Eat Main Courses

Hot Ham & Swiss Sammies

The Fourth of July is anxiously waiting right around the corner. Can you believe it? It seems like just yesterday that I was decorating our neighborhood float in my driveway. My fingers would be stained in a myriad of rainbow colors from stuffing tissue squares into chicken-wire structures that would magically transform into spectacular floats for the Fourth of July parades. Every year my dad would volunteer to design, build and pull the neighborhood float behind his beloved Jeep. We (including me) would be decked out in thematic attire, role playing whatever particular character we were slated to be. I always loved the weeks leading up to the big day, as our neighborhood community bonded together almost every evening to share in hard work, fun, food & of course firefly hunting. I still remember the year that I was Mr. Greenscenes. I was to be the cheerful farmer dressed in green overalls tending to my beautiful garden. I poured pretend water out of an enormous watering can upon each beautiful human flower and then ever-so-theatrically acted AMAZED as each flower grew.  After 5 miles my arm felt like lead and my face muscles where so violently spasming I was quite certain that I’d never smile again.

Such glorious memories.

The reward for all of this hard work was being awarded best overall float which set a standard and a tradition that continued for years come. Another tradition was our annual 4th of July tennis party. From the time the parade ended until the fireworks began our house was a buzz with crowds of friends and families. The adults indulged in a tennis tournament while the kids were enthralled with volleyball, croquet, Chinese jump rope, and dandelion necklaces. There were tables of food for as far as the eye could see. We would munch on a variety of salads, huge juicy watermelon wedges, chips & dips, homemade ice cream made with rock salt and my mom’s famous hot ham & Swiss sammies.

My sister and I would look forward to those 4th of July parties all year round. Still to this day I can retrieve those reels of memories that have been so carefully tucked into the crevices of my mind and enjoy them over and over again. I now have my own two daughters and the 4th of July is still a treasured holiday full of new traditions. But one thing will remain the same…hot ham & Swiss sammies. PERFECT for all of the 4th of July festivities. They are simple to make, can be prepared and baked ahead and they travel with ease.

I give to you- hot ham & Swiss sammies.

The secret to these scrumptious sammies is in the sauce, er, actually the butter. Poppy seed butter.

It’s so easy to make and gives such great taste. You’ll need softened to room temperature butter, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and poppy seeds.

The star of this spread is the unique flavor and subtle *pop* of the poppy seeds.


Mash up the softened butter with a fork in a bowl. Add the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and finally the poppy seeds.

Isn’t that pretty?

It’s as tasty as it looks.

Now it’s time for your assembly line. You’ll need thin slices of honey baked ham, honey turkey tastes great too.

Swiss cheese.

Some wonderful soft buns. That sounds funny…but roll with me here. (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) In this case soft buns are what we’re looking for. I used wheat buns, but you could use any bun that tickles your fancy.

After you’ve got all of your goodies out, begin by generously slathering the poppy seed butter on both sides of a bun.

Then a slice of Swiss cheese.

Layer on some honey baked ham.

Put the other half, slathered with poppy seed butter, on top…and you’re done!

Isn’t that a sweet little sammie?

Place your sammie on a square of aluminum foil.

And wrap it up all up like a little package. After you’ve made all of your sammies and nestled them into aluminum packages, place them on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 400º.

At this point in time you could take them right out of the oven and put them into your picnic basket for a parade, picnic, tailgate you name it. They bake and travel with ease.

Or you could open one right that very minute…

and indulge in the warm savory poppy butter sauce, melted cheese, sweet salty cooked ham and ever-so-crispy bun.

Just sayin.

Wishing you a splendid fun and festive 4th of July!

May you savor the moments that will melt into memories.


Here’s the recipe:

Hot Ham & Swiss Sammies
Author: Wendy Hondroulis | Wenderly
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
A perfect sandwich that travels with ease!
  • 2 sticks salted butter – softened to room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 lbs. thinly cut honey baked ham
  • 12 slices Swiss cheese
  • 12 wheat buns (or any kind of bun you like)
  1. Combine butter, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and poppy seeds. Spread mixture on both sides of buns. Add one slice of Swiss cheese and three pieces of ham. Wrap each sandwich in a square of aluminum foil and bake in a 400º for 30 minutes.


Eat Main Courses Sides Snacks

P B & J Snowman Sandwiches

I look out the window at the moment and all I see is snow, snow, snow.

Beautiful, quiet, white snow stretched out over the grass like one big blanket.

When my girls were younger *sniff* and would get all bundled up in their darling snow gear, eyes glistening while anxiously dancing around until they could finally skip outside for a day of winter wonder, I was always thinking of fun ways to welcome them back into the warmth. Hot cocoa with fluffy marshmallows was a must but one day I decided to get creative with lunch. I peeked outside to see them working diligently on a snowman and thought how fun it would be to bring their creation inside! It was then that the snowman peanut butter & jelly sandwich was born.

