6.06.2012

An Ode to Cracker Barrel

I remember the first time I ever went to Cracker Barrel.
It was 1996 and we went on a family vacation to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
It was the first time this California girl had been to the South.
Our first meal we had on that trip was at this place called Cracker Barrel.
It was love at first sight. And, love at first bite.
We were in the South for a week & I think we went to Cracker Barrel for at least once a day.
When my family finds something we like, we stick to it!
Overkill? I think not. It's just how we roll.

We do not have restaurants/stores like it in California.
So, every time I travel to the South, my #1 priority is to make sure I get to go to Cracker Barrel.
I am not kidding.
When I was playing college soccer my sophomore year we had games at University of Alabama and so before the trip, I told my coach that we had to have one of our meals at Cracker Barrel, and we did!

When I went to New Orleans/Mississippi in 2006 for Hurricane Katrina relief, you better believe we drove out of our way for dinner one night for Cracker Barrel.

When Kevin and I went to a wedding in Florida 3 years ago, I made Kevin go there for at least 1 meal every day we were there.

When we went on the Disney Cruise & Disney World last year, I made sure our hotel was within walking distance of a Cracker Barrel (since we didn't have a rental car, I needed to make sure I could have Cracker Barrel while I was in the South!)

Told you, I am obsessed with Cracker Barrel!
The first thing you notice it all the rocking chairs on the porch surrounding it.
Then, you go inside and before you go to the restaurant, there is an adorable country store with fun nick-knacks, candies & fun vintage-y finds.
Each Cracker Barrel has the exact same layout!!!
(These pictures are from my last visit to Cracker Barrel, which was a year ago, the day we arrived in Florida for our Disney Cruise)
Love the vintage feel to the store:
Vintage Soda:
Love all the old fashioned candy.
Such cute things!
Gumballs in Mason Jars? Love it.
And, you can buy some pre-packaged Cracker Barrel goodies!
The dining room/restaurant area has eclectic decorations:
While you wait for your food, you can play this peg game. (I bought one years ago)
Also while you wait, you can snack on warm biscuits that they bring to your table.
My favorite breakfast to order at Cracker Barrel is the French Toast or the blueberry pancakes:
If I go during lunch/dinner, I always order the grilled chicken tenderloin sandwich on sourdough. With their hashbrown casserole as a side.
Cracker Barrel also has amazing desserts, like fudge brownie sundaes & cobblers.

I am passing on the love of Cracker Barrel to my girls. There was a Cracker Barrel commercial on Nick Jr the other day & Kate got so excited and said, "This is making me miss Cracker Barrel. I just can't stop thinking about it now." Me too Kate, me too. Ha!
And, I think it is mean they had a commerical about Cracker Barrel when the nearest one is over 1000 miles away! Boo.

My other favorite thing about Cracker Barrel is the Sweet Tea. We don't have Sweet Tea here in California at restaruants. Boo. But, I did find a Sweet Tea that is now sold in stores & it is SO good:
A few months ago, I saw a few Cracker Barrel recipes on Pinterest that I pinned right away. But, because I was battling major morning sickness, I didn't make them, until this week!
And, they didn't dissapoint!
Here is what I pinned & made:
Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole
1 bag of frozen Shredded Hash Browns
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup butter, melted
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, setting aside 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.
After all ingredients are mixed, spread in a greased 9x13 pan.
Use remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on the top.
Bake at 350 (uncovered) for 45 minutes.
Yum, yum, yum. Total comfort food.
I also pinned & made:
Cracker Barrel Biscuits
2 1/4 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup Buttermilk
1 t sugar
1 T melted butter (plus additional melted butter for brushing on the tops)
Mix bisquick, buttermilk, sugar & melted butter in a bowl.
Stir until a soft dough forms.
On a well floured surface, knead the dough.
Once dough is kneaded, roll out 1/2 inch thick.
Use a biscuit cutter (or drinking glass) to cut out your biscuits.
Add ImagePlace on a cookie sheet & brush melted butter on the tops.
Bake at 450 for 8-10 minutes.
When you take them out of the oven, you can brush more melted butter on the tops if you want!
My favorite way to eat them is warm out of the oven with my Homemade Strawberry Jam.
I also love Honey on biscuits!
This recipe makes 8 biscuits & they were delicious & easy to make!

