Thyme for Kids - a family, food, and franchising blog
Thyme for Kids - a family, food, and franchising blog
Into food, family, or franchising? You're in the right place. The recipe for blogging here at YCA is to keep it simple, entertaining, educational, and to the point. We take one simple concept and give you our unique perspective.
From our franchisees, our students, or our corporate staff - if you hear it here, you know it's all us, all original and all fresh. We might tell you the story of a bright young chef who taught his instructor a few things, then next maybe the latest culinary trend (beef tongue sliders?). There is nothing ordinary about any of our franchises, and we delight in sharing the extraordinary "scoop"! Enjoy, comment, and please share.
3:08 PM

Soup's On!


12 Blog


We're so excited that "soup season" is finally here again!!   Can you imagine...snuggled up close to a warm, crackling fire with a delicious, hearty soup?  Sounds like a little slice of heaven, right?


We have a doozy of a recipe to share using seasonal ingredients for this delicately rich dish....Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Herbed Croutons

Although the butternut squash (or known as butternut pumpkins in Australia or New Zealand) is considered a fruit, this variety of squash is moist, nutty, and sweet...lending itself as a showstopper for many savory dishes.


So, throw some logs on the fire as you finish up this lovely recipe, kick back in your favorite, cozy chair and ENJOY!



Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Herbed Croutons


2 tablespoons butter 
1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup) 
2 small garlic cloves, minced  
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper 
2 stems fresh rosemary 
4 fresh sage leaves 
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch cubes 
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes 
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock, plus more if needed 
¾ cup heavy cream, optional 
2 cups water, plus more if needed 
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage 
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary 
6 tablespoons heavy cream 
1 small baguette (10 inches long) cut into 1inch size pieces 
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper




  1. Melt butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Place rosemary and sage on a small square of cheesecloth, and tie with kitchen string. Stir in the herb sachet, squash, potatoes, stock, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Discard herb sachet. Add the cream if using. Let cool slightly.
  3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth. Adjust to desired consistency with stock or water. (Soup can be made up to 2 days ahead; warm over low heat.) Season with salt and pepper. Serve with herbed croutons.
  4. For the herbed croutons: Preheat the oven to 375° F Mix herbs and cream in a medium bowl. Add the bread with cream mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread out in a single layer, and bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until just browned and crisp.
  5. Croutons will keep, covered, for up to 2 days.

Yield: 8 servings 

3:00 PM

Pumpkin Patch? Is This a Trick? Or Is This a Treat?

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Don't let these little guys fool you...they weren't plucked out of the pumpkin patch.  We made these miniature imposters into a mouthwatering concoction that can easily be displayed on a plate or serving platter! And what's inside is an even better, delicious surprise. 

But first, what was our inspiration?  We chose one of our favorite symbols of Halloween....the Jack O'Lantern. 

Origin of the Jack O'Lantern

The tale of the Jack O'Lantern began back in the mid-1600s in Ireland.  The swamps would mysteriously flicker with a flame in the distance causing people to assume this was a mysterious being stalking the swamps at night ~ Come to find out many years later, this is a phenomenom caused when a decomposing plant oxidizes.  This bizarre occurrence was the beginning of the legend of Stingy Jack, who carried a turnip lit from within by a single candle.

The legend evolved over time ~ and miles ~ as it came to the states.  The beloved Jack O'Lantern has become a time-honored holiday decoration, adorning the porches and windowsills of houses to celebrate the season and provide a lively, slightly eerie glow.

Of course, our YCA kitchens turned this tradition into an edible treat!  Choosing oranges to replicate the pumpkin and filling it with a decadent brownie center, we created our own version of a pumpkin patch that can easily become the centerpiece of your Halloween dessert table.  No candle required!  But you'll definitely want to have plenty of spoons at the ready for these little goodies.

Let's begin and bring our sweet creatures to life!


First, we MISE! 


Don't forget!  Read your recipe all the way through and gather all of your equipment and ingredients together to avoid leaving out important steps, or worse...having to rush to the grocery store halfway through to pick up ingredients you thought you had on hand!  Yikes!


IMG_4758     IMG_4763

Why do you mix the butter and sugars together before adding it to our dry ingredients?  This is called the "creaming method."  When you combine the butter and sugar together first, you are creating air bubbles that will expand when baked, creating that fluffy texture we all love so well.

What other actions help create that fluffy texture? 

