Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells

I ran twenty miles yesterday. Twenty. It’s the longest I will run before my marathon in a couple of weeks. It was hard. Really hard. I have no idea how I’m going to do 6.2 more miles for the marathon.

Here’s the breakdown:

Mile 1-13: Feeling good.
Mile 14-17: Starts raining. Pouring. Great. Awesome.
Mile 16-18: Some 20 year old kid starts following me on a bike..going really slow because I’m…well…going really slow. He kept trying to make conversation as I kept trying to breathe.
“What’s with this rain?”
 I gave a slightly annoyed, out of breath, “I don’t know.”

What I wanted to say was are you serious right now? Are you trying to get with this sweaty mess? Do you realize I’m in the middle of mile 17? He continued to follow me for another mile. I wasn’t scared because by this time I was in my development with tons of people walking around me. I was just irritated and baffled.

Finally I said, “Buddy. You GOTTA keep moving.”
Mile 19: I think I’m going to die and I have to use the restroom. Again.  
Mile 20: Made it. Collapse in my cool air conditioned living room. Go take a shower. Almost throw up. Then whine to John about how much my body hurts.
So that was my weekend. How was yours?
You’re gonna love this dish. This meal is great when you have to take dinner to someone because it makes two pans and freezes well. I made one for my family and one for a friend who just had a baby. John comes home with food from work sometimes and often brings bland stuffed shells for the kids. When he took a bite of these he said, “Wow. These have a ton of flavor.” Enough said. Sounds like a keeper to me.

Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (12-ounce) box uncooked jumbo pasta shells (if all of yours survive the boil this is enough, to be safe you may want 1 1/2 boxes)
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 cups fresh chopped spinach
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15oz) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened (I think you could get away with one package)
  • 1 (5oz) package shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1 2/3 cups)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 (26oz) jar prepared spaghetti sauce (this was just enough. If you like it saucier use more)

Instructions

  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 shells out individually on a cutting board or baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease two 9x13 baking dishes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine chicken and all the rest of the ingredients except mozzarella and spaghetti sauce. Stir in 1 cup mozzarella. Spoon into shells. *Tip: 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.
  6. Makes 8-10 servings.

Notes

Source: Paula Deen

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Comments

  1. You poor thing! What a weekend. Way to go for running 20 miles, though–I don’t think I could run over 5! :)

    These shells looks delicious! Definitely trying these out.

  2. The shells look delicious! I wish I had some ready for dinner tonight.

    Good Luck on the marathon!!

  3. wow!! congratulations on your run, thats incredible! i can’t imagine running that far. those stuffed shells do look amazing.. I’m going to have to try them!

  4. WOW, that is all I have to say about this dish & your running

  5. Show-off. Just kidding. I ran a 5K this weekend and was really impressed with myself. 20 miles??! I can’t even imagine! You go girl. and thanks for the recipe!

  6. I now know what i’m going to make my roommates for dinner on Sunday! Thank you :)

    I can’t believe you are a serious runner and make such delicious recipes.

  7. you need to take an ice bath right after those long runs. they are painful to get in but make your legs feel amazing.

    and yum about the stuffed shells!

  8. way to go on your 20-miler! i wish i could tell you it’s easier during the actual marathon, but it’s not. but don’t forget the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment in finishing, or even just training, for something like that. it’s not for everyone and you’re doing great!

  9. Holy Cow! 20 miles! You are awesome. My dad likes to run marathons. And my sister runs in a lot of races. She lives in Jacksonville. Aren’t you in Florida? Any where close to Jacksonville? You could be running buddies. Me not so much. Not a big fan of running. But I did like that one of your ads on you blog was for Insanity. That is what I am doing. I am on week 8 and am so ready for it to be over. It really is insane. But I liked that I could look at all your yummy recipes and think about making them and then be reminded about Insanity. Good luck in your marathon. I think I will stick with Insanity and P90X.

