Apricot Whiskey Sour

Hooray for Friday!

The most natural use for an infused spirit is in a cocktail. Sally has taken one of her favorite cocktails and given it an apricot twist. The sweetness of the apricot, sour of the lemon, and boldness of the bourbon make it a great cocktail to unwind with and enjoy the beautiful spring weather! Have a great weekend!


Apricot Whiskey Sour

Makes one serving

2T. apricot juice

3T. fresh lemon juice

4T. Apricot infused Bourbon

4T. water

Lemon wedges for garnish

Crushed Ice

1. Fill a glass with crushed ice.

2. In a separate glass add the apricot juice, lemon juice, apricot bourbon and water. Stir. Pour mixture over the crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Serve.

Image ©Taylor Mathis

Recipe © Sally James

Pecan Apricot Bourbon Cakes

Remember the Apricot Bourbon from a few weeks ago? By now your bourbon and apricots have had plenty of time to infuse together. You are left with two products: a bourbon that has a pleasant, sweet and subtle taste of apricots and dried apricots that are filled with bourbon. Don’t throw away this infused fruit. Sally uses them as a key ingredient for her Pecan Apricot Bourbon cakes. This recipe makes enough for two 9 inch loaf pans.

This tea cake can be served any time of day. Breakfast with a cup of tea, a mid morning snack, after school snack, or a midnight snack. I have found there to be no time of day that is wrong to eat it!

Thank you all for the sweet well wishes you left Sara and me. We had a wonderful wedding and honeymoon! In case you are curious, here is a link to some of the pictures from our big day. Thanks to Laura Matney for doing such an amazing job in capturing our day!


Pecan Apricot Bourbon Cakes

Makes two 9” loaves

4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (additional for greasing pans)

1 pound light brown sugar

1 ¾ teaspoon salt

9 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon. vanilla

3 tablespoons apricot bourbon**

3 ½ cups flour (additional for pans)

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 ½ cups pecan halves

1 ½ cups diced bourbon apricots **

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 9 “ loaf pans. Set aside.

Put butter into work bowl of electric stand mixer. Cream on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add sugar and salt and mix for 3 to 4 minutes until butter and sugar mixture is light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until egg is incorporated into the batter. Add vanilla and apricot bourbon and mix until blended.

Put flour, nutmeg, pecans and apricots in a medium bowl. Stir until blended.

Add flour apricot nut mixture to the batter and mix on low speed until just blended together.

Divide batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cakes cook in pan for 5 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and cool loaves completely before slicing.


©Photograph Taylor Mathis

©Recipe Sally James

Meet Sara


A little over three years ago, I started Taylor Takes A Taste. It was January of 2010. I had moved back to Charlotte after almost 6 years in Wisconsin and California and was trying to figure out where to take my business. I knew that I wanted to be a photographer, but after a few months of trying to make it as a wedding photographer, I realized that shooting weddings was not for me. Food was what I loved. So what did I do? I started a blog. Taylor Takes A Taste was originally started as an outlet to practice food photography. Over the last 3 years it has turned into much more than that.

If you told me that today, I would be working with my Mom, as recipe developer on the site and on my cook book, I don’t think I would have believed it. The most amazing thing that has happened through the site has been indirectly meeting my wife, Sara. She isn’t my wife yet, but after tomorrow she will be! So I am going to go ahead and start calling her that.

So how does Taylor Takes A Taste lead to finding the person that I want to spend the rest of my life with? Well, I can thank online dating for that. Sara and I met through EHarmony. In the fall of 2010, I had done some work with Sara’s former company. For a few months I worked with one of Sara’s co-workers on some tailgating content from the first Tailgate Tour. He knew that Sara liked to bake, so he told her about Taylor Takes A Taste. Sara started reading and following the site. At the time we both had no idea that I had been at her office every week for almost 3 months.

In very early 2011, we were matched on EHarmony. On EHarmony, you start with a series of controlled multiple choice questions followed by giving a list of can’t stands and must haves. This then moves into guided communication where you are given a few questions that you can type in responses to. I don’t remember what questions I asked Sara, but I do remember her response. It had nothing to do with the question. She asked “Are you Taylor from Taylor Takes A Taste?” Apparently I am the only food photographer named Taylor living in Charlotte. Upon meeting on our first date, I came to find out how Sara had been following my blog for a few months and could see that I wasn’t crazy. She tried getting more information from her co-worker about me and came to the conclusion that I must not be that bad of a guy. So I like to think that Taylor Takes A Taste played a role in us meeting.

