Cooking with Tobin and Steve: Chocolate Covered Raisins

I love chocolate covered raisins, but because of Tobin’s peanut allergy, we rarely have them around the house. I have never managed to find any chocolate covered raisins that aren’t cross-contaminated with peanuts. Since Tobin has never eaten chocolate covered raisins, but he loves raisins, I thought I would try making my own for him to try. Because the recipe I found on the internet looked fairly simple, I figured it would be something neat to do with the kids.

Since Steve was still doing his school work this afternoon when we started making the treat, it ended up just being Tobin and me making the candy at first. I decided to use the microwave instead of a double boiler to melt the chocolate with since my five year old loves using the microwave. He adores pressing the numbers on the keypad and watching the food go round and round on the turntable. He even drags a stool over so he can look at it up close. (Maybe if I turned the cable television back on, he wouldn’t be so desperate for entertainment!)

Anxiously waiting to press more buttons on the microwave.

Anxiously waiting to press more buttons on the microwave.

For this batch of melted chocolate, I chose a combination of semisweet chocolate chips and mini Hershey Kisses, both peanut free. We microwaved the chocolate in a bowl in 20-30 second increments so that it wouldn’t burn and stopped to stir occasionally. Tobin was in heaven because he had the chance to press lots of buttons on the microwave by the time we were done.

After melting the chocolate, we brought the bowl over to the counter so we could stir in the raisins. We dumped in quite a few regular raisins and some golden raisins we happened to have sitting around the house. Tobin enjoyed mixing up the raisins and making sure they were all covered in chocolate. Once they were all mixed up, we scooped up the mixture by the teaspoon and plopped it onto some waxed paper spread out on a cookie sheet. Tobin scooped out the first few but decided he was finished and turned the spoon over to me to finish. When we were finished spooning the batter onto the waxed paper, we moved the tray to the fridge so the candy could harden. I would say it took about 20 minutes for the chocolate covered raisin clusters to get completely hard.

Mix it up!

Mix it up!

Ready to harden in the fridge.

Ready to harden in the fridge.

Our first batch was very small since I wasn’t sure how well the chocolate I had chosen would melt. We only made about 10 clusters of raisins total. I let Tobin try the first one, but after tasting it, he decided he didn’t like it! (I say, more for the rest of us.) He ended up spitting it out into the trashcan. That kid…sigh. He did however want to continue eating the chocolate chips themselves, so I poured out a few into a little bowl for him to eat. I guess he still needed his chocolate fix, and he did eat some plain raisins that we didn’t put into the candy mix. I guess that’s close enough to a chocolate covered raisin for him.

Yummy chocolate

Yummy chocolate

The batch of ten pieces did not last long for the rest of us, and Tobin’s big brother missed out on the original fun, so Steve decided he would make a second batch on his own. (We also wanted to set aside a few for Ken’s sister’s birthday today.) I talked him through the process a bit, but he pretty much managed it on his own. In fact, his batch came out better (and bigger) than the first because he was more patient than Tobin and I were about making sure the two types of chocolate were properly melted and mixed.

Make a big batch, Steve.

Make a big batch, Steve.

We had so much fun, we sent Ken out this evening for more supplies. Steve, Tobin, and I are going to try chocolate covered dried cherries next. I’m sure Tobin won’t eat those either. I’m sure Tobin will have oodles of fun working the microwave at least.

Cooking with Stephen: Fried Rice

Steve and I worked together on two different interesting things today, but I’m only going to blog about the one this evening. I’ll save the other one for another post later this week…

For the last several years, I have been trying to teach Stephen to cook whenever the opportunity arises. I always tell him that as much as he eats, he really needs to learn to cook for himself! Sometimes it is rough finding the spare time since it always takes much longer to prepare something when you are showing someone else how to do it. Now that he is 12, I do try to show him how to do at least a little cooking every week or two at the most.

When I first started teaching Steve to cook, he would help with baking cookies and muffins and other simple things. I would let him help measure out certain ingredients or beat eggs, but I would still handle most of the recipe myself. However, lately I have been trying to challenge him more and have been letting him cook whole meals practically on his own while I just stand aside and guide him when necessary. There are now actually several things that he can cook completely on his own from start to finish with no help from me at all. (I never let him use the stove though when an adult isn’t readily available!)

Today I chose to teach Steve how to make fried rice which also happens to be one of his favorite things to eat. Both of my boys could practically live on rice of one sort or another. In fact Stephen bought me a rice cooker this past Christmas. He spent all of Christmas Day annoying me by asking me when I was going to make him some rice. 🙂

I have only made fried rice myself once before, last week in fact. I had been surprised by how easy it is to make and figured that it was something Steve could certainly handle.

The basic recipe I used is here.

I did change the recipe a little bit though. We decreased the amount of oil used by about half, and I increased the amount and kinds of vegetables used by a lot.

We like having some kind of protein in our fried rice, and eggs were what we had on hand. Next time perhaps we’ll try some leftover shrimp.

Beating some eggs

Beating some eggs

Smiling because he survived chopping up all those veggies without losing a finger.

Smiling because he survived chopping up all those veggies without losing a finger.

Steve loves his veggies. Next time maybe we’ll have some asparagus and zucchini on hand too! Fresh mushrooms would be tasty as well.

Chopped veggies to fry with the rice: leeks from our garden, frozen peas, sliced snow peas, carrots, and broccoli.

Chopped veggies to fry with the rice: leeks, frozen peas, sliced snow peas, carrots, and broccoli.

I made up a bunch of rice in the steamer the day before because Tobin wanted some for lunch. We had enough leftover for our fried rice this afternoon.

Using a spatula to break up the cold leftover steamed rice from yesterday's lunch.

Using a spatula to break up the cold leftover steamed rice from yesterday's lunch.

If I hadn’t been watching, Steve would have used a lot more soy sauce than he did. In Steve’s world there can never be enough salt or garlic.

Adding in some soy sauce.

Adding in some soy sauce.

The fried rice is just about done!

The fried rice is just about done!

>Eating the fruits of his labor while translating Latin.

Eating the fruits of his labor while translating Latin.

The fried rice was quite delicious. I made up my own separately after he was done cooking his. I don’t like mine as salty as he does, and I am pretty sure he hogged all the leeks.