  10. What the heck was with that kid? Geez, I would’ve been super irritated with him.

    But on a positive note, those pasta shells look amazing! You weren’t exaggerating when you said they had a ton of flavor – can’t wait to try this!

  11. Congratulations – what an accomplishment!
    Your stuffed shells look delicious.

  12. way to go!!!! My girlfriend says that mile 17-22 are her hardest then for some reason she gets tons of energy at the end. maybe you’ll be the same!

  13. You made me laugh with your run break down!! lol The shells look and sound a*ma*zing!!!

  14. Those look yummy! I am going to make them next week! Congrats on the running! :)

  15. you are my hero! That is so awesome…I struggle to run a 5k, so high five girlie!

  16. 20 miles?! You go girl!

    It’s 20 miles from my house to my in-laws and that is a LOOONG way, I cannot even fathom running that. Congrats and best of luck!

    OOh, and these look yummy!

  17. One of my friends just told me about your blog so I had to check it out. I’m at the same point in my marathon training too! My marathon is Oct. 9th. Good luck! And I’ll definately have to try that recipe, looks yummy.

  18. I just made these and I can’t wait to try them, they look delightful!
    I am also trying to stock up my meals in the freezer and I am using a ton of space with foil pans, so I am flash freezing them and putting them in a baggie and then I can just prepare however many I want. I hope it works to my benefit, because I ended up with 60 filled shells, so it better work.

  19. Just throw-up on the kid next time and he will leave you alone, and you will feel better! J/k you will make it all 26.2 just keep running even if you are sick and tired and you find yourself running really slow, it will be over sooner and you will be so happy when its over, probably the happiest that you are done training, then you can just run the distance you like and don’t have to run so far!

    Stuff Shells was the first meal I ever made my hubby when we were dating, but I always thought it was kinda bland, now that you have posted this watch out family the stuff shells are back in the weekly rotation..move over boring spaghetti Thanks for posting!

  20. I have a few friends that ran their first marathon in the spring and they said the marathon was easier than the 20 mile training run, so you’re good to go. Good for you with the accomplishment! I’m doing a 1/2 tomorrow, can’t imagine doubling that.

    your shells looks great – great carb loading for pre-run!

  21. thanks girl! i just won huge points with my home teachers and a couple of neighbors. stuffed shells for dinner and cupcakes topped with “the best frosting i’ve ever tasted!” for dessert…i’m a freaking hero!

  22. Thanks for the great recipe. We just had it last night for dinner. Super good. Thanks

  23. totally feel your pain…did 2 20s in the last few weeks and the marathon is in 2 weeks…i keep thinking how will i do more? we can do it though!

    great recipe–i need to make this and freeze for our crazy schedules!

  24. These look great! I loved the running breakdown. I just did my first 20 mile run this week also. Way to go!

  25. Such a great recipe! I just made it for dinner and my fiance’s reaction was ” Woah! This is the first time you’ve made stuffed shells? They’re amazing!” Thanks for making me look good :)

  26. Making this for Mother’s Day tonight! Since we’re all busy on Sunday, I decided to surprise my mom and this turned out to be something she wanted. Hoping I can make it perfectly!

  27. For the recipe, I used one chicken breast and pretty much only needed half of everything. If you are cooking for two, half the recipe. You will have plenty to eat + leftovers.

  28. Since there were just two of us, I followed Allyson’s suggestion and halved everything. They were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Thanks so much for posting this delicious recipe!

  29. I LOVE your blog, and congrats on running 20 whole miles.. I would have died!

    I’m making this recipe today with my mom in preparation for a little baby hopefully coming the end of this month :)

    I *did* want to mention one teeny thing, though… the “ingredients” section and “instructions” section titles are switched ;)

  30. @Ariana,
    Thanks! I had to go through all of my recipes and add instructions and ingredients for an upcoming functionality. I think I was a little tired when I changed them all.

  31. Made the Taco Pasta last night and this tonight. Both dishes amazing!! I added a can of mushrooms to the stuffed shells and made one pan with alfredo sauce. Both a huge hit with my family. Its already been requested that I make them again very soon.

