Baked Macaroni with Tomato Cream Sauce


Baked macaroni is one of those dishes that originates from my Pinay roots, specifically my aunt and grandmas who were all about carbs and cheese and rich, savory sauces.  Their versions have cut up hot dogs mixed throughout, sweetened with sugar and topped with grated Kraft cheese that came in a blue can.  By the way, when I was a kid I thought it was ‘crap’ cheese–the Filipinos, we don’t have the letter ‘f’ in our alphabet.  I’m not entirely sure of the reason for my people’s fascination with sweet spaghetti sauce and canned cheese but the baked macaroni was a staple in every family party I’d ever gone to.

So imagine my delight when I made it for a family party this weekend and was asked for the recipe from my cousin Melisa whom I love and will happily make baked macaroni for anytime, minus the crap cheese.


1 onion, diced
2 bell peppers–green or red–grilled or roasted for 15 minutes, diced
1 head of garlic, minced
1 jar Alfredo sauce, TJ’s is my fave
1 can San Marzano tomatoes, 28 oz
1 lb ground beef
1 lb shrimp
Spices to taste: Italian seasoning, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Saute onions, bell peppers and garlic in 2T of olive oil until all vegetables are tender and onions translucent about fifteen minutes. Brown ground beef with the vegetable mixture and add salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Add whole can of San Marzano tomatoes to sauteed vegetables and browned ground beef in large dutch oven and cover for another 30 minutes. Cook over low heat. This allows all the flavors to come together and the whole tomatoes to break apart. Add jar of Alfredo sauce and combine so both red and white sauces are thoroughly combined and cook covered for another 15 minutes over low heat. Add shrimp to tomato cream sauce mixture and cook for a final 15-20 minutes. Take care in not overcooking the shrimp, just cook long enough so that it’s heated through and no longer pink. Season to your desire. I even added a teaspoon (ok, two) of sugar in homage to my aforementioned Lola Chedeng, Lola Emilia and Tita Baby.

In a large baking dish, spread pasta along the bottom of the baking dish, top with tomato cream sauce and sprinkle with your favorite grated cheese. My favorite is sharp cheddar. Repeat with each layer. Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted. Enjoy! And it makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.

baked Mac


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