The final recipe I tested out was:
Cracker Barrel Peach Cobbler with Almond Crumble
For the bottom:
1 cup Cracker Barrel Pancake Mix (which I didn't have so I used Bisquick)
1 cup milk
1 stick melted butter
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Whisk together in a bowl & then spread in an 8x8 baking dish:
Then, drain your 29 oz can of sliced peaches into a bowl, reserve 1-2 T of the heavy syrup & add that to the bowl also. Add 1/4 c sugar to the peaches, stir & then pour over the batter:
You are going to bake that at 375 for 45 minutes.
While it is baking, make the crumble topping.
For the topping you mix:
1/2 c brown sugar
1/8 c flour
1/2 t cinammon
1 T softened butter
1/4 c sliced almonds (or if you don't like almonds, leave them out!)
Mix in a bowl with a fork.
After the cobbler has finished baking for 45 minutes, add the crumble & bake for an additional 10 minutes.
I let it cool for about 10-15 minutes & then I serve it warm with vanilla bean ice cream.
It was SO good. The almond crumble was delicious! The sliced almonds really add a fun flavor to the cobbler.
When I make this again, I am going to use more peaches, because I wish it had more peaches! Instead of one 29 oz can of peaches, I am going use that, plus an additional 15 oz can of peaches (drained).

I am so happy to have found these Cracker Barrel recipes, it will help tide me over until my next trip to the South. Who knows when that will be!
I wish they would build one here in California.
If you haven't been to Cracker Barrel, you are missing out!!!
Anyone else obsessed with Cracker Barrel or am I the only crazy one?

Linking up with:

46 comments:

  1. I live in Alabama and my husband & I love to eat at Cracker Barrel! We always joke that we're the only couple under 65 on a Friday night ;). My favorites are the Chicken and Dumplings and the Sunday's Best Fried Chicken. You MUST eat there on a Sunday next time and give it a try.

    You know you can make your very own sweet tea in the microwave... we brew it at home all the time and it is much better than store bought or even restaurant tea!

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  2. We love Cracker Barrel. Their store is so great and the food is wonderful. I love the chicken tenderloins. My kids love the cornbread and biscuits. I can't imagine not having one close enough to go whenever. I guess it just makes it even better when it is a rare treat. :-)

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  3. OKAYYY. You have me starvingggg. And I've never been to a Cracker Barrel?? So you also have me wanting to head south. Like today. Sounds like comfort food at it's finest.

    Awesome post, Mel. Thanks for linking up!

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  4. So funny you posted this! I live in the South and Cracker Barrel is a staple, for sure. I remember as a child growing up, before we had a Cracker Barrel near our home, when we would go on vacation we would ALWAYS stop at Cracker Barrel for our meals. I LOVED that place then and I love it now!

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  5. You are too funny! We have several of them here in Houston and I truly don't remember the last time we actually went. Maybe we need to go in your honor!

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  6. I LOVE Cracker Barrel!! I always get breakfast, no matter what time of day. My kids love it too, but I think it is more for the store than food :)

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  7. I often make Cracker Barrel inspired Fried Apples and Chicken Fried Chicken! I live right down the road from two different ones here in Orlando and I wouldn't have it any other way!

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  8. This cracks me up! Having always lived within a few miles of a cracker barrel it's hard to imagine not always having access to it. I love that you can order breakfast any time of day, browse the store while waiting for your table (we rarely have to wait unless it's Sunday lunch), and check out audio books for road trips. My favorite is the Sunday chicken, with some hashbrown casserole and fried okra! Harper has learned it's fun to eat there with the grandparents because they will buy her a treat from the store. I will have to try out these recipes!

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  9. I heart CB, too!!! I love shopping there for stocking stuffers. I am going to make that hashbrown casserole this weekend. Yum!

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  10. That hashbrown casserole is a MOPS staple in our group... everyone loves it! Now I want Cracker Barrel, thanks for that ;)

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  11. You crack me up! I have never been and we have one just down the street. I guess we will have to check it out.

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  12. I guess I just never thought about Cracker Barrel only being in the South! We do love our local Cracker Barrel restaurant. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner... it doesn't matter. Its always good. I love their store for Christmas gifts, too! Come visit the one in Spartanburg, SC, k?

