Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Sigh Rice Muffins with Bell Peppers and Bacon

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Way back in time, during my university days, I lived in a house with 4 friends. We regarded plain long-grain rice as its own major food group. Each of us would cook big batches of rice and then drown it in soy sauce before devouring it. I’m guessing rice remains a staple for most university and college students today.

The sticky thing about plain cooked rice is it doesn’t store very well as a leftover. After a few days sitting in the fridge it slightly hardens and begins to lose its appeal. You can always use the soy sauce technique to make it tolerable but sometimes a better option for leftover rice is to combine it with other ingredients to create a new dish such as these flavorful Rice Muffins.

In this dish the cooked rice is mixed with red and green bell peppers, onions, bacon and a sweet and savory sauce. You could easily serve this rice dish as a side or have it as a snack. Baking the rice mixture in the oven cranks up its awesomeness factor as it browns the outside to create a chewy tacky texture (one of my favorite textures in food).

You certainly won’t sigh when you try one of these rice muffins or listen to the music I had playing in the kitchen while preparing them. The music of Mumford and Sons is nothing short of brilliant in a time when music seems to have lost its originality. Songs such as “Winter Winds” and “Roll Away Your Stone” were more than a pleasure to listen to as I baked the leftover rice in my fridge into these muffins instead of tossing it in the garbage.

And that my foodie and music friends is what I do with leftover rice!


Rice Muffins with Bell Peppers and Bacon
Serve as a side dish or snack!

6 slices bacon
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
¼ cup minced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
2 cups cooked long-grain rice
½ cup bread crumbs
½ tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large skillet cook bacon slices until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet and let drain on paper towels. Once bacon has cooled chop into ½ inch pieces. Set aside. Drain all fat from skillet except for about 1 tbsp. Add bell peppers, onions and garlic to skillet. Cook over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together broth, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.

In a large bowl combine cooked rice, cooked vegetables, broth mixture, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Gently mix until combined. Divide mixture evenly between muffin cups.

Bake in a 400ยบ F oven for 20 minutes or until top of rice muffins begins to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the outside to release each rice muffin. Serve.

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Brent Garell (The Kitchen Roadie)

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