sausage and white wine risotto: low syn and gorgeous

Sausage and white wine risotto, if you don’t mind!

We’ve come to the end of our second bootcamp and can’t quite believe it. For two lads whose idea of exercise was a casual Sunday wank or rolling over in bed so our sleep apnea doesn’t suffocate us, I’d say we’ve done really rather well! I’ll talk about it more in due course but honestly, if you’re out there thinking you can’t exercise, get yourself moving! I mean…I haven’t died, yet…

Just a quick recipe tonight to keep you going – but this is delicious! You may know our approach to risottos – just chuck everything in and leave it to cook itself. Might not be 100% authentic but by god, it’ll leave you satisfied. Without further delay…

Oh one thing: if you’re still after a Halo fryer, they are now the absolute lowest they’ve ever been – get it ordered!

This serves four! Oh and it’s actually 1.25 syn per serving, but I can’t be arsed to be that anal. It’s been a long day!

sausage and white wine risotto

sausage and white wine risotto

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sausage and white wine risotto

Prep

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Total

Yield 4 big bowls

Sausages, booze, and stodge. This sausage and white wine risotto is THE perfect dinner idea that you've been waiting for! Robust, meaty and just a little bit fruity - just like us. Even though it's full of rich ingredients this is just one syn and a bit each and one of the tastiest things we've ever made!

We've adapted this and made it a bit skinnier from our 'spirit daddies', The Hairy Bikers. Their original recipe is in the brilliant 'Meat Feasts' book - you can get a copy at Amazon! Don't forget to check out their website for more tasty ideas. 

Ingredients

  • 4-6 sausages (see notes)
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 300g arborio rice
  • 125ml white wine  (5 syns)
  • 60g parmesan, grated (2x HeA)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Instructions

  • cook the sausages however you like them, and then slice and keep to one side
  • meanwhile, heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and spray in some oil
  • add the sliced onions and cook until starting to turn brown - remember to stir them about regularly
  • once the onions have started to lightly caramelise, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, herbs and rice and stir well
  • pour in the stock and stir again, and then put the lid on the pan
  • cook for twenty minutes - no need to stir!
  • gently drag a wooden spoon through the rice - if it falls back in 'waves' it's at the right consistency - cook for a few minutes more if it's not
  • stir in the sausages slices and sprinkle over the parmesan
  • serve and sprinkle over the parsley

Notes

  • you can cook the sausages however you like - we used our Optigrill - but however you like it will do, just make sure they're cooked!
  • you can use any sausages you like - including veggie ones if you want - but just remember to check the syns! We used Muscle Food Low Fat pork sausages which are syn free
  • you can use a sprig of rosemary and thyme instead of the dried stuff if you prefer, just remember to fish them out before serving
  • use any wine you like but remember that different types have different syn values so remember to check. We used normal 12.5% stuff.
  • slice the onions in double-quick time with a mandoline - just watch your fingers if you're a clumsy twat
  • a good, heavy lidded pan works best - this is what we use

Courses Dinner

Cuisine Italian

Looking good right? Want some more risotto ideas? We’ve got loads – why not try one of the following?

Enjoy!

J

slimming world tiramisu – no quark, no sweetener

Slimming World tiramisu – that might fill you with horror at the thought of someone whisking an egg into a tub of Splenda and smiling wanly as they try to pretend they’re eating anything other than their own crashing disappointment, but don’t worry – you’re in good hands with us. That said, instead of a wordy post tonight, because we’re on the subject of awful desserts, I present to you our recipe for Slimming World doughnuts. Worth sticking with until the end, it explains our stance on desserts and Frankenfood ever so well…

Christ, that thumbnail. I look like Moby with dysentery. Trust me, it’s worth a watch. Let me know what you think! Let’s get straight to the Slimming World tiramisu. We know that desserts is the one thing we lack on here – well, that and modesty, so we’re working hard to put that right. This Slimming World tiramisu could be lightened by using jelly instead of sponge and sweetener instead of cocoa, but you know what else you could do to save syns? Keep your gob shut.

slimming world tiramisu

slimming world tiramisu

That’s Bowser, by the way. Or as we call him, Kittler.

Slimming World tiramisu, but done properly

Cook

Total

Yield 2 large servings

Tiramisu, but done properly, like it ought to be. Yes, we've replaced a few of the heavier ingredients but with smart substitutes to make this a proper tasty dessert. It's OK, I dry-heaved at the use of the words proper tasty too. Let's get to it.

Ingredients

  • two nice glasses, like the ones shown, or stick it all in a pyrex dish. Hell, you could serve it from the cat's dinner-bowl for all we're going to judge
  • 6 sponge fingers (you'll find them in any supermarket baking aisle) (6 syns)
  • 25ml of strong black coffee (syn free) or if you're better than everyone else, use 25ml of Tia Maria or similar coffee liqueur (3.5 syns)
  • 180g of ricotta (90g is a HEA)
  • one of those large pots of Muller Greek Style coffee latte yoghurt
  • 50g of chopped hazelnuts (25g is a HEB)
  • 1 tsp of cocoa powder (1 syn)

SO, as this makes two, this will either be just over 5.5 syns each if you use coffee liqueur or 3.5 syns if you use plain coffee. Also, you could adorn it with something other than hazelnuts - fruit maybe - to save your HEB! If so, knock another syn off.

Instructions

  • take your glasses, put them on and read this bloody recipe
  • cut the sponge fingers up and layer them in the bottom of the glass
  • spoon over the coffee or the coffee liqueur and allow the sponge to soak it up with a big old slurp
  • mix the ricotta with enough of the yoghurt to get a nice thick mix - if you're feeling extravagant, add a pinch of coffee into the mix so you get wee pockets of coffeeness - yeah, coffeeness
  • spoon over the top and lightly shake until it is level
  • pour the hazelnuts into a bowl, top with cocoa and move them around until each one is coated - then pour over the top of the tiramisu
  • job done!

Courses Desserts

Cuisine Fancy

Come on, that looks as good as me getting out of the bath with half of the towel wedged up my crack, no?

Want more dessert recipes? Really?

J

a proper syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne

A syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne? With my reputation?

Do you know, in all the time we’ve been doing this, we’ve never just done a straight-up plain lasagne? We’ve done a slow cooker lasagne (amazing), a chicken and pea lasagne (ignored) and a cheat’s lasagne. We’ve served it in a cup. We’ve made a Mexican version. But someone asked us the other day for a bog-standard version and could we hell as like find one – so here we are! Although classic us, we have tweaked it a little: we found a recipe that uses wraps in one of Davina McCall’s books and thought that we would give it a go instead of dried pasta sheets that either always go slimy or don’t cook enough. It works a bloody treat!

