Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chicken Stuffed Shells

So this was absolutely delish, but if I could have my way, it would've had spinach in it. Since I have a couple picky eaters and we'd been out of town for several days prior, I knew everyone was starving for some good home-cookin'. So I decided to be nice and leave out the spinach. Next time though, [Annabelle] better put her game face on and be ready to ingest some spinach. ;) 

Makes 24 shells

1 box jumbo pasta shells
4 cups cooked, chopped or shredded chicken
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 cans cream of chicken soup (I use my homemade substitute)
2 8oz packages of cream cheese, cut into cubes and softened
1 cup evaporated milk
2-4 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar this time but will def try mozzarella next)

Preheat oven to 350.

Boil pasta in salted water 12 minutes; leave in the pasta water to avoid sticking. Meanwhile mix chicken, ricotta and seasonings until well mixed. Taste and add additional seasonings if desired. In medium saucepan, heat cream of chicken soup and cream cheese over medium heat until cream cheese has fully melted and incorporated. Stir in evaporated milk. Taste and add seasonings if desired. (My homemade cream of chicken substitute had plenty of flavor, but if I used the canned stuff, I'd want to add some salt, pepper, garlic, onion and oregano for sure.) Spread about a cup of the sauce in the bottom of a greased 13x9 baking dish. Fill shells with chicken mixture and lay evenly on top of sauce in pan. (Squish those babies in there if you need to!)  Sprinkle 1-2 cups of shredded cheese on top of shells, then pour sauce evenly over the top of all the shells, making sure it delves into those corners and hard-to-reach areas. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly. 

This recipe took me about 45 minutes from start to finish. Not bad at all! I put chicken breasts in the crockpot all day to cook so I'd have those ready by dinnertime. A rotisserie chicken would save some time and be delicious in this dish as well. Next time I want to stir in some shredded cheese and chopped, cooked spinach into the filling because I think it would be dynamite! This was a good, quick weeknight meal that our family loved. Those four remaining shells in the photo were taken by my older three kids for their school lunches the next day. Two birds, meet stone! Yes!! :)

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