Most years I am not one to make lots of resolutions, but for some reason this year I have two.  Superficial as they may seem, here goes: I have resolved to start using all those wonderful ‘special’ soaps that I have received as gifts!  How many times do those lovely and luxurious bars of expensive soap sit in your bathroom waiting for that day when you think it is the right moment to indulge?  Well I am waiting no more, I am digging into the special stash of soaps and enjoying a new daily indulgence. (I believe I may have enough bars to last all of 2012!)

BUT, with this being more of a food focused blog, the other resolution I made and would like to share is that I vow to take on the task of trying a new recipe each week.  And with the wonderful cookbooks I received this holiday, the hardest part of this task is choosing which recipe to tackle each week. 

This week, after flipping through page after lovely page of Plenty and checking in on some of my favorite blogs, I decided on this Brussels sprouts, mushroom and tofu recipe that turned out to be a real winner!  Totally satisfying, sweet & spicy, several of my favorite ingredients AND completely doable for a weeknight dinner.

*Notes:  My local grocery store did not have shiitake mushrooms so I used portobello. And I did serve this over a bed of baby spinach for some added veggie power! And we have modified the recipe below to include less oil than the version in the cookbook.

Sweet and Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Tofu and Mushrooms

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons sweet chile sauce
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
5 ounces firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 pound Brussels sprouts
6 tablespoons canola oil salt
1 cup sliced scallions
½ fresh red chile, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1 ½ cups shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered (as mentioned I used portobello)
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Directions:
In a bowl, combine the sweet chile sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and sesame oil. Add the tofu cubes and stir until combined. Set aside.

Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts, and then cut each piece into three thick slices.

In a large nonstick pan, warm two tablespoons of the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the sprouts, or as many as will fit in one layer. Season with a little salt, and let cook until very well browned, about two minutes. (Note: Only cook the sprouts on one side.) Remove the sprouts with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl.

Add a little more oil, and repeat process with remaining sprouts. Set all the sprouts aside in a bowl when done.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the scallions, diced chile, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, one to two minutes. When done, scrape the contents into the bowl with the sprouts.

Place the skillet back over high heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove half of the tofu pieces from the marinade and add to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned all over, about two minutes a side. Transfer tofu to the bowl with the sprouts. Repeat process with remaining tofu pieces.

When all the tofu is cooked, add all of the contents from the bowl back into the skillet. Add the marinade and half of the cilantro. Turn off the heat, and stir well. Let cool down for a minute. Season to taste with salt. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and garnish with the remaining cilantro.  

—Rachel


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