Shipwreck Casserole – ARRR!


I’ve had a lot of folks tell me they’ve ordered the Southern Plate Cookbook as Mother’s Day gifts and I’m so tickled about that! Since we have to wait a bit for the pre-orders to ship, I’ve made a printable page with a letter from me to give to your mother or grandmother so you won’t be empty handed come Sunday. The photo we used is one that was taken for the book by Jennifer Davick of me, Mama, and Grandmama and it is one that is very dear to my heart. To see this page and print it out, click here. Thank you so much! Gratefully, Christy

My Mama could feed an army with a single pound of ground beef. If a recipe called for two pounds, she’d use one. If it called for one, she’d sometimes use even less! We never knew the difference, though, because she’d use recipes like this where other ingredients fill in the gaps and everybody leaves the table happy. I’ve always relied on Ground Beef as my fall back and love nothing more than to add another recipe using it to my collection. This is a yummy recipe with a fun name that helps get the kids on board: Just tell ’em it’s pirate food!

The thing I love most about this, though, is how it makes your house smell! You know how you walk into your Mama’s house and she’s been cooking a full country meal with all the trimmings? Well open the oven door and fan the room because this meal-in-one does that all on it’s own!

P.S. This is great “man food” too!


You’ll need: Ground beef (I browned mine with onions), frozen carrots, and tater tots.

You can use fresh carrots but you need to boil them for a few minutes (I’d place in boiling water for five minutes) to get them started cooking or else this casserole will take ten forevers to get done. These carrots will have a little bit of a bite to them when the casserole is finished, which I like. If you prefer them a little softer you can boil the frozen ones for five minutes before assembling just like I suggested with the fresh ones. You can also just nuke these suckers in a little water to get them going as well.

Grandmama says you have to eat carrots because they put the hop in the rabbit!

You’re also going to need Salt, Pepper, Tomato Soup, and some Italian Seasoning.

I spent a whole fifty cents on that new bottle of Italian Seasoning because I’m just all elite and high maintenance like that.

These are my happy bowls. They are Pyrex (of course) and the pattern is called Daisy. I have matching casserole dishes to go with them as well.

If you have any vintage Pyrex bowls it’s important not to wash them in the dishwasher because it will destroy the pretty shiny finish. Lil’ random note from me.

Spray the bottom of your casserole with cooking spray.

You know to be honest, I don’t even know if you need to do this because I don’t even think about it, I just spray. Habit.

Spread a layer of tater tots over the bottom.

If you’re stretching your ground beef a bit, you can always just use more tater tots.

Now sprinkle a little pepper evenly over that layer. Just a little, no big deal.

Do the same with salt.

Spread your ground beef and onions over the top of that.

I have a lot of folks email me asking what to do if someone in their family doesn’t like onions. Y’all, I got the same problem here. There are a few options:

A. Leave onions out (I love onions so this one ain’t happenin‘)

B. Chop them very very fine OR use those dried onions that come in the little spice jars. You can hide them a lot easier and still have a somewhat oniony taste

C. Ignore them and just peel and chop the onions before they get home and hide the evidence because some folks never really pay attention unless you chop the things right in front of them.

Yes folks, I’m a Choice “C” person :)

My husband thinks he doesn’t like onions, too. ~giggle~

Salt and pepper the meat layer as well.

Now put your frozen carrots on the top of that.

And this time around we’re going to sprinkle about a tablespoon of Italian (pronounced EYE-talian by my grandmother) Seasoning on the top of that.

Italian Seasoning is my answer to world peace. I use it almost as much as I do salt and pepper.

Now we’re ready to pour our soup over this whole shebang and get this party on the road!

Pour your can of tomato soup in a bowl or a big cup (I’m using a two cup measuring cup) and then fill the can with water and pour that in, too.

Stir it up a bit.

Then pour that over your casserole.

All done!

Cover it up with foil and bake at 350 for one hour.

(If you’re hungry, forty five minutes will work)

I forgot to tell y’all about this casserole dish. This is a 9×13 (ish) pan from Pyrex commonly referred to as a lasagna dish. It’s not quite as deep as a normal 9×13 but will still work for this casserole. The pattern is Butterfly Gold. I don’t have a lot of this pattern but it was very popular, every bit as much as the green daisy and snowflake garland ones.

And if you cook it..

They will come!

and bring friends!


Shipwreck Casserole
  • 1-2 pounds ground beef*
  • 2 pounds frozen tater tots*
  • 1 onion, diced
  • two cups frozen sliced carrots
  • 1 can (11 ounce) tomato soup
  1. Brown beef and onion together until done, drain off any grease. In a greased 9x13 inch pan, place all of the tater tots in one layer in the bottom. Salt and Pepper this layer lightly. Cover with browned meat and onion mixture. Lightly salt and pepper this layer as well. Place carrots evenly over top and sprinkle 1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning over them. Mix tomato soup with one can of water (use the tomato soup can to measure the water) and pour over all. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for one hour. Hide from pirates, they'll smell it and come running!

*If you have diced hash browns you can use those in place of the tater tots. I try to never make a special trip to the grocery store if I have something that will work.

*You can economize on ground beef in this recipe if you like. Simply use one pound of ground beef and add a few more tater tots if you need to stretch it a bit. However, I sometimes use one pound and just keep the tater tot and carrot amounts the same.

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

~Barbara Johnson

Submitted by Elaine Raye. Submit your quote here.



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  1. leia says

    my opinion, I made this last week and did not care for it at all. I think I used too many tator tots, but just didn’t like the flavor. probably one of the worst things that I’ve made.

    but I generally like many of Christie’s recipes though, and will keep trying them!


    Whenever a recipe calls for Onions and I don’t really care for Pieces of it – in things that I make – I use Onion Powder ! It is better than using Onion Salt as most things already have salt in them – and I can still get a little Oniony Flavor !

  3. Steph says

    Christie, thanks so much for your ground beef recipes. I love to whip up something fast some nights and some of these will be great! Since my kids are grown now, I still make the same recipes but put in smaller casserole dishes and freeze or my husband and I. Nice for welcome home with the new baby, or been in the hospital, let me bring you a few casseroles.
    Thanksso much,

  4. sandy beutler says

    Hi Christy, I have a sister-in-law that will not eat anything with onions in it. So when I make anything with onions I grate them on an old box grater. She never new the difference, as she didn’t bite into a piece. I love the flavor onions give food !!

  5. Babs says

    I absolutely LOVE this site. I can plan a month’s dinners for under $100 AND love the variety
    (7 meals for 1st and 3rd week, and 7 others for wees 2 and 4,
    changing up the seasonings or spices for variety)
    I have never found so many usable, tasty recipes anywhere. Thank you!

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