Savory Pasta shells stuffed with chicken parmesan and a cheesy marinara sauce, all topped with melted mozzarella and fresh basil.
Friends, I need to get something off of my chest.
…Becoming a mom has turned me into a crazy person.
What do I mean by this? Well. Let’s start out by the fact that I can cry at literally anything at the drop of a hat. We’re not just talking sad tears here either. We’re talking Happy tears. Excited tears. Confused tears. Just…mom tears.
Example. My one-and-a-half year old said “more toast” to me this morning. I mean why doesn’t she just start filling out her college applications now? You know. Get her own place, move out, maybe do some travelling. She can basically make it on her own with that kind of sophisticated speak. (Oh God I’m gonna cry.)
Okay. Up next, the mom brain. I left the trunk door to my car open all night last night, for starters. Yesterday I had to check my cell phone to see what the date was. No, not the day of the month. Just, the month. I didn’t know what month we were in gosh darnit! What is wrong with me?!
And okay, I’m not proud of this last one. But sometimes, now and again, I might, just occasionally, talk to my husband like he’s my other kid. (But I mean, come on. He kind of is.) And no, I don’t mean baby talk. No no no. More like, if he swears, I pretty much send him to his room. That kind of thing.
Motherhood man. Somebody shoulda warned me.
So, what does any of this have to do with chicken parmesan stuffed shells? Well, it’s like this. We had one…yes, one of these suckers left in the fridge the other day, and I really wanted it. Trouble is, since my toddler is pretty much ready for college, I can’t really sneak things by her like I used to. And if I started eating this, she would immediately want it, and then I’d have to give it to her, and then she’d eat the whole thing, and ask for more. Because, you know. Toddlers.
So, I decided to wait until bedtime before eating the last, lonely little shell in the fridge. I mean the only other option was to share. And I’m sorry but no. Not this time.
So, hours later, I shut the door to her room for the night and booked it to that refrigerator to claim my prize. And this is where the story takes an ugly turn.
…My husband. He took it. He took the last shell from the fridge. (Cue the violins, cue the mom tears. The sad, sad mom tears.) The worse part was that I couldn’t even blame him for this. I should have hidden that stupid shell. But my mom brain betrayed me once again. I could only blame myself.
Excuse me while I make another batch of these. And hide them. All of them.
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Can someone remind me what I was just about to go do?
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Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells
For the chicken Parmesan*
- 2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
- Salt/pepper, to taste
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1.5 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 lb. jumbo pasta shells
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup basil, chiffonade
- 1 pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
- 24 oz. jar marinara sauce
- Cooking spray
To prepare the chicken
- Cut each chicken breast in half, lengthwise, to create a thinner cut. Season with salt/pepper as desired.
- Create a working station by lining up a plate containing the flour, then the bowl with the whisked egg, another plate with the breadcrumbs, followed by a clean plate.
- Dip the chicken into the flour and coat it generously.
- Then, dunk the chicken into the egg briefly, just long enough to moisten it back up.
- Finally, coat the chicken generously with the breadcrumbs and set it on the clean plate.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet, (preferably cast iron), over medium-high heat. (If you have a cooking thermometer, the ideal temperature is 350 degrees.)
- Once heated, use tongs to carefully place the chicken into the skillet. *Avoid overcrowding the skillet and fry in batches if you’re able, the chicken with come out crispier.
- The oil should cover the chicken about halfway, (add more oil if necessary). Cook on the first side for about 6 minutes, using tongs to lift the chicken and check the bottom. Once it’s golden-brown, carefully cook the other side for approximately 6 more minutes. Reduce the heat if it gets too hot.
- Set the cooked chicken on a clean plate to cool. Once cool enough to handle, cut the chicken into cubes for stuffing into the pasta shells.
For the stuffed shells
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Boil the shells according to package instructions. (I like to cut them off 1 minute since we’ll be baking the shells as well.) Drain the shells and set aside.
- Spread ¼ cup of the marinara around the bottom of a *lightly greased* 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
- Set aside a portion of the mozzarella, Parmesan and basil to top the shells with.
- Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl, (including the cooked/cubed chicken, folding that in last.)
- Stuff each shell with a cube or two of chicken parmesan/sauce mixture. Line the shells up side-by-side in the baking dish, and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. (Save the Parmesan and basil for after baking.)
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, until the cheese begins to turn a golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with remaining Parmesan and basil. Serve, and prepare to be delighted!