This is the story about a hungry girl with limited options.
This is the story about a hungry girl who reinvented the official (or is it unofficial) sandwich of her birthplace.
This is the story about a girl who actually is no longer hungry because she just ate and is blogging about an hour ago, when she was still a very hungry girl whose cupboards had it worse than Old Mother Hubbard.
So, here goes the story of my Philadelphia Cheese Steak Recipe:
I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed of myself. I was pretty hungry when I got home from work (and tanning) today. My boyfriend is coming over, but not until later (gym first – I hope he worked out some for me – you’ll see why). I couldn’t wait. I was hungry.
I explored my options:
- Cereal. I have lots of good kinds: Cap’n Crunch. Chocolate Cheerios. Frosted Flakes. Cupcake Pebbles. Whole Grain Cheerios. The problem is that there is no milk. Nope. Tossed that curdled carton out on trash day.
- Leftover Chinese food. The small amount of leftover pork fried rice was tempting, but since I never enjoy reheated sweet-n-sour chicken, I opted not to eat it. I did not throw away, though. It was just trash day so my can is empty and I don’t want that to sit there all week. I just got out cat litter smell from upstairs, haha.
- Johnsonville Kielbasa. This was very appealing, but I’d rather save that for when I have mashed potatoes and other veggies. You know. A real meal.
The rest of the freezer and fridge was: ravioli from three months ago that I am afraid to open to throw away but too connected to the Tupperware it is in to throw the whole thing away. Frozen waffles and French Toast. Ice Cream. Condiments. And then… I saw it!
Then, I remembered the last time Joe and I made Philly cheesesteaks was less than a month ago, so the jar of sauce and jar of sweet peppers I saw on the fridge door was likely still good. And, I also had cheese! Processed cheese, but cheese! (I waste too much food so unless I am certain I will eat it, I no longer by fresh meat and cheese.)
I was thrilled for my Philly cheese steak. I started cooking. Then, it hit me.
No bread. No rolls. No two slices of anything my meat mixture could come between. How do you make a Philly cheese steak without a roll?
That’s when it also hit me that I DID indeed have something bread-like. I had bought a bunch of breakfast food for my three-day writer’s retreat last month. (Oh yeah – that’s why I have so many boxes of cereal and so many boxes of frozen breakfast food). On that Central PA shopping trip, I picked up some Thomas’ mini-bagels and something new, Thomas’ Bagel Thins. I had leftovers of everything and the everything flavor Bagel Thins were the item thing I finished. Sunday evening, after Iron Man 2, Joe and I went to Wegman’s to raid the Mediterranean Bar and we also walked up the bread aisle. The Bagel Thins were out in plain sight so I picked up a pack.
Why can’t a cheese steak go on a bagel? I saw no reason. As I looked at the bag, I realized that bagel and cream cheese are a big Philly thing. And, Thomas’ are made near Philly. Ha! I chuckled to myself that I am making a really Philly-inspired meal.
Oh. My. God. Cream. Cheese. CREAM CHEESE!
I had inadvertently created a new version of the Philadelphia Cheese Steak. A Philadelphia Cheese Steak served on a bagel with cream cheese. Playing of the Wheel of Fortune Before and After puzzle style, the name I devised for my cheese steak recipe became:
The Philadelphia Cream Cheese Steak
Holy freakin’ moly. I started taking pictures of the ingredients, and even made (AND ATE) a second sandwich so I could share. And, so I could taste that heavenly concoction again.
To replicate my Philadelphia Cheese Steak recipe, which was made me two sandwiches, you need the following ingredients and supplies:
- An apartment with a stove. Utilities must be paid up so said stove gets hot.
