Muskoka Peanut Butter Pie (Low Carb) – for Mikey


I bet you didn’t even realize that I was away all last week, on vacation with my family. It was only through the magic of the internet that I was able to still bring you a few recipes even while I was in a rustic cottage in the remote wilds of Ontario, in an area called Muskoka. Oh, who am I kidding? The cottage was hardly rustic, being outfitted with all the modern amenities, including wifi. And those of you from Ontario are already calling my bluff on Muskoka, which is not exactly remote and very much tamed. I had my computer with me and although I did my best not to spend as much time on it as I would at home, I was very happy to still be connected to the blogging world.

Muskoka Sunrise

The real “hardship” of this vacation, if it can be said to have any, was that I was doing all of this without my husband. Poor man had to stay behind in Boston for work, as a project he has been working on for several years was finally rolling out. This meant that I was the sole parent to my three young children on this trip. Keeping them in check on the flight from Boston to Toronto was a bit rough, but the built-in TVs for each seat helped keep the older two entertained. The drive up to the cottage was a bit rougher, since the older two started fighting and woke the little one from her much-needed nap. I spent the last 45 minutes of the drive singing “You Are My Sunshine” at the top of my lungs to keep her from screaming. I was exhausted upon arrival, but all in all, I’d say it went as smoothly as one might hope when one’s traveling companions are 6, 4 and almost 2.

Jumping off the dock

Thankfully, once I was up there, I had my parents on hand, as well as my sister, brother-in-law and their little girl, to help keep the kids entertained. We also had a gorgeous lake for swimming, a dock for jumping off into the lake, a boat and an innertube for riding and playing, and some great weather so we could enjoy it all. Muskoka, a set of lakes a few hours outside of Toronto, is an almost magical place in the summer. It’s hard to describe the draw of Muskoka to outsiders, and the gloriously slow pace of life at a Muskoka cottage. It’s a place where you shed all the worries of workaday life, where your greatest concern is whether you have time to go jump in the lake again before getting the burgers on the grill. And the sight of the late afternoon sun casting its golden light on the trees across the lake never fails to lift my spirits.

Early morning mist on the lake

So why am I telling you about my idyllic family vacation? Because it is about FAMILY. Because, while I was away, there was a movement afoot among foodbloggers to celebrate family and to celebrate life. Jennie Perillo, of In Jennie’s Kitchen, lost her husband Mikey to a sudden heart attack. She sent out a plea to her fellow bloggers to make his favourite food, Peanut Butter Pie, and to hug their families tight. I don’t know Jennie personally, although I certainly knew of her, but one cannot fail to be impressed by the response in the fooblogging community. Peanut Butter Pie and many variations thereof were made in kitchens across the country, indeed across the world. I hope, I pray, it helped lift Jennie’s spirits even a little to know that her husband’s life was being celebrated the world over.

Cousins at play

At first, I didn’t think I would participate. Although our cottage was lovely, it wasn’t exactly well stocked in the baking department. There was all of one measuring cup, and a single measuring spoon. No pie plate to speak of, naturally. I had brought up a few low carb ingredients with me, but I certainly didn’t have all the items I was used to using. But there I was, enjoying time with my wonderful family, and I was inspired. Peanut Butter Pie is relatively easy to convert to a low carb treat. I tossed some almond meal with cocoa powder and a little sweetener and a little butter for the crust. I beat some cream cheese and peanut butter together and then mixed in some whipped cream. I melted some Lindt 90% Cacao chocolate with some butter for a little ganache. And that night, after dinner, we had what I’d like to call Muskoka Peanut Butter Pie.

I don’t have a lot of photos to share because I was using my sister’s DSLR, having left mine at home. And I only have pictures of the whole pie. It was my intention to get a few pics of a slice but after serving it up to the family, I proceeded to drop what was left of it on the floor. We ate the mangled pie anyway! I’m also not providing you with the recipe today. With our cottage being so ill-equiped, I threw things together without measuring anything. And although the results were really quite delicious, I’d like to take the time to recreate the recipe and work out the details a little better.

Hugging my family tight

But I did want to make the pie and let Jennie and my readers know that I did so. Because life is precious. Take care of it. Enjoy it. Eat pie and hold your loved ones tight.

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  1. sara @ CaffeIna says

    Too bad your husband couldn't come but it looks like you and the kids had a wonderful time. I've been "out" of the blogging world for two months now…I felt so disconnected but it was also good to take a break….whether in a remote place or not :)

  2. Erin says

    Great pie! Can't believe you put it together in a cabin kitchen! Looks like a great family vacation, too bad hubby couldn't make it.

  3. The Mom Chef says

    What a special tribute to Mikey, for you to make this pie in a place other than your own kitchen, but surrounded by family. That made it extra-special.

  4. Foodiva says

    The thought behind that pie was beautiful and so glad you could make it for Mikey and Jennie even while on vacation. Muskoka looks like some part of paradise, I think I could quite happily live there. That gorgeous lake, with Internet connection and family members around, I don't want a single thing more! Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself here. :-)

  5. Cassie @ Bake Your Day says

    Such a beautiful pie…and what a great way to share it – on vacation with your family, perfect! The vacation pictures look so fun!

  6. Kelly says

    What joyous photos of you and family in the beautiful Muskokas. Wonderful that you were able to brave the travels with your young, energetic brood. By the looks and sounds of things, it was well worthwhile. Great looking dedication pie.

