Confession No. 32 — Note to self: Don’t shop at gas station for wife’s Valentine’s gift

Pragmatism doesn’t go over well on wedding anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. It’s also a bad idea to attempt practicality when your significant other decides she wants to build a swimming pool, or is set to drive 4,000 miles with a 4-year-old in tow.

As I have so many times during (what were supposed to be) romantic moments, I digress…

I’m terrible at romance, but it’s not for a lack of trying. One year, I bought ballroom dancing lessons for the two of us. After a few sessions and bruised toes (hers), I realized that counting to three with footsteps was beyond my ability. I’ve also written my share of love letters. They tend to go over well — until she pulls out the memory box and reads them all at once. Though my love for her has grown tremendously over the years, my ability to be mushy on paper has not. All the letters read the same. And dinners … I’ve cooked plenty of them for just the two of us — even occasionally setting up a small table with candles in our bedroom, setting my iTunes to classical romance, and dressing up just like we were on a real date. On those nights, I’ve bribed the kids with Sonic, Taco Bueno or McDonald’s, then threatened them with their own mortality should they decide to interrupt us with an argument over whose turn it is to play Modern Warfare or Little Big Planet. Neither the buyoffs nor the foreboding work consistently though, and we regularly find ourselves pulling up an extra chair so that we can keep a closer eye on someone.

I’ve had years during which I took her at her word and neglected to ‘celebrate’ Valentine’s Day. “It’s a greeting card company brainchild,” she would say. (I doubt she meant it.) I’ve been among the group of afternoon Valentine’s Day shoppers, picking through the leftover selection of cards and the corniest of candy hearts. I’m guilty of sending the wrong kind of message by accidentally buying sugar-free candy. I sent an equally awful message the year that I did last-minute shopping at a gas station. Who knew that those ‘vases’ holding the fake roses are really crack pipes?

In my younger days, I came up with a couple of real mood busters. Once, I offered up a booklet of homemade coupons, none of which included any offer beyond the bedroom. I even had the nerve to offer up myself as a Valentine’s Day gift. — Now before you ladies judge me, just know that 99 percent of guys out there have attempted to pull at least one of these stunts at some point in life. The other 1 percent are lying when they deny it.

In all our years, my girl has never complained or uttered a single stinging word. To the contrary, she’s always told me how lucky she feels.

Truth is, I’m the lucky one.

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I developed this recipe following a vacation to Mexico, during which my wife ordered a cream cheese-stuffed shrimp concoction that we really enjoyed. My version adds cilantro and little chunks of avocado. This is a flexible dish, in that you could exchange the cream cheese for a mixture of mozzarella and ricotta, and mix it with fresh chopped basil and sun-dried tomatoes. You could also use ham and Swiss and call it ‘Shrimp Cordon Bleu Poppers’. No matter how you stuff’em, they’re sure to be eaten fairly quickly. Enjoy.

Shrimp Avocado Poppers

Shrimp poppers are popular at get-togethers. By using 26-30 count shrimp, you only need 1-2 per guest, served as an dinner appetizer, or if you are serving alongside other snacks and finger foods.

2 lbs. – Shrimp (26-30 ct.), shelled and deveined with tails removed

1 pkg. (8 oz.) – Cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup – Cilantro leaves, chopped fine
2 – Small avocados, diced with 1 Tablespoon lime juice

1 cup – Plain Panko bread crumbs
2-3 – Large eggs, beaten
All-purpose flour, for dredging

Vegetable oil for frying

Combine cream cheese and cilantro. Place mixture in pastry bag or plastic bag with small hole cut in the corner.

Butterfly the shrimp deeply, so that they lay flat.

Pipe about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese in the centers of half the shrimp. Place diced avocados (about 2-3 chunks, depending on the size of your dice) on cream cheese filling. Top filled shrimp with remaining butterflied shrimp to make a ‘sandwich’.

Place filled shrimp in freezer for 1-2 hours.

Dredge frozen shrimp in flour, shaking off excess. Dip each one in egg mixture, then roll in Panko crumbs. Deep fry in 375º F oil until golden, about 3-4 minutes. (You can also fry in pan, turning poppers about halfway through cooking, for even cooking.)

Serve immediately with Thai Sweet & Hot Dipping Sauce (pictured) or your favorite dipping salsa. This recipe makes 26-30 poppers.

Comments

  1. Haha I love your posts they always make me laugh :D
    And your recipes always make me drool as well – nice one :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Coffee Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

  2. Great post. :-) Food looks amazing.

  3. Is it wrong to want to eat these for breakfast. Great recipe for a cold winter’s day.

  4. My husband once bought me a home repair book from Home Depot wrapped in his coat on Valentine’s. We weren’t married yet and I had just bought my first home so it was actually kinda sweet. . .just maybe not for that day. :D

    I love the idea of these poppers because I’ve never cared for the pepper ones. My mind would never have thought that far outside the box and come up with using shrimp instead. It’s genius. And, they look amazing. Many thanks for sharing your brainchild and your romantic ups and downs.

  5. Since I am from the coast, you had me at shrimp. And since I love avocado, you have me wanting to eat these as I read about them….at 630 am.

    Did you collaborate with my husband on the story? I’ve had my fair share of gas station roses, the kind that turn out to be sexy underwear when you unfurl them. The best valentine he ever gave me though, was cleaning the whole house, top to bottom…and I mean down to scrubbing the bathtubs, and polishing the fixtures. I love that man……

  6. Love reading from a man’s perspective…just remember, we want to be showered…even in the smallest way! Great post, and the poppers sound awesome! Could use a few now…stomach <<<>>>>>>>>>>! xoxo ally

  7. I love all your “confession” stories! By the time I met my man he’d already learned all those hard lessons. Nevertheless, he considered himself very practical and more inclined to buy me the new vacuum I needed than roses and jewels. Nevertheless he understood that practicality does not apply on Valentine’s Day. One year he was quite late meeting me for V-Day dinner and had to explain that his jeweler was late meeting him. I asked him since when he’d had his own jeweler and he said since he met me and then presented me with a beautiful pearl necklace :)

  8. I can never wait to read your posts, you always make me laugh (guffaw?) out loud! You know, its the thought that counts, and the story about the dinners in the bedroom? That is incredibly romantic, kids crashing the party or not. You’re a great writer and a great chef. The shrimp poppers look amazing and might even get me to try shrimp again some day. :-)

  9. Shrimp and avo poppers? They should be illegal due to addiction factor… entertaining post, and thx for the request on foodbuzz. Looking forward to seeing more of your blog. Anthony.

  10. These look killer and that is a fabulous photo, makes you want to bite right in. Have a great day and it’s nice to meet you, love your confessions.

  11. Oooh, look at the melty inside! :) Looks fantastic, I don’t think I’ve ever had any kind of avocado popper. Congrats on the wonderful wife, too ;)

  12. Amazing! I could eat a dozen of those right now. Why oh why did the diet have to start today?

  13. I think you are both lucky to have each other! That’s all that matters!
    BTW this recipe rules! We will definitily try it! :)

  14. ZOMG, those look delicious! I wish superbowl was coming up so I could make them! Bah, I’ll just make them for some other “local sports team” event.

  15. Well, Mr. Adam J. Holland, what a joyful post. You make me smile at the thoughts of our gas station flowers and promises to take dancing lessons.
    Thanks for the FB friend add. I look forward to reading your posts.

    P.S. The shrimp and avocado poppers look delicious, just be careful what you say about jalapenos :)

    • Thank you, Sandy. I was an inaugural subscriber to Chile Pepper magazine. I have pulled off I-35 to pick wild chile pequins; traveled about two hours to get fresh habaneros (before they were so popular); grown (or tried to grow) just about every pepper variety I have ever heard of; and even credit a banana pepper for helping me to learn a very valuable lesson about paying my gambling debts — but jalapenos just don’t top my list. Can we meet in the middle over some fresh serranos?

  16. Truth is, and you DIDN’T hear it from me for risk of blowing the cover on all of my fellow females, is that I don’t really think we’re much good at providing romance either. This is an equal opportunity flaw! We have some idealized sense of the romance we want, but what I think we all want, male or female, is just to be treasured and adored, right?

    I loved your post. Thanks for sharing!

    BTW–Foodbuzz isn’t allowing me to accept your friend request, but I’m working at it!

    • Good call, Pam. But, I will admit to not knowing what constitutes romance. If I had to choose the number one ‘romantic’ thing done on my behalf, it would have to be the one-pound bag of Green Apple Jelly Belly jellybeans, accompanied by a custom birthday card. It didn’t hurt that the evening’s surprise also included my first game at Yankee Stadium followed by late-night Lo Mein at Wo Hop in Chinatown — all things that I love.

  17. Just leaving a message to say I have awarded you a very special award which you are very deserving of :)
    Enjoy and check it out here – http://gobakeyourself.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/a-third-liebster-a-super-chewy-super-tasty-super-sugarless-treat-2/

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  18. Haha! Hilarious. And this looks AMAZING. I am going to make this immediately!
    Also, may I link to your site on my blog? Your blog is too hilarious not to share. :D

  19. These poppers look wonderful! I wish I had some of these :/

  20. haha I love your post! And I reallyyyy love these poppers, the cilantro and avocado sound amazing with the shrimp!

  21. wellvana says:

    how can you go wrong w/ avocado, eggs and cream cheese wrapped up into a little, culinary bundle! of joy? looks scrumptious.

  22. What a sweet post! I don’t have much experience with appetizers, so I think they’re tough. Shrimp and avocado…fried? Genius! Sounds delicious :@)

  23. Recipe looks amazing and one of the funniest stories I’ve read! I think your wife would say your a keeper!

  24. Hilarious! I burst out laughing at the image of having one of your kids join your romantic dinner. So typical. This was excellent.

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