  • Using room temperature eggs
  • Adding your eggs one at a time ~ this creates a more elastic structure for those air bubbles we created to adhere to, allowing the batter to expand




You want to be sure that you cut off just enough from the bottom of your oranges so that your pumpkins sit up nice and straight.  It's okay if a little of the orange flesh shows through but there should be a good amount of the inner rind to hold the ingredients in while baking.

The top portion can be completely trimmed off, allowing you to scoop out the orange flesh easily.

IMG_4767_UPRIGHT    IMG_4769

This is the fun part...scooping out the inner portions of the orange is almost like a real pumpkin ~ minus those delicious pumpkin seeds we love to roast.

It's okay if you don't completely clear your orange of the all of the inner flesh.  Leaving just a little bit of the orange flesh will just enhance the citrus-y flavor.


IMG_4770     IMG_4772_UPRIGHT

Now on to the tasty portion!  While you prepared your oranges, your brownie batter has been resting.  This allows the gluten to relax so that your final product is not tough or too chewy. 

The amount of batter you place in each orange depends on the size of your "pumpkins."  We filled ours up, leaving approx. 1/2" space to allow for rising but without overflowing.  This created a fluffy brownie top where the pumpkin lid will sit.


IMG_4773     IMG_4774_UPRIGHT     IMG_4775REV


It's time to turn our oranges into a pumpkin! 

When you are poking a hole into the orange "top," be sure to get as close to the stalk portion that you can so that your candy leaf will cover this area.  Make your hole just large enough for your pretzel stick to be inserted.



     IMG_4785_UPRIGHT    IMG_4787_UPRIGHT

Poke your pretzel stick through the candy leaf first and then into the hole made in the top of the orange. 


Decorate your cooled pumpkin with a marker (it's okay to use a marker since this portion is not what we will be eating!).  Give each pumpkin a different face for a fun, finished product.  Have fun with decorating your plate to create the illusion that your "pumpkins" are waiting patiently to be plucked from the garden.



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Jack O'Lantern Orange Brownies


½ cup unsalted butter, melted

½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup flour

⅓ cup cocoa

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup chocolate chips

6-8 oranges

Green Gum Drop

Pretzel Sticks




  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray each well of a mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the butter, sugars, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, crack the eggs and then add them to the bowl with the butter mixture. Stir well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Combine the wet and the dry ingredients together by adding the flour mixture into the bowl with the butter mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Prepare the oranges by cutting off just a bit of the bottom to provide a flat surface for placing on the baking sheet. Next, cut off the top of the orange, this time cutting off enough so that you can actually see the flesh (the edible fruit) of the orange.
  6. Next, cut out the flesh of the orange. Start by making one long round cut between the inside of the pith (the white membrane of the peel) and the flesh. Make a few more diagonal cuts through the center of the orange. Be careful not to cut all the way through to the bottom.
  7. Begin popping out wedges of the inside of the orange and removing the pulp. (It is fine to leave a bit of the pulp inside. It will just add to the flavor of the brownie.) Drain the juice from the center. Keep working until you have hollowed-out the oranges.
  8. Fill each orange with brownie batter, filling to within a half inch of the top. Wrap the outside of each orange with a piece of foil covering just the bottom and sides of the orange, leaving the top unwrapped. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. The toothpick should come out slightly-coated. (If you under-bake these you will have delicious orange-chocolate molten lava cakes.)
  9. Garnish: Use scissors to cut a green gum drop in half. Using a rolling pin, roll the gum drop out until it is flat. Use a pair of scissors to cut along the edges of the gum drop so that it resembles a leaf. Use a skewer to poke a hole in each of the tops of the oranges. Take a pretzel stick and poke it through the middle of the gum drop leaf. Insert the pretzel with the leaf into the orange top. Place the orange top back on the orange.

:   approx. 6 large or 9 medium orange “pumpkins”

Happy Hlloween Trans Text



3:05 PM

The Key To Inspiring Your Young Chef To Make Healthier Food Choices


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When you hear the word "healthy eating," what comes to mind? 

Replacing everything you love with only fruits and vegetables?  Grabbing pre-packaged foods with "Low Fat!," "Nutritious!," "No Sugar Added!"? 

Actually, it's all about becoming involved in the planning and preparation of meals and the knowledge gained along the way.  When children begin to develop their culinary abilities early on, they open up the doors to a world of options and choices that otherwise would not be a consideration.

