My Favorite Blueberry Pie

It was Friday night, the beginning of the last summer weekend on the lake. We were finishing dinner on the deck when we were suddenly overcome by a scourge of mosquitos just as dusk fell. We decided to head inside. Everyone grabbed something from the table to clear it as we skedaddled into the house.

I had baked my favorite blueberry pie for dessert about an hour earlier. Most bakers know not to cut into a fruit pie until the filling has had a chance to cool and set, but we had momentum in the room; the kind that comes from vigorous teens after a mad dash. It didn’t seem like the time to wait for a pie to set.

As everyone cleaned the plates and loaded the dishwasher, I sliced and plated the pie. The kids passed the plates around the room, bucket-brigade style. Not wanting to move en masse to find a seat at the table, everyone stood where they were and ate their pie. No one spoke, so intent were they on their warm slice of pie with its thick puddle of juices, not too sweet berries, and thick, crunchy crust.

It was a moment in time that I cherish — everyone content and huddled together in my kitchen.

I usually make blueberry pie in late June and early July when blueberries are in season. To store surplus berries, I measure out 4-5 cup increments (enough for a pie) and place in storage containers in the freezer.

Yield: One 9″ Pie


One 9-inch double pie crust ( I adore Trader Joe’s frozen pie crusts)
4-5, occasionally even 6, cups blueberries (all fresh or a mix of frozen and fresh)
1 teaspoon freshly zested lemon
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⅓ cups granulated sugar
⅓ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, cut into thin slices
1 egg and a sprinkle of sugar for egg wash, if desired


Preheat oven to 450º. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven on the middle rack to preheat with the oven. I find that cooking pie on a hot pizza stone helps the bottom crust cook more fully.

Prepare or purchase a double pie crust. Unroll one crust, use a rolling pin to smooth it out, and place in a 9″ pie pan as described in my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie post. Set aside.


Pour blueberries into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir together.

Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until thick, bubbly, and glistening. The juice color will change from dull to shiny within five minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. Remove from heat.

Pour filling into unbaked pie crust. Dot with sliced butter.

Roll out second crust, place over filling, and tuck in edges.

Crimp edges and slash crust with a knife to create vents for steam.

If desired, add an egg wash to the upper crust for a more finished look. Using a fork, beat egg in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to spread over crust. If the wash puddles in the dimples of the crust, use a paper towel to mop it up. Sprinkle sugar over top.

Here’s what the crust looks like with and without a wash.


Here it is with a stockinette pattern piecrust from Mason Dixon Knitting. Here is a link to the piecrust instructions. So fun!


Place pie on the preheated pizza stone and bake for 10 minutes at 450º. Reduce heat to 350º and cook for 35-45 minutes. After the first ten minutes at 450º, you’ll notice the crust will already be lightly browned. To keep the crust’s edges from browning too much, place a pie crust shield  over the rim. If you don’t have one, cover rim with strips of foil.

The pie is done when the crust turns golden brown and the juices start to bubble out.

Birthday Pie

SOME people request blueberry pie instead of cake for their birthday. For my husband (and for me, too), it has to be THIS recipe because after 35 years of eating blueberry pie with the subtle tastes of nutmeg and cinnamon in it, other blueberry pies taste bland by comparison.

Goodbye summer of 2019!

And, Becca and Joe, I’ll be back next summer to get more blueberries from Rosebud Farm. It was at their farm that I filmed the sheep for the story The Sheep of Nashville: The Chew Crew. You two sure make retirement look like fun!

Other Fruit Desserts
Mom’s Apple Pie with a Cheddar Topping
Homemade Grape Jelly
Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
My Favorite Peach Custard Pie
Very Berry Clafoutis
Fruit and Nut Bread

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Always check my blog for the latest version of a recipe.

© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Labor Day Weekend Food

We often have a crowd around the dinner table for the three holiday weekends of summer because we have a house on the lake and we enjoy keeping it filled with family and friends. I’ve put together a list of my favorite, A.K.A. easily prepped or cooked ahead of time, recipes to serve at mealtimes.  I’m a big believer in delegating so everyone can participate and have an enjoyable weekend. My blog makes it especially easy for my family to find our special recipes.

 A Few Appetizers

Crunchy Roasted Tamari Almonds
I keep these almonds in my kitchen year-round. They are just salty, tangy, and crunchy enough to be my go-to snack. The almonds are roasted with gluten-free tamari sauce.

“Croatian Cheese” a Flavorful and Exotic Appetizer Made with Feta and Goat Cheese
This is a favorite for both family and friends. My son’s friend, Grant, makes this whenever he has a party in NYC and often sends me a photo of his guests eating it. It is delicious served on sliced baguettes.
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A Quick and Easy Baked Hummus and Feta Appetizer
This requires baking, but it is one of those appetizers you can bring to someone’s house with the ingredients still in a shopping bag, arrange the ingredients in a pie plate, and then bake when needed. It will become a grazing station.

Breakfast Options

The Biscuit King
My husband makes these biscuits whenever the family is in town. We serve them with homemade jellies and sorghum.

