meatball masala sauce – syn free and tasty!

Meatball masala! Why not? Plus, because we’re all about quick and punchy these days, the recipe is just below! But first…

I’m actually feeling particularly cross after having an argument with an idiot on Facebook about aspartame. We can all take a view on it, that’s fine, but she was adamant that she ‘never ingests any sort of chemical, only pure and natural’. I pointed out that water is a chemical and she got in a right old strop, pointing out that because she gets a headache from aspartame, it clearly means that it’s poison, not just that she’s sensitive to it. I cautiously mentioned that just because I’m allergic to pineapple doesn’t make the Man from Del fucking Monte a bioterrorist.

We agreed to disagree and so here I am, brain leaking from my ears. The problem is people get themselves so wound up in their misguided belief in some shitty product that they can’t possibly see reason or logic or common sense. There’s a post going around with some insoles for shoes that people ‘swear’ drain the fat out of your body as you wear them. How, at the end of a busy day, do they not take off their shoes, realise that these plastic insoles don’t look like buttered toast and then realise it’s a load of bloody twaddle? Where do they think the fat goes – decanted out of their shoelaces like a tiny petrol pump? There’s no helping some people. I genuinely think if I set up a facebook profile selling jars of ‘slimming air’ that has ‘been PROVEN BY SCIENCE’ to ‘help shift those pounds’ I’d get at least five people trying to sell it to me.

Anyway, enough chitter-chatter. Let’s get this meal done. Now this dinner doesn’t look amazing, and trust me when I say you could easily bulk it out with more veg and other nonsense, but it tastes mighty fine and served with decent rice, you’ll be cooking on gas.

to make meatball masala you will need:

  • 400g beef mince
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp turmeric

Our hampers have meatballs in – but actually, here’s a switch: you can now choose what you want to go in your hamper – so if you’re not a fan of pork, say (unlike me), hoy some more chicken in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

to make meatball masala you should: –

  • in a bowl, mix together the beef mince, egg and chilli powder and form into twelve meatballs, then leave in the fridge to firm up
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, spray in a bit of oil (don’t ruin your pans with Frylight, get one of these instead) and add the sliced onions
  • cook the onions for about ten minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and golden
  • add the garlic, cumin, garam masala and turmeric
  • stir well, and cook for about a minute
  • add the carrot, celery and red pepper to the pan along with the tin of tomatoes
  • fill the tin with water, slosh about and pour into the pan
  • bring to the boil, cover, and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes
  • meanwhile, heat another pan over a medium-high heat and spray with oil
  • add the meatballs, stir frequently until they are completely cooked through (or, even better, use an Actifry and take out the paddle – it works perfectly)
  • when the masala sauce has finished cooking, use a stick blender (or an upright one if you have one) and blend until smooth
    add the meatballs to the sauce and serve

Easy peasy! Warning, you might get a hot ring! More ideas?

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J

chicken caesar wraps with perfect shredded chicken

Hey folks – here for the chicken caesar wraps? Naturally. They’re delicious and easy to make. Good news is, you’re not going to have to endure a 3000 word essay about us blundering around in Paris in order to get to the recipe. No, because we’ve got 24 to watch and photos to take (don’t ask), we’re handing over to the fragrant and lovely Alexandra Rivers as our new guest writer!


chubsters through time

Did Queen Vic count her syns? Of course she bloody didn’t!

Did Catherine the Great have her chefs make quiches made out of cottage cheese and scan bran, in between illustrious encounters with Arabian stallions? Somehow, I think not.

I love Slimming World: it’s an excellent plan which is surrounded by an impressive network of followers (most of whom are middle aged women called Pam who are fond of pretending they like eating things made out of cottage cheese and scan bran). Now, like a lot of Slimming World-ers, a lot of the time I don’t take my ‘synning’ too seriously (not to be confused with sinning – I take that VERY seriously), but I’ve still lost a few stone on the plan, and somehow weight is still coming off. For anyone looking to lose a few pounds, I genuinely couldn’t recommend SW enough, however, there are days when I wonder what our fat ancestors would think about all this.

Whichever timeframe you choose to look at, there will be an ample bosom and impressive posterior, belonging to some glorious woman, peering out at you from the pages of the history books. Please note: There are, of course, many men with equally as magnificent bottoms, but somehow they don’t stand out as much (this probably has something to do with the historically misogynistic outlook of the world, and women rulers being seen as something as a novelty).

Anyway, history is literally littered with them, and who doesn’t love a good old fat bottomed girl? Especially one that’s got a crown on her head?! Articles upon articles have been written on the likes of Queen Victoria and her roundness – to the point where she is almost something of a plus size pin-up and role model. Who’d have thought?!

Now, I wonder if the likes of Queen Victoria and all the other larger ladies in history, ever wondered about shedding a few pounds. The portraits that document their lives certainly don’t seem to indicate this…. We see women of power starting as Skinny Minnies, and then grow a little in each subsequent portrait. Certainly no sign of any kind of diet plan! I suppose they had more important things to be thinking about, like making seriously questionable national decisions, which would have ensured anarchy if they had been made in today’s society.  Now, I am no expert, but I suspect making decisions as such wouldn’t leave one with much time for scan bran concoctions and syn counting. These glorious larger ladies couldn’t give a toss that there were three million syns in their swan pies and chocolate roulades: they were far too busy fornicating with horses and werewolves!

Honestly, sometimes I think we should take a message from the history books, and this one is a good as any: while watching what you eat and synning every morcel of what goes in your mouth is a great way to shed a few pounds, sometimes, just sometimes, there are more important things to worry about. Had a shitty day? Then just eat the god damn deep fried mars bar! There will be time to rectify it later in life.


Too bloody true. Works for both genders too. Look at Henry VIII, or my husband Paul as I like to call him: big fat fucker but didn’t do without in any sense of the word. Yeah, I know he was thin for most of his life but let’s be honest, I bet he had more fun as a big fella, even if he would get out of breath fastening up his ruff. Thanks to Alexandra for the inspiring words – makes a change from jokes about anal and felching, plus it’s good to remind you all that we are a slimming blog under this crass exterior.

It’s an Instant Pot recipe, but can be easily adapted for cooking in the oven or in a slow cooker. We just use the Instant Pot as it allows us to cook everything quicker – and can heartily recommend it. You can buy the Instant Pot here, though it’s fairly pricey. Can’t be arsed to splash the cash? There’s a cheaper option too!

to make chicken caesar wraps you will need

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 4x BFree Multigrain Wrap (4x HeB)
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • 60g parmesan, grated (2x HeA)
  • four handfuls of chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 60g wholemeal bread roll (8 syns)
  • 100ml light caesar dressing (3.5 syns)

To be honest, you’re not going to use all that dressing up, and we couldn’t fit all the bread croutons into four wraps, so up to you how you syn this. I’m just saying there’s a bit of leeway…

Looking for decent breasts? Of course you are. You can get bloody loads of them in our Musclefood freezer deal, together with mince, beef and bacon – the staples for any Slimming World diet. Click here for that deal!

to make chicken caesar wraps you should:

  • slice the bread roll into small cubes
  • lob into an actifry with a little bit of oil and cook for 5 minutes until you get crunchy croutons (if using the oven, bake in the oven at 180° for 15 minutes)
  • meanwhile, stir the garlic and onion powder into the chicken stock and mix well
  • place the chicken breasts in the pan and pour over the stock
  • seal and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes
  • when finished, release pressure by using ‘quick release’
  • pour away any excess liquid and shred the chicken using two forks
  • add the parmesan and caesar dressing, mix well and set aside
  • lay out a wrap and add the lettuce, chicken and croutons, leaving a 1″ border around the edge
  • fold over from the bottom and then the sides, and enjoy

If using a slow cooker instead of an Instant Pot, cook the chicken with the stock for 2-3 hours on high, or 4-5 on low.

You could cheerfully freeze the shredded chicken but the wraps, made up as instructed, won’t freeze well due to the lettuce. Booo. Fucking lettuce, ruins everything.

Want more recipes and examples of our potty mouth?

