smoky quinoa with shrimp + bacon

smoky quinoa bowl

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. 

smoky quinoa bowl from supper at six

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

For vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • juice of one small lemon
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 

sweet potato, kale and gruyere mini frittatas

sweet potato, kale and gruyere frittatas

For the past year and a half I've been at home with our son, mostly just making sure that he stays alive. Before we were even pregnant, I knew I wanted to be at home with him if it was even remotely possible. My mom was home, running a day care when we were growing up and my husbands mom was a stay at home mom. Neither of us had the experience of a working mom, so naturally we leaned that way. I have found the time to be incredibly challenging and also an experience I am incredibly grateful for. There are days when I feel like I'm just on repeat trying to keep him from swallowing literally everything and it's all I can do to console him with each toddler disappointment ("why did you give me exactly what I asked for?! WHAAAAAH!"). Most days though, I'm amazed by every single thing he does. How is it possible that just a little over a year ago, all he could do was eat, poop and sleep? Now he goes to the fridge and asks for cheese and then takes me by the hand to our room where he asks for the guitar from under the bed so he can dance while I play the only four chords I know that go together. It's all so surreal. 

packed up frittatas

It feels like we have walked through a thousand transitions in the last year. Many were rough and some I dreaded. When Oliver was still on a bottle, it was so easy to just pop some pre-made formula in our bag and head out the door. He had a meal (a no-brainer meal) at any given moment. I was so used to the convenience. At a year, when we were moving to a completely solid food diet, I had a lot of anxiety of how it would all work. What do I feed him? How do I know he is getting what he needs? What if he hates everything? I just couldn't anticipate enough about the situation to feel confident in the next phase. Each day was a little easier and I was able to be more creative as we went along. Now, if I can stay on top of things, we have a great range of food we all like. One of the great things about making most of his food is that I can make things I like too. That way when we're out, we both have a quick, healthful snack. 

Each week, I try to make a high protein, vegetable packed and portable snack. Some weeks it's mini muffins or quinoa patties and others it's some variation of a mini frittata. Usually, I peek in the fridge and take inventory of the vegetables I haven't used and those become the foundation for whatever snack I'm going to make. He's not really into anything green yet, so this is a good way to get some greens into his cute little body. The recipe below is for my absolute favorite frittata combo. It would be perfect as a regular sized frittata too, served to friends on a Saturday with crusty, buttered bread and a strong cup of coffee. 

sweet potato, kale + gruyere mini frittatas

makes 24


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups kale, chopped small
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated with a microplane
  • pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced small (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 cup grated gruyere (on the mid sized holes of a box grater), about 3 oz, divided


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 and oil a 24 cup, or two 12 cup mini muffin tins and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the kale and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook until just starting to wilt, about two minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the sweet potato, oregano and cumin to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. If you need to, add another drizzle of oil to coat the sweet potato. Cook until just softening and starting to brown, about 5-6 minutes.  
  4. Add the eggs, milk and half of the cheese to the bowl with the kale. Stir to combine. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among the 24 cups, using about a tablespoon of mixture for each. Sprinkle the sweet potato over the top of each, pressing it down to submerge it. Top each cup with a sprinkle of cheese and salt and freshly ground pepper. 
  5. Bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for about 5 minutes and then remove the frittatas from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack. These can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to one month.