Celina’s Key Lime Pie

Celina and Me

World: meet Celina Dean.

Celina is what I would call a modern, self-taught culinary goddess.  She bakes her own high-end-bakery-worthy bread, she invents fabulous specialty cocktails, she throws together a gorgeous lemon curd to serve with homemade scones, she whips up pappardelle from scratch… She even makes her own crackers.  She’s for serious.  There is no food challenge too great for Celina (case in point when she entered a pie contest “just ’cause it looks like it might be fun!” and proceeded to invent one of the most succulent pies known to man: the bacon and perogi pie), and I know that whenever we’re invited to her house for dinner, we’re in for a treat.  She’s also one of the sweetest little cupcakes around, is super pretty, and runs marathons.  I know– what a bitch.

So we’ve been hounding Celina for the last couple of years to enter the Next Food Network Star competition… But they have all of these lame and fussy rules about being a US citizen (did I mention she’s Canadian? Double awesome), and honestly, I think she’s just too good for them anyway.  So I’m going to use my very limited and/or mostly fake superpowers to make her a star in her own right.  Thankfully, she’s graciously agreed to supply me with a guest blog/recipe to share with you all, and I guarantee you: your culinary prowesses (actual word? Probably not) are going to be expanded.  As will your waistlines.  But if you take issue with that, what in hell are you reading this blog for??

Let’s start with a key lime pie, shall we?  Ladies, gentlemen, and cocker spaniels, I give you… Celina Dean:

Father-In-Law Key Lime Pie

by Celina Dean

I love my parents-in-law and it sure never hurts to try and keep on impressing the people that you love… so when they invited me to join them in Palm Springs for the weekend while my fella’s away for the month (damn him), I knew I couldn’t arrive empty handed because, well, I’m not a complete ass. My first trip to Palm Springs was with them and they introduced me to Key Lime Pie (How did I avoid it in the past? Not to worry, I’ve been making up for lost time ever since.)  It’s also a favorite of my father-in-law Dr. K C Dean, so I went for sentiment and here’s just the damn easiest recipe for pleasin’.

First of all: it starts with a graham cracker crust so you don’t even have to freak out. For reals. It’s easy peasy and just so delicious.

Second of all- sweetened condensed milk is your friend here. I know, I know, but we aren’t going for healthy when we eat pie, are we? So ignore the nutrition label and enjoy how this seemingly unassuming 14 oz can can transform some lime juice into dreamy yumminess.

Third of all- Guys, though it really is worthwhile to find actual Key limes (Whole Foods carries bags of them for $2.99) if it’s the deciding factor whether you make this pie or not just go and buy some Key lime juice and use that instead. Who’s gonna know?

Kay guys, let’s do this thing! Ungh!



1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs*

2 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (in the microwave for 30+ seconds is easiest)

*For funzies you can swap out the graham crackers for ginger snaps, or even use half of each. If you want to be a real jerk bake your own gingersnaps and crush’em up- though in my experience the only people that really know the difference is me and my very own self. Tra la!


1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

4 large egg yolks*

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key lime juice** (approx. 15 Key limes)

*You know how to separate your egg yolks from the whites, right? 1) You can use a separator that sometimes comes with your measuring cups 2) crack the egg shell in half and use a backsie and forthsie method- playing catch with your yolk while the whites run through into a container  3) or easiest and messiest, dump the cracked egg into your hand letting the whites run through leaving a yolk in your palm. SAVE THOSE WHITES! Scramble them for breakfast in the morning to feel like a virtuous and healthy hero.

 ** Now for the lime squeezing: this will be the most time-consuming part of the recipe- cut the limes in half and either use elbow grease or a reamer to juice them OR a garlic press if you have one. I don’t. But a garlic press is going to be the fastest and easiest way. And another thing? Before squeezing, zest a three of these little guys to flavor your whipped cream.


¾ cup whipping cream

Guys, that’s it. Just 7 ingredients and some time to charm a friend or enemy or friendemy!



Preheat the oven to 350°.  Stir together graham cracker crumbs (and/or ginger snaps), sugar and melted butter in a bowl until well combined, then press as evenly as you can into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate (I used a tart pan with removable sides because I think it looks pretty). Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, then remove and let cool on a rack- keep that oven on.


Whisk together condensed milk and egg yolks until well combined, then add juice and make sure that’s combined well too (the mixture should thicken a bit).

Pour filling into crust and bake in the middle of the oven for 15 min. Cool pie completely on rack (the filling will continue to set), then cover and chill overnight. (DON’T do what I did and cover the top with saran wrap and then remove a third of the topping when you remove the wrap. Instead, find something domed to cover it with- a pot lid, a bowl larger than the pie… whatever.)


Before serving, beat cream and zest in a bowl with an electric mixer until it holds stiff peaks. Serve on top of your Pie-sterpiece. (Wanna travel with your pie and cream? Whip cream a little thicker than you might normally serve it, scoop into a freezer bag and when you arrive and serve it up, cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and squeeze it onto individual pieces in a pretty  dollop.) Or skip all this business, buy some Reddi-Wip and call it a day (what you do with that can of leftover cream is entirely up to you and your super hot spouse, partner, random hook-up, whomever).

That’s it. Make this for someone you’d like to impress a bit. It tastes delicious and is pretty hard to mess up. I promise. I love you.

Hello, pretty key lime pie!

Watch out for the next Celina installment, coming to an Opu near you soon… In the meantime, I’ll just selflessly keep at being the taster to her creations.  You know, for research.