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By the way, it’s steak and blowjob day. If you’re looking for tips on how to drive a man wild and really treat his meat with all the attention it deserves, click here.

Bye! Off to cash in my chips!

J

ham, pease pudding, roasties and er…rumbledethumps

Yes, rumbledethumps. It sounds like a coy euphemism for getting nasty but actually, it’s a very pleasant side dish of cabbage and potatoes. If anything, having cabbage tends to exclude any possibility of having nookie-noo later thanks to all the resulting flatus. But give it a go!

Just a very quick recipe tonight thanks to Paul and his big fat arse. No, let me finish. See, for about four months now, our computer chair has been slowly breaking under our combined weight/bouncing/spinning/wanking. One of the arms snapped off a few weeks ago but that’s alright, as long as you hold yourself stiff (and god knows I’ve got plenty of experience keeping myself stiff in front of the Internet) you can still type. But about a fortnight ago the hydraulics started failing and we would end up sinking, ever so slowly, closer to the floor as we typed. That’s fine until you realise you’re typing with your eye-line just over the top of the keyboard and your neck sounds like a cement mixer.

Things came to a head last night when Paul leaned back in the chair to contemplate my offerings of Chinese or Indian when there was a tremendous crack and the entire back of the chair came away, sending him hilariously to the floor, rolling on his back like a stuck turtle. Paul falling over anything always cracks me up and I spent a good five minutes clutching the settee and laughing until my vision went blurry and I had to sit down. I think it’s because he makes a proper comedy fat-person noise when he tumbles – the sort of noise a bouncy castle would make if you drove a car into it. I’m a terrible husband, aren’t I?

So yes, picture me now, sat here, legs bowed under me, no back support, the gentle hiss of air escaping as I’m lowered further and further to the floor, and you’ll understand why I must hasten to the recipe! On we go…

rumbledethumps

To be honest, this meal is just a collection of nice things so although I’ll cover the other three bits, rumbledethumps is what I’ll focus on. It’s a lovely side of potato, cabbage, onion and cheese, and let’s be honest, everything is better when covered in cheese. Nearly everything. No-one like a brie lollipop, just sayin’

ham

Nothing more fancy than Waitrose’s Pulled Ham Hock (I think Paul did that yesterday when he fell out of his chair) pressed into a nice shape with a ring-press (think he did that too) (you can buy a mould here) and topped with a tablespoon of piccalilli. The ham is syn free and piccalilli is half a syn per tablesspoon but I never syn it because I’m a frightful slut.

pease pudding

We buy our pease pudding from a lovely local business called Pete’s Puddin’ – it comes in bog standard flavour, Newcastle Brown Ale flavour, Cheese and Pickle flavour and best of all for someone like me who would happily main-line the stuff straight into my veins, Marmite flavour. I bought the stuff because I was so taken with his puns (and also they were selling it in Sausology, another local business) and never looked back. It’s amazing – you can find buy it yourself here: http://www.petespuddin.com/ 

I know pease pudding isn’t for everyone but we bloody love it and the flavoured versions are almost guaranteed to give you the proper fanny gallops if you try them. I’m not recommending this product because we’re getting a kickback or money or half an hour with a rough-handed lorry driver in a pool of pease pudding, no, I’m recommending because it’s bloody delicious. Plus, it’s good to support a local industry, and you cannot get any more local than buying pease pudding from the market in the centre of Newcastle. Well, unless Denise Welch was stottin’ a stottie offa Cheryl Cuuurl’s heed next to you, haway man pet etc. No, you haven’t tuned into Vera.

Oh, and it’s syn free.

roasties

We often have these tiny roasties – if you’ve got an Actifry, and if not, why not, just cut your potatoes up nice and small, whack on some worcestershire sauce and two oxo cubes and set them away. If you don’t have an actifry, cut the potatoes up, make a thickish liquid with two oxo cubes and a splash of water, tumble the potatoes around in it and cook in the oven until scrummy-yummy. Scrummy-yummy? Yes, I vomited into my mouth on typing it too.

rumbledethumps

Best to use leftovers for this but let’s just say, for the sake of argument, you can’t be arsed and/or you’re too fat to leave leftovers. That’s us. This makes enough for four people as a side, so you know what, I’m going to use butter again! I’m using a few odds leftover from the rosti so hopefully you’ll have everything in. So you will need:

  • 750g of potato, peel them if you’re fancy – or use a mixture of potato and cubed turnip, chop into cubes
  • 500g of cabbage, any old cabbage will do, but we used savoy, sliced super thinly
  • 25g of reduced fat butter (7 syns)
  • two fat onions, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, sliced thinly
  • 120g of strong mature cheddar (4 x HEA)
  • a good handful of chopped chives
  • lots of black pepper and salt

If you’re wanting to make this quick, use a mandolin slicer to cut the onions and cabbage – it’ll be done in less than a minute. The one we use is here! Only a tenner, too!

To make rumbledethumps you should:

  • boil your potato or tatty and turnip mix for about twenty minutes until soft and then mash – don’t mash it too finely, just give it a quick going over – a knee-trembler, if you will
  • meanwhile, melt that delicious butter and gently cook the onions and cabbage, oh so slowly now, until everything is soft and cooked – takes about the same amount of time as the potatoes and don’t be shy of adding a drop of water if things start to stick
  • tip the butter, cabbage and onion into the mash mixture and stir like a bugger, adding two thirds of the cheese and a good few twists of salt and pepper
  • drop the lot into a wee oven dish and top with the rest of the cheese and some chives
  • cook for about fifteen minutes or so and then plop it onto your plates with everything else!

Eeee, what a handy way to use up spare veg. Cabbage and turnip are always in the bargain bins at tesco so help yourself!

Looking for more veg ideas? Meat ideas? Anything at all? Click the buttons!

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Enjoy!

J

big mac tater tots

I did something this morning that I’m ashamed of. Normally guilt and having a conscience are two conjectural instincts that I absolutely lack – I’ll cheerfully take the last Rolo from the tube even if you don’t love me, I’ll gaily laugh as I push children out of the way so I can play in the ballpark at IKEA and I’d have no compunction at all about aggressively smothering to death the masses of elderly folk who get between me and my Marks and Spencer’s beetroot wrap of a lunchtime. I’m kidding I’m kidding – I’d tumble them into the deep freezers instead, much more humane. But, nevertheless, I’m ashamed.

See, I had to get a bus. I know, I’m not proud. What have I become? It’s not like my last attempt at taking the bus was anything to write home about (so I wrote a big old blog entry instead, see?) so what possessed me to try again?

The bloody weather. Or, perhaps more precisely, all the bloody reports about the ‘thundersnow’ and ‘Arctic blasts’ and ‘dangerous weather’. It all sounded terribly exciting and cataclysmic and it was with baited breath that I threw back the curtains this morning only to be greeted with a lovely winter scene of snow and frost. Remembering last year’s morning of tramping into Newcastle on foot because I was stuck behind an entire city of dickheads unable to grasp that if you try to pull away in first gear on a slope on your summer tyres you’ll get nowhere fast, I chose to get the bus in.

Well fuck me, it hasn’t improved a jot. I boarded at 7.20am, expecting the bus to be quiet and full of slumbering worker-bees like me who would spend the short twenty minute journey bobbing their heads in half-sleep and drooling extravagantly on my shoulder. That would have been welcome; cosy almost. What actually happened was that the entire journey took exactly two hours and I was stuck between two very Greggnant folks – presumably man and wife – who talked across and over me for having the temerity to sit between them. Mind, at least I was warm – I felt like a strawberry in a giant trifle, only this trifle smelled of fags and foist. I made to open a window but was met with such a harsh, unforgiving stare from that I went back to staring right ahead with furious, twitching eyes. The two hours was punctuated by the boom-tissh-boom-tissh of shit music played through shit headphones into a shit man’s ears, what joy. The only melody that gets played in my car is when the indicators match-up with the the little ‘ding ding’ I get when the diesel is low. That and Radio 4, and I’m even going to knock that on the head if Helen Archer doesn’t stop giving into Rob. Tsk.

