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So as we all know – I’m Italian and I love to cook Italian food!  I also love to eat it, which I guess is why I always seem to be dieting!  I digress…

Rob and I had planned a “Date Night” last Friday and we were going to make homemade pasta.  Rob originally wanted to make a three-cheese ravioli, and I wanted to see about incorporating a protein, so we came up with making homemade “Three Cheese Chicken Cannelloni.”  Cannelloni is a rolled tube of pasta stuffed with cheeses and chicken or sausage.  Unfortunately, Rob ended up not feeling well and we postponed our “homemade pasta night.”

By last Sunday we got busy and were preparing for the upcoming week, so we decided not to make homemade pasta.  Our homemade cheese and chicken cannelloni went out the window!  I rumaged through my pantry and found a box of jumbo pasta shells and I thought, hmmm – we could probably use that and make the same stuffing!

I poached a few pieces of chicken and allowed them to cool; then shredded them; and mixed them in with some ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses!  YUM!  We stuffed the shells with the creamy seasoned cheese and chicken mixture and laid them in a pan coated with a homemade bechamel sauce and topped it off with a delicious tomato sauce.  It was absolutely fantastic!   Rob loved it and he enjoyed the leftovers throughout the week for lunch AND dinner!

Chicken Stuffed Shells

4 pieces boneless chicken breasts
1 box jumbo sized pasta shells
1 Tbsp. garlic, crushed
1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese (for a healthier alternative, use part-skim ricotta)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Bechamel Sauce
Tomato Sauce

1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2)  In a large pot, poach (boil) the chicken breasts in chicken stock until cooked thoroughly.  Remove from water and shred.  Set aside, allowing the shredded chicken to cool.
3)  Cook pasta according to package directions taking care not to tear the shells.
4)  While the shells are cooking, in a large bowl combine the garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, parsley, oregano, basil, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Add the shredded chicken and season with salt and pepper.  Mix well.
5)  Coat the bottom of a baking dish with the bechamel sauce.
6)  Stuff the individual pasta shells with the cheese and chicken mixture.  Rest the stuffed shell in the bechamel sauce until the dish is full.  Top with tomato sauce.
7)  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
8)  Serve with more bechamel and tomato sauce if desired.

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