Every individual's perception can be a little different when looking at making the change to living a healthier lifestyle by modifying some of our eating habits.  But some find this a difficult challenge when you have yet to develop the building blocks necessary to be successful. 


In a recent Forbes interview by Noma Nazish of FORBES, Young Chefs Academy Founder and CEO, Julie Burleson, shares the secret ingredient for empowering the next generation of healthier young chefs by providing them with the arsenal they need to make nutritional alterations in their everyday lives. 

Here, Julie shares some of the trade secrets she's learned along her journey in building a proven business model. 

Click Here for full article



"Studies show children are more likely to eat healthy foods when they prepare them ~ this is why cooking from scratch is heavily incorporated into our curriculum...Children have a deeper understanding of what they're eating and how it affects their health when they understand [the process]." ~ Julie Burleson


Young Chefs Academy provides culinary education instruction that allows students to be introduced to  new foods and flavor combinations while developing a better understanding of how certain foods could affect their health.  YCA is the only place where inspiration and creativity flow while building the framework for an entirely new generation of chefs.



4:04 PM

Meet Our Guest Young Chef...Fozzy!


(Pictured above:  Fozzy the Teddy Bear on location at Young Chefs Academy)

It's Teddy Bear Picnic Day and we invited a special guest to come help us make one of our signature recipes, "Grandma's Warm Milk Cake" from our KinderCooks® Collection for our indoor picnic today!

Meet Fozzy....he's new to cooking and baking but we knew he could handle it.   This particular recipe is great for getting your youngest chefs involved in the kitchen! 


Here are just a few of the cooking activities our KinderCooks practiced for this recipe:

  • Learning how to crack an egg ~ Just have a few extra eggs on hand to practice a few times. Here's how we crack an egg the YCA Way! 

          a)  Start by cracking the egg on the table. 

          b)  Place your thumbnails together, and gently place your thumbs into the crack. 

          c)  Turn the egg sideways and pull the egg apart, allowing the egg to fall into the bowl.

               Discard the egg shells, and ALWAYS remember to wash hands afterwards!


  • Whisking Technique ~

           a)  Hold the whisk as shown below

           b)  Using your wrist, make circles! Don’t use your whole arm!





  • Master Measuring ~ There's so much to learn with measuring!  Don't forget!  Liquids need to be measured at eye level. Using the liquid measuring cup, pour the liquid into the cup. Have your child get eye level with the measuring marks. The liquid should be right at the mark, not above or below.  Teach children how to measure basic wet ingredients with the liquid measuring cups and dry ingredients with measuring cups and spoons.



So let's get crackin' in the kitchen to make something special for your next Teddy Bear Picnic!



Grandma’s Warm Milk Cake


½ cup milk

2 Tbsp. butter, sliced

1 cup flour

2 tsp. baking powder

Pinch salt

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ tsp. vanilla



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Heat milk and butter in the microwave on MEDIUM for 1-1½ minutes, until butter is melted.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Beat eggs until fluffy.  Add sugar beating well.  Mix in the dry ingredients.  Add butter and milk mixture; add vanilla.
  5. Pour into baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until done.  Cool completely.  Serve with Fresh Whipped Cream. 


Note:  To make cupcakes:  Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full of batter and bake for 20 minutes.  Makes 12 cupcakes.

1:46 PM

Key Ingredient to Striking Out On Your Own


obstacles maze


The unknown is scary business!

While pride and a sense of accomplishment can come with opening your own business, there can also be a sense of uncertainty as you encounter hurdles along the way.  You're checking off the boxes to get your project off the ground:

  • Finalized your business plan with a concise SWOT analysis....CHECK!
  • Found the perfect location...CHECK!
  • Opened your company account...CHECK!
  • Obtained all of the licensing necessary...CHECK!
  • Hired employees...CHECK, CHECK!

Everything seems to be slowly, but surely, going your way!  But wait.  I don't have a marketing plan in place, AND a great website to generate online traffic, AND a complete grasp on the ever-changing world of social media, AND a structured plan to measure and optimize my ROI....the list just keeps growing.

There is another option.....


Franchising holds the key to the mysteries behind many of the obstacles that otherwise keep passionate entrepreneurs from seeing their dreams through to fruition.  When you consider franchising as a business model, you find an avenue that enables you to own your own business while backed by a proven business model that has fine-tuned the back-end work for you and supports your business together with you throughout the remainder of your franchise agreement. 

