Today all my kids went back to school. I’ve waited for this day for a very, very long time.Â For the past 13 years I’ve been very lucky to stay at home with my five children, making bottles, sleep training, potty training, making crafts, watching Barney and Elmo, going to the park, the library, the apple orchard, the museums, baking (LOTS of baking I might add), volunteering at preschool, grade school and now middle school, taken care of sick kids and just trying to be the best mom I can be. It’s been a whirlwind. But now I have to admit I’m ready for the next part of the journey. I’m ready to learn and grow as much as my children have been learning and growing. I’ve always loved school, I’ve always loved learning, and I love being a student of life. Our personal journey and evolution never ends. There’s always something new to do, to learn, and to see. I’ve only scratched the surface. I want to see and do MORE. And I want to share it all with my beautiful, amazing and talented children every step of the way.
So now that they are all in school full-time, I can take back some of my hours to do more of what I love. As mothers it is so important to remember who you were before you were a mom, and even before you were a Mrs. To nurture your own space, inner creativity, and personal needs is the greatest gift you can give yourself AND your children. Let them learn from YOU how to take care of their spirit by showing THEM what it means to love and honor yourself, and as well as everyone else around you.
So tonight, I’m back to school too. Grad school. I’m definitely out of my comfort zone and I love it. I love the feeling of opening my mind to all things new. But I still have to feed my family, and a fast and easy dinner is always needed at our house. So lately, I’ve been trying lots of new recipes that aren’t my own creations. This Chicken-and-Broccolini Mac and Cheese from the September issue of Martha Stewart Living has quickly become one of my favorites. The recipe below has been modified from the original to make it allergy-friendly. I have all of Martha’s books, magazines and many of her Everyday Food mini-magazines. She’s one of the few cookbook authors that I have truly learned from. Martha IS one of the great teachers of everything related to home-keeping and cooking. Since my mother passed seven months before my wedding day, I looked to Martha for all her tips on cooking, cleaning, decorating, and even ironing.
In addition to the recipe above, check out my Vegan Back to School Roundup of my favorite recipes at Martha Stewart Living. They’re super fast and delicious, and ones I’m certain your entire family will love.
Enjoy the new school year everyone…full of hope and promise to learn more and do better! xoxo
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
2 c. dairy free milk (soy, rice, almond, your preference)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves, cut in half horizontally
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
8 oz. dairy free cream cheese
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces allergy friendly (dairy, egg, nut, gluten-free) noodles or small shaped pasta
12 ounces Broccolini or broccoli florets
1 3/4 c. dairy free cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c. fresh allergy friendly breadcrumbs (coarsely chopped allergy friendly bread in your food processor)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 3 quart broilerproof baking dish with oil. Bring milk to a simmer in a pot. Add chicken; simmer until cooked, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Remove pot from heat; whisk in mustard and cream cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Shred cooked chicken. Cook noodles or small shaped pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, 3 minutes. Add Broccolini; cook until noodles and Broccolini are al dente, 2 minutes. Reserve 1/2 c. pasta water. Drain noodles and Broccolini; toss with chicken, sauce, pasta water and dairy free cheddar. Transfer to a baking dish. Toss breadcrumbs with oil; sprinkle over casserole. Cover with parchment-lined foil; bake 20 minutes. Uncover casserole; increase heat to broil. Cook until top is golden brown in places and breadcrumbs are crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.