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  13. Ha! We all ADORE Cracker Barrel. .. ANNNDDDD my mom wants to stay by one anytime we travel so she can have breakfast there! :-)

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  14. This is so funny to me because we have them here. But I feel the same way when I hear all you Cali girls blogging about In N Out, Sonic, etc... because we don't have them.
    Funny also because we just ate at our newest Cracker Barrel this past weekend...and I had the blueberry pancakes! Don't you love how they bring you your own jar of homemade blueberry syrup to go with them?

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  15. Did you know that there is a Cracker Barrel in Colorado Springs and that the porch has a terrific view of Pikes Peak? Yep, true story. The manager told us once that the Co Springs Cracker Barrel has been given the "best view award" for all CB restaurants. :) You should visit and decide for yourself.

    By the way, their cornbread is my favorite thing! And the fried okra.

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  16. You are so funny. Cracker Barrel isn't just in the south anymore! They are in Arizona! And Colorado. Basically every state except California.

    My favorite breakfast is the sampler. A little country ham, bacon, and sausage so I don't have to choose just one.

    You can also make sweet tea at home. Just brew regular black tea and use simple syrup. That is what REAL southern restaurants do so you can make it as sweet as you want!

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  17. Sounds like your a Southern Belle at heart! I grew up in Mississippi and ate at Cracker Barrel all the time. I haven't even thought of the restaurant in ages... but this makes me want to go have dinner there tonight!

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  18. We have a bunch of Cracker Barrel's near me in Phoenix and I've never been!! I would go just for the items you posted though... YUM.

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  19. There is nothing I love more than a trip to the Cracker Barrel. I'm so happy you posted this I could cry. Just one of the many reasons I love reading your blog!

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  20. Yum! I will have to try the hashbrown casserole recipe. I love it!

    Cracker Barrel's malted milk balls are our absolute favorites!

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  21. Yes, we do love our Cracker Barrel here in FL :) going to have to try the hash brown casserole recipe!

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  22. I have a love/hate relationship with CB. My husband runs one and I love that it pays well and he gets great benefits. I HATE how much he's forced to work. He works at least 70+ hours a week. It pays the bills, but makes it so we don't see him much. :(

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  23. You were not kidding. You do love it!! Well we have one in my town and if you are ever in Central KY come on over. I'll rock with ya, play checkers and eat pancakes! (Momma's French Toast breakfast is my go to!)
    I do hope my picture had some part in this post! lol!! :)

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  24. This cracks me up! I do love Cracker Barrel too. So fun that you ate at one when you came to play at Bama. I bet it's one I've eaten at many times:). I echo what someone else said...you can make your own sweet tea pretty easily (and probably cheaper than buying it). I'm going to have to try the hashbrown casserole recipe. That's my favorite thing from CB!

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  25. I have been following your blog for a while. I love your recipes and congrats on your impending arrival.

    I love Cracker Barrel too! I live in CT and there is one about 20 mins away from us, I think we might have to make a trip there for dinner tomorrow night :-)

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  26. our children love cracker barrel. we have one within 10 minutes and and additional three within 45 minutes of our home. great southern cooking ~ and a full plate ~ for not a lot of money. my favorite is the chicken and dumplings. it's probably the only restaurant where we don't mind the wait.

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  27. I share your love for Cracker Barrel. Whenever I visit family in the Midwest it is on my "must dine at" list. They have a pancake mix in the store that you just add water to and they are the best. thing. ever!!

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  28. oh! I get it now. CB sounds awesome and looks so super cute inside!! and wow, those recipes are all worthy of making right away. thanks for sharing. although i cannot support the tea impersonator whose name is gold peak. at least the "black tea" version. all wrong.

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  29. I love the store at Cracker Barrel. It sucks me in every single time! And have you seen their clearance section? I would 4 antiquey looking white plates for $3 TOTAL!

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  30. I live in Oklahoma & I had NO IDEA CB wasn't in every single state?! WHAT is this world coming to!? We live 10 minutes from one & we LOVE it. If you are ever in Oklahoma you have to also eat at the Crescent Cafe. It is a local owned place in Sand SPrings- just out of Tulsa- and they have THE BEST FOOD. ALLL Southern. Now I'm starving! Ha!