Just a recipe post tonight as I have lost my voice. You might assume that this doesn’t stop me from typing – and you would be right – but it does preclude me from summoning Paul every ten minutes to make me a cup of tea or to rub my feet, so it’s a no-no-Nanette for long posts. I’m not going to lie, I’m tired of feeling under the weather – feels like one of us has been ill for ages! Still doing boot camp though, which probably isn’t the best idea when you’ve got a chest infection and you’re eating reheated red lentil dahl for lunch. Last night I spent so long clamping my own arsehole shut and trying not to spray lung-croutons everywhere that I barely had time to do my squats. One of our exercises involves falling onto the floor, hoisting our legs in the air and staying there. It’s taken eight classes to stop me from automatically moaning and reaching about for the phantom bottle of poppers.

Anyway.

Let’s get straight to it, then… syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne! This is makes enough for four large servings.slimming world lasagne

slimming world lasagne

slimming world lasagne

proper slimming world deep dish lasagne

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This doesn't need to be served in a deep dish - just make it like a normal lasagne, if you don't mind - it serves four people and uses wraps in place of pasta. I know, I know, we're scum, but listen, it works really well. This is Davina McCall's recipe, and you don't argue with the Queen.

This serves four and uses your HEB and HEA .- but it's absolutely bloody worth it, and you get loads!

It might look like a lot of ingredients but honestly, this is quick to make! Also, top tip: if you're using a circular dish, before you start cooking stick it upside down onto a wrap and cut out around the dish the perfect shape - your wraps will now fit lovely and snug!

Ingredients

  • three Weight Watchers White low fat wraps (one wrap is a HEB - so as this serves four, you'll use just under your HEB allowance, but easier just to say you've used it)
  • 500g of 5% beef mince
  • two large red onions, chopped finely
  • one large pepper, chopped finely
  • two garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • two tins of chopped tomatoes
  • one large bag of spinach
  • one courgette, grated
  • 180g of ricotta cheese (2 x HEA)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2 x HEA)
  • teaspoon of wholegrain mustard (1/2 a syn - up to you if you want to syn an eighth of a bloody syn!)
  • cherry tomatoes to go on the top

Instructions

  • pop the oven on 180 degrees (fan)
  • start by making the mince layers for your lasagne - gently fry off the onion, pepper and garlic for a few minutes in a few sprays of oil
  • add the mince and beef stock cube and cook until browned
  • add the chopped tomatoes and oregano together with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • allow to simmer and bubble until it has reduced right down to a thick mince, which is also my name for Paul
  • start on the middle layer whilst the mince is cooking - first step, wash your spinach - don't dry it too vigourously
  • tip your spinach and grated courgette into a pan with just a tiny splash of water and wilt it down over a low heat (if you leave the lid on, the spinach will steam and wilt much quicker
  • once everything has wilted down, take the spinach over to the sink and squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can
  • seriously, keep squeezing - top tip is to put the spinach on a chopping board, put another chopping board over the top and squeeze the two together - get every last bit of moisture out!
  • finely chop the cooked spinach and tip back into your pan together with the ricotta and nutmeg - stir until the ricotta has softened and the spinach is mixed in, then set aside
  • layer your lasagne in the deep dish: half of the mince mixture, followed by a wrap, followed by the spinach and ricotta, then a wrap, then the rest of the mince, then another wrap
  • make the white sauce for the top by popping your philadelphia into a pan, add the mustard and soften it over a low heat - add a splash of milk if it is too thick, but it should be fine 
  • pour over the top, add halved cherry tomatoes and grate some extra cheese on top if you want more, though do syn it!
  • cook for a good forty minutes and then enjoy!

Notes

  • if you're looking for a place to get excellent low fat beef mince, try our Musclefood Freezer Filler: you get loads for the price together with excellent chicken and bacon! I mean, what's not to love? Click here to order
  • sort that garlic in seconds with one of these Microplane graters! It’s our most used kitchen gadget!
  • if you're struggling to find a deep dish, have a look in TK Maxx - we found ours in there. A deep cake tin will do exactly the same job, or throw it in a normal Pyrex dish - there's no need to spend a lot of money here!

Courses dinner, low syn

Cuisine Italian

Perfection, right?

Mind we’ve got some bloody amazing, different pasta recipes – let me show you some syn-free suggestions!

J

full english breakfast risotto: a perfect bit of stodge

Full English breakfast risotto – not a breakfast recipe, no, but rather a delicious risotto with all the lovely bits of a full English breakfast! Yes it’s indulgent, yes it’ll probably give you blue lips, but it’s so, so good: plus as with all our risottos, it pretty much cooks itself – no clarting about with adding ladles of stock! This is a rollover recipe – you can use the leftover sausages and bacon from yesterday’s recipe of super scrambled eggs to make into this beauty! I mean, I don’t recommend you have them both on the same day, but there’s nothing stopping you cooking off all the sausages and bacon and leaving half aside to make this.

Not a fan of congealed blood and fat and oats? Please: call yourself a blubber-merchant? Feel free to leave it out. If you do, it’s syn free. Top tip for this: once you’ve finished serving it up in that effortlessly stylish way of ours, pop the yolk so it runs through the risotto, mash the tomatoes in and crumble over that black pudding. It’s so, so good!

No chitter-chat tonight as we’re off to the gym. I know: who have we become? But after yesterday’s diatribe I need to stop bumping my lips for a bit.

This serves four, by the way – normal portions. If you’re a greedy sod like me, two massive bowls.

full english breakfast risotto

full english breakfast risotto

to make full english breakfast risotto you will need:

  • 400g arborio rice
  • 3 chicken stock cubes (dissolved in 1 litre of boiling water)
  • 4 low fat sausages, cooked and sliced (see top tips below)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 bacon medallions, cooked and chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 slices of Morrison’s black pudding (9 syns)
  • 2 big handfuls of mushrooms
  • 150g cherry tomatoes

top tips to make full english breakfast risotto:

  • we used the sausages and bacon from Musclefood which are both syn free! If you want to check out our special deals just click here! Of course, you can use other sausages – just remember to syn them
  • we used Morrison’s black pudding which is 4½ syns a slice – they vary a lot across brands though so do check yours
  • you can cook the bacon and sausages however you like them – we used our Optigrill but you could use an airfryer, a frying pan, a George Foreman grill or a normal grill – however you want! For best results cook the sausages halfway (they’ll cook fully later)
  • don’t like black pudding or mushrooms? Just leave them out! You can add or remove whatever you like – make it however you like it!
  • an oil sprayer will make this so much easier and won’t strip your pans like Fry Light does – we use this one and it’s excellent!
  • if you want fancy fried egg like us *cough* you can get your mitts on some fancy food rings at Amazon

to make full english breakfast risotto you should:

  • preheat the oven to 190ºc
  • lay the cherry tomatoes out onto a baking tray and spray with a little oil
  • cook in the oven for about 20-25 minutes
  • heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and spray in a little oil
  • add the onions and mushrooms to the pan and fry until the onions start to turn golden
  • add the rice to the pan along with the sausages and bacon and give another stir
  • pour the stock into the pan, cover and simmer on a low heat for 20-25 minutes
  • meanwhile, spray a frying pan with a little oil and fry the black pudding for 3-4 minutes each side, and set aside
  • in the same pan, add a little more oil and fry the eggs to your liking
  • once the risotto is cooked serve into bowls
  • top with the tomatoes, halved black pudding and fried egg

Craving more ooey, gooey risottos? We’ve got loads!

