Friday, February 10, 2012

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Easy Valentine's Day Dinner

Valentine's Day is just around the corner!  That special day for lovers or friends looking for love in all the right places (hopefully!).

I LOVE going to restaurants to try new foods AND have someone wait on me, but Valentine's Day brings so many people out to the local restaurants and they are always SOOOOO crowded, it makes intimacy and privacy non-existent!

So, instead of going out, why not create a wonderful (and easy) meal in the privacy of your own place!  You can make this up in advance, place it in the refrigerator and pull it out to bake!  Add some flowers, a special gift, some music, candles and my Microwave Flourless Chocolate Torte and you are set for a great evening!

Shrimp Au Gratin

6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups half and half
¾ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Pinch ground black pepper, or to taste
Several dashes hot sauce, to taste
3 cups cooked shrimp, chopped
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Whisk in half and half until smooth and thick.

In small bowl, mix together the cheeses, reserve ¾ cup to use for topping. Add cheese to half and half mixture and stir until melted. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce, taste and adjust seasoning.

Remove from heat, stir in shrimp and scallions until well blended. Pour mixture into large oven proof baking dish, or 6 individual oven proof baking dishes.

Mix bread crumbs and melted butter until well blended. Sprinkle reserved cheese over top of casseroles or divide evenly over individual dishes. Top with bread crumbs.  (If making ahead, stop here, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Remove from refrigerator for 30 minutes prior to baking and remove plastic wrap.)

Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.

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