Blueberry Raspberry Muffins

Do you have a berry lover in your family or at your tailgate? You know, those guests who happen to always pick all the blueberries and raspberries out of the fruit salad or always have raspberry waffles and blueberry pancakes. These Blueberry Raspberry Muffins are made for them! Warning though, when other guests see these muffins topped with an icing drizzle, there may be a battle over who will get the last one.

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photographing FOOD Issue 7


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Issue 7 of photographing FOOD is now out! This issue is all about backgrounds! What you shoot your food on is just as important as the subject you are shooting. A well chosen background can tell a story, complement the subject, and make for a stronger and more powerful image!

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A Recipe For Chimichurri

The prime of grilling season is here! As summer progresses and we move into fall, I am sure you will have plenty or chicken, steak, pork and seafood hit your grill. Have you found yourself in a rut and looking for a new condiment to top your grilled entrees? Try this Chimichurri to accompany any meat you pull off the grill. This Argentinian condiment has a robust herbal flavor that has a bit of a sour tang to it, making  it a great for any type of meat that you may be serving at your tailgate or family grill out. It is most traditionally seen with beef, but Sally and I have enjoyed it on a wide variety of proteins that you can put on the grill. Like with a pesto, you can adjust this recipe to your taste. Feel free to add more or less garlic and substitute cilantro for some of the basil.

Lime Breeze Cocktail

This refreshing gin based cocktail is exactly what you need now that the dog days of summer are here. The delightful balance of lime, mint, and lavender pairs well with the subtle herbal flavors of a London Dry Gin. If you plan on serving this for a crowd, you can double or triple the simple syrup recipe. If your cocktails will be made one at a time, refrigerate the simple syrup in a sealed container.

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Caramel Frosted Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars

Bar cookies ease of transportation make them great for bringing to a tailgate or outdoor party.  The rich caramel icing and soft lemon sugar cookie will appeal to guests of all ages at your next party! The recipe is designed to be baked in a large 16.75″X12″X1″jelly roll pan, so you can cut them to any desired size before serving, or let your guests cut a piece that will fit their appetite. To make the caramel icing, you will need a candy thermometer and 2 large heavy bottomed pots. Make the cookie base first. While the cookie is cooling, make the caramel icing. You can eat them as soon as they are iced, or let the icing cool completely before covering with foil and transporting to your event.

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Baked Potato Wedges with Bacon Buttermilk Dip

Crispy baked potato wedges are an easy side dish or appetizer to prepare for a large crowd. If you are serving them as an appetizer, their long slender shape makes them perfect for dipping in a variety of dipping sauces. If served as a side dish, you can drizzle them with a dipping sauce. What sauce goes best with potato wedges you ask? Try them with this creamy Bacon Buttermilk Dip.

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Kale Zucchini and Farro Salad

Looking for a side dish or vegetarian main entree for your next dinner party, backyard cookout, or tailgate? This hearty, but not heavy, summer salad is the perfect dish to showcase fresh summer produce. Filled with fresh zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, garbanzo beans and farro, this is a dish that vegetarians and meat lovers will both pile onto their plate! Serve on its own as a vegetable entree, or to top your favorite grilled chicken, shrimp, or pork tenderloin.

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Fresh Cherry Salsa

When you think of salsa what comes to mind? Does it involve tomatoes, onions, and peppers, a cold beer and a bag of tortilla chips? Chips and salsa make a great appetizer for any tailgate or entertaining event. When it comes to a fresh fruit salsa, it can be used for so much more than just a bag of chips. This Fresh Cherry Salsa is the perfect condiment for a summer appetizer or grilled entree.

Lime Cheesecake with Fresh Blueberry Topping

Are you looking for the perfect dessert to serve this weekend? I have your solution. Say hello to this Lime Cheesecake with Fresh Blueberry Topping. I know what you may be thinking. Yes, a rich and decadent cheesecake like the Heath Bar Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache Glaze, may be too heavy for a summer evening. On a warm summer evening, the light texture and refreshing lime flavor will leave you with all the satisfaction of a decadent cheesecake, but without the heavy feeling. The fresh blueberry topping is easy to make and when served on top of a slice of Lime Cheesecake, it will create a dessert that your guests won’t forget!

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Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

Sara and I love Buffalo Chicken! It could be on a pizza, a taco, a salad, or even a sandwich and we would both devour any food that has the signature orange colored sauce and mouth burning taste! We have found that the key to a successful buffalo chicken dish is that you have to have either ranch or blue cheese to go with the hot buffalo flavor! The addition of cheese and carbohydrates doesn’t hurt either.
Sally makes my favorite macaroni and cheese dish. Her Red, White, and Blue Mac-n-Cheese from a few years ago is a dish that Sara and I still talk about.

Since Buffalo Chicken and blue cheese are made to be served together, what if you combined the two into a macaroni and cheese? I approached Sally with the idea, and here is what she came up with! If there is a macaroni and cheese or buffalo chicken lover in your house, they will love this dish!


