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.
11:14 AM

Fight Cold Season Deliciously

chicken soup1

The winter can be rough...crazy wind-chill factors, sleet and ice, itchy wool clothes.  But we can bear it all if we can avoid the dreaded effects of cold-season.

Cough, cough....

Winter is the time for ice skating, sitting around bonfires, and attending back-to-back holiday parties!  Not clutching a box of tissues with a close eye on when the next dose of cold medicine is allowable.  So why not do what you can to avoid the "flu blues?"

We have our very own secret weapon which may ward off the potential onslaught with that very first sniffle...and of course it involves delicious ingredients.  Who needs cold medicine?

Our Darn Good Cold-Combat Chicken Noodle Soup is so delicious, you shouldn't wait until you're feeling under the weather to pull this bad-boy together.  It's packed with a crazy amount of natural, cold-fighting ingredients that will help you ward off that cold as well as make your taste buds sing.

While we know that the more colorful the food on our plate (or bowl) is, the more nutritional value is included (and we don't mean a plate of gummy bears or Cheetos!).  We won't list them all here, but check out just a few of the nutritional benefits that are naturally comprised in this recipe alone at the bottom of the page.

chicken soup4

For this recipe, you can easily use a rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked chicken breasts.  And, if you're not feeling up to chopping all of these ingredients, purchase them pre-chopped to speed up the process. 

chicken soup3

This makes quite a bit of soup so be sure to use a large Dutch oven. 

TIP:  Noodles soak up some of the liquid as it sits.  To ensure your leftovers have enough of that delicious broth, don't add more noodles than the recipe specifies.  If you find yourself in this predicament with leftover soup, just add a little more broth (and spices, if necessary) before warming it up!

What makes this soup so special? 

The additional seasonings provide some nice medicinal benefits while adding a rich flavor to the soup.  Each bite is packed with vitamins and minerals that contain certain cold-fighting properties, such as antibacterial & immune boosting agents, as well as pain relievers. 

For our own purposes, we used more cayenne than we post in the recipe for added benefits and an extra kick.  But with our roots in Texas, the additional heat from this spice doesn't incinerate our palates!  We suggest starting with a small amount and adding more to your specific taste.

So, let's not waste another minute!  That cold weather is either here or just around the corner.   Let's get started!

chicken soup2

Darn Good Cold-Combat Chicken Noodle Soup


  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1  tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cartons (32 oz. each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pkg. (12 oz) frozen home-style egg noodles
  • 4 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the butter over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms.  Cook while stirring for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp and tender.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
  2. Stir in the flour, basil, and salt until blended.  Gradually stir in broth.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes.
  3. Return to a boil and add noodles.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in kale and chicken.  Add the cayenne, oregano, turmeric, garlic powder. Taste and add additional seasonings if necessary.
  5. Cook covered for 6-8 minutes longer or until kale and noodles are tender.
  6. Add black pepper to taste and serve!

Yield:  Approximately 8 large servings

While we won't list all of the nutritional value of each ingredient, here are a few medicinal benefits from specific ingredients included in this recipe:

Depending on which type of mushroom you use, most are high in antioxidants, detoxifies, and provide fiber to aid in digestion.  They have also been found to improve immune response to infection by stimulating the production of killer T-cells. They are rich in B vitamins, Vitamin D, potassium, copper and iron (just to name a few) are also present in mushrooms.

We've all heard the old adage that carrots improve your vision.  But this little ingredient contains antioxidants, Vitamin A, fiber, potassium and Vitamin C that help boost the immune system, reducing the severity of a cold and duration in which it lasts.  .

High in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

Along with many other health benefits, studies are beginning to show that garlic may have a very strong antibiotic effect.

Kale is a classified as a "super-food" so you just can't go wrong adding this to the mix!  This little leafy ingredient can increase your nutrient content significantly and provide antioxident benefits. 

This flavorful ingredient has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.  Studies have shown that turmeric can be used as a pain reliever and healing agent.

Don't let the heat scare you away!  This is a key ingredient that has been used in home remedies for years to fight coughs, colds and congestion.  Vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese, and flavonoids are among the main ingredients that support it's flu-fighting properties.

Studies performed using Oregano to determine it's medicinal value were reported to show antibacterial properties to fight cold symptoms and anti-inflammatory properties. 

1:45 PM

A Deliciously, Twisted Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Bread 4_b of our favorite holidays is just a couple of days away!  Thanksgiving is that time of year where family and friends gather together to create another year of holiday memories.  But let's not forget about all of the great food!

Each year, we look for more recipes to add to our test kitchen arsenal.  One of this year's projects we knew we just had to test out was a Pumpkin Braid Roll.  The flavors of the season add a unique quality to the "regular" bread options and the result of the final product is beautiful.. This bread is sure to be donning our Thanksgiving tables this year. 

And now, we want to share this with you!

This is an easy bread to pull together, however, be sure to make time for the additional rising time necessary.  Just mix, knead, rise, braid, rise and bake! We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have (with a little butter flavored with honey and cinnamon...Yummmm....). 