With franchising, you are supported and encouraged by a team of experts who understand the business from top to bottom and use that knowledge to help you succeed.  If you don't succeed, neither does the organization.  Most importantly, a great franchise concept provides support from the moment you become a franchise partner, such as with the Young Chefs Academy system through:


  • Site location
  • Build-out support
  • On-site and continual training and support with marketing strategies & tools
  • On-site & continual training in operational processes & procedures
  • Dedicated website & email domain
  • Social media training and assistance
  • Business analysis & benchmarking
  • Streamlined & fully integrated operating system
  • Curated weekly curriculum



A promotional shot taken by Paul Child for The French Chef

Photograph by Paul Child/The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Pictured left is Julia Child's filming her notorious cooking show. 

Young Chefs Academy Founder & CEO, Julie states, "This photo of our beloved Julia also illustrates the goal we set to ensure our franchisees feel the support offered by corporate as they operate their YCA businesses." 

You can be in business for yourself,

not by yourself!


Franchise Owner Testimony:

Keera Reid, YCA franchise owner and operator in Wesley Chapel/New Tampa, FL shared the following regarding her experience with the Young Chefs Academy team: 


"I absolutely feel like the owners and executive team of the YCA master franchise have a personal interest in the success of my business.  Yes, it is true that ultimately, my success is their success.  However, thus far, they have made every single resource available to me in preparation for the launch of my business.


From the moment I initially reached out to YCA back in March 2017 to inquire about the business, I have felt nothing but included in the future vision of our company.  I am not just a number.  The team has been nothing but available to me for any type of help, questions, feedback, and just overall support as a new business owner.  The level of support has only grown since I made the decision to sign on as a new franchisee.  I feel fully supported in this venture."


Julie Shares the Secret Sauce To Success With FOX News

Determining the perfect franchise model rests solely on the individual and what they are seeking based on their lifestyle. 

Recently, Young Chefs Academy Founder & CEO, Julie Burleson, shared with FOX News how she turned her passion of working with children and cooking into a lifelong pursuit to bring the same to other like-minded entrepreneurs.



If being in business for yourself, but not by yourself, consider a franchise concept that suits your lifestyle, goals and aspirations, along with a support team that looks to your success as importantly as you would yourself. 



2:09 PM

It's a "Burger-Bash!"

Grilling YCA

It's grilling season and we're ready to be the Pit Master at our next BBQ party! Nothing beats the aroma of freshly grilled meats and veggies in the great outdoors. 

With hamburgers being among the top grilling favs this Memorial Day, why not take your burger to the next level and blow your guests mind with this cheesy, tangy patty melt version! 


Come on!!  It's time to throw on that "Kiss The Cook" apron and fire up the grill!

Grilled Patty Melt




For the secret sauce:

¼ cup Dijon mustard

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon barbecue sauce

½ teaspoon hot sauce


For the caramelized onions:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced


For the patty melt:

1½ lb. ground chuck (80/20)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce


1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp ground black pepper


12 slices sourdough or thick bread

½ cup Secret Sauce

1 cup caramelized onions

12 slices cheddar cheese

6 tablespoons unsalted butter




  1. In a small mixing bowl, add all of the secret sauce ingredients; whisk together well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a medium cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.  (*See tips below for a grilled caramelized onion alternative)
  3. In a large bowl, combine ground beef and Worcestershire. Shape into 6 oval patties, about ½-inch thick, making an indention with your thumb in the center of each one.
  4. Mix the salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over each side of the burger gently pressing into the meat to help it stick.
  5. Grill the hamburgers directly over medium-high heat, turning once, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Check for doneness by checking the internal temperature, which should register at least 160°F on an instant-read thermometer.  Transfer to a cooler side of the grill until ready.
  6. Place bread slices along center of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly toasted on first side, about 2 minutes. Flip bread slices so toasted side is up.  Spread a tablespoon of secret sauce on each.  Place 1 slice of cheese each on six of them. Place burger patty on top of cheese. Top with onion, another slice of cheese and top with the remaining slices of bread, toasted side facing in.
  7. Cover and cook, opening cover every minute or so to turn sandwiches until well-toasted on both sides and cheese is melted. Remove from grill, allow to rest for five minutes, then serve.

