What did you do last night?

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Know what we did? Well, what we did after a bunch of work and some cleaning that left me so exhausted that I complained all through dinner? (Shocking.) But… we watched Walk the Line. OMG. One of my all-time favorite movies… EVER. And of course, one of my husband’s all time favorite movies ever too because he is a cahhhrazy Johnny Cash fan.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Want to know something funny? Well, I find it funny… my husband finds it pathetic… you will just find it annoying… but when the movie first came out, and I was intensely obsessed with it, I bought the soundtrack and only listened to THAT… like not the real songs. Like not the real songs sung by the real artists who were immensely famous for their craft. I decided that I liked the way Joaquin and Reese sang better than Johnny and June. Because I barely knew anything about the REAL people, because I 1.lived (live?) in a bubble, 2. was young and outrageously naive and 3. lacked (lack?) any admirable taste in music.

This almost ended our engagement. Seriously.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

And for the record, most people (with the exception of like, 17-year old girls and 65-year old women) still know I for sure lack any kind of taste in music… especially like when my cousin told me earlier this week that she was going to see My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses in concert and I just looked at her like she had 20 heads. Um whaaaaat? I don’t know any bands about sweaters and ponies.

Okay. Now that I just discussed my sad and boring life for a few paragraphs, let’s get to the good stuff.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

This comes on the heels of one of our favorite dishes – buffalo chicken baked pasta – but it lacks the whole “baking” thing because I was… insanely lazy. And hungry. I can’t not tell the truth. Especially to you, my favorite invisible internet friend. And I couldn’t imagine turning on the oven and WAITING for it to bake. I mean who has the patience for THAT?

Not I.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

And you know… I wish I could say that we ate this as a full meal… but no. I had to make turkey burgers too because this *wasn’t enough* protein for dinner. At least according to that guy I live with. But the good news is that I – me, myself and I – ate it as a meal. With a few chunks of chocolate afterwards. Oh and peanut butter. Just how I roll. Or, err… survive.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese

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  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 4 cups whole wheat pasta shells
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 4 ounces white cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • 4 ounces gouda cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • crumbled bacon for topping


  • Toss chicken with 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce and set aside.
  • Heat a large soup-type pot over medium-low heat. Add olive oil and butter, then toss in sliced onions with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until caramelized. While onions are cooking, prepare water for pasta and bring to a boil. I only cooked my pasta for about 5 minutes because it will go directly into the hot cheese sauce. I tried to time it so my pasta was done only a few minutes before adding it to the sauce, but if it’s done much earlier, just set it aside in a colander.
  • Increase heat to medium under the onions and add flour, whisking constantly to create a roux. Cook for 5 minutes, until golden and fragrant, stirring often. Add in milk, whisking constantly, and stir for another 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Reduce heat to medium-low and add in grated cheeses and mustard. Continue to stir until sauce is creamy and cheese has melted. Add in shells and stir to coat, then toss in chicken. Drizzle the rest of the BBQ sauce on top.
  • Serve immediately with green onions, bacon, parsley and cilantro on top – and more sauce if desired!


Note: this reheats well – just add a splash of milk and stir, stir, stir.

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Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Green stuff = health food. Work it.