50 Ways to Make a Frittata
This is always a good breakfast food to make the last morning you are together because you can add almost any leftovers to the egg mixture, bake it, and call it a meal. The egg to milk to cheese ratio remains the same no matter what you add.

Ellen’s Most Moist Zucchini Bread
This is the moistest summertime quickbread I’ve ever made. We love it. One can throw a few chocolate chips into if one is so inclined.

Homemade Artisan Bread the Easy Way
The dough for these boules of bread can be made up to two weeks ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to shape and bake them. The bread is wonderful with butter or the Croatian Cheese spread on it.

Other breakfast options: eggs, bacon, sliced avocados, and fruit

Lunch Options

The Classic Pimiento Cheese Sandwich
I never had pimiento cheese until I moved South. Now I love it. I’ve served it as a sandwich for lunch or used it as a spread on crackers for an appetizer.

My Favorite Gazpacho
I’ve been making this recipe for over twenty years. What makes this gazpacho extra delicious is the addition of garlic-seasoned homemade breadcrumbs. The gazpacho is the most time and ingredient intensive recipe on this list; I only make it when I am highly motivated to do a lot of chopping and when summer vegetables are at their peak.

Other easy lunch option: pork barbecue with rolls, cole slaw, and pickles

Dinner Options

Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts
This is my go-to recipe for moist, grilled chicken. The breasts only take ten minutes to grill because you pound them to a flat, uniform thickness before marinating.

Rachelle’s Italian Sausage, Onions, and Peppers
When I have a houseful, I’ll often make this for dinner on one of the nights. I use Premio Italian sweet sausages from Costco. They are equally good grilled, sautéed, or simmered in sauce.

Meera’s Arugula, Feta, Cherry, and Toasted Almond Salad
My friend, Meera, brought this to a potluck dinner at the lake once. All of the ingredients were in a Trader Joe’s shopping bag. She fixed the salad for dinner, and the next day, I had her recipe up on the blog! I love it. I eat variations of it almost every day for lunch.

String Bean Salad
My mother taught me how to blanch vegetables when I was in high school. I’ve been doing it ever since. The only vegetables I routinely blanch nowadays are string beans, broccoli and cauliflower. I roast most of the others.

Roasted Ratatouille
I roast zucchini, eggplant, onions, and tomatoes together when I have a glut of them in my summer “Italian” garden. The vegetables require lots of chopping, but roasted veggies are delicious and I usually have a lot of helpers in the kitchen. Sometimes, I serve the ratatouille over pasta.

@judyschickens Everyday Salad Dressing
I keep a bottle of this homemade four-ingredient salad dressing in my cupboard 24/7. I use it in many of the recipes mentioned above, either in salads or as a marinade.

Other options: Roasted white and sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, and sliced tomatoes


Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
Last Christmas, I made these when I had lots of kids in the house. When I got up the next morning, the cookie container was empty. Now, that’s a good cookie. They are barely sweet, but between the butter and eggs and the nutty flavor of the toasted sesame seeds, the cookie is exquisite.

Very Berry Clafoutis
This is an easy dessert to make. There is no pie crust, just eggs, milk, flour, some sugar, and whatever ripe fruit is in season. It tastes great for breakfast, too. I cook it in a pie plate, but you could cook it in a cast iron pan just as easily.

Bon appetit!. Have a nice weekend.

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Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

Remember to always check this website for updated versions of a recipe.  

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

A Quick and Easy Baked Hummus and Feta Appetizer

Recently, I  hosted my book club’s annual dinner where guests signed up to bring either beef or chicken chili, salad, cornbread, dessert or an appetizer. When Book Hunters member, Janna, uncovered her Greek-style appetizer, the aroma of warm feta and olives wafted through the kitchen attracting us like moths to a flame. Guests started scooping up the dip with abandon, or at least I did. Soon, there was a lot of gushing going on in my kitchen.

Janna said the appetizer was easy to make.  Even better.


1-pound container hummus
6-ounce container crumbled feta
5 ounces (¾ cup) flavorful tomatoes, chopped
4 ounces (¾ cup) flavorful kalamata olives, cut in half
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mise en Place:


Preheat oven to 350º. Allow ingredients to come to room temperature if times allows.

Layer ingredients in an 8″ by 8″ square pan or other ovenproof containers, as shown. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Bake in a 350º oven for 20-25 minutes.


Serve with pita bread or crackers. We loved it with naan dippers.

A few words about the ingredients. I tried this with cherry tomatoes but thought the sliced tomatoes had a lot more flavor. One tomato was enough.

It took me a few attempts to find kalamata olives that were tasty. Make sure the ones you choose are flavorful.

We preferred the dip with the garlic-flavored hummus.

Things to knit while watching the game

How to Knit a Hat and Make a Pom Pom
A Birthday Tribute for my Mother: Knitting Neck Warmers with Mom’s Stash
What to Knit for a Baby: a Hat, a Sweater and a Blanket

Foods to serve a crowd on Super Bowl Sunday















Baked Ziti with Roasted Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Marinara Sauce

Last night, my son and grandson joined my husband and me for dinner. I made baked ziti with eggplant.