I can’t blame the bus driver – he did his best, but, despite the roads being clear of snow and ice, every person and his dog had decided to come for a drive early ‘just in case’. This meant absolute bumper-to-bumper gridlock. Of course, everyone starts beeping, as though everyone ahead of them is only sitting there because they’ve dozed off and will subsequently be able to miraculously drive through the traffic now they’ve been awoken by your beep signal like the fucking Manchurian Candidate. You see cars on the news pitched into ditches and crashed through living room walls as though we’re crossing the Arctic as opposed to doing 10mph pulling out of a cul-de-sac and I just DON’T BLOODY UNDERSTAND IT. It’s snow! Half an inch of frigging snow! Why can’t people cope? Why must we fall to our knees and cry and wail because the paths are a bit slippy for all of ten minutes and the gritter hasn’t been round? For fucks sake.

I don’t want to bring it back to other countries but take Iceland – when we visited it was -1,000,000 degrees (near enough) and yet everything ran like clockwork. Our coach hurtled along roads that were literally ice with all the gay abandon of a man who only sees four hours of daylight a day. Public transport turned up, people walked along well-gritted paths and everything looked lovely. Switzerland was exactly the same – cold enough to not only take your breath away but also to make a Mr Slushy with, but ne’ry a problem at all. And us? If we do eventually get to work we spend all day starting every conversation with ‘it isn’t going to lie’ or ‘it’ll be gone by lunchtime’.

Oh, and how true that is – I swear a friend of mine lit a cigarette at lunch and the flame from her lighter cleared the snow right across Newcastle, it was that much of a bloody non-event.

I do sympathise with the folks experiencing proper disastrous weather elsewhere in the UK, though. Best of luck to you all.

There was some good news today, though – The Crystal Maze is returning! Properly, mind, with a full set (so we don’t have to watch people pretending that the smoke detectors and building alarm panels are part of the Aztec zone) and with non-celebrities playing. I know it’s the dram of many to watch Bianca Gascoigne mouth-breathe her way around solving a basic word riddle in three minutes but that’s just not happening. Hooray! However: the new presenter is Richard Ayoade. I can’t put into words how desperately unfunny I find him. I can see why people like him, and I’m sure he’s a charming bloke in real-life, but I think I’d genuinely prefer to watch the zip of a body-bag being pulled across my face than witness his shenanigans. Bah.

However look, there’s a cracking recipe to be had underneath – big mac tater tots. It combines the various bits and bobs from SW favourite Big Mac in a Bowl (which, if you give it a couple of hours, becomes Big Mass in a Bowel) and mixes it with our most favourite recipe, the tater tots! Give it a go. It’s easy to make.

big mac tater tots big mac tater tots

to make big mac tater tots you will need:

for the special sauce:

  • 3 level tbsp extra-light mayo (3 syns)
  • 5 tbsp fat free fromage frais
  • 1 level tbsp of American style mustard (1½ syns)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2tsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp of garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp onion granules
  • pinch of smoked paprika

It’s worth noting that you can douse the entire recipe in hot sauce, although you should syn this. We get asked a lot what hot sauce is and which we use. It’s just a spicy red sauce you can buy in most big supermarkets, and it adds a lovely heat. To help, this is the sauce we use.

big mac tater tots

¡Válgame Dios!

to make big mac tater tots you should:

  • if you have an actifry this is great – chuck the potato in, add a bit of oil and cook until golden
  • if you don’t have an actifry, spread the potato cubes out onto a baking sheet and bake at 190°c until golden – turn them regularly!
  • preheat the oven to 230°c
  • meanwhile, over a medium-high heat sling the mince into the pan and cook until done, then remove from the heat
  • in a large bowl mix together the tater tots and the mince together and tip back into an oven-proof dish or pan
  • sprinkle over the grated cheese and pop in the oven for about five minutes, or until the cheese has melted
  • next, mix together the special sauce ingredients along with 5tbsp of water (add more if you need to)
  • when the cheese has melted, remove from the oven and sprinkle over the lettuce, onion, then tomatoes and then add the gherkins
  • splodge over the sauce
  • destroy it – turn it into poo!

Our Tater Tots recipes are by far our most popular! If you want to find out why, give them a go!

or if you want more fakeaway ideas, just click the button below! And while you’re at it why not explore our other recipes! they’re all waiting for you!

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Eee, canny.

J

actifry or one-pot lamb tagine

Here for the lamb tagine? Yes, that’s well and good, and perhaps you can’t wait, but if you have five minutes, why not take a moment to read part two of our trip to Switzerland?

I apologise for the length of the last entry – I’ll try and keep it a bit more sensible this time around. This actifry lamb tagine can very easily be made in a normal pot, by the way, just simmer for the same amount of time. Can’t go wrong. I’m typing this up when I actually should be knuckling down for some last-minute Christmas shopping as I have exactly nil Christmas presents bought. Oops. Ah well, lumps of coal and stern looks for all. I might send Black Santa from the previous post.

But anyway, enough grousing. Let us step back a week or so ago to a point where two fresh-faced, handsome men, stylishly dressed for the city and with hope in their hearts, stepped off the Geneva-bound easyJet flight from Newcastle. You’ll see us right behind them, sweating our tits off, pulling our balls free from the inside of our thunderthighs and exclaiming ‘IT’S RIGHT COLD’ as we stumble down the steps like a cow with advanced BSE.

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looking for part one? click here

Do you know, I think that’s the best banner yet.

The first thing we did in Geneva was have a stare-off with some Aldi version of Annie Lennox who was quite insistent that she should cut in front of us in the queue at security, for reasons I couldn’t ascertain from her scowling face and bleached grey hair. You could say she was a Thorn in my Side, but actually, I’d just call her a rude bitch. I don’t mind an elbow in my back-fat if it belongs to Paul but not someone who is jump the queue. Tsk. Paul and I made sure to stand beside each other, pressed firmly together, like Trump’s Wall but made from Tesco jeans and fat. My, she couldn’t half tut though. Imagine my concern.

Security waved us through – yet again, no stamp – why? I want stamps in my passport. I appreciate that means that I’ll probably need to travel somewhat further afield than what Newcastle Airport can offer me but still. Rumour tells me that I’ll get a stamp if I travel to Benidorm, but alas, the stamp will be on my nose by an orange chav with Naf-Naf shoes. Pfft. We made our way out of the airport and decided to have a sandwich and a coffee in one of the many pleasant eateries dotted about the concourse. Well, honestly – in what will doubtless be a running theme throughout these entries – it was so bloody expensive. We had been warned but we waved off the concerns and cautions with the haphazard air of the seasoned traveller. A sandwich and a small coffee? £13. I wanted to lean over the counter and ask if the sandwich came with someone to sit with me whilst I ate and regale me with Swiss fairy-tales but alas, my French doesn’t extend to lusty sass.

That’s another thing about Switzerland – you’re never quite sure whether you should be speaking in French, German, Italian or some bizarre hybrid of the lot. We both give speaking in the native language the old college try but it’s bad enough when you’re trying to summon the French for cheese and ham baguette from the distant memory vault of Year 9 French, it’s even worse when you have to try and build in a Germanic back-up plan. Shamefully, we both did rather more pointing and apologising in English this holiday then we’ve ever done before. We managed to receive disdain from so many races that I felt like Nigel Farage.

Having finished our sandwiches and drib of coffee, neither especially amazing, we made our way to get the train from the airport into the centre of town. I’d looked it up online and spotted that it was a mere 5 minute ride and, even with the Swiss propensity to take the normal price of goods and services and then square it, it was never going to cost that much. However, Paul had spotted somewhere on the Internet that tourists to Geneva were given a free ticket to travel in, saving us, oooh…£4 at best. He wouldn’t be shaken from the idea that we simply had to have this ticket and so it was that we spent a good thirty minutes scouring the airport for this mythical free ticket machine. I was thrilled, as you can imagine, given I was full of warm cheese and bitter coffee, and anyway, this is a man whose primary motive for buying a new car was because his old car was dirty and needed new tyres. He’s not exactly Martin Lewis, you know?

