Saturday, January 21, 2012

Creamy Tomato Sauce

I. love. cream. cheese.  Seriously.  I could eat it with a spoon.  But, I hate cheesecake.  I really do.  I've tried all different types of cheesecakes and I want to like them because they come from cream cheese but to me, cheesecake just tastes like cream cheese gone sour.  I'm sorry, I know it's supposed to be these silky, decadent cake that melts in your mouth but honestly I cannot get over the fact that it tastes like overripe cream cheese.

I'm always thinking of new things to eat with cream cheese, but it normally just comes down to different types of crackers and jellies (which is not a terrible thing, obviously).  Then one day I saw a commercial where a woman was swirling a block of cream cheese into her tomato sauce.  Best pasta sauce ever.  Next time we wanted to make pasta sauce at home, I convinced my mother to let me throw in half a block of cream cheese.  And by convinced I mean strong armed.  As I put in each cube of cream cheese my mother stood behind me making those mother disgruntled sounds and said, "Weight Watchers would not approve.  I should have taken out my portion and let you fatten up your own sauces."

Ok, I don't blame her for getting worked up.  1 oz of cream cheese is worth 3 Weight Watchers points.  Oops.  So don't go having this cream sauce every night.  And that brings me to my next point - Paula Deen.

First, whether or not she has diabetes and how she chooses to live her life knowing that she does have it is her own business.  On the other hand, I understand completely that people are upset because she's a hypocrite and she took that shady endorsement deal.  But she wasn't standing there pretending her food was healthy, she was just dishing out what Food Network was paying her to dish out.  Many of her recipes, like the bacon cheeseburger between two Krispy Kremes and the deep fried cheesecake, are in my opinion just for shock value.  And yeah everything does taste better with butter, but don't go using a whole stick in your mashed potatoes.  A conscientious person should look at her recipes, think "I need to replace that with low fat dairy" or "Is that extra cup of mayonnaise really necessary?" and not just follow her recipes blindly.  And besides, have you seen any of the other shows on Food Network?  This morning I watched the Pioneer Woman whip up 4 sticks of butter to put on her french toast, which she coated in 4 egg yolks and 2 cups of half and half.  Really?  And by the way, this serves 8 people.  What I want you, reader, to take out of this is that you should always read a recipe very carefully before you make it.  See how many servings it makes or if there are any lighter ingredients you can substitute in.  Read the reviews and comments and see how other people have modified a recipe.

Take this recipe for example.  I tried to keep this creamy sauce as light as possible by using a lot of tomatoes and only 4 oz of cream cheese.  And as far as cream sauces are concerned, this sauce is not heavy at all.  It would go really well with any pasta dish or these grilled chicken and mozzarella raviolis that we buy at Costco.  It's definitely an indulgent sauce, but also a treat.  Plus, it's incredibly adaptable, so feel free to tweak the spices to fit your taste.  And again, you could certainly substitute low-fat or reduced-fat cream cheese for regular cream cheese.

I'm not here to bash anyone; I'm as much of a sucker for the Food Network as the next person.  But, I do know the difference between a healthy meal, a once in a while meal, and an avoid at all costs meal.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: life is all about balance.  Balance between the foods you eat, the exercise you get, and the other things that make you feel happy and healthy.

Creamy Tomato Sauce
Yield: 4 cups
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30 min

-                2 tbsp olive oil
-                ½ yellow onion, diced
-                2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
-                1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
-                1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
-                2 tsp oregano
-                2 tsp basil
-                4 oz (1/2 block) cream cheese, cubed
-                salt and pepper, to taste
-                1 (6 oz) can tomato paste (optional*)

Heat a large pan over medium heat and pour in the olive oil.  Add the onion and sauté until onions are translucent.  Add in the garlic, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, oregano, and basil.  Allow to simmer over medium – low heat for 20 minutes. 

Add in the cream cheese and stir until the cubes are melted and incorporated completely (about 10 min).  Taste and add salt or pepper, if desired.  Serve immediately over pasta or store in the refrigerator. 

*If you find your sauce to be too thin, add in the tomato paste.  If too thick, add water.  

1 comment:

  1. Looks amazing! But yeah, I'd have to have this sparingly ;)


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