Tailgating with a Southern Accent September 15 2023
Ritchie Family Tailgating Favorites
Football season is upon us, and whether you are a burger & brats crowd or prefer to break out the chicken wings, we have the perfect additions to your menu to add a Southern touch to touchdown season.
Southerners like to add a little zip to any occasion we come across, like an additional accent on top or our already endearing, southerly drawl. For the Ritchie family, that accent is cheese straws. Whether tailgating, packing a picnic, or laying out the buffet, cheese straws fit right in. To help enhance your weekend watching we have gathered a few ideas for your next game day menu, with cheese straws in mind of course!
We can’t imagine a Southern affair where deviled eggs aren’t deemed perfectly appropriate, and football is no exception — an easy go-to that you can prepare in advance and is sure to disappear by halftime. For an uncommon “wow” factor, try them sprinkled with Heath’s Cheese Straws for the perfect crispy, crumbly finish.
Ritchie-Style Deviled Eggs
- 12 hardboiled eggs, halved with yolks removed
- 4-6 tbsp Duke’s mayonnaise (to desired consistency and taste)
- Spicy Brown mustard (or Dijon mustard) to taste
- paprika, parsley, & crumbled cheese straws for garnish
- 2 ounces grape juice
- the adorable deviled egg platter carefully tucked into every Southerner’s pantry
Traditional Ham and cheese biscuits are no strangers to the football scene, but this weekend let some of our cheese straws handle the cheddar and try this tasty alternative instead:
Poppy Seed Ham & Cheese Sliders
- 1 flat of 24 King’s Hawaiian Rolls
- slices of your favorite Swiss cheese
- sliced ham
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 5 tbsp yellow mustard
- 4 tbsp poppy seeds
- 2 tbsp finely minced sweet onion
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- heavy pinch of salt
Mix the butter, mustard, poppy seeds, minced onion, salt, and Worcestershire sauce together. Cut the entire flat of Hawaiian rolls horizontally and lift the top layer, spread each cut side with mixture. Stack ham and cheese slices and replace top roll layer. Place on a cookie sheet, cut between each roll to separate, and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, covering with foil if desired.
*Original source: Jenni Fields, pastrychefonline.com
Try adding a chilled salad, such as a classic corn salad, or simply cold watermelon topped with feta cheese for some refreshing variety. And in a sea of brownie and cookie possibilities, pack a punch with another make-ahead favorite, Kentucky Bourbon Balls.
Wherever your menu takes you, we wish your team the best of luck! Happy tailgating!
How our Spicy Cheese Straws get that extra-spicy kick August 15 2023
A slow-building spicy finish
Heath's Spicy Cheese straws are a tad spicier than the original recipe for those who like a bit more kick. Aunt Margaret Ritchie was known for throwing in an extra dose of cayenne when she made them. That's the flavor we were going for.
Our Bakery Manager, Charles Ritchie attended Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Pittsburg and was well versed in spices so, to replicate Margaret's spicy version, he not only added more cayenne to the original recipe, he threw in two more spices: Chipotle and Datil Pepper. Datil Pepper is an unusual variety of pepper that it is unique to the state of Florida, specifically St. Augustine, and is shrouded in mystery about its origin.
Before launching our spicy version, we asked Heath's Cheese Straw fans to sample and vote on three versions of our spicy recipe and this is the one they picked by a landslide. The result is a slow-building spicy finish that is truly addictive. The unique blend of spices puts them in a class all their own.
Cheers to the Dog Days of Summer July 26 2023
Why is it called Dog Days?
During the Dog Days of Summer, (7/22 to 8/22) the Sun and Sirius, the brightest star seen from anywhere on earth and the constellation Canis Major (greater dog) share the same region of the sky. It's also associated with those sultry hot days that mark the end of summer.
So, to make the most of our fleeting summer, we recommend mixing up a summery drink or two: Summer Sangria and Salem Iced Tea. Then, add a touch of Southern hospitality with Heath's Cheese Straws and Britt's Spritz Cookies!
Cheers to the Dog Days of Summer!
