*Sin*cere Season’s Greetings!

Posted on: December 23rd, 2011 by Carla Johnson No Comments

Wishing You and Yours a Peace-Filled Holiday.

May Goodwill and Blessings Fill Each of Your Days!

~ Carla


To help you celebrate, here is a collection of links to several great recipes I hope you and your loved ones will enjoy.

Instead of store-bought egg nog, try one of these:

Pretending to be Tipsy” German Eierlikor
Wedding Pudding” Dutch Advokaat
Hand Made” Egg Nog

Easy Apps:

We Are Family” Rye Bread ‘n Brie & Fondue
Goddess Supper” Potted Cheese

Saucy Sauces:

Comfort & Joy” Cranberry Sauce
Father & Son” Bourbon Sautéed Mushrooms
“A Little Leftover” Wine Jelly

One-of-a-Kind Salads:

Pork Ninjas” Salad Dressing
Poverty Line” Potato Salad
Stuck on Reduction” Watermelon Salad

*Sin*-ful Side Dishes:

Comfort of Home” Sherry Potatoes
Proud Mary” Fried Green Tomatoes

Distinctive Desserts:

Pumpkin Pie in the Great Outdoors
Thank You” Chocolate Cupcake Bombs
Fight Night” Kahlua Cookie Cake
Milk & Cookies for the “Real” Santa

The-Morning-After Breakfasts:

Sisterhood” Maple Rum Crepes
Working Past Midnight” French Toast

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
Hamilton W. Mabie

Pumpkin Pie in the Great Outdoors

Posted on: October 2nd, 2011 by Carla Johnson No Comments

The Pumpkin

Ah!  On Thanksday, when from East and from West,
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board,
The old broken links of affection restored;
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before;
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye,
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

~ John Greenleaf Whittier,1850

Written by Carla M. White

During university I worked my summers in a warehouse to pay for my education and that’s where I met my friend Kristine. During my last summer there we thought it would be great fun to take a camping trip together and somehow that lead to a menu that consisted of everything with booze in it.

So in August 2008 we trekked to Port Burwell Provincial Park with the necessities and more alcohol than two average sized women could ever consume. When we arrived, we unpacked everything, setup camp and lined up our bottled meals for a photo opp. The campers across the road suggested that we hide the alcohol lest we get kicked out for being deemed the party campsite. All things considered, I think we were pretty tame, but we took their suggestion anyway.

The weekend was a blast complete with a hike, a day at the beach, several campfires and toasted goodies (including spider dogs that ended up looking more like crabs), and of course, our epic menu.

Aside from straight up drinks, we started the weekend off with a breakfast of butterscotch schnapps French toast, mimosas and coffee with Irish cream. Then we headed to the beach and enjoyed peach schnapps watermelon for lunch. Saturday night’s dinner was vodka pasta sauce, meatballs and pasta, which we prepared while playing a game of UNO: the drinking version that consisted of far too many pickup twos (a.k.a. drink two).

But the best part of the whole menu was the Kahlúa pumpkin pie we had for Saturday night’s dessert. Of course, I made it ahead of time since baking a pie on a campfire isn’t really feasible.

I’ve made this pie a few times since and it always seems to be a welcomed alternative to its more traditional counterpart at Thanksgiving dinner. Just in time for this year’s festivities…

Carla's camp meal with the pie. Note the UNO cards to the right!


Kahlúa Pumpkin Pie

Serves 8 – 10

1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur (plus a few extra splashes for good measure)
1/4 cup light corn syrup (I used regular, dark corn syrup since that’s what I had and it worked fine)
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, beaten
Pastry crust (pre-made frozen shells work well when you’re pressed for time)
Kahlúa cream topping (recipe follows)

1. Line 9-inch pie pan with your favorite pastry recipe and chill. Preheat oven 450 F.

2. Combine evaporated milk, sugar, Kahlúa, corn syrup, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add pumpkin and eggs. Blend well. Set aside.

