Romantic Valentine Dinner At Home

Avoid the crowds this Valentine’s Day by staying in for dinner.

Sue Neal shares a dinner that is quick and easy to make.

Coconut Shrimp
10 large Shrimp (Butterfly, leave tail on)
2 cups vegetable or Peanut oil (to fry in)
1/2 cup Unsweetened big flake coconut (process so it’s smaller but still looks like coconut)
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Pinch Cayenne Pepper (if you don’t like the heat, omit it)
1 egg, beaten well
1/2 tsp. Coarse Salt & 1/4″ tsp. Freshly ground pepper
Small handful chopped Cilantro

Prepare your shrimp by cleaning (if necessary) and butterflying. Do this by running a sharp knife down the top of Shrimp so it lays open. Blot dry with paper towel. Sprinkle salt lightly on Shrimp.

Place beaten egg in bowl.

Place Panko/Coconut mixture in another bowl.

Dip shrimp in egg, then in Panko/Coconut mixture. Repeat with all the Shrimp and lay on a small baking sheet or plate. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in fridge until ready to fry.

Heat at least 2″ oil in deep pan (or use deep fryer if you have one) to 350 F. Using tongs, place shrimp, about 5 at a time in hot oil and cook for about 1 minute. I always like to add one shrimp to my number, so I can test one (someone has to do it, right?) Have paper towels on a plate ready to hold cooked shrimp. Immediately sprinkle with a bit of coarse salt and cilantro.


Prep your Shrimp up to 3 hours ahead of time. Once coated with coconut/panko mixture, lay in one layer and cover with plastic wrap. Keep refrigerated.

Dipping sauce can be made the day before. Keep refrigerated.

Have plates ready with a small bowl for sauce and a simple paper napkin to place shrimp on. This will absorb any oil and is a nice presentation. As soon as Shrimp are cooked, place on plate and serve.
Pineapple Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup Fresh Pineapple, pureed
4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup Sour cream
1/4 tsp. Coarse Salt & some Freshly ground pepper
A few drops of your favorite hot sauce (optional)

Mix all ingredients until smooth. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.
Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi
2 fillets Mahi Mahi (these are usually frozen. Thaw in fridge overnight)
A few Tbsp. Vegetable Oil (to fry in)
1/2 cup Macadamia Nuts
1/4 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Freshly ground pepper
1 Egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Process Nuts, breadcrumbs and salt until crumbly, but not too fine.

Heat oil to med-high in oven proof pan. Place beaten egg in shallow bowl.

Place Nut/panko mixture in shallow bowl.

Dip (use tongs) fish fillet in egg and then into nut mixture. Place in hot oil. Watch closely; when fillet is browned on one side, turn over and place in oven for 10 minutes.

If you have a meat thermometer, cook until inside temp reaches 140 F.
Tropical Salsa
1/4 cup finely chopped Pineapple
1/4 cup finely chopped Mango
1/4 cup finely chopped Papaya
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/4 cup sliced grape tomatoes
2 Tbsp finely chopped purple onion
1 Tbsp finely chopped Jalapeno (more or less depending on taste)
Small handful finely chopped Cilantro
Juice from half a lime
Coarse Salt & some Freshly ground pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in food processor. Process until smooth. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in fridge until ready to use.
Basmati Pilaf
1 cup Basmati Rice
2 cups water
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
Small bunch green onions, chopped finely

Soak rice in water (just until covered) for 30 minutes.

Sauté Onions and garlic in 1 Tbsp butter on low-med heat, until softened (about 5 minutes).

Add another Tbsp of butter and add drained rice to pan. Stir to coat for a minute.

Add 2 cups water to pan. Bring to boil. Turn heat to low, cover pan and put the timer for 20 minutes. You will have fragrant, fluffy rice every time!
Avocado Crema
1 small Avocado
1/4 cup sour cream
Juice from half a lime
Coarse Salt & some Freshly ground pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in food processor. Process until smooth. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in fridge until ready to use.


Make Salsa & Avocado Crema ahead of time. Keep in fridge. You could cook rice 20 minutes before you are ready to eat. It will stay warm in pot on stove. Or you can cook in advance, store in fridge, then reheat in microwave or in pan quickly. When you are ready to eat, with both of you in the kitchen, start the fish. Once it’s in the pan, start the Shrimp (make sure oil is already hot. 350 F.), it will only take a minute to cook. Once fish is in the oven, you can eat your appetizer leisurely while fish finishes cooking in the oven. Have fun plating the main dish…do a smear with the Crema, mould your rice. Get creative!
Banana Coconut Croissant Trifle
1 banana, sliced
1 day old croissant, chopped into small pieces (about 1/2″ cubes)
1 small package Jello coconut (or Banana) pudding
2 cups milk
1 can Dulce De Lece, warmed & thinned with a little Half & Half or milk.
1/4 cup Sweet Flaked Coconut, toasted in over (watch it!)
1 cup whipped cream, sweetened with 1 Tbsp sugar

Find some pretty glass bowls or goblets (so you can see the layers)

Make the pudding right before you’re ready to assemble. By adding it while it’s not fully set up, it will fill in the spaces and absorb into the croissant pieces.

Start with a layer of croissant cubes at bottom of glass. Pour enough pudding over it to cover.

Add a layer of bananas, making sure to have some cross sections showing.

Sprinkle some coconut.

Drizzle in some Dulce De Lece.

Repeat with another layer of all ingredients if you have room.

Finish by placing a layer of Croissant pieces and more pudding, until it reaches the top of the glass.

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