Category Archives: Ohio

Kentucky Bourbon Balls



Believe it or not, I learned most about stereotypes long before I moved to New Jersey (surprising, I know!). 

As a native Ohioan, or more suitably I should say Cincinnatian, we have a serious love-hate relationship with Kentucky.  Depending on the situation, we will either turn up our nose and clearly make known, with all of our stereotypical glory, that the Ohio River creates a solid state line separating modern civilization with that other state.  Followed by some type of joke about cousins marrying cousins.

And then in other cases we’ll proudly proclaim that it is our sister state, our comrade, our next door neighbor that produces arugably the world’s best whiskey, hosts infamous horse races, and is home to the cowboy hat wearing, gun-slinging Mr. Raylan Givens (for all you Justified fans). 

In this case I think it goes without saying that Kentucky would be our friend.  Our close friend.  Dear friend.  Our great Makers Mark-producing, Knob Creek-making, cousin kissing friend!

In honor of the Kentucky Derby coming up I wanted to share these, but they are a really delicious treat for any type of party.  Make them ahead of time and store them in an airtight container for up to two weeks, sometimes I add coconut, sometimes I dip them in an extra layer of chocolate, and sometimes I just nibble on them with a glass of red wine.  Truly an easy and succulent treat.

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Cookies Cookbook

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 1 box Vanilla Wafers, crushed
  • 6 oz dark, or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup Kentucky Bourbon (or can substitute other bourbon)
  • 2 cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt

Begin by crushing the vanilla wafers in a food processor (or by placing them in a large plastic bag and crushing them with the back of a spatula or rolling pin).

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 minute increments, stirring in between.  Remove the chocolate from the heat and add brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon and salt.  Next, stir in the vanilla wafers and half of the pecans.

Measure out 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.  Roll the ball in the remaining half of pecans.  Refrigerate the cookies for at least one day prior to serving to allow flavors to merge.  





Filed under All Posts, Great for a barbeque, Happy hour anyone?, Holidays - 4th of July, Holidays - Christmas, Holidays - Easter, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Ohio, Recipes, Sweet Treats

Brussel Sprout Salad

Brussel sprouts are such a touchy subject.  They are the vegetable everyone loves to hate.  I too was once a brusselbasher but I vividly remember the moment my feelings changed.   There is a well-known restaurant in Cincinnati, called Boca (if you are ever in the ‘nati you must go), and on the menu are caramelized brussels sprouts.  When I dined at Boca for the first time this was an appetizer on the menu (that’s how good it was).   They were soft and tender, yet still had a slight bite with the perfect amount of warm brown butter and sweet caramelization.   I ate them like candy.

Needless to say, since that experience I have gained a new appreciation for the little black sheeps.   It also taught me a valuable lesson in that butter makes everything better with the right preparation you can bring out different sides of foods that no one has ever seen!

(Measurements are to taste)

  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • handful of toasted pecans
  • shaved red onion
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese

Cut ends off of brussel sprouts and slice thin.  In a large saute pan heat olive oil to med-high and add shredded brussel sprouts.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until they begin to brown and are slightly wilted.

Remove from heat and toss with cranberries, pecans, red onion, splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Top with shaved parmesan cheese.


Filed under Appetizers and the likes, Ohio, Restaurants, Scrumpdidily Salads, Side Dishes, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Cheezey Chorizo Dip

While on the topic of football, I thought I’d share with you this fantastic dip that is the perfect complement to a Sunday afternoon of watching your favorite team get beat by the Bengals.  Ahem, um…I meant, watch your favorite team play my favorite team – the Bengals!    To be entirely honest with you, regardless of who wins, as long as there’s good food to keep me entertained while watching the game, I will root for anyone.  The Bengals, the Jets…the Referees.  What’s really important is that this dip, without doubt, lives up to the expectations of my two most favorite and completely overused words — simple and good!  

  • 1 lb chorizo
  • 2 cups pepper jack cheese
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp tabasco
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk

In bowl combine the cornstarch with the two cheeses, toss to coat and set aside.  In sauté pan, cook chorizo, onions and peppers until sausage is cooked through and until onions and peppers begin to soften.  Add the milk, cream and tabasco and bring to boil.  Once it begins to boil add the cheese gradually while whisking.  Continue to whisk until dip becomes smooth.  Serve with tortilla chips.


Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Ohio, Pork, Recipes, Spain

Cincinnati Three-Way


If you want to know the way to a Cincinnatian’s heart, take them to a Bengals football game, and then give them a good old-fashioned three-way.  

This is how it goes down: Get them geared up in their finest Ochocinco jersey, and then sway them with a piping hot plate of spaghetti topped with chili, and a mountain of finely shredded cheddar.  Add onions for a 4-way, or onions and beans and you’ve got the ultimate 5-way. 

Cincinnati-style chili is an integral part of being a Ohian, and even more so when you’re straight from the nati’ – the chili captial of the world.   I’m not talking about the widespread Texas kind in which you find chunky ground beef with jalapenos and kidney beans.  This is a slowly cooked sauce-like chili that’s rich with spices, such as cloves and cinnamon, and deep in color from the hint of chocolate. 

The original recipe dates way back, and although has remained a tightly kept secret, many people have been able to replicate the chili to an almost perfect clone.  So, I gave it a shot!  The results?  Touchdown Cincinnati!

Cincinnati Chili   


  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp tabasco
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce


  • hot cooked spaghetti
  • finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • chopped onions and beans, optional

(This also can be cooked in a crock-pot on low all-day)

In large dutch oven, brown ground beef and then transfer to food processor.  Pulse for 30 seconds or just until the beef begins to become fine.  Transfer back to dutch oven and add garlic. Cook for about 1 minute.  Add water, tomato paste, chili powder, garlic, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, tabasco, cocoa, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Pour chili over hot spaghetti and serve with cheddar cheese, onions, beans and tabasco sauce.




Filed under All Posts, Ohio, Pasta!, Recipes, Uncategorized