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Ground Beef And Rice Casserole: Aunt Kathy’s Spanish Rice

Ground Beef And Rice Casserole: Aunt Kathy’s Spanish Rice

This is by no means authentic Spanish rice but it’s got rice, seasoning, and a whole lotta love. Besides tastes great! Along with the rice, seasoning, (and tasting great) this Spanish rice is a meal all in itself. It’s filled with ground beef, green peppers, onions and all kinds of tomato-ey goodness. After all, Aunt Kathy made it and named it- so, no comments from the peanut gallery!

Let’s start off with WHO exactly “Aunt Kathy” is. She was my friend. She was the person I’d call to make feel better and end up being the one that got cheered up at the end of the conversation. We shared the same weird family “ailments” because we ARE family like low body temp and funky thyroid issues. Along with the internal likeness came external likeness too,  like our same (but atypical) eye color and our wicked sense of humor. She’d always call me Sweetie or Peanut whenever I’d call and we’d spend the rest of the convo just laughing away. In one of our last conversations she told me I’d always been more of a daughter to her rather than a niece. She said we were like soulmates. I’ll never forget that, and those words will forever be in my heart.

I called my cousin a couple of days ago to see how she was doing and ask about her moms favorite casserole. I’d mentioned it to her last week and she said she’d mail me a copy. But selfishly, I couldn’t wait. This past Sunday was two weeks ago that my beloved Aunt Kathy passed and to be honest, I just wanted it. To hear the ingredients she picked. How she prepared it. I dunno.

We shared a love of food. Of cooking. We talked about it often. We’d laugh about the cooking shows on the Food Network and ooh and ah at new and maybe not so new seasonal recipes we were going to be making for the holidays. She was an amazing cook. My fondest memories are of us all gathered together for Thanksgiving at her house. She would make a HUGE turkey! Sometimes two! The sides were off the chart amazing and there was something for everyone. Dear Lord, the dessert table (yes, TABLE), was set out for the likes of kings and queens.

She was the epitome of gentleness. Of sweetness. If you could package up love and warmth and kindness, it’d be her. And so;

Aunt Kathy’s Spanish Rice:


*1 1/2 – 2 Cups Cooked White Rice (Follow package instructions- I used one cup of uncooked rice to 1 3/4 cups water to achieve 2 cups of rice)

casserole ingredients lilchefchic

*5-6 Slices Bacon

*1 lb. Ground Beef

*1 Large Sweet onion, diced

*1 Medium/Large Bell Pepper, diced

*1 Package Chill-O Mix Flavoring Packet

*2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste

*1 Can Crushed Tomatoes (15 oz)

*3/4 cup water

*2 teaspoons salt

*1/3 to 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese


Render bacon in large skillet and remove from heat. Set bacon to side and pour off bacon fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in pan. Add ground beef and onions and bell pepper to pan. Cook beef until no longer pink. Drain in colander to remove fat and put back on heat. Add in seasoning packet as well as 2 teaspoons of salt. Stir together and add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir in cooked rice. Crumble cooked bacon and add to dish. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to your liking. Transfer to lightly greased 9″ x 9″ casserole dish. Top with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until bubbly and nicely browned.browned casserole lilchefchic


Aunt Kathy loved this dish served hot from the oven with a simple tossed salad dressed in Italian dressing.


Cooking brings people together. Recipes connect family members. I was insistent on getting this recipe because I wanted to somehow connect with my aunt again-somehow. When this came out of the oven I spooned myself up a big bowl and sat up on the counter beside the stove and immediately felt like I was with her. Just knowing how much she enjoyed having this dish for her husband and kids made me feel like she was right there with me enjoying it too. That’s why I love food. It connects us.


What special family story do you have? Is there that one special dish that you love to make because it reminds you of that special someone? Who was it? Your grandmother? Maybe even your aunt? Share below:) I’d love to hear your story.

26 thoughts on “Ground Beef And Rice Casserole: Aunt Kathy’s Spanish Rice”

  • Your story is beautiful….I have an aunt that is more like my mom as well. This recipe looks delicious! I am bookmarking this tonite, so I can make sure I get the ingredients tomorrow when I grocery shop! Thank you for sharing it.

    • Thank you Andrea for the comment. Who doesn’t need more great moms in their life? The world would be a much better place:)

  • It seems like a good recipe for a Friday evening. This is what I really like to Spanish and Italian cooking – it brings the family together. It’s like a small party.
    Is it mandatory to add chilli to this recipe? I’m not on spicy food.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Hi Dany:) You don’t have to add the chillo mix if you don’t want to. I would definitely add YOUR favorite herbs and spices though to kick the flavor up because the seasoning packet does give this dish most of it’s flavor. Thanks for the question.:)

  • Hello Jennifer,
    I do the same thing as you do with the recipes from my mom. She was the worlds best cook and I always treasured her cooking. We all got a cookbook of moms recipes that I will always cherish. This recipe sounds really good and i love the way that it brings the memories back everytime you make it.