We eventually found the fabled free ticket machine, however, of course, it was located back in the arrivals bit and we’d already  gone through the customs channel, meaning we couldn’t nip back through. Conversation somewhat strained, we made our way back to the train station, I bought us two first class tickets and we were on a train in no time at all. My simmering rage was tempered when the train turned up – it was a double-decker train! I know that’ll be of no excitement to anyone with an active sex-life but to me, it was thrilling. There’s something captivating about climbing up stairs on a train to me – it gives me an opportunity to make grand staircase exits as I leave the train, for one.

As you’d expect, the train was comfortable, luxurious and clean, putting everything that barely trundles around our rail network to shame. There’s something pleasing about sitting in a train where you’re not greeted with a rolling wall of shit-vapour everytime those automatic toilet doors open, for one. We were perturbed by the scenes outside the train window though – I was expecting fastidiously clean streets and charming buildings but instead we were treated to a heavily graffitied jet-fuel depot and lots of suspicious looking men in stonewash denim. Happily, the train pulled smartly into a tunnel and all that was soon forgotten, deposited as we were into Genève-Cornavin station.

This was more like it. Our first true glimpse of Switzerland. First impressions? Very few fat people. I’m not sure why but it was noticeable – no-one clutching handrails on stairs and gasping, no-one shuffling with pained feet – everyone walking briskly and stylishly. I immediately felt bad and made to cover my man-boobs and sweat patches in my Scottish Widow coat. I don’t normally care, but who wants to be the cow pat a field of flowers?

We consulted our phones – thank the lord for google maps – and realised that it was an easy fifteen minute walk to our hotel, the Hotel N’vy, which you can gaze adoringly at by clicking here. Don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window. As we trundled along we were both struck by how clean it all was – yes, perhaps some of the buildings needed a gentle Karchering, but there wasn’t a pick of litter to be seen, nor the other unfortunate city sights that trouble Britain, such as smashed up phoneboxes or the homeless. I assume that’s because Switzerland treat their homeless like humans rather than inconveniences and shysters like we do in the UK.

Seriously, the amount of comments I read on our local rag’s facebook page about Newcastle’s homeless appalls me. Stuff like ‘they spend all their money on drugs so I don’t give them anything’ or ‘they’re all scammers’. You know, if you don’t want to donate or help, that’s fine, we’ve all got our reasons, but please don’t wear your arseholery like a badge. No-one is impressed. Frankly, if someone wants to put the quid or two that I’ll drop in their pot on some smack to get them through a winter’s night, so be it, good for them. I’d do the same thing if I was on the streets – not as if I’d get much for selling my body, for sure, though perhaps someone could cut me open and sleep in my belly like Leonardo di Caprio does in The Revenant with that antelope. If I’m being conned, at least I took a gamble.

Anyway, sidetracked, sorry. We made it to our hotel without getting lost once which is a bloody miracle given neither of us can find our arses with our elbows. Honestly, our sex life is just a long series of pointed directions – up a bit, down a bit, left a bit, no no, come down a bit, to me, to you – our neighbours must think we’re moving a large sofa around a tiny room with assistance from the Chuckle Brothers. Someone once suggested that we use the ‘scratch and sniff’ approach to lovemaking in the dark: pfft, that would work, save for the fact Paul’s arse smells like a stable fire where the horses didn’t make it to safety.

The receptionist was an absolute delight – couldn’t speak a lick of English, unusually, but we managed to laugh our way through the reservation and she took my American Express with skilled panache. Funny how the language barrier never stands in the way of payment, eh?

We were lucky, too – despite us arriving at around 11ish in the morning, they’d already prepared the room (the usual: reinforce the toilet, plastic sheeting on the bed, make sure the telly can receive Tipping Point and The Chase) and we were ushered upstairs with our luggage by some friendly chap in a lovely hat. He didn’t hold his hand out for a tip which was fortuitous as I only had notes of 100 Swiss Francs (about £80) and in Switzerland that would have only just been enough to get him to hold the door open. He left us to our room where, you guessed it, Paul’s holiday traditions took place – a look in the minibar, the stealing of anything small and portable into our freshly emptied suitcase, and yes, an eye-watering poo. I’d barely got the cap of my complimentary bottle of sparkling water before I heard rapturous groans and heavy splashing from the lavatory, followed by “JUST MAKING ROOM FOR THE FONDUE MY LOVE”. Isn’t he a treat? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a hotel room with Paul for longer than fifteen minutes before it smells like a rendering plant and I can barely read the minibar list through my streaming eyes.

I’d like to tell you that we bustled straight out of the door to enjoy the city but actually, once Paul had finished his poo and had a shower, the early start caught up with us and we decided to spend the day ordering room service and sleeping. We like to spend a full day exploring the city but we needed to be fresh and ready for that, and frankly, we’ve both been working super hard lately. We needed the rest. At some point, in between the drunken sleeping (we raided the minibar, and by god we’d truly pay for that later) and ordering of burgers and chips and sandwiches, Jingle All The Way came on the TV. Aaaah, it doesn’t get any more Christmassy than that, does it?

Let’s pick up the rest of this in our next entry. I apologise that I don’t move on very quickly when I’m typing up holiday entries, but I just love writing about them! I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. To the recipe, then.

We’ve taken this from the MyTefal app, but modified it slightly and gave it a sexier name. We know it’s not a real lamb tagine. Deal with it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t normally need a lot of encouragement to get my hands on a dishy Moroccan, but here we go. I don’t know how they can get away with calling it a lamb tagine, either, given it’s a very ‘dry’ dish. This makes enough for four or so chunkers.

lamb tagine

to make actifry lamb tagine you will need:

  • 900g diced lamb
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 5 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded chopped into large chunks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Actifry’s are back under £90 on Amazon – I don’t expect they’ll stay that way so if you’re sitting on the fence, get one now by clicking here! It’s bloody Christmas, treat yourself.

to make actifry lamb tagine you should:

  • place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well, leave to marinade for 30 minutes
  • cook in the actifry for 27 minutes
  • that’s it

Doing this in a pot? You’ll need to do it a little differently – brown off the lamb first by cooking in a bit of oil. Add about 100ml of lamb stock to the pan and allow to gently bubble along with everything else until thickened and lovely. Serve with rice. Or hoy it all in a slow cooker. Hey, each to their own, am I right?

Looking for more ideas on what to do with lamb? Click the buttons below!

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Enjoy!

J

garlic prawns on roast potato with pesto and rocket

Yes! That’s right – garlic prawns. Prawns on twochubbycubs’ blog! I still think they’re vile little things but see we’re trying to introduce some new foods into our diet because man cannot live on semen, reduced price yule logs and slimming world chips forever. Everyone’s laughing until Paul gets rickets. Plus we get asked so many times for seafood recipes and always come up blank save for a few token gestures so here we are: a proper prawn recipe.

Of course, before we get to the garlic prawns, some random thoughts. Firstly, thank you so much to all the kind, lovely folk who have sent us a Christmas card with kind words, rude words or just plain filth on the front cover: we absolutely love it. Honestly, I get so excited when I see our postman now, and not just because he fills out a pair of Royal Mail trousers with such panache. If you want to send us a card please do: our PO Box is: twochubbycubs, PO Box 217, Bedlington, NE63 3FA – I’m not kidding when I say it makes our day – thank you!

Secondly, there will definitely not be a post tomorrow because it’s our office Christmas party. I’m excited, but saying as I was one of the four who organised it, there’s a certain air of ‘phew, we made it’ to the whole affair. Who knew that organising shenanigans for 150 people could be so exhausting? Thankfully I work for a company with some flair and imagination so it’ll be a bit more than a few Tesco quiches and a glass of warm piss – party on!

I’m not exactly a social butterfly when it comes to work parties but I always make the Christmas one. There’s been some absolute corkers. Back in the heady days of a Labour government I used to work for a quango (long since shut down) doing a very important job – literally no-one else could use the photocopier. No, I was a secretary, but my boss was this amazingly posh woman with a filthy sense of humour and the rest of the team were equally as fun. It was a fantastic place to work – you’d turn up whenever you fancied in the morning, fanny about a bit with some papers and then fuck off home at around half past two. We spent more time outside dicking about at the smoking shelter than upstairs working and at one point the entire team hid in a meeting room for a surprise 70s buffet, emerging several hours later pissed on Babycham. In retrospect, it’s not difficult to see why the government shut ua down. Maha.