- 1 cup mixed fresh fruit (such as strawberries, peaches, white grapes)
- 1 bottle dry sparkling wine
- 2 ounces brandy
- 2 ounces vanilla liquor
- 2 ounces grape juice
- 1 small sprig fresh mint
Fill a glass pitcher with ice, add the fruit. Slowly pour in the sparkling wine. Mix remaining ingredients (except the mint) and add to the pitcher. Garnish with mint.
Salem College Iced Tea
Signature beverage at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC
- 4 sprigs fresh mint
- 8-12 whole cloves
- 3 quarts water
- 1 ounce tea
- juice of 8 lemons
- juice of 6 oranges
- 1 (46-ounce) can pineapple juice
- 1 cup sugar
- thin lemon slices or sprigs of mint
The Picnic Spritz July 12 2023
Here's a nod to the British heritage of cheese straws: The Picnic Spritz.
The jury is still out on exactly where cheese straws originated, but some food historians believe they were derived from the British "biscuit."
This refreshing Picnic Spritz is made with PIMM'S® liqueur of London and pairs especially well with Heath's Cheese Straws and Wimbledon Tennis.
The Picnic Spritz
- 2 1/2 oz PIMM'S®
- 4 oz lemonaide
- 1 1/2 oz bubbly
- cucumber + mint for garnish
Fill two wine glassed with ice, add Pimm's® and lemonade to each, and top with bubbly. Garnish with cucumber slices and sprigs of mint.
Hoppin' John Recipe January 06 2022
Hoppin' John is a Southern New Year's tradition, believed to bring good luck all year if served on New Year's Day.
Here's our family's easy recipe:
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbs. vegetable oil (or may use bacon drippings)
- 1/2 pound of ham (or bacon), cut into bits
- 2-3 cans of black-eyed peas
- 1-2 cans diced tomatoes
- 1/2 to 1 tsp.salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- cayenne pepper (to taste)
- steamed/cooked white or brown rice
- hot pepper sauce (optional)
- sliced green onion for garnish
Saute' onion, bell pepper and garlic in oil (or bacon drippings). Add the ham or bacon and continue sautéing for a few minutes then add all other ingredients. Simmer about 30 minutes or until tender, then serve over warm rice with a dash of hot pepper sauce and a garnish of green onions.
Buff's Molasses Cookies November 23 2021
One of our Ritchie family favorites: Buff's Molasses Cookies!
These are a time-honored Thanksgiving family tradition at our house.
- ½ cup molasses (Buff used original flavor, not bold)
- ½ cup shortening
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 ½ cups sifted flour
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- ½ tsp. ginger
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
Three treats for a winning tailgate. September 22 2016
Aside from our own shameless plug for Heath's Cheese Straws (which happen to come in three perfectly large sizes for tailgating), we teamed up with our friends at VAIN vanilla extracts, and Mrs. Ruth's Jams to bring you two additional winning recipes.
VAIN makes some seriously incredible vanilla extracts, using high-quality spirits and the best vanilla beans available. So, if you want to take your cooking and baking up a notch, check em' out!
Mrs. Ruth's Jams is home to artisanal jams using the freshest local produce from North Carolina farmers. All are prepared seasonally, using the best of local fruits. It's love in a jar.
Without further ado, here are the recipes:
VAIN Shortbread Spirit Cookies
Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar until light colored. Add vanilla. Sift together the flour and salt, add to butter mixture. Mix on low for two minutes. Shape dough into a disk. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar (of your favorite team!). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges begin to brown.
Mrs. Ruth's Jams (from Ruth's dear friend Marilyn) Pimento-less Cheese Spread & Sandwich Filling
8 ounces of freshly grated Extra Sharp cheddar cheese (creamier if freshly grated)
1/3 cup of your favorite mayonnaise
2 dashes ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
¼ cup Mrs. Ruth’s Hot Pepper, Peach Jalapeno, Pineapple Jalapeno or Cranberry Jalapeno Jam
Mix until blended; Serve on toasted baguettes or fill sliced cherry tomatoes
Sprinkle with bacon crumbles.
Here's to a winning season!