Pumpkin Bread 3_b

Pumpkin Braid


For the Pumpkin Braid Roll:

1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. warm water
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups bread flour*

For the Egg Wash:

1 large egg
1 Tbsp. water


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water (water should be between 105° - 110°). 
  2. In your large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, egg, brown sugar, butter, pie spice, salt, yeast mixture and 1 cup flour.  Beat on medium speed until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.  The dough will be sticky so be sure not to add too much flour.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Lightly oil the inside of your mixing bowl and and turn the dough in the bowl to coat.  Cover with a damp dish towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Punch down the dough.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and divide into thirds.  Roll each into a 16" rope.  Place ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid.  Pinch ends to seal; tuck under.
  5. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350° F.
  6. For egg wash, in a small bowl, whisk egg and water until blended and brush over loaf.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Yield:  about 12 slices

  • If you don't have bread flour on hand, you can use all-purpose flour.  The dough may not rise as much as with bread flour, however, the results are not dramatic.
  • Remember not to open the oven during the bake time!  This releases some of the heat from the oven!

2:37 PM

Take a decadant bite of this Disney•Pixar COCO-inspired recipe!

IMG_8089 COCO_copy

We are so excited about the release of Disney•Pixar’s “COCO!"  The story shares of the passion possessed by a young boy to follow his dreams amongst the many obstacles that surround him.  Our young chefs can relate as they aspire to master the joy and value of cooking, whether it's to become the next celebrity chef or to simply learn the lifetime skills of the culinary arts. 

In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with charming trickster Héctor (voice of Gael García Bernal) on an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead.

When we were approached by representatives of Disney•Pixar to host COCO-inspired events at select locations, we jumped head first into our kitchens to create an exciting hand-on culinary event around the November 22, 2017 movie release.  Each event will take you on a hands-on, culinary adventure signifying the culture and experience of the movie itself. 

Reminiscing about the good ol' days....

As most of us do in the kitchen when cooking with family and friends, we reflected on the past as we worked together in the kitchen.  Fond memories of our past national partnership with Disney•Pixar were recalled when we were presented with the opportunity to help promote the release of Ratatouille® (remember the lovable rat, Remy, as he searched to realize his dream of becoming a chef?). 

Through the sponsorship of The Big Cheese Tour to hosting Open House Events in communities across the US, Young Chefs® Academy brought the magic to life in our kitchens.


Disney•Pixar "COCO" inspired Workshops (in select markets)...

This year, the COCO-inspired workshops will include tasty recipes influenced by the movie.  (Click here to find a participating location near you!)

But of course, we didn't stop there!  While we were at it, we were determined to develop a delicious recipe we could share with all of you that celebrates COCO's main character, Miguel, and his heritage, but to also create a beautiful dish worthy of the upcoming holidays....Dulce de Leche Cheesecake.

This easy recipe returns gorgeous results...not to mention each bite is met with melt-in-your-mouth, creamy goodness.  Without further ado, let's get started!

How many times have you been knee-deep in a recipe, only to find you're missing a key ingredient?  That's why we teach our young chefs how important it is to be prepared before you get started.

First, let's start with mise en place (French term for "everything in its place"). 


Now we're cookin'! 

Everything simply falls into place with this recipe.  But there are a few tips that can help you produce top notch results.  Here goes!

TIP 1: 
Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature otherwise you could end up with a lumpy cheesecake!

TIP 2:
Instead of using a stick of butter to grease your pan, simply use the wrapper left from your softened butter to grease your pan.

IMG_8064   IMG_8081

If you'd rather use a stand mixer for the filling, use the paddle attachment as this produces less air (more air = more cracks!).  But be sure not to over-mix!  Over-mixing can create air pockets causing cracks in your cheesecake.  You want a smooth, glossy finish.  

TIP 4:
The steam when using a roasting pan of water helps keep the cheesecake moist and prevents cracks.  However, you will be covering the cheesecake with a glaze, so don't dispare if a crack or two appears! 

You've heard us say this over and over but do not open the oven during baking time!  This reduces the temperature and can cause your cheesecake to sink or crack.


And there you have easy my friends....this little goody will be one of the first recipes to disappear from the holiday table.


IMG_8089 crop

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake


For the crust:

  • 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 17 whole graham crackers)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 10 Tbsp. butter, melted

For the Filling:
  • 2 (8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned dulce de leche
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Glaze:
  • 2/3 cup canned dulce de leche
  • 3 Tbsp. (or more) heavy whipping cream
  • Fleur de sel


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9" springform pan with nonstick spray (bottom and sides). 
  2. For the crust: In the bowl of the food processor, pulse graham crackers until you have fine crumbs.
  3. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add melted butter; stir until coated. Transfer crumb mixture to the prepared pan. Press evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.
  4. For the filling: Wipe out the bowl of the food processor; blend the cream cheese and sugar in processor until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl.  Be sure not to overbeat!
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, processing 3 to 5 seconds to blend between additions. Add the dulce de leche and vanilla; process about 10 seconds. Spread batter evenly over cooled crust.
  6. Place a roasting pan of water on the bottom rack and set the springform pan on the rack above that to create steam and prevent it from drying out.
  7. Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and center jiggles slightly, about 38 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.
  8. For the glaze: Heat the dulce de leche and 3 tablespoons cream in a microwave-safe bowl in 10-second intervals until melted. Stir to blend, adding more cream by teaspoonful if too thick to pour (the amount of cream needed will depend on the brand of dulce de leche).
  9. Pour glaze over the cooled cheesecake and spread evenly. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Lightly sprinkle bars with fleur de sel or sea salt.

About Disney•Pixar COCO:

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Héctor (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.

Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. For more information, check out, Hashtag: #PixarCoco, Pixar Coco Facebook, Pixar Coco Twitter and Pixar Coco Instagram.

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