Tasty Tuesday: Arni Giouvetsi

I was really excited to write today’s Tasty Tuesday post because today I’m sharing one of our favorite meals.  We don’t have it that often (mostly because ground lamb is $10.00/lb and that just seems ridiculous), but when we do, we’re reminded exactly why we love it so much.

As with most Greek dishes, the flavors are simple and comforting.  Arni Giouvetsi (also spelled Arni Youvetsi) reminds me of something you’d have at a large family dinner on a Sunday afternoon … It’s not particularly fancy, but it is delicious!

I don’t make this dish in the traditional way (with a shoulder or leg of lamb) for two reasons: I like the way the ground lamb mixes in completely with the dish (you basically get a bite of meat with every bite of orzo, tomatoes, and onions) and, to be perfectly honest, ground lamb is easier for me to find.  If you want to try making a more traditional Arni Giouvetsi, I’d recommend clicking over to Elly Says Opa (the link to this meal can be found below the recipe title) and following her instructions.  If you’re like me, though, and prefer using ground lamb, you can use the recipe below.  I didn’t make that many changes from the original recipe, but some of the cook/bake times are different, so make sure you follow the instructions that correspond with the type of lamb you’re using!

ArniGiouvetsi

Looking at this picture makes me sad that we don’t have any more leftovers.

Arni Giouvetsi

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Elly Says Opa.

Ingredient List:

  • 1-1 1/2 lbs ground lamb (I used a 1.07 lb package of ground lamb last time)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt (plus additional to taste)
  • 2 tsp black pepper (plus additional to taste)
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic (or, if you’re lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups water or broth (I always use water in this recipe because I like the flavor of the lamb to shine through, but I’m sure it would also be great with chicken broth)
  • 1 16 oz. package orzo

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet.  Add the ground lamb and season the meat with the salt and pepper.
  4. Cook the lamb until just brown, breaking it up as it cooks.  (This shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes or so.)
  5. Once the lamb is cooked through, add it to the 9×13 inch pan.  (Make sure you retain at least some of the juices in the skillet for the next step!)
  6. In the same skillet, add the diced onion and cook until tender.
  7. Add the garlic and tomato paste to the onions and cook for 30-60 seconds, or until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste has started to cook off and become incorporated with the onions.
  8. Pour in the diced tomatoes (with their juices) and the water (or broth).  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Season to taste with additional sea salt and pepper.
  9. Cook the tomato mixture for about 3-5 minutes at a boil, then pour the liquid around the lamb in the pan.
  10. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes before adding the orzo.  (I used the full 30 minutes.)
  11. Remove the pan from the oven and increase the heat to 350 degrees.
  12. Add the orzo to the lamb and tomato mixture in the pan, stirring several times to ensure the orzo is completely covered with liquid.
  13. Bake uncovered for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  (I only baked mine for 20 minutes.)

The ingredient list is pretty short and simple, but it does take some time to prepare.  It’s well worth the effort, though!  As for sides, I think this meal is best served with a steamed green vegetable (I made green beans the last time we had this).

Tasty Tuesday: Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Rice

Sometimes I have intense cravings (and no, I’m not pregnant!), and I just can’t stop thinking about certain foods (or flavor combinations).  As much as I may try to ignore these cravings, they’ll creep into my mind and just stick there until I finally give in.  (Let’s hope I have a little more self control when I actually am pregnant since I’d like to avoid packing on 50 pounds … That’s a lot for a short person like myself!)

Recently I was craving something with chicken and broccoli.  I started searching for some recipes online, but nothing really sounded good.  And then, after way too much time on Pinterest, I found the recipe I’ll be sharing today.

I made several changes, and the result was exactly what I was looking for.  It was creamy and cheesy and delicious … Total comfort food.  This is a perfect meal for a cozy night in, especially a chilly night (and I’m sure we’ll be having more of those in the near future since it’s November and all).

Chickenbroccoli1

Casseroles aren’t really the easiest thing to get a good picture of, but this one wasn’t too bad.  Just trust me … This meal is awesome!

Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Rice

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Life in the Lofthouse.

Ingredient List:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 10 oz. cans cream of chicken soup (I always use the 98% fat free cream of chicken soup from Campbell’s)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used light mayonnaise)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I also used light sour cream)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar Jack cheese, divided
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli cuts (I used a 1 lb bag)
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt + 1 additional tsp garlic salt  (Some will go into the chicken while it cooks and the additional will go into the actual casserole)
  • 2 tsp Mrs. Dash Original Blend + 1 additional tsp Mrs. Dash Original Blend  (As with the garlic salt, some will go into the chicken and the additional will go into the casserole)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 6 cups cooked rice (I used basmati rice and cooked it in a half chicken broth/half water mixture to give it some extra flavor)

Instructions:

  1. Place chicken, water, chicken broth, 1 tbsp garlic salt, and 2 tsp Mrs. Dash Original Blend in a crockpot and cover.
  2. Allow the chicken to cook for 6-8 hours on low (or, if you’re like me and don’t start the crockpot early enough, you can also cook it on high for an hour, then switch it over to low for another 3 hours).
  3. Near the end of the cooking time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  4. After it has thoroughly cooked, remove the chicken from the crockpot and place it on a cutting board.
  5. Shred the chicken with two forks (it should be tender enough that it pretty much falls apart).
  6. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  7. In a large bowl, combine the cream of chicken soup, white wine, mayonnaise, sour cream, broccoli, shredded chicken, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of the cheddar Jack cheese, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, 1 tsp garlic salt, and 1 tsp Mrs. Dash Original Blend.
  8. Pour the mixture into the 9×13 inch pan.
  9. Top the casserole with an additional 1/2 cup each of the mozzarella and cheddar Jack cheeses.
  10. Bake the casserole for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

As I said earlier, this casserole is perfect comfort food (especially when served over rice).  It’s also a very complete meal, so you don’t necessarily need a side dish (though I’m sure either a salad or a steamed vegetable would be a good option if you wanted something else).