Super Simple Summer Dessert: No-Bake Key Lime Pie

Tonight’s dessert is brought to you by a healthy dose of nostalgic impulse.

It was one of those mornings where it felt like nothing was going according to plan…from a toddler waking up more than an hour before she was expected to, to unbridled resistance to the order of getting dressed, the act of meal planning during a holiday week with a weather forecast that made me want to put my husband on grilling duty. Every. Single. Night.

With the humidity adding to the weight of the day’s to-dos, an unexpected traffic snarl only added to the mental frazzles, where you have to remind yourself that you’re a grown-up. You’ve handled worse. You can get through this. And besides, you need to restock the wine.

That’s how, as I stood in the produce section of the grocery store and saw that limes were on sale, my mind went on a trip. Back to my early teens, when my parents would drop me off at the bus station in in the city with a ticket taking me north to the station nearest my grandparents’ cabin, and my grandpa would pick me up for the hour’s drive to the point where their cabin stood. Back to one of those heavy-hot summer mornings, where the occasional breeze that danced across the lake’s surface before drifting through the wide-open cabin windows felt heaven-sent. The mental picture of my grandma, rummaging through her pantry for a can of sweetened condensed milk to join the two limes and pre-made graham cracker crust on the counter.

“We had this for dessert at a friend’s place the other night, and it was delicious,” she explained, shouting a little because her head was still deep in the pantry. “I asked her for the recipe, and she rattled off four ingredients.” That last part was kind of spat out, like she couldn’t believe something so good took such little effort.

“So,” she sighed as she clanked the can down on the counter, “let’s teach you how to make key lime pie.”

Little flecks of lime zest bring the promise of sweet-tart coolness.

There we stood, side-by-side in the cabin kitchen, as she walked me through the very simple process of making a no-bake key lime pie. She was right: it was so easy, and so good. For a day when you didn’t want to heat the rest of the place with an oven, it was just right.

Topping the pie with whipped cream helps cut the richness of the dessert. (I kid, I kid.)

There’s no secret to the recipe, and I’m sure it’s been shared tons of times. But limes were on sale, and thinking through tonight’s dinner plans — grilled burgers, corn on the cob — the thought of a little key lime pie, tangy-sweet coolness giving the palate a pick-me-up and soother all at the same time, felt like a must. Less than a heartbeat later I was adding two limes to the little bag I had started, and mentally adding a can of sweetened condensed milk and mini graham cracker crusts to the shopping list.

No-Bake Key Lime Pie


  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 limes (the zest of 1 lime collected for the pie)
  • 1 large graham cracker pie crust, or 6 mini graham cracker pie crusts
  • Whipped cream or topping – according to your preference


  1. Zest one of the limes, reserving the zest for later.
  2. In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup, juice the 2 limes (they should yield 1/2 cup of lime juice).
  3. Add the sweetened condensed milk and lime zest, stirring briskly to combine.
  4. Pour into the pie crust(s) and place in the refrigerator to set, for approximately 2 hours.
  5. Serve with a healthy dollop of whipped cream.

Kindness starts

Every now and then I’m struck by the immense power of kindness.

It doesn’t cost a thing to be kind. And the benefits of kindness are far reaching and do more good than charging after the unattainable.

Just as it’s important to remember to be kind to others, it’s also easy to lose sight of the importance of being kind to yourself.

That’s why it feels like a blessing to remember that small but critical point: Kindness has to start with being kind to yourself.

Mama Wren

There was no sweeter sight than when we were outside this morning, enjoying a little fresh air before going off to daycare and work, and the kiddos caught sight of a mother wren flying to the little wren house hanging off the porch. 

We talked about the babies inside the house who wanted their breakfast; smiles spread across their faces as Mama Wren lit on the perch, some morsel in her beak, and the tiny cacophony from inside the wren house quieted down.

I watched the universe shrink just a bit for them. They recognized how other creatures are “mothered” (for lack of a better word), and it was my luck to capture that realization as it dawned on both their faces.

Right before they resumed the squabble over who got to use the sidewalk chalk.

Tiny steps of progress

One of the hardest parenting lessons for me — hands down — is slowing down and being okay with not charging ahead at the breakneck pace I’d really, really like to do.

Progress is progress, though. And I’ll take any measure of it I can get. Especially when it’s taking way longer to complete than I’d like.

One-on-one time

Having two kiddos gives me a new appreciation of time: how precious it is, and the neverending tug in many different directions to give everyone the quality of attention they deserve.

Which is why I appreciate the opportunities for one-on-one time with our youngest. Given all the more gladly knowing the oldest is getting his own one-on-one time that he also craves.

It is a blessing to be surrounded by so many who are so eager to lavish adoration and attention on these little beings.

Perfect weather

Not too hot, and not too humid…the perfect weather to be outside for everything we could — dinner, play, gardening, exploring — before bedtimes intervened.

We could not have asked for a better start to our Summer. Something (especially in this part of the country) to feel grateful for.