Updates

Our family's favorite Super Bowl chili January 24 2024

ritchie hill spicy chili with heath's cheese straws

By Beth Ritchie Alm

For some reason, cold weather, football and especially the Super Bowl calls for chili. We all have our favorite chili recipe, and like our family's cheese straw recipe, chances are it has been handed down for generations.

We think our recipe tastes best with Heath’s Cheese Straws crumbled on top!

Gather together and enjoy the big game!

The Ritchies

Ritchie Hill Chili Recipe

Serves 4-6

  • 2 pounds lean hamburger
  • 2 T. peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1½ T. hot commercial chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 T. whole cumin seeds
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 16-oz can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed (black beans work well too)
  • Salt, ground pepper, and hot sauce to taste

Brown the beef in the oil along with the onion, garlic and chili powder until the meat is brown and the onion is clear.

Drain the fat and add all remaining ingredients (except for the canned kidney beans which can be added in the last 30 minutes).

Simmer for at least 1½ hours.

Chili is always at its best a day or two after making it.

Topping Ideas:

  • Heath’s Cheese Straws
  • Chopped green onions
  • Grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Hot sauce

What the heck is a cheese straw? January 09 2024

what are cheese straws ritchie hill bakery cheese straws with ingredients that make cheese straws

And why are they called straws?

(That’s our #1 FAQ!)

By Beth Ritchie Alm

We’ll just admit we have no idea why cheese straws are called straws. You certainly can’t drink anything through them. We can only guess it’s because of their traditional long, narrow shape. Or, it’s possible they were named by the Brits who often have creative names for things.

Cheese straws origins

Some food historians believe the cheese straw originated in England with the British shortbread “biscuit.” Others cite the biscotti and hard breads of Italy and Spain. But most agree that, regardless of their start, the cheese straw adapted well to southern life and may in fact have originated in the Southeast.

This article from Bourbon and Boots* written by Libby Murphy as a wonderful summary of what we know and don’t know.

"Cheese straws are one of life’s little pleasures, nothing fancy, just addicting. Chances are you probably cut your teeth on them if you’re of a certain age and grew up in the South. They’ve long been the go-to staple for cocktail parties, church potlucks, wedding receptions, and funeral food alike. Practically every family has a recipe that was passed down to the next generation and no one really thought much about it."

"Or at least not until boutique bakeries began shipping these crispy cheesy biscuits all over the country. Katy bar the door, the demand rose like the temperatures in August; cheese straws were born again and are all the rage at parties and for hostess gifting from coast to coast. These buttery cheesy pastries will melt in your mouth and if you don’t believe it, just try it."

"According to lore, the hot and humid southern temperatures gave rise to the cheese straw as a way to preserve cheese. Reportedly, they were served along the Carolina coast pre-Civil War and The White House Cookbook (1887) includes the first known recipe for them per se. Food historians can’t agree on the exact origin but most tend to believe that cheese straws are of American origin first baked in Southern kitchens"

"Cheese straws were served at a White House dinner in 1913 hosted by President Woodrow Wilson. According to the Library of Congress, they were also on President Franklin Roosevelt’s Thanksgiving table in 1937. Magnolia’s — the restaurant inside Atlanta’s heart and soul department store, Rich’s — served thousands of them over the years, and the Historic Mobile (Alabama) Preservation Society hosted a cook-off in 2012 to determine the best cheese straws in all the land."

"Like lightening bugs, honeysuckle, and hot summer nights, cheese straws are part of the vernacular in the South. From Steeplechase picnics in Nashville to tailgating in the Grove at Ole Miss; cheese straws are as popular as ever. Florida’s Executive Residence kept a ready supply in the freezer at Gov. Bob Graham’s request, and the mecca of fine dining in New Orleans, The Commander’s Palace, even featured these tasty nibbles in their cook book."

"Cheese Straws are one of the most versatile foods on the planet. They are apt to show up at wine-tastings, picnics, debutante balls, christening brunches, or as afternoon snacks. Sometimes as stand-ins for croutons or crackers or even with the cheese course at elegant dinners – could the South exist without them? Nothing pairs with a libation better, so it’s any wonder that in the land where a good cocktail party is an institution, they remain the appetizer of choice.?

Cheese straws remain a Southern delicacy

So, while the origin may be inconclusive, the cheese straw stands the test of time as the South’s favorite snack. Like most southern families, our Heath’s Cheese Straws recipe has been handed down for generations. Our bakery manager Charles Ritchie is a fourth-generation cheese straw master. We pride ourselves on a classic southern version with extra sharp cheddar cheese and a spicy finish that builds until you reach for the next one. They are the quintessential Southern delicacy.

