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.
11:30 AM

"Let The Good Times Roll" with YCA's Bake For Family Fun Month!

mardi gras

When you think of Mardi Gras, what comes to mind? 

      Jazz and a variety of other lively music on every street corner?   

      Bright colors of green, gold and purple?  

      Parades filled with beautifully designed floats and sequined masks? 

But we certainly can't forget the incredible tastes and aromas associated with this lively event! 

While New Orleans boasts some of the most delicious dishes such as the colorful King Cake, sweet Beignets, savory Jambalaya, Gumbo, Red Beans & Rice, Muffulettas and so much more, there’s one sweet treat we want to share for our last week of Bake For Family Fun recipes….the Praline


These famous confections are among our favorite New Orleans food traditions.  While the origin of the praline most likely originated in France, the confection made its way to the states as French immigrants began to make their roots in Louisiana.  The almonds typically found in pralines were replaced with the Southern native pecan.

Our Young Chefs® created an easy, super-fast, delicious pecan-version of this sweet confection.  Did we say “super-fast?”  This recipe takes literally less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish!  Wanna test it…Let's go and Laissez les bons temps rouler (~ Let the Good Times Roll!)


Microwave Pralines


  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. margarine plus extra to grease wax paper
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves



  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Microwave-safe bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Waxed paper

  1. Spread extra margarine on large sheet of waxed paper.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine sugar, cream, salt, 2 Tbsp. margarine, and pecans.  Microwave 7-9 minutes on high, stirring once halfway though.  Let rest 1 minute.  CAUTION:  Praline mixture is very hot!
  3. Stir in vanilla and continue to stir 3 more minutes.  Drop by teaspoonful onto greased waxed paper.  (If mixture is runny, allow to cool 30 seconds more and try again.)

4:22 PM

Reliving My Biggest Middle School Nightmare During This Year's IFA Convention

by Young Chefs Academy Founder & CEO, Julie Burleson

It happened during the International Franchise Association (IFA) Annual Convention earlier this month.  More about my middle school flashback in a bit.  The IFA Convention is where over 4000 franchise industry professionals convene to network, brainstorm, share best practices, with one common goal ~ protecting, enhancing and supporting franchising.


This year, I was honored to be invited to facilitate during the IFA’s Business Solutions Roundtables.  These highly attended sessions are just one example of the many ways the IFA fosters productive discussions amongst the convention attendees.  My topic was ‘Recruiting the best team members for start-up franchisors.’ ~ A subject near and dear to my heart.

It was here…

…as the roundtable sessions were about to begin… I’m waiting for the doors to open and attendees to flood the room, that I was transported back to middle school gym class.   The teacher’s announcing “We’re picking teams!!!! …There I sat at my round table thinking, ‘will anyone pick me?’  My neighboring facilitator and I shared a laugh as we conspired to put our tables together if we ended up alone, all only long enough to see folks scrambling to find a spot (whew) at our tables.  As facilitator, I did my best to keep the discussions on topic, allowing everyone a chance to talk.  As is the case in any one of the many meetings and sessions that take place over the course of an IFA convention, the experience was enlightening and thought provoking.



NEWS FLASH: ALL FRANCHISE COMPANIES ARE CREATED EQUAL.  What’s that you say ~ Pizza, donuts, window washing, children’s cooking schools?  Yes – when it comes to the topic of Recruiting the Right Team for your Start-Up Franchise Company.

Several franchise concepts were represented and many ideas shared during my roundtable discussions, from using LinkedIn as a recruiting tool, to hiring future leaders to meet budget restraints.  However, one key take-away emerged that was met with widespread agreement, and I believe worthy of noting.

Here it is.


Before you do anything, do this first:

Define your Company Culture.

Company Culture ~ a buzz word you hear a lot these days; but for good reason.  Company culture can be defined as a set of shared values, beliefs and behaviors that will define how a company operates.  It can be from how employees dress, act or perform their jobs, all the way to a formally written code of values.  Culture can evolve over time, depending on the cumulative traits of the employees; in other words, pay close attention to whom you hire because each person that does not fit your culture, will affect it.

Fact: You can’t change people’s “cultural behavior”.  So, by defining the key cultural attributes important to your company before you hire, it enables you to recruit for not only skill set but also for a person’s “culture”.  By doing so, you’re increasing your odds of maintaining the desired culture as the company grows.

Why this is important for a franchise company: Corporate culture will permeate through to your franchisees and on to their teams.

Important:  Sales people are members of your TEAM, whether they’re on salary or contract or brokers.   If I could impart just one piece of advice to start up franchisors, this would be it: 

Only work with sales people that exemplify your company culture.

Your sales team is tasked with an important role.  They are matchmakers ~ who evaluate the traits and passions of a prospective franchise, looking for a perfect match for your company.  Salespeople are often the first point of contact, therefore make the first impression for your company.  Franchise sales experts often operate by their own “tried and true” method.  This method is their culture; and remember, you can’t change that.  The franchisor must be able to count on them to project trust, honesty and confidence when speaking to prospects.  New franchise owners should come into a franchise system with no preconceived notions or false perceptions ~ to ensure a stronger, more stable franchisor/franchisee relationship.

FACT: NOT ALL SALESPEOPLE ARE CREATED EQUALLY.  So, ask your peers, ask your mentors, ask fellow franchisors, ask everyone you meet through the IFA.  The right sales people are out there; but you must do your research to find the right fit for your company.

All of this from one round table session!  If you are serious about franchising, The IFA Annual Convention is the place to be.  Franchising, an American invention, is a strong business model when responsibly operated.  I will add, getting the right team on board, by aligning your culture with your team’s, is key to the company’s strength.

P.S. Become a member of the IFA.

P.P.S. Become an active member of the IFA, middle school nightmares and all ~ it’s an investment you won’t regret.

