"Goals are dreams with deadlines" -- Diana Scharf

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

When Life Gives You Limes...

Mr. W. and I chose Key West as our honeymoon destination.  We knew we would only have four days for our honeymoon, so we wanted to go somewhere that wouldn't require lengthy travel (too bad, it took us thirteen hours to get there due to flight cancellations).  Even though the trip was brief, it was unquestionably the most relaxing vacation we have ever taken.

View from the balcony of our hotel room
Before returning to New Jersey, we picked up the requisite souvenirs for our loved ones.  We also purchased a bottle of key lime juice from a tourist shop.  The price?  $6.50 for a 16 ounce bottle.  Mr. W. teased me for buying such expensive fruit juice, but I insisted that we would enjoy cooking with it. 

Back at home, I spotted the very same bottle of key lime juice on the shelves of our local grocery store.  It was $4.  Whoops. 

A few weeks ago, I was organizing our fridge and came across the key lime juice.  I noticed that it had an expiration date of 4/15/13...just a few days away.  It's bad enough to over-pay for a food item that could have been purchased for less.  But it's even worse to over-pay for an item, and then allow it to expire.  The wheels in my head started turning.  What was the quickest way to use up key lime juice?

Key lime pie, of course!

I remembered seeing a recipe for frozen key lime pie in Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook.  I made a few minor modifications, such as decreasing the number of egg yolks and adding toasted coconut.  Admittedly, this recipe is time intensive and has quite a few steps.  Most likely, you'll need to make this when you can spend several hours at home.  Nonetheless, the actual process to make key lime pie was simple.  And the end result was delicious.  Mr. W. and I ate the pie over several days and enjoyed reminiscing about our time in Key West.

Usually, I share recipes that I consider to be "frugal foods."  I wouldn't call this a "frugal food" by any stretch of the imagination.  Between the key lime juice, the limes, the egg yolks, and the whipping cream, this recipe contains some pricey ingredients. But, it was certainly less expensive to make this pie than to fly back to Key West.   And, it was better than wasting the key lime juice.


Step 1: Preheat oven and toast coconut
Step 2: Prepare the pie crust

Step 2: Prepare the pie crust

Step 3: Gently cook egg yolks
Step 4: Prepare filling

Frozen Key Lime Pie
(Adapted from Ina Garten's recipe)


  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

  • 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 Tbs. grated lime zest (2 limes)
  • 3/4 cup key lime juice (bottled juice is fine.  Or, use 4 to 5 limes)
  • 1 cup cold whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut, toasted


1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Spread coconut on baking sheet and toast in oven until lightly browned, checking often. 

2. For the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and butter in a bowl.  Press into a 9-inch pie plate, making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness.  Back for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely. 

3. In a double boiler, combine egg yolks with 1/2 cup of lime juice.  Whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture reaches 140 degrees. (I don't have a double boiler, so I nestle a smaller pot inside a larger pot.  It works just fine). 

4. Transfer egg yolks to a large bowl.  Whisk or beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until thickened.  Add remaining lime juice, condensed milk, and lime zest, and mix until combined.  Pour into cooled pie crust.  Freeze for approximately 1 hour. 

5. In the meantime, beat the whipping cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm.  Spread onto frozen pie and sprinkle with toasted coconut. 

6. Freeze for several hours.  Pie should remain frozen until ready to serve.  Before serving, allow to thaw for approximately 20 minutes.

Note: I initially tried this with a sour cream topping rather than whipped cream.  I thought I would like the texture and tartness of the reduced-fat sour cream.  I also wanted to make the recipe slightly healthier.  Big mistake.  The taste was fine, but I had forgotten that sour cream becomes a runny mess when frozen.  I wouldn't recommend sour cream in this recipe; stick with whipped cream as Ina suggests.


  1. I love all the pictures. I can't cook worth a damn and would definitely mess this up big time, but you succeeded in making me hungry.

    1. Thanks, Matt! Cooking is a hobby of mine...but I think it's really just because I like to eat!

  2. The pie looks delicious! I attended a friend's wedding in Key West a couple of years ago, and I've always wanted to go back. The culture and scenery is different enough that I felt I was in a foreign country!

    1. Oh, how lovely to attend a wedding in Key West! And I think you're exactly right that the culture is unique to Key West. We felt like we'd gone abroad, as well. I don't know any place on the mainland US where everyone is so relaxed, friendly, and happy.

  3. Yum! I support any excuse to bake a pie :)

    1. Exactly! There's always a reason to make dessert!

  4. Looks delicious! I'm a huge fan of tart pies such as key lime and lemon.

    1. Yes, I agree! My favorite desserts are those that combine something tart with something sweet.

  5. I have never made a Key Lime Pie but oh boy do I want to now! It would be like a tropical vacation.. in my kitchen!

  6. Thanks, Pamela! Yep, eating this definitely felt like a mini-tropical vacation!

  7. Yum, Key lime pie is one of my favorite pies. Yours is so pretty with that toasted coconut.