Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

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Dutch Oven Bread

I am really starting to enjoy baking bread, it's so easy and satisfying! The weekend I decided to make my lasagna I thought late Friday night "you know what, I want some homemade bread with it."  Sure it was like 11PM, but that's the beauty of this bread recipe, you just throw all the ingredients together and let the dough sit over night so it becomes nice and fermented. Then just turn it out, give it a few little kneads, throw it in the dutch oven and waaaallaaaaa homemade bread! Give it a try, you won't regret it!

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + some for dusting

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast into water. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended. The dough will sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise over night (18 hours preferably) at room temperature. 

The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 min. 

Shape into a ball, using more flour if necessary to keep from sticking. Place a clean dish towel flat on a work surface and sprinkle with flour. Place the dough on the dish towel, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and place another dish towel on top. Let rise for 1 to 2 hour or until doubled in size. 

About 20 min. before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place dutch oven in the oven as it heats, as to heat the dutch oven. When dough is ready, carefully remove dutch oven from oven and remove lid. With the seem side up, brush the outside of the bread with some olive oil and sprinkle the top with Kosher salt. Cut a few 1/2" deep slits in the top, in the design you want...I forgot to do that. Carefully place dough in the dutch oven, again seem side up. If need be shake the pot to redistribute the bread, it may not look beautiful but it will look great when baked. 

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 15-20 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Carefully remove bread from Dutch oven and let it cool on rack for at least an hour. Slice and enjoy!
Song of the Recipe

Nothing says bread baking like some blue grass and fiddle shredding! Not the most famous group, but they are really awesome and you should check them out. 

Grilled Turkey Apple Cheddar

This is definitely one of my favorite sandwiches to make, especially in the fall when apple's are in their prime. We have a fruit farm here called Way Fruit Farm which is probably one of my favorite places to get fresh fruit, vegetables and meats. Not to mention, they make some of the best apple cider I have ever had! This is a very simple sandwich and it will be sure to impress with all of its great flavors. Enjoy!


  • 8 Slices of artisan bread, 1/2" thick, cut on the bias 
  • 4 to 5 Tablespoons of margarine 
  • 1/4 cup apple butter
  • Sriracha, if desired
  • 1 pound deli turkey
  • 1/2 Apple, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices of sharp cheddar cheese

Spread each of 4 slices of bread with 1/2 tablespoon of butter. If desired, mix the apple butter and 1-2 tsp sriracha together in a bowl. With butter side down, spread each slice with 1 tablespoon of the apple butter. Top each slice of bread with a slice of cheddar, couple of slices of turkey, 3 or 4 slices of apple and then top with another slice of cheddar. Spread the remaining 4 bread slices with 1/2 tablespoon of butter and lay them, buttered sides up, over the cheese; press gently.

Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add as many sandwiches as will comfortably fit (either 2 or 4) and cook 2 to 3 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the cheese begins to melt. Flip and cook 2 to 3 more minutes to brown the bread. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve hot.

Kitchen Word of the Day

"On the Bias" - Is a phrase used to mean cutting on an angle, at roughly a 45-degree angle. This angled cut created elongated, oval-shaped pieces and makes for more elegant presentation. In the case of baguette slices, it means you can get more surface area on even, thin slices of bread.

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese

How I ironic is this? April is Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month! I love jalapeno poppers, heck I love jalapeno's in general! Then I got the old noggin churning and thinking that it would be so easy to make a Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese. It was really simple and it tasted exactly the way I wanted it to! This just might replace my grilled cheese making forever because it was that good. Enjoy!

  • 2 jalapeno, medium dice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Slices of bread, whatever gets you going
  • Margarine 
  • Cream Cheese, softened
  • 4 Slices of sharp cheddar

Heat olive oil in a small saute pan and saute the jalapeno's until softened, about 3-5 min. While the jalapeno's are cooking, butter one side of the bread slices. I actually microwaved the cream cheese for like 15 seconds, so it was nice and soft so it didn't rip apart the bread. Put the bread butter side down on a work service and apply cream cheese on all slices of bread. Once jalapeno are soft, evenly distribute them onto each slice of bread. Top with 2 slices of sharp cheddar and grill until golden brown. Cut, plate and enjoy!

Cooked bread and cheese is an ancient food, according to food historians, popular across the world in many cultures; evidence indicates that in the U.S., the modern version of the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s when inexpensive sliced bread and American cheese became easily available. The cheese dream became popular during the Great Depression.

It was originally made as an open sandwich, but the top slice of bread became common by the 1960s. U.S. government cookbooks describe Navy cooks broiling "American cheese filling sandwiches" during World War II. Many versions of the grilled cheese sandwich can now be found on restaurant menus across the United States.

According to Woman's Day, April is "Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month."

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