Yum!

J

beef chilli and bean pasta bake – canny winter food!

Beef chilli and bean pasta bake! We’ve done a fair few pasta bakes lately but see, they’re excellent winter meals because you can make a huge portion, freeze the leftovers and thoroughly enjoy them as a meal! It’s a holiday entry though, so if you’re here just for the recipe, click the button below and it’ll take you straight to the recipe. Move along, sugarboobs, there’s nothing for you here.

You absolutely made the right choice, let’s go!


click here for part one | click here for part two

You last left us just as we stumbled, blinking and frowning into the apricity of a Stockholm winter, having spent a merry hour groping around in the dark with a total stranger. I appreciate that’s pretty much the start of all of our holiday entries but you get the idea. What next? Over in the distance from the Museum for the Blind loomed the Kaknästornet, a 155 meter TV tower. We weren’t planning on visiting until we realised there was a restaurant on the 26th floor and given how windy it was, it was likely to be deserted. A quick tramp through the woods led us there and, after handing over a small fortune, we were dispatched to a rickety old lift that sounded like it clacked and clicked against every last bolt and screw in that shaft. Despite the whole tower swaying ominously it was absolutely worth the trip – the views were amazing. We sat and enjoyed a strong restorative coffee and a slab of cake the size of Paul’s arse and all was well with the world. I like being high up looking down – it makes me feel like a God, albeit one with lingonberry jam dripping on his chin.

Admittedly not the best photo, but it was swaying…

 

We should explain at this point that we had, for once in our lives, managed to plan ahead and purchase a Stockholm Pass, which afforded you entry into all sorts of attractions for a one-off fee. A quick google search revealed we were within walking distance of a bus-stop which would take us straight to the museum district which held, amongst other things, an Absolut Museum and even better, the friggin’ ABBA museum. Well now come on, some things are inevitable, and us two benders paying homage to the campest band ever, well, it was always going to happen. We wandered over to the bus-stop and took a seat, reassured that one of Stockholm’s incredibly reliable buses would be along within six minutes. The timetable and electronic board certainly confirmed this. So we waited. Waited some more. Then a bit longer. Thirty minutes passed and I made to leave only to spot Paul sitting there with that grim, sulky and determined look on his face that told me that because he had wasted half an hour waiting for this bus, he was going to damn well wait until one turned up. I know this face well: bottom lip pops out, eyebrows furrow like he’s solving a cryptic crossword – normally the only thing that can break the spell is if he hears me unwrapping a Crunchie bar, like an obese take on Pavlov’s dog.

Even the bus-stop suggested filth.

So we waited even longer until I snapped and ordered him to stand up and start moving. So much protestation but I’d be damned if I was going to spend another minute gazing at the minutiae of the Stockholm bus timetable and trying to work out whether överföra meant cancelled, transfer or that the typesetter had taken ill at the keys and slumped over the keyboard. After promising I’d rub his feet if he started moving we were finally off.

We were about twenty steps away from the stop when a bus sailed straight past us, depositing a pleasant mix of slush and schadenfreude across the bottom of our trousers. Paul was furious and only calmed down when we happened across The Museum of Science and Technology. Now we’re talking: buttons to press. It was great fun! Highlights included a stage where you could pose whilst virtual reality dinosaurs ran around you, the sight of which was beamed to the rest of the museum live. It took less than seven hot seconds before Paul was pretending to get bummed by a tyrannosaurus rex and was roundly tutted from the stage. Oh and let’s not forget the winter sports section where you could try all manner of sporty experiences in the comfort of a warm museum and a reassuring proximity to a defibrillator. I climbed a tiny little mountain before realising my own giant crevasse was on show.

It’s like a Lidl take on Cliffhanger

We both tried our hand at curling only to realise you need dexterity and grace rather than a considerable weight advantage – most folks glide on ice, we look like a landslide. My favourite part was an enclosed booth which offered you the chance to be commentators on an ice-hockey game playing out in front of you – we started off with good intentions, yelling and blaring, before it degenerated into ‘HAWAY TORVILL, YOU LAMPSHAPE-FACED SLAPPER’ and ‘SKATE FASTER, NANCY KERRIGAN: THIS TIME THERE’S NAILS IN THE BAT’.

Not exactly Match of the Day

All in good fun – the booth was soundproof from the inside so no harm no foul, and we took everyone’s icy stares as simply being that crisp Swedish attitude so common over there. That was until we realised I’d managed to shut my coat in the door, preventing it from fully closing, and allowing the museum full audible access to our rantings, shrieking and wailings. We left ashen-faced, but not before a quick go on the virtual toboggan – only a quick go because a four year old child appeared and start pressing the buttons.

Honestly, do folks not know how to behave in museums?

We tackled the big issues!

After the Science Museum I somehow managed to persuade Paul to keep walking (it’s easier in cold countries – because of the icy ground, you just need to shove him gently and let gravity do the rest) and we headed a couple of miles along the river to the Spritmuseum down on Djurgårdsvägen, having found out that the Abba museum was shut for the night. Bastards. The Spritmuseum is a museum dedicated to booze – how they make it, how they bottle it, what it does to the body and even better, with some free tasters. You understand why we were lured in, yes? I can’t pretend it was terrifically exciting, and I don’t think we took the ‘hangover simulator’ as seriously as the guides wanted as Paul promptly fell asleep on the sofa during the ‘a hard night out’ movie, but it passed the time. There’s something about museums abroad that the UK can’t seem to match – our museums are always full of tired exhibitions hidden behind glass cubes coated with fingerprints, smelly children barrelling around being noisy and loud and lots of ladies who have never known what it is to love yelling at people that THEY MUST NOT TOUCH and STAND WELL BACK and YOU CAN’T EAT THAT IN HERE. I swear I once had an argument with a curator who had a pop at me for eating outside food when I took a packet of Halls from my pocket. Pfft.

