christmas clear out: lazy cabbage bowls – instant pot or hob

‘ey up! Cabbage bowls time!

We’re having to take a bit of a break from the blog to concentrate on an exciting personal project – but rather than leave you sitting there with a sulk on with no new recipes, we’re going to use it as an excuse to pump out some recipes with no guff. Trust me: some of the recipes coming up will leave you dripping like a St Bernard’s chin.

Can I ask a favour, though? If you’ve got someone who is doing this infernal diet alongside you, share our stuff! The buttons at the bottom will instantly share to Facebook and Twitter. Help us to help them – god knows they need it.

You can make this recipe in the Instant Pot or on the hob – if you’re using the hob, you’ll need a good non-stick casserole pot. Let’s go! This makes enough for four.


to make lazy cabbage bowls you will need

  • 1 savoy cabbage, chopped roughly
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 750ml passata
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (4 syns) (you could also use honey, brown sugar or even sweetener, but just make sure to check the syns)
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder

Looking for an Instant Pot? Still on the fence? Don’t be, you’ll give yourself piles. They’re having stock problems at the moment but stop fretting – the Pressure King Pro is a decent replacement. Cheap on Amazon at the moment, too!

Oh and if you need pork or beef mince, don’t forget that you can build your own meat hamper with our Musclefood deals!

to make lazy cabbage bowls you should:

  • on the Instant Pot, press the ‘saute’ button and adjust to ‘Normal’
  • add a bit of oil and then the mince, and brown off until just a little bit of pink remains
  • add the diced onion and stir frequently until it’s starting to go translucent
  • add the rest of the ingredients except the cabbage and give a really good stir
  • sit the cabbage on top (don’t stir!) and put the lid on
  • cook on High pressure for 8 minutes, and use the quick release method when done
  • give a good stir and serve – we had ours with rice – it was lovely!

Using a hob? Same kind of idea – cook everything off first, then leave to simmer and sweat for maybe forty minutes until everything comes together like a Roman orgy.

Looking for more ideas? Naturally.

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J

syn free chilli: warm your soul AND your hole

Syn free chilli, then. I’m so sorry, but I can’t resist a rhyming couplet. Even if it’s crass and leaves a sour taste in my mouth. There’s been much worse in there, trust me. We originally made this recipe way back on bonfire night but, as is our way, we got distracted driving back (so many lay-bys!) that there was no time to post it. Now, six weeks later, here we are.

Actually, coming home to a bowl full of chilli was just what I needed, given I spend fireworks displays permanently on edge that either a) I’ll develop (worse) tinnitus from all the bangs and crackles or b) I’ll end up a banger veering off course and exploding in my eye. I’m a catastrophic thinker with a lot of irrational fears, see. Put me in any situation and I’ll pass the time imagining the various ways I’m about to die.

For example, you might get in a lift and fret about getting stuck in there, having to make small chat with and/or suck off the stranger you’re entombed with whilst the firemen diddle about getting you out. That’s fine – but I worry about pressing the button only for my finger to sink through and jam into the circuit breakers. I worry about the machinery at the top of the lift shaft plummeting down, smashing through the ceiling of the lift and turning me into a Heinz Toast Topper on the floor. I imagine the lights overheating and turning my trip to the sixth floor to something like the end trap from a Saw movie. It’s not like I can take the stairs, either – someone will have spilled some coffee, I’ll slip over in my cheap good-idea-at-the-time shoes, then crash-bang-wallop down I go, neck splintering like an old bit of bamboo.

Worst part: I know I’d void myself on the way out. I’m bad enough at the best of times, let alone when I’m dying.

It’s exhausting, dying every day, and that’s before you add in my health anxiety where every eye-twitch or brittle fingernail is a sure and certain symptom of mad-cow disease or a collapsed uterus. It doesn’t stop me doing anything but by god, there’s always a low-level edge. I asked Paul if he had similar concerns and as usual, he looked at me as though I’d just burst into flames and told me to stop being a tit. I pressed him a bit further and he admitted to having one irrational fear – he doesn’t like people handing him anything dairy, because he frets something chronic that the heat from their hands will curdle the milk.

This coming from a man who didn’t know what a cup of tea tasted like without a scum of cigarette ash on it tasted like until he met me. Oh: he’s also scared of breathing loudly, something I’ve noticed – he’ll have his headphones on and all of a sudden he’ll gasp as though he’s shat out a pinecone. He holds his breath so he isn’t ‘noisy’ and then gets all light-headed and panicky. It’s like sitting next to a faulty sleep apnea mask.

Anyway, hush. Let’s back to the task in hand, shall we? The syn-free chilli. I found the recipe on BBC Good Food so can’t claim any credit, though I did adapt it for Slimming World. It’s all made in one-pot so less farting about for you lot! This serves about a billion people. Seriously, it made loads, but it freezes well. Canny on a jacket potato too!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/twochubbycubs

Oh one final thing: just an update on our charity pledge! We’re well over £3,000 now – we’ve moved the target up again. Remember, folks, if you can, please do donate a couple of quid this Christmas – all the money goes to our amazing local cat and dog shelter where they do the most fantastic, selfless work! Thank you to every single soul who has donated – you’ve warmed our hearts! Click the banner to donate, it’ll open in a new window!

Right, let’s get on! Looks like a big list of ingredients but it really isn’t too bad. Have a look at the tips section first!

to make syn free chilli, you’ll need:

  • three big fat onions, thinly sliced
  • 800g of lean 5% beef mince (or lamb, but good luck finding that unless you’ve got a local butcher like us)
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • a little knob of fresh ginger
  • four garlic cloves
  • 2 big tins of chopped tomato
  • 1 tbsp of smoked or normal paprika
  • 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp of ground corinader
  • 3 tbsp of harissa
  • 3 red peppers, cut into chunks
  • 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas
  • coriander, if you’re a filthy sick pervert – you’ll need about 20g of fresh coriander
  • 500ml of good beef stock, make it with two cubes to really excite your nethers

TIPS:

to make syn free chilli, you should:

  • get your good, heavy casserole pot out
  • few sprays of oil in the bottom please and heat to medium
  • toast your cumin seeds if using – as soon as you smell them, remove them from the heat and tip in your sliced onion
  • cook these until they colour, then add the mince, grated ginger, garlic – then cook until the meat is no longer pink
  • why not take a moment to remove any excess fat from the pan if there is any
  • add the tomatoes, peppers. toasted cumin, all the spices, harissa, the chickpeas, most of the chopped coriander if you’re using and the stock, then cover with a lid and simmer for an hour or so – but actually, the longer you cook it, the better it’ll be – don’t be afraid to cook it for a good three hours on a very low heat!
  • serve with whatever you like

Easy! Freeze by tipping into sandwich bags, sealing them, pressing them flat then storing in the freezer. Duh. Want more ideas? Click the buttons below. Finally, if you love us dearly, hit the share buttons at the bottom too!

