It’s about time we tell you about one of our secret flavor boosters: cream cheese. If you’ve cooked Marley Spoon you may have noticed how we sneak it into recipes over and over again when we need a hint of creaminess. We’re fans of its mild flavor, how easily it dissolves into a sauce to coat noodles or vegetables, coaxed just by a little heat and stirring. While we love mascarpone and crème fraiche, we sometimes want something cheaper and easier to find at our local grocer.

The truth is, we also like cream cheese for what it is. Made from cow’s milk, it is a discreet and soft cheese. Unlike tangy goat cheese or briny feta, its presence is often subdued, and yet almost always welcome. You’ll find cream cheese gently binding peas and spinach together or turning pasta sauce into a velvet concoction. You don’t need very much – a tablespoon goes a long way for smooth richness. Some might say cream cheese is bland or only for whipping with sugar for a sweet frosting, but we say it’s a magical ingredient that can take a savory dish to the next level.

We’ve spotlighted a few of our favorite ways to use cream cheese:

SKM_C284e15102309420Creamy Bean and Poblano Tacos with Charred Corn Salad Cream cheese gets stirred into pinto beans to form a silky filling for soft tacos. The trick is to add a little water to loosen the sauce and then simmer so the cream cheese absorbs some of the poblano heat.

One Pot Macaroni and Cheese The best thing about this Mac and Cheese is that it cooks in one pot: pasta simmers in milk and the cheeses – cheddar and cream cheese – melt right in the bubbling milk to form an extra-creamy sauce. This is comfort cooking turned into #smartcooking.

Sausage Mummies Resting in Peas Our spooktacular mummified sausages rest upon a steaming bed of creamy peas and spinach. Cream cheese simmers with veggies until just melted. You could throw in a tablespoon or two of cream cheese to any side of greens, such as spinach or kale.