Found Paul!

Found my bedroom friend!

The museum itself took up only half an hour but afterwards we decamped into the bar and, in a fit of ‘but I don’t care that it cost more than the flights over’ excitement, I ordered a taster selection of the various spirits for us to try.

Pictured: Cyril Smith enjoying a drink

It’s hard to look butch in that shirt

Now listen: I’ve swallowed some disgusting things in my life. Top tip: pinch your nose and gulp, you’ll find it slips down that much easier. But these spirits absolutely defeated me – I felt like Anne Robinson back when she was necking her dressing room Chanel. I tried to sip them to ‘taste the flavour notes’ but it would have been nicer to chew open batteries. Paul was merrily necking them and so, in my haste to get past it, I threw the lot in my mouth, grimaced and swallowed. Worst 50 Swedish krona we spent that holiday. We should have left, but the very friendly bar staff noticed how quickly we had knocked it back and filled our glasses up again for free. Very generous indeed, but you have no idea how difficult it is to fake pleasure in swallowing what tastes like something they’d use to dissolve a London fatberg, especially when some blonde bombshell is looking at you both approvingly whilst you savour the flavour. I’ve never acted so hard in my life but after the second round – seeing stars – we had to pretend to urgently leave. We were absolutely bloody smashed.

We had an escape room booked for the evening and so, conscious of the fact we were both seeing double, we decided to make our way to the escape room via a nice long boat ride. Ah it was glorious – floating along in the ice-cold really freshened the mind and by the time we were pulling into the port, we were back in full ‘Rose and Jack’ voice.

Our Escape Room was hosted by Fox in a Box and they welcomed us with open arms, wincing only gently at the alcohol fumes pouring out of us. It was a very unusual location – underground with several rooms with different themes. You know we love an escape room and we have made a point of doing one on each holiday so far: this one was themed like a laboratory and the idea was that we had to stop a zombie apocalypse. Of course. Escape rooms are fun but it’s so hard to look serious whilst someone who couldn’t care less is telling you that there’s zombies just outside the door. She sealed us in. I started looking for clues when, as though he’d been holding it in since the TV tower, Paul let out a fart so loud and so elongated that I thought he’d found a trombone. You know how your ears ring after a large firework goes off? That was me. I might remind you that the rooms are linked to the reception so that they can hear if you get stuck, so they would have been treated as well. We were absolutely creased – we’re huge fan of toilet humour – but then it literally sank in. In a sealed room, with no air-conditioning or window, that fetid air wasn’t going anywhere. If anything, it seemed to get worse and worse, smelling like someone was burning tyres in a fire made of shit. It’s hard to concentrate on mixing colours and typing codes when your eyes are streaming and your nose is bleeding. The hour passed and we ‘saved the day’ with moments to spare. That’s all well and good, but when the lassie unlocked to lock the door and the air rushed out of the room, she was hit with the full force and set away with a coughing fit. I’ve never been so embarrassed and this happens a lot on our holidays: I’m left beetroot faced and Paul is standing there grinning like the cat that shat the bed.

Oh, at least the McDonalds had a compliment…

Cheers mate!

Seems like a good moment to get back to the recipe, doesn’t it?

REMEMBER FOLKS: we love feedback on the holiday entries! It makes my day! So please do leave a comment to gee us along!

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Right, let’s do this recipe eh? This serves 4 big portions!

beef chilli and bean pasta bake


beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you will need:

  • 400g lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 2 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp chilli powder (as hot or as mild as you like)
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 300g wholewheat pasta
  • 120g fat-free greek yoghurt (check the syns)
  • 220g Philadelphia lightest (2x hea)
  • 80g reduced fat extra mature cheese, grated (2x HeA)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten

top tips to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200ºc
  • cook the pasta according to the instructions, then drain
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, spray with a bit of oil and add the onions and celery
  • cook for a few minutes until starting to soften, then scoop out the pan and set aside
  • add the mince to the pan and cook until browned
  • add the onions and celery back into the pan and tip in the tomatoes, kidney beans, celery, tomato puree, chilli powder, garlic and beef stock
  • stir well, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes
  • next, mix together the yoghurt, Philadelphia, salt, pepper, cheese and eggs and set aside
  • mix the pasta and the mince mixture together and tip into a large dish
  • top with the cheese mixture, making sure that it’s even spread over the top
  • bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes – finish under the grill for a few minutes to get the top crispy

Who couldn’t love that?! Try our other pasta bakes!

J

syn free cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake

Here for the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake? WITH NO BLOODY QUARK? But of course you are, my love – the recipe awaits you at the bottom of this page. But before we get to the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, we have part one of our holiday entry for our Christmas trip to Sweden and Norway! Newcomers to the blog may not know this, but we’re also a ‘travel’ blog in that when we go away, we like to post the stories of what we get up to. Admittedly, this can lead to a long post, so to help you – if you’re here solely for the food, click the button below to go straight to it! I promise not to cry too much.

The rest of you settle back – this is a long one! And look, to celebrate, I’ve even tidied up the banners – I was sick of that awful messy looking banner template I had. This looks altogether more…Swedish, ja? Let’s go!

I’ve been looking forward to typing up this holiday entry ever since we came back – why? Simple: it was amazing! It’s not as though we did anything out of the ordinary or unique – just our usual pottering about in cities getting lost and having a good time – but there was just something terrific about the whole experience. Every day was a happy memory – I haven’t been able to say that about any holiday since we went on that coach trip. I jest, that was Hell in a 57-seater. But before you join us on our Scandinavian adventure, we need to dip back in time a bit further to a wet October afternoon, where you would have found me slumped over my keyboard at the end of a very, very long email exchange with the other half. Here’s how every single holiday of ours gets planned: I suggest somewhere, Paul sucks air in over his teeth and say ‘oooh’ with that look a roofer gives you when he’s going to need to take your tiles off, I suggest somewhere else, he grimaces like he’s shitting an acorn. He then suggests somewhere wildly expensive and extravagant and pouts when I point out he’s trying to live a Waitrose lifestyle on a shoplifted-from-Lidl budget. We both then give up and stop talking until one of us cracks and we’re friends again, holiday completely forgotten about. Hence, on this October afternoon, conscious of the fact we’d need to book somewhere before all the parents and (shudder) their snotty-nosed litter booked up all the fun places, I sent a plaintive little email asking if we dare broach ‘booking the big holiday’. Paul, to his credit, was very agreeable, but then we immediately started arguing about where to go.