Ahhh, spring.You're finally here. We missed your big hats, glorious colors, and picnics on the lawn. With Mother's Day around the corner and the Kentucky Derby around the bend, we're ready to celebrate.
In the spirit of celebration, check out these two favorite springtime libations. They're perfectly paired with some freshly-baked morsels from Ritchie Hill Bakery!
Two of our southern favorites are "Creating a Stir” mint julep from Lexington Kentucky. (Who better to have a mint julep recipe?) And “Heritage of Hospitality” iced tea from the Junior League of Winston-Salem, NC, where Moravian traditions are still treasured in Old Salem: home of Salem College.
Kentucky Mint Juleps
From “Creating a Stir” published by The Fayette County Medical Auxiliary in 2000 for the benefit of Kentucky’s Children.
- 4 cups shaved or crushed ice (do not use ice cubes)
- Sugar Syrup (below)
- 1 pint quality bourbon whiskey
- 6 fresh mint sprigs for garnish
- Powdered sugar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 bunch fresh mint
Pack ice into 6 julep cups to within 1/2 inch from top; add 1 jigger Sugar Syrup and 1-2 jiggers bourbon to each cup, stirring until cup frosts; Dip mint sprigs in powdered sugar and place 1 in each serving. Serve with a cocktail napkin (cups are quite chilly).
"About the mint julep: The word julep originally referred to a nonalcoholic medicinal syrup. However, by the mid eighteenth century, when the average American, including women and children, consumed two and a half gallons of spirits a year (much of it before breakfast!), the julep was made primarily with spirits and in our county most often with mint. Many times, the julep was taken after waking in the morning because it was thought to aid in fighting fevers that might have arisen from the night air and hot climates. Juleps were originally made with Maderia but postbellum Southerners replaced that with bourbon whiskey, sugar, water, fresh mint and crushed ice, mixed and typically served in a frosted silver julep cup. They are a Kentucky tradition often associated with the Kentucky Derby.” Creating a Stir.
- 4 sprigs fresh mint
- 8-12 whole cloves
- 3 quarts water
- 1 ounce tea
- juice of 8 lemons
- juice of 6 oranges
- 1 46 oz can of pineapple juice
- 2 cups sugar
Add mint and cloves to water; bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tea and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain, and while still hot, add fruit juices and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Makes about 4 1/2 quarts.
“The best iced tea in the world, and one reason loyal alumnae enjoy returning at commencement time.” Heritage of Hospitality
The race to find Heath's new spicy recipe was hotly contested, peppered with opinions, engulfed by volunteer taste testers, ignited with burning flavors, and ended in a fiery, neck-and-neck finish.
Ok, enough with the puns. But, in all seriousness, we are thrilled to announce that 35 wonderful taste testers have identified a winning recipe for Heath's new Spicy Cheese Straws! A very special thanks goes to these testers for their incredibly detailed feedback and the wonderful tasting parties they hosted to gather opinions from family and friends. You can check out the final results of the survey below, along with a compilation of the great words most commonly used to describe our new line of Cheese Straws.
Stay tuned for the release of this new recipe, which you'll soon be able to find alongside Heath's Original Recipe, online and in markets near you!
Recruitment is Closed - Let the Taste Testing Begin! February 17 2015
Wow! We're blown away by how many volunteer taste testers raised their hands! We're officially full! We'll be in touch with our "first responders" soon. And for those who volunteered but didn't make the list, not to worry: we still have something in store for you! Stay tuned for Heath's new Spicy Cheese Straws!
Calling on Spicy Taste Testers February 14 2015
We moved! June 26 2014
It seems everyone’s moving in the summer. Tis’ the season, we guess. Well, we jumped on the bandwagon, loaded up the dollies, and moved ourselves.
Just a couple weeks ago, we moved into a brand new bakery at The Old Creamery in downtown Concord. With more space, a new, huge, beautiful mixer, and even more ovens, we’re ready to do some serious baking. We’re proud of the new space and so thankful for all of our wonderful customers who have helped us grow.