Anyway, the Christmas parties were immense – starting at 10am with drinks in the office, followed by a rude secret santa, followed by the entire department going out for ‘Christmas team lunch’ and staying out until 3am in the morning. Hilariously, we worked right next door to the HR team who were led by a manager who had never known joy. Her PA used to log what times we’d all rock into the office and send us prim notes which we’d all ignore and go smoke instead.  One especially messy Christmas party saw our Head Boss get so bladdered that we had to bundle her onto the last train back home into rural North Northumberland only for her to promptly fall asleep missing her stop. This then meant her husband had to chase the train to Edinburgh to pick her up, scattered as she was with her knickers around her ankles. That was after the point where I’d received a drunken lap-dance from her, I hasten to add. There were some exceptionally sore heads the next day.

Oh, and we got asked to leave a pub for failing to realise that every time we nipped out the back door for a smoke that we were setting off the fire alarms for the entire pub. Oops. We weren’t to know, surely. Also, at some point, someone set themselves on fire by accident. All every eventful. Oh and one more addendum to this little tale: I accidentally bought said boss a vibrator for the secret santa. In my defence I thought it was a little duck for the bath – turns out it was, but with an especially-shaped beak that vibrated. She loved it though and any embarassment was soon put to bed when the next person along opened a book of sex positions and a half-used jar of Vaseline. Seriously, that jar looked like the one in Kill Bill 2.

Ah, truly halcyon days. I love where I am now, don’t get me wrong, I do, but you never know what you’ve had until it’s taken away thanks to budget cuts!

Conversely, my worst Christmas party was at BT, where our team manager had promised to take us out for dinner and a piss-up if we met our sales targets. We worked our arses off for weeks pushing 1471 onto folks who didn’t need it and ‘accidentally’ putting people on Option 4 broadband (£7 commission!) knowing that they’d always be able to cancel it later. I know, that’s awful behaviour, but to be fair, I was pretty much permanently stoned during that job. You had to be, dealing with so many complaints. Hell, I went outside for a smoke during a quiet time and was approached by someone in another team selling speed to get through ‘the difficult calls’. I politely demurred, given my dicky ticker, but that should give you an insight to why people are often so peppy in a call centre. Smile when you dial…

Anyway, Christmas rocked around and we were told he was putting on a bus (which we had to chip in for) to take us to a country pub. He did, fair enough, but after charging us £10 a time for the bus and then putting no fucking money behind the bar for food and drink, well, that put a bit of a downer on things. We worked out later he’d actually made a profit on the coach, too, the oily-skinned fucker. We made the best of a bad day but most of us just buggered off home after an hour or so of strained conversation about sales targets. The manager clearly knew he’d upset us as we returned to find a selection box each on our desk. Most of the team left them on a point of principle – as did I – but I made sure to nip around and get all the Double Deckers out of them first.

Damn, I could murder a double-decker now, actually. But no joy. Instead let’s get this prawn recipe out of the way. I can’t claim credit for the idea – it’s actually from Hello Fresh (which we’re trialling – not for the blog but because we can’t be arsed to shop). We’ve adapted it for Slimming World though.

You know why I don’t like prawns? They have an unexpected texture. You bite into them and are met with a moment of resistance and then pffft, it almost bursts on the tongue. There’s a hint of seaside about them that I don’t care for, too, and when they are cooked they look like what I’d imagine a sphincter would look like if you took it out of the anus. Same as cockles are clearly belly-button knots. That’s a fact. However, as much as I don’t like prawns, I actually enjoyed this meal! You couldn’t write the script. Even Hoggle, normally so anti-seafood it hurts, agrees!

Somewhat unusually, this makes enough for two people. More of you? Scale up!

garlic prawns

to make garlic prawns on roast potato with pesto and rocket, you’re gonna need:

  • a strong stomach, to look at that god-awful things with their cruel bodies and mean textures
  • 150g of tiger prawns (deshelled, deshitted and beheaded) (why I haven’t been a cookbook deal escapes me)
  • one bag of rocket
  • one garlic clove
  • one medium box of cherry tomatoes
  • one large red onion
  • a few large potatoes
  • 2 tbsp reduced fat green pesto (3 syns)

to make garlic prawns on roast potato with pesto and rocket, you simply must:

  • make some tiny roasties – cut up your tatties, spritz them with some spray oil and hoy them in the oven for about twenty minutes or so until they’re all cooked nice and crisp – if you’ve got an Actifry, chuck them in there (especially as the new model is currently cheap on amazon, see?) – then set aside
  • get a pan, spritz with some oil or give it a slick of olive oil – so daring – and gently soften your onions – that’s not a euphemism for resting your tits on the cooker top mind, just so we’re clear
  • once they’re softened, chop the tomatoes in half and chuck them in together with the garlic which of course you’ll have minced using one of these fabulous graters I so often bang on about – see? Right here?
  • allow everything to soften for a moment or so then chuck in the prawns with a pinch of salt and black pepper, cooking them on medium until they are pink on the outside and opaque in the middle
  • serve by putting a few roasties in the middle of the plate, then some rocket, then the tomato, onions and prawns
  • drizzle over the pesto because why the fuck not, and enjoy!

This feels like such a frou-frou dinner and for that I apologise. I hope you enjoy it. Looking for more seafood ideas? Click the button below, along with the others. I’m going to bust out some of the lesser-posted badges for this!

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So pretty, like me. Oh and fair warning: Penny’s just been introduced in our great Lost rewatch. That’ll be the both of us sobbing into our raspberry gins when they have their tearful phonecalls all over again! I’ve got my fist balled in my mouth now watching it on Youtube. Sniff.

J

smoky sweet potato and bacon hash

Here for the smoky sweet potato and bacon hash? I won’t keep you! Well, that’s a fib, there’s the usual twochubbycubs’ guff to wade through…

Only a quick post tonight as we have a lot to do – I’m away all next week and we’re trying to spend some nights together. D’aww. Listen, in the almost ten years we’ve been together we’ve probably slept apart from each other less than ten times. Not bad eh! I don’t know if I can drop off without the sound of him choking on his fat-collar during the night and I’m sure he’s equally concerned that sleep will elude him if he doesn’t have the stench of last night’s dinner blasted in his direction in five minute intervals. Paul doesn’t sleep at night, he just passes out from holding his breath for so long. I might have to get room service to wrap a vending machine in 95% polyester and place it on the bed next to me just so I can relax.

In other news, we’ve finally secured tickets to the biggest show in town! Ahem. We applied at some point last year and they’ve finally found us a seat in the audience of…Question Time! No, of course not. We’re going on Judge Rinder. I know! I’m actually very much looking forward to it – it’s all a bit of a nonsense but he does make me laugh and he can do a mean dance, I’m told. I mentioned it in our facebook group and a few people are asking if we can make a sign so they know it’s us. Now come on – just wait for the complaints to OFCOM to roll in about the sofa-sized man with two heads nodding sagely in the background. That’s how you’ll know it’s us. We did apply for the Jeremy Kyle show but once they realised we had our own teeth and didn’t have ALL COPS R BASTURDS tattooed on our faces, we never heard from them again.

I’d love to go on TV, though – it would need to be the right vehicle, however. I certainly couldn’t be part of Geordie Shore for example, given I don’t look like a lump of mahogany varnished with jism. I’ll reiterate what I’ve said before: these people are not real Geordies. They’re barely real people. I’ve applied to go on The Chase but that’s only so I can make coo-eyes at Mark or Paul, but knowing my luck I’ll get The Governess and she’ll make me shit myself live on air before I get through the opening round. That’s not a slight against her, mind, I think she’s absolutely fabulous – she just reminds me too much of Miss Trunchbull from Matilda for comfort.

