, ‘Why don’t we put it together?’ ” she recalls. The result can only be described as pure genius. But the biggest hit in her house is actually her take on a childhood favorite: Jarred S’mores. “Growing up, we were a camping family, and all summer long we were making s’mores. And I just love Mason jars, so I thought, ‘How could we do a s’more in a Mason jar?’ ” says Schlapman. “All the kids in our family go crazy for them.”

Even today family cookouts are Schlapman’s favorite way to spend a day off. “A beautiful summer day, my husband working in the yard, Daisy on her swing set and me in the house prepping something for dinner,” she says. “That’s my life right there.”

1. GRILLED TURKEY BURGERS WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS

Makes: 4 servings Hands-on Time: 50 min. Total Time: 1 hr., 40 min.

2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced

3 tbsp. maple syrup

½ tsp. ground red pepper

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1½ lbs. (93% lean) ground turkey

1 large egg

2 tbsp. minced parsley

1 tbsp. whole-grain mustard

3 garlic cloves, minced

Olive oil

4 sesame seed buns, toasted

4 (1-oz.) slices American or Cheddar cheese

1. Cook onions, covered, in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat 10 to 15 minutes. Uncover; cook 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden. Stir in syrup and red pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Preheat grill to 350º(medium) heat. Combine turkey, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper and next 4 ingredients. Shape mixture evenly into 4 patties. Brush patties with olive oil; season as desired with salt and pepper. Grill patties on a lightly oiled rack over direct heat 10 to 12 minutes, turning burgers after 6 minutes. Serve on toasted buns with cheese and caramelized onions.

2. DEVILED EGG & POTATO SALAD

Makes: 4 to 6 servings Hands-on Time: 35 min. Total Time: 3 hrs., 35 min. (including chilling)

1½ lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-in. cubes

4 large eggs

½ cup mayonnaise

2 tbsp. sweet pickle relish

2 tbsp. sweet relish juice

2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

½ tsp. ground red pepper

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnish: paprika

1. Bring potatoes in water to cover to a boil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Reduce heat; cook 10 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes; transfer to a large bowl and cool completely.

2. Place eggs in a single layer in a stainless steel saucepan. Add water to a depth of 3-in. Bring to a rolling boil; cover, remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain eggs immediately; cover with ice and cold water and let stand until cool. Drain eggs; peel and finely chop.

3. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine eggs, mayonnaise mixture and potatoes; toss gently. Cover and chill 2 hours before serving. Garnish as desired.

3. FRIED GREEN TOMATOES WITH BBQ BUTTERMILK SAUCE

Makes: 4 to 6 servings Hands-on Time: 45 min. Total Time: 1 hr.

1½ cups cornmeal

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

¼ tsp. ground red pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 medium-size green tomatoes, cut into ½-in. thick slices

Coconut or vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

BBQ Buttermilk Sauce

1. Whisk together cornmeal and next 4 ingredients in a shallow bowl or pan. Place flour in a separate shallow bowl. Place beaten eggs in another shallow dish.

2. Dredge tomato slices in flour; dip into eggs and dredge in cornmeal mixture.

3. Pour oil to a depth of ¼ to ½ in. in a large cast-iron skillet; heat to 375°. Drop tomatoes, in batches, into hot oil and cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels or a wire rack. Sprinkle hot tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with BBQ Buttermilk Sauce.

BBQ Buttermilk Sauce:

Makes: about 1 cup

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup buttermilk

2 tbsp. barbecue sauce

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. lime juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill up to 3 days. Stir well before serving.

4. GRILLED PEACH SLAW

Makes: 4 to 6 servings Hands-on Time: 45 min. Total Time: 2 hrs., 45 min. (including chilling)

3 firm, ripe peaches, pitted and cut into 8 wedges

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ cup mayonnaise

3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced

½ cup carrot, shredded

½ cup cabbage, thinly shredded

¼ cup red onion, diced

2 tbsp. mint leaves, chopped

1. Preheat grill to 350º (medium) heat. Toss peaches in olive oil. Place peaches on a lightly greased grill rack. Grill, covered with grill lid, 2 minutes on each side until charred.

2. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss peaches and remaining ingredients in mayonnaise mixture. Serve immediately.

5. SKINNY SOUTHERN SWEET TEA

Makes: 1 gallon Hands-on Time: 20 min. Total Time: 20 min.

8 cups water

4 family-size tea bags

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup sugar-free granulated sweetener

2 lemons, sliced

2 limes, sliced

5 stems mint

Garnish: mint sprigs

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add tea bags; cover and steep 5 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags; stir in sugar and sweetener. Pour tea into a 1-gallon pitcher; add sliced lemons, limes and mint. Add enough cold water to fill pitcher. Serve over ice. Garnish, if desired.

6. JARRED S’MORES

Makes: 6 servings Hands-on Time: 25 min. Total Time: 35 min.

3 tbsp. unsalted butter

4 bananas, peeled and sliced

3 tbsp. light brown sugar

8 graham crackers, crushed

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted according to package directions

1 (7-oz.) jar marshmallow crème*

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Cook bananas with melted butter and brown sugar in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until sugar dissolves and bananas are tender.

2. Layer graham crackers, bananas and chocolate evenly in 6 (6- to 8-oz.) oven-safe glass jars or cups; top with a dollop of marshmallow crème. Arrange desserts on a baking sheet. Bake at 350º for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden.

*Substitute marshmallows, if desired.

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