“Heaven’s Cuisine” Bourbon Bacon Popcorn

Posted on: August 21st, 2015 by Carla Johnson No Comments

“Sometimes when you cook with “sin,” it brings you a little closer to heaven.” ~ Carla Johnson

Note: All photos in this post are credit of Carissa Idsinga

Inspired by a recipe she found on The Endless Meal blog, my cousin-in-law Carissa made a batch of popcorn that blew everyone’s mind. When she shared her pics on social media, she said, “This is what they serve you when you get to heaven.”

Cooking With Sin author Carla Johnson

A passionate, thoughtful foodie, Carissa cares deeply about eating healthful and beautiful food. She grows most of her own vegetables and has her own chickens for eggs. She enjoys foraging for food and loves time in her kitchen creating the most exquisitely delicious meals for family and friends. Plus, she shares a love of food with her sister Sophie who dishes out inspirational eats on her blog Soph n’ Stuff.

Cooking With Sin author Carla Johnson

Whenever Carissa cooks or shares recipes, we all pay attention. She knows food and she inspires us with her culinary ventures. This batch of popcorn especially grabbed everyone’s attention. Hello, bacon! Plus, you make the popcorn the old-skool way. It is the way I remember making it as a child – in a pot on the stove! This is one fun recipe. Carissa may have just found a most heavenly way to embrace your inner child.

Cooking With Sin author Carla Johnson

“Heaven’s Cuisine” Bourbon Bacon Popcorn


  • 1 1/2 cup bacon, diced
  • 1 cup quality popcorn kernels (22 cups when popped)
  • Butter, softened – up to 1 cup, depending on how much bacon fat you use
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp & 2 tbsp bourbon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Dash of liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  1. Fry bacon in pan over medium high heat until crispy. Remove bacon from pan reserving the fat.
  2. Pop the popcorn in a pot – old skool!
    • 2 tbsps of bacon fat into a large pot. Heat and test with 2 or 3 popcorn kernels, cover on. Once they pop, add the rest of the kernels.
    • Gently shake the pot until the popping slows. Remove from heat.
    • Transfer popcorn into a large bowl. Remove any un-popped kernels.
  3. Make the bourbon caramel.
    • Top reserved bacon fat with butter to fill a 1 cup measuring cup. Scoop into a medium pot.
    • Add sugar, 4 tbsp of bourbon & salt. Bring to a boil (approx. 4-5 minutes) until candy thermometer reads 275° F.
    • Remove immediately from heat and carefully stir in baking soda, liquid smoke, vanilla, paprika & 2 tbsp bourbon.
    • Pour caramel over the popcorn right away, tossing the mix. Then stir in bacon.
  4. Bake
    1. Preheat the oven to 275° F. On baking tray (0r 2) lined with parchment paper, spread popcorn evenly.
    2. Bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Cool and serve.

Cooking With Sin author Carla Johnson

Note: All photos in this post are credit of Carissa Idsinga

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin


Watermelon Fresca Mojito

Posted on: July 11th, 2015 by Carla Johnson No Comments

“Many wagon-loads of enormous water-melons were brought to market every day, and I was sure to see groups of men, women, and children seated on the pavement round the spot where they were sold, sucking in prodigious quantities of this water fruit.  Their manner of devouring them is extremely unpleasant; the huge fruit is cut into half a dozen sections, of about a foot long, and then, dripping as it is with water, applied to the mouth, from either side of which pour copious streams of the fluid, while, ever and anon, a mouthful of the hard black seeds are shot out in all directions, to the great annoyance of all within reach.  When I first tasted this fruit I thought it very vile stuff indeed, but before the end of the season we all learned to like it.  When taken with claret and sugar it makes a delicious wine and water.” ~ Frances Trollope (1780-1865) ‘Domestic Manners of the Americans’ (1832)

The last several years have seen the virtual disappearance of the watermelon with seeds and I am going to stand up and declare I miss them. I enjoyed spitting the black little slippery things out on the lawn at picnics. It was fun competing in  target practise with my friends. It is an art, you know, to propel a seed with accuracy and speed. And it is a celebrated skill that kids these days are missing out on.

