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.
9:03 AM

Eating Clean & Green!


cover photo 2


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!


23659280_137754436945917_1905434240935796971_n  23794988_137754440279250_8119488210116108852_n



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


© 2017 Young Chefs Academy   |   Legal Franchise Disclaimer