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Cheers!

J

speedy spring roll bowls – perfect for a quick lunch

Just a recipe post tonight for speedy spring roll bowls to get you through the dark days – a cabbage recipe to use up the rest of the cabbage from yesterday’s recipe! Please don’t be put off by cabbage – cooked correctly, it’s so much better than that boiled-to-mush slop you used to get at school.

Before we get to the recipe, though, we have a small treat for you. Our Christmas card! As you know, we aren’t bothering with printed cards this year, so this is just for you!

This Queen and her loyal companion wish you a marvellous Christmas indeed! A few people think we’ve been mean by posting Rolf Harris’ face onto hers, but alas, no, it’s just me with a white beard. I actually like how it looks!

This is an easy, speed-packed dish and takes hardly any time to cook – most of the time is chopping up the vegetables. Once that’s done, you’re good to go!

spring roll

to make speedy spring roll bowls you will need:

to make speedy spring roll bowls you should:

  • heat a little oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat
  • add the mince and the onion and cook until the mince is browned and the onion is translucent
  • add the cabbage and the carrots to the pan and cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally
  • in a bowl mix together the garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar and pour into the pan
  • stir well, and cook for another ten minutes, reducing the heat to medium, stirring often
  • serve, and sprinkle over the spring onions

Want more like this? All you’ve got to do is click the buttons below to find even more!

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J

PS: it’s Graham from Jeremy Kyle in the food picture, not Gary Glitter!

slow cooker honey buffalo meatballs

You might be thinking what the fuck is a buffalo meatball, and am I going to get kicked in the head when I try and retrieve them, but just calm your tits: it’s just a name for the sauce. We will get to the recipe in no time at all, but first, an announcement and a trio of unfortunate events. Forgive an advert right off the bat, but it’s only for 24 hours so have to mention it! Feel free to skip the next paragraph if you’re not interested! Look, I’ll even put a wee line in!


ANNOUNCEMENT: flash sale time on the Musclefood Freezer Filler we do: an extra 15% off our package which contains 5kg of chicken breast that doesn’t shrink like a cold willy, 2kg of syn-free extra lean mince, 700g of fat-free bacon and 800g of diced beef – perfect for making all of our recipes with. You get it for £42.50 delivered! We use Musclefood for all of our meat and can’t fault them – if you’re already a fan, you’ll know how good they are. You’ll need to use code TCCFLASH50 instead of TCCFREEZER and it’s only for 24 hours. You can order now for future delivery and you’ll only pay the discounted rate, so even if your freezer is full, stick in an order whilst it’s dirt-cheap. Click here to place your order – it’ll open in a new window.


Firstly: I’d like to apologise to the owner of the luridly yellow Audi that sometimes parks in a location I can’t disclose somewhere on my walk into work. See, here’s the thing. The way I walk in takes me down some lovely tree-lined streets, all of which are bursting with autumn colours right now and all of which are shedding their leaves quicker than a chav sheds their knickers when offered a bag of chips. It’s glorious: Autumn is my favourite time of year: cold enough to make your nipples hard but not so cold they turn black and fall off. Plus bonfires and all that crap.

Anyway, as I walk along, full with the joy of a full day of work ahead of me, I like to revert back to childhood and kick all the leaves about that have thoughtfully amassed themselves into piles by the road. I appreciate I must look like I’ve wandered away from a guide where each person has two people looking after them, but I don’t care. It brings me happiness. Not today, though, no – I was merrily kicking along like an out-of-shape can-can dancer when my boot made contact with a freshly-crimped dog-shit that had clearly just been hidden under the leaves by the dog’s owner. I don’t know what the fuck they had been feeding this dog but honestly, that dog must have been bloody relieved to get this out of him. I’m surprised my steel-capped boot didn’t have a dent in it, nevermind the smear of faeces that now adorned it.

That said, I didn’t fare as badly as the owner of the aforementioned yellow car because not only had I discovered this hidden poo but also managed to send it soaring in a graceful arc right over the street, where it splattered messily all over the rear passenger door of the Audi.

I felt terrible. Admittedly, my guilt was somewhat assuaged by the fact it was an Audi, but still. No-one needs that first thing in the morning. It was a genuine accident, of course, and it’s not like I could nip over and start trying to wipe it off with a credit card and a bottle of Evian, so I had to powermince the fuck out of there. I’m sorry, Mr or Mrs Audi driver, for the bewildering and Chum-scented start to your day.

Secondly: I was made to feel like an absolute leper the other day, and I want to get it off my chest. Newcastle has a very famous department store which is full of all sorts of fancy things and occasionally, they’ll have a sale event on. Smashing. I’ve long since accepted that I’ll never fit into any of their lovely clothes but I’m literally a big boy, I can deal with that. No, to make up for that, I buy a lot of expensive aftershave. I dress like a collapsed mine but I smell absolutely amazing, assuming you’re not too close to my taint, which smells like a carrion flower. The most expensive disaster that could befall our house is the bathroom shelf collapsing.

So, full of excitement that I could save £40 on a £200 bottle of aftershave, in I went to enquire whether they’d be taking part in the shop-wide promotion (they’re a private store within the store, hence my confusion). I lurched over and asked the question and I swear to God, her response couldn’t have been more devastating – she looked me up and down in much the same way I imagine that Audi driver was looking at their car door – and practically spat out that their products never go in a sale and anyway, they’re terribly expensive. The implication that me standing there with my non-designer stubble, cheap shoes and fag-bag that I’ve had since college would never be able to afford such luxury. I was really taken aback and muttered a thank you, slinking away in the safe and certain knowledge that I’d never return to that concession stand and that she could stick her aftershave right up her arse.

Had I been a bit quicker I should have reached over, run my finger through the two inches of her make-up and told her it was probably the commission from my purchases that had enabled her to pay for and paint-roller the entire Boots No 7 range onto her face at once. Still, it’s easy to be wise after the event.

Finally, in this trilogy of woe, we’ve done a video. See, we love writing the blog, and we receive so many lovely comments about the food, our style, the writing, it makes it all worthwhile. But recently we’ve been enduring a glut of messages from some random loon who complains about the fact we occasionally use gay euphemisms and bad language on here. I’ve said it before so many times: this is a personal blog, not a slimming recipe blog – the recipes are a bonus extra at this point. I write because I enjoy it, but I thought this required a personal apology. Have a look:

Great, out of all the thumbnails to use, it chooses a frame where it looks like I’m shooting my load. Ha! I posted this on Facebook and we received so many messages of support, it was terrific. We do love you all, you know. Quite a few people said I sound a lot posher than expected, which was surprising, and others said I sound like a gay Jimmy Nail. How does that work? Bitch, those crocodile shoes are faaaaabulous? 