Sara and I had been dating for a few months, and it was time for me to meet her family. At the time, I didn’t know and I don’t think Sara did either, but her mom and sisters had found Taylor Takes A Taste. When Sara told her mom that she was dating a guy named Taylor who had a food blog, her oldest sister did some investigating. Again, there aren’t many male food bloggers in Charlotte names Taylor. During a weekend in trip to their house in the town we are getting married, her mom and sisters made this Double Chocolate Pie.

Like me, Sara is a fan of food. Her favorite foods involve bread, pasta, and cheese. So naturally when Sally developed this Red White & Blue Macaroni and Cheese for Taylor Takes a Taste, this became one of Sara’s favorite recipes. Click on the picture for the recipe.

Sara also likes cake. Her favorite cake is from a bakery in her home town. Sara and I have this running joke that if I was ever going to break up with her I would have to do it with a break-up cake. You know, a cake with something like “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I am sorry but I am just not that into you.” The cake could be eaten as a way for her to get over me breaking up with her. When it came time for me to propose, I knew there was only one thing I could do: say it with cake. So, I decided to give Sara an engagement cake! Without Sara knowing I called the bakery, had the cake made, and drove 8 hours round trip to her home town and back. What happened next is a lot easier to show you than explain…

So your next question may be, is that same bakery doing the cake for our wedding tomorrow? Yes they are!

3 years from now, I have no idea what other opportunities Taylor Takes A Taste will bring me, but whatever they are, I know that Sara will be along with me for the journey! I will have a few posts sporadically scheduled over the next few weeks, but during that time I am going to be taking a vacation and spending time with my new wife!

Apricot Infused Bourbon

Infused liquors have a wide variety of uses that I will share with you next week while I am on vacation ( more about that on Friday). The infusion takes a few days to mature, so begin your infusion this week.

Infusing is not magic. A cheap bourbon that you  don’t enjoy drinking will not become the most delicious liquor you have ever tasted. After infusing, it will be an apricot flavored cheap bourbon that you don’t enjoy drinking. Keep this in mind when selecting your infusing liquor. Use the stuff you enjoy drinking. Here is how you prepare your Apricot Bourbon.

Apricot Bourbon

2½ cups good quality bourbon (Sally’s favorite is Bulleit and I can’t complain with that)

2 cups dry apricots, halved

¼ cup dark brown sugar

Put all ingredients in a large Mason jar and close lid.

Shake the jar until ingredients are well mixed. Let bourbon rest and shake once daily for 6 days.

Strain the bourbon, reserving the apricots. Put bourbon back in the jar and close lid. Store the bourbon in a cool dry place. Reserved apricots may be stored in a sealable container in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Picture ©Taylor Mathis

Recipe ©Sally James

Peach Bourbon Pecan Sundae Sauce

The Madness of March has come and gone. This weekend is the Final Four! Either Louisville, Wichita State, Syracuse, or Michigan will walk away Monday night with a national title. I picked Louisville to win it all in my bracket, but being a Big 10 alumnus, I find myself looking for a win from the Maize and Blue.

Like the end of a delicious meal, the end of the tournament needs a dessert. Did you know that Georgia is known as the Peach State?  With the Final Four in Atlanta, it is only appropriate to have a peach themed dessert to end the tournament. For this Peach Bourbon Sundae Sauce, you will need the infused peach bourbon I brought you a few weeks ago. If you are still in pain over your busted bracket, then make sure to make yourself a Bracket Buster Cocktail this weekend as well.

You can use any ice cream flavor that you like. For this one, Sally selected a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Peach Cobbler ice cream. For an easy serving method, dump the pint of ice cream into a bowl. Scoop on a few heaping spoonfuls of  warm Peach Bourbon Pecan Sundae Sauce and serve with a few spoons. I would like to say this serves 4, but let’s be honest my fiancee and I can easily take down a pint of ice cream between the two of us. So let’s say it serves two. Speaking of my fiancee, Sara and I will be getting married on the 13th, so next week there will be a wedding-inspired post before I take a little time off. Have a great Final Four Weekend!



