My son has to be one of the pickiest eaters I have ever met. If “not eating” was a competitive sport he would be a gold medal winner. No matter how much thought I put into something it’s always crap in his book. He doesn’t like meat unless it’s bacon. We tried vegetarian and vegan foods and although we have a little more luck there it’s just slightly under crap on his scoring scale.
We thought we were doing it right by avoiding processed foods or snacks that were high in salt or sugar. So if we have one thing going for us the foods he actually does eat are somewhat good for him. The only problem is actually getting it into him. In recent years we’ve slacked a little on the healthy side just to have more options. However, we still try to keep as much nutritious value in his meals as we can.
One food that I have found that he will eat every time we offer it is stuffed shells. I hadn’t made them in years but decided to give it a try. Before we knew it stuffed shells became a weekly affair at our house. Now, he’s just fine with that. I, however, needed something a little different. (This mama has no issues with eating, besides doing a little too much of it)
I decided to add a few steps into our stuffed shells recipe and make a hybrid of two recipes I knew he would actually eat (or at least give a try) Thankfully, it turned out to be a win. Even though it is a little extra work it is definitely an Italian recipe that we have decided to add to the permanent rotation in our house.
Chicken Stuffed Shells in Creamy Tomato Sauce
For this recipe, we are using our Instant Pot to cook the chicken in our creamy tomato sauce. Following that, we will be stuffing our shells and putting the remaining sauce over them. I generally serve them with my homemade garlic bread and a fresh salad. (You can find my garlic bread recipe at the end of this post.)
The chicken for this recipe is cooked like many of my other Instant Pot chicken recipes, which means that even when frozen it only takes about 20 minutes to cook. You can bake the chicken in the oven or even in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours on low if you prefer. I do recommend cooking the chicken in the sauce to help all of the flavors really blend together well.
- 1 lb chicken breast (fresh or frozen)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp Italian spices
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 jar tomato sauce
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 C water
- 1 C mozzarella cheese
- 1 C parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
- 1 box large pasta shells
- 2 T fresh or dried parsley
- Cook shells as directed on box. Once cooked and strained the shells can be lined up in a baking dish to prepare to stuff.
- Place chicken, water, and spices into instant pot. Add in cubed cream cheese and tomato sauce. Place 1 tablespoon of parsley into the instant pot to mix in with chicken.
- Cook in Instant Pot on high pressure for 22 minutes. Let pressure releases naturally (about 10 minutes or so)
- Remove chicken from instant pot and shred. Mix shredded chicken, 1/2 C mozzarella, and 1/2 C parmesan in instant pot.
- Stuff shells with chicken mixture.
- Cover stuffed shells with remaining sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.
- Bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.
- Serve with salad and bread or desired sides.
How to Make Homemade Garlic Bread
Unlike my healthy instant pot recipes, there is not a thing healthy about this homemade garlic bread recipe. However, it is a definite fan favorite around our house. It is so much better than that frozen stuff and almost as fast to make. You can always use healthier ingredients such as gluten-free bread or even a vegan spread to help cut calories and fat on this one.
1 loaf french bread
1 C butter, unsalted ( You can also use margarine in this one if that is all you have available or if you prefer it)
2 T garlic powder
1/2 C parmesan cheese
1 tsp parsley (fresh or dried) I love Gourmet Garden dried parsley because it tastes great and stays fresh longer!
Slice French loaf into about 1″ thick pieces.
Soften butter in microwave (or set out to let soften) You only want about 15-20 seconds here as you are aiming for a spreadable butter that you can mix ingredients into but not a liquid.
MIx parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and parsley into butter.
Spread butter generously onto slices of French loaf.
Cook spread side down on hot nonstick or cast iron pan on the stovetop. Let them sit for about 1-2 minutes before you touch them.
Remove from pan and enjoy.
Share Your Favorite Recipes
Do you have a favorite Italian recipe? Drop us a comment and let us know how you stuff your shells or join us as a contributor to the Nerdy Cooking Mamas Pinterest board and add all of your favorite recipes to share with our readers! We love hearing from you guys and seeing what you are doing in the kitchen!
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