June 4, 2014 at 1:00 am

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food (and maybe win a cookbook): 'Showstopping Recipes & Riffs from Country's Biggest Stars'

'Southern Living: Country Music's Greatest Eats presented by CMT — Showstopping Recipes & Riffs from Country's Biggest Stars' features recipes from Miranda Lambert, Trace Adkins and more. )

I’m not going to lie, I’m in a bit of a rut in the kitchen (is that allowed as a food editor?). I was going to share the recipe I’ve worked out for the breakfast bars I’ve been working on for my husband, an effort I started last summer. There is one recipe — the second one I tried after my husband begged me to go back to tweaking it after the Bad Muffins incident — that I’ve been playing and playing with since, and I thought I was there. My husband likes ’em, and the past few months I’ve nailed some of the elements I was struggling with — the right balance of sweet and flavor, how to get them out of the pan better (they’re a bit sticky, with their honey and molasses elements), whether they were forgiving if you are running around the house when the timer goes off and don’t get to ’em right away (no). I’ve nailed the quantity that helps me slip making them into my life on a once-a-month basis, which is especially nice now that warm weather is here (and my interest in heating the kitchen is declining).

But they still don’t hold together quite right. I thought I’d solved that by vacuum-sealing them, that sucking the air out from between the stickyish oats would compress them into holding together. Then this weekend, I sealed some, decided to open them back up to take pictures — and realized they weren’t holding together like I hoped. My husband confirmed they’re always crumbly, and now I’m thinking next month, I’ll try adding a little almond butter to see if that helps bind (the honey, eggs and molasses are balanced right for flavor but just aren’t doing what I want for binding; if you have suggestions, let me have ’em!).

Most everything else I’ve been making lately is stuff I’ve already shared with you — but I happened to think to look up when the next music awards were as an excuse to do a giveaway of the cookbook “Southern Living: Country Music’s Greatest Eats presented by CMT — Showstopping Recipes & Riffs from Country’s Biggest Stars,” which has been sitting on my desk a while.

Aha! The CMT music awards are tonight — Let’s Talk Food lives another day, despite my rut!

Miranda Lambert, the top nominee at tonight’s CMT Music Awards (8 p.m. on CMT), is among the country music stars in the book. She shares a bit about her family and love of food (as well as a recipe for her Mama’s Meatloaf, below) in the cookbook. Others featured include Trace Adkins (Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole), Sara Evans (Taco Salad), Alan Jackson (Alan’s Favorite Chicken Salad and Mam Ruth’s Leftover Mashed Potato Cakes), Wynonna Judd (Grace’s Favorite Broccoli-Rice Casserole), Randy Travis (Buffalo Tenderloin) and Scotty McCreery (Great Grandma Lillian’s Pound Cake).

The food definitely looks family oriented, mostly down-home and none-too-fancy, but what’s wrong with that? (Says a food editor in a rut.)

If you’re interested in the “Southern Living: Country Music’s Greatest Eats presented by CMT — Showstopping Recipes & Riffs from Country’s Biggest Stars” cookbook, send an email to Eats&Drinks@detroitnews.com with “Cookbook/CMTStars” in the subject line. Include your name and mailing address in the body. Enter only once by midnight June 8. A winner will be chosen at random from among entries. (If it’s June 9, 2014, or later when you read this, the giveaway will be over — but thanks for stopping by.)

Good luck!

You can also follow Detroit News Food Editor Maureen Tisdale on Twitter @reentiz.

Miranda Lambert's 'Mama's Meatloaf'

From “Southern Living: Country Music’s Greatest Eats presented by CMT — Showstopping Recipes & Riffs from Country’s Biggest Stars” cookbook. The book says this down-home dish was perfected by Miranda Lambert’s mother, Beverly Lambert.

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 pound ground pork sausage

18 saltine crackers, crushed

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 onion, finely chopped

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon Worcestershine sauce

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided

1/2 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 8 ingredients and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a medium bowl just until blended. Place mixture in a lightly greased 11- by 7-inch baking dish, and shape mixture into a 10- by 5-inch loaf.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove from oven, and drain. Stir together ketchup and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar; pour over meatloaf. Bake 15 more minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 160 degrees. Remove from oven; let stand 20 minutes. Remove from baking dish before slicing.