As I’ve been watching it snow here in suburbia I’ve been a bit nostalgic remembering those carefree-snow-fun-filled-days as I run my teenage daughter to mall & organize play-dates for my 10 year old rather than bundle them up their darling snow gear.


Then I remembered the precious little snowman sandwich…and a smile spread across my face (and heart) and I got to work.

A little food therapy.

What could be better than that? It’s not a culinary breakthrough mind you but rather a sweet reminder of being a kid again, in the snow, without a care in the world building snowmen until your cheeks turn pink and numb.

This is all you need! Your favorite peanut butter & jelly, 2 slices of bread & 2 circular cookie cutters (1 small & 1 medium size).

There is just nothing like a fresh jar of peanut butter is there? That sound of the seal breaking as you unscrew the lid…

that intoxicating smell of peanuts wafting up into your nostrils as you remove the paper seal.

That first virgin dip of the knife into the smooth surface…


See? I really do find food and the process of making food to be therapeutic…anyone else with me?

Spread the peanut butter on one slice of bread.

Then open the gorgeous sweet jelly…

O.k. actually that happens to be strawberry preserves because I prefer preserves over jelly but a “peanut butter & strawberry preserve sandwich” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, ya know?

And spread the jelly (or preserves) onto the other slice of bread.

Place the two slices of bread together, push your small cookie cutter into the bread,

and you’ll get a sweet little circle that will become the head of your snowman. Repeat with the larger cookie cutter for the body.

Next you’ll need some fun little candy embellishments!

I used sprinkles, silver dragees, non-pareils and some fruit tape, but you could use whatever you like!

You’ll definitely need some snow…

That’s how all this fun started after all! I used powered sugar.

Now for some creativity! It’s time to decorate the little fella! Let your imagination run wild! Kids love this part as well!

I made a cap & scarf out of the fruit tape and topped with a cotton candy pomp.

An orange sprinkle as his nose and 2 blue non-pareils for his eyes,

some dragees for buttons and then a sprinkling of powdered sugar for snow!

The final touch, puffy cotton candy clouds from which a few candy snowflakes fall and you’ve got yourself the perfect little wintertime lunch for all the kids to enjoy.

I mean who wouldn’t enjoy that?

No matter what the age.

AND you get to play with your food!

Happy snowman making!


Eat Inspire Main Courses

Chet’s Combination Sandwiches

Combination sandwiches and Christmas Eve go hand and hand at our house.

For as long as I can remember the savory smell of bacon and fried eggs wafting through the house was a sure sign that Christmas morning was almost here. Before church on Christmas Eve we all gather in the kitchen as a pot of tomato soup simmers happily on the stove to help my mom arrange the assembly line of goodies for the famous combination sandwiches…

Chet’s combination sandwiches.

Chet was my dad’s dad, “Papa” to my sister and me. He was a handsome, gentle man who was happiest when quietly tinkering away in the basement building some sort of model or working on a carpentry project. He may have even played around with his beloved Red Rider B-B gun down there a time or two as well.

But a cook he was not.

Interestingly enough, when my dad was just a wee little lad, he began making these delicious sandwiches before church on Christmas Eve. Nobody is quite sure just how or why he decided to tinker with food rather than a model airplane, but nevertheless, we sure are thankful that he did! These delicious little gems were a cherished tradition as I grew up and now my kids are savoring the sandwiches and the tradition as well!

They also make a perfect breakfast sandwich or a tasty lunchtime treat! You probably have all of these already hanging around in your fridge! These are the simple ingredients…

Bacon, mayo, sweet pickles, Swiss cheese, eggs and bread. Papa always used soft white bread and after some experimenting, we all agree that it tastes the best!

Now let’s get started!

First you’ll want to get the bacon…

and fry it up in a pan.

Baaaaaa naa naa naaaaaaa…

(please tell me you know that song?)

Then melt some butter…

and fry up an egg…

I like my eggs cooked through, but you do what you like best.

Next grab some sweet pickles,

and cut them lengthwise, the thinner the better.

You are now ready for the assembly line to begin! There is an order that we like to follow to ensure the most satisfaction in every bite!

First, spread some mayo on two pieces of bread,

grab a handful of sweet pickles and arrange them all over one of the mayo slathered slices…

then the hot egg right outta the skillet,

and THEN the Swiss cheese. This will allow the Swiss cheese to slightly melt and become one with the egg.

Um yum.

And then finally the bacon.

That you fried up in a pan…

Baaaaaa naa naa naaaaaaa…

(Sorry I just can’t help myself)

And there you have Chet’s combination sandwiches!

For me they are the perfect combination of a little nostalgia, many of my favorite ingredients and a the magic of Christmas Eve any time of year!

Hope that you enjoy them as well!