BATTER UP!

Linda Davis dips her hands into a deep-fried sandwich specialty at a favorite Nashville restaurant

"Why, this looks just like my kitchen at home," jokes Linda Davis with an exaggerated sigh and comically overstated Texas drawl. She's just walked into the kitchen at the famed Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, where assistant chef Joshua Gayer has neatly laid out a lineup of bread, ham, cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms.

Linda and Joshua are about to team up to create one of the restaurant's specialties -- the Monte Cristo, a deep-fried ham and cheese sandwich. Though slender Linda looks like someone who wouldn't let so much as a fried carrot stick cross her lips, she admits she does occasionally indulge.

"Where I grew up in Texas, we ate fried everything," she laughs, "so this kind of takes me back to those days. And the Wildhorse also has some great salads and chicken dishes."

The "Some Things Are Meant to Be" singer keeps her slim figure with a bustling schedule, which includes writing songs and playing tour dates with Kenny Rogers. "I want to put enough songs together for an album, which I hope to record this summer," she says. "Then I'll shop it around and see if it can find a home."

Meanwhile Linda feels right at home in the Wildhorse kitchen, stuffing ham, cheese and vegetables in between slices of bread. "I really do enjoy cooking," smiles Linda, who prepares the family meals for husband Lang Scott and daughters Hillary and Rylee.

"I'm famous in my little circle of friends for my chicken pot pie. The secret is to use Carnation milk and lots of butter."

And there's a secret to the Monte Cristo, she quickly learns. "The key is smashing it all together before you dip the bread in the beer batter," advises chef Joshua.

The final step calls for Linda to drop the entire sandwich into the deep fryer. "We never had one of these at home," she says, "so I hope I do it right. I feel like I'm gonna get a workout!"

She's certainly worked up an appetite as the Monte Cristo comes out golden brown. And after the first bite, she can't wait to try it at home.

"My family's gonna love this!" she beams.

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