“Alan Jackson Dip”
The Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, TN

The Grand Ole Opry reopened its doors to Music City last week, five months after the Cumberland River overflowed its banks and wreaked havoc onto the city of Nashville.  The Grand Ole Opry suffered heavy damage from the floods and underwent a massive restoration as a result. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the Grand Ole Opry, it is the world’s longest running radio program which features American country music, blue grass, folk, and gospel.  It is a weekly country music stage concert that has aired live on the radio and now television since 1925.  It is a tremendous honor to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry and some of its’ elite members include Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Johnny and June Carter Cash.  Modern country music members include Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McIntire, Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood, Trace Atkins, Dierks Bentley, Josh Turner and Brad Paisley.  Blake Shelton will be inducted as its newest member this year.

Even though it was displaced as a result of the May flooding, the Grand Ole Opry broadcasts were not disrupted and instead found a temporary home in other venues. Click here to see Dierks Bentley give a backstage tour of the restored Opry House on Facebook.

Grand Piano at the Opry House before the May 2010 flood.
 As a proud member of the Opry Fan Club, I was devastated to hear of the damage to the Opry house and the city of Nashville and am very happy to hear of its grand reopening. One of the best southern feasts I have ever had was actually at annual Opry Fan Club brunch. Being from the Northeast, I had never seen brunch served this way before and was really intrigued by the combination of ingredients. (Think: fruit salad, but smothered in some kind of mayonnaise or yogurt sauce, corn bread, pulled pork, etc. Not diet friendly, but delicious and very Paula Deen-esq.)
The Grand Ole Opry Fan Club
Annual Southern Brunch.

There is even an Opry cookbook, Around the Opry Table by Kay West, which features the favorite personal recipes of many Opry members.  Here is a recipe that I adopted from the feature on Alan Jackson. This dip is one of my go to recipes because it’s easy and is absolutely delicious and ADDICTING.  I make it often and when I don’t make it, everyone complains. It’s the perfect snack to accompany your it’s 5 o’clock somewhere beverage.
Alan Jackson in concert at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes Barre, PA.
Alan Jackson Dip
2 bags of reduced fat 2% shredded cheddar cheese (I like Sargento Natural or Kraft. Don’t get the finely shredded cheese for this recipe. The thicker cut, the better.)
1 container of large stuffed pimiento olives, chopped 
1/2 cup of reduced fat mayo
salt and pepper
Optional: Franks hot sauce
Assorted crackers or pita chips to dip with!

Mix together the above ingredients in a large bowl and serve! If you want to give it a quick, add in some Frank’s hot sauce. Really, that’s it!

Jumbo stuffed pimiento Spanish olives.


If you’re looking for a way to use up some of those cucumbers from your summer garden, try making this easy and healthful tzatziki sauce.  Tzatziki is a Greek sauce that is made from strained yogurt (usually from goat’s or sheep’s milk), grated or chopped cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and fresh dill or mint.  If you’ve ever enjoyed a gyro or souvlaki, then you’ve most likely had tzatziki sauce.  It a very versatile sauce and can even be served as a dip or spread.   This cool sauce is a perfect compliment to a warm summer night and simple to whip up in minutes.  I promise, once you’ve made this from scratch you will never go back to a store bought tzatziki sauce again!
TIP: The thicker the yogurt, the thicker the sauce – so if you want to make this as a dip, try using Fage Total or 2% Fage Greek Yogurt.  In my recipe, I used 0% Fage Greek Yogurt, which made it a little runny but I added some low fat sour cream to thicken it up and save some calories. 
Fairytale Tzatziki Sauce

2 6-oz containers of Fage 0% greek yogurt
½ cup of reduced fat sour cream
1 large cucumber
1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt + pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt and sour cream. Grate the cucumber (leaving skin on) into the mixture. Mix in the dill, vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Enjoy with whole wheat pita chips, in a flatbread pita with grilled chicken, or as a dip for veggies.