Sunday, June 20, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger Terry Odell and her 2 Key Lime Pies!

Terry Odell's Frozen Key Lime Pie
A little over a month ago, I tweeted about an ice box lemon pie that author Dean James shared with us here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen.

In the mountains of Colorado, author Terry Odell saw my tweet and tweeted back that Dean's recipe sounded a lot like her Key lime pie, which she used to make when she lived in Miami.

"Hmmm," I thought from my desk in Queens, "why not have a Southern citrus pie showdown?" I invited Terry to come by our virtual kitchen for a bake-off. Because Terry also has a brand new book coming out this summer, I also asked her to give us a sneak peek at her fiction. Terry agreed to both. She even found us two fun scenes with the perfect theme for this blog -- and on the perfect day. Terry writes romantic suspense with wonderful male leads and today, of course, is Father's Day!

And so, by way of the global twitterverse, I am pleased as punch to give you author Terry Odell...

~ Cleo Coyle

Author Terry Odell
Thanks to Cleo for inviting me to appear here at the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. I love reading, writing, cooking and eating. Almost all my books involve food in some way or another—even when it's a heroine whose entire cooking repertoire revolves around kid food.

In my July release, NOWHERE TO HIDE, Graham, the hero, is a gourmet cook. In an early scene, he's faced with creating a meal in the home of a total non-cook, and to make things worse, she's just moved in and hardly has basic ingredients in the house. Here's a peek – Graham speaks first...

"You can go sit down so I don't worry about you. I've got everything under control." He turned to the refrigerator and pulled out a bowl of salad. "You have any balsamic vinegar?"
  "What the hell is that? You're lucky I have vinegar, period. I've been to the market once. There should be some Thousand Island in the fridge."
  He grimaced. "Never mind." He reached into the refrigerator and removed a jar of mustard and a lemon. "This will do."
  She watched in fascination as he began rolling the lemon under his palms. "What are you doing?"
  "Breaking down the pulp. You get a better juice yield." He cut the lemon in half and squeezed it through his fingers into a small bowl.
  "Don't tell me. Straining the pits."
  "Sometimes the God-given tools are the best ones for the job." He added some mustard, salt and pepper and started trickling a stream of oil. "Now go sit down," he said as he mixed everything together.

In WHEN DANGER CALLS, my heroine, Frankie, is the total opposite. Hero Ryan shows up for breakfast. Here's a look at her cooking "expertise."

The youngster smiled at him. "Mommy's making me happy pancakes."
  Ryan, who was comfortable hiding in the jungle, trekking across the desert, or scaling a mountain, had never felt more out of his element than right now in this Mayberry kitchen. He turned, expecting Aunt Bea to wander in with a basket of fresh eggs.
  "Sit down, please," Frankie said. "Juice is on the table."
  Ryan pulled out his chair and sat. His orders were to stay low. Dalton was on his way. Meanwhile, he was starved, and when in Mayberry....
  Frankie opened the oven door, and using mitts shaped like chickens, pulled out a platter of pancakes. She set it on a padded mat, then slid into her seat at the other end of the table. She forked two pancakes onto her daughter's plate.
  "Why don't you pass me your plate," she said to Ryan. "The platter is hot."
  Ryan did as she asked, then gazed at three pancakes, each with two round eyes and a curved grin, staring up at him from his plate. His amusement must have shown, because Frankie laughed.
  "Happy pancakes. It's one of my few specialties. All you do is start the eyes and mouth and let them brown a bit before you pour the rest of the batter. I'm not much of a cook."


In my first book, there's serious bonding over homemade spaghetti sauce. And I think I have an ice cream eating scene in almost all my books!

But today, I promised to talk about my 2 Key lime pie recipes. It's probably a good thing Cleo limited me to those, or I'd be here for months.

We moved from Los Angeles to Miami many years ago, and I was intrigued with trying new-to-me regional dishes. Restaurants all boasted about their Key lime pies, and I quickly learned there were as many variations as there were restaurants serving them.

These were pre-computer days, so no Googling to find recipes, but I found one in a magazine that was supposed to be the classic, original, very best. (And not only were these pre-Google days, but they were also pre-uncooked egg paranoia. I feel like those guys on Good Eats are going to show up and recite chapter and verse about the risks taken when eating uncooked eggs, but honestly, almost all cases of problems come from restaurant eggs, not grocery store eggs.)

Note: It's much better if you can walk into your yard and pick the limes. But you can find Key limes nowadays in grocery stores. At the very least, they sell bottled Key lime juice. The big, green Persian limes are not Key limes. If anyone serves you a green Key lime It might be a lemon meringue pie made with limes, but it won't be a Key lime pie. It's not supposed to look like a classic lemon meringue pie. Ever. Key lime juice is pale yellow. Nobody adulterates a Key lime pie with food coloring. Ugh.

So, here's recipe #1...

Key Lime Pie

Baked pie crust, or Graham cracker crumb crust (my preference). I confess to making a lousy "regular" pie crust.

1 can Eagle brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
6 egg yolks
½ cup key lime juice

Whip sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks together at medium high speed, about 8 minutes. Add the key lime juice; let the beaters rotate slowly about 1-2 seconds. Fold with rubber spatula to blend. Pour into pie shell; let stand.