So, I did something I would never normally do because it’s altogether too much effort: I acted unilaterally. Straight onto hotels.com to book four nights in Stockholm, flights to Oslo, four nights in Oslo, a train journey to Bergen, three nights in Bergen and then the flights back to London then to Newcastle. For good measure, I booked the train to take us up to Edinburgh Airport for our Stockholm flight and a hotel for the night before. I parcelled all the reservations in one big PDF and sent them to Paul, triumphant. His reply? ‘Ah good, sounds nice

It’s lucky he works twenty miles away and I’m so fat and lazy that I couldn’t be arsed to get in the car to go and tan his arse because damn, was my excitement punctured. He only won me around later by explaining he was in a meeting and actually he was very much looking forward to our lovely holiday and indeed I was the best husband in the world and no, he’d never sin again. I can’t say his agreement was purely because I was pulling on his balls like a farmer milking a cow at the time. Who can say…

To day one, then. Our journey begins as so many of them often do: a taxi ride to the train station by a man so Geordie and hardcore that he explained he’d recently suffered a heart attack at the wheel of his car, chalked it down to indigestion and carried on driving passengers around. It was only after a whole day of chest pains and breathlessness that he went to A&E. Great! I imagine he took my endless staring into his rear-view mirror as rapt attention to his mildly-racist stories but actually, I was just making sure his lips hadn’t turned blue and he wasn’t going to career us into a lamp-post. We made it safely to the station and I left him a generous tip. Well, something had to pay for the funeral buffet. We were due to take the 14.30 Virgin Train to Edinburgh, but, to add a frisson of excitement to the start of our holiday, they elected to jumble all the trains around and delay our train by a full hour. Super, but have no fear, we’re Rockafella Skanks – we had first class advance tickets and thus the utopia that is the first class lounge awaited us – what a treat!

No. You may know this yourself but the first class lounge at Newcastle is fitted out like the waiting room of an NHS dentist – all pastel colours on the wall, hotel biscuits and furniture that looks as though it’s blown in from a storm. It really is dreadful. We comforted ourselves with the fact we could eat as many biscuits as humanely possible and entertain ourselves with our phones, able as we were to take full advantage of the charging points. Only the charging points didn’t work, they had run out of biscuits and the toilet was blocked and overflowing. We’d have had more luxury fighting the rats on the train-tracks for some discarded Greggs and somewhere to shit. To compound my misery I spotted my old HR director from a previous job who I absolutely despised. She was to fun what I am to a chaste heterosexual lifestyle. She was very much one of those type of people who would click ‘skip straight to recipe’ on this blog and then email me to tell me she was allergic to food and how insensitive I was being by posting a recipe. She hated me especially because I burst out laughing when she fell over in the middle of the office, having stumbled into an open floor socket, falling down like one of those cooling towers you sometimes see getting blown up on the telly. I couldn’t help it: I have a nervous laugh, and anyway, she deserved it. She was Miss Trunchbull in a Jigsaw-outlet suit. We clashed many, many times – she upheld a complaint that I laughed too much, for example, and that I didn’t take the job seriously because I wore trainers to work. Pfft. I never said anything about her homage-to-Robert-Winston moustache.

I made sure to give her the sickliest, fakest, cheesiest smile I could muster up – a smile that said ‘Damn, I honestly thought you’d be dead by now, but here’s to the good times, you vile husk of a woman’ and walked past her, making sure she saw I still wore the trainers that used to irk her so. It did mean, however, that I couldn’t relax, because every time I stood up for a fresh coffee or a newspaper she would give me 100% pure stink-eye. So, all in all, a rubbish experience. Luckily, the train journey made up for it, though I wish they’d do away with the pretence of unlimited tea and coffee – we had one member of staff come around with the hot drinks, leave us a gin and gave us a sandwich, and that was it, no more, goodnight nurse. We’d polished off our ‘dinner’ by the time the train was whooshing past the house we’d left only 90 minutes before. No matter – we arrived in Edinburgh in the pissing rain, jumped straight into a taxi (why oh why oh why do people stand and wait for taxis these days? Just use bloody Lyft or Uber for goodness sake – embrace technology!) who whisked us straight to the hotel, but not before regaling us for forty minutes about why electric cars were the future. Forty minutes is a long time to nod politely: my poor neck sounded like popcorn by the end of it. Paul and I have an agreed arrangement: I deal with taxi drivers, he deals with the people who bring room service to our hotel room whilst I hide in the bathroom. It works very well indeed simply because I’m good at making small talk and he’s very believable as a fat bastard who has ordered enough food to feed two people. He’s seen many a hotel worker cast him a pitying look as they put down the laden trays of food in front of him.

Don’t worry, that bedspread soon looked as though someone had spilled Marmite everywhere   

Our night at the Dakota was very pleasant indeed, even if the room service left a lot to be desired. It’s all a bit frou-frou – I like to see people buckle under the weight of my plate, not be able to frisbee it across the room because there’s a bit of cress and a hair of cheese on the plate. In fact, we were so unsatisfied by the volume of our food that we waited a discreet twenty minutes and ordered another round. Well, when you’re on holiday, these things don’t matter, though I could have done without the judgemental ‘oh, TWO rounds of room service, my mistake’ remark from the receptionist when we checked out. I don’t think she had warmed to me because, upon seeing that the reception was full of blokes all in black kilts, full Scottish regalia and beards you could lose a dog in, I remarked ‘but I didn’t order breakfast!‘ to her with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink leer. That’ll be us on the blacklist.

I won’t bore you with the 150 minutes we spent at Edinburgh Airport only to make two remarks:

  • can someone please persuade my husband that we absolutely do not need to be at the airport so far in advance of a flight, especially when the only thing we’re taking on board the aircraft is hand luggage and chewing gum – I swear that unless Paul’s at the airport the day before he’s an unbearable nervous wreck; and
  • massive thank you to the Scottish toilet cleaner who, having not realised I was sitting in the cubicle next to the one she’d just gone in to clean, exclaimed ‘now which fuckin’ dirty c*nt has gone and done that’ in a loud Scottish burr. Thank God I was sitting on the toilet at the time because I would have pissed myself outright – it was so loud and so disgusted that I almost wanted to climb on my toilet to peer over and take a look.

Now here’s a new thing: we weren’t flying easyJet! I know! I want some reassurance from you all though – am I the only one who likes to fly with an airline they’ve flown with before? I think I rationalise it in my mind that they didn’t crash before, so it must be safe. Nevertheless, the lure of a cheaper flight won me over and so it was that we boarded an SAS flight to Stockholm. Well: what a revelation! Lovely new plane, free tea and coffee, USB sockets in the back of the seats – even the bog didn’t smell like a foot and mouth crisis in an open sewer like they normally do. I was very impressed, and even more so when they landed us safely in Stockholm without ditching us into the North Sea. Don’t get me wrong, my heart will always be with the tangerine-trolleys of easyJet, but I might use SAS on the side like the plane-hopping slag that I am.