- Box of flat, frozen, red sheets that turn into brown meat when warmed up, or as most people call them, Steak-Ums (or your favorite brand)
- Jar of Tallarico’s brand sweet peppers (no relation)
- Jar of Tallarico’s brand steak sauce (no relation, however this jar is related to the jar mentioned above)
- Thomas’ Brand Bagel Thins in the ‘everything’ flavor
- Tub of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (using your favorite brand here would be a mortal sin because this recipe is about Philly)
- A few slices of American cheese. I used Borden’s individually-wrapped slices, but I prefer real deli cheese.
- A frying pan, a spatula/flipper type thing and a cream cheese knife (we’re not using it for butter, so we’re changing its name)
- Salt and pepper
To replicate my Philadelphia Cheese Steak recipe, you need to take the following steps:
- While pan is heating up, you can put towels in dryer like I did. Otherwise, use this time to get your stuff together.
- Break apart 4-6 slabs of meat (which would be 8-12 since two are always stuck together between the waxyish paper) and toss in pan.
- Before meat starts to cook, also put in a few forkfuls of the sweet peppers. This way, they get heated up and a little soft.
- Add salt and pepper while meat and peppers are cooking. Continue stirring.
- I like my meat to get a little brown when I make cheese steaks, so just cook until it’s to your liking.
- Drain grease if you want to. I forgot.
- Add enough steak sauce it coats all the meat when stirred, but NOT so much that it is saucy. Let sauce get warmed up. Stir mixture a little.
- Remove pan from heat and then push all steak together so it is even. Top with cheese, covering every last section. Cover pan with lid or larger plate so that the captured heat perfectly melts the cheese.
- While cheese is getting oozy, toast your Bagel Thin. Since these are indeed thin, use a mid-level setting as not to make this crunchy.
- When bagel is toasted, spread cream cheese over one side of the bagel.
- Lift lid of the pan to see your wonderful concoction. You can leave the cheese on top, or mix it up a bit. Either way, cheese will be in every bite. I usually mix it up a bit.
- Place about 1 turner-thing full of steak onto the cream cheese. More if necessary, but don’t overfill too much. You should have enough meat for two bagels. Top with top of bagel.
- Slice and serve. Maybe with a pickle and fries, but I had no side dish.
- Lastly, enjoy.
You can modify this as you like. This is merely a guide to what I did. One suggestion though: DO NOT USE VELVEETA OR EASY CHEESE. REAL CHEESE STEAKS USE REAL CHEESE, usually American or Provolone. Go easy on the cream cheese because it will melt a bit. Otherwise, the sandwich wasn’t messy at all. Just a few peppers fell out.
After eating two, I can report that they were both delicious. And I’m not saying it because I made it. I’m saying that because there is something euphoric about cream cheese that makes all things right in the world. It can make anything taste good. I learned to like crab after eating crab and cream cheese dip. I can withstand the heat of jalapeno poppers because of cream cheese. It’s like a helper condiment.
And in this case, it helped enhance the awesomeness of homemade Philadelphia cheese steaks.
I know that Dunkin’ Donuts has a steak bagel breakfast sandwich, but I think this on-a-whim hunger-induced idea is pretty creative. If something else exists like it, I wasn’t aware. But, maybe I will look around. Either way, it was new to me and I hope it is new to you, too!
Disclaimer: I am in no way responsible for increased cholesterol, jeans not fitting, or any other adverse affects to health and wellness.
Hidden bonus: I actually realized that with Bagel Thins instead of a big hoagie roll, you cut back on some carbs. I mean, the calories are there with everything else, but if you are cutting back on carbs, this is a good alternative to thick bread.
Did you try this? Let me know what you think!
My friend Jeff once made a bacon cheesecake that was fantastic, but I think I’d draw the line at steak and cream cheese with a bagel.
P.S. Many a good Philly cheese steaks come with onions. Those who know me, know I love fried onions. So why, you ask, did my sandwich not have onions. Why, you ask, did I also not make the pierogies I had in the freeze? Because this is what happened the last time I tried to keep onions.
Yep. Being single and living a lone does not work well for keeping things around in bulk. Even my frozen food gets freezer burn.