Anyway, I’d welcome your thoughts. Until then, let’s do the recipe, shall we? Yes, it has syns, but you know what? It also has flavour. Can you say the same about whatever syn-free slop you’re troughing down tonight? Makes enough for four.

to make slow cooker honey buffalo meatballs you will need:

for the meatballs

Don’t have all those spices? Don’t sweat it. Make do with what you’ve got.

for the honey buffalo sauce

  • 2 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot Original sauce (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp honey (5 syns)
  • 2 tbsp no added sugar apricot jam (2 syns)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tsp cornflour (2 syns)

Can’t be arsed clitting about trying to find Frank’s sauce? I understand. Any ‘hot’ sauce will do.

to make slow cooker honey buffalo meatballs you should:

  • preheat the oven to 230°c and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper
  • mix together all of the meatball ingredients until well combined
  • roll the meatballs into about 15-18 little meatballs
  • place the balls onto the baking sheet and back in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned
  • meanwhile, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients
  • tip the meatballs into the slow cooker until the bottom is covered – if you have more left over don’t worry – just layer them after the next step
  • drizzle over the sauce mixture, layer with extra meatballs (if necessary) and then the remaining sauce
  • cook on a low heat for 2 hours, stirring gently halfway through
  • serve with whatever you like!

You could totally make this in a normal pan, or an Instant Pot, or an old oil-drum tipped on its side. It’s versatile. Want a recommendation for a slow cooker? Naturally. You don’t need to spend a lot of money for a decent one – Aldi and Asda were selling them cheap recently, and they’re much of a muchness. That said, Amazon currently has a cracking deal on a Morphy Richards number which allows you to sear your meat like the filthy slattern that you are!

Still got a hole that hasn’t been filled? Click below to get more recipes!

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Gosh, that’s a lot of choice!

J

mediterranean meatloaf – perfect for dinner or day-after leftovers

Here for the mediterranean meatloaf? I’d expect nothing less from someone like you, if I’m honest. The good news is the recipe is typed up and ready for you to start running your fingers under the words in just a few paragraphs from now, but first: flimflam.

Firstly, glad today’s terrorist attack in London didn’t go as planned, even if some people were unlucky enough to receive injuries, it could have been much worse and we should be thankful for it. We live in uncertain times but don’t let it stop you from doing anything, life’s too short to worry. That said, imagine my distress when Facebook didn’t activate their ‘Safety Check-in’ function, leading to me fretting all day that my housebound Aunt in Oban had been caught up in the drama. She was good enough to check herself in as ‘safe’ during Hurricane Harvey, she must have been beside herself today that she couldn’t keep up updated!

Next – we’ve seen IT. We actually went to see it last Saturday night and it was excellent. Genuinely creepy – a couple of times I was left breathless and it wasn’t just from having to climb the stairs back to our seats in the back row after I’d been for a piss. People hold up the original TV series in high regard and I think it’s undeserving, no I do, Tim Curry played it campy and the book is far away from that. This take on IT, although it misses out huge chunks of the book, was just marvellous. Give it a go, even if you’re not a horror fan.

I was, however, reminded of why I hate going to the cinema: other people. You know in TV shows about ‘being the last person on Earth’ the lead character always has a dreadful time without anyone to talk to or socialise with? That’s my idea of heaven, though perhaps with keeping Paul around to act as a safety-valve for my balls. I spend so long fretting about having people in front of me looking at their phones, beside me smelling of wee, BO or Joop or worse, behind me with breath that could strip paint that I’m already an anxious mess before the movie starts.

Plus people have become so inconsiderate, no? I know that makes me sound like an old fart but I don’t care – there were three mouthbreathers who, when not sat looking at their phones set to nuclear-detonation levels of brightness,  kept screaming theatrically and running down the cinema stairs as though they were terrified. It was incredibly distracting and the fact that they didn’t trip on the stairs, fall, break their necks and die is proof to me that there is no God. It was all I could do to tut into my popcorn and sigh like an asthmatic climbing stairs. And here, before you send me letters, I say that as an asthmatic. So don’t hold your breath for an apology, because if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to.

Whilst we’re picking the scab of bad manners to see what bleeds out, another small annoyance. I walk into work across our local town moor most days. It’s a charming way to start the day – it clears my head, not least because my brain needs all the space it can get to reassure me the fact I can see my thundering heartbeat lifting up my fingernails isn’t a bad thing. However, it’s fraught with peril – cows, cow shit, dogs running around, cyclists bursting past like lycra-clad missiles of smugness (some, not all, naturally) and people running with the inevitable ‘I’m about to cum’ face that so befalls the casual jogger.

It’s OK, I know there’s a parallel blog somewhere where someone is kvetching about trying to get past some stumbling fat oaf sliding around on the cow shite in his cheap shoes. That’s fine.

Anyway, each day when I get to the gate I hold it open for three or so cyclists (in a vain attempt to hide my heavy breathing and spluttered gasps) to cycle through so they don’t need to stop and get off their bikes. I probably get thanked oooh….50% of the time, with the others cycling through as though I have nothing better to do then to stand there holding the gate open like the gayest fence-post you’ve ever seen. I’ve started theatrically calling ‘NO NO, IT WAS MY PLEASURE, YOU BUMBLING CLIT’ but I doubt they hear it over the hum of their own self-importance. You must understand that this isn’t a critique of cyclists but rather the ill-mannered who don’t say thank you. The urge to hold the gate open only to clang it shut at the very last second did enter my brain, but on the basis that I’m not a psychopath, it drifted back out.

Let’s see what next week brings, eh? Anyway, shush James, this was supposed to be a quick opening entry before we served up the mediterranean summer meatloaf, so shall we do that now?

This serves SIX!

TWO SYN MEDITERRANEAN MEATLOAF

TWO SYN MEDITERRANEAN MEATLOAF

to make mediterranean meatloaf you will need:

for the meatloaf

for the glaze

  • 3 tbsp Hellman’s Tomato Ketchup Sweetened with Honey (1½ syns)
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard (1½ syns)
  • ¼ tsp hot chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

to make mediterranean meatloaf you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • in a large bowl mix together all of the meatloaf ingredients together by hand until well combined, and slop into a loaf tin
  • next, mix together all of the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and brush over the top of the meatloaf
  • bake in the oven for 45 minutes
  • let it rest for ten minutes (it helps to improve the flavour) then serve

 

These dinners are our favourite because they’re so easy! You know what else is easy? YOU. AND all of our other recipes – we’re nearly at 500! Click one of the buttons below to be magically transported to even more ideas!