  32. Some of the recipes don’t have the “save to recipe box” feature :( but regardless this looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it!!!

  33. Hi, Christy – just wondered how you cook your chicken for this recipe? Thanks!

    • Christy {The Girl Who Ate Everything} says:

      I usually cook chicken in batches in the crockpot so that I have it on hand. I cook it for 3-4 hours with a little water. Sometimes I boil the chicken for 20 minutes with some big chunks of onion and salt and pepper.

  34. Good for you for completing 20 miles. I have been there…more than once….the last 6.2 miles for me have been a little trip into hell….

  35. Hi! I am new to your blog and am just loving everything on it! I read above that this recipe freezes well. Would you and the sauce before freezing or after it has thawed in the fridge before youvput it in the oven? Do you find the pasta shells get gummy or lose their texture from freezing? I could always freeze the ‘stuffing’ in after it’s been prepared and just thaw it when I need it. Would that work you think? Would I be able to freeze the Mexican pasta shell recipe as well? Sorry for all the questions! Keep up the amazing work! I can’t to see what you have ahead for all of us! Thanks, Alicia

    • Christy {The Girl Who Ate Everything} says:

      I would add the sauce before freezing. At least that’s what I do. I didn’t notice that they were gummy at all. You can definitely freeze the Mexican shells as well. Good luck!

      • Sounds wonderful! Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly! I absolutely love your blog :). I hope you had a wonderful Monday :)

      • Hi, I just made these for dinner and they were AMAZING! I froze one pan like you suggested and am wondering when you take it out do you let it completely thaw in the fridge before baking it for 40 mins?

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  37. Thank you for this recipe it looks delicious. I’m making it tonight I hope my family like it.

  38. I made this tonight and got rave reviews from our bunco ladies! They were very tastey and best of all made me look like a wonderful chef and hostess! I will definitely be making these again for another event. Thanks for the receive!

  39. Tried these last weekend with my boyfriend & kids…Minus the chicken (added the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese & Italian parsley) so yummy!!! It was a hit & the kids ate leftovers the next day;)

  40. The marathon is a whole lot easier if you do the 20 mile run so you’re in good shape!

  41. WOW!! Made these for dinner tonight!! They were amazing. I only used one package of cream cheese and they were perfect!! I’m pretty picky on my stuffed shells, my grandma was 100% Italian so I was raised on italian food. Will definitely make these again!!

  42. These were amazing. My husband couldn’t stop raving about them. Even my 3yo and 18 month old loved it. I tried them with 1 cream cheese and they were perfect.

  43. Thanks for the recipe. You should write a book though, I love the way you write!

    • Christy {The Girl Who Ate Everything} says:

      Sabrina,
      You are so sweet. I’m sure if I wrote a book it would be a grammatical mess. I write like I talk. Which doesn’t always look great on paper.

  44. I’ve made this recipe dozens of times now and it has become my go-to meal to bring moms after a new baby is born–so delicious and easy to prepare, and I love that it makes so much and is great even after being frozen and reheated, too! In case other readers are perusing the comments before making this, I’ll mention that I often leave the chicken out (it’s great with or without, but saves a little prep time if you skip it), I use just 1 package of cream cheese, which I think is plenty, and usually saute the onion a bit first before adding it (it comes out crunchy for me if I don’t). Thanks for such a yummy recipe!

  45. Just made the shells. Think instructions are missing for carmelizing the onions, garlic and spinach. Used one tub of cream cheese and a reasonable amount of Parmesan not 5 oz (which is A LOT of Parmesan).

    Looking forward to digging in!

    • Christy {The Girl Who Ate Everything} says:

      Nope. They aren’t missing. They are meant to be added in raw. If you want to carmelize them, that would be good too.

  46. Hi! Making these today to take to a mom with a very sick child :(. If I freeze them is the cook time longer to account for being frozen?

  47. Hi! Making these today to take to a mom with a very sick child :(. If I freeze them is the cook time longer to account for being frozen?