Paul just stuck his head in from the kitchen (I knew that pump would pay off!) to say he was once on Trisha! GASP. I didn’t know that about him. See, knowing his family as well as I do, I immediately imagined his mother throwing a chair across the studio and wheezing through nicotine-lacquered lungs about infidelity, but actually it turns out he was in the audience. Turns out that a) it’s a very long, boring business and b) Trisha is a right moody cow. Who knew? We’ve been advised that we can’t wear any sporting tops or anything with a big logo emblazoned across the front. I had to stop the chap on the phone right there – we buy our clothes from the garden centre, the worst thing that’s going to be stuck on our jumper is ‘40% OFF OUTSIZE FASHIONS BY STEFAN DENNIS’.

Now, remember our Christmas challenge? Lose 2lb a week until Christmas and that’s two stone lost? We’re both doing it and I’m glad to tell you that Paul lost 3lb and I lost 2.5lb. To say I’m seething is an understatement but don’t worry, I’ll have the last laugh when I’m spooning powdered glass into his Ovaltine later. Look, we went and coloured in our graph!

smoky sweet potato and bacon hash

Yeah, I miss the Knob-o-Meter too. If you want to take part, click here to go to the page with 100 syn free recipes. I’ve also updated the colouring charts at the bottom to take into account folks who want a completely blank one so they can set their own targets and also, because I’m canny, a chart suitable for them slim types who only want to lose 1lb a week. Hey, everyone’s on their own journey, after all.

RIGHT. So tonight’s meal – smoky sweet potato and bacon hash. This was bloody amazing! You can make it all in one pan or actually, you can do it all in an Actifry too! So either way is fine. This makes enough for breakfast for four people or a main meal for two.

smoky sweet potato and bacon hash

to make syn free smoky sweet potato and bacon hash, you’ll need:

  • six thick rashers of bacon, with the fat removed
  • two large sweet potatoes
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • four large eggs
  • a few sprays of oil

to make syn free smoky sweet potato and bacon hash, you should:

  • it’s really a matter of prep: cut your sweet potatoes into 1 inch slices and then into nice diced chunks – doesn’t need to be anything perfect, so just fart about with the knife
  • pop into the oiled pan (make sure it’s oven-proof) and let it cook gently for a little bit
  • slice your onion into reasonable chunks and chuck that in
  • and the pepper, of course, and add that
  • grill the bacon until crispy and then cut that into chunks too and put that into the pan with the paprika and salt – stir
  • on a medium heat, gently saute everything – add a bit more oil if things are running dry
  • you want everything to soften nicely
  • once everything is beginning to soften, take the pan off the heat, make four wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each one
  • cook in the oven on 180 degrees for about 15 minutes until everything is soft, golden and amazing!

Very easy!

ACTIFRY RECIPE: we did ours in the Actifry up until the point where it needed to go in the oven, but actually, we didn’t need to decant it into a pan after all…so if using an Actifry…

  • chop up your sweet potato, onion, pepper, salt and paprika and throw into the Actifry with the paddle in and a few squirts of oil for about 16 minutes until everything has softened nicely
  • take out the paddle
  • crack four eggs into wells you’ve made in the potato mix
  • turn the actifry back on and allow to cook for another 6 minutes or so until the egg is cooked through

We love our Actifry – it can be a bit moody sometimes but it makes perfect food every time. It’s available on Amazon for the lowest I’ve seen it for a while, hence me mentioning it. Click here for that!

Done! Easy, eh? Right, if you’re after more breakfast or other  ideas, give the buttons below a whirl!

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J

blackened chicken caesar salad

Blackened chicken caesar salad? Yes, that’s right. And, for once, when I say it’s going to be a quickpost, it really is – no guff, no messing about! Your dear writer is unwell! Bah.

This makes enough for four, especially if you add some extras like tomatoes and cucumber. Just customise it however you want, I’m not arsed.

blackened chicken caesar salad

to make blackened chicken caesar salad you will need:

for the rub

  • 4 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp salt

for the dressing

  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp Morrison’s NuMe Reduced Fat mayonnaise (3 syns) (feel free to use other mayo, but check the syns)
  • 2 anchovy fillets, mashed (leave out if you’re not a fan, but, take it as someone who doesn’t like fish, it doesn’t taste fishy!)
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard (½ syn)
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan (2½ syns)

to make blackened chicken caesar salad you should:

  • cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise (butterfly) so you’re left with a total of 4 halves and put into a sandwich bag
  • pour in the fat free vinaigrette and leave to marinade whilst you make the rest
  • if you’ve got an actifry, throw in the bread cubes with a little bit of oil and allow to cook for about 10 minutes, or until they resemble croutons. If you haven’t got an actifry, spray the bread with oil and bake in the oven at 190°c for about 12 minutes
  • in a shallow bowl, mix together all of the rub ingredients and set aside
  • in another bowl, add together the dressing ingredients and whisk until creamy. put in the fridge until you need it
  • pat the chicken breasts dry with some kitchen roll and coat with the rub mix – don’t be shy, get it right in there
  • heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and brush with oil
  • add the chicken breasts and cook each side for about 5 minutes each side, or until cooked through
  • serve with the lettuce, croutons and dressing

Done! Now, if you’re after some more chicken recipes, you’d do well to click the button below!

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J

taster night ideas for Slimming World

Looking for taster night ideas? There’s SEVEN recipes down below. I’m not surprised you want inspiration, nothing seems to strike fear into slimmers at Slimming World more than ‘we’re having a party next week, bring something along‘. Well, perhaps the words ‘let’s split the room in half, someone keep points, we’re going to do group activities‘. God I hate that. I’m too antisocial at the best of times but being forced to come up with a witty team name and shout out speed foods makes my throat hitch. For those not in the Cult of Mags, a taster night is where everyone is expected to bring along some food to share with the rest of the class and usually results in about twenty quiches and a box of grapes bought from the Co-op over the road by the lady who forgot it was on.

I struggle with taster nights because, as previously mentioned, I don’t like eating food when I don’t know how clean the kitchen it’s coming from is. Luckily I’m in a class now with people who do look familiar with a bottle of Ajax, but Christ, some of the sights I’ve seen in other classes, well I wouldn’t eat what came out of their kitchens even if it contained the antidote to a life-threatening poison I’d accidentally ingested. I don’t mind a slice of Slimming World quiche, I just don’t like to be twanging cat hair out of my teeth for the following week. Anyway, as ‘what can I make for taster night’ and ‘slimming world snacks’ appear quite regularly on the little index of what people search for to find this blog. Well, it can’t all be ‘chubby cub cum explosion’ (can’t remember that recipe?) and ‘fat men fuking’ (masturbation is no excuse for poor spelling, chaps).

Oh! A quick word. When a buffet is served up in class, try and allow the meek amongst us access to the food. A couple of years ago, in a class in Wakefield no less, Paul and I didn’t get any food because half the class – not the better half – dashed forward as soon as the ‘party’ began and formed one giant body of impassable bulk. It was like the Berlin Wall, only smelling faintly of chips. I’ve never seen food shovelled and devoured with such ferocity and I’ve seen Sicilian wild boars being fed. All I wanted was a (nothing-like-a) Ferrero Rocher and a few ‘JUST LIKE DORITOS’ crisps that I could have planed a door with. I had my revenge anyway – the wasabi peas that I put on the table thinking they were syn-free were actually about eight syns a handful. What can I say? My knowledge of the Mandarin language is a little rusty.

So, with all the above in mind, we decided to do a post on snacks, also fuelled by the fact it was Eurovision last night and we like to have a trough of food to work through whilst we watch our entry get annihilated. Before anyone says the UK will never win because ‘it’s too political’ and ‘no-one votes for us because of the war’, that was relevant maybe ten years ago and certainly isn’t now. Russia almost won it and well, that Putin’s been a bit of a tinker this year, has he not? We don’t win because we send absolute shite – po-faced, dreary, period-pain music with insipid staging and crap tunes. No doubt that Aldi Jedward can sing a tune and strum a guitar but they lost a singing competition where literally tens of people voted for someone else to be a winner. Why would that translate to success in the Eurovision Song Contest? EH? We need to send something amazing, with a massive chorus and an uplifting melody, not a song that would barely make its way onto the second CD in the Now That’s What I Call White Noise 87 compilation.

