Is there any food that brings back memories of your childhood more than mac and cheese?

It's pure contentment, and in this time when many of us are self-quarantining and worrying about the future and when this coronavirus will come to an end, that's exactly what we need.

For a lot of us, mac and cheese recalls Kraft's beloved blue box. But as we Baby Boomers and the generations following have grown into adulthood, so have our tastebuds, and the thought of boxed mac and cheese just doesn't fit into our idea of a good dinner. Not that we've entirely given up on the thought of pasta with cheese sauce, though. It continues to tempt our tastebuds, just as a tweet from Lodge Cast Iron did when I checked my Twitter account not long ago.

Steak Mac and Cheese was the topic, and it came with a step-by-step video of exactly how to make it, though that wasn't really necessary. All it did was show how simple it was to create a grown-up version of one of our childhood's favorite dishes by adding steak, and making it all in one pot — your Lodge or other heavy-duty Dutch oven. You'll just need to make sure the Dutch oven you use is ovenproof, and if you use a Lodge product, it's a guarantee.

This recipe has a lot of ingredients, so if you're in a hurry, do some prep work. Shred the cheeses ahead of time, and keep them in resealable bags in the refrigerator. You can also chop the onion in advance. The rest is just a matter of adding seasonings and a few additional ingredients, blending it all together and putting it in the oven while you're preparing the remainder of the meal — a salad and some garlic bread may be all you need. And although this is a grown-up version of mac and cheese, the kids will love it, too.


Lodge Steak Mac and Cheese

1 1/2 to 2 pounds pasta shells

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 pounds sirloin steak

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1 bay leaf

4 cups whole milk

3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

4 cups Gouda cheese, grated

4 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

1/4 cup parsley for garnish

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions, and reserve 1 cup pasta water.

Heat olive oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven for 4-5 minutes. Pat steak dry with paper towels. Cut steak into 1/2-inch cubes. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and optional cayenne.

Add cubed steak in batches to the preheated Dutch oven, careful not to overcrowd, and sear on all sides 3-5 minutes. Remove steak, and place on a plate to cool.

Reduce heat to medium, and add chopped onion. Cook 5-7 minutes until soft and slightly browned.

Add butter and minced garlic, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add flour, paprika, ground mustard and bay leaf. Stir until mixture thickens.

Slowly whisk in whole milk, and allow mixture to thicken stirring often, 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat, and discard bay leaf. Stir in sharp cheddar, Gouda and half the mozzarella. Add the pasta and the sliced steak, and stir. If the mixture is too thick, add reserved pasta water until desired consistency is achieved.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top of the dish.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese melts and turns golden brown. Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve hot.


Cooking classes continue

The Sweet & Savory Classroom, which offers hands-on cooking lessons, sent out a message last week that they remain open but are taking extra precautions, including cutting class sizes and offering a virtual classroom.

Husband-and-wife owners Jeff and Heather Pennypacker also are redesigning the classes so that each participant prepares his or her own ingredients and does their own cooking.

"We are a very small place and believe we can still have a great time and be safe," said the statement from the Pennypackers.

They're allowing anyone who wishes to transfer to a future class to do so without additional charges. And the chefs are also preparing meals-to-go for curbside pickup. For details,

Email Anne Braly at

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Anne Braly