November 29, 2020
Our new Thanksgiving tradition!

We had a quiet thanksgiving at home this year, and as much as I missed hugging my grandparents and seeing my relatives, the day turned out to be really lovely. Since we didn’t have any place to go, or anyone else to cook for, I felt truly free to do whatever I wanted and spend relaxed time with my family. So after a quiet day of pom pom animals, Legos, and Sleeping Queens (affiliate link to our current family game obsession), we sat down to a delicious meal of hot pot and apple pie. Does it get any more Chinese American than that?

Hot pot: Choosing from a generous spread of thinly sliced meats, veggies, and noodles to dip into flavorful simmering broth, taking it out when it is perfectly cooked, and dipping it into your own bowl of tasty, customized sauce. Each bite is freshly cooked, hot, and soul-satisfyingly delicious! It’s such a fun way to gather and eat! This photo is from my friend Lily’s table, because apparently several of us had the same idea, and her spread was way prettier than ours!

One of the best things about hot pot is that other than a well-timed grocery run, there isn’t much prep. All the cooking happens at the dinner table, which left me even more time to tinker freely in the kitchen all day. So I decided to make an apple pie. A simple but fancy-looking one with a pretty braided lattice pattern a la Chrissy Tiegen. I had three goals for my pie: make something easy but delicious, make it not too sweet, and try the pretty braided lattice design.

My big little girl did most of it!

I used store bought crusts from Trader Joe’s, fresh Golden Delicious apples from our CSA box, and tweaked a recipe I had found on allrecipes.com for the filling, hoping to avoid the overly sweet filling that I usually associate with apple pie.

It may look tedious, but it’s 2020, and this braided lattice design turned out to be really fun and satisfying to do! I’m not sure if JoEllen in 2021 will have the time or patience to cut and braid strips of dough for a beautiful pie, but if my daughter’s in, then I’ll try make time for it! Seeing her delighted smile at her unhurried, relaxed Mama as we stood side by side making pie made me realize, for the upteenth time, how much I need to slow down and enjoy these small moments. My full presence and unhurried enjoyment of hers leaves the biggest impression on her, and I think it’s these little things that she’ll remember the most someday.

After filling our bellies with hot pot, we all managed to find some space to enjoy pie together. The story of actually eating the highly anticipated pie turned into a saga and memorable moment that deserves its own post (filed under “parenting”)… but I’ll have to save that story for another time. Suffice it to say, the pie was delicious and we just might have started a new family tradition with it!

Apple Pie
Adapted from this recipe



  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Melt the 1/2 c butter in a saucepan. Whisk in 3 tbsp flour to form a paste. Add 1/4 c water, 1/3 c sugar, and 1/3 c brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Stir in 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Reduce temperature and let cool slightly, then pour over your sliced apples and mix so that slices are coated.
  2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apple mixture, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust.
    Note: If you’re worried about your outer edges burning, wrap with a strip of foil for the first 30 minutes of baking.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in the middle of preheated oven. After 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350°F. Continue baking for 35-50 minutes, until apples are soft and the lattice design is golden brown.
    Note: If your pie pan is on the small side, place a baking sheet on the rack underneath to catch any dripping.


*I used to think Granny Smith apples were the ideal apples for pie, but Kenji at Serious Eats recommends Golden Delicious, and I’m glad I went with it! If you do go with Granny Smith, you might want to increase your sugars up to 1/2 cup since they’re a bit more sour.

8 responses to “Apple Pie Recipe (that’s not too sweet!)”

  1. Tina C Anderson says:

    I was just thinking of you yesterday when I made 5-spice chicken in the slow cooker! It’s one of our favorites. Thank You!

  2. Alondra says:

    It looks good.

  3. Rosanne says:

    It’s my second time seeing photos of this pie and it STILL looks sooo pretty, Jo!! :’) Thanks for sharing the recipe—love that it’s so approachable!

    BTW if you ever consider writing a post on hot pot… please do! 😀

  4. Leah says:

    This is my 3rd or 4th time making this pie. I really love that it is not too sweet and everyone always loves it too. I never would have tried any sort if lattice sign before. Thank you