Proof Is in the Pie: Mini Key Lime Pies


I grew up in the Florida Keys eating my fair share of key lime pie. And I’m pretty particular when it comes to this tart treat — no green pie filling for me, thank you. It’s sometimes difficult to find a recipe that delivers the perfect sweet-tart mixture. And while this one adds its own twist (read: cream cheese), these mini pie-lets hit that ideal sweet-citrus spot in a creamy, unique way. I suppose breaking tradition every now and again can have its perks.


Mini Key Lime Pies
Makes about 24

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sheets)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 large egg yolks
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup key lime juice (I use Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice)
Garnishes: lime slices and whipped cream


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two 12-count muffin pans with liners.

To make the crust, put graham cracker sheets in a food processor/blender to make crumbs, or crush them in a Ziploc bag using a rolling pin. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar together in a bowl with a rubber spatula until you get a coarse, sandy mixture. Press a tablespoon of the mixture into each muffin liner, pressing down to compact the crust. Then pre-bake crusts for 5 minutes and remove from oven.

To make the filling, use a large bowl and a handheld/stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the cream cheese on high until smooth, about 1 minute. On medium-high speed, beat the egg yolks, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Then on high speed, beat the condensed milk and lime juice until it’s all combined.

Use a tablespoon to pour the filling evenly over each crust. Bake 15-16 minutes until the centers of the pies slightly jiggle. Cool the pies on wire racks until completely cool and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Serve chilled pies with whipped cream.


Bayou Classics: Shuck N Dive Cajun Café


It’s officially Mardi Gras season, and so I felt it was only appropriate to finally share with you about my love affair with Shuck N Dive. Situated in a nondescript shopping plaza off Federal Highway near downtown Fort Lauderdale, this lively Cajun café is one of our favorite restaurants in all of South Florida. The interior is decked out in LSU and New Orleans-style knick-knacks — and there’s always either zydeco music blasting through the speakers or a sports event shown on the bar’s TVs. My husband has also noted the “flashy”, shall we say, Bourbon Street photos that adorn the men’s bathroom walls.


Boiled Crawfish

This has to be the restaurant we’ve visited the most since moving to Miami. And we can’t get enough of their food. We have our standards, like the 3-Way Oyster Platter (Black n’ Blues, Oyster Rockefeller and Oysters Bienville) and the pork boudin, which is flown in from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, a small town across the way from where I was born. There are also a few items we’ve tried only once, but overall enjoyed — fried pickles, naked chicken wings, red beans and rice. The “Larry” Cobb salad delivers a huge portion topped with chicken and Gulf shrimp, and during season they typically have boiled crawfish, most of which have been decent size.


Crawfish Etouffee

I enjoy their hearty portion of crawfish etouffee, albeit it’s a creamier version than those you’ll find in Louisiana — and nearly every time I go to Shuck N Dive I have a cup (or bowl) of either their Country Gumbo (pulled chicken with andouille and okra) or their seafood gumbo (shrimp and sausage), which is probably my favorite dish they serve. Nine times out of ten my husband orders the fried gulf shrimp po’boy — he also asks for it to be tossed in buffalo sauce, which adds some nice heat to an already overstuffed sandwich.

A couple Abita or Nola Brewing beers and some Zapp’s chips, and you feel as though you’re in any old roadside dive in Louisiana. But here you won’t find a drive-thru daiquiri stand or snowballs for dessert. When we can’t make it to my hometown of New Iberia, Louisiana, or I’m not up for cooking my Cajun family’s recipes, Shuck N Dive certainly delivers that taste of home, no matter how far away.

Simmer Down: Chicken Chili Verde

Miami had its first cold day of the year last weekend (50 degrees, yippee!) and it was finally cool enough to make some warming comfort food. I’ve always been a fan of this chili verde recipe because I love that it’s lighter than most red-sauce varieties yet doesn’t skimp on the meaty chicken aspect. The squeeze of lime really adds another dimension — and you could even add some chopped cilantro for a fresh garnish.


Chicken Chili Verde
Serves 6

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
1 small red onion, chopped
2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon onion powder
2 (4.5 ounce) cans chopped green chiles
1 cup salsa verde
2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 (32 ounce) container of chicken broth
1 lime, juiced
1 ½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning (or season salt)


Place the chopped onions, diced jalapenos and minced garlic into the slow cooker. Top with chicken breast and sprinkle spices all over chicken. Add undrained cans of green chiles and salsa verde. Add the white beans and chicken broth.

Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Before serving, shred the chicken and add it back to the slow cooker. Squeeze lime juice and sprinkle Cajun seasoning into pot and let cook on low for another 20-30 minutes.

Serve chili with tortilla chips and shredded cheese.