3. Bake pastry for 7 to 8 minutes until lightly browned. Pull oven rack part way out and slowly pour pumpkin mixture into shell. Reduce oven to 325 F. Continue baking until filling is barely set in center, about 40 minutes.

4. Cool on wire rack. Serve with Kahlúa cream topping.

Kahlúa Cream Topping

1 cup whipping cream
2 + 1 tablespoons Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur

1. Beat 1 cup whipping cream with 2 tablespoons Kahlúa until stiff peaks form.

2. Turn into serving bowl and drizzle 1 tablespoon Kahlúa on top. Don’t overdue the Kahlúa in the topping or it will be too runny. Though it tastes delicious, whipped cream purists will not be impressed.

Carla White is a writer, editor and food blogger.

You can enjoy her musings, food adventures & photography at

The Water’s Edge.


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“Fight Night” Kahlúa Cookie Cake

Posted on: January 7th, 2011 by Carla Johnson No Comments

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

The word “family” has special connotations for Steve Strongman. When he looks back on his childhood, he has wonderful fond memories of family and the warmest memories of special times his family spent with the Stewart family. The two families got together every Friday night and every Christmas eve. The families were so close, the parents were all called “Auntie” and “Uncle.”

Each Christmas Eve was filled with traditions. The families played games, the kids opened gifts, there was lots of great food and Auntie Brenda Stewart made her Kahlúa Cookie Cake. While her cake was more suited for adults, it was just like ice cream, so the kids loved it too.

6 years ago, Auntie Brenda passed away from breast cancer. She spent her last moments at home with her family close by her side. Steve has made sure her memory remains very much alive in his heart.

Steve is a passionate athlete. He plays several sports and is dedicated to weight training. A few years ago he moved to Toronto, Canada where he and his friends started getting together for every major UFC Main event. Remembering his Aunt Brenda’s Kahlúa Cookie Cake, he made it for the first event and her cake has become an important part of every event since.

The UFC Main Event parties have become 2-day occasions; the 1st day is spent in preparation and the 2nd day is the day of the event. The guys bring enormous amounts of food and meat. One of the guys will pre-boil and marinate a few racks of ribs and another one of the guys will head to St. Lawrence market and buy a 64 oz steak. It may be a New York strip loin or a rib-eye, but it has to be 64 ounces! The steak will take up half of the BBQ and will take an hour to cook. Then it is up to one of the guys to try and finish off the steak. Steve has tried several times and once managed to finish off 58 oz. I believe he pumped a lot of extra iron that week!

Steve’s Auntie Brenda would be really proud of him for living a great life and taking really good care of himself. She would love him for remembering her and her cake, but also for creating a close circle of his own friends with their own traditions, a lot like a family.

Auntie Brenda’s Kahlúa Cake

Items you will require for this recipe…

  • Electric mixing bowl
  • Spring form cake pan
  • Large spoon
  • Small Spoon
  • Cereal bowl
  • Aluminum foil
  • Fridge


  • A bottle of Kahlúa (13 oz)
  • 500 ml of whip cream
  • 2 bags of either President’s Choice chocolate chip cookies or Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla


  1. Whip the whipping cream in the electric mixer.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
  3. Once you have high peaks on the whipping cream, stop whipping and set the bowl aside (be careful not over whip the cream.)
  4. Pour Kahlúa into cereal bowl.
  5. Begin the process of dipping individual cookies into the cereal bowl with the Kahlúa so that the cookie is submerged. Then remove the cookie and place it on the bottom of the spring form cake pan. Repeat the process until you have covered the base of the pan one cookie deep. We need a solid base, so dip a couple more cookies into the Kahlúa and break them up to fill in the holes. We now have a good base to create the rest of the cake.
  6. Distribute evenly some of the whip cream so it fills over the first layer of cookies.
  7. Begin the process again of dipping individual cookies into the Kahlúa and create a second layer.
  8. When you have covered the second layer, distribute more of the whipping cream on this level.
  9. Repeat the process again so you now have a third layer.
  10. If you are nearing the top of your spring form pan, then cover the layers with the last of the whip cream, giving it a deeper layer of whip cream then the previous layers between the cookies. When you have completed this process, get a small spoon, and drizzle some of the remaining Kahlúa in a random design on the top layer of the cake to add to the visual presentation.
  11. Cover the cake with aluminum foil and seal so that no air gets in.
  12. Place in the fridge for 24 hours.
  13. Remove cake from fridge, remove foil, remove spring form perimeter section of the pan and serve!!!
If you liked this recipe, you will probably enjoy