Yield: makes 6 Patty Melts

*For a grilled version of the caramelized onions:

  1. Slice onion into wedges and place onto one side of a large square of heavy-duty foil.
  2. Add the butter and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  3. Fold the foil over the onions creating a tent over the onions and seal tightly.
  4. Poke a small hold into the top of the packet and place onto grill.
  5. Cook for approx. 45 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown, stirring halfway through.


  • For the most flavorful, juicy burger, choose ground beef that has a relatively high percentage of fat. Fat adds significant flavor. Burgers usually cook at high heat, the fat helps to keep the inside of the burger moist as the outside of the burger browns. The hand-down winner for flavor and tenderness is ground chuck which is 15–20% fat – enough fat for full flavor but with minimal shrinkage during cooking. A higher fat count will give great flavor but excessive shrinkage.
  • Salt is an important ingredient most dishes, but when it comes to seasoning a burger, timing is crucial. Salt is prized not only for its ability to heighten the flavor of foods, but also for its effect as a tenderizer.
  • Since hamburger has been manually tenderized by grinding, it needs no further tenderizing. Adding salt too early in the hamburger-making process will break down the meat to the point where the cooked burger will be dense and gummy, with the consistency of sausage. ADD SALT TO THE BURGERS NO MORE THAN 30 MINUTES BEFORE COOKING.
  • A perfect burger begins with meat that is handled very little. Lightly shape the patty, making it slightly larger than the bread to allow for shrinkage.
  • Break off chunks of ground beef and press them into rough patties against the palm of your hand. Gently pat the edges into a round shape. The patty shape doesn’t need to be perfect. Try to handle the meat as little as possible.
  • If you are cooking the burgers on a grill or oven broiling (radiant heat), add a dimple (about the size of a tablespoon) to the center of one side of the patty to keep the meat from puffing up during cooking. When cooking in a pan on the stovetop (conduction heat), there is no need to do this because the meat does not contract as significantly or quickly as it does when cooked by radiant heat.

Additional Tips:

  • Although it’s exciting to hear the sizzle when you smash the spatula onto a cooking burger, DON’T DO IT. You’re pushing all the juices out of the burger.
  • Give the burger time to rest after cooking – just a few minutes – for the juices to redistribute and settle in the meat.
  • Do not cut the burger open to determine how well it is cooked, this allows all the delicious juices to escape into the pan.


Wishing you all a delicious Memorial Day!!

2:57 PM

It's Time For A Fiesta!!!



It's almost time to put on those sombreros, break out the mariachi band and get ready for the fiesta! But first, what will be the culinary star of the show?  That's a tough one...we have so many favorites to choose from....which will it be?

We've got it!! 

This Cinco de Mayo, we're going to share one of our most beloved, south of the border recipes...Pork Empanadas with Poblano Cream Sauce.  Is your mouth watering yet? 

These are so fun to make...but even more delicious to eat! 


The empanada is very versatile as your filling can be either savory, spicy or sweet.  When fried, empanadas aren’t much of a departure from the fried pies you can get at fast food restaurants. When you bake them, they’re similar to a self-contained pot pie or a turnover.   With that in mind, we're going with the baked-version for this special day. 

Empanadas are fun, festive and will feed a crowd...let's get this party started!!


Empanada collage

(Young chefs in action showing off their crazy crimping skills!)


Pork Empanadas with Poblano Cream Sauce


Pork Empanadas:


The dough:

16 oz. All-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp melted butter
Pinch salt
1 Tbsp sugar
¾ cup lukewarm water
Egg wash
Coarse sea salt

The Filling:

8 oz. pork loin—diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion—1/4-inch dice
1 red bell pepper—1/4-inch dice
1 clove garlic—minced
2 tsp tomato paste
4 oz. smoked ham—diced
1 tsp ancho powder
2 Tbsp Crema Poblana (Mexican sour cream)
¼ cup slivered almonds—toasted
¼ cup raisins—plumped
Salt and pepper as needed




