As a born and bred Texan, I’ve been a country music fan my entire life. I’m into all of it, from new artists like Lindsay Ell and Luke Bryan to old-school artists like Brooks & Dunn and George Strait — and even older-school like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. So you can imagine how life-altering it was when my country music hero, Garth Brooks, took my phone on stage at the recent Stagecoach music festival in April…. except for the fact that he turned the video off just as he began to pan the crowd! Long story short, after he apologized, I ended up meeting some of his crew, and we got to talking about the real star of the Brooks family, his wife Trisha Yearwood.

I’ve had a girl crush on Yearwood for decades. Not only did I grow up listening to her country classics like “She’s in Love With the Boy” and “XXX’s and OOO’s,” but after seeing her launch her Food Network show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, I found her to be one of the more relatable female chefs on television. Plus, who doesn’t love learning how to make southern comfort food? Chicken and biscuits? Yes, please.

Needless to say, it was a no-brainer decision when I was asked if I wanted to meet with her. We hit it off instantly and talked about everything from her journey as an award-winning singer to her fave cooking hacks to her newest collection at Williams Sonoma… and even what she hopes her legacy will be.

The dialogue below is lightly edited for brevity; otherwise it’s a precise replica of our conversation. Oh, and don’t forget to scroll to the end. Beyond all the cooking tips, Yearwood also sent over four fun recipes ideas for the Fourth of July. I’ve watched them all and think they’d be great for any summer entertaining event. See for yourself just how simple she makes it. Enjoy y’all!

Brit Morin: How did you decide to broaden your career from award-winning musician to Food Network star?

Trisha Yearwood: I knew at five years old that I wanted to be a singer — I wanted to be Cher; that was my goal in life. It still is! I never had any desire to do anything else. My parents encouraged us girls to find something that we loved and to do it for a living. As a young girl, I found out about a place called Belmont College in Nashville that offered a Music Business program, and that was my ticket. I knew I wanted to be in the town that was making the kind of music I wanted to make. That was the catalyst that started it all. The music industry and my career has been better than I’ve ever dreamed. I got my record deal in 1991 and it’s been a fairy tale ever since.

The turning point to this other life happened when I went to New York to meet with some book publishers who wanted me to write an autobiography. But the thing was, I was 40 years old, and I didn’t want to write an autobiography yet. So in the meeting, I was asked by one of the publishers, “If you don’t want to write a biography, what DO you want to write?” And, I said, “I like to cook. I think a cookbook would be fun to do with my mom and my sister.” They replied, “We think we can sell more books if you want to do an autobiography, but we can do a cookbook if you’re interested.” So I left that day and had to call my mom and my sister and tell them that we were all going to write a cookbook.

So you see, it totally came out of something I already enjoyed. It was nothing calculated; it was just like music for me, something I enjoyed. So we wrote a book; it became a best seller, and so we wrote another book. Then the networks came and asked if we wanted to do a show, and I actually wasn’t sure I wanted to stand behind the counter and tell people how to melt the butter. So we did a six episode trial with the Food Network, and I had so much fun.

Between all the things I do — between the show and the books and the furniture line and the Williams Sonoma collection — I just want to have fun. If you enjoy it, you’re going to put all of your energy into it.

Brit: Do you think you’ll do the same type of show for years to come?

TY: I do think there’s a time to expand and do something different. We’re getting to a place where we’ve gone through all the recipes in all three books. We’re now developing recipes. People like our food, but they really like the storyline behind them, so we’re just figuring out which stories we still want to tell. It’s part reality and part cooking. I’d be open to doing some more things and maybe a different kind of show. If there was a way to marry the cooking show with Oprah where everyone gets a car or the types of HGTV shows where they remodel the homes for people, I’d love to do more of that. Maybe that’s it’s own show…

Brit: Have you joined the Instant Pot bandwagon?

TY: I have! I am in! I’m not a gadget person, so I’m not the person who has tons of appliances on her counter. I have a KitchenAid mixer and a coffee pot, and that’s kind of it. That’s all I need in life. But my mom used a pressure cooker growing up, so I learned to cook with one and was never afraid of it. When the Instant Pot came out, I was an early trier of it and was excited about using it as a pressure cooker. I’m a fan. I think it’s incredible.

We actually just did a show that will air this season where we used one. My favorite thing is to make mashed potatoes in it. On the stove top, it would take you half an hour to make them, but with the Instant Pot, it takes five minutes. It’s kind of magical. Also, if there’s anything I need chicken for, I’ll use it. Instead of an hour, it’s a 10-15 minute process. You can also sear in it! We did BBQ in it for the show. You can sear the meat in it so you don’t even need another pan. It’s really brilliant.

