Trisha Yearwood is a country music legend, acclaimed cook and best-selling author, but her proudest achievement is being there for her family both in and out of the kitchen.

Every new year brings a chance to chase dreams and obtain goals. For Grammy Award-winning musician Trisha Yearwood, each day signals a fresh opportunity to embrace that perspective. Life is good (and busy) for the country music superstar, who is making steady progress on an upcoming album, her first since 2007s Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love. She also gets to share her love of cooking on her wildly popular cooking show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, which is kicking off a fourth season on Food Network with down-home, traditional recipes that her millions of fans are literally eating up.

With so much on her plate and a brilliant list of achievements that also includes two best-selling cookbooks the latest of which is 2010’s Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood, the obvious question would be what keeps pushing the always-down-to-earth Yearwood to share her talents in so many areas. The answer, not surprisingly, is the inspiration she receives from family both past and present. Long before the bright lights of stage and television, the Georgia native endured some homesick moments while away at school that would, with the help of her mother Gwen, eventually lead to her successful cooking career.

“I really learned to cook once I went off to college and missed my mama’s cooking so much that I wanted to learn how to make my favorite dishes,” she says. “I come from a long line of great home cooks, and its something I have always enjoyed. The idea of doing a cookbook with my mom and my sister (2008’s best-selling Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen) seemed very natural because it was something that I truly loved to do. I never dreamed it would be a New York Times bestseller, and that my passion for cooking would translate into its own career. Its been a happy accident!”

While Year wood likes to get new recipes from magazines and other sources, she finds herself reverting back to her roots when it comes to cooking up something different. “Like a lot of people, I rarely try anything new! Most of my new ideas come from taking older recipes and putting a new twist on them, or word-of-mouth (pun intended!),” Year wood says. “I get recipe ideas from friends and family, and it seems there’s always something new I haven’t tried. I also love to experiment with newer things that come along and garnish lots of attention in the culinary world like quinoa, something I had never heard of before but have now incorporated into some of my recipes both at home and those I share.”

That desire to try new things with her family – husband and fellow country music royalty Garth Brooks, along with their three daughters – included a deliberate focus in recent years on healthier recipes, a small sidestep from the Southern comfort food she was raised on and still loves. “My motivation really stemmed from getting older and seeing firsthand that we really are what we eat, she says. I watched my dad battle diabetes and my mom battle breast cancer (Gwen Year wood passed away in 2011). I came to believe that their lifestyle choices, including food, were a contributing factor to their diseases. I also learned that being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors in all sorts of diseases, so it’s the responsible thing to do to try to figure out how to eat healthier without sacrificing flavor.”

The cravings for her favorite foods don’t go away, but the ever-sensible Year wood has developed a philosophy she and her family can live with every day. “I wish I could say it was easy,” she says. “I know that eating lean proteins and more fruits and vegetables and having those things prepared in a healthy way are key factors to how I should eat most of the time. And that’s what I do. It has helped me to feel better and as an added benefit, lose some weight. It also affords me the luxury to make it OK for the occasional splurge and enjoy some key lime cake or more likely fried chicken! It works for me because that’s not how I eat every day. It’s about balance.”

Whether shes cooking for her family, sharing her recipes with the world or topping the music charts, its obvious Year wood loves what she does yet her primary focus never wavers. “When I moved to Oklahoma to be with Garth, family came first and has been that way for years now,” she says. “The cookbooks were born out of the desire to be creative, and be able to stay at home while our girls were young. Music has taken a back seat while Garth and I have both spent our time making sure we are there for our girls. Even in doing the cooking show for Food Network, one of the biggest requests I had was that I could shoot it in Oklahoma so I could go home every night. Its been wonderful to get to do what I do and still be at home with my family.”

With her priorities firmly in place, don’t expect Year wood’s continued success to change her outlook on life. After all, its family that got her to this point.

“I really credit anything that I do right to how I was raised,” Year wood says. “My parents were the best thing that ever happened to me, teaching me responsibility and manners. They led by example in how to treat people.”

“I was lucky that I had parents that encouraged my dreams, and never told me I was crazy or that I couldn’t do it. For me, believing that it could and would happen was a big part of it actually happening. My being a celebrity doesn’t make me any better than anybody else; it just means I have a different kind of job. I often say that I don’t always do the right thing, but I know what the right thing is because of how I was raised.”

“I guess my best advice is that its good to dream big, and if you want something badly, keep dreaming, and be prepared to work hard to get it.”

Spicy Edamame Dip

Total time: 1 hr. 15 minutes • Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 4 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 16 oz. shelled edamame beans
  • (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Pita chips, for dipping

Cooking Directions

  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, roast the garlic, turning frequently, until light brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool, and then slip off the skins. Set aside.
  2. Bring about 8 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and drop in the beans. Bring back to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Reserve cup of the cooking water before draining. Drain the beans and cool.
  3. Transfer the garlic into a food processor and chop coarsely. Add the beans, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, pepper and process in the food processor. Add the olive oil, lime juice and cilantro and pulse to combine. Add the reserved water a little at a time while processing until smooth (you may not need to add all of the water). Use pita chips for dipping.

Avocado Salsa

Prep time: 15 minutes • Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup grape tomatoes, chopped (10 to 12)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple
  • 3 medium avocados, diced
  • 1/2 finely chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • Black pepper
  • Lime tortilla chips, for serving

Cooking Directions

  1. Combine the tomatoes, pineapple, avocados, onion, cilantro, lime juice, red pepper flakes and garlic salt in a medium bowl. Add pepper to taste.
  2. Serve with lime tortilla chips.