Good Food Box Ottawa, recipe two: Single-serving chicken pot pies

Words cannot describe the irrational love I have for miniature foods. There is nothing better in the universe than a single-sized meal.

My positive conception of individual portion sizes can likely be blamed on one of three things:
1. My obsession with shamelessly showing off my homemade meals in class – meals that are neatly baked into a cute little Pyrex containers.
2. My childhood love of airplane food and the neat little single meals served up on a just-the-right-size plastic tray. 3. My OCD. Admit it, single-servings just look more organized and clean. Don’t believe my obsessiveness is accurate? My new favourite Tumblr blog shows evidence to the contrary.

Beautiful organization (my new desktop background)

Anyways, to say these chicken pot pies were an impulsive dinner decision would be an understatement. Besides the preemptive purchasing of a roast chicken, all prior planning was lost in the heat of a post-Wednesday class panic. Like I said in my previous post, I made these pot pies for my friend Jessey and I. Like I also said in that post, I have a completely unwarranted fear of cooking for people (can likely be blamed on the need-to-impress issues that took root as a child). Before deciding to make these for dinner, Jessey and I had been flirting with the idea of take out. Jessey said she was starving and was experiencing a violent craving for chow mein noodles.

In the end, it was my need to impress guests and the fear of a crippling post-Chinese-food coma that won, and I decided a dinner quickie (gutter, remove your head) was in order.

Luckily I just happened to have everything I needed thanks to my Good Food Box. Like I mentioned before, the box provided me with a bounty of vegetables to use and, unless I planned on making minestrone soup for a million armies, I needed to use it fast. These pot pies were the perfect veggie-users, and the meal guts contained onion, celery, mushrooms and red pepper. Unrelated to the good food box offerings, but can we just mention how half roast chickens from the grocery store are the Food God’s gift to student kind?

Seriously, fellow students. Buy a pre-roasted chicken. Your life will be changed; your meal-making time minimized.

But really, this was actually a very student-friendly meal. It took me about 40 minutes to prepare and involved several food cheats. Whatever do I mean? Well, my timesaver cheats came in the form of a can of peas/carrots and frozen puff pastry. Remember when Todd got called out on Top Chef Canada for not making his own puff pastry? Well I am not Todd. I am a student and will cheat at dinner as much as I possibly can. So there.

End result: these were pretty awesome. This recipe made two, baby Pyrex pot pies and one tiny Ramekin one. In an act of ultimate sacrifice, I only ate the tiny Ramekin worth of pot pie the night of in order to take pictures in daylight the next day. The things I do for food photography.

PS: IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT EVERYONE OWN A SET OF PYREX DISHES.

My food photography sets just keep getting more and more ridiculous. I had to reheat the pot pie after this one.

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Good Food Box Ottawa, recipe one: Pumpkin apple soup

Yes, I know, I know, enough with the pumpkin already.

Before you continue with your inaudible web whining, you should know that this one was for a good cause. Last month I saw a tweet from Ryan asking if any food bloggers were interested in receiving a food box from Good Food Box Ottawa.

Here’s an excerpt from their website to tell you more about the program:

We are a non-profit community-based initiative bringing neighbours together to buy a variety of delicious and nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices. Our goal is to purchase food that is in season and is grown as close to home as possible.

Pretty rad, huh? Good Food Box is an especially good program for students, and I’ve heard of people splitting one of the large boxes with their roommates. The program has pick-up locations on both the Carleton and University of Ottawa campuses, which means you can avoid a produce run to the grocery store. Does it get much better than that?

A sample Good Food Box

Why yes, yes it does. The boxes can be easily bought online and the produce contained within each varies based on the time of year. Access to fresh food has never been easier. The normal boxes run from $10 to $20 and there’s a $5 fruit bag and $25 organic box as well.

Now, as you can imagine, I quickly messaged Ryan back and requested a Good Food Box of my own. After a slight mishap in which I picked up the box a few days late (I have scattered mind/scattered calendar syndrome), I made it home and examined my options. Since I plan on making a few more recipes with what was in my box, I won’t reveal all the goodies just yet.

I will, however, tell you that I made quick use of the pumpkin and apples (speaking of which, I looked only slightly ridiculous carrying a baby pumpkin across campus last night). I have been wanting to make a recipe like this since last October and had just never gotten around to it, so my Good Food Box gave me the perfect opportunity. After searching a few of my favourite recipe source sites (Canadian Living, Tastespotting) to get inspired, I decided to create a soup of my own.

But first, the preparation. Like I said in my previous blog post, it is completely against a pumpkin’s nature to want to be peeled. You think I would have learned better, but alas I did not. The difficulty it gave me was worth it, and the roasted pumpkin came out smelling and looking like a delicious cross between butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

The soup turned out great and I garnished it with a few seasoned pumpkin seeds that my roommate had made earlier in the week. They had cinnamon, salt and nutmeg on them, and added a crunchy surprise to the top of the soup. A pie in soup form. Awesome.

The sunny afternoon meant that I needed to crane my body over my meal setting in order to take pictures that weren’t harshly lit. I was out on the front patio for so long that (a) I had to reheat my soup after the photo shoot, and (b) I attracted the most annoying cat EVER. The little grey feline refused to leave, and insisted on brushing coyly up against my leg, eyes flickering towards my open dish of pumpkin seeds. You shall not induce my allergies today, punk. After much shooing and jumping about on the deck as though there was an earthquake, kitty retreated, choosing to sit instead at the end of our front path.

He may look cute, but this neighbourhood cat is NOTHING BUT TROUBLE (okay, so I'm not a cat person...)

Back to the soup: Of course, it is required that you serve such a meal in a pumpkin. Even if you cheat and keep the actual liquid in a bowl (I won’t tell if you don’t).

I can’t wait to decide what to make next with my Good Food Box finds. Hint: it will likely involve cranberries.

PS: don’t you just love it when your house has random planks of wood and bricks lying around that are perfect for food photo shoots?

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