Milk & Cookies for the “Real” Santa

Posted on: June 29th, 2010 by Carla Johnson 1 Comment

“Someone is putting brandy in your bonbons, Grand Marnier in your breakfast jam, Kahlua in your ice cream, Scotch in your mustard and Wild Turkey in your cake.”

~ Marian Burros

It took a year of hanging out, just having fun together and dating other people for both Marc Hoare and Jenn Burr to realize they didn’t want to go on without the other, so when they celebrated their wedding, they did it up in true style. An elegant historic hotel, Jenn’s perfect white dress and the gorgeous decorations made the day a truly special event. Their families and close friends all came together happy to celebrate the union of such a uniquely special couple.

Just as you would expect, they wrote their vows with a lot of thought and consideration, but these two love a good laugh and are full of adventure, so at the end of her vows, when Jenn told Marc “You are the cheese on my cracker,” everyone roared! That phrase put their wedding “on the map.” Yes!

Marc and his friends are well known for their antics. They can find fun pretty much anywhere and at anytime. One Christmas he was spending time with his cousins and after dinner, dessert came out. To his delight this particular dessert proved to be amazing. It was layers of cookies and milk with Kahlua and whipped cream and chocolate. Between the Kahlua in the dessert and the alcohol in their glasses, the jokes began to roll. They all thought it was hilarious that someone had made a dessert out of milk and cookies at Christmas time. Adding Kahlua was a great twist on the traditional fare set out for Santa each year. Throughout the discussion and laughter, guys who had played Santa in the past wondered, “Where were these milk and cookies at the time we used to put gifts out?” No one really remembers what the original name of the dessert was, but that night Marc and his cousins renamed it “Milk and Cookies for the ‘Real’ Santa!” It is an annual favourite.

Milk and Cookies for the “Real” Santa

1/2 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup Milk
1 package Chocolate Chip cookies (homemade if you like; but store bought work well too!)
3 cups Dessert Topped, whipped (not whipped cream)
1 Skor bar, crushed

1. Soak cookies in a mixture of Kahlua and milk.
2. Place soaked cookies in a cake pan, covering the whole bottom.
3. Spread Cool Whip over the cookies having approximately a 1″ layer.
4. Repeat process to make another layer of cookie and Cool Whip.
5. Crush up a Skor bar into fine pieces and spread over the top layer of Cool Whip. Top with chocolate chips, shaved chocolate or anything else that inspires you!

6. Place it in the freezer for 3 – 4 hours and serve.

Ho-Ho-Ho! Merry Munching!

Carla’s Kahlúa Cookies

Let’s pump up the volume and make it with Kahlua cookies! I often make these for book signings. They always go over really well. Recently I started making them with Irish Cream and they may be my newest favourite. :)

Makes 40 cookies


3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
1/4 cup  tablespoons Kahlúa – Irish Cream and other liqueurs work well too!
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup premium white chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine sugars, butter and shortening in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. Slowly beat in eggs, Kahlúa and vanilla.

4. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt and gradually add flour mix, beating slowly.

5. Fold in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips.

6. Drop by level tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

7. Bake 1 sheet at a time at 350° for 8 minutes or just until set and beginning to brown around edges and on bottoms.


Make your own Kahlúa! I found this great recipe on http://www.ehow.com/how_2069432_make-kahlua.html

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup instant coffee
  • 1.75 litres high quality vodka
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 whole vanilla bean

1. Combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar and water in a small sauce pan. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until sugar is dissolved.

