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Stuffed Shells

I recently made shells stuffed with chicken, homemade ricotta, spinach, sun dried tomatoes and topped with a white bechamel(ish) sauce.  They turned out to be pretty yummy.  It takes a bit of time to prepare, but it is well worth it!  I used home made ricotta cheese, but with all of the other flavors going on I don’t think it was necessary.

These measurements makes 6 generous portions.

1 box jumbo shells

3 large chicken breasts

1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

3 or 4 cups fresh spinach

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350.

I boiled the chicken to cook it.  Once it was cooked (it will turn white, double check by slicing into a piece and making sure it’s cooked no and no longer pink in the center) remove the chicken and place on a plate.  I boiled the shells in the broth from cooking the chicken.  While the shells are cooking, shred or cube the chicken and place in a bowl.  Add the ricotta cheese.  In a skillet, heat olive oil and add crushed garlic.  Let the garlic brown and then remove.  Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and let it wilt.  When the spinach is wilted add it to the bowl and mix with the ricotta cheese and chicken.  Chop the sun dried tomatoes and mix them in.  Once the shells are cooked, let them cool enough that you can touch them.  Stuff the shells with the mixture.  When you have the shells filled, place them all in a 10 x 14 pan.

My version of a bechamel sauce is really easy to do, and comes together quickly.

In a large heavy bottom sauce pan, melt a stick of butter.  When the butter is melted (but be careful not to brown it), sprinkle in a tablespoon of flour and stir until combined.  It took about 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour total to get the right consistency.  You want it to be a paste like mixture.  Keep stirring the mixture to cook the flour taste out.  In a smaller sauce pan, warm milk over a low heat.  Once the flour taste has cooked out, about 4-5 minutes, stir in a small amount of milk and whisk quickly to incorporate.  Keep adding more milk and whisking until the sauce becomes thick.  I added a bit of parmesan cheese once it was thick.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the white sauce over the shells in an even layer.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until everything is heated through.

 

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Chicken Lasagne Florentine

This recipe is adapted from my new “Southern Cooking Living” cookbook that I just got for Christmas!  I have loved browsing through it, and am excited to try more.

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 (10 3/4) oz can cream of mushroom soup (I used cream of chicken)

1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp peppar

1 (8 oz) container sour cream

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained

6 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Stir together first 7 ingredients.  Arrange 3 noodles in a lightly greased 11 x 7 inch baking dish; top with half of the chicken mixture.  Repeat layers with remaining noodles and chicken mixture.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake covered at 350 for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake for about 15 more minutes or until bubbly.  Let lasagna stand about 15 minutes before serving.

I tried a short cut by using the oven ready noodles.  I would really suggest (and will do myself if I make this in the future again) using regular boiled noodles.  The top layer didn’t get soft enough.

Stuffed Mushrooms

This is a recipe that I came up with that is delicious and pretty healthy, too!

Portabello Mushrooms

1 pound ground turkey

1 pound spinach

1 cup red wine

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 TBS fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 350.  Gently wipe the tops of the mushrooms with a wet paper towel or clothe to clean.  Scrape the gills out with a spoon.

Brown the ground turkey in the skillet.  Add the red wine and continue to simmer.  Add the spinach and let it wilt down.  Add the breadcrumbs to the pan and stir until combined.  Sprinkle in the rosemary and cook for a minute or so.  Spoon the filling into the mushroom caps and bake for about 10-12 minutes.

* It’s also delicious to add a bit of cheese into the mix.  The first time I made it I used a sharp English cheddar and it was really tasty!

I wish the pictures did the flavor more justice!