I was just sore because I had Poland and Italy in the sweepstakes, and did you catch them? Poland came dancing out like a crystal-meth Cheryl Cole and Italy’s act was so boring that I forgot about it whilst she was singing the words, which is quite something. I wanted Russia to win. That stage, that song (You Are The Obi Wan, You’re My Obi Wan…) and gasp, when that screen spun around…well, I loved it. Plus one of my work colleagues had Russia in the sweepstakes and I just know he’s going to be spend his winnings on delicious things for the entire floor. That’s right, isn’t it Alan? SHOUT-OUT FOR ALAN. Mahaha. Paul threw his weight behind Sweden, who I can’t really be mean about because the singer was only 8 and he has the angst of puberty to get through. He’s no Eric Saade (2011) with his exploding glass cages though.

As it happens, one of the worst songs managed to win – Kate Bush’s stunt double caterwauling about politics – and Ukraine took the prize, meaning Russia will be hosting the Eurovision next year. Boom boom. We’ve said it every year – we should go to the next Eurovision – and the fact that it is being held in Ukraine only sweetens the deal. If it had been Russia we’d have been conflicted – on one hand, we love the idea of a night of catchy tunes surrounded by every other gay man in existence, but on the other hand I prefer not to have my teeth kicked down my throat because I’m a rampant bummer. Ah yes.

Anyway come on now, let’s get to the recipes, shall we? This is the spread.

taster night ideas

Fancy, right? On view then:

  • Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip
  • our teeny tiny teriyaki tasters
  • sandwiches filled with syn-free egg mayonnaise and tuna and cucumber
  • sweet potato crisps with four different types of houmous
  • baked new potatoes with cheese and bacon topping

Out of sight:

  • spicy couscous balls
  • gin and tonic lollies

Three caveats that I’m going to throw in before we begin:

TWEAK

  • some of these recipes are ‘tweaks’ in the truest sense of the word – especially the crisps – and it’s up to you whether you follow the rule of synning them or not – tweaks being when you use an ingredient in a way it isn’t intended to be used, such as slicing a sweet potato to make crisps. I will mention it where appropriate. My own view (which you can find here) is that it’s better to be eating something made from a healthy ingredient than a processed packet of crisps. It boils down to this – 100g of sweet potato is around 85 calories, 100g of Walkers crisps kicks in over 550 calories. I’ll be fucked if I’m synning sweet potato crisps at the same rate as normal crisps. If you feel the need to be all frothy and leave a comment castigating me for my temerity, please save yourself the finger strain, wipe the spittle from your lips and simply don’t bother – personal choice;
  • a couple of these recipes you’ll have seen before if you’re a long-time follower, but I thought it would be handy to put them all in one place; and
  • as usual, I’ve given syn values for a normal portion and I’ll mention when it uses up a HEA/HEB. If you’re eating the entire buffet, you’ll need to think about how many HEB/HEA’s you’re using! It’ll make sense as we go along. Basically, each recipe stands on its own. Right? Right.

taster night ideas #1: sweet potato crisps with four different types of houmous:

taster night ideas

to make the sweet potato crisps, you’ll need:

  • a couple of big sweet potatoes
  • spray oil – a few squirts of Filippo Berio’s olive oil is only half a syn, and that’s all you need
  • chinese five spice

to make the sweet potato crisps, you should:

  • to make the crisps, use a microwave, it’s much easier
  • get a big old sweet potato and cut it to uniform thin slices – this is where having a mandolin slicer comes in very handy, because it’ll take no time at all to do the slices – buy one here and never look back, not least because it makes your food look great when it’s all uniform
  • arrange the slices on a plate, squirt with some spray oil, dust with chinese five spice (or indeed, any flavouring you want) and rub it in
  • microwave on full power – it usually takes about six minutes, but keep checking every couple of minutes, and once they start to look dry, turn them over
  • keep a proper eye on them mind, because they can burn easily once they dry out
  • once done, take them off the plate, set aside, and do the next batch

to make the four way houmous, you’ll need:

  • a few small tins of chickpeas
  • garlic cloves
  • fat free cottage cheese
  • a lemon or two
  • sea salt

to make the four way houmous, you should:

  • the basic houmous recipe is simple enough – for enough to fill one of those little square bowls above, you’ll want to use one small tin of cooked chick peas (syn free), a nice round tablespoon of fat free cottage cheese, a garlic clove, pinch of sea salt and some lemon juice. Blend it together, adding a little more lemon juice if you like it runny or keeping some back if you prefer it chunky. It’s up to you. You will save yourself so much time if you get yourself one of these little express choppers that Delia Smith was always going on about between tumblers of Scotch – you can find one here – it’ll make houmous in no time
  • to make the different variations, you just add a few ingredients:
    • lemon and garlic (add an extra couple of garlic gloves, a squidge more lemon juice and decorate with finely grated lemon peel) (don’t take the pith, literally, as that is very bitter – just the top layer, please)
    • basil and parmesan (10 torn basil leaves, 10g of shaved parmesan, bit of salt) – up to you if you want to syn such a tiny portion of parmesan but bearing in mind you’ll be getting what, 2.5g of it, I wouldn’t bother
    • pickled red cabbage (just a few chunks of pickled red cabbage and some of the pickling vinegar added to give it colour
    • paprika and sun-dried tomato – I chucked in 1tbsp of sundried tomato paste (1.5 syns, but again, through the laws of dilution, it’s up to you if you syn it)

Easy! Of course, if you don’t want to fart on making the crisps, just chop up some peppers, carrots and cucumber and use them instead to dip into your houmous. If you want our little serving dish, you guessed it, it’s on Amazon!

taster night ideas #2: teeny tiny teriyaki tasters:

teeny tiny teriyaki tasters

This makes enough for 36 sticky teeny tiny teriyaki tasters (fnar fnar), if you make them bigger, adjust the syns per ball. There’s 12 syns in the overall recipe.

to make teeny tiny teriyaki tasters, you’ll need:

to make teeny tiny teriyaki tasters, you should:

  • in a large bowl mix together the pork and the beef mince with the egg yolk
  • using a tablespoon, scoop out a spoon-size ball and roll into meatballs – do this for all of the mixture (you’ll need about 36 – if you want, you could weigh out each ball at around 27g each…but life’s too short)
  • heat a large pan over a medium high heat and add a couple of squirts of spray oil or, urgh, Frylight, bleurgh
  • cook the meatballs until browned all over and cooked right through – you WILL need to do them in batches
  • place cooked meatballs onto a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm whilst you cook the rest
  • when done, mix together the soy sauce, white wine, sherry, honey and ginger in a small jug and pour into the same pan you used to cook the meatballs and reduce the heat to medium
  • cook for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened
  • add the meatballs back into the pan and stir carefully to coat – I find it easier to tumble the meatballs in and then pick up the pan and gently slosh them around rather than trying to stir with a spoon
  • serve on cocktail sticks and sprinkle over the seeds – don’t sweat it if you can’t find these, you could easily leave them off and that brings the syn count to 1 syn for six – even better – but they look so pretty with the seeds on

taster night ideas #3: Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip:

taster night ideas

to make Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip, you’ll need:

  • 500g turkey mince
  • 1 onion (grate half of it, chop the other half)
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of sriracha, (1 syn) (you can use any old hot sauce)
  • 1 egg
  • 25g panko (4.5 syns) (or use breadcrumbs from your HEB allowance)
  • ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 100g quark

to make Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip, you should:

Full disclosure: we got this recipe from the fabulous cookingforkeeps.com – her recipe can be found here and looks equally as delicious – we’ve tweaked ours for Slimming World!

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • in a bowl, mix together the turkey mince, onion (grated and chopped), carrot, spring opnions, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, 1 tsp of sriracha, egg and the panko until combined
  • roll into 1″ size balls and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper
  • cook in the oven for twenty minutes
  • meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sriracha and the quark to make a dipping sauce
  • slice the radishes and cucumbers as thinly as you can and skewer one of each onto a cocktail stick with the meatball

taster night ideas #4: little sandwiches:

to make little sandwiches, you’ll need:

taster night ideas

No need for a full recipe here, really. Take whatever bread you want from your HEB – we use Kingsmill Crustless Wholemeal bread, which you can have three slices of. Cut nice circles out of them, remember you eat with your eyes.