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J

guilty pleasure mince and potato casserole

Right, come on – mince and potato casserole. If there’s one thing I’m learning is that we can put all manner of fancy recipes up but the things that you lot like always have lots of cheese and starch in them. And so what? Listen, sometimes what you need is just a plate full of stodge. Have an apple afterwards to keep Mags happy, but you know what, life is for living. Whilst this dish might hasten you to the grave that bit quicker, at least you’ll go stinking of cheddar.

Just a recipe post after yesterday’s lengthy, girthy entry – though I want to have a quick whinge about public displays of affection. I’m not some miserable, sexless oaf who can’t stand to see people happy but seriously, have a bromide smoothie and literally calm your tits. Newcastle is awash with students once more and the walk home takes me through Leazes Park, where I consider it a ‘good’ day if I’ve only managed to see one person being penetrated by another. I feel like I’m inadvertently dogging, walking past couples rolling around on the grass or bouncing on each other’s laps on the memorial benches. I get it, you’re in love, blah blah, but that love will fade and you’ll grow fat and tired and you’ll look back at that time you were being given a shocker* by the swan-pond by someone with dickies and a guitar with regret. Trust me.

Paul and I will often hold hands, safe in the knowledge that few people would dare say anything because, until one of us speaks, we look faintly butch and have a significant weight advantage on most decent folks. But that’s generally where it ends – I’m not going to be giving him a rusty trombone in the bus-stop just so people can SEE OUR LOVE. Which is what I think about 80% of PDA is – making sure everyone else is made to feel uncomfortable, or jealous, or put out that they don’t have love. It makes me squicky. It’s just not the way we do things here. You must understand, I’m about as far from being a prude as one can be without getting arrested, but even so.

Anyway, come now, let’s do the recipe. Mince and potato casserole: this makes four massive portions.

Oh and a shocker? Easy. Two in the beaver, one taking her fever. Cheers!

mince and potato casserole

mince and potato casserole

to make mince and potato casserole you will need:

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 4 large potatoes (there’s no need to peel them, but give them a good scrub)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and diced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (got one of these yet? why not?)
  • 160g reduced-fat cheddar cheese, grated (4x HeA)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tin Campbells condensed cream of chicken soup (14.5 syns)
  • 100ml skimmed milk (2 syns)
  • 1 tbsp fat free natural yoghurt

to make mince and potato casserole you should:

  • bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the potatoes – parboil for five minutes, and then drain and slice into pound-coin thick slices
  • meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°c and spray a 9″ by 13″ dish with a bit of oil
  • whisk together the soup, salt, pepper, garlic powder, milk and yoghurt and set aside
  • next, heat a little oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat
  • add the mince and cook until no pink meat remains
  • add the onion, garlic and green pepper and cook for a few more minutes and the peppers have softened
  • next, you’ll need to layer the ingredients in the pyrex dish in the following order:
    • one third of the potatoes;
    • half the mince;
    • one third of the soup;
    • one third of the cheese;
    • one third of the potatoes
    • rest of the mince;
    • one third of the soup;
    • one third of the cheese;
    • rest of the potatoes;
    • rest of the soup; and finally,
    • rest of the cheese.
  • cover with foil and bake in the oven for an hour
  • remove the foil and bake for a further thirty minutes
  • serve, and eat!

Not enough for you? Don’t worry – we’ve got tons of recipes for you – all for free! Just click one of the buttons below:

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Enjoy!

J

this is nacho normal salad

I’m so sorry, but I can never resist a pun. I just can’t. I’m just glad I’m not a doctor. or I’d spend my days trying to work a gag into telling someone they had six months to live. But why nacho salad? Wait and see. But I have some business to attend to first…tonight’s travel entry, wrapping up Newcastle as it does, is a long one, and if you just want the food, then I’ve created a wee shortcut. Just click the LEATHERY OLD BOOT to go straight to the food…

I’m so glad she’s gone. Did you see what she was wearing? Sweet jesus…


part one | part two | part three | part four | part five | part six

Last Newcastle post! I know, I bet you’re so furious you could punch a toilet-attendant for handing you a lollipop, but try and hold your shit together. When you were last with us I’d just kicked Paul’s arse at Kerplunk and Connect 4 and he was crying into his gin. To sober him up and to add a touch of local culture to the weekend, we decided to visit our local museum dedicated to the North East – the Discovery Museum. It’s quite an apt name, as you’ll discover new levels of disappointment as you look at broken exhibit after broken exhibit.

I’ll be there!

No, that’s mean, and I’m being glib. It’s a perfectly fine way to kill an hour or two, even if everything interactive was either out of order or in the hands of a child. I shan’t open that particular wound up again. For the most part it’s about local history, so you get plenty of bits about the Tyne, about the ship-building areas, kids being sent down the mine with only a 20-deck of Capstan Full Strength and phlegm sandwiches for dinner, that sort of thing. There’s a ‘god bless them, they tried’ science lab where you can turn on lights and move handles and press buttons. It’s terrifically exciting, never quite knowing when the next yawn is coming along. We did have fun in the shadow room, mind:

I used to do my studies in here back when I was in the nearby college and I was keen to see if the little café upstairs was still the same – you used to be able to get a jacket potato the size of a sea-swollen foot with beans for £2. But of course not. No, it’s gone down the panini route like most other museum places, where you can get a panini that you could have a full shave together with eight crisps and a token bit of salad that looks like something scraped off the inside of a hamster’s cheek. Haway, shall we not. I had a sweet chilli chicken panini, Paul had coronation chicken, and I think it tells you everything you need to know that we didn’t realise until after we’d finished them that we had choken down each other’s order. That’s how fresh and flavourful they were. Harumph!

There was, at the very least, one saving grace – an exhibition devoted to our local annual funfair, The Hoppings. It promised to recreate the experience of being there, which alarmed me a bit as I didn’t fancy being ripped off by someone who owned eight caravans and seven wives, nor did I want to see Paul get shanked for successfully winning a rigged hook-a-duck game, but we went in regardless. What fun! They had a great collection of old games and creaking fruit machines and we spent a good half an hour wasting our time in there. All of the machines had been gifted to the museum for a few weeks by a group dedicated to restoring them and there was a friendly fella in there talking about them. I love anyone with proper enthusiasm and even my eyes didn’t glaze over whilst he told us about his push-a-penny machine. I was captivated! Paul had to drag me out as he’d spotted the rain that had been plaguing us all day had momentarily stopped, so we dashed out to find somewhere new.