Peach Bourbon Pecan Sundae Sauce

makes about 2 cups


4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cup chopped pecans

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup diced dried peaches

1/4 cup white corn syrup

1 tablespoon peach bourbon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pecans and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. The butter should begin to brown but not burn.

Add the sugar, cream, peaches, corn syrup, bourbon, vanilla and salt. Stir. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for 4 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and cool 5 minutes. Pour warm sauce over ice cream.

Photography ©Taylor Mathis Recipe ©Sally James

Cheddar Chorizo Crostini


If your bracket is now busted, the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds of the tournament are an excuse to hang out with your friends. The second weekend of the tournament is made for eating, drinking, and watching as those remaining contenders in your bracket pool cheer with joy or curse their now busted bracket. Regardless of how your bracket is doing (mine was busted a long time ago), you will work up an appetite during these rounds.

For an afternoon/evening of basketball viewing, these Cheddar Chorizo Crostini are a winning dish. You can easily prep them before the game or the night before. They only take a few minutes in the oven to cook, making them perfect for a staggered service throughout the games. With spicy chorizo, crunchy bell peppers, and sharp cheddar cheese, these Crostini are a delicious snack to compliment Mach Madness.


Cheddar Chorizo Crostini 
Serves 8

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
pinch (1/16 teaspoon) cayenne pepper
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
1 ½ cup Spanish chorizo, diced
30 slices of French bread
2 cups (8 ounces) Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
Parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place butter, garlic and cayenne pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a smooth compound butter has formed. Add bell pepper, pulse a few times until peppers are mixed into butter. Remove butter from processor and reserve.

Add chorizo to a sauté pan and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Let cool.

Place slices of French bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Let cool.

Spread compound butter on toasted bread slices. Add Cheddar. Top with chorizo. Bake for2-5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Kicking off March Madness with The Bracket Buster Cocktail

It’s that time of year again. Welcome to March Madness! Other than college football in the fall, this is my favorite time of year to be a sports fan. Today and tomorrow the field of 64 teams will be narrowed down to 32. After the weekend, there will only be 16 teams left. A week later, that number will be down to 4. The Final Four will meet in Atlanta to decide who will be the last remaining team and the champion. The best part of the tournament is the bracket! You have until noon eastern time to get your bracket in. You don’t have to know anything about basketball to fill out a bracket. All you need to be able to do is to pick one team over another. You can do it by who would pick in a mascot fight, which uniform colors you like better, or have your alma mater winning it all. Regardless of your picking strategy, there are sure to be those teams and matchups that will bust your bracket. There may be a Cinderella of this year’s big dance or it could be all the #1 seeds that meet in Atlanta. That is the fun of the tournament; anything can happen!

Sally’s Bracket Buster Cocktail is inspired by this year’s Final Four City – Atlanta. Peach infused bourbon is mixed with a muddle of brown sugar, lime juice, and fresh basil. These ingredients are dumped in a glass full of crushed ice and topped with Sprite. The peach bourbon will take 2 weeks to reach full maturity, so start the process now for it to be ready when the Final Four rolls around.  The Bracket Buster will be there to celebrate with you and your team being in Atlanta, or to cheer you up when your bracket is busted.


Bracket Buster Cocktail

Makes 1 strong drink

6 basil leaves

1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/4 cup peach bourbon (see below)

1/2 cup Sprite

In a tall glass, add basil, sugar, and lime juice. Muddle ingredients together with a muddler or long wooden spoon for 30 seconds. Add bourbon and stir. Add Sprite. Pour over a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Enjoy.

For this drink you will need peach infused bourbon. It takes 2 weeks for this bourbon to fully infuse, so start soon for your drink to be ready for the Final Four.

Peach Bourbon

1 1/2 cups chopped dried peaches

3 cups good quality bourbon

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Add the ingredients to a mason jar. Seal the jar and shake, mixing ingredients together. Keep in a shaded areas for 2 weeks. Strain out fruit and return infused bourbon to the mason jar.