    • Hi Stephen:) That’s awesome that all of you got a cookbook of your moms recipes. It’s so great that someone in the family thought to do that! Thank you for stopping by and sharing:)

  • I love the memories that have been made over some really delicious home cooked meals. It really resonated with me when you spoke of it was like being with your Aunt again after you delved into your meal. I have that same feeling with certain British dishes and memories of my super sweet Grandma . The recipe looks fantastic and I couldn’t agree more that food connects us. Great post!

    • Thank you Rebecca:) You have the same name as my aunts daughter—so funny how life works:) Thanks for the super sweet comment and for visiting my site!

  • 5-6 slices of bacon, a beautiful touch!

    Can’t wait to try this recipe it looks and sounds delicious, always love an old tried and trusted recipe that’s packed full of flavour!

    • lol. Bacon is always a good thing! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate it!

  • Can’t say I have made a lot of Spanish food over the years. This might be a silly question, but I really don’t know the answer to it. Does organic ground beef taste any different than regular ground beef?

    Also, I have had ground beef in the freezer for about a year and a half. Is the ground beef still good?

    • Grass fed beef typically is a leaner beef and so it has less moisture. Some people swear by it while others complain that it’s too dry and doesn’t have that “beefiness” that they are used to. A lot of people will choose grass fed over traditional beef for ethical reasons over any other, including taste.
      Oh, and the question on your beef? Toss it. lol. Don’t keep any meats frozen for longer than 6 months. Thanks for asking Garen:)

  • Great post.
    I although I do not eat meat I did enjoy the story and I will recommend this to my family because you laid it out amazingly

    • Hi Thabo:) Thanks for leaving a comment and compliment:). I hope your family gets a chance to try it!

  • What an interesting story! When I made this recipe it tasted absolutly delicious! I used ground chuck beef, added a little more bacon (because bacon is amazing), and made a few little of my own modifications. It’s always nice to try out new things and to get your feet wet just like you said when I read your About Me. Thank you very much for sharing this recipe!

    • Hi Louis. You sound like my aunt! hahaha. She actually used a bit more bacon in hers as well because…..bacon IS amazing! lol

  • Ok. Before I even started reading this post, my mouth started watering. Haha. This is no joke indeed. Really sad to read that you aunty  Kathy passed away. I’m very sorry to hear about that. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. Rest assured each time you prepare any meal and sit down to it, she is with you always. Courage.

    I remember events that brought our family together when I was younger: Christmas. When I think of childhood Christmas, I see all my family members who have already moved on. May their gentle souls rest in peace, including that of your beloved Aunty.

    • That was very sweet Nsoh. I appreciate your kind words. Thanksgiving was the biggest holiday for us as children, like Christmas was for you. And I have the fondest memories of those because it was precious time with family. Thank you again.

  • This is a wonderful story! This adds another level to the concept of “cooking with love” for me. It’s heartwarming every time I hear a story about family members actually being great friends. I get the impression that the two of you would have been good friends whether you were related by blood or not. It sounds like you really were soul mates. Aunt Kathy’s Spanish Rice sounds like a very tasty meal. I wouldn’t change anything, I like the way it sounds the way it is.

  • Jennifer,

    I am very sorry for the loss of your beloved Aunt Kathy. She must have been an amazing lady.

    Your recipe on Spanish rice hits the spot, though! I love this dish! I have never made it with bacon and am looking forward to trying that out! (Everything is better with bacon!)

    One of my favorite dishes is a chow mein hot dish that my mom makes. Whenever there is a pot luck somewhere, I know she will make it and I will always take a big helping. I especially love the crispy part around the edges after it is baked in the oven.

    Of course, my mom could toast me a slice of bread and put butter on it and it would be the best toast I ever had!

    Just a quick question about the Spanish rice dish. Do you think that brown rice would be okay to use in place of white rice? I am diabetic and have to really watch the simple carbs.

    Thank you for sharing about your special Aunt Kathy and for sharing a part of her with us, too!

    • Hi Karin:) Thank you for the sweet, sweet comment.:) You warmed my heart. I understand the carb concern. Actually, diabetics run rampant in my family, lol, so this dish is a splurge for most of them as well. And yes on the brown rice. Just make sure to cook the rice following it’s specific directions and finish the recipe as written from there.

      Oh, I love chow mein too! Mom’s are the best aren’t they?!:) Hope your dish turns out awesome and thanks for stopping and leaving a comment!

  • Awe man this story left me feeling a little emotional. Your description of aunt Kathy is nothing short of amazing, and I am sure she would have loved for you to share her recipe with the world . I for one will be a little sellfish and will not share it until I make it myself so I can take the praise 🙂 and only once I have then you can be sure there is no way that I could keep it to myself. You have won me over, please keep them coming.. Thank you .

    • Thanks Evelynn. She was an AMAZING woman! And thank you so much for the awesome comment. Please come back and visit any time:)

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