  1. Make the dough. Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl. Form a well in the center of the flour. Add the cider vinegar, salt, sugar, olive oil, melted butter, and water to the well. With a fork or fingers, gradually work the flour into the liquid in the well. Move the fork or fingers around and around the inside wall of the well in a circular motion until all the flour has been moistened and a dough starts to form.
  2. Form the dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it becomes flexible—about 5-minutes. Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a disc. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for 30-minutes to one hour.
  3. Roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness—a little thinner if possible. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut circles of dough.
  4. Make the filling. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Sauté the diced pork until browned. Season with salt and pepper. With a slotted spoon, remove the pork from the pan and into a mixing bowl. Drain off as much oil as possible back into the pan.
  5. In the same pan, sauté the onions and peppers for 2-minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the ham, ancho powder, almonds, raisins, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Place the contents of the pan in the mixing bowl with the pork. Toss to combine. Allow filling to cool. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to speed up cooling.
  6. To assemble: Preheat oven to 325°. Line sheet pan with parchment paper. Place 1 Tbsp filling in the center of each round. Brush the edges of the rounds with egg wash. Fold each round to form a half-moon shape. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.
  7. Place the empanadas on the sheet pan in neat rows. Brush the top of each empanada with egg wash. Sprinkle coarse sea salt over each empanada. Bake at 325° until golden—about 25 to 30-minutes.
  8. Serve with Poblano Cream.



Poblano Cream Sauce:



1 ½ cups Crema Poblana (Mexican sour cream)
2 Poblano Peppers—fire-roasted, peeled, seeded, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt as needed
¼ cup chopped cilantro




  1. Roast the poblano peppers on a grill, over a gas flame, or under the broiler, turning as needed until the skin has charred. Seal peppers in a plastic bag until cool enough to handle. Peel away the skin. Slit the peppers open, scrape out and discard the seeds. Dice the peppers.
  2. Place Crema poblana, diced peppers, lime juice, a pinch of salt and cilantro in a blender jar. Blend on high speed until the mixture turns pale green and all ingredients are pureed. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  3. Serve cool or at room temperature. Pool 2 Tbsp on each plate and top with pork empanadas. The Poblano cream will hold in the refrigerator for three days.




Tips & Tricks:

  •  In a bit of a time-crunch?  Purchase pre-made, pre-chilled dough and go from there! 
  • Why do we add vinegar to the crust?  Vinegar in a crust works like a secret ingredient to make sure the dough doesn't become tough.
  • Nervous about sealing your empanadas?  No problem!  Using a fork to seal your empanadas is easy and fun!  After you fold the dough over, use the times of the fork to press down, gently around the outer opening.  Then, simply use a pastry bench or butter knife to trim the uneven edges.  You now have a beautiful empanada to serve!





9:03 AM

Eating Clean & Green!


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Did you know that by cooking with more natural, unrefined ingredients that you're actually taking an active role in saving our planet?  Cooking and eating clean basically translates to eating more whole food rather than processed foods.  Who knew you could eat deliciously and still be environmentally conscience? 


Last month, our young chefs were tasked with crafting some pretty incredible recipes that were packed with health-giving flavor.   Cooking clean & green does not mean sacrificing flavor...on the contrary!  When cooked properly, healthy is tasty.

Using their knowledge of more wholesome alternatives, the students turned a traditionally classic, comfort dish into a "cleaner" version of its former self....Clean Gourmet Chicken Spaghetti...yummmm....





And, if you've never cooked with spaghetti squash, you haven't lived.  It not only makes a great substitute for spaghetti noodles, it's packed with flavor.


So, let's throw away that frozen tray, bag or box of processed dinner options and get "mean and green" for Earth Day!


Clean Gourmet Chicken Spaghetti




1 spaghetti squash
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split in half
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced
½ yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
½ (4 oz.) cup cream cheese
1 Tbsp. tarragon, chiffonade
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and black pepper, to taste




  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, cutting through the stem and end of the squash. Scrape out the seeds. Place the squash cut side down in a baking dish. Pour about a cup of water in the bottom of the dish, just enough to cover.
  3. Bake the squash until it can be easily pierced by a knife, about 30-45 minutes. Remove and cool until it can be handled easily. When cool, use a fork to separate the flesh of the squash into strands. Set aside until ready to use.
  4. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the butter to a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat; allow it to get hot. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 4-6 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
  5. Add the mushrooms and onions to the Dutch oven and cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid and are starting to turn brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the vinegar reduce slightly.
  7. Sprinkle the flour over the onion-mushroom mixture, stirring constantly to form a paste. Add the chicken broth; stir until it’s a smooth sauce. Add more stock, if needed. Stir in the cream cheese until it melts and you have a thick, creamy sauce.
  8. Slice the cooked chicken and return the chicken, squash and tarragon to the pot. Stir to combine. Cook until heated through, another 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle on the paprika right before serving, then taste and adjust seasonings. Serve while still hot.