9:17 AM

Break Out The Waffle Iron In Honor Of National Hot Breakfast Month!


There’s nothing better than waking up after a great night’s sleep to the sounds and sweet smells of breakfast cooking in the other room….Ahhhhhh…..

Anthony Bourdain couldn’t have said it any better – “What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast?” 

In honor of National Hot Breakfast Month, toss the frozen toaster options back in the freezer and make something delectable for friends and family that will have their mouth watering in anticipation!  Our Young Chefs tested this delicious twist on your ordinary waffles….Orange Waffles with Orange Maple Syrup ~ sweet Belgian waffles with a hint of tangy citrus.  All we can say is D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.  (and super easy!)!

Simply serve these up with a few orange slices on the side and your favorite protein (we’re thinking bacon…who doesn’t like bacon?).  But be careful!  You may become the family’s sole designated breakfast chef!

Happy #BakeForFamilyFunMonth!

Orange Waffles with Orange Maple Syrup


For the waffles:
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 medium oranges, zest and juice
  • Club soda
For the syrup:
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup orange juice


  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Spoon or whisk
  • Microplane
  • Waffle iron
  • Plate
  • Small saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups


  1. Preheat the waffle iron. Preheat oven to 200°F.
  2. In large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to just combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and melted butter together. Fold into the dry ingredients until the flour is just moistened.
  4. In a liquid measuring cup, add the zest and juice of both oranges. Add enough club soda to make 1 ¼ cups of liquid. Add this to the flour mixture and fold in until it is just combined. Set aside and let rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Cook the waffles in the waffle iron until they are crisp and golden brown. Keep warm while cooking the rest of the waffle batter. Serve with the orange maple syrup.
  6. For the syrup:  In a small sauce pan, add the maple syrup and orange juice. Heat to a simmer until the syrup is warm and combined with the orange juice.
  7. Remove from the heat and serve while still warm with the orange waffles.

about 6 servings

Note: if desired, ¾ cup toasted, chopped pecans can be added to the batter. Add the pecans in with the dry ingredients.

9:45 AM

"Bake For Family Fun" Makes Game Day That Much More Delicious!

Picture this….you’ve been invited to the ultimate Super Bowl Party where everyone brings a delicious snack to share.  Should you stick to the old fallback recipe of football shaped cookies?  7-layer dip?  Cocktail sausages slathered in BBQ Sauce?  No way!  You want to bring something that stands out from the rest.  Twist things up a bit with delicious, savory Parmesan Garlic Pretzels!   These soft pretzels are just as good with or without dipping sauce! 


Our Young Chefs have tons of fun making these pretzels. There’s a lot of science happening behind-the-scenes when making a yeast dough. During class, we talk about how different ingredients cause specific reactions when brought together during the making of this simple recipe. It’s like a crazy science experiment happening without you even realizing it! It’s really kind of amazing!

For instance, we teach how yeast is a living plant which breathes and grows (sounds like a scary movie, right!?). It thrives on the sugar added to dough which produces a gas that stretches the dough and causes it to rise, and how certain proteins form gluten when mixed with a liquid which gives an elastic quality to the dough. But, we’ll skip the whole science lesson from here and move onto the recipe!

Check out the recipe and tips below!

(We brought in a couple of our test kitchen teens to show their stuff!)

Parmesan Garlic Pretzels


  • 1 ¾ cup warm water, divided
  • ½ tsp. plus a pinch of dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup bread flour
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Pepperoni slices (optional)
  • ½ tsp. dried, minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet butter
  • Pizza sauce for dipping (optional)


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Bowls
  • Wooden spoons
  • Baking sheet
  • Cooking spray
  • Towel
  • Pastry brush


  1.  In a mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast onto ¾ cup warm water; stir to dissolve.  Add sugar and salt; stir until dissolved.  Stir in both flours and knead dough until smooth and elastic*.  Cover the bowl with a warm, damp towel and let rise ½ hour.
  2. Place cheese into a pie pan.  Set aside.
  3. It’s time to start twisting!  After dough has risen, cut strips of dough that measure 1 ½” x 8”.  Shape each strip of dough into a cigar shape and then use the palms of your hands to roll the dough back and forth against the counter.  Start in the middle of strip.  Work from the middle of the dough and press outward as you roll to lengthen the rope.  Roll each piece into a rope ½” x 24” (about the thickness of your finger).  Do not over-roll the rope.  Shape into a pretzel.
  4. Prepare a baking soda water bath by mixing baking soda with 1 cup warm water. Stir water bath often.  (Note:  If the soda does not fizz, it’s not fresh!)
  5. Dip pretzels into soda solution, place on towel to drain excess.  Dip the face of each pretzel in cheese mixture and place on greased baking sheet.  If using pepperoni, place approximately 6 pepperonis on each pretzel.  Let rest again for 25 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees while pretzels rest.
  7. Melt butter in the microwave, then add the garlic.  Let sit while pretzels bake.
  8. Bake pretzels for 5 minutes on the center rack.  After 5 minutes, use oven mitts to rotate the tray 180 degrees and bake an additional 4-5 minute or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and brush tops with melted butter mixture.  Serve with pizza sauce or use any remaining garlic butter for dipping.  Makes 6 large (5-6”) pretzels.

Additional Tips:
  • It’s important to use warm water here as it allows the yeast to activate and start to grow so the dough will rise.  
  • Not sure if your kneaded long enough?  *Try the “Poke” test to make sure the kneading process is complete after about 4-10 minutes, or when the dough is smooth, satiny and elastic.  You’ll know it’s ready when you give it a little “poke” and the dough springs back!
  • If your rope starts to shrink back a bit, roll it partway, let it rest and then roll it out the rest of the way!

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