Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I could eat pasta every day. I don’t, but I could. I love just a nice red sauce, or a meat sauce, or an alfredo sauce. But, today I wanted something different. I wanted both tomato and creamy. I could have used some heavy cream, as I do always have it on hand – but, instead, I remembered that I had some cream cheese in the refrigerator and I decided to use that.

I’ve never used cream cheese in a pasta sauce, before. But, I thought that it could work. Turns out that it worked really well – and everyone loved it! It gives the sauce creaminess and an extra layer of flavor.

The first thing to do is make the sauce. I kept it pretty simple – just crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, fresh basil and some Italian seasoning.

I started by dicing one onion. I tried to dice it pretty small – I didn’t really want big bites of onion in the sauce. I also chopped up about 10 basil leaves (about 1 tbsp, when chopped).

In a large skillet, I softened the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil.

Once the onions were softened, I added in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. I also added in the Italian seasoning.

I brought the tomato sauce to a boil and then added in the cream cheese. It takes a bit of stirring to get the cheese melted into the sauce.

Once the cheese was melted, I added in the basil and stirred through.

I let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, to allow it to reduce some.

I cooked my pasta to al dente and then added it to the sauce and mixed it well.

The pasta is delicious on it’s own, but I also cooked some chicken in the oven – and I topped the pasta with it, just to add some protein to the dish. You can garnish with extra basil, if you like.

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

8 oz block of cream cheese
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oil

  • Dice onion and chop the basil
  • In oil, soften onion and garlic (about 5 min)
  • Add in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Add in salt and Italian seasoning
  • Bring sauce to a boil
  • Add in the cream cheese, stirring until it melts
  • Add in basil
  • Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes
  • While sauce is simmering, cook pasta to al dente
  • When pasta and sauce are done, toss the pasta in the skillet with the sauce
  • Top with chicken, if desired
  • Add more fresh basil, if desired

Breakfast Skillet (Wok)

I woke up this morning wanting something hearty for breakfast. I decided I would make a breakfast skillet – but, I decided to use my cast iron wok.

The dish consisted of russet potatoes, an onion, 1/2 rope of smoked sausage, parmesan cheese and seasonings. I used salt, pepper umami seasoning, Italian seasoning and fresh basil.

I started by dicing the potatoes and onions – obviously, the smaller you chop your vegetables, the quicker it will cook. I actually cut my potatoes a little larger – which allowed for a ‘bite’ to them when the dish was done. It was delicious!

Then I sliced up half of a rope of smoked sausage – feel free to add more if you like more protein in your meal. In hindsight, I almost wish I had used the whole thing – not for me, but I think my family would have enjoyed it more with a bit more protein.

I put the potatoes in the wok and added about 1/3 cup of water (I know that seems odd, but I thought I’d try to cook the potatoes a bit before adding everything else and it worked out well). Basically, I tossed the potatoes around until the water had evaporated. About half way through, I added 1 tbsp of butter and allowed it to melt through. I also added the salt, pepper and umami seasoning at this time.

After cooking the potatoes for about 10 minutes, I removed them from the pan. I then added in 1 tbsp of butter and let it melt.

I then added in the onions and cooked them until they started to soften.

The next thing to go in the wok were the sliced pieces of sausage. The sausage is done, so I just cooked enough to warm through.

I then added the potatoes back in the wok and cooked, stirring frequently, for another 15 minutes. I turned the flame off at this time.

Finally I topped the mixture with grated parmesan cheese and allowed the cheese to melt, as well as a little bit of fresh basil. Even though the flame is off, with my cast iron wok, it was more than warm enough for the cheese to melt.

Breakfast Skillet (Wok) – serves 4

4 russet potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 rope smoked sausage
1/2 tbsp umami seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup water
fresh basil to garnish

  • Chop potatoes and onion
  • Slice sausage
  • In hot skillet, add water and then the potatoes – cook until potatoes are fork tender, at end add 1 tbsp butter, salt, pepper and umami seasoning and stir through
  • Remove potatoes from pan
  • Add remainging tbsp of butter and let melt
  • Add in onions and cook until they start to soften
  • Add in the sausages and warm through
  • Add the potatoes back into the wok
  • Season with the Italian seasoning and cook for about 15 mintues – stirring frequently
  • Turn off flame and then top the hash with parmesan cheese and allow to melt
  • Finish with fresh basil, if desired

Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

This is not my recipe – I used the recipe linked here. I normally just share my recipes, but this one is so good that I have to share it!

When you have kids that play sports or a job that keeps you late, you sometimes just need easy. Not lots of prep, not a long cooking time – delicious food ready when you get home! That’s where a crockpot comes in handy!!

I love Asian food! This recipe is, now, one of my favorites! It is, truly, better than any broccoli and beef that I’ve gotten in any restaurant.

I made this on a day that my daughter had volleyball. I came home at lunchtime, to finish my work day, and threw everything in the crockpot. And, it was ready when we got home!

