Although she has written two cookbooks, country music star Martina McBride wants fans to know she’s just like them in the kitchen: “I am not a professional chef, I have never been to culinary school. I am just a home cook.”
It’s a role she has enjoyed exploring over the years, one that was inspired by her mother cooking dinner from scratch when she was a kid. “We sat around the supper table every night,” McBride tells PEOPLE in the latest issue, on newsstands now. She says her family of six lived “miles from civilization out in the country” in Kansas, and they hardly ever ate out.
And coming together nightly over those homemade meals made a lasting impact on McBride, 52. “The consistency of my mom and grandmother cooking was the biggest influence on me,” says the singer, who will tour this fall with her new album, It’s the Holiday Season. “I felt it was important to keep doing that.”
So when she started a family of her own in Nashville with husband John, now 60, the kitchen became the hub of their home. There, daughters Delaney, 23, Emma, 20, and Ava, 13, would hang out, chat — and of course, eat — while McBride perfected her favorite dishes.
Many of them are in her new cookbook, Martina’s Kitchen Mix: My Recipe Playlist for Real Life (available Oct. 30). “A lot of recipes in here are things I have been making for family and friends for years,” she says. But it also reflects her evolution as a chef. “The book shows the way I’ve grown as a cook and includes more vegetables, fish and healthier things,” says McBride, adding that she tried to keep it balanced with a few “decadent, comfort food” recipes for fun.
Her book also features a handful of specialties that have been directly inspired by her family, like the “simple, foolproof” Cheddar & Bacon Biscuits (recipe below). “Adding bacon to the biscuits was actually John’s idea,” she says. “It made them even more delicious!”
McBride will also be opening up about her love of entertaining on her new cooking show, Martina’s Table, which premieres on the Food Network on Nov. 18. “Sharing recipes is kind of like sharing a new album,” she says. “You have songs that you’re really excited about and you want to share with the world, and I feel the same way about my recipes.”
Ultimately, she says, “Cooking makes me feel like I’m nurturing my friends and family.”
Martina McBride’s Cheddar & Bacon Biscuits Recipe
2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp. (3oz.) cold unsalted butter, cubed
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
6 hickory-smoked bacon slices, cooked and finely chopped
1 large egg
1 cup whole buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 450 ̊. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or lightly coat with vegetable oil). Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry cutter (or using
2 knives) until butter resembles size of peas. Stir in cheese and bacon. Whisk together egg and buttermilk in a small bowl. Add to flour mixture; stir until just incorporated.
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to 3⁄4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds using a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Place dough rounds on prepared baking sheet (spaced 2 inches apart). Reroll dough scraps; cut rounds, and add to baking sheet. Bake biscuits in oven until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes