“Real Rum” Caramel Popcorn

Posted on: December 30th, 2014 by Carla Johnson No Comments

“Drinking rum before 10 a.m. makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic.” ~ Earl Dibbles Jr.

When my sister-in-law arrived at work this week, someone had brought in caramel popcorn to share with the office. She loved it. Who doesn’t love caramel popcorn! And she thought, “How brilliant someone had added rum.” Turns out it was only rum flavouring. Cue the communal “Boo!”

Knowing the real thing had to be out there, she found this great recipe, so I am sharing images of it here. If anyone tries this and wants to send me photos and recipe tweaks, I would love it. :)

Cooking With Sin author Carla Johnson

“Real Rum” Caramel Popcorn


Cooking With Sin author Carla Johnson rum caramel popcocrn

Photo Credit:

69 rum caramel popcorn recipe Cooking With Sin author Carla Johnson

Recipe & Photo Credit:

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin


Tipsy Goddess Ambrosia Salad

Posted on: October 6th, 2013 by Carla Johnson No Comments

“Rum, n. Generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.”
~ Ambrose Bierce

For almost 20 years, Julie Broad’s parents ran a bed & breakfast on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada. They loved hosting travelers who came from all over the world to explore the stunning landscape of the island. Breakfast was the only meal they offered, so they made sure to serve dishes that were fresh and especially memorable.

Julie’s parents both grew up in homes that nurtured a love of excellent food. Her dad’s grandfather was a master baker and her mother’s mom was a home economics teacher. Together, they raised their family with beautiful, healthy food in their home. A few years ago, Julie collected all of her parents’ Bed & Breakfast recipes and wrote a cook book called “Breakfast with the Broads.”

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Julie and her dad

Julie’s mom has a knack for playing with traditional recipes and classing them up a little. She is also lactose intolerant, so her recipes tend to avoid creams. As a result, her dishes are often focused on fresh ingredients and natural flavours.

While the traditional Ambrosia Salad is based on cream, Julie’s mom also did not include the marshmallows. Her recipe makes fruit the focus and it elevates it to a whole new level of deliciousness.

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I recently shared this recipe at the Waterloo Food & Drink Expo and modified it for the event. I ended up using all canned fruit and I threw in a can of leechee fruit as a visual substitute for the traditional marshmallows. I also heated mine just slightly in a pan. Plus, her original recipe called for rum extract, but I added the real thing – of course!

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Carla’s “Tipsy Goddess Ambrosia Salad”

Serves 6

½ cup coconut
1 large can tropical fruit, drained
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
1 can leechee fruit, drained
1 lime, juiced and half the rind grated
½ cup white rum

1. In the bottom of a large pan, over medium heat, lightly toast the coconut by swirling it around until it is light brown on the edges.

2. Add the drained canned fruit to the pan.

3. Add the lime rind, fresh lime juice and rum. Stir gently for 3 to 5 minutes to allow the fruit to absorb the rum and lime. Warm it just slightly so it is closer to body temperature. Enjoy the lime and rum aroma.

4. Serve in bowls. It also stores well in the fridge and can be served chilled.

Here are two more pages from “Breakfast with the Broads.”

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While Julie and I have never met face-to-face, we feel like we know each other as we both have many shared connections in real estate investment circles in Canada. She recently published a book sharing her investing expertise called “More Than Cashflow.” Learn more about her ventures at – Like the play on words? 😉

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Rhonda’s Been Screeched!

Posted on: November 4th, 2012 by Carla Johnson 1 Comment
We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true NewfoundlandersCooking With Sin Carla Johnson
We’ll rant and we’ll roar on deck and below
Until we see bottom inside the two sunkers
When straight through the Channel to Toslow we’ll go.
~ Traditional Newfoundland folksong

When some people travel they remain aloof and distant tourists, but when Rhonda went to Newfoundland on a research trip with her husband John, remaining aloof was the last thing on her mind. Becoming an honourary Newfoundlander was on the top of her to-do list – 2nd only to watching her husband attach a tracking beacon to an iceberg with a robotic helicopter! Ya, pretty cool, eh?

