Kimberly Schlapman, co-founder of the award-winning country music band, Little Big Town, is pretty sure she’s been cooking as long as she’s been singing. Both passions rooted in her north Georgia childhood, Kimberly is as comfortable in the kitchen as she is on the stage. Heritage and harmonies form the foundation of her recipes and the band’s songs.

In her cookbook, Oh Gussie! Cooking and Visiting in Kimberly’s Southern Kitchen, she shares her favorites, a wealth of Southern inspired dishes drawn from her family, friends, and music—at home and on the road.

In the spirit of Little Big Town’s latest single, “Summer Fever,” we’re sharing two of those recipes, with beer pairings, of course.  We love the song’s lyrics, which speak to a nostalgia for the best of summers past: “We’re ‘bout to float that Malibu, With that barefoot attitude, With that slow jam mixtape playing…Over and over again, catching summer fever.”

Between Kimberly’s food, Little Big Town’s tunes and some cool summer brews, let’s catch it.

Her Slow Cooker Chicken Quesadillas are packed with flavor and ideal for breezy summer cooking. Start by placing everything from chicken to chilis into the slow cooker set on low and let it do the work, while keeping the kitchen cool. Hours later, you’ve got pull-apart tender meat in a rich sauce studded with diced avocado and corn. Spread over your tortillas, add shredded cheese, griddle and eat.  To accompany, our friends at Bounty Bev recommend either Unfiltered Wheat or American Kolsch both by Boulevard Brewing Company. The former, Boulevard’s most popular, pours hazy as a summer afternoon, but delivers a clean citrusy taste that is wake-up refreshing. The latter is a Koln-style golden ale, distinctive for its honeyed malt sweetness, bready aromatics, all fine tuned by Magnum lemony herbal hops.

There’s nothing like the juicy nectar of Georgia peaches—it sings of summer—and Kimberly’s Georgia Peach Salsa captures that essence. You’ll want to keep it on hand all summer long. Like any salsa, it’s terrific with chips, but Kimberly recommends spooning it over a piece of grilled fish, or serving it alongside her Slow Cooker Chicken Quesadillas.

However you enjoy her zingy peach salsa, the Bounty Bev dudes are all about Dogfish Head to imbibe with it. DH’s Festina Peche, a neo-Berliner Weisse made with fermented peach juice is a natural. And we’ve just learned about Dogfish Head’s Sea Quench Ale Session Sour. The can reads “Blissfully brewed with lime juice, lime peel, black limes, sea salt.” The R&D says this is intentionally brewed to be the most thirst-quenching beer ever. Little Big Town is all about Day Drinking (“Don’t want to wait ‘til the sun’s sinking.”) and Sea Quench is a summer day drinking contender. You can count on it to hydrate you, while you’ll relish its tartness and the lingering of sea salt on your tongue.

RECIPES

from Oh Gussie! Cooking and Visiting in Kimberly’s Kitchen, by Kimberly Schlapman

 

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN QUESADILLAS

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup thinly sliced onion

1 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hands

1 7-ounce corn kernels, drained and rinsed (or 1 cup frozen baby corn kernels)

2 jalapenos, seeded and minced  ( Want it more fiery? Add the seeds!)

1 avocado, diced small

8 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 8-inch tortillas

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Salsa and sour cream, for serving

Pour olive oil into a slow cooker. Add the chicken, onions, tomatoes and their juices, corn, jalapenos, avocado and cream cheese. Cover and cook on high setting 3-4 hours, or low setting 6-8 hours.

Remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Stir in the cilantro, mixing well to coat the chicken with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet or griddle on medium-high heat. Sprinkle the cheese on half of the tortilla. Top with shredded chicken mixture, then more cheese. Fold over and brush olive oil on both sides. Place in the pan and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until the quesadilla is crispy and the cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Cut the quesadillas into wedges. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Makes 8 servings

GEORGIA PEACH SALSA
4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into small dice

½ cup finely diced red bell pepper

¼ cup minced red onion

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

juice of one lime

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Let the salsa sit for 30 minutes to let the flavors before serving. Makes 4 cups

Credits:

Oh Gussie! Cooking and Visiting in Kimberly’s Southern Kitchen by Kimberly Schlapman with Martha Foose  William Morrow Cookbooks, April 2015

“Summer Fever” written by Jesse Frasure, Cary Barlowe, Sam Romans, Karen Fairchild

Released June 6, 2018

“Day Drinking”  written by Troy Verges, Barry Dean, Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet

Released June 2014