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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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Herbed Turkey Bagel Sandwich

This sandwich is based off of a delicious sandwich I had recently at Bruegger’s.  It was super easy to put together, and you could easily put these together for a crowd for brunch or lunch.

Wheat bagel thins (1 per person)

Garden veggie cream cheese (about 1/2 -1 TBS)

Sun dried tomatoes (about 1/2 TBS)

2 slices turkey breast (I used Trader Joe’s herbed turkey)

1 slice smoked gouda

Arugula (a small handful)

Smear the bottom half of each bagel thin with the garden veggie cream cheese.  Top with turkey, cheese, and arugula.  Spread the sun dried tomatoes on the top of the bun or place on the arugula.  Viola!  You have a delicious gourmet looking and tasting sandwich!

Stuffed Chicken Breast

This is a combination of a couple of recipes I came across recently.

1 chicken breast per serving

1 small log herb goat cheese (I think it was 2.5 or 3 oz)

2 TBS sun dried tomatoes

2 TBS fresh basil, chopped

Butterfly the chicken breast (slice horizontally through the middle of the breast being careful not to slice the whole way through).  Place the breast flat between 2 pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound the chicken very thin.  In a bowl mix the goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and basil.  Spread about 1/2 -3/4 TBS on each chicken breast and wrap .  Secure with tooth picks to hold together, if needed.  Heat extra virgin olive oil with a bit of oil from the sun dried tomato oil from jar in a large skillet.  Brown the chicken, about 3 minutes per side.  Once it has good color to it, cover the skillet and let the chicken finish cooking for about 10 minutes over medium heat.  Remove from the skillet and take out the tooth picks. and serve!

This recipe was quite tasty, but the goat cheese has  a strong flavor.  In the future I will probably use cream cheese or another soft more mild cheese.  This also works great if you are entertaining and have guests who are vegetarian.  A friend texted me the night before I was serving this to let me know that she was not eating meat for 21 days, so not to be offended if she didn’t eat much but also not to go to any trouble.  I’m not one to invite someone over and not let them sit at my table and not eat a good meal!  So, I picked up large portabello mushroom caps and used the same stuffing on top of the mushroom and backed it at 350 for about 12-15 minutes.

I forgot to take pictures of the chicken actually in the pan, but I’m sure you can figure that part out!