2. Remove from the heat. Stir in the coffee. Allow to cool completely.

3. Pour into a large plastic container with a lid. Add the vodka, vanilla flavouring and vanilla bean.

4. Cover and let stand for two to three weeks or until fully aged. Kahlua, when properly stored, can last safely for up to a few years.

Now, just for a little fun…

Which shape is the Kahlua bottle?

Which shape is the Kahlua label?

Want the answers? C & A!

A special occasion coming up? Personalized Kahlua labels. Who knew?


If this was your kind of recipe, you’ll probably like

“Fight Night” Kahlua Cookie Cake


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“Goddess Supper V” Sex In A Pan

Posted on: March 29th, 2010 by Carla Johnson No Comments


I always love being in the company of women. It’s all about good conversation and great wine.” ~ Naomi Watts

God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions. Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back.” ~ Gloria Steinem

Sometimes we call ourselves “The Goddesses.” Other times we’re “The Divas.” Either way, it’s clear what we think of of ourselves. We are women who met 10 years ago at work. We are all teachers or principals and while we have all moved on to different schools, we continue to get together a few times a year.

Whatever we have gone through individually, The Goddesses have been there to support. We are all passionate about living life vibrantly with integrity. We all love travel and adventure. We are intellectuals and insist on delving into issues rigorously, especially when it comes to education, and most important of all we laugh loud and we laugh long.

We have seen each other through the inevitable ups and downs of life. Some of us are married, some of us are divorced, some of us are single. We raised a glass of bubbly when when one of us got married, we poured lots of red wine when one of us faced a break-up and we championed the virtues of being single when one of us struggled with the idea. We anguished together when one of us faced daunting parenting challenges and we were consoling when one of us faced a hysterectomy that came too early in life.

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

A few months back, we had a dinner at Pat’s house and she found a bottle of wine called “Girl’s’ Night Out.” Not only did we enjoy the bottle, but we enjoyed the wine too. She brought another bottle to the dinner at my house.

Among The Goddesses, I have been the most prodigal, so I invited everyone to my house for a “Sin Supper” and the jokes ensued. “Can we get tipsy on pork tenderloin?” “I’m bringing a dish called ‘Potted Cheese’ with Riesling, not pot.” “We may need to make it a sleep-over.”

The dinner was pot-luck and we had an absolutely wonderful time tasting each other’s dishes and ranting about the need for more Arts in education. There was Pat’s Potted Cheese, Laurie’s Chicken au Champagne and Trish’s Pork Tenderloin with Brandied Mushrooms & Shallot Sauce. Gillian brought Pasta Amatriciana and a bottle of Passion-Fruit Jamaican rum. I made George’s Sherry Potatoes and Melissa made Sex In The Pan (What a great idea!) for dessert.

Here are all the recipes from our “Goddess Supper” one course at a time. Enjoy!


The appetizer of Potted Cheese http://cookingwithsin.com/2010/03/28/goddess-supper-i-potted-cheese/  and all the entrees of our dinner have been posted. I cooked some green beans to bring some colour and vegetables to the meal. On the plate you can see our entire dinner:

Chicken au Champagne:
Sherry Potatoes:
Pork Tenderloin and Brandied Mushroom Shallot Sauce:
Pasta de la Coeur:
All that’s left to share is the dessert below. 

The Dessert

Melissa Reist made Sex In The Pan. Melissa is a true artist. She has a background in the Fine Arts and now specializes in working with gifted learners. She understands how they truly need a unique classroom to keep them engaged in school. When I first met Melissa, I must admit she intimidated me. Her 6′ 1” height came close to trumping my 6 feet & 2 inches, but she has truly been a good friend. She walks and talks with fabulous beauty and flare.