Byeeeeeeeeeeee

Before we continue, I want to give praise where it’s due: to Paul. We’ve flown twenty times this year and each time he lets me sit by the window because he knows I like to be able to look at the engine and the wing to make sure everything is OK. I mean, I know the captain has a fair idea, but I’m sure it’s a comfort to him (or her) to know that I’m keeping an eye on the flaps from the back. Story of my life, that. Anyway, I always offer to sit in the aisle but Paul always gives me the window seat and for that he gets a gold star, or a go on my brown star, whichever he prefers. It makes the flight better for me so I want to say a big thank you to my gorgeous and lovely Shitty McGee.

I love this woman’s face. It’s like she’s being asked to blow into a smeggy knob.

We landed on time and were ushered through immigration in a wonderful Swedish efficient manner. I was pleased to see that the lady looked the spit of Agnetha from ABBA – exactly as I expected. We sloshed our way to the train station, took the airport express straight into Stockholm Central and then made our way on foot to our base of operations for the next few days: the Hobo Hotel on Brunkebergstorg. I chose the hotel simply because of the name and the fact it looked so cool and hip on the website. I wanted to see how they’d deal with two fat blokes whose idea of high fashion is a Cotton Traders. To their absolute credit, the staff – though they all looked like they were part of a really shit/unknown yah-yah electrosynth band – were unfailingly lovely and helpful.

Our room – we could watch the office workers over the road. No doubt my fat hairy arse has appeared in their company newsletter.

Our room was gorgeous too – massive bed, good steamy shower, television with Discovery on it (thank heavens – Paul was almost at 24 full hours without watching a How It’s Made) and lots of neat little touches. For example, there was a water pistol – imagine Paul’s delight when he’d just settled down for his ‘Welcome to Stockholm’ crap and I opened the door and squirted him right in the ear. How we laughed as he almost wrenched the toilet away from the wall in sheer fright. Ah, we’d arrived.

All I wanted was one nice picture.

Now, I’ve done the classic twochubbycubs holiday report opening and spent 2000 words getting us to the hotel. I did it with Copenhagen, Paris, Geneva…at this point, it would be rude not to. But let’s close part one here and get to the recipe.

Remember, folks – if you enjoy our holiday entries, please do let us know. I know they’re a longer read but we like to make it interesting. Feedback always welcomed!


Gosh, I’m spent – and now I need to do a full recipe for the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake that you’re all actually here for! This makes a giant dish of pasta – easily enough for six – but it freezes well and tastes bloody amazing. Let’s go! This uses six HEAs but makes enough for six – so I count it as one HEA per portion as you’re using a sixth of each. Yes, we’re splitting HEAs, but hey, let’s live a little. This is a heavy, rich dish so you’ll not be eating loads in one go. YEAH RIGHT. You could knock down the HEAs by using Quark instead of Philadelphia, but it won’t be nearly as nice.

pasta bake

pasta bake

to make a cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, you’ll need:

  • 500g of pasta – any type will do, I promise
  • two fat leeks (use onion if you prefer)
  • a pack of bacon medallions
  • optional: 200g button mushrooms, chopped
  • two cloves of garlic
  • 120g of extra mature lighter cheese (3 x HEA)
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2 x HEA)
  • 250ml of semi-skimmed milk (1 x HEA)

top tips:

to make a cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, you should:

  • preheat your oven to 200 degrees
  • cook your pasta – boiling water, salty as Paul in the morning, remove when there’s still a bit of give in the pasta
  • thinly slice your leek and chop your bacon (and add the mushrooms, if using) and gently fry it off in a pan with a few squirts of oil from your sprayer – as they soften, add the minced garlic
  • meanwhile, make the sauce by tipping your Philadelphia and milk into a pan, put it on a low heat and gently whisk until it’s all mixed together – it’ll be quite runny – at this point, add 100g of the cheese and keep whisking – you’ll end up with a nice thick cheesy sauce – season it with plenty of salt and pepper
  • tip everything together in the pasta pan, give everything a bloody good mix, slop it into an ovenproof dish, top with the remainder of the cheese, some chopped spring onion or leek if you’re feeling fancy, and pop it in the oven for about thirty minutes until the cheese is golden and everything is delicious
  • serve with a side salad which you studiously ignore

Gorgeous! Of course, if you’re looking for more delicious pasta ideas, we’ve got you covered:

Enjoy!

J

black pudding bolognese with cheesy mash

Black pudding bolognese: for when you’re not quite satisfied with the amount of killing done in the name of your meal. Well, we needed to counter the vegan recipe from yesterday didn’t we? I’m jesting, of course, but I’m taking the view that if you’re a meat-eater, you probably don’t mind a bit more ghoulishness. Anyway, this is a Thomasina Miers recipe I’ll have you know, and what that lady doesn’t know about cooking you could write on a flapping winnit.

Just the recipe post tonight because, due to a shitstorm of car alarms, alarmed cats and Paul’s fat ham arms hitting me every time he turned over, I had an abysmal night of sleep. When you’re still awake at 4am, desperately listening to Radio 4 trying to sleep, you know it’s going to be a rough day. So forgive my brevity, but know that I do it in the name of making sure you lot have a lovely new recipe to try. This makes enough for four generous bowlfuls. Christ, I hate that term. A generous bowl. Puts me in mind of a bowl that reassures you that no, you’re not fat, you’re pretty, honest, as your tears tumble over your dinner.

black pudding bolognese

black pudding bolognese

to make black pudding bolognese with cheesy mash, you’ll need:

  • 500g of extra lean beef mince
  • two onions
  • one large clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 100g of black pudding (10.5 syns – goodness!)
  • two tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of red wine vinegar
  • 3 sprigs of thyme if you have it, half a teaspoon of dried if you don’t
  • enough potatoes to make as much mash as you want
  • 40g of extra mature lighter cheddar

Looking for mince? It’s quicker than Waiting for Godot. We have four Musclefood deals to suit any budget, including making your own hamper – so you only get what you want!

to make black pudding bolognese with cheesy mash, you should:

  • chop your onions finely and sweat them off with a few sprays of oil until nice and sweaty
  • add your garlic (minced) and cook for a minute more
  • add your mince – rather like I often say to Paul, you want your meat browned
  • once your mince is cooked through, add the cinnamon and paprika and then crumble in the black pudding and stir
  • add the tomatoes, vinegar, thyme and vinegar and allow to simmer and mingle for as long as you like – a good hour on low is perfect
  • once you’re starving and chewing your fingernails to stumps, make your mash – boil the potatoes, put them through a ricer (you can pick up a ricer from Amazon for just over a tenner and it really will change your life), add a whole egg and 40g of extra mature lighter cheddar
  • serve with some parmesan if you’re feeling tasty!