Yield: about 4-6 servings


9:22 AM

Mise En Place For a "Flavorful" Family Affair

Young Chefs Academy Father-Son, Franchisee Duo Brings the Joy and Value of Cooking to Fruition in Bel Air!


(pictured:  Father/Son Due, Adam (left) & Anthony (right) Bell)

"Mise En Place" ~ a familiar term which means "to have all of your ingredients in place before cooking" ~ is heard in a chef's world daily.

When you think of what makes a business successful, what comes to mind?  Several things, of course, having a good support team that also includes your family and friends on your side, is crucial to the success of your business, especially from the beginning.

That's where lifelong foodies, Adam Bell and son, Anthony, come into the picture.  We can say this team has all the ingredients in place for a successful Young Chefs Academy franchise business ("Mise En Place!").  Due to Adam's passion for teaching and cooking, the Bell family made a practice of introducing their love of the culinary arts to their three children by including them in the process from an early age.  This surely lead to Anthony's decision to attend the Culinary Institute of America and go on to becoming a pastry chef at the illustrious Greenbrier Resort.

With the mindset of striking out on their own, the father-son team began looking at alternative business ventures where they could thrive away from the corporate world.  When looking at franchise opportunities, it was important to stay true to what they knew would drive them to succeed...the need to fulfill their dreams of enriching the lives of those within their community while feeding their foodie souls. 


Enter Young Chefs Academy...


The team at Young Chefs Academy first met Adam during "Discovery Day"...a day that provides an opportunity for all to meet face-to-face and experience the culture of the company itself. And again, during the 5-day training camp at the corporate office...but this time Adam was accompanied by his main support system, Anthony.  (Click here to find out about YCA's Training & support)


"We are so pleased to be the first Young Chefs Academy in Maryland,"  states Adam.  "We see the joy on the young chefs faces everyday in classes, parties, field trips, and camps. The venture has been a very positive experience and the response from the community has been very exciting.  We look forward to a fun filled year and plenty of cooking."

Father-Son Duo, Anthony and Adam Bell, hit the ground running mid-February during their soft opening hosting birthday parties, weekly classes, Spring camp and more.   Already, the weekly class members of Bel Air have begun cultivating their culinary skill set as they progress through cooking challenges such as crushing, pureeing, chiffonading and emulsifying with more skills to learn each week. 



  Check out the recent interview with 

The Aegis - Baltimore Sun  



Join Young Chefs Academy as we proudly welcome the newest addition to the franchise team in Harford County!




April 14, 2018 Grand Opening Event:

Young Chefs Academy of Bel Air will be hosting an exciting, interactive GRAND OPENING Event...FREE to the public!!  Join Adam, Anthony and their team during this fun event where you'll get a "taste" of of the Young Chefs Academy experience!


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WHEN: April 14, 2018
  11:00 am - 3:00 pm EST
WHERE: 130 North Bond St., #101
  Bel Air, MD 21014



Check out more FUN with Young Chefs Academy of Bel Air as students share their love of cooking...


 (Courtesy of WMAR-TV ~ Baltimore ABC)



 (Courtesy of WBAL TV ~ Baltimore NBC)





9:13 AM

Happy Twinkie Day!


Good old Hostess® Twinkes® have been around since the Great Depression era and are still going strong.  These sweet spongecakes filled with a velvety cream have been a crave-worthy treat for millions of people over the years.  When the company announced that this famous snack treat would be taken off the shelves in 2012, stores were flooded with Twinke fans across the globe hoping to secure their own piece of nostalgia before it was too late.  Stores sold out within hours of the announcement going public. 

Luckily for all those die-hard fans, Twinkes reappeared on shelves in 2013.  But now, you don't have to worry about an ample supply available at your local supermarket.  With our instructions and recipe, you can make these goodies at home whenever you want!  You're welcome!  : )

Last summer during our "Dining Through the Decades" camp, our summer campers brought some of the "oldies but goodies" to life, such as homemade Pop Tarts & Chicken Divan, but most importantly the time-honored Hostess® Twinke®...and the results were utterly delicious! 

But producing a light and airy spongecake can be a little tricky if you don't follow some basic rules.


Here's a few tips to ensure your sponge cakes come out light and fluffy...