  • for the egg salad, boil up four eggs, break them up with a fork, add a tablespoon of quark, lots of black pepper, a chopped tomato and some spring onions
  • for the tuna – well, we’re old school, we just like tuna mixed with vinegar and served with cucumber. You could splash out and add a bit of Quark to bind it, I suppose…

taster night ideas #5: baked new potatoes with a cheese and bacon topping:

taster night ideas

to make baked new potatoes, you’ll need:

  • 1.5kg small salad-type potatoes
  • 100g fat-free fromage frais
  • 30g parmesan (1x HEA)
  • 4 rashers of bacon, all visible fat removed
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • chives

to make baked new potatoes, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees (or an actifry with the paddle removed is just as good – Amazon are selling them for £125 at the moment too!)
  • prick the potatoes with a fork, spray with a little frylight and bake in the oven (or actifry) for about 45 minutes
  • grill or dry-fry the bacon until crispy and chop into small pieces
  • mix together the fromage frais, parmesan and spring onions and set aside
  • when the potatoes are cooked, leave to cool for about ten minutes
  • make a cross in the top of each potato and squeeze the bottoms to open them up
  • spoon in a little of the fromage frais mixture and top with bacon pieces and chives

taster night ideas #6: spicy couscous balls:

couscousballs

Please note: that’s an old photo, it’s actually now 4 syns for all the balls, but you’re not going to eat them all yourself anyway, surely? I’ll nip back in time and change the photo later.

Not worth making a full recipe breakdown for this, because it’s so, so easy. I use two packets of Ainsley Harriott’s spicy sensations couscous, which come in at 2 syns per pack made up with water (so don’t be adding butter, you cheeky buggers). Add the appropriate level of water (whatever it says on the pack) and leave to absorb. Fluff with a fork. Beat an egg and mix it into the couscous, then squeeze as many balls as you can out of the mixture. Pop onto a tray and stick it in the oven on 150 degrees for an hour or so – you want to ‘dry’ them out. Cooked low and slow, you’ll be laughing. For a dip, make tzatziki – greek yoghurt (I use Tesco Finest 0% fat – no syns) mixed with cucumber cut into tiny cubes and mint. Stir, chill, eat.

taster night ideas #7: gin and tonic ice lollies

taster night ideas

Again, no need for a full recipe. We mixed 25ml of gin with a glass of diet tonic, poured it into a cheapy ice-lolly mould like this £3 from Amazon and added a slice of cucumber. Between six, it’s half a syn each. Of course, it’s easy to customise this, put your pint of whisky in, add lime, add fruit, don’t add alcohol, do what you like!

OK, I hope that’s given you some inspiration. It’s certainly made my fingers ache!

Do me a favour though – share this page in as many facebook pages as you can, because taster recipes is one of the main things people need. Spread the love! Leave me your comments below!

Oh it’s worth noting, we did have a couple of drinks to get us through Eurovision, see…

taster night ideas

J

four meals from a chicken: roast chicken dinner

Everyone likes a roast chicken dinner! Remember I said about taking a chicken, roasting it and showing you how to make four meals from it? Well, perhaps not four meals, but we’re going to have a good run at three and maybe a bit over. Listen, it’s all relative anyway – if you’re one of those folks who have to eat every last scrap and won’t stop until you’re having to undo the stitching, never mind the buttons, on your jeans…you might struggle to make it last. Best tip I can offer you? Get the biggest turkey or chicken you can find.

A big chicken? I much prefer a big cock. Oh I say!

Before we start with the main event, a roast chicken dinner, let me just say many thanks for all the lovely comments and well-wishes I received via Facebook for my birthday. You’re all too kind, though I hasten to say that if you really loved me, you’d buy our book and one of our freezer filler boxes of meat, even if you didn’t have the space. You could just put it straight into the bin whilst laughing gaily at memories of us. I jest, of course. Just send money direct via Paypal.

I’m not one of those folks who make a big fuss of their birthday either way – I have no time for people who go DON’T EVEN MENTION IT I’M TOO SHY or SAD or FEELING OLD. It’s one day out of 365 (366 this year, pedantic) that you can get people making a slight disinterested fuss out of the fact it’s been X amount of years since you came clattering out of a vagina. At the same time, the opposite annoys me too – if you shoehorn in the fact it’s your birthday into every conversation, chances are I’ll be hoping it’s your last and looking temptingly at your back as you walk down a flight of stairs. I received some wonderful cards and presents and ate more than was entirely decent. Expect significant weight gains this week!

We spent bank holiday Monday geocaching, which if you’re new to the blog and/or have anything resembling a social life you’ll never have heard of. It’s essentially dogging but with less sexual arousal and more digging around behind fence-posts looking for a tupperware box filled with trinkets and sadness. People hide containers and clever contraptions all around the world in beautiful places (trust me, you’ve never seen a bus-shelter until you’ve run your hands over every conceivable surface trying to find a film canister) and you use GPS to find them. It’s geeky as hell which is why it appeals to us. Actually, that’s a fib, the fact that it’s free of charge appeals to me more.

So that’s what we did all day – drove to a pretty village, loaded up our cache maps and tottered around screaming and shrieking as we found each one. We’re planning to hide our own, too, so if you’re a geocacher and you want a challenge, keep an eye on the blog. I’ve made it all sound terrifically dull but really, there are some clever ideas. For example, one of the caches consisted of nothing more than a tube, sealed at the bottom, stuck to the back of a fence next to a brook in the middle of nowhere. No way of getting the hidden container out until you realise that you had to fill the tube with water so that the cache would float out. Ingenious! Luckily, I had just enough piss in me to fill the container though I’d had asparagus so I pity the next fucker to get it. Again, I’m kidding. We fashioned a scoop from an empty crisp packet, filled it with water from the stream and did it that way. Ingenious! Other caches included a container hidden on a well, another you had to fish out of a mysterious hole in the ground and a few containers hidden in the forest behind HMP Northumberland. Well, the joke almost writes itself, but… it’s not the first time I’ve been on my knees in a forest being leered at by hard blokes whilst I desperately try and get my hands around a camouflaged package.

BOOM

In all we managed a new record of 43 caches and walked 11 miles, only stopping when Paul’s blister became one with his shoe. The weather forecast said it was going to rain and be miserable, so you can imagine how much joy wearing a thick, long wool coat was when the sun stayed out all day. I looked like the most fabulous Dementor ever stalking around in the woods.

Anyway, some pictures from the day:

geocaching 

Right, a roast chicken dinner then. I’m going to break with tradition here and rather than give you step by step, I’m just going to tell you how to do each part.

roast chicken dinner

how to make a perfect roast chicken dinner, Slimming World style:

  • mash: use decent potatoes like Marabel or Maris Piper, cook them in water with a beef stock cube added, push them through a ricer instead of mashing them, crack an egg yolk in if you want to be a decadent slut – the ricer is the thing that makes the mash, it creates wonderful smooth tasty mash instead of school dinner mash – buy one here
  • roast potatoes: using the same potatoes as the mash, drop of oil and crumble an oxo cube and put them into the Actifry (the new model is currently reduced by £120 on Amazon, get it whilst it’s cheap and never look back) or the oven – you don’t need to clart about putting them into the microwave and whatnot, they’ll come out perfect. Get an actifry! Do the same with your parnsips
  • sprouts, carrots and cauliflower – cook in the same pan, save the water to make the gravy with
  • cook your chicken – we always use the 30 minutes per 500g rule, plus an extra 15 minutes or so – remember, you want the juices to run clear when you finger her, it’s really simple
  • gravy – use ruddy Bisto – 1 syn per 1 level tsp of granules, so we use about 6 syns worth to fill a jug. You can make it yourself if you want blending onions and using Smash, but really, why bother? Have the real thing and be happy
  • yorkshire puddings – one syn each (makes twelve) – whisk together 50g flour, two eggs, 120ml milk and 40ml of water. Spray the holes of a tin with frylight and bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 18-20 minutes

Easy! Save some chicken for the next recipe!

J