*Note: Exerpt from a Bourbon and Boots (bourbonandboots.com) post, February 12, 2013 by Libby Murphy


Christmas Crafts and Cookies December 20 2023

ritchie family christmas craft ideas

By Liz Ritchie Sherrill

Twinkling lights, frosty mornings, Christmas cookies … I know we may not feel this way come January, but right now I love everything about this time of year! It’s the coziest season with so many festive things to squeeze in. Our crew is officially on winter break, and during a season when everything is so busy it feels like we are finally slowing down. What do we do with our newfound spare time? Crafts and baking, of course!

christmas crafts for children christmas crafts four picture frames ritchie family christmas photo frame for christmas tree

Here is an easy Christmas craft for adults and children of all ages. Repurpose an outdated frame ornament or make your own with popsicle sticks. We used a mixed bag of Christmas buttons that you can find at a craft or hobby store, as well as some tiny ornaments and assorted Christmas craft accessories from Hobby Lobby last year. For my older kids we used a hot glue gun to secure everything in place, and white paint to cover old picture frames. For my three year old, we used glue dots, which worked perfectly well to hold everything in place! Then we took Polaroid pictures for each of their ornaments and I used some old Christmas card stock as the photo backing, but construction paper or wrapping paper would work as well. They turned out so cute and I will treasure them forever! The kids were so happy with something they could see through from start to finish and hang on the tree.

Next on my list is making cookies for Santa. I thought he might enjoy some Britt’s Spritz Cookies, but my children want to break out all the frosting and sprinkles, so it looks like we will be making some cutout Spritz cookies! If you need any cookie inspiration, check out our Pinterest page. Our family recipe uses a unique blend of almond and cardamom in our Britt’s Spritz cookies to make them taste like home.

Wishing you and your family a joyous and peaceful Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Best,

Liz & The Ritchie Family


A Thoughtful Thanksgiving November 20 2023

By Liz Ritchie Sherrill

When it comes to Thanksgiving, it’s all about the table for me. I’ve had Thanksgiving at many different tables: the expansive, antique behemoth in my grandparents’ historic Victorian surrounded by cousins I rarely saw between the holidays and our summer vacation, the multitude of folding tables in a beloved communal space with the same neighborhood families who have celebrated together for decades, and even a military Friendsgiving in a small house on a military base surrounded by the people who knew best what life was like for us all in those moments. My memories drift back to handmade crafts as the centerpieces, lovingly constructed garlands, hand-picked greenery, and of course, the faces surrounding it all.

How do you capture that? The love and nostalgia, the simplicity of togetherness? I can recall heading outside to gather magnolia branches at my grandmother’s, to bring them in and arrange them on a mirrored centerpiece. I remember the crystal bowls filled with assorted nuts while we waited for our meal. The pickle and olive tray is still a staple I will throw a fit over if it’s forgotten. Even getting to light or snuff out the candle sticks stands out in my mind as a special occurrence. It was all lovely in that it was simple, but also special.

So this year, keep it simple and let the details speak for themselves. If you need some inspiration beyond your own Thanksgivings past, take a look at some of the tables we love this year.

 thanksgiving table inspiration

Happiest of Thanksgivings from our family to yours,

Liz & the Ritchie Family

P.S. Nothing says Thanksgiving like a favorite family recipes. Beck sure to check out one of our Ritchie family favorites: Molasses Cookies by Buff Ritchie.


Buff's Molasses Cookies November 19 2023

ritchie family thanksgiving molasses cookies
 https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0199/3078/files/thanksgiving-molasses-cookies-recipe-1000x720px.jpg?v=1637691311https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0199/3078/files/thanksgiving-molasses-cookies-recipe-1000x720px.jpg?v=1637691311

One of our Ritchie family favorites: Buff's Molasses Cookies!

These are a time-honored Thanksgiving family tradition at our house.

Molasses Cookies

Recipe by Buff Ritchie
Makes 5 dozen
  • 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
Place molasses and shortening in sauce pan. Cook over low heat until shortening is melted. Remove from heat, add sugar. Cool. Add egg and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients (spices with flour). Add molasses mixture. Mix well. Form dough into rolls 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper and chill 3-4 hours. Slice thin, place on greased baking sheet. Bake in 375°F oven for approximately 10 minutes.

Falling for the season October 18 2023

falling or the season halloween craft ideas

By Liz Ritchie Sherrill

We all fall wholeheartedly for what seems to be the South’s shortest season. The colors begin to subtly shift and we crave a crisp mountain day, meandering through mountain roads and only stopping to admire the views. Summer stays a bit too long, and winter arrives a bit too early. For some of you, the beloved season arrives in sudden abundance, but for us less fortunate fall fanatics, we have to encourage fall to show up in more creative ways.

The kitchen is my favorite way to stir up fall enthusiasm. If you can’t see or feel fall, you can at least taste it. There’s no shortage of recipes featuring pumpkin or caramel, but this recipe is my favorite twist on cheesecake and happens to be perfect for cozy season. I first made this for my daughter’s preschool bake sale several years ago and it was a huge hit, so I have made it for gifting and sharing ever since.