We’re not selling direct from the bakery yet (stay tuned), but if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by Suite 195 and say hi. You can pick up some of Heath’s Cheese Straws next door at Peachtree Market on your way out.
The Old Creamery building, at 363 Church Street N., was once the home to both the Coca-Cola bottling plant and the Cabarrus Creamery, where we have fond memories of ice cream with our dads and grandfathers. It’s a building that carries the same wonderful (and delicious) heritage that Ritchie Hill Bakery was built on.
136 Kinds of Weather, 24 Hours, and 1 Easter Recipe April 04 2014
It was Mark Twain who once said, “In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. But, amidst the unpredictable cold-hot-humid-dry-snowy-rainy weather we’ve been having lately, there’s one thing constant: the traditions that go along with a quickly approaching Easter holiday.
Weather: we see your unpredictability, and raise you the predictable colors of Easter with Boo’s “Pink Salad,” a classic Ritchie Hill treat.
With that, here’s to Easter traditions, and a new recipe for you to bring home over the holiday:
“Boo’s Pink Salad”
(1) 8 oz. package of cream cheese
4 tbs. of mayonnaise
1 can of pineapple tidbits (technical term) with syrup (reserve 2 tbs. of syrup)
2 tbs. pineapple syrup
2 small bananas, diced
1 pint of frozen strawberries, thawed and drained
2 cups of Cool Whip
Soften cream cheese and blend with mayonnaise. Beat in pineapple syrup. Mix in bananas, pineapple, and strawberries. Fold-in Cool Whip. Freeze until firm. To make individual servings, freeze in foil cup cake holders or in a muffin tin.
The Ultimate Winter Cure: Stuffed Pepper Soup January 07 2014
Just like Heath’s dad use to say, 'gaaaahhhhh-leeeee' it’s cold outside. We can’t even recognize our friends’ photos on Facebook. Everyone’s covered up in hats, jackets, scarves, ski goggles, and balaclavas. But we did spot one picture that we thought might warm all of us up: our friend Ashley Kasonik’s stuffed pepper soup. Thanks Ashley, for sharing the ultimate winter cure.
Ashley’s “SuperKasonik Boom” Stuffed Pepper Soup
“You should really try this – it’s AWESOME. My photography skills do not do this cheesy concoction justice! Just make the soup per the recipe below, then top with hot sauce and some crumbled cheese straws, and prepare to have your mind blown.”
Brown the below ingredients and drain well:
2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
5 green peppers, chopped
6 cans Tomato Soup and 5 soup cans water
1 can of beef broth and 1 broth can of water
2 small cans of tomato sauce
3/4 cup uncooked basmati rice
Simmer on low until the rice is cooked, add some of Heath’s cheese straws, hot sauce to taste, and…BOOM!
A Big Thanks to Small Businesses November 29 2013
Boo! It's fall. September 30 2013
There’s a chill in the air, Halloween candy is back on the shelf, and orange is back in style. Must be fall. Funny how it sneaks up, isn’t it?
Not only is it time for scary masks and overbooked party schedules, but also for Ritchie Hill’s annual Boo! promotion.
Enter the promo code 'Boo!' when you order online, and take 15 percent off everything now through Halloween. It’s our only sale of the year, and a great time to stock up on cheese straws before any other holidays sneak up on you!
It’s fall ya’ll,
P.S. Throw those cheese straws in the freezer and they’ll stay fresh right through the new year! Give em’ as gifts, if they last that long.
Going Home September 01 2013
For our family, Heath's Cheese Straws are more than a delicacy. They are a reminder of home, of history, of family. And, for our customers, they are a familiar and often nostalgic taste of North Carolina.
Much of the inspiration behind our brand stems from the Ritchie home, built in 1900 up on "Ritchie Hill." Our logo closely resembles the architectural features of the home's eaves. Even the background of our site is a reminder of the fig tree visible through the kitchen window, where the cheese straw recipe was lovingly perfected for more than 100 years.
After four generations of Ritchies, plenty of cheese straws, and many evenings on the front porch, we had to make a tough decision about the home's destiny. In 2009, we put the house up for sale, searching for a family that would restore its original glory. But, the 'for sale' sign would be short lived. As Heath and Beth founded the bakery, a tremendous response to the release of HEATH'S CHEESE STRAWS inspired us to reconsider.
