This post is sponsored by King’s Hawaiian. Bring me all the bunss.
Firstly, HOT HAM AND CHEESE I LOVE YOU.
Secondly, the bike ride. I survived!
Thirdly, school is starting soon! Like, August and then September. Some of you Southern friends might have already started, which is bazonkers. What in the world kinda schedule is that? School = September.
It was a hard decision to leave my job as an elementary school teacher and fall is always that yummy fresh-start time of year that gets a teacher all jazzed up. So don’t look at me weird if I get a little weepy when I start to see the school buses coming by in the mornings. And in an extra sad twist of Toy Story 2-esque fate, my lunchbox is staring at me sadly from the shelf in the basement begging to be restored to its glory days as the Keeper of the Leftover Soups and Sandwiches.
I will be totally honest with you: I actually did love my little yellow lunchbox. But packing my lunch was one of my most disliked tasks of working at a school. While all the other professions enjoy nice lunches out at fun restaurants like diddly daddly doo, the teachers of the world have no access to the outside food world as they sit in a teachers’ lounge which is basically a classroom adjacent to the dreaded large room holding hundreds of hungry, germ-sharing, loud and excited kids. As a teacher, I’d just try to enjoy a two-minute bite of something before running back to the classroom to supervise the daily offenders who were staying in for recess. Again. Shudders.
I sure loved that job, but it wasn’t for the lunches.
Even with the chaos of school lunch, though, there was nothing that brightened my day more than the reminder of a good lunch waiting for me in my lunchbox. I’d be in the middle of teaching how to multiply double digit numbers and I’d remember something awesome that I’d brought for lunch and it would sustain me through some hard two-four-six-eight and again times. Magic, I tell you.
So this sandwich is dedicated to everyone who packs a lunch, because while it’s delicious on the first day you make it, it’s also a sandwich that thrives as a reheat. No need to preserve any kind of exterior crunch here – this is meant to be a soft, buttery, melty hot ham and cheese sandwich, peeps.
I honestly think Bjork would be the happiest of all the happies if I made these at every meal for the rest of our married life. And I might be kind of happy about it too. These sandwiches are a total and complete splurge in honor of the start of school and the re-packing of lunches and one of my all-time favorite retro-inspired sandwiches.
So if I’m really being true and real about what comes to mind when I think Hot Ham and Cheese, I have this really shamefully delicious memory of a little fast food restaurant we used to have in the small town where Bjork and I grew up. It’s name was Hardee’s (…that moment where you try to decide if it’s actually a good idea to share this online…) and it served up some good old fashioned fast food, but none as good as the Hot Ham and Cheese. These gems would be passed to the backseat where little square-bangs-and-big-bows me would sit happily hot-ham-and-cheesing it up as the minivan rolled through the drive-through. My mom is just dying right now.
They were wrapped in a Hardee’s foil wrapper which we’re all cringing about right now, but I specifically remember thinking it was really cool because we would fold the wrappers around for a handy dandy cover that would then be unwrapped as we got deeper into the cheese-goo. They were so melty, so warm and wonderful, so perfectly satisfying after a long day of, like, playing with dolls or something.
Now I’m an adult and SURPRISE. I still like hot ham and cheese after a long day of, like, playing with food. How-ev-er. We are not stopping at ham and cheese with this little bugger. Bring on the bacon, caramelized onions, high quality ham, real Swiss cheese, homemade butter mustard sauce, and sweet King’s Hawaiian sandwich rolls! And maybe I did wrap them in foil again, just for old times sake.
This is the real deal, nestled right into your very own lunchbox. Thingsrbout to get awesome.
Psst! This jazzed up hot ham and cheese is more of an adult take-to-school lunch that would be perfect to sneak into your OWN lunchie, but if you are packing kids’ lunches too, or you just like to get crafty with your lunch foods, check out King’s Hawaiian Lunchbox Fun Sweeps Facebook page for cute food ideas up the wazoo.
These simple Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches are made extra yummy by baking them with bacon and caramelized onions. Just so good.
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 yellow onion
- 8 tablespoons salted butter, divided
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 package King’s Hawaiian Hamburger Buns
- 2 pounds sliced deli ham
- 1 pound sliced Swiss (or any white melty) cheese
- Fry the bacon until crispy. Place on paper towels to drain.
- Slice onion into thin strips. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet; add onions and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should turn a deep golden color and taste sweet. Melt the remaining butter and whisk with the mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut foil into large squares for wrapping each sandwich. Brush the bottom of each bun with butter mixture on both sides. Top with ham, onions, bacon, and cheese. Brush the top of the bun with butter on both sides, place on the sandwich, and wrap with foil. Repeat for remaining sandwiches. Bake for 20 minutes or until warmed through and cheese is melted. Store leftovers in the fridge with a piece of wax paper between them to prevent sticking. Reheat leftovers in the oven wrapped in foil or in the microwave for 1 minute.
If you don’t need the sandwiches to be made individually wrapped in foil, just place them all in a large baking dish and cover the top with foil to prevent burning.