Rhonda's husband John watching the iceberg at sunset

Newfoundland is a very special island that became our 10th province, somewhat reluctantly, in 1949. A rocky, windy province rich in culture and traditions, Newfoundland was once a great exporter of cod fish. The supply was enormously abundant. The island economy relied almost solely on it, but in the early 1990’s the cod disappeared, probably never to return. Newfoundlanders have always lived with harsh Atlantic winds, but learning to live with the devastating winds of greedy over-fishing and vision-less politicians has been extremely challenging.

Becoming an honourary Newfoundlander doesn’t take long and it isn’t a difficult process either, it’s just a bit gross. You become a Royal Order of Newfoundland Screechers by participating in a Screech-In ceremony. If you are on the island, you will find many pubs that hold Screeching ceremonies.

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Pucker up Rhonda! Love your yellow southwesterner!

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Rhonda and John shooting Screech


The Screech-In ceremony steps are simple and quick.

#1. A Newfoundlander must be present.

#2. Pour a shot of screech and have it ready.

#3. Sing some Newfoundland folk songs or recite the Screecher’s Creed:

“From the waters of the Avalon, to the shores of Labrador,
We’ve always stuck together, with a Rant and with a Roar.
To those who’ve never been, soon they’ll understand,
From coast to coast, we raise a toast, We love thee Newfoundland!”

#4. You must kiss a cod fish. Really. On the lips! This was an old traditional bon voyage to sailors heading to the Caribbean to return with the rum.

#5. You must answer the question, “Is ye a screecher?” with “Deed I is my old cock and long may your big jib draw.” (Translation: Yes indeed my old buddy [old Cockney term] and may there always be wind in your sails.” )

#6. Bottom’s up! Toss back the shooter of screech/rum.

#7. You may even receive a certificate commemorating the illustrious event! Hopefully it is all captured on camera.

A few hundred years ago, barrels that carried both rum and molasses were rarely cleaned, so the sediment would be boiled and distilled with grain to produce a strong alcohol. While each batch had its own unique flavour and was more of a moonshine, it was called “Screech.” Today Newfoundland Screech is a branch of rum.

Sometimes life can get so rough
Along our rocky shore
We say we’ll just pack up and leave
And won’t come back no more
But something just keeps pulling us
As though it had us by the hand
And every road we travel on
Leads back to Newfoundland.

~ Gord Payne

Rhonda is a great friend of mine and a wonderful supporter of Cooking With Sin. You will love the two recipes she has shared here on the site: Bread Pudding & Hard Caramel Sauce and A Little Leftover Red Wine Jelly.

Carla Johnson

Rhonda in Newfoundland

Here’s a great clip about Newfoundland from “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” one of our favourite, brilliant Canadian comedies.

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“Better Than Sex” Cake

Posted on: August 16th, 2012 by Carla Johnson 1 Comment

“I’m not an amazing cook, but I can follow a recipe!” ~ Rachel McAdams

Before Google, recipe lovers were limited to cook books & magazines. Many of us had them, those cherished magazines where the recipes were marked with bent pages or yellow sticky notes.

Judy Mills is an avid cook who enjoys preparing good meals for her family. She works at a home for people with mental challenges and over the years she has learned a lot of tips and tricks to accommodate dietary needs, so she keeps a sharp eye out for recipes she can use at home and work.

Many years ago she found this recipe in a magazine and loved it so much she kept it. Judy used this recipe once in a cooking class with children, so she changed the name to “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” Cake. Paula Dean also found it and has made her own versions, but the original came from an unknown magazine years ago.

Judy’s daughter Shanta Nathwani, shared this recipe with me recently. Shanta and I met at a networking event and when I explained my CWS project to her, she enthusiastically told me about her mom’s cake recipe. It is fun, it is flexible and as they say… it is better than sex!


1 pkg. yellow cake mix- 2 layer size
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix- 2 serving size
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup water
4 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate, grated
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup coconut
Rum glaze
Whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Combine ingredients in large mixing bowl. Beat 4 minutes at medium speed.