And while I am sounding like an old has-been, I am going to declare that seeded watermelon tasted better. Mind you, I have not been able to compare and have no proof, but I am certain that seedless watermelon is blander and drier. It is less colourful and less flavourful. Or maybe I’m just wishing for the “good ol’ days” when the grass was greener and the watermelon sweeter. And I am wishing I could teach my daughter how to spit a watermelon seed without it dripping down her chin like mine always did. :)

This fun video below, on how to make a watermelon keg, popped up on social media recently and I love it. But I also knew we could do better than just serve plain watermelon aqua fresca from it. A little bit of “sin” makes it a lot better.

Carla Johnson author Cooking With Sin

Watermelon Fresca Mojito

  • 3 cups seedless watermelon
  • 1  fresh lime, cut into sections
  • ¼ cup rum
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Fresh mint
  • Club soda (optional)

1. Mix the watermelon in a blender until smooth.

2. Muddle the lime, rum, sugar and mint in a pitcher.

3. Stir watermelon into the muddled mix in the pitcher. Serve individual glasses and top each with club soda. Garnish with a slice of watermelon or mint sprig.

“The nature of watermelons is generally rather chilling and contains a great deal of moisture... Their cleansing action you can discover for yourself; just rub them on dirty skin. Watermelons will remove the following: freckles, facial moles, or epidemic leprosy, if anyone should have these conditions.”
Galen (129-216 A.D.), Marcus Aurelius’s personal physician

Watermelon Fresca Mojito Cooking With Sin 2

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin


Summertime Frozen Sangria

Posted on: July 8th, 2015 by Carla Johnson No Comments

“I found a photograph of you and me 
Drinking sangria somewhere by the sea.
There’s laughter in our eyes and dreams in our hearts.”

~ The Divine Comedy

Carla Johnson author Cooking With Sin

It’s summer and time for a new, refreshing twist on the classic drink sangria.

In Spanish, the word “sangria” means to bleed. While many people enjoy white sangrias, I choose to stick with red wine for my sangrias simply because it fits so “appetizingly” with the name.

Right now I have cotton candy flavoured vodka in my liquor cabinet, so that’s what I started to soak the fruit in. Then, knowing how well wine and chocolate pair, I added “Glad I thought of that!” Crème de Cacao.

I made this for my friend Rhonda’s pool party. (Rhonda, the CWS contributor of Rhonda’s Been Screeched, Bread Pudding and Hard Caramel Sauce & A Little Leftover Red Wine Jelly) The party was a reunion of good friends from our University of Waterloo days. None of us had changed a bit. Yes, none of us had changed a bit. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The day turned out to be cool & rainy, so the pool was abandoned and we hunkered down indoors to chat and eat and drink. It was a great day. 😀

This fruity sangria is smooth and cool with a nice hint of chocolate. A perfect refreshing drink for a hot – or even a cool and rainy – summer day.

Carla Johnson author Cooking With Sin

Summertime Frozen Sangria


2 cups mixed berries

½ cup crème de cacao

½ cup cotton candy flavoured vodka

2 cups rainbow sorbet

1 handful ice cubes

½ bottle cheap & cheerful red wine

1. Let the mixed berries soak in the crème de cacao and vodka for several hours. Stir and when the berries are soft from absorbing the liquid put the whole mix in the freezer overnight. It will partially freeze into a slush.

2. In your blender, mix the sorbet, soaked berries, wine and ice cubes. Blend until smooth and serve.

Carla Johnson author Cooking With Sin

Carla Johnson author Cooking With Sin

Photo Credit: http://www.zazzle.com/of_course_i_get_vitamin_c_sangria_flask-256629057316362406


My good friend Faryl made up a batch. Here is a shot of hers. It looks so good! Thanks for sharing it Faryl. :)

Cooking With Sin Frozen Sangria

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin


Happy Canada Day 2015!

Posted on: July 1st, 2015 by Carla Johnson No Comments

Raise a glass and cut yourself a piece of Canada Day cake! Ok, this one’s sin-free, but you can get creative. :)

The “True North Strong and Free” is 148 years old and getting better every year.

Cheers all!

