Breaded Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells | Large pasta shells stuffed to the gills with strips of breaded chicken and mozzarella cheese, lightly topped with marinara sauce and baked until warm and gooey
Peter and I had a VERY eventful weekend this past weekend. Normally, you could assume that I’m being facetious, but this time, I’m completely serious. You see, our dog Charlie, who is more like our first child (seriously, this bun in the oven is gonna be lucky if it gets half as much attention as Charlie does), ended up in the emergency animal hospital overnight on Saturday night.
Allow me to explain- although Charlie is actually a very smart dog, almost too smart for his own good, he can do some really stupid things sometimes (as I think is true for all of us). So anyway, this dog, for no reason whatsoever, is terrified of our basement. It makes no sense, but he just hates being down there. But Peter was down there on Saturday afternoon, getting ready to watch the Badger-Marquette basketball game. And wherever Peter is is where Charlie wants to be.
So Peter was trying to get Charlie to jump up on the couch with him, and this brilliant dog of ours decided to try to jump on the couch over the back of it. Which means he basically slammed straight into the back of the couch, head-first, and landed on the concrete floor. Now this is not exactly the first time this dog has done something like this (he once slammed into the footboard of the spare bed at my parents house, which resulted in more laughter than I should admit to, and his now complete fear of that spare bedroom), but this time was different.
He didn’t get up right away, and when he did, he was clearly dazed. His whole body was shaking, like it does when he gets scared, but it was much more pronounced. And he was drooling. Now drooling might not seem unusual for most dog owners, but my dog? He doesn’t drool. Like ever.
So we watched him at home for about 10 minutes, hoping that he was just scared and he would snap out of it, but he didn’t. We decided to take him to the vet to get checked over, and while we were waiting in the exam room to be seen by the vet, he started seizing. He had 3 seizures in about 10 minutes, the last of which the vet actually walked in on. She whisked him into their treatment room, started an IV and gave him some Valium to stop the seizures (he had a fourth one while waiting for the medication to be drawn up).
Luckily after that, the seizures stopped, but his motor control was altered (he couldn’t seem to uncross his front paws, and he couldn’t stand up on his back legs), and he still wouldn’t stop drooling (my shirt was soaked from holding him). The vet offered to have him transported to another animal hospital where we could have advanced imaging done (CAT scans and MRIs, if needed), but after some observation, he looked like he was improving slightly, so we opted to keep him at the animal hospital closer to home.
The vets watched Charlie overnight, and by morning he had improved drastically. There had been no additional seizures, his gait was back to normal, and he had finally stopped drooling, so they let us take our boy home with some oral pain medications and instructions for lots of rest.
Sunday was spent watching him like a hawk and enjoying the maximum amount of cuddle time possible. He was very sleepy all day yesterday, but he’s starting to look more like himself today. Peter decided to work from home today anyway, just in case.
This is the first real illness or emergency I’ve ever had with Charlie, which I think is pretty impressive considering he’s been a part of the family for almost six years. But hoo boy, was it ever a doozy. I’m so thankful that he seems to have recovered quickly (much quicker than the vet had anticipated) and that we had access to a 24-hour vet service so close to home. And also that Peter’s job has the flexibility to allow him to work from home so that he can keep an eye on our boy for another day.
Understandably after the weekend we had had, I wasn’t really in the mood to cook. But dinner must be prepared, lest we starve, so I whipped up a batch of stuffed shells, which are always a hit at our house. This breaded chicken parmesan version is a very close sibling to my other chicken parmesan stuff shells, but this one utilizes frozen chicken strips instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (for those times when you’re starving and don’t have the patience to wait for your frozen chicken to thaw out).
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that this is the healthiest recipe I’ve ever shared with you guys, but it’s great comfort food, which was just what I needed. The shells are bursting with the flavors of traditional chicken parmesan, and they reheat really well, so this dish is usually gobbled up very quickly in our house.
Breaded Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells
Servings: 7 (4 shells per serving)
- 5-6 frozen chicken strips, baked according to package directions
- 28 jumbo pasta shells
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta shells until just al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water (Note: I always cook a few extra shells, just to be on the safe side, in case any break or rip during the cooking process).
- Cut chicken strips into pieces (I usually get about 4 smaller strips per chicken strip). Place one piece of chicken in a shell, then fill shell with shredded mozzarella cheese, about 1-2 tablespoonfuls. Place shell into prepared baking dish, opening side up. Continue with remaining shells, chicken, and mozzarella until baking dish is filled.
- Pour marinara sauce over shells, and top with any remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until sauce is hot and cheese has melted.
Inspired by: Favorite Family Recipes