As autumn arrives, the family home will undergo a full renovation - not only to restore the historic residence to accommodate events, but to retrofit the kitchen for our growing bakery. We'll look forward to posting updates on the renovation as we go.
Ritchie Hill Bakery is moving home. Stay tuned.
Saying "I do" with a southern accent. May 21 2013
Well, it's wedding season again. And, if you're anything like our family, that means you're back on the circuit. Friends, family, food, fun, drinks, dancing, and more airline points. It's a grand time of year.
But, if you're planning a wedding this season, your thoughts may be elsewhere. The question on all bride's minds: what can I do to make my wedding different than the rest?
We think the most memorable weddings are those full of family tradition, with a hint of heritage.Here are three of our favorite southern family wedding traditions:
- Bury the bourbon bottle: So the story goes, bury a bottle of bourbon upside down at the exact site of the ceremony one month before the big day and the skies will be clear and Carolina blue.
- Mason jars and signature drinks: Southern weddings often hark back to heritage, and a signature drink served cold in a mason jar is just the way to do that. What was your grandfather's or grandmother's favorite cocktail? That's a great place to start.
- Family recipes: What better way to give guests a taste of home than with a favorite family treat. For us, it's always been about the cheese straws.
Whatever your tradition, it's the details that make for a memorable occasion. If we can help to give your upcoming wedding a southern accent, just give us a holler.
To a happy wedding season,
Easter is one of our favorite times of year. Finally, it’s spring. Flowers are starting to bloom, charges against Punxsutawney Phil have been dropped, and we have a whole weekend ahead with family and friends.
Here’s a famous recipe from Heath’s Aunt Margaret. Her apricot cake almost always came right after Easter brunch … and after a lot of cheese straws.
- The Ritchies
Margaret's Apricot Cake
1 box Lemon Supreme Cake Mix
1 cup apricot nectar
½ cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup confectioners sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
Directions: Beat cake ingredients until well blended. Pour into a greased and floured tube or bundt pan. Bake 45 minutes (or until done) in a 325 degree oven. Mix glaze ingredients while cake is baking. Slowly turn out cake while still warm. Drizzle glaze over entire cake. Enjoy!
Fall in love this weekend. February 08 2013
This Saturday afternoon, February 9, Heath will be at Westbend Vineyards and Brewhouse in Lewisville, NC. If you are in the area, please drop by between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. We’ll have Heath's Cheese Straws waiting for you to sample alongside Westbend's very own estate-grown wine and microbrews. We think you’ll fall in love with the combination.
For more information and directions please visit Westbend's web site: www.westbendvineyards.com
See you there!
- The Ritchies
Cheese Straws + Beer = Super Bowl XLVII January 02 2013
Nothing rings in the new year like a quickly approaching Super Bowl. A time of wings, pizza, and (you guessed it) plenty of cheese straws.
Now, one thing we're hearing from our customers lately is that HEATH'S CHEESE STRAWS sure do go well with a cold beer. So, we decided to look into it ourselves. Here are five beers that pair perfectly with the spicy, cheddar taste of our cheese straws - and one of Heath's favorite pairings for the non-drinkers among us:
Pabst Blue Ribbon: Nothing fancy here, just an everyman's beer perfectly suited for the everyman's cheese straw.
Carolina Blonde: A light, refreshing beer that compliments our very own North Carolina roots.
Dogfish 60 Minute IPA: A hoppy, more complex beer with a kick well suited for a spicy cheese straw. Call it a double-whammy.
Negra Modelo: A Mexican beer that goes best with a sharp cheddar taste - the hallmark of a good Mexican meal.
Blue Moon Belgian White: A beer known for the finest, freshest ingredients, just like Heath's Cheese Straws.
Coca-Cola Classic: There's simply nothing like a real coke to cool your taste buds and quench your thirst. Drinking a coke is always better with a straw.
Any other pairings you'd suggest? We'd love your thoughts.
Happy Super Bowl,