6 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar

Beat egg whites with the cream of tartar about 5 minutes, until stiff. Add the sugar and beat another 5 minutes, or until glossy. Put on pie; brown at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

The next recipe was a variation given to me by a neighbor, who used to whip them up at a moment's notice. The best part is that it's a frozen pie, so you can make it well in advance—or make more than one—and freeze until you have a need for it.

Frozen Key Lime Pie

Graham Cracker Crust
1 can Eagle brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
4 eggs
½ cup key lime juice
Lime peel, grated
Pinch salt

Separate eggs. Beat whites until stiff. In another bowl, beat yolks, add milk, lime juice and salt. Fold egg whites and peel into the mixture. Pour into crust. Sprinkle with some graham cracker crumbs. Freeze.

Also good topped with whipped cream. Really good.


Now, once you have the basics, you can dress them up any way you like. Lime zest, chocolate shavings, whatever.

Now that I live in the mountains of Colorado, I'm going to have to find new regional recipes to try. Not to mention adjust to cooking at 9100 feet.


To learn more about Terry, her books,
or her popular "Terry's Place" blog,

visit her website at

Thanks again to Terry
for joining us and...



Before you go, I'd like to make sure
you don't miss your chance to enter
our special June contest...

Win Books in Avery Aames's
"You Be The Sleuth" Contest!

The first book in Avery's A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6! To celebrate its release, Avery is running a contest from June 9 to July 6: You be the sleuth!

Track down the recipe on Avery's website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore. Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye. Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on Avery's booksellers page. Here is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started. Good luck!


  1. Hi Terry! Welcome to the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! I *love* key lime pie...thanks for sharing these recipes. :) The frozen one sounds especially appealing today because it's so HOT.

  2. These recipes sound great. I always thought recipes for Key Lime Pie would be very time consuming. Perfect recipe for a hot summer afternoon.

    Thoughts in Progress

  3. Elizabeth, Mason - thanks for dropping in. Key Lime Pie is one of the easiest recipes in the world--if you can get Key limes! That doesn't count making the crust, but I confess I'm strictly a Graham cracker crust gal--that was the first thing I ever did in the kitchen, back in the day when you couldn't buy boxes of crumbs. I got to smash and roll the crumbs, sitting on the kitchen table. I was 3 or 4 years old, as I recall.

  4. I love mystery novels that feature cooking and baking! As a child, my mother and her three sisters were all great cooks and bakers. Unfortunately, none of them wrote down their recipes. And my head was always buried in a book, taking their efforts for granted. I wish now that I had paid more attention and learned all those great recipes. Thanks for sharing the key lime pie recipe with us. I'm going to try it.

  5. Hi, Terry. thanks for joining us. It wouldn't have occurred to me to think a "green" pie was the wrong one. Thanks for the tip. I love Key Lime pie. and thanks for the fun excerpts!

  6. Mm, great post - and now I'm starving. Got to get to the kitchen - and ask my squeeze to cook up some goodies: )

  7. Jacqueline - that's something my mother regretted; that she never saved her mother's recipes. I remember standing with my grandmother as she made some of my favorites, and using the 'subtraction' method, managed to get at least a starting point. My mom is now making sure SHE writes her recipes down.

    Avery - glad I could set you straight. No cheese in this recipe, so I don't think it'll fit with your Cheese Shop series.

    June - that's the best kind of squeeze to have. One who cooks.

  8. I LOVE key lime pie but have never made one. That is so going to change now! Thanks for posting the recipes, Terry. Love the food scenes you shared from your books, too.
    Hearth Cricket

  9. Terry, thanks for visiting us today.

    I'm wondering if the filling for the first pie couldn't be cooked first if someone is worried about raw eggs. Hmm, if I can find some real key limes, I might just have to try that!

    You're probably having trouble finding key limes, too, now that you're in Colorado, but I can't wait to see the new regional recipes you come up with!

    ~ Krista

  10. Cricket - as you can see, it's not a hard recipe at all.

    Krista -- you can buy pasteurized eggs in some markets, but I'm not sure you can whip the whites. If you bake the meringue, that should also cook the eggs to some extent. Then again, mixing the acid with the eggs might take care of some of the issues. All I know is we've eaten dishes with uncooked eggs for decades with no ill effects. If you've got someone in those 'high-risk' demographics, then maybe I'd be more cautious.

    And I've seen bags of Key limes in the grocery store. They're bright green, so I'm a bit suspicious of their true origin; the ones on our trees were pale yellow.

  11. Hi, Terry-I was thrilled to see a fellow Five Star writer in this blog, I've got All the 'coffee'books and am waiting now for Roast Mortem - LOL I'm out of luck on the delicious pies though, I've been diabetic for several years. FYI it's tougher to quit sugar than it is smoking!!!
    Cyber hugs,
    Jackie Griffey

  12. Jackie--good to see you here. I never smoked, but I'd have trouble giving up sugar. And you'll have to try Avery Aames' new series. I read The Long Quiche Goodbye, and it's mouth-watering. Cheese, not sugar, so maybe you can handle some of her recipes.

  13. Wow, Terry, those recipes are mouthwatering. I think I'll have to take a run to Trader Joe's tomorrow, where I know they have both key limes and bottled juice. Real Key Lime Pie is just about my favorite dessert in the world!

    Thanks for stopping by the Kitchen...nice to meet you!