©Recipe by Sally James

©Photography by Taylor Mathis

Photographing FOOD Issue 4


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photographing FOOD Issue 4 is now out! In this issue, I wanted to focus on ingredient and process shots. Due to the poor lighting conditions found  in most kitchens, these shots are often ignored. In this issue, I will show you how you can turn these potentially boring and un-interesting shots into images that will make your viewers hungry for the final dish! Why just have a beautiful final image of your food? Wouldn’t it make sense to have every picture of a recipe be one that will make people hungry?

In this issue I will cover…..

  • How to make the ingredients the star of a photo
  • How to use shutter speed creatively
  • Why I love shooting with a Macro lens
  • High-key and low-key lighting
  • How ingredients can visually effect a recipe
  • And much more!

Like every issue of photographing food, the issue is a downloadable full color PDF  that can be read on your computer, iPhone, and iPad. For $5 you will receive 40 pages of behind the scenes and step by step shots.

Here are a few of the final shots that I will show you how to take.

and a few of the pages inside…


I hope you enjoy issue 4! If you haven’t taken a look at photographing FOOD yet, issues 1,2, and 3 are available at photographingfood.com



White Chocolate Blondies

Need something to cure your sweet tooth this weekend? Blondies are a nice change of pace from the traditional chocolate brownie. White chocolate and toasted whole almonds are baked into a buttery brown sugar base making a bar that no one can eat just one of.

White Chocolate Blondies
Serves 10-12

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 ¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup whole almonds chopped
1 cup white chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350°F . Butter and flour and 9×13-inch pan and set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat melt butter. Remove from heat. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar and corn syrup. Stir. Let mixture cool until warm, but not too hot to touch.

Add eggs and stir. Add vanilla and almond extract. Stir.

Place flour, salt and baking soda into a separate bowl. Stir. Pour flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture. Stir until blended.

Add almonds and white chocolate chips. Stir. Mixture will be thick. Empty batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool. Cut into bars.

Recipe © Sally James

Photography©Taylor Mathis


Butter Pecan Pie Sundae

Happy Sunday! Or should I say sundae? The perfect end to a great weekend is a delicious dessert. Sundaes are quick and easy desserts that tastes of all ages will love! All you need is ice cream and a sundae sauce. This Butter Pecan Pie Sauce tastes just like a pecan pie! It can be made in a couple minutes and served hot over your favorite vanilla or butter pecan ice cream.

Butter Pecan Pie Sauce
Makes about 1 2/3 cups

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup pecan pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons white corn syrup
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add pecans and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring for 5 minutes. Butter should turn light brown, but not burn.

While stirring, add sugar, corn syrup and heavy cream. Cook over medium heat for five minutes stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla. Serve over ice cream.

Photography ©Taylor Mathis

Recipe ©Sally James

photographing FOOD Issue 3!

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Issue 3 of photographing food is out! This issue is all about shooting with artificial light! Are you occupied with family or work during daylight hours? Are you only able to take pictures of food at night? Have you been struggling with finding ways to create beautiful images of your food using artificial light? Intimidated by using a flash? Have difficulty with reflective surfaces? Don’t worry! In this issue, I am going to walk you through how to make beautiful pictures of your food once the sun has gone down…

Here are the pictures that you will learn how to take!

Like all the other issues of photographing FOOD, this Ezine is a full color downloadable PDF ! For more information on this and past issues check out photographing FOOD.

If cart is not working, Issue 3 can be purchased here.


Cranberry Orange Cornbread


Cornbread comes in two different forms. Savory or sweet. This cornbread has a slightly sweeter flavor that complements the tart flavor of fresh cranberries. The yellow cornbread and vibrant red cranberries create a dish that is just as beautiful as it is delicious.


Cranberry Orange Cornbread
Makes 1 9×9-inch pan

1 1/4 cups plain yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh cranberries, washed and dried
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 eggs
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter and flour a round cake pan. Set aside.

In large bowl combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir. Add fresh cranberries. Stir and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine buttermilk, orange juice, eggs and orange zest. Stir until well blended. Melt butter and stir into buttermilk mixture.

Empty butter and buttermilk mixture into the large bowl of dry ingredients. Quickly stir until just blended and turn batter out into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Serve warm or room temperature.

Images ©Taylor Mathis

Recipes ©Sally James