Crème Brûlée Cheesecake

(from delish.com)

For the crust:

  • 9 graham crackers (1 sleeve), finely crushed
  • 6 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • a pinch of kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 4 8-oz blocks of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt

For the topping:

  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar
  • crème brûlée torch

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 8-9" springform pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and salt. Press into the bottom of prepared pan and up the sides.

Make filling by using a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar together until no lumps remain. Add eggs and egg yolks, then stir in vanilla and sour cream. Add flour and salt and beat until just combined. Pour mixture over the crust.

Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in aluminum foil. You will want to do this in a few layers to keep out water, but even if a little gets through the cake turns out great. Place in a large roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the cake pan, making sure it does not pass the top of the aluminum foil.

Bake until the center only slightly jiggles, approximately 90 minutes. Turn off the heat, prop open the oven door, and let the cheesecake cool for 1 hour in the oven.

Remove foil and refrigerate at least 5 hours before serving.

Just before serving, sprinkle superfine sugar generously over the top and torch for the crunchy, crème brûlée top.


Aside from summoning autumn in the kitchen, our family loves a good craft or two. Here are a few favorites we came across this season:

Pinecone Bat

  • 1 pine cone, opened or closed
  • black or brown construction paper
  • cardboard
  • X-acto knife
  • glue
  • googly eyes
  • glitter (optional)

Leaf Pumpkin

  • cardboard
  • X-acto knife
  • collected leaves and fall flowers
  • glue

Bean Ghost

  • cardboard
  • black marker
  • navy beans
  • glue
  • glitter (optional)

Tailgating with a Southern Accent September 15 2023

southern tailgating recipes from the ritchies at ritchie hill bakery

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!

The Ritchies


How our Spicy Cheese Straws get that extra-spicy kick August 15 2023

how heath's spicy cheese straws get their extra spicy kick

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.

We hope you'll try them out and let us know what you think!

The Ritchies


Cheers to the Dog Days of Summer July 26 2023

cheers to the dog days of summer

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!

Summer Sangria

  • 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
Add mint and cloves to water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add tea and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain, while hot: add fruit juices and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Serve chilled. Garnish with lemon slices and or sprigs of mint.

The Picnic Spritz July 12 2023

heaths cheese straws picnic spritz recipe

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
for two

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 oz PIMM'S®
  • 4 oz lemonaide
  • 1 1/2 oz bubbly
  • cucumber + mint for garnish

Instructions

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.

Cheers!


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:

Hoppin' John

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 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.

We wish you and yours a happy, healthy and lucky 2022!
The Ritchies

Three treats for a winning tailgate. September 22 2016

Ritchie Hill Bakery - Tailgate Season

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.

VAIN Vanilla Extracts

Mrs. Ruth's Jams (from Ruth's dear friend Marilyn) Pimento-less Cheese Spread & Sandwich Filling

Combine: 

  • 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.

Mrs. Ruth's Jams

Here's to a winning season!

The Ritchies


Mint Juleps, Mother's Day, and Morsels from Ritchie Hill Bakery April 20 2016


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.

Ingredients 
  • 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
Sugar Syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add mint. Cover and let steep 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain, discarding solids. Place sugar syrup in a jar and chill until ready to serve.

Serving

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.

Salem College Iced Tea
From “Heritage of Hospitality” published by the Winston-Salem, NC Junior League in 1975.

Ingredients 
  • 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
Directions

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


Drum Roll Please ... Announcing Heath's New Spicy Recipe! March 11 2015

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

It's Valentine's Day - the spiciest of holidays. And this year, we're making things even spicier at Ritchie Hill Bakery. But we need your help to determine just how spicy to get.

The first 20 volunteer taste testers will get a package next week with three different degrees of Spicy Cheese Straws. Then we'll send you a quick online survey asking for your vote. After we tally the results, we'll release our new line of Heath's Spicy Cheese Straws this spring.

Quick! If you're interested, shoot a note to
info@ritchiehillbakery.com and say, "I volunteer" and include your shipping address.

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”

Ingredients:

(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

Directions:

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

Then, add:

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

One thing we're thankful for this year is all of the small businesses that support Ritchie Hill Bakery. Concord businesses like Cabarrus CreameryThe Depot at Gibson Mills, and Peachtree Market were some of the first to carry Heath's Cheese Straws. We couldn't have done it without them.

This small business Saturday, join us in supporting the businesses that make places like Concord so special. And, if you happen to be out shopping on Union Street in Concord this year, check out a few of our favorite lunch spots and places to recharge:

To shop small for Heath's Cheese Straws, visit our list of retailers. Happy shopping!

-The Ritchies

 


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,

The Ritchies


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,

The Ritchies

 


The Recipe for a Ritchie Family Easter: Aunt Margaret's Apricot Cake March 29 2013

 

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.

Happy Easter!
     - The Ritchies 

 

Margaret's Apricot Cake 

Cake Ingredients

1 box Lemon Supreme Cake Mix
4 eggs
1 cup apricot nectar
½ cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil

Glaze Ingredients

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!