About twice a year I get on a kick where I want to clean out my freezer/ fridge and pantry. I LOVE to keep a stocked pantry, but sometimes it’s easy for a few things to linger. Twice a year, I get motivated to clear it all out and make sure I’m going to use everything I put in there! Here are the steps I do:
- Look through one location at a time (i.e. – downstairs freezer, soup cabinet, pantry, etc). Catalogue items and throw out expired food.
- If there is any food I know I don’t want, I’ll donate it to a food pantry (just make sure it’s not expired!)
- After I’ve written down my food, now it’s time to get creative!!! I try to come up with dishes that I have MOST of the ingredients for and just have to get one or two items.
This dish was made during my pantry cleaning. I had pasta shells, tomato sauce and chicken. I always wanted to make stuffed shells, but I don’t love ground beef – and my husband is a carnivore… so he won’t stand for something simple like cheese and spinach.
I saw these shells on a beautiful food blog called Annie’s Eats. You can tell that she loves to play in the kitchen because some of her recipes are somewhat complicated. But not this one!! It took a while from start to finish, but putting the shells together was much easier than I thought it would be.
This recipe makes A TON of shells. Seriously. We had our friends over for dinner and one 9×13 pan probably serves 6. And… I was able to freeze 2 pans. One evening of work for THREE delicious dinners? No problem. I encourage you to make the entire recipe! Either freeze two for your family, or give them away! This is a great recipe to practice hospitality with friends and neighbors.
BUT if you don’t have the space, you can feel free to halve it:)
Chicken Stuffed Shells
Slightly Adapted from Annie’s Eats
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 boxes uncooked jumbo pasta shells
- 30 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
- 1 t. minced garlic
- 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs (If you have plain, just up the spices a bit)
- 2 t. salt
- 1 t. pepper
- 2 t. dried parsley
- 1 t. oregano
- 1/2 T. dried basil
- 1/3 c. fat free half and half
- approx. 40 oz. pasta sauce (may need more/ less depending on preference)
- 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 c. Mozzarella cheese
- Cook chicken in whatever way desired. You could pop in crockpot for a few hours with a bit of chicken broth or bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Feel free to spice with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Coarsely shred or chop.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grab 2-3 large pans (9×13 or so).
- Boil water for noodles. Cook according to package directions.
- While noodles are cooking, mix shredded chicken, ricotta, garlic, bread crumbs, spices and half and half. You can do this in a food processor (process just until combined), mixing bowl or just with a large wooden spoon! Add more salt and pepper to taste if you’d like.
- When noodles are done cooking, drain them.
- Now you’d ready to put your shells together! Spoon some sauce in the bottom of your pans.
- Use tongs to separate your noodles and place them in the baking dishes.
- Spoon some of the ricotta mixture in each shell.
- Spoon as much sauce on top as you like.
- Cover with foil and bake for 15-22 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with cheeses, and bake for another 5 minutes or so.
*Freezer instructions: Stop at Step 9. Cover unbaked shells with foil and freeze. To serve, thaw in fridge overnight then bake as usual.