25 Comments Add yours

  1. Amber says:

    That sounds amazing (And easy!).

    I’m determined to try it this weekend. I wonder if you could sub blood oranges for the key limes for something a little different?

    Looking forward to more Celina posts!

  2. Scotty says:

    I read the recipe and my chair creaked a little. Wow.

  3. Kitten says:

    I think we’ll be needing that bacon and pierogi recipe too… 🙂

    1. Ellen says:


      1. John says:

        I most wholeheartedly concur.
        Also, thanks Celina for sharing (and Jewel thanks for sharing Celina).

  4. Charley says:

    If you’re even in Key West, you must go to Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe and try out their frozen, chocolate-dipped, slices of key lime pie on a stick. Heavenly!


    They do mail order as well, but fedex-ing frozen treats in dry ice is out of my price range.

    It’s a great shop though, with really good key lime juice and various products made with key limes. They’ve appeared on Food Network and a couple of food magazine lists.

    1. Jackie says:

      Seriously! How could you mention a thing like bacon and perogi pie and NOT give us the recipe? It’s cruel!!!

  5. slamaina says:

    Excellent! I can’t wait to make this. My hubby loves Key lime anything.

    I make homemade pierogi with a family recipe passed down from Great-Great-Grandmom in Poland but I love to fill them with some nontraditional Polish fillings (one example: shredded chicken, ham bits, and shredded Swiss cheese). So needless to say, we love pierogi. The pierogi and bacon pie idea blew me away. I must know more. Please Celina, please tell us how!

    Oh and hi Jewel. 😉


  6. Susie says:

    I vote for the bacon and pierogi pie recipe, too! Those are three of my favorite words and I never thought to combine them.

    Meanwhile, the key lime sounds outstanding. I haven’t had key lime pie in too long.

  7. Shawn B says:

    Does this work equally well for lemon? We love the inside of lemon pie.

  8. Simone says:

    Wow, I’m no baker but I just might have to try that recipe. It made me want dessert instantly. Guess I should be good and wait until after dinner in a few hours.

    Thanks Jewel for the introduction to Celina and for this blog. I am a such a food whore and am always looking for new recipes. I’m still working up the never to make your risotto, my last attempt well it was pretty ugly.

    And please share the bacon/pierogi pie recipe before I make an ill fated attempt at one myself 🙂

  9. Chuck says:

    PLEASE the bacon and perogi pie PLEASE PLEASE.

    1. Abby B says:

      Clearly I can’t second the bacon / perogi pie since there are so many requests, so I’ll just shamelessly beg. Pretty please, with a bottle of wine thrown in? This Polish chick is all about the perogi’s.

  10. Amanda V. says:

    I have known Celina for a good many years now. She is not only the loveliest lady that I know but is a self-taught baking genius in her own right (and I’m not just saying that ‘cuz she’s married to my brother). It is about time she got some serious Kudos. Thanks Jewel.

  11. AJ says:

    “If you want to be a real jerk bake your own gingersnaps and crush’em up”

    I’ve done that with graham crackers before.

    I like Celina. She tells you to make a graham cracker crust and shows that it’s not hard to do. Also, she’s right about it being worthwhile to use fresh limes. It is the featured flavor after all.

    I haven’t had Key lime pie in a while. I think I’ll be making this one this week.

  12. Michael says:

    Ok, I wasn’t hungry at all when I started reading this. That didn’t last.

    This sounds amazing. Thank you Jewel and Celina for sharing!

  13. Sunnie says:

    I am happy to say that this recipe should easily pass the One True Key Lime Pie Test, as administered by a chef friend who hails from Florida herself. (You should hear her rant about the proper way to make KLP. It’s hilarious.)

  14. Ash says:

    Thank you for posting this! I LOVE key lime pie! 🙂 You are from Maui, right? Well, I live on Oahu and would you believe all my local friends hate key limes? Don’t know if this is a Hawaii thing or just my crazy friends lol I am sooo looking forward to making this and hopefully changing some minds!

  15. sham says:

    Just wanted to say Jewel (and now Celina), how much I enjoy reading yer Happy Opu adventures 🙂 Yer writing, is warm, charming and gosh darnit entertaining. Keep up the awesome eating! 🙂

  16. C.D. says:

    You had this Pennsylvania Polish girl – raised near the Mrs. T’s pierogie factory – at bacon and perogi pie. The recipe! Please!

  17. Channon says:

    Words cannot express my gratitude for sharing this gem of a recipe, and a damn funny chef to boot! thank you!

  18. Josh D says:

    Having eaten Celina’s cooking pretty much every day I can say that she is the greatest, bestest and prettiest chef ever.

  19. natalie g. says:

    Ok. Confession time. I have never actually had key lime pie. I know!! Shocking! I was clearly ignorant of the awesomeness that is this baked delight. And, me, a self professed pie lover! Especially of the fruit variety!! I saw some key limes the other day at Safeway (hopefully they don’t suck after being trucked all the way up here) and I’m going to try this recipe.

  20. Made this pie and the carrot soup last week. The carrot soup was not my cup of tea but the pie……holy smokes it was awesome!! Key lime pie is one of my favorites and I’ve had it every which way from Sunday but this one is just simple, elegant and delicious. Thank you Celina and Jewel!

  21. CobyLyn says:

    Yummy! Printed out, going to make a deep dish version tonight and eat it for breakfast ;D

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