Naturally, the heavens opened the split second those automatic days slid open and we had to dash like the two fat, breathless sods that we are to the nearby station for shelter. Gone are the days we would have cheerfully Ubered that 300 metre dash, and I can’t wait to tell you why…in time…anyway.

Paul took a moment to lead the station in a singalong around the old Joanna…

As we sat and steamed in the Central Station – a beautiful 19th century listed building ruined somewhat by 21st century bastards and the occasional spiced-up zombie – our phones buzzed and Tripadvisor recommended a nearby bar as being ‘right up our street’. It was, quite literally, so we squelched over, only pausing briefly whilst a chap I used to work with bumped into me and I spent a good two minutes trying desperately to remember who he was. Not because he was awful, you understand, but because he’d lost lots of weight and I’ve got a memory like a sieve. Is there a more awkward feeling than someone recognising you like an old chum and you not having the faintest clue? I was hoping for Paul to explosively shit himself as a distraction but his balloon-knot remained tightly clenched. Boo-shucks to him. Anyway, by the time I’d realised who he was it was time to leave, and I left feeling a right rotten bastard. Still, we had a science-themed bar to cheer me up…

…except it didn’t. I’ve genuinely never been served by someone so disinterested and with a contemptuous attitude in Newcastle. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect people to start doing the fucking can-can when we walk in but at least look up from your phone, you prissy column of hair-gel and unmerited superiority. We ordered drinks – as the only two people in there – and were served with all the interest you might give to a scab on your knee. Admittedly we ordered cocktails but we were told (lies!) that these would be fun, science based cocktails served in beakers. We got some syrupy-sweet sour nonsense mixed with tonic and a shitty look. We took our seats at the table, played with the chalk lovingly left for us:

and left before the atmosphere overcame us and we pitched ourselves through the glass windows in despair. Science? He was certainly a fucking alchemist when it came to turning joy into despair.

Luckily, Paul’s nose led us straight to the next meal, hidden away under the arches of the nearby railway. We seem to have a bit of a thing for eating under the arches of a bridge – The Herb Garden is another restaurant which has been stuffed neatly somewhere it shouldn’t, namely under the East Coast Main Line. We ate here on a whim – it was late in the afternoon and Paul was so entranced by the giant pizza oven in the window that it was a done deal before I could finish my ‘but Paul, your thighs’ sentence. We were the only ones in, but that’s purely down to the time of day – normally it’s packed solid, much like we both were afterwards. We were seated and served by a lovely friendly waitress and our food arrived in no time at all. We barely had time to work out who had the difficult job of dusting the lighting down…

We ordered the antipasti selection for two (we wanted to order it for four, but kept our dignity) and it certainly passed muster – tasty cured meats, olives far beyond the usual slop from the supermarkets and decent bread. We tried to eat slowly but it was gone before we could blink: may I stress, we’re greedy.

Given they’re famous for good pizza, we elected for a (deep breath) spinach, egg, pecorino, garlic, mozzarella, olives and basil pizza (£10) and, in a vain attempt to mitigate that cheese, we ordered a flower power chicken salad to share (£12).

They came within ten minutes of ordering and believe me when I say they were as tasty as they look. The pizza – clearly fresh and made to order – was cooked perfectly, with a big gooey egg in the middle. The salad, usually always the bridesmaid to the main meal’s bride, was a revelation to the point where we’ve tried to recreate it at home for the blog and failed miserably. The mix of textures, flavours and looks made this a dish more than capable of standing on its own. I didn’t want to share!

There’s the usual array of sides and appetizers to chomp your way through together with an extensive specials board with each dish inviting us to come back and to hell with the diet. There’s a breakfast pizza called The Fannie Farmer – who wouldn’t want to push their face into that on a weekend morning? Me. That’s who. Never been one for eating sushi off the barbershop floor. We waddled out, content, and wandered down to the High Level bridge to read the graffiti.

Read the graffiti? Why yes, and here’s some choice cuts…

       I can’t see PETA using this as a tag-line.

Brilliant stuff. There was also the usual array of rusty padlocks that people seem intent on leaving everywhere there’s a bridge. Why? I know it’s a love thing but if you feel like your love is only worthy of a view of the Ovoline Lubricants factory and the hearty stench of piss, perhaps it’s time to look again at your relationship. Anyway, we were off to hunt for a rabbit.

Hidden in a corner of Dean Street is the Vampire Rabbit – an odd little curiosity perched high above a door. Why is it odd? Because it’s a menacing looking stone rabbit with bloodied fangs. Because of course. Newcastle’s full of little eccentricities like this and I love it. The best part? It was supposed to be a cute adornment on a fancy door, but one of the owners of the building decided to make it a little more macabre by painting the sandstone. That’s my town.

The final stop on our Holiday at Home was our pre-arranged appointment at Dog and Scone, Newcastle’s first puppy restaurant. Controversial yes, but once you’ve had a puppy pizza you’ll never look back. So much meat on those little legs! Oh I’m kidding, clearly, just before anyone accosts me outside of work and throws red paint all over my best Jacamo coat. Newcastle has had a couple of cat cafes for a while now – somewhere where you can go and stroke cats with a cup of tea. I blogged about one of them and can cheerfully recommend them as a lovely way to waste an hour. But how do you upstage cats? You can’t, to be clear, but someone has opened a puppy café as an attempt to do so. Same principle – have a cup of tea and coo at the gorgeous puppies that frolic about. What next? Perhaps they’ll open a horse café. Ah that wouldn’t work – there would be nowt on the menu, but hay.

So proud of that one.

We washed our hands, took our seats and spent a lovely hour watching the dogs gambol around, chasing each other and hopefully having fun. They did look tired though, and I’ll come back to that later. There was a pug there called Laughing which I fell in love with – there’s something about saggy-jowled, snuffling, wide-eyed bags of barely-breathing flesh that I like, as my marriage to Paul demonstrates. They wrapped the pug in a towel and he fell asleep in my arms which was just lovely. Paul was given a corgi called Coffee which kept raucously farting and then looking at its own anus as if in absolute shock that such a thing could happen. If we ever get a dog Paul wants a corgi but I think that’s ridiculous – if you’re going to get a dog, get a bloody dog, not some silly bugger that looks like a roided-up cat. Oh, there was one little bitch that we didn’t like and who wasn’t on the menu – some foppish waste of skin and spunk who, upon being told the place was shutting imminently, made a fuss about getting a fresh pot of Darjeeling and that really it isn’t any bother at all for the staff to wait around whilst he finished it because he was the customer. Never before have I wanted a dog to bite someone on the bollocks so much. We left at closing time, he was still there being a bellend.