  7. Sandra says

    Sounds like a wonderful trip, with kids having fun..too bad that your hubby couldn't come..
    Love the pie, and the tribute..You did as always awesome job!

  8. Steve Parker, M.D. says

    Too often, it takes a tragedy to challenge our complacency. Your post does it more gently.

    "Complacency" is a good word you don't hear very often. One of my favorite singers from 20 years ago, Nanci Griffith, talked about it.

    You remind me that a sense of gratitude is so often the source of happiness.

    Powerful writing, Carolyn. Thank you.


  9. Kari says

    What a beautiful post – and delightful photos from your holiday. I'm sorry your husband couldn't be there, but am glad you were able to have the break and the time with family!

  10. Lisa says

    Your pie for Mikey looks lovely and delicious. I just put mine up this past weekend too, and it warms my heart that they're still popping up all over the blogosphere.

    Also, glad you had a great vacation – it looks so peaceful and beautiful there! Great photos!

  11. Becky says

    Looks like the perfect family vacation, even without your husband. You had a beautiful location, good weather, family, and this gorgeous pie for Mikey, to share with your family!

    You'll have to make it for your husband, when you get back.

  12. Sandi G says

    Very thoughtful of you to support your fellow blogger. It IS times like this that make us hold our little family a little tighter :)

    Love the pie adaptation & sweet pictures!

  13. Lauren at Keep It Sweet says

    Sorry to hear that your husband couldn't make it but it is wonderful that you got to be with family for the week. Hope you had a great time!

    The pie looks wonderful and you have such a big heart.

  14. Roxana GreenGirl says

    Welcome back Carolyn! sounds like you had a wonderful time. so sorry to hear your hubby couldn't make it, I'll be traveling alone too, damn work :(
    even without your baking equipment your pie looks amazing!

  15. Parsley Sage says

    What a nice post. A 'smile into your coffee' post. We don't have kids yet and even though your 'travel' sounds hairpulling, it also sounds magical :) Hope you had a lovely holiday and thanks for sharing this fabulous pie

  16. Kate@Diethood says

    Lovely post, Carolyn… ahhh my heart breaks for her and the girls. :((

    Your vacation spot looks so dreamy! I need something like that sooooon! I leave to go on my vacay next week so I'm not complaining. Yet. 😉

  17. Beloved Green says

    Family, the most important thing there is. Spending time with the wee little ones is more important then baking any day of the week. It is wonderful you participated in the tribute to Mikey.

  18. K says

    What a wonderful vacation spot – and it reminded me of the times we joined cousins for a vacation – it truly MAKES family! and I had a strong mental image of you singing!!!
    Can't wait for the recipe

  19. geokatgirl says

    it is good to be a Canadian, and i revel in your blog because you feel the same. Have a wonderful time in God's country aka Muskoka

  20. Ben says

    It's amazing how food bloggers can get together when times are difficult for a member of the community. Your vacation looks lovely and your pie delicious.

  21. Cookin' Canuck says

    This is a wonderful post and tribute to Jennie and Mikey. It sounds as though you had an amazing vacation in a gorgeous spot (I'm sorry to say I haven't been to Muskoka since is was two years old). You hugged your family tight and that's what matters most!

  22. Tanvi@SinfullySpicy says

    How nice of you to take out time to make a tribute pie for mikey.
    I love the pictures of your vacation.Toronto is on my wishlist for sometime now! I need to do homework about Muskoka now.Sounds fun!
    P.S.- Your kids are too cute :)

  23. Terra says

    Thank you Carolyn for sharing your beautiful time! Jennie's story has shaken me up. I have really realized how much you need to enjoy life, every moment! I have hugged my husband of 17 years tightly everyday!
    I am so glad you had a beautiful time with your family! Your pie looked amazing! Sending you love and hugs! Terra

  24. Lizzy says

    Oh, what a fabulous vacation…minus the little tiff in the car, of course. I used to sing that song A LOT, too…it seemed to work :) And such an important reminder about the fragility of life…my heart aches for Jennie.

  25. Denise @ Creative Kitchen says

    Beautiful vacation spot. I'm proud of you taking off with the kids on your own…wow! Better that you had family to help you out.

    I thought I was brave this summer with the 12 hr road trip one way and 13.5 hour road trip back with my 3 girls (no hubby), but my kids are older and my 12.5 yr old vowed to help. She was extremely helpful.

    My girls are 12.5, 8.5 and 3.5. So glad you had a good time!

    This was such a tragedy. I just shared my pie today. So sad!


  26. Gina says

    How sweet, and yes I missed you. Sorry been so crazy busy myself. I bet the kids will always remember the trip. I feel so bad for Jennie, I can't even imagine her pain.

  27. Nami | Just One Cookbook says

    What a beautiful pie and tribute to Mikey, Jennie and her family. Thanks for sharing the pictures of your vacation. Your kids are so adorable! I bet they had a great time and I hope you got much needed relaxation as well. :-)

  28. Staci says

    I just recently found your blog, and i'm SO glad I did! Thx for sharing these amazing recipes! I'm wondering if you ever posted the recipe for this pie – it looks and sounds amazing!

  29. Carolyn says

    LOL, you are right, I really need to redo this. I just have so many other things I want to make. I will try to do it in the next month or so!!!

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