Buffalo Chicken Mac -n- Cheese
12 servings

Large Casserole dish, buttered

3/4 cup Crystal Hot Sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 cups uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks (1″x1″)

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon bacon drippings

1 pound Cavatappi pasta

8 ounces cream cheese

1 1/2 cups chopped celery

1 cups chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

1 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 teaspoon country Dijon mustard

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

8 ounces blue cheese crumbles

6 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

6 ounces cherrywood smoked bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled

1/3 cup Crystal Hot Sauce

1. In a large bowl add the 3/4 cup Crystal sauce, lime juice, garlic, brown sugar and salt. Stir to blend. Add the uncooked chicken. Toss to coat the chicken with the sauce.

2. In a large high sided saute pan melt the butter and the bacon drippings. Add the chicken and sauce mixture. Cook stirring frequently over medium heat for 12 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover the chicken and let rest on the burner for 15 minutes.

3. While the chicken is cooling, cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve.

4. Drain the cooked chicken and reserve the cooking liquid. Tear the cooked chicken into bite sized pieces and put into a large bowl. Set chicken aside. Put the reserved cooking liquid back into the high sided saute pan. Turn the heat to medium. Bring the cooking liquid back to a simmer. Turn off heat.

5. Add the cream cheese, celery, red pepper and scallions to the saute pan. Stir until blended. Add the heavy cream, sour cream and milk. Stir until blended. Add the Worcestershire, Tabasco and mustard. Stir. Set sauce aside.

6. Add 1 cup of Parmesan, the blue cheese, cheddar cheese and bacon to the bowl of shredded chicken. Add 1/3 cup of Crystal sauce. Toss to blend the cheese and chicken mixture.

7. Add the cooked pasta to the chicken and cheese mixture. Toss to blend. Pour the reserved sauce mixture over the chicken, cheese and pasta mixture. Stir until blended. Spoon the buffalo macaroni into to the prepared casserole pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

8. Bake the Mac-n-Cheese at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and beginning to brown. Remove from oven. Serve warm.

Recipe ©Sally James

Photography ©Taylor Mathis

Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Sundae

Interested in having an upside down dessert this weekend ? Well, I have two choices for you. If you are a traditionalist, Sally’s classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake may be more of your style. Feeling a little adventurous? How about a Pineapple Upside Down inspired sundae? The cake is perfect for taking on location to a tailgate or picnic. If your party has freezer access, then I would give the sundae a try. Anyone who is a fan of pineapple, cherries, and caramel will find that can’t go wrong with either one!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Serves 6

6 tablespoons plus ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup light brown sugar, divided
pinch salt
1 (20-ounce can) pineapple slices, juice reserved
16-20 Maraschino cherries
2 cups all purpose flour
3/ 4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon almond extract

Butter a 9-inch cake pan. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place 6 tablespoons butter, 2/3 cup light brown sugar and pinch of salt in a sauce pan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Pour the brown sugar mixture into the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Let sugar cool for 5 minutes.

Drain the pineapple slices, reserving ¼ cup of the juice. Pat pineapple slices dry with a paper towel and arrange slices on top of the sugar layer in the bottom of the cake pan. Garnish with cherries. Set pan aside.

In a medium bowl add the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend. Set aside.

In a separate medium bowl add the eggs, milk, reserved pineapple juice, 1/4 cup brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, lemon zest and almond extract. Stir to blend. Add melted butter. Stir. Pour milk & egg mixture into the bowl of flour mixture. Stir until ingredients are just blended.

Pour batter into the cake pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove cake from oven. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge of the cake. Invert cake onto serving platter. Let cool and serve.


Pineapple Upside Down Sundae Sauce

Makes enough sauce for 2 pint sized sundaes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup white corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest

1 cup bite sized fresh pineapple pieces

1/4 cup halved maraschino cherries


1. In a medium sized saucepan, add the butter, brown sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add the heavy cream, corn syrup, vanilla and lemon zest.  Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Remove sauce from heat. Put pineapple pieces and cherries on top of a pint of pineapple coconut ice cream.  Pour sauce over the fruit. Serve.

Recipes ©Sally James

Photography ©Taylor Mathis

Bacon and Cheese Bread Pudding

You may remember the Bacon, Bourbon, and Doughnut Bread Pudding from a few months ago. Bread puddings don’t always have to be sweet. Had a rough Saturday night and need something for your hangover cure? Or are you looking for a great Saturday morning meal to share with your children who don’t quite understand the concept of sleeping in? This savory Bacon and Cheese Bread Pudding is the perfect brunch meal for anyone! Give it a try this weekend and see for yourself!

Bacon & Cheese Bread Pudding
Serves 6 to 8

10 cups bite sized cubes of white sandwich bread
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus additional for pan
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
8 large eggs
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 ½ cups grated Cheddar cheese
12 slices bacon cooked and drained on paper towels (reserve drippings)

Butter a large casserole dish. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Arrange bread cubes in one layer on a baking sheet. Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the melted butter. Stir. Pour the butter mixture over the bread cubes. Toss the cubes until coated. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cubes are toasted. Remove from oven and set pan aside.

In a large bowl add eggs, heavy cream and milk. Stir until well blended. Add cheese, 2 teaspoons bacon drippings, and remaining salt and pepper. Stir. Cut or chop the bacon into bite sized pieces. Add bacon to the milk egg mixture. Stir.

Add toasted bread cubes to the milk egg mixture. Stir until all bread cubes are coated. Let the bread mixture rest for 10 minutes. Pour bread pudding into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown and egg mixture is set. Remove from oven. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe ©Sally James
Photography ©Taylor Mathis