Mise en Place is extremely important ~
The first and most important element when making spongecakes is to "mise en place" ~ remember what this means (our young chefs do!)?  Right!  Have everything (ingredients gathered and measured, tools in place,...) in place.  Also, if you're making cake molds using foil, have those ready to go once the batter is ready. 

Why?  Most of the lift and rise that happens when the cake is baking happens because the eggs have been whipped and increased in volume.  The longer the batter sits around waiting to be baked, it loses volume and can result in a flat cake.  Whahh, whahh, whaahhhh....

Whipping the eggs ~

Another very important step in mixing is to whip the eggs to the proper consistency.  Warm eggs whip up much better than cold eggs.  Warm the eggs up just a bit so they are slightly warmer than room temperature (around 115°F). 

The whipping process takes about 5-7 minutes where the eggs will be a very pale, creamy yellow and have expanded to almost triple their original volume.

How can you be sure it's at the right consistency?  Remove the bowl from the mixer and run the whip through the mixture.  If the eggs mixture falls back into the bowl in ribbons and stays on the surface for about 3 seconds, then you've got it!

Be sure you use warm milk and butter ~

The milk and butter need to be close to 150°F before adding to the batter.  You can heat the butter and milk together quickly in the microwave vs. the stove to save some time.

Why it's important to remove half of the batter before adding the hot milk mixture ~
This is an important step!  If the hot milk is added all at once it might cook some of the eggs.  We're tempering the batter by slowly introducing the colder ingredients to the hot ingredients to ensure the eggs and the hot milk get to the same temperature slowly without cooking the eggs.




(Pictured above: Young chefs, Kate, sifting the dry ingredients)

Twinkee mold


Make sure the oven is preheated and ready once the cake batter is placed in the molds!  If they sit, the air will deflate just like a balloon!

Don't have time or not in the mood to make the molds?  Just use a muffin pan!  It may not share the same classic shape but will still have the same great taste!


So let's get baking!


With all of this said, don't let this intimidate you!  It's all easy as long as you follow the basic steps!  Our young chefs were in awe of their creations, and the taste was even better than the real thing! (Shhhh....don't tell Hostess...we love them but it's hard to beat homemade!)


Love Twinkees

(pictured above:  Young chefs, Grace & Kate relishing the fruits of their labor...yummm...)

The picture says it all....'nuff said...Happy Twinke Day!



Homemade Twinkes


½ cup cake flour

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

2 Tbsp. milk

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

½ tsp vanilla

5 large eggs

12 Tbsp. sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar


6 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

¾ cup Marshmallow Fluff

2 Tbsp. heavy cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position.
  2. To make single-use Twinkie molds, cut 12 pieces of aluminum foil 12 inches wide by 14 inches long. Fold each piece of foil in half lengthwise, then fold it in half again to create a rectangle that’s about 6 inches long and 7 inches wide. Repeat to make a dozen rectangles.
  3. Place one sheet of folded foil on a work surface with a standard-size spice jar on its side in the center of the foil. Bring the long sides of the foil up around the jar, folding the sides and ends as necessary to make a tight boat-shape from which the jar can be removed. Repeat to make 12 foil molds. Spray generously with nonstick spray. Place the molds on a baking sheet.
  4. Lay a piece of parchment on the work surface.
  5. Sift together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  6. In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Cover to keep warm.
  7. In the bowl of the stand mixer, add the eggs, sugar and cream of tartar. Whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a large pot of simmering water just to warm the egg mixture to 115°F. Eggs whip much better when they are warm.
  8. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Transfer half of the cake batter to a clean bowl and add all of the milk mixture. Whisk until combined. Transfer the batter back to the bowl of the stand mixer. Whisk to combine.
  9. Immediately scoop the batter in to the molds, filling each 2/3 of the way full. Bake until the cake tops are light brown and feel firm and spring back when touched, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pan containing the molds to a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool in the molds.
  10. Using a mixer, beat together the butter, powdered sugar and Marshmallow Fluff. Add the cream and beat just until smooth.
  11. Just before filling the cakes, remove them from the foil. Poke three holes in the bottom of each cake using a wooden spoon then wiggle to make room for the filling without going all the way through. Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Pipe filling into the holes in each cake, taking care not to overfill, until the cake gently expands. Serve while still slightly warm.   
  12. These are best eaten the same day they're made.                                                   

Yield: about 12 Twinkies


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