Easy! If like me, you’ve got a little mince leftover, why not make one of these dishes?

Remember to share!

J

vegan-friendly avocado pesto pasta

Avocado pesto pasta? Vegan friendly? What’s come over me? I feel like I’m one moustache-wax away from giving up my car, wearing altogether too much denim and living on millet. But I ought to explain: we received a lovely message from a vegan who loves our blog but struggles with the amount of meat. Listen, I hear you. We do have a good vegetarian section though and I encourage any veggies out there or indeed, anyone who doesn’t want to be straining on the toilet for twenty minutes at a pop, to have a look. Click the wee button!

vegetariansmall

Mind, normally I’d ignore requests for recipes because frankly, if I don’t enjoy eating it, it isn’t going on the blog. But I’m a sucker for a nice message as opposed to the usual how mani suns hon bollocks we tend to attract, so here we are. Just to complete the smug middle-class pretentiousness of it all, I found the recipe in the Guardian section. Whilst lounging in bed late on a Sunday morning, because I don’t have children pawing at me with dirty hands. I know, what a dreamboat!

Let’s do the recipe then – though first, please do take a moment to wish Paul a happy birthday. He’s a love!

Now this avocado pesto pasta is made without parmesan (good lord) and with avocado, which is, if you’re unfamiliar with Slimming World, THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD. It’s 14 syns for a whole avocado. Don’t worry though folks, a Kitkat Chunky is less syns, though doesn’t taste as good in guacamole. So here’s the thing: you can choose to syn it (and if you’re following Slimming World to the letter, you should) or you can accept that an avocado is a source of good fats, incredibly healthy for you and full of taste and flavour. Up to you…

avocado pesto pasta

avocado pesto pasta

to make avocado pesto pasta, you’ll need:

  • 400g pasta
  • ¼ avocado
  • 300g fine beans (sometimes called ‘French’ beans – buy the already-trimmed ones to save you faffing on)
  • 75g basil leaves
  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt

Random link, but don’t forget we have three books out! Take us with you wherever you like!

to make avocado pesto pasta you should:

  • trim the ends off the beans if you need to
  • cook the pasta according to the instructions
  • meanwhile, bring another pan of water to the boil and cook the beans for 7-8 minutes with the lid on
  • add the broccoli to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes, then drain and set aside
  • next, plop the avocado, basil, garlic, lemon juice and salt into a food processor with about 60ml of water and blitz until smooth. you can add 1tbsp water at a time if you need to
  • drain the pasta and keep aside a mugful of the water
  • combine the pasta with the vegetables, the pesto and as much of the cooking water as you need (stir a little bit in at a time to make it creamy to your liking, you won’t need the whole lot)
  • serve!

Easy! Proper easy!

J

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!

beefsmallfakeawayssmall pastasmall   snackssmall slowcookersmalltastersmallsoupsmallbbqsmallonepot 

Gosh, that’s a lot of choice!

J

creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle

Creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle! Right – no farting about because it’s a long entry tonight! So, if you can’t be arsed to read, just click here and it’ll whizz you straight to the recipe. No sarky comments this time!

click here for part one | click here for part two | click here for part three | click here for part four | click here for part five | click here for part six

I can’t quite believe we’re on part seven – I’m sorry if you’re not a fan of the holiday entries. When Paul first suggested Benidorm I thought the only thing I’d get from it was a urine infection and fleas, but clearly I had a much better holiday than I first expected! When you last left us we had deliberately gassed an old lady, I’d set my face on fire and we’d seen a Meat Loaf tribute act more Martin Mull than Marvin Lee. Think about it, that works. In this, our penultimate entry, we take a trip out.

Guadalest

After so many hours of being around braying English folk and all that that entails we decided we absolutely must try and get out of the town and go somewhere more…Spanish. A quick nose on Tripadvisor for places reachable by bus (we couldn’t hire a car because guess who had left the documents at home?) turned up Guadalest, a pretty village about forty minutes away. There was one bus there and one bus back – and this story isn’t going to go the way you might be expecting. We turned up at the bus stop nice and promptly in the morning, awaiting our carriage through the mountains. The bus turned up late, with an exasperated looking driver sat in front of what looked like 200 old folk squeezed behind him. If he had braked hard enough I reckon they would have all melded into one another, like that bit in Terminator 2 when the evil Terminator gets obliterated into pools of mercury, only to reform. Yeah, imagine that, only with the addition of 800 barely-sucked Murray Mints scattered about. We had more chance of getting on the Mayflower than we did this bus. Perhaps that’s for the best: long-time readers may recall the last time we went on a coach-trip, it didn’t go well. So we elected for a taxi which didn’t so much as drive us to the village as warp space and time to get us there before I’d even had a chance to say ‘how much, guv’nor’ in broken Spanish. We were going that fast it was like looking at a watercolour through the windscreen. However, once we stopped…

Not a SKOL ashtray in sight.

Just out of shot is a big old dam. You may remember I’m scared of dams. I know, I’m awfully brave.

Anyway, what treasures did Guadalest have clutched to her busom? Quite a lot, actually, although you wouldn’t spend the summer there. I reckon you’d die of boredom within two days. But for a day out, there was plenty. We ambled around the streets, buying trinkets from little shops, cooing at the pretty houses and desperately pleased that we had arrived before the Saga-louts, who were but a distant mumbling on the horizon. First on the tour was Museo de Microminiaturas, a charming wee museum which gave you the opportunity to gaze in wonder down a microscope lens at some stunning vista depicted on a grain of rice. The Spanish lady behind the counter laughed politely when I said I was experienced in finding tiny pleasures in the dark, but I could tell we’d never speak again. We walked around earnestly at first, oohing and aahing at a village carved into a flea, or a woman with her fanny out balanced on the head of a match, but I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult to remain enthralled by the eighth time you’ve rounded a corner only to see another row of magnifying glasses in front of you. The artist, Manuel Ussà, must have been a saucy bugger mind – I’ve never seen so many spread-eagled forms, even in miniature format. We didn’t want to look boorish by nicking out after five minutes so we stretched out our admiration for a good twenty minutes, before the deafening sound of dentures being sucked landed upon us and the elderly had arrived to serve as a distraction. We slipped out.

