Spicy Tomato Cream Sauce


I used to be so intimidated to make my own pasta sauces. Doesn’t that sound like something a full blooded Italian (which I’m not) can whip up with a glass of wine in one hand and without breaking a sweat? Intimidating. I’ve been playing around with it though… learned a few basic recipes, married a few new techniques. And I came up with a pretty easy (and vegetarian!) recipe that tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen. Ready for it?

What you’ll need:

2T Olive oil

Crushed red pepper


Salt and pepper

1 Onion- chopped

4-6 Cloves minced garlic (4 if you prefer a subtle garlic taste, 5-6 if you LOVE garlic)

2 cups (or a 14 oz can) of petite diced tomatoes

1/4 cup water

1 T dried Basil or 3 T fresh Basil… I just cut about a dozen fresh leaves with scissors.

1/4 tsp dried Oregano

1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream

Supplies: Large skillet, a blender or food processor


Heat Olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, paprika and crushed red pepper. Heat on mediu-high for 2 minutes until onions become golden. *Note: Start small with the paprika and red pepper… just sprinkle enough to give the onion a little dusting and red color. The flavor will intensify later and you can always add more later. 

Add tomatoes, water, basil, oregano. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutes. While it’s simmering you can taste to add more paprika, red crushed pepper or salt and paper. This is also when I boil water for the pasta.

Add heavy cream and immediately remove from heat. To make it vegan you could use almond milk, although I haven’t tried it myself yet.

Pour contents into blender/food processor. Pulse until smooth. *Note:It will be hot so make sure its glass or heat resistant plastic. I use large Ball jar with my blender. 


I served my sauce over Roasted Butternut Squash Agnolotti (Buitoni) with fresh basil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Hubby says it would be delish with shrimp or chicken over Penne or Fettuccine too! You can make this as mild or spicy as you like! I jarred the rest of the sauce (take note of the expiration date on your cream) and ate leftovers for lunch yesterday. So yummy if I may say so myself!


3 Pumpkin Recipes (That Aren’t Pie)

Pumpkin wasn’t really my thing until a couple of years ago. I think I was always afraid of it (who wants to eat a jack-o-lantern? really). I have also despised pumpkin pie since childhood (don’t ask). And it sounds so gourmet. But pumpkin has a soft, subtle taste that can be spiced up to become savory or sweetened up for baked goods. I’ve gathered a few of my recent finds and new favorites. And none of them are pie!


Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread (clipped from a newspaper years ago). Makes a fantastic hostess gift!

3 cups sugar

3 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2/3 cup water

4 eggs

1 cup oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

2 cups fresh pumpkin (a 15 oz can does just fine if you ask me)

2 cups miniature chocolate chips (tip: mini chips don’t sink to the bottom and burn!)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. Mix eggs, water, oil and pumpkin in large bowl (I use my kitchenaid mixer) until well blended. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour into three greased and floured 9×5 bread pans. Bake 1 hour (my oven takes about 1 hour 10 minutes)… test with fork to see if it comes out clean.


Pumpkin Tomato Bisque (from my boss’s kitchen). Try with a grilled cheese! We actually served this to a few friends with gourmet grilled cheese (think gouda, asiago, mozzarella!). It was a huge hit!

4 Tbsp butter

1 large white onion

4 cups vegetable broth

1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes

1 Tbsp honey or pure maple syrup

4 cups canned pumpkin

In a 10″ skillet, melt butter over medium heat add onion and saute 5-7 minutes. Stir in vegetable broth. Allow to simmer partially covered for about 15 minutes.

Pour tomatoes and juice into food processor, add honey and puree. Add pumpkin and puree again.

Remove onion broth from heat. Strain onion, pouring broth into a medium pot.

Toss onions into food processor and puree with tomato pumpkin blend.

Add puree back into pot with broth and heat to desired temperature.


Pumpkin Pie Dip (from my beautiful friend, Kara)

1 (8oz) block softened cream cheese

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 cup pumpkin (1 1/2 if you’re excited about pumpkin)

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp vanilla

Mix ingredients thoroughly until smooth. Serve with sliced apples or graham crackers.

Happy Thanksgiving!