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  31. I think it is so unfair that there's a commercial and you don't have one near you...at all. Rude. We love Cracker Barrel, but believe it or we don't go very often. We always go when we go to Florida and I just told my husband that when we go to Chicago we must stop on the way. LOVE their pancakes. One day I'm going to snatch up one of those rocking chairs!

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  32. I love me some Cracker Barrel!! I used to eat there all the time when I lived in Alabama, but you know what? They have Cracker Barrels in Colorado too! Have you ever noticed that no matter where you are or what time it is, the restaurant is always packed? Not surprising :)

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  33. We moved to GA from CA last fall and have fallen in love with Cracker Barrel. Well, my hubby hasn't but my boys and I sure love it! Since daddy's not a big fan we head there when he's out of town on business. Yummy!

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  34. Living in TN for 30 years (where Cracker Barrel was founded.) I totally took it for granted! This post made me smile :) I am going to have to try some of these recipes. YUM! BUT...I am 11 weeks pregnant (with my third too) and i just cant do it right now!

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  35. We have CB in North Dakota...and I thought we got every franchise last! :). There's hope for CA yet!

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  36. You crack me up, Mel! We live 6 miles from Cracker Barrel and I guess I take it for granted, but my kids love it too. You should go at Christmas, they have great decor. My fave is the veggie platter.

    BTW, we just got home an hour ago from our Disney Cruise!! I have one word: Squee. I will be blogging about it all week- we did the same one as you guys and It. Was. Awesome.

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  37. I love Cracker Barrel!!! I have one about 15 minutes from me in Clearwater, FL. But Florida or the south does not have Claim Jumper Restaunts, which you do in CA. I crave Claim Jumper and In-N-Out Burger.

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  38. Cracker Barrel is soo good! We haven't eaten there in a while, as the closest one to us is about 45 minutes away. Next time you go, go to the store and get some chocolate covered peppermint sticks.. Yum! I think you just gave CB a lot of business because we are all hungry and craving it now, HA! :)

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  39. You really need to make your own tea at home. Get a big pot and a box of family size tea bags. Lipton, Luzianne, and Tetley are the best. Fill the pot a little over half full and throw in 4 tea bags (if not using family size, I throw in 6). Add a cup and a half of sugar and boil until sugar is dissolved. Pour into gallon size pitcher and add water until pitcher is full. Add ice and you have Iced Sweet Tea at home. Hope you give it a try and enjoy it. Lots cheaper and taste better than the store bought kind. I have a family of 7 and we go through about 7-10 gallons a week around here. Yes, we are true Southerners and we love Cracker Barrel too.

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  40. I love the pancakes and hashbrown casserole! And McDonald's has amazing sweet tea, have you tried it?

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  41. I have been obsessed with Cracker Barrel since our honeymoon in 1996. I get ya...

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  42. Just found your blog! So cute! I grew up in Atlanta so that means grew up with Cracker Barrel! i LOVE the hash brown casserole and am SO pumped to make it now that I don't live ANYWHERE near a Cracker Barrel! :)

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  43. I've not eaten at a Cracker Barrel in SO many years!!!!!! I miss their chicken fried steak. I mean...yum. I miss that home cookin'!!!! They eat baked beans on toast for breakfast in Scotland. Yuck.

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  44. This is too funny! I love Cracker Barrel,too! I live up north now, but when I get so homesick for real southern food, I sweetly ask my husband if we (and our 6 kids) can go there. Our kids love it as much as me. It feels like home, I guess. I usually get just the vegetable plate because I love their fried okra, turnip greens, and pinto beans. I am definitely trying the recipe for their biscuits. Thanks and I enjoyed reading about your love for Cracker Barrel!!

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  45. We do love our Cracker Barrel and Southern Store here in the south (born and raised!) But I do agree with you....I lived in AZ for 3 years and going to places like Cracker Barrel was always a treat for our family....a little piece of home! ;) Cute post!
    Priscilla
    www.gracefullyrefreshed.com

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  46. When we went on the Disney Cruise & Disney World last year, I made sure our hotel was within walking distance of a Cracker Barrel (since we ... 1crackerbarrel.blogspot.com

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