  

It did get me thinking how much money is in just buying a few dogs and a catering box of teabags from Costco and setting up a dog café of my own. Two Chubby Pups. Wags ‘n’ Fags. Puffs and Ruffs? I mean, the list is endless even if your enthusiasm isn’t. We did agree that we didn’t enjoy the puppy café as much as the cat café and let me tell you why – cats can get up on high and hide when they don’t want to be touched or handled, whereas the puppies kept going to their bed only to be picked up again and I genuinely can’t say I’m alright with that. I stress that I have no doubt that they are looked after amazingly well, but if you’re having to wake up a sleeping dog just to parade him about for photos…it left a sore taste in our mouths. Plus about half a dog’s worth of hair. We made our way home and, as usual, were greeted on the path by both cats looking nonchalant. That changed once they realised we’d been petting other animals and it was straight back to indifference and shunning and passively-aggressively licking their arseholes in front of the telly so their paws blocked the sensor on the front. Pfft.

And that’s that! Our holiday in Newcastle, done. Paul’s got some thoughts he wants to share with you all – god help us – and they’ll come next, but let me say one thing – explore your own city! We had such a fun weekend being tourists in our own city, doing things that have passed us by or that we would never normally be arsed to do because they’re on our doorstep – but here’s the thing, unless you open the door, you’ll never see them. Newcastle is an amazing city full of wonderful people – some of us have unwebbed feet, you know –  and I implore you to give our city a go. Paul will touch on it, but we’re so much more than Brown Ale, men punching police horses and Sherrul Curl, thank God. You can get a cheap hotel right in the city centre if you’re willing to go down the Premier Inn route, and then the weekend will be as expensive or as cheap as you want to make it. We’re a big city that feels compact thanks to easy walking routes and a decent Metro system and if you’re feeling adventurous, you could even step out into Northumberland to try our amazing beaches, cracking local food and rolling hills. There’s a pretty famous wall to walk along, you know, and you might even bump into Vera as she solves her crimes in that wee little hat.

If you do, try and tell her that every single sentence doesn’t need to end in ‘pet’, ‘sweetheart’ and ‘love’ and that ‘Mordor’ isn’t a crime but rather where those little hobbits destroyed a ring.

We’d love your feedback guys!


Right, let’s do this not your nacho salad, shouldn’t I? Worth the syns, trust me! Makes enough for four bowls.

to make a nacho normal salad, you’ll need:

  • 400g of extra lean beef mince – 5% or less
  • one chopped romaine lettuce mixed with rocket
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • a cucumber cut into chunks
  • a mixture of gherkins, sliced olives (25g – 2 syns)
  • one onion
  • tin of black eyed beans
  • 160g of grated extra mature lighter cheese (4 x HEA)
  • one packet of doritos (30g – 7.5 syns)
  • one carton of passata (preferably with chilli)

You can buy loads, absolutely loads, of perfect mince in our Musclefood deals where, finally, you can choose what you want to make up your hamper! No more having to compromise! Do it your way.

to make a nacho normal salad, you should:

  • chop up all your veg (bar the onion) and crush up your nachos and keep to one side, like this

  • meanwhile, chop the onion, fry it off lightly in a bit of oil until softened (or Fryshite), then add the mince and cook it off until brown
  • meanwhile again, bubble off your passata to thicken it nicely into a sauce
  • put everything into one bowl (bar the sauce) and mix it all up – then add cheese, crushed doritos and a drizzle of sauce
  • done!

Want some more inspiration? Fine! You know what to do!

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J

instant pot spaghetti bolognese

Just a quick post tonight because, for once, we’ve kept our word and managed to get round to updating the recipes page to include an instant pot section! Remember, for all of our instant pot recipes, you can use a normal pressure cooker or a pan on the hob – you don’t need to buy an expensive bit of kit for our stuff!

Updated recipes section here – it’ll open in a new window.

Cheers folks! Tomorrow will be a full post!

instant pot spaghetti bolognese

instant pot spaghetti bolognese

to make instant pot spaghetti bolognese you will need:

  • 400g lean beef mince (save pennies and get delicious meat by taking advantage of our excellent Musclefood deals!)
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (one of the handiest things you can have in the kitchen is one of these)
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 500ml passata
  • anything else you want to chuck in – bacon, mushroom, family ashes

Looking for a pot? They’re cheap on Amazon at the moment.

to make instant pot spaghetti bolognese you should:

  • set the instant pot to saute and add a splash of oil
  • add the onion and cook for a few minutes until it goes soft
  • chuck in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so
  • add the mince and cook until browned all over
  • add in the chopped tomatoes, passata, salt, pepper and oregano and give a good stir
  • break the spaghetti in half and chuck in the pan along with a litre of water – make sure the spaghetti is covered – push it down with a spoon if it isn’t
  • cook at high pressure for ten minutes, then use the ‘quick release’ to get it in your belly quicker
  • don’t worry if it looks a bit watery when you first open it – it’ll soon thicken up when you give it a good stir
  • serve!

You can easily make this using a normal pressure cooker – just cook the mince and onion in a pan first before transferring to the pressure cooker, where you’ll need to cook it for 8 minutes. Haven’t got an instant pot? Make it the same way but in two pans, for a dead simple bolognese!

Got a hole that just can’t be stuffed? Let us try! Click one of the buttons below to get your hands on even more recipes:

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J

bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs

Is there a more unattractive name than sloppy cubs? I’m worried that if you type that into google you’ll end up with our other blog, where we discuss things to do with willymilk that’ll really put hairs on your chest. But hey, I like a bit of clickbait title, so bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs it is!

I’m going to talk seriously about something that’ll make you panic. Wheeze. Clutch at your chest. Possibly even cry.

Exercise.

Now before I do, let me explain that I know there’s nothing worse than the fervent zeal someone who has just started doing something (like going to the gym, or not smoking, or wiping their arse the proper way) (front to back) and feels the need to tell everyone else why they should do it. I’m not going to be that person. But here me out.

If you’re wanting to go to the gym, and you’re scared of what people will think of you, put your trainers on and go. Don’t waste another second worrying about the looks you’ll get as a fat person exercising, or the snide remarks people might make as you struggle on the machines, because honestly, it just doesn’t happen. If it does, people hide it well. I’ve had support from blokes built like they could compress me into a cube the size of a fluffy dice, women who could run further in an hour than I have in my entire life, but for the most part, thankfully, wonderfully, I’ve been totally ignored. Don’t let a pointless fear hold you back.

And I love my gym. I won’t tell you which one it is, partly for the paragraph following this one but also because I don’t want anyone joining and interrupting my treadmill with ‘HOW MANI SYNS HUN’ whilst waving a bottle of Lölt from the Aldi next door. You know someone would. But I enjoy the fact I can turn up any time I want, sweat a bit on the treadmill and then leer lasciviously at the chaps doing the boxing. Everyone just gets on with what they’re doing, and, unlike that time we signed up at David Lloyd, it isn’t full of peacocking men grunting in front of the mirror like the bellends they are.

That said…

I have a real problem with the exercise bikes. You’ll laugh, but it’s incredibly awkward. I can sit and merrily pedal away for a good thirty minutes now, working up a sweat, but I must be pressing on a nerve or something because it always gives me a solid, diamond-cutting, hammer-a-nail-into-a-brick-wall level erection. I genuinely have to sit for a good few minutes ‘cooling down’ before I can dismount and sweat somewhere else. I stress that I don’t get a sexual kick out of watching a blurry More4 on the bike monitor, it must be a purely physiological reaction, but god help me if the fire alarm ever goes off and I’ve got to jump down fully torqued and ready for action.

I asked Paul whether he suffered the same thing and he advised me to put the saddle back on the bike before I sit on it. Because ha-de-ha-ha. He’s not the one inadvertently pressing the emergency stop button without moving his hands. You’re thinking I’m boasting? It’s not like I told you I used it to open the window with and wipe my face.

Whilst we were having a gym conversation, I also asked Paul what the funniest sight he’s even seen in a gym was. Turns out there used to be a gym in deepest darkest Peterborough where people smoked as they exercised. I don’t know what tickles me more – the thought of the ashtray on a treadmill or the fact that people could be so contradictory. That said, you may recall the time I witnessed a lady outside of Tesco with her fag in one hand and an inhaler in the other: now that’s commitment.

Anyway, yes, just a short entry tonight if you please as we have things to do, but by God it’s a good one. You know sometimes you just need something sloppy, cheesy and packed full of meat – but you don’t have Katie Price’s number to hand? Well this will hit the spot, I promise.

bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs

to make bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs you will need:

  • 4x HeB buns (we used brioche buns in ours, because it makes the photo nicer, but you get the drift)
  • 400g lean beef mince
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp passata
  • 1 tbsp american-style mustard (1/2 syn, between four, I mean haway)
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 4 slices bacon medallions
  • 125ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (mixed with 2 tbsp COLD water) (1 syn, between four, so again up to you…)
  • 160g reduced-fat cheddar cheese (4 x HEA)

We’ve got loads of good Musclefood hampers at the moment but, SHOCK, you can build your own hamper! Pick which slimming items you want and go go go! Fill yer boots with mince and bacon until the cows never come home again. Click HERE to build your own hamper!

Whilst we’re here, Musclefood are also selling Frylight – three bottles for three quid! We don’t use it ourselves but if you fancy it, it’s right here!

to make  bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs you should:

  • first of all, get the bacon cooking to however you like it – we put it in our OptiGrill but you can do yours however you like. When it’s cooked, remove to a plate until you need it
  • meanwhile, heat a large pan over a medium-high heat, add a little oil and chuck in the mince
  • cook until a nice crust forms on the bottom, then begin to break up
  • when the mince is nearly fully cooked, remove from the pan and add the onion
  • let the onion cook for 2-3 minutes, THEN stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes
  • add the mince back into the pan
  • stir in the beef stock, cornflour, worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and mustard
  • cook the mixture until it’s nice and sticky and not as watery – you want it to be a bit wet, but not too wet (fnar)
  • remove then pan from the heat, add the cheese and stir until it is all melted
  • add a slice of bacon to each of the buns, and top with the mince mixture.
  • eat!

Serve it with chips and chest pains.

Looking for more ooey-gooey-goodness? Natch. Click the buttons!

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J

meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam and honey tomato sauce

Meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam? Topped with tomato sauce sweetened with honey as opposed to some watery old passata and the tears of the terminally disappointed? Yes! Not going to lie, this is an amazing recipe. I had to stand a good eight inches back from the cooker as I made it, if you get my drift. However, sound the klaxon, boop-boop:

We’ve been asked to do a recipe featuring Hellmann’s Tomato Ketchup Sweetened with Honey, so here it is. Easy enough to do because everyone likes meatloaf and tomato sauce is always a winner, but see we’ve done meatloaf before so how to make it different…stuff it with bacon jam. Oh my!

But first, the usual flim-flam. I couldn’t think of a natural link between tomato ketchup and our usual blog content – there’s not many hilarious stories about tomato ketchup that’ll have people slapping their knees and wheezing into a paper bag, after all. Then it struck me: let’s revisit the ‘trivial things that annoy me’ post – we did it in 2015, I’m sure we did it in 2016 but I can’t be arsed to check, so here’s the 2017 list!

Paul buys far too many bottles of ketchup

See! I bloody well managed to link the recipe and the blog content after all! Just call me Mark Zuckerburg. We’re not a couple who feel the need to drown our dinner in condiments, not least because we season our food properly in the first place, but see it’s always nice to have something to dip your sausage into. It’s why I married Paul. However, he takes it too far: our little spinning cupboard in the kitchen is actually canted to one side because of the weight of the 87 bottles of sauce currently wedged in there – he buys a new bottle every single time he goes to the supermarket “just in case” – in case of what? Nuclear war? I’ll be far too preoccupied with shitting my lungs out than having a seasoned bloody chip. Shopping with him has become a passive-aggressive two hours of him putting a bottle in the trolley and me taking it back out again. I’d rather he came home and told me he was having an affair with my mother rather than see him surreptiously pulling another bottle out of the bag for life.

Oh and mother, don’t you dare.

Black car badges

These:

I may have adjusted the picture slightly. Anyway, you’ll see them everywhere now, I can guarantee it. A black fadge-badge like the one pictured isn’t too bad on a black car, but I’m seeing it on all sorts of acne-carriages that barrel around on the road with their rubbish mods. What looks (arguably) passable on a decent motor looks like an embarrassment on a car that sounds there’s a bee stuck in the engine. We all know that certain cars attract certain types of driver – I feel like this little embellishment is just another way of reassuring you that yes, indeed, the person behind the wheel is a pulsing sphincter.