All I had to do, was make some rice and top it with the beef and broccoli. I think it is about time I make this one again!

Easy Dinner – Spaghetti

Some nights you’re just too tired or too busy to cook something from scratch. That’s when you’re glad that you’ve planned ahead!

This morning, I took some meat sauce out of the freezer. This is the same sauce I used when I made lasagna. You can find the meat sauce recipe on this post. It was thawed out by the time I got home!

I just warmed it up in a skillet, over low, while cooking my noodles.

Then I mixed it all together when the noodles were done! Topped with some Parmesan cheese and dinner on the table in no time!

Creamy Chicken and Cannellini Bean Soup (Instant Pot)

This is a super quick recipe for a busy weeknight. And, that is just what I needed after arriving home late from work!

The first step is to cook your chicken. I cook mine in the instant pot and shred it in the same pot. I detailed how to do this, in this post.

As the chicken was cooking, I prepped the poblano pepper, shallot and cilantro and set it aside.

Once the chicken is done, and you’ve safely released the pressure, you just need to dump the remaining ingredients into the instant pot. Replace the lid and set the instant pot to the soup/stew setting, low pressure and 5 minutes.

Shallot, poblano and green chilis
Fresh cilantro

After your 5 minutes are up, do quick release and remove lid. The final step was to add in the cream (you can totally skip this part if you don’t want a creamy soup).

Easy peasy – a quick and delicious weekday meal!

Creamy Chicken and Cannellini Soup

2 chicken breasts, shredded
8 cups of chicken stock (including stock used to cook the chicken)
3 cans cannellini beans
1 – 7 oz can green chilis, medium
1 poblano pepper, diced small
1 shallot, diced small
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream or half and half

  • Cook and shred chicken in the Instant Pot (use 1 cup of chicken broth to cook the chicken)
  • Chop poblano pepper, shallot and cilantro
  • Once chicken is cooked an shredded, add in the remaining ingredients, all except the cream, and put lid back on instant pot
  • Set instant pot to soup/stew setting, low pressure and 5 minutes
  • Once the timer goes off, release pressure and add in cream and stir through
  • You can add jalapenos, more lime juice, cheese or chips, if you like

Smashed Red Potatoes

This is one that I made some time back, but never shared. I actually made it as part of my daughter’s birthday meal. And, it is ridiculously easy to make – and so delicious.

I started with red potatoes – you’ll want enough for each person to have 2-3 potatoes. After washing the potatoes, I parboiled them to the point that they were soft enough to ‘smash’. I used the bottom of a glass to smash each potato (learn from my mistake – don’t use a potato masher, you’ll lose half of your potato, stuck to the potato masher) on a sheet pan.

After smashing the potatoes, I drizzled olive oil over top and then sprinkled with a little grated parmesan cheese. I topped with a little salt and fresh basil (feel free to use dried basil or Italian seasoning).

I finished the cooking in the oven, at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. You can even broil them for a minute or two to get them a little browned, if needed.

These potatoes make an easy and delicious side dish!

Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

I think we all know that I love a creamy, decadent comfort food. Stroganoff certainly fits that bill. It is pretty easy to cook and it makes a lot – so lots of leftovers (another thing I love). I suppose you could use whatever pasta you like, but I chose egg noodles.

I started by finely dicing 1 shallot. If you don’t have a shallot, you could substitute an onion – maybe 1/2 of a small onion.

Then I sauteed the shallot and garlic for about 5 minutes.

After sauteing the shallot and garlic, I added in the mushrooms and cook them until they were starting to get soft (these mushroom slices were pretty big, so it was about 10 minutes).

The next thing was to add in the beef. I just cooked the beef until it was browned on all sides and added in my seasonings.

Then I added in the liquids, starting with the beef stock (you could use chicken stock or vegetable stock, but the beef stock will give you a richer flavor). I love the stocks from Trader Joe’s.

After the beef stock, I added the heavy cream and worcestershire sauce and brought everything up to a boil. I allowed the mixture to cook for approximately 20-30 minutes. The sauce will reduce and thicken.

At the end, add in the sour cream and mix through well.

Toss in the egg noodles and mix through.

Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

1 lb egg noodles
1 lb cubed beef
8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 shallot, diced finely
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups beef stock
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/8 cup worchestershire sauce
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp umami seasoning
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

  • Boil egg noodles to al dente, set aside
  • In large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat
  • Add in shallots and garlic, cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add in mushrooms and olive oil, cook for another 5-10 minutes (until mushrooms start to get tender)
  • Add beef to pan and brown
  • Season with umami and salt and mix through
  • Add in beef stock, heavy cream and worchestershire sauce and bring up to a boil
  • Reduce heat and allow sauce to reduce, about 20-30 minutes – with about 10 minutes left, add in the sour cream
  • Toss in egg noodles and stir through