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Mr. John's Grilled Fried Chicken with

Skillet Mac & Cheese, Sesame Spinach, and Strawberry Mocktails

Class Prep

  • Read through the recipe, gather ingredients, and have them measured and readily available before class.

  • Wash your hands and any produce. 

  • Make sure your cheese is at room temperature. If it is cold, it will not melt correctly.

  • I highly suggest buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is coated to keep it from sticking together in its bag, so it's a little harder to melt evenly. This is a completely optional step, but the result is worth it!

  • Gather your equipment and get ready to ZOOM!


  • Large Pot (for pasta)

  • Oven or Grill

  • Baking Sheet

  • Food Processor or Large Bowl

  • Measuring Cups and Spoons

  • Medium to Large Skillet (Preferably oven-safe [ex. cast iron]) and Lid or Aluminum Foil to cover

  • Small Saucepan

  • Whisk

  • Serving Spoons

  • Strainer/Colander

  • Medium Pot (for cooking spinach)

  • Pitcher or Bowl to mix mocktail



10-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 c breadcrumbs

1/2 c fresh chopped parsley or basil

12 cloves (1 head) garlic, coarsely chopped

1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

1/2 c olive oil

2 tsp salt

2 tsp black pepper


1 lb small pasta of choice (macaroni, penne, ditalini, cavatappi, etc.)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 stick butter (4 tbsp)

1/3 c flour

3 c milk, warmed

3 c shredded sharp white (or yellow) cheddar cheese, at room temperature

1 c shredded gouda cheese, at room temperature (optional)

OPTIONAL ADD-INS: garlic powder/granulated garlic, dried thyme, dried oregano, parmesan cheese, crumbled bacon, etc.


2 bags fresh spinach (about 20 oz)

1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil (can be substituted with regular sesame oil)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Sesame seeds, optional (for serving)

STRAWBERRY MOCKTAIL (makes about 5-6 cups)

1 1/2 c fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled

1/2 c fresh or frozen peaches, peeled and sliced (or substitute with extra strawberries)

Juice of 1 medium lime (about 2 tbsp)

2 tbsp sugar or sweetener of choice

2 c water

Sparkling apple cider


4 fresh mint leaves, optional

1.) Begin by placing a pot of salted water over medium high heat (for the pasta).

2.) Preheat oven or grill to 450 degrees.

3.) PREPARE THE CHICKEN: Place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet and pat each side dry. Season with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Set aside.

4.) Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, parmesan, and remaining salt and pepper in a food processor or large mixing bowl. Mix well. With food processor on low (or in your large bowl), slowly pour the olive oil into the dry mixture until all oil has been used. The mixture should be smooth and damp.

5.) Evenly coat each chicken thigh with the bread mixture and place in an even layer on a baking pan. (For extra security against sticking, you can line your pan with parchment paper.) After all chicken pieces have been coated, put in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. (This is important because the cold temperature will harden the oil and glue the breading to the chicken.)

6.) BOIL PASTA: While the chicken is resting, place the pasta in the boiling water and cook to al dente according to package directions (about 2 minutes shorter than the suggested cook time). Drain and set aside once cooked.

7.) MAKE SYRUP FOR MOCKTAILS: Place strawberries, peaches, lime juice, and sugar in a saucepan over medium high heat. Cook until fruit is soft and place to the side.

8.) MAKE CHEESE SAUCE: In a skillet set over medium heat, melt the 4 tbsp of butter for the mac and cheese. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour, salt, and pepper, and whisk until the flour is incorporated. Cook until very lightly browned (about 1 minute). Whisk constantly as you slowly pour in the milk, making sure there are no lumps in the mixture.

9.) Allow the mixture to come to a low boil and cook until thickened. Turn off the heat and add all but 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until melted and carefully taste for seasoning. If you feel if needs more salt or pepper, add it here.

10.) BAKE OR GRILL CHICKEN: Place your chicken in the oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. If grilling instead, cook for 6 minutes per side with the lid closed.

11.) COMBINE MAC AND CHEESE: Add the macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the pasta and cover. Optionally, you can place the mac and cheese in the oven with the chicken until the cheese melts.

12.) COOK SPINACH: Add the spinach, sesame oil, and seasonings to a pot. Cook on medium high heat until all spinach is wilted. Sprinkle in sesame seeds if desired.

13.) MAKE THE MOCKTAILS: Mash fruit and strain (if desired). Pour syrup into a pitcher. Add water. Pour into glasses, top with sparkling cider, and garnish with mint. Serve over ice if desired.

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