Getting the ratios down for a seasoned rice recipe has always eluded me. Yes, for every cup of rice you are cooking two cups of liquid are required. But what if that liquid is more viscous than water and what if there is liquid in the other ingredients you are using, such as vegetables.

And so, for years I avoided trying to use rice in a casserole or a seasoned side dish. Rice was simply the base of all sorts of things you could pour over them – stews, gravies, stir-fries, etc.

I fear seasoned rice no longer. With the help of a recipe from my mom and the realization that Spanish rice can be made more like a risotto than a fluffy white rice I have conquered my odd flavored-rice fear.

Mom’s Spanish Rice (Kicked Up)


  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 small bell peppers, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 28-oz cans whole tomatoes, including juice, chopped by hand
  • 2 cups water (plus more if needed)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot sauce, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt, or to taste


  1. Heat butter in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper and sauté for a few minutes until translucent. Add rice and chili powder and sauté a few more minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, water, bay leaves, black pepper, and sea salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about fifteen minutes, stirring frequently. At this point taste the rice and see how tender it is. If it is soft it has absorbed enough liquid. If it is still crunchy add more water, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until tender.
  3. Once rice is tender, taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt and hot sauce as desired. Remove bay leaves and serve. Add ground beef to make an easy main dish from this recipe.

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