Vaping

I know, I know it is healthier than smoking. I know it’s a great thing to do if you’re trying to give up the fags. But do people need to be so…theatrical about it? Walking past a bus-stop these days is like being stuck in the middle of a chewing-gum flavoured hurricane, with blasts of vapour from all around. I’m tempted to chuck a load of gold and silver tokens in the air and pretend I’m in the crystal dome. You see people billowing out clouds like they’re a Chernobyl cooling tower and it just looks ridiculous. Yes, less ridiculous than coughing out your last in a hospital bed, but ridiculous none the less. I saw a wonderful little meme on Facebook that simply said how hilarious it was to walk past all the hard meatheads standing outside of pubs vaping away and stinking of strawberry shortcake. Now, before you think I need to be told how much better it is that people vape, please don’t, because…

I also hate people who smoke in cars

It’s fine if you are by yourself, though I do worry that if you were to drop your tab into the crack of your boobs, you’re not going to be looking where you’re going as you try and fish it out. No, it’s only a problem for me if you’ve got kids in the back. It’s the height of selfishness.  Both of our parents smoked like chimneys on every car journey when we were growing up – it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve realised Northumberland doesn’t have a faintly yellow patina to every vista.

Ridiculous packaging

Yes, it’s an obvious thing to moan about, but let me give you an example. We were told to bring a calculator to my last exam as we’d need to add up international fees, all very basic, but I can’t add up under pressure. Hell, I can barely remember to breathe in and out. Naturally, I forgot to pick one up from the cupboard at work, meaning a last-minute dash to Argos to buy a calculator. £15! They had none of the basic models in stock (of course) and so I had to buy a calculator that I’m fairly sure I could hack Sellafield with. Anyway, on my Tube ride over to the exam hall I set about trying to extricate the calculator from its sealed plastic packaging. Could I hell. I wrenched at it with my fists, I tried to chew my way in, I tore a nail trying to open the bloody thing up. I went four stops before I had to give up, not least because the sight of me sweating and fumbling in my rucksack was understandably making people anxious.

No, I had to go out of my way to go and buy a pair of bloody scissors in order to open the calculator with. Scissors are a surprisingly difficult thing to track down at the last second and even those came with a stupid cable tie attaching them all together. The sales assistant clearly sensed my anguish because she at least offered me a bag, though I turned it down thinking it would probably involve me doing a full turn on the Krypton Factor assault course and naming the top forty capital cities in the world.

Oh, and it turns out I didn’t need the calculator after all. Imagine my cheeriness!

Now, the other thing that annoys me is food blogs that don’t get to the damn point, so, after that 1,000 mince around the gardens, let’s get to the moment you’re all waiting for: american meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam and honey tomato sauce!

meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam

to make american meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam and honey tomato sauce (phew), you’ll need:

to make the meatloaf:

  • 500g of lean beef mince
  • 500g of lean pork mince
  • one large red onion
  • 1 tbsp of dried mustard powder
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • 1 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of garlic – fresh or powder
  • a good pinch of salt and pepper
  • a good mix of cherry tomatoes
  • 8 tbsp of Hellmann’s Ketchup Sweetened With Honey (4 syns)

to make the bacon jam for the middle:

  • four large red onions
  • 700g of unsmoked bacon, no fat
  • pinch of salt
  • 125ml of water
  • 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp of Hellmann’s Ketchup Sweetened With Honey (2 syns)
  • pinch of pepper

Now, of course, you can use any ketchup for this recipe – but the reason Hellmann’s Ketchup Sweetened With Honey works here is that it replaces the sugar you’d usually use to make the ‘jam’ and is half the syns of regular ketchup. Plus, sweetened with honey rather than extra sugar means it contains 30% less sugar than the ‘market leader’. We all know who that is, don’t be coy. Oh and it actually tastes decent, so fair play to them for that. You can buy it in Tesco for £1.89 but it’ll roll out all over the place as we speak.

This meatloaf recipe might look difficult to make but it really isn’t, but start with the jam first, eh? This makes EASILY enough for four and could stretch to six, and we served ours with green beans and skin-on mash, as is tradition.

to make american meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam and honey tomato sauce (phew), you should:

to make the jam:

  • do you have a chopper? One of these mini chopper things I always bang on about – if so, get it out, save your poor wrists, but if not, that’s fine
  • peel and chop your onions nice and fine – we’re talking really diced, but it isn’t going into an art gallery, make it as messy as you like
  • grill all the bacon until nice and crispy whilst you’re doing that
  • once you’ve got the bacon crispy and it isn’t so hot it sears your flesh, cut it up so it’s about the same chopped size as the onion
  • get a good, solid-bottom pan and spray some oil in – or use olive oil, I’ll never tell – add the onion, bacon, water, vinegar, ketchup, salt and pepper
  • cook slowly and gently for a good forty minutes – keep checking on it, add a dash more vinegar or water if it needs it, or some ketchup, until you have a nicely reduced jam
  • this isn’t going to be the smooth jam you see on a scone, no, but this is sticky, delicious bacon-goodness
  • keep to one side

to make the meatloaf:

  • get the oven on to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin (or just spray it with oil if you’ve got a decent one)
  • slap everything from the meatloaf list (save for the ketchup and tomatoes) (dice the red onion nice and fine first mind) into a big bowl
  • you can cheat and use chopped chives rather than onion if the thought of chopping more onion drives you to drink
  • mix – mix by hand and my goodness, don’t you stop for one moment – it’s very theraputic, get all that frustration and anger out by making sure you have the perfect mixture
  • if the meat is dry, add an egg – if it’s too wet, add breadcrumbs – but you’ll be able to ‘tell’ when it’s firm and ready
  • slap a good half of it into the loaf tin and press it down
  • make a channel for your bacon jam – I pressed the side of a glass into the meat to give a nice uniform look but honestly, no-one is going to care how it looks
  • spoon and press down as much jam as you can, being careful not to go right to the sides

meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam

  • press the rest of the mince on top of the jam – think of it like trying to create a core in the middle – make sure you press everything down nice and firm mind
  • spread your tomato ketchup over the top of the loaf, then slice the cherry tomatoes and arrange them in a sexy, pleasing manner
  • cook for a good hour or so – cover it with tin foil if the tomatoes start to burn – the internal temperature should be over 70 degrees if you have a meat thermometer to hand
  • remove from the oven, allow to cool for a good ten minutes or so, then serve!

meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam

It really is easy to make – you’re just slapping together a load of ingredients and baking it – it just looks like a long recipe typed out!

Looking for nutritional info? Based on the average lass’s intake of 2000 calories…

meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam

Not bad eh! If you want to find out a little more about the ketchup, you can speak to Hellmanns on Twitter  or via their Facebook page. If you want more recipes, click on the buttons!

 

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See? I can do a sponsored food post without it being boring and buy buy buy! Let me know if you have concerns! But this meatloaf man, amazing…

J