Brit: Do you have any favorite cooking hacks?

TY: I end up doing a lot of things to try and save time or to avoid using an extra dish. Something I started doing that sounds silly (but I love because I’m lazy) is putting salt and pepper on a foiled sheet tray. Then I put the meat down and salt and pepper the top. So I never have to touch the meat and get my hands all dirty. It saves time and it’s just done!

Brit: Tell me about all the new products you’ve just come out with for Williams Sonoma.

TY: I have to tell you that I stalked Williams Sonoma for years before I started working with them. Garth and I used to walk down their store aisles before we got married dreaming about what we’d buy for our new house. So I went to them and pitched the idea of doing something together, thinking that even if I just did a book signing there, it would be enough.

But we ended up coming up with our first collection last summer with the product, Summer in a Cup. It was so successful that we did Christmas in a Cup. And then this summer we followed that with a new flavor for summer called Aloha, based on a drink I had in Hawaii. We also collaborated on [a] Peach Ice Cream [Starter], which my dad and I used to make as a kid.

Everything I’ve done with them has come out of something that is real; a real story from my life. And I have to say, if you made my cornbread or my biscuits, I want them to taste like if you made them from my recipes from scratch. And so we have done a TON of food tests, and I write all kinds of notes if it doesn’t taste exactly right. I even invite my friends over and Garth, of course, my ultimate taste tester, to make sure each recipe tastes just right.

Brit: What’s your go-to meal if you only have five minutes?

TY: Normally in our house, there’s always pasta in the cupboard. I like any kind of pasta with butter or parmesan cheese. That’s a decadent snack for me — it’s like adult mac and cheese!

Brit: A lot of women fangirl over you. Who do you fangirl over?

TY: There are a lot of people I really admire. I’m a huge Beyoncé fan. We all dressed up to go see her when she played Nashville. If I go to a concert, I don’t want to sit in a suite. I want to be IN IT, and we were in it for Beyoncé. I’ve also recently seen Bruno Mars, and I fangirled there. I sang ALL the words!

Brit: I’ve NEVER been to Nashville! What are the top three places I must visit once I finally go?

TY: My house; I’ll make you a meal.

Brit: Ummm okay, deal.

TY: But being a country music fan, I highly recommend the museum and the Hall of Fame. Also a tour of the Ryman, which is the mother church of country music. As for the restaurants, I couldn’t even tell you where to go eat, because there are so many amazing restaurants that have popped up in the last 10 years! Everywhere is good.

Brit: What’s your best advice when it comes to figuring out what your passion is?

TY: I think that we know ourselves better than we think. We all go through periods of our lives where we get lost. Different things that happen in your life may shift your perspective. For me, it was losing my parents. I was 40 years old when I lost my dad and 48 when I lost my mom. Even when you’re 40, you can change your perspective, so don’t think that once you hit 30, life is all figured out.

As young girls, we have this thought that life should be a certain way and that we should look a certain way. We think we better have a boyfriend or a husband and need to do all the things on a list. I think you should learn in your 20s and 30s that the voice inside you is worth listening to, because we really know ourselves if we search deep down.

As a child, I had a crazy dream to be a singer. And where I lived, there was no one doing what I wanted to do. But I really believe if I hadn’t pursued it, I would be miserable, because I wouldn’t have been following what was truly in my heart. So I think whatever is inside you, you need to listen to it and figure out a way to do it.

At first, I wasn’t making any money — I was a tour guide and a receptionist. I did the jobs that weren’t the dream jobs while I worked on my passion, which at first wasn’t making me any money. I ultimately figured out how to make a living doing what I loved. I do believe if I wasn’t doing it on this level, I would still be singing. I would be figuring it out some other way.

Brit: What do you want your legacy to be?

TY: My folks are gone but in my heart every day. I want to make them proud. I want to be a good daughter, a good wife, a good bonus mom to my three girls, a good sister, and a good friend. I’m not concerned that when I’m gone people are going to say, “She sold a lot of records. She had a good voice.” I’d like it to be, “She was a good person.” And I think I’m always working on that, and there’s always room for improvement. My mother passed away at 74, and her legacy was that she always had a sense of adventure every day. She was always positive, always learning to do new things — I want to be her. That’s how I want to go out, just really living life.

Brit: I hear there may be new music on the horizon?!

TY: There are a couple of projects happening, but I can’t talk about anything yet! The cats will be coming out of the bag over the next few months. I will let you know when I can let you know.

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(Photos via Anna Webber / Getty Images for HGTV; Desiree Navarro and John Shearer / WireImage)