PIE CAMP: Banana Cream Pie (Heatwave Edition)

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 12.25.28 PMSeveral weeks ago I was looking through the summer catalog of one of my favorite cooking schools here in Los Angeles, daydreaming about learning to make my own Breakfast Rustic Breads when I suddenly saw the class I had been dreaming about since I was 10 years old.

Pie Camp.

Pie and camp. Together? This was everything.

Since running away to Pie Camp isn’t really feasible for me, I decided to make my own home version,  a Pie-cation if you will, where I can learn how to make my own summer pies with a little help from friends, cookbooks and sheer will.

My first session of Pie Camp happened this past weekend which happened to coincide with Father’s Day, the first day of summer and LA’s first sweltering heatwave of the season.


This was how I decided to go with  a No-Bake Banana Cream Pie for my first class, because turning on an oven when it’s 109 degrees outside, would not have gone over well with the family.

Here’s the thing about a cream and/or custard pies, I often forget how much I like them, mainly  because I am completely smitten by berry beauties and stone fruit pies that beguile from the pastry case. But after checking out a few different recipes and talking to a few baker friends, I went with a basic recipe I found at Taste of Home (TOH) thanks to my friend and editor of TOH Emily Betz Tyra.

She had recommended trying the Chocolate Banana Cream Pie which was featured on the cover of their most recent magazine, which looks beautiful, right?

I opted for a basic and traditional Banana Cream recipe for my first class, so I could start off strong without too many baking mistakes.  Making the cream filling was the most involved part, but it came out wonderfully light and sweet.  Once things started to look and feel  like a real pie was being made, I felt more comfortable and confident and I threw in some sliced bananas into the sauce and then added shredded coconut for texture.

It went in the refrigerator overnight and voila! We had pie for breakfast, lunch and then dinner, because that’s the great thing about homemade pie, you can have more than one slice.

Confession: I do have to admit, I did go with a pre-packaged Graham Cracker Crust mainly because turning on the oven during a heatwave seemed cruel to the rest of my family. It came out wonderful, but I am sure a homemade crust would have crushed it. 

Check out my summer project here:


Homemade Banana Cream Pie  + My New Sandals

Homemade Banana Cream Pie


Classic Banana Cream Pie  


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 pastry shell (9 inches), baked
  • 2 large firm bananas
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped


  • 1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir a small amount of hot filling into eggs; return all to pan. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.
  • 2. Remove from heat. Gently stir in butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap onto surface of custard; refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes.
  • 3. Spread half of the custard into pastry shell. Slice bananas; arrange over filling. Pour remaining custard over bananas. Spread with whipped cream. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Yield: 8 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 serving (1 slice) equals 433 calories, 22 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 103 mg cholesterol, 358 mg sodium, 55 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g protein.



SUMMER SERIES: Writing + Time Management with Laura McNeil


summer_time-1455175With summer fast approaching, I realized that I wanted to do something this season that would help keep me on track as I chip away at Book #2.  I needed some inspiration, some words of wisdom and motivation from other authors and I also needed pie. Lots of it. 

 I decided to host a Summer Series on my blog from June through August that will consist of a monthly Author Interview with a writer sharing their words of wisdom on the craft of writing.  But wait for it, since life isn’t just about work, I am also going to have a Pie of the Month featured with tips and ideas from local LA bakers and writers who will share their expert ideas on making an enviable summer pie. 

I have our first pie lined up with tips from Emily Tyra, Editor of Taste of Home in Milwaukee. No one can rock a pie like Ms. Tyra. 

Hope you join me through the summer! And should you have any requests, be it writing, an author request or pie tips,  please email me at smallplatemedia@gmail.com

Have a great summer and here’s to getting lots of writing and pie eating done this season.  ~ Cindy Arora 





This week, let’s welcome our first author,  Laura McNeil, who recently released her latest novel Sister Dear,  which is a must-add to your summer reading pile.  

Take it away Laura!  


If you’re an aspiring or experienced author, looking to carve out 30 or 90 minutes each day to write, how should you do it? What’s the best time to write? How long and how fast should you write?

Though many authors use different approaches to manage writing time, one thing remains the same: it’s a challenge to work full-time and have a family, let alone find the hours needed to work on a novel.

Since I’ve recently added graduate school, a new job, a new house, and a book tour to the mix, life is a little crazy! To get everything done, it’s all about priorities and a set schedule.


Remember, only you know your schedule and goals, so feel free to tweak my advice and make it work for you!

  1. Plan your Novel – For me, having a detailed outline of my novel is necessary. That means I brainstorm, decide the beginning, middle, and end of the story, and complete a short summary of each chapter before ever starting on page one of chapter one. This “roadmap” helps keep me on track. When I pop open my laptop every day, I only have to glance at my outline to know where my writing is heading. Now, that doesn’t mean I never veer off course or add a scene or delete a few paragraphs, but it does streamline the process and certainly staves off writer’s block!
  2. Look at the Big Picture – Writing an 80 or 90,000 word novel is daunting, but if you divide the work up into chapters or page count, the task becomes manageable.
  3. Set a Word Count – For me, 1500 words a day is doable. I write five days a week, usually, when I’m deep into a project, which means I need 12 weeks – or 3 months – to complete my rough draft. If I decide that my word count goal is 1000 words, and I write five days a week, I’ll need 18 weeks – or about 4 and a half months to complete the first draft.
  4. Write (Almost) Every Day – Like I mentioned, I try to write five days a week. Remember that life happens, children get sick, crises arise, and schedules get interrupted. Five days a week is a reasonable goal.
  5. Write at the Same Time – Writing at the same time every day, I find, makes writing much easier. I write best early in the morning, so I make it a habit to wake up, make my coffee, and open my laptop first thing. I find that after a week or so into a new book, my brain knows to “turn on” that time of day!
  6. Find your Zen Space – Quiet is very important for me, but you may be the sort of person who can work well in a noisy coffee shop or with music in the background at home. Not everyone has a home office Whatever works for you, keep with that routine for the duration of the book. Again, once you start that routine, and get in your writing “space,” the creativity will begin to flow.



About the Author

Laura McNeil is a writer, web geek, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a graduate program in interactive technology at the University of Alabama. When she’s not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Mobile, AL with her family.

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