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Mark's Mexican Stuffed Shells

4/10/2013

4 cups chicken breast, cooked & chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
6 green onions, diced
1/2 each of red, green, yellow, & orange bell peppers (or 2 whole bell peppers of your choice), diced
3 (8 oz.) blocks cream cheese, softened (not melted)
2 cans diced tomatoes with chiles (don’t drain) (Rotel or store brand, either works)
1/4 - 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup of picante sauce
38 large pasta shells, cooked al dente


Cook pasta shells in well salted, boiling water until al dente (still have a little bite to them) If you cook them too long, they will be difficult to stuff, plus they will have additional cooking time, once they are stuffed. Drain the pasta and set aside while you make the filling.
Cook, drain and dice enough chicken breast to make 4 cups. I always have homemade chicken stock and pre-cooked diced chicken bagged in my freezer. You could use canned chicken broth if you prefer.
To make the filling, mix diced chicken, drained black beans, green onions, diced peppers, and cumin in a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese, chicken stock and undrained tomatoes with chiles. When thoroughly combined, pour it over the chicken mixture and mix well. (If you have trouble incorporating the cream cheese and tomatoes, you can heat it slightly in the microwave.)
Spread 3/4 c. picante sauce in the bottom of a large baking pan. (I used 13x18x2, but I’m guessing that two 9×13′s would also work.) Reserve the final 1/4 cup, for later.
Using a spoon, or your fingers, fill each of your cooked and cooled pasta shells, setting them into the picante covered pan. Continue until all shells are filled and arranged in the pan.
When the pan is full, drizzle the shells with the remaining 1/4 cup of picante and then sprinkle with the shredded cheddar cheese.
Cover the baking pan tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
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