Melissa and Trish

Because we are teachers, for the book we renamed this recipe…

Better Than Recess

But you probably best know it as “Sex In A Pan” 😉

You will need a large pyrex pan (one that doesn’t shatter!)kahlua

Layer 1:

Mixed together to form the crust base and bake 20 minutes at 350ºF:
1 cup flour
½ cup soft butter
½ cup chopped pecans

Layer 2:

8 oz. cream cheese ( 1 package )
1 cup icing sugar
Spread on top of base after cooled

Layer 3:

Spread ½ of a large container of Cool Whip over cheese mix.

Layer 4:

1 large instant chocolate pudding
1 large instant vanilla pudding
2 ½ cups homo milk
½ cup (125 ml) Kahlua
Stir until startting to thicken. Pour over cream cheese and Cool Whip

Layer 5:

Spread rest of Cool Whip on top. Grate a large Jersey Milk chocolate bar on top.


A liqueur can be added in each layer, if you wish. You can also make it without any liqueur, just substitute it with milk in Layer 4.


Sadly, on the night of our supper, the glass pan shattered and the dessert along with thousands of shards of glass ended up inside Melissa’s car and on her driveway, so we didn’t get to taste it. We would have truly enjoyed eating it and we could have made many jokes about it!

Turns out “Sex In A Pan” goes by many names. If you have more of a *family crowd* you might want to adopt one of them: “Fluff Cake,” “Better Than Opera Cake,” Better than Robert Redford,” “Mississippi Mud Cake,” “Four Layer Dessert” and if you have a crowd of kids, it has been called “Better Than Recess.” 

Here is a letter that one of Melissa’s students wrote about her. Every teacher has made an impact on some child’s life. I am blessed to have a brilliant and creative friends who have made an impact on many, many children’s lives. One of Melissa’s students submitted this piece to a writing contest and won.


Ms. Reist has made, and is continuing to make, a huge impact on my life in Grades 5 & 6. She currently teaches Grade 5/6 enrichment at Elizabeth Ziegler PS, a class which I am a part of. Every day, she comes into class full of energy, totally ready, and excited to teach us. It’s just so fun to have her as my teacher; she’s so vibrant, and always very expressive. I am always as excited as she is to come to class, she really makes it fun! Yes, learning can be fun; I learnt that very quickly with Ms. Reist! She has a certain way of teaching that not only gets across the what, but also the how and the why as well; learning this is so important. She also emphasizes to us the great importance of good research skills. The research skills that we learn from Ms. Reist are life skills. I am quite sure that other classes don’t spend an hour learning how to take good notes and then take notes on taking good notes! The things that we learn, they are important. It’s important to learn how to take good notes before you hit high school; it’s important to learn how to organize notes by subtopic, to learn to make different stages of brainstorming webs, not just one at the beginning that doesn’t really describe your topic. She teaches the importance of an outline and also how to do a proper bibliography. Without these skills, how can a person really be a skilled researcher? All of these help make you not only a good researcher, but a legitimate researcher. She always emphasizes those really important points, and I have changed from being bored in school and breezing through everything, to being actively engaged and really leaving my comfort zone. Another thing that is super cool about having Ms. Reist as a teacher is the field trips that we go on, and the guest speakers that come in to talk to us. Early this year, we went to Stratford to see a Shakespearean play. And we always have the coolest speakers about things like philosophy and math. Recently, Ms. Reist took a group of students, including myself, to meet Greg Mortensen, the founder of a charity that our class supports. She even got us backstage to meet him! If I didn’t have Ms. Reist in my life, I would likely be much less successful than I am. The exposure that I would be missing would be extreme. For example, I would be missing out on the experience of seeing a great Shakespearean play. Every student should have such a chance! Ms. Reist gave that, and many other amazing experiences to me, as a mentor. In conclusion, Ms. Reist is the coolest teacher ever, and I believe that she is totally deserving of this Loving to Learn award. Think, how many teachers are like a family friend to you? Mine is.” ~ L. C. Grade 6.

Carla’s note: Greg Mortensen has written the book “Three Cups of Tea.” His mission is to build schools in Afghanistan. The proceeds from his books goes to his mission. http://www.threecupsoftea.com/