The nicest compliment came when my son said this newest rendition of baked ziti was among the top five meals I had ever made. He said he wished it was served in a restaurant so he could get more whenever he wanted. (No need for that, honey; just say when.) It was all music to my ears. I had been working on a recipe for baked ziti and eggplant for years.

I love roasted eggplant. I was taught by my mother to sweat (salt and drain) eggplant before cooking to rid it of its bitterness. Indeed, for most of my adult life, I equated the brown liquid that dripped from the colander during sweating as the color of bitterness. The more brown liquid in the sink, the more successful I thought I would be in making a delicious eggplant dish. But recently I learned the true reason for sweating had nothing to do with bitterness and everything to do with the anatomy of eggplant. Eggplant is porous; it is full of small air pockets that absorb oil like a sponge. Sweating draws out water from the eggplant’s cells which fill the air pockets so cooking oil can’t’ occupy the air space.

Since I no longer fry eggplant, this summer I eliminated this time-consuming step of sweating and instead lightly brushed each raw slice of eggplant with olive oil before roasting.

The results have been delightful. At a recent dinner party, guests started gobbling down unadorned roasted eggplant slices before I got a chance to smother them with marinara sauce and mozzarella.

Recently, I went to the Richland Farmers Market in Nashville and bought these gorgeous, svelte, Italian eggplant (melanzana, in Italian) from Corner Spring Farm. They had delightful names like Violeta di Toscano, Rosa Blanca, Clara, and Beatrice.

When I got home, I added them to the hefty stash of Black Beauty and Japanese eggplants I had harvested from my garden. I decided to make a day of it and cook all the eggplants at once. When I trimmed and peeled the skin, I was surprised to see the contrast in color of my stash of eggplants and the Italian varieties. Their flesh was so much whiter. Once roasted, I noticed the Italian eggplants were denser and maintained their shape better. Plus, they had the mouth-feel of artichoke hearts. Yum. Now I know why my mother would always choose Italian eggplants when we visited farmers markets; there is a difference. Next summer, I’m planning on growing more of the Italian varieties.

Yield: serves 8-10 as a main course


The ingredients list is divided into each of the cooking steps:  roasted eggplant, marinara sauce, pasta, and basil and cheese layers.

3 medium to large eggplants, about 3 pounds
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Marinara Sauce (about 1⅓ quarts)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 28-ounce cans whole Italian plum tomatoes
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or dash of cayenne pepper
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (optional)

6 quarts water
1 tablespoon fine salt
1 pound ziti or penne pasta, cooked to al dente

1 pound sliced and then chopped, mozzarella
1 cup finely grated parmesan ( about 3 ounces)
1 cup basil leaves, about ¾ ounce

Mise en Place


Preheat oven to 425º

Remove the stem, and peel and slice the eggplant. Slice them about one-half inch thick; better to err on the side of thicker than thinner slices.

Pour olive oil in a bowl and brush each side of each slice very lightly with oil. I only used 3 tablespoons of oil for all the eggplants pictured above.

Arrange the eggplant slices on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Roast for 30-40 minutes. If you want them browned on each side, turn them over after about 20 minutes. I do not bother with this extra step. They should only be lightly browned when done. If you can’t decide if they are cooked enough, try tasting one. That’s what I do. You want them to be firm enough to hold their shape.

At this point, you could store the slices for one or two days in the refrigerator, or freeze. To prep for this recipe, measure out one pound (about 3 cups) and chop into 1.5 to 2 inch segments. Set aside.


While eggplant is roasting, start the marinara sauce. Heat olive oil in a 6-quart frying pan over low heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes. Do not allow garlic to brown. Pour the tomatoes into the pan breaking them up with your fingertips as you do. Add salt, cayenne, and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat stirring frequently. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil and turn the heat off. Set aside.

While the sauce simmers and the eggplant roasts, start a large pot of salted water over high heat for the ziti. When water comes to a full boil, add the ziti, bring it back to a full boil, stirring frequently, and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta. The pasta will cook more as it bakes.

Now you are ready to layer all the ingredients into a 9 by 13-inch casserole.

Preheat oven to 400º.

Pour one heaping cupful of sauce into the bottom of casserole pan.
Add half of pasta, half of eggplant, half of basil, half of mozzarella and one-third of parmesan,

Repeat layering starting with half of the remaining sauce, the rest of the pasta, basil, and mozzarella, and a third of the parmesan. End with the remaining sauce followed by the last of the grated parmesan.

Bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.

Related Italian Dishes:
Tomato Pie for a Crowd
Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower
@judyschickens Marinara Sauce
Spiralized Zucchini (aka Zoodles) with Marinara Sauce
Roasted Tomatoes, Burrata, and Basil
Roasted Ratatouille
Pasta, Mozzarella and Marinara Sauce
Tomatoes: The Crown Jewels of the Summer Kitchen Garden
My Favorite Gazpacho

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.