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin


Briercrest CBs at the SS

Posted on: April 19th, 2015 by Carla Johnson 12 Comments

“Cinnamon bites and kisses simultaneously” ~ Vanna Bonta

Anyone who ever had a CB and the SS (Cinnamon Bun at the Service Station) knows how utterly unforgettable they were. They were a very special treat found along the Trans-Canada Highway in Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada. I don’t think they make them anymore, but in the “good old days” they were legendary. My friend’s Grandma used to work there and make them. She shared the recipe, so I hope it’s okay to post it here too.

I am posting the recipe here a little in haste as I haven’t yet tried to make them – and of course I plan to inject some “sin” into them 😉 – but recently a few people have asked for the recipe so here it is, verbatim, just the way it was shared with me.

The CBs, as I remember them, were very tall and rolled in very thin layers. I would lift each layer slowly and savour each soft, sweet bite. I found this image from Solly’s in Vancouver. It reminds me of how the SS made them “back in the day.” If anyone has tips on how to make them in thin layers like this, I’d love to know.

Thank you for sharing the recipe Marilyn!

Carla Johnson author Cooking With Sin

Solly’s cinnamon buns, Vancouver. Photo courtesy of Jenn Chic, WE Vancouver http://www.thewestcoastreader.com/sollys-cinnamon-buns-go-around-the-world/

Briercrest CB’s at the SS

Original Recipe (thanks to Donnie Aason – aka Donnie Eliason/Taylor and translated into a written recipe by her daughter Karlene Benallick!)

– 6 cups water
– ¼ cup sugar
– 2 tbsp yeast
Mix the first three ingredients and let stand until yeast activates (bubbles)


– one cup of milk
– ½ cup lard
– ½ cup margarine
– ½ cup sugar
– 2 tsp salt
– 2 eggs
– 12 cups flour (16 cups most likely needed) (kneed until desired texture)
Let rise for approximately 1 hour before forming into buns or CBs.

For CB’s,
Mix 2 cups of brown sugar, 3 cups of margarine and 1 cup of pancake syrup and pour into the bottoms of about four 9 x 12 pans.

Divide the dough into management amounts (e.g. 4 equal parts). Roll each part into a rectangle. Melt margarine and spread in a thin layer on top of the dough. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top of the margarine until the entire rectangle of dough is covered. Roll up the rectangle with the margarine/sugar on the inside of the roll. Cut into 1-2” individual rolls (dental floss works better than a knife for cutting the dough up into cinnamon rolls). Place each roll flat-side down on top of the syrup in the baking pans.

Let CBs rise in pan for at least an hour.

Bake @ 325 for 45 minutes (regular bake – not convection setting).

Note: I sent Donnie a message and asked her about getting the bun layers so thin. It is clearly more about knowing what the dough should feel like – which comes with experience. This is what she had to say. 

When I started working at the Pilgrim years ago there were no written recipes—-everything was done just out of the ladies heads that worked there!!! I sat down and wrote up what they were doing—- and that’s the “recipe” that keeps popping up!!! There is lots to say about proportions but there is also lots to say about how how the dough is supposed to feel, cooking procedure ( which can vary from oven to oven) etc.

Carla’s Cream Cheese Icing

Simply put, stir softened, spreadable cream cheese into your favourite vanilla icing. You can use store-bought icing/frosting, but I like to make my own from scratch. My recipe is rough as I add ingredients as I go, but here is my simple version:

1. In a small or medium sized mixing bowl add 1 good scoop icing sugar + 1 small chunk of softened butter + a couple drops of vanilla. Beat with mixer slowly adding drops of milk until it reaches the right consistency.

2. Stir in a small scoop of the cream cheese and mix until smooth.

3. Spread on top of each CB while they are still warm so the icing melts down the sides and between the layers. Just thinking about all the gooey sugary goodness makes me smile.

Looking for something more specific and helpful? I found this one for you. :)

Carla Johnson author Cooking With Sin

Photo Credit T. Bilodeau Photography: http://tbilodeauphotography.com/blog/food-photography/whitecourt-ab-photographer-carrot-cake-cream-cheese-icing/

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin