I quit my job two months before our son was due. We had decided I would stay home with him until it made sense for me to go back to work. It was a decision we did not make lightly, especially because living on one income in the San Francisco Bay Area is just straight crazy. We live in the land of million dollar 900 square foot houses and everyone knows somebody who sold their three person start up for a whole lot of money. The weather is pretty much always perfect and within an hour we can be in San Francisco or on the beach in Santa Cruz. If that isn't enough, our dearest friends are here as well as half of our family. For many of our friends who have become parents in the last year, the weather just wasn't enough to keep them here and I can't say I blame them. It's certainly difficult to make ends meet, especially on one income.
When we were working out our one income budget, we knew we would have to adjust our lifestyle. Birthday dinners would be a pizza night at home instead of a fancy restaurant with six of our friends. Travel would be less frequent, if much at all and we would have to tighten the reigns on all of our monthly budget items, including the grocery bill. That was not an easy task for me. I love grocery shopping. Going to Whole Foods is therapeutic for me (although bringing a toddler along makes it less so). I can spend upwards of two hours walking the aisles, adding things to my cart that look interesting as well as executing a loose list of regular items. We cook a lot at home and we do our best to buy organic whenever possible, which includes the meat we buy and all of that adds up, fast. I started menu planning and making detailed shopping lists and did my best to limit waste. Overall, we have made it all work somehow and I'm so grateful I've had this time with my son. The next kid might not get that luxury. Sorry future kiddo, mommy does love you.
At the end of the week, I try to plan for meals that can use up what I have left in the fridge, so we tend to have some kind of stir fry, pasta or quinoa bowl. This week, we had a bag of frozen shrimp stuffed way back in the depths of the freezer and some bacon that needed to be used as well as a bowl of cooked quinoa and some herbs. I thought that all sounded like it would go pretty well together, and man, they really really do.
smoky quinoa with shrimp + bacon
serves four as a side dish
- 2 cups quinoa, rinsed
- 8 ounces medium sized shrimp, thawed if frozen, shelled
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 5 pieces of bacon
- 1/4 cilantro, leaves only
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- juice of one small lemon
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Bring two cups of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add quinoa and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Transfer cooked quinoa to a large bowl.
- In a medium bowl toss shrimp with the smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, cumin and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Set aside.
- Cook bacon over medium heat in a large skillet until crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, chop it into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Wipe out the skillet, leaving a small amount of bacon grease in the pan. Bring the pan the medium high heat. Add the shrimp, and cook until starting to turn opaque, about two minutes. Flip the shrimp over and cook for 30 seconds. Turn the heat off and allow the shrimp to finish cooking in the residual heat of the pan, about one more minute.
- Add shrimp, bacon, red onion, cilantro and 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette (reserve the rest for another use) to the quinoa. Toss to combine and serve.