Bloggy Boot Camp 2012 | How to Visit Philly and Forget to Try a Cheesesteak

I spent last weekend in Philadelphia for Bloggy Boot Camp 2012 with the SITS girls.

It occurred to me only after I was halfway back to Maryland that this foodie forgot something very critical on her trip to Philly.

I {gasp!} forgot to find and devour an authentic Philly cheesesteak while I was there! How does that happen?

THIS….


Bloggy Boot Camp 2012

Photo courtesy of the sitsgirls’ Flickr photostream


….is how it happens.

For the second straight year I’ve found myself at Bloggy Boot Camp in May, and for the second straight year I’ve also managed to meet wonderful bloggers, network with said wonderful bloggers and glean insightful and useful information from well-intentioned, inspiring and intelligent speakers.

So, aside from the fact that my life is still missing the allure of a juicy, cheesy, artery-clogging, authentic cheesesteak, I’d say last weekend was a wild success.

Especially since I was able to sip lovely Mirassou wine and eat the outrageously addictive King’s Hawaiian bread pudding which I may or may not have had two giant helpings of.

Which brings me to my 5 takeaways from this year’s Bloggy Boot Camp:

1.  Never underestimate how fun it is to make new friends and connect with old ones. I’m not sure what I love most, chatting with attendees or listening to the speaker sessions. It’s a toss up!

2.  SEO, SEO, SEO! Dali Burgado {@DaliBurgado} gave her SEO 101 presentation in the afternoon, sandwiched by Laurie Turk {@TipJunkie} and Sharon Rowley {@sharonmomof6}. Between the three of them, I took away perhaps the most meaty info ever about SEO and how to my my blog more Google-friendly. Which, friends, means for one, playing nice with G+…. Just a few quick changes based on their recommendations and I’ve already seen an increase in traffic. Funny how that works!

3.  Swag is a very good thing, especially when it includes a fancy new WaterPik shower head! Behold the shower head that really and truly, just like the package says, takes less than five minutes to install. My husband said, “It took longer to get it out of the package than it took to install it!” Here it is in all its glory:

Water Pik

4.  A writer’s workshop that included discussion around books that every writer should read, including Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” among others. Did I mention a goal of mine this year is to start writing the novel that’s been percolating in the back of my mind for a couple of years? Um, that.

5.  Google+ is here to stay, and you better get on the G+ train. Sigh. I’ve had my G+ personal and (a)Musing Foodie pages for a while now, but just can’t seem to get there. It feels like I’m repeating steps that I’m already doing elsewhere on the interwebs. But, it was made clear by almost every social media maven at the conference that Google+ is gaining strength, and you better be there and be active.

All of this goodness was crammed into a very full day and a half, which helps to explain why I never made it out into the city in search of the coveted authentic Philly cheesesteak. Excuse? Nah. I suppose there’s always next time!

PS: Yes my blog is still on Blogger, not WordPress. And yes, they and by “they” I mean Tiffany, Fran and Erica continue to make fun of that at Bloggy Boot Camp. :-D

PPS: As of May 2013 the blog OFFICIALLY moved to WordPress, and they ^^ still make fun of me. (LOVE IT.)

Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich Casserole {Using King’s Hawaiian Rolls}

It’s taken over five years for me to make a recipe that was first mentioned to me by a friend at work in 2005. This particular recipe was SO good, that not only have I heard about it from that friend, other coworkers have mention it as well.

“You’ve got to try this ham and cheese sandwich thing Missy makes”

“I don’t know what’s in it, but that baked ham sandwich recipe from Missy – it’s amazing!”

So, finally, for Jack’s birthday party (with 20 guests) I made it. Them, I made them. TWO delicious, gooey, warm baking dishes of Hot Ham and Cheese Casserole using using King’s Hawaiian Rolls. And ooohhhh….were they good.

Ham and Cheese Sandwich Casserole using King's Hawaiian Rolls

Prep: 15 minutes | Rest: 3 hours | Bake: 25 minutes | Yield: 48 mini sandwiches

Ingredients:
2 24-packs King’s Hawaiian Rolls (Party Potato Rolls are an okay substitute)
1 pound shaved Virginia ham
24 slices Swiss cheese
1-1/2 sticks butter
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dried onions
2 teaspoons poppy seeds


Ham and Cheese Sandwich Casserole using King's Hawaiian Rolls

Directions:

Slice the King’s Hawaiian rolls in half. Line the bottom of two 9X11 baking pans with the bottom halves of the rolls, 24 in each pan (they should just fit). Spread the ham over the rolls, and then layer the Swiss cheese on top. Place the other halves of the rolls on top. Set aside.

In a small sauce pan, combine the butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and dried onions. Over medium heat, stir until the butter has melted to create the sauce. Pour equal parts of the sauce over top of the rolls, and then sprinkle the tops with the poppy seeds. Cover the pans tightly with aluminum foil, and then refrigerate for at least three hours – or overnight (better).

Ham and Cheese Sandwich Casserole with King's Hawaiian Rolls


When You’re Ready to Bake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the covered baking dishes in the oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese has finished melting. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 48 mini sandwiches.
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