Crispy Chicken and Spinach-Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting a couple in my home who is both very near and dear to my heart.  Shannon was my gymnastics and cheerleading coach when I was a kid, and I have known her and her husband now for over 16 years.  I remember being seven years old at her own wedding, and then a number of years later she was in attendance at mine too.  She has always been more than just a coach to me.  Shannon has been like a big sister, constantly looking out for my best interest, pushing and encouraging me through challenging times, and cheering for me every step of the way.  A role model, teacher and friend are the first words that come to my mind to describe Shannon, so I was really excited to spend a Saturday evening with her over a homemade dinner.

Like many hostesses, entertaining in your home can automatically turn that panic button on quickly.  The one you don’t even know exists until specific moments like these.  Vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, and mopping suddenly become top priority.  Your name becomes ‘Hostess with the Mostess’ while your husband’s might appear to have changed to ‘Mr. Clean.’  Does anyone else agree that a bonus of having people over is that suddenly every project around the house gets finished so much quicker?  I know Tim finished our fireplace, our landscaping, and paint touch-ups within three days.  Some may call it love, he might say it was to keep his wife sane.  Either way, well done husband, well done.

When it came to choosing what I should make for dinner, I decided to try and find a meal I love, one that did not seem too difficult to prepare, and could also be deemed somewhat healthy.  I checked Pinterest and couldn’t find a recipe that stuck out in my mind, but I was able to find an idea that seemed to fit the bill.  I saw stuffed shells and chicken parmesan, which seemed to lead me in the direction of an Italian theme.

Crispy Chicken and Spinach-Ricotta Stuffed Shells 

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Ingredients for Chicken

  • 2 large chicken breasts, sliced in half or 4 small chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2-2 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2-2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Ingredients for Shells

  • 1 box large shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bag fresh spinach
  • 16 ounce container low-fat ricotta
  • 1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jar pasta sauce

 

Directions for Chicken

Heat large saucepan over medium heat and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In the meantime, add flour, eggs and breadcrumbs to three separate trays or bowls.

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Beat eggs with a fork or whisk until combined.  Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to breadcrumbs, then stir until mixed.

Take one chicken breast and fully coat in flour.

Then place floured chicken breast in egg.

Put floured and egged chicken breast into breadcrumbs and fully coat.  Repeat four times.

Add olive oil to pan and coat the bottom.  Add chicken breasts into pan and cook 2-3 minutes until browned.

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Then repeat on the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes.

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On a metal drying rack laying over top a baking pan, place chicken breasts.  Place in oven and bake 20 minutes until chicken is fully cooked.

 

Directions for Shells

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat a large saucepan over medium low heat.

Add shells to pot and cook according to packaged directions.

Remove al dente shells, drain, and place in bowl of cool water.

Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the saucepan.  Add onion, cooking 3 minutes, and then add garlic and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes.  Add in spinach and cook until wilted, stirring into onion and garlic, 2-3 minutes.

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In a mixing bowl,  Add spinach, onion, and garlic mixture, ricotta, salt and pepper, and mozzarella cheese.  Combine with a hand mixer.

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In a baking dish, add a thin layer of pasta sauce to the bottom. 

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Take a shell, and fill with 1-2 tablespoons of ricotta mixture.  Place shell in baking dish.  Continue to fill shells until shells or mixture is completely used. 

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Pour the rest of the sauce over the shells and bake 15-20 minutes until full cooked through. 

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Serve alongside chicken breast and sprinkle with parsley and a touch of basil for a little color.

 

Questions:

  • Do you have a coach or teacher from your past/present that you look up to?  What kinds of lessons did they show you, or what challenges did they help you to overcome?
  • Do you go cleaning crazy when you invite people over?  What home improvement projects are you dying to get finished?
  • Do you like stuffed shells?  What is your favorite kind of cheese/veggie/meat to use in the filling?
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12 thoughts on “Crispy Chicken and Spinach-Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  1. In response to Husband projects before company comes: “Some may call it love, he might say it was to keep his wife sane.” That is EXACTLY how it happens in our house!!

    I clean the house on a regular basis, but about once every 2 months I start “deep cleaning” and giving Husband lists of things to do before the end of Sunday night. His response is always, “Ok, who’s coming to visit?” HA!!! Love it!!

    • I am the same way! I always give my ‘honey-do’ list at least a few weeks in advance. Tim and I are the exact opposites though, he prefers to wait until the last few days before people come over to get things done, and I start as soon as I set a date! lol

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