Wednesday 8 October 2014


One dish meals are lifesavers on busy days. Quick and easy is the way to go. There is one rule that I try not to break: Never sacrifice taste.

When it comes to comfort food, mac and cheese tops the list. The mouthfeel of custard, the creaminess of cheese and the texture of soft pasta all combine to produce an indelible gustatory imagery that we all want to revive again and again.

Although mac and cheese is delicious in itself, it is also a blank canvas for variation. I've combined two favourites from the land of the brave to make a comforting easy pasta dish: homemade mac and cheese blended with Philly Cheesesteak. No blue box nor orange cheese were involved in the making of this dinner. 

A creamy bechamel sauce with English mature cheddar and Parmesan cheese is the base for the pasta.  Seared steak, sauteed mushrooms, onions and green peppers join the fun before being topped with cheesy breadcrumbs that form a crust in the oven. Although the taste has been elevated to so many levels, the ease of preparation remains. The test is in the eating. That you'll have to do yourself.

Yield: 4-6

Ingredients for the crumb topping:

1/4 c. melted butter
1 c. of fresh bread crumbs
1 c. grated English cheddar cheese


Mix the melted butter and bread crumbs. Add the cheese and stir together. Set aside.

Ingredients for the cheesesteak:

280 gms. whole rump or sirloin steak
1 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. of ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. of dried herbs
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. diced onions
1 c. diced chestnut mushrooms
1/4 c. diced sweet green pepper


Season the steak with the celery salt, pepper and dried herbs. 

Heat up a frying pan and add the butter and olive oil. When very hot, sear the steak for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan and using the same oil, sauté the onions until translucent but not soft. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the green peppers and stir.

Transfer to a plate to stop the ingredients from cooking further.

Slice the steak into thin strips then into small squares. Set aside.

Ingredients for the mac and cheese:

250 gms. of uncooked elbow macaroni
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. plain (all purpose) flour
1 big tin of evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. fresh milk (I used semi skimmed)
1 c. grated mature English cheddar cheese
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese


Cook the macaroni in salted water until al dente. Drain.

In a large pan or wok, melt the butter then add the flour. Stir to mix and cook on low heat for about 3 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and slowly add the evaporated milk while stirring. Slowly add the fresh milk, while continuing to stir. You should end up with a thick, smooth mixture.
Put the pan back on the heat and bring to a boil, while still stirring. Simmer for 3 minutes.

Take off the heat and add the cheeses, the macaroni and the cooked cheesesteak ingredients (including the juices from the steak). Stir to combine.

Spoon into a large baking dish or several individual dishes (4-6).

Sprinkle the tops with the crumb topping. Bake for about 20 minutes until the tops are browned and the mixture is bubbling.

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