HOT DISH: Looking Back at My Kitchen Guests, Such as Brad Paisley

And Christmas Wishes and a Happy New Year

(CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by veteran columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel’s Hot Dish: Cookin’ With Country Stars, she also hosts CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith and shares her recipes at

CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks
Wonderfully blessed! I am wonderfully blessed. Thought you’d like to recall with me some of the wonderful stars who visited my kitchen and ate my cooking during 2008. Funnyman Larry the Cable Guy was as good as it gets. All the grandkids had to come meet Larry, and they loved him because they could tell he loved them back. We want Larry to come back and visit! Read on and see I am blessed.

Singer/author Trisha Yearwood accompanied by Gwen Yearwood, her mother and co-author of her marvelous cookbook, Georgia Cookin’ in an Oklahoma Kitchen. I’ve always loved Trisha and loved having her and Gwen in my kitchen. My son Billy, who assists me with the TV show, was so impressed when Trisha placed the dishes she used in the sink. He still talks about it.

My all-time favorite singer, the legendary George Jones, brought tears to my eyes in my kitchen. I’ve loved George Jones and his singing since he began his career. His lovely wife Nancy is a good-hearted Southern girl I dearly love. She came along with George as did his daughter with Tammy Wynette, Georgette Jones. I loved having them. They felt like family.

Superstar Dierks Bentley, one of country music’s bright young stars, is so good looking. He not only helped decorate the place, he was a joy to have around. Dierks is one of the most talented singer/songwriters in the business and he is the hardest working. Dierks has always loved country music like I do, straight from his heart. He cares about yesterday — the stars and all the history. He loves today — the present crop of stars and songs and he looks to tomorrow.

Fast-rising stars like Zac Brown, Randy Houser, Luke Bryan, Jimmy Wayne, Jewel and Emerson Drive look and act as nice as they sing. I love each of them and I expect each of these acts to become superstars by 2010. I really appreciated Holly Williams pinch-hitting for her daddy, Hank Jr. She was a real joy.

They don’t come no finer than bluegrassers like Ricky Skaggs, the Grascals, Sam Bush and Rhonda Vincent. They were well fed by me and great to have around. Native North Carolinian Ronnie Milsap was his usually marvelous self, and Crystal Gayle was so stunningly gorgeous she took my breath away. By the way, Crystal’s hubby/manager, Bill Gatzimos, allowed that they had more fun doing my show in my kitchen than anything that he and Crystal had ever previously done.

American Idol’s Bo Bice came by, so did all-American Aaron Tippin who spent Thanksgiving with the troops in harm’s way in Iraq and other far away places again this year. Chris Cagle, Jennifer Hanson and the Roys came by for a visit and ate from my table.

Handsome CMT host/author Lance Smith dropped by to feast on his favorite lemon pie with his delightful children’s book, The Old Man and the Cat. The contents and style of Lance’s book reminded me so much of the writings of my late, great friend, Shel Silverstein, who I will miss forever. May God rest his soul.

And I had the pleasure of cooking for the beautiful author/actress, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who’s married to country music superstar Brad Paisley. I’d cooked down-home green beans for Brad when he visited my kitchen, and he’d talked about those beans to the missus. So I made a big pot of green beans for Kim. Both of us enjoyed the beans and I really enjoyed her company. Kim had authored her first book, Henry and the Hidden Vegetable Garden, a wonderful book written to encourage children to eat veggies.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all you wonderful folks who dropped by in 2008. Thank you for coming. I love each of you. And if any of you want good home-cooked food, a smile, a laugh and a helping of faith, let me know. We will make room at the table.

Ending a Perfect Year
“Can’t think of a better way to end a perfect year,” says Hillary Scott, the female of the award-winning group Lady Antebellum. Hillary will pick up a gift or two in the Big Apple after she and her trio partners perform “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and their Grammy-nominated hit “Love Don’t Live Here” on NBC’s Today show on Christmas Eve.

Top Seller
Billboard says Taylor Swift, who tops 5 million in record sales, is country music’s best selling artist of 2008. Taylor turned 19 on Saturday the 13th, the week her album Fearless sold 248,841 copies and bolted back up to No. 11 on Billboard’s Hot 200 chart. Taylor will start the new year when she hits the stage in New York’s Time Square for a live performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. Her pal Kellie Pickler will be interviewing fans around Times Square. After the fall of the ball, the girlfriends may find out if the locals know how to have a good time.

A 2008 Toast for Sony BMG
From R&R, Billboard and Country Aircheck come top honors as the powerhouses of Sony BMG — Arista, BNA, Columbia and RCA — led the 2008 way with a total 34 percent airplay chart share. With hits from top stars like Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, Arista ranks as the No. 1 country promotion team for the sixth time in seven years. Carrie ranks as the most heard vocalist in the format, placing No. 1 overall and No. 1 female among top country artists, while Brad earned the No. 1 male distinction. Red-hot Montgomery Gentry was the most-heard duo of the year. Alan Jackson was honored for 50 million albums sold and is moving toward the top of the charts with “Country Boy,” the third hit following back-to-back singles from his latest CD, Good Time. Billboard cited Kenny Chesney’s tour as the year’s top country tour, playing to over 1.2 million fans in 46 shows. Kenny was voted reigning entertainer of the year by both CMA and ACM for four years.

Home for the Holidays
I spoke with Kimberly Williams-Paisley, aka Mrs. Brad Paisley, who is pregnant and feeling just fine. The Paisleys will stay home for the holidays. Paisleys will be coming down from West Virginia and the Williams will come down from New York and the whole famn damily will have a Tennessee Christmas. Brad has been busy in the studio. He’s already recorded six songs for his next project and is writing more.

Sad News
Here at Christmastime the news is out. Mindy McCready tried suicide by slitting her wrists. Very sad.

“Equity Music Group Suspends Operations,” screamed the headlines. Co-founded by Clint Black and Mike Kraski, the label shuttered its doors this week according to label president, Tim Wipperman. Kraski departed the company last year. Little Big Town left in April when they signed a multi-album deal with Capitol Records. “It’s a sad day,” said Wipperman.

Ho, Ho, Ho
From the pole north of Nashville — Madison, Tenn., it’s Mama Claus saying ho, ho, ho to all the little boys and girls with names like Adam, Jeremy, Tyler, Tara, Trevor and Mattie, and the big boys and girls with names like Billy, Terry, Shane, Martin, Brian, Renee, Lewis, Kirt, Chet, Fletcher, Calvin, Martha, Michael, Opry Dan, Gina, Jimmy, Bart, David, Marilu, Mary Beth, John. Wishing you and all the others a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Stained Glass Fruit Salad.