Monday, December 27, 2010

Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells

 How was your Christmas?
Mine was wonderful.  We got up early and watched the kids be so excited, then it was a day of laziness...I love having days of nothing to do but whatever I want to do.  One of my favorite things to do is curling up next to the fireplace and read a good book.  As one of my favorite characters says, "It's my one weakness!"  
Now that it's back to real life I thought I should start making some healthier meals.  Those Christmas goodies are sure starting to show!  Anyways, does this count?  It's healthier than cupcakes and cookies anyway.
My kids actually loved this and didn't even notice the spinach.  I love how pretty it looks in the pan and it tastes even better.  It was a hit at our house.

1 (12-ounce) box uncooked jumbo pasta shells
2 c. chopped cooked chicken
2 c. fresh chopped spinach
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15oz) container ricotta cheese (I didn't have any on hand so I used cottage cheese and it worked great)
1 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 T. dried parsley flakes
1 t. Italian seasoning
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (26oz) jar prepared spaghetti sauce (this was just enough. If you like it saucier use more)

1. Cook shells according to package directions. Be careful not to overcook them or they will tear easily when trying to fill them. Drain and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease two 9x13 baking dishes.  In a large bowl, combine chicken, spinach, onion,garlic, ricotta, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, italian seasoning, salt, pepper and 1 c. of mozzarella cheese. Spoon into shells.  For easier filling, fill a gallon ziplock baggie with the filling and snip a quarter size hole off the corner of the bag. Then you can just pipe the filling into the shells.

4. Spread half of spaghetti sauce into prepared baking dishes. Arrange shells over sauce; top with remaining sauce. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. If you are freezing one of the 9x13 prepared pans, freeze it after this step. Include a baggy of the remaining mozzarella for when you cook it.

5. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Bake for 5 to 10 more minutes.

Source: Paula Deen

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