3. Pour the mix into greased and floured 10″ tube or bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour.

4. Cool in pan 10 minutes and remove to a cake rack to cool.

5. Drizzle with rum glaze and serve each piece with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Rum Glaze

1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dark rum

1. Melt butter in sauce pan, stir in water and sugar.

2. Boil 5 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat & stir in rum.

3. Drizzle the glaze over the cake top and sides, taking time to allow it to be absorbed by the cake.

Shanta made me laugh a lot and she shares her thoughts and insights about the world on her blog TantienHime’s Blog. I particularly like her story behind the blog name.

As for this recipe, she says, “Enjoy Responsibly.” 😉

“Family Favourite” Banana Flambé

Posted on: June 2nd, 2012 by Carla Johnson No Comments

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

A few weeks ago, I stayed late at the dentist office. Most people want to get out as quickly as possible, but Michele, the administrative assistant and I got to talking and we didn’t want to stop.

For many years, Michele has been a warm, friendly voice on the answering machine reminding us about our appointments and her warm smile has always welcomed us like family at each appointment. Over the years I enjoyed hearing about the adventures of her 3 children as they have grown and are now off to college and Michele has watched our daughter grow up from a toddler playing with the train set in the waiting room, to the independent teenager she is now.

At my last appointment, we started talking about food. Michele’s real passion in life is creating and serving exquisite food. She comes by it naturally. Her great aunt was June Jacques, the matriarch to the Jacques family who owned the very popular Knotty Pine restaurants here in Cambridge and Waterloo, Ontario.

The Knotty Pine restaurants were famous for their Buttered Almond Cake. People came from all over the province to enjoy a slice. You can find recipes online that claim to be the original, but Michele reassures me that the original Buttered Almond Cake recipe, along with all their recipes, remains under lock and key. The family has never released any of their recipes to the public.

As Michele and I chatted that evening, she told me about her favourite recipes and all the foodies in her family. We were having so much fun that her husband who arrived to pick her up had no choice but to join us. We came up with great ideas for more restaurants and more cook books. It was great fun!

This is an old family favourite enjoyed at our family cottage for forty-some odd years. I watched my mom make it for friends while entertaining and I in turn made it for friends when I grew up. Everyone simply loves it!  ~ Michele

Family Favourite Banana Flambé

6 or 7 bananas, sliced
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  1. In a large sauté pan melt butter over med heat.
  2. Add sliced bananas, orange juice, sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Quickly toss over medium to high heat until butter and sugar thickens (about 2-3 min).
  3. Turn burner to high, drizzle Grand Marnier over bananas and ignite with flame! A lighter with a long handle is the safest option to ignite it with.
  4. Quickly toss over high heat. The flame will go out within 30 seconds.
  5. Remove from stove and immediately serve over vanilla ice cream or gelato.

Tip: Michele uses amber rum when she doesn’t have Grand Marnier available.

Simply Delicious!

Excerpt from Wikipedia article on Flambe


Simply lighting food on fire is not flambéing in and of itself. Igniting a sauce with alcohol in the pan changes the chemistry of the food. Because alcohol boils at 78 °C (172 °F), water boils at 100 °C (212 °F) and sugar caramelizes at 170 °C (338 °F), ignition of all these ingredients combined results in a complex chemical reaction, especially as the surface of the burning alcohol exceeds 240 °C (500 °F).

Because of their high alcohol content, some recipes recommend flambéing with liquors such as Everclear or 151. However, these spirits are highly flammable and are considered much too dangerous by professional cooks. Wines and beers have too little alcohol and will not flambé. Rum, cognac, or other flavorful liqueurs that are about 40% alcohol (80 USA proof) are considered ideal. Cinnamon, which is ground from tree bark, is sometimes added not only for flavor, but for show as the powder ignites when added.

4 Women Holding Bananas. Really!

If you liked this recipe…  Mother-Daughter Butterscotch Bananas is a similar recipe. Bananas & ice cream seem to bring families together.