CASA GRANDE -- When it comes to weekday meals, I like easy and versatile recipes that can be thrown together with simple and basic ingredients.

Creamy tomato sauce fits those requirements perfectly.

I stumbled across this recipe a while back on TikTok and have changed it up a few times to suit various taste buds in the family or to adapt to what ingredients are easy and on hand. The recipe calls for things likely to be in most pantries and refrigerators — a basic jar of tomato sauce, chicken broth, cream cheese and cooked chicken. Leftover chicken works beautifully in this recipe.

Best of all, this recipe is easy. In the slow cooker, making this creamy, yummy sauce simply takes putting all ingredients in the device and turning it on. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

While I add about 2 pounds of cooked chicken, the creamy tomato sauce could also be made with sausage, ground beef, shredded pork or even no meat at all. It’s delicious as a vegetarian sauce.

For an even easier meal, stuffed tortellini or any pasta could be added to the sauce about an hour or two before it’s finished cooking. As the pasta cooks, it absorbs the rich and creamy flavors of the sauce. Yum!

Tortellini cooked in this sauce is a favorite in our house.

But I also like the sauce on its own, over polenta, rice, pasta or even toast.

While I usually start with a jar of tomato pasta sauce in this recipe, homemade tomato sauce works nicely too. This is a great recipe to use up any excess tomatoes that you might have on hand.

As much as I like this recipe, and make it quite a bit, I have gone back and forth as to whether it actually qualifies as a recipe as it’s really little more than a technique to enhance a store-bought, commercial tomato sauce.

Whether you call it a recipe or a technique, it’s delicious. And when you serve it, no one will ever know you started out with a jar of ordinary tomato sauce.

Easy, creamy tomato sauce

1 24-ounce jar of tomato pasta sauce

2 cups chicken broth

8 ounces cream cheese

2 cups precooked chicken, such as a shredded rotisserie chicken

Put all ingredients into slow cooker and set for eight hours. About midway through cooking, stir contents of the slow cooker.

Serve over pasta, polenta or rice. Top with Parmesan or mozzarella cheese.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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