See?

Something familiar about this…

After a few minutes more climbing the stairs of the town and gasping theatrically into our sleeves we happened across another museum, the Museo Micro-Gigante. This sounds more like my cup of tea, the big wind-socked size queen that I am. We hastened indoors, paid for our tickets and were ushered past the entrance curtain…into a room full of magnifying glasses. It was another museum of miniatures.

Why? What town needs two museums dedicated to the world of the microscopic? Are they rivals? Do they hate each other? Do you reckon it might boil over one day and one of the owners will nip into the other museum and throw a cup of boiling water over their exhibits, cooking the rice and bankrupting them? Who knows. We again feigned interest in teensy-tiny things, me drawing on my year long experience of dating someone with a penis like a cat’s nipple*, and wandered about. Once we were sure we weren’t being watched, we ran upstairs, took a picture with the giant horse (hence the Gigante part of the name) and ran straight back out.

Oh I say!

 

*You might think I’m harsh drawing attention to my ex’s tiny willy, but he was an absolute bellend. A horrid, mean bellend. You don’t need a big knob to make someone happy, but it sure helps act as a distraction when you’ve got a personality like a blown-out arsehole.

By this time Paul was hungry – it had been at least two hours since he’d doubled his weight – and so we set about finding somewhere for a bit of lunch. Guadalest isn’t quite awash with beautiful places to eat but we did manage to find a lovely little café in the main square – even if it did have plastic chairs that creaked ominously underarse. Paul ordered some peri-peri chicken and I went for the healthy choice of a chef’s salad. His looked delicious – good quality chicken, well spiced and grilled to perfection. Mine looked like the little polystyrene tub of salad you get with your Chinese takeaway that sits and sweats under your chow mein. I’d have gained more nutrition from eating the napkin. It really annoys me that people can’t make a decent salad – iceberg lettuce belongs in nothing at all, the tuna was tinned and sweaty and the tomatoes, well, if you can’t grow a decent tomato in sunny Spain then frankly, you don’t deserve to serve lunch to the public. What makes this all the more offensive to me were the two asparagus stalks that had been slapped on the top – grey, thin and slimy. It was like having Voldemort’s cock pressed on my salad.

Naturally when the owner came around we were full of compliments and good cheer and ‘oh we’ve never had better!’, despite the fact I’d tipped most of my salad into the carrier bag we were carrying our trinkets in. Even now my Guadalest fridge magnet smells of onions and disappointment. We left a tip regardless because we’re nice like that.

Squint.

Tasteful!

A trip around the castle followed, then more bric-a-brac shopping (shown above) (I’m sorry, I really am, but if you’re wondering which lout rearranged the lovely letter-tiles you use to make up your house name into ‘El Homo’, it was I) and then onto the final museum – the Museo de Saleros y Pimenteros. That’s the museum of salt and pepper shakers, for the uncultured amongst you. I mean, really. A museum dedicated to some poor sap who decided to start collecting salt and pepper shakers and wasn’t able to tell her friends to stop bloody giving them to her for Christmas. I’m underselling it – this pepper collection was not to be sneezed at.

Ah bugger off.

We went inside and spoke to a charming woman who seemed positively delighted to see us. I can’t imagine there’s many visitors, to be honest, but that’s a great shame because it was actually very, very interesting! Here me out, won’t you – there’s well over 20,000 pairs of shakers in here, in every conceivable forms. They’re separated out first into theme and then into colour and the whole effect is just great – a real treat for the eyes. There’s not much to read (how many words can be said about condiment containers?) but your eyes are drawn to all sorts of oddities – shakers shaped like Diana and Charles, two little penis-shaped shakers (you have to shake the salt for a good five minutes but then poof, you get a proper spurt of salt for your efforts) and my favourite, two big bears cuddling in the corner. There’s something heart-warming about collections like this – your first thought is why bother, but then the real question is – why not? Better than collecting bodies in a cellar.

My favourite picture of the holiday.

Closer.

Closer still.

As we had the place to ourselves (I imagine we had just missed the morning rush which must surely have been like Black Friday at Brighthouse) we were able to devise a game where one of us would nip around the corner, take a picture of a random shaker and then task the other with finding it. It was all very Famous 5 until Paul bent down to snap a photo and broke wind with possibly the loudest fart I’ve ever heard him do. I’m surprised the curator didn’t rush in sure that the shelves had collapsed. Mortified – as they would have doubtless heard this in Catalonia never mind the entrance lobby – we made a dash for the exit, only to be stopped by the sweet-faced old lady owner who wanted to know what we thought. We didn’t want to give her short shrift but I was also conscious of the fact that there was a cloud of effluence billowing out from under the exit door and had she smelled it, it could have finished her off. So, I feigned being deaf. I know that’s dreadful but it works – I pointed out my ears and made some complicated hand gestures which I hoped at least looked like we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It worked, mind – she gave us a beatific smile as we left.

We ducked into a church to rest our ankles and have a look around. The statues were a little…unique.

Poutin’ for Jesus – we also put out a prayer that whatever cruel curse that gave Paul a tiny desktop fan of a right ear would soon be lifted.

Let’s hear it for Mary – she’s got one eye on your sins, the other eye on the other side of the room.

Ah yes, The Slutty Shepherd and his Doughnut Carrying Dog     

We slipped out when the nuns came in to strike us down.

It was almost time for the return bus back to Benidorm and, aware of the fact we could easily skittle a few old biddies out of the way to ensure a seat on the bus, we wandered over to the bus-stop. However: no such luck. All those dear folk on the outbound bus were dutifully waiting in one bluey-grey mass, waiting to board. I suppose what comes up a mountain must come down. We were stuck: no obvious place to call for a taxi, no payphones, even Google couldn’t assist. Bugger. We walked around bickering in that passive-aggressive ‘well I knew we should have gone to Portugal’ way of ours until Paul spotted two stations of relief – a public toilet (I was bursting) and a tourist information centre, which, against all odds, was open. We asked for a taxi and he sat us outside in the sun to wait.

Aware that the taxi was coming all the way from Benidorm and thus we were in for a long wait, I diverted myself to the public toilet to while away the time dropping off my dinner. I was met outside by the type of bloke you see in local newspapers pointing furiously at leaves in his garden whilst his wife considers her life-choices in the background. A tedious, boring fart. He saw me heading over and I swear his eyes lit up with eagerness at the sight of someone fresh to talk to. His opening line was: “I’VE just been in there and it ABSOLUTELY stinks”. I applauded him on a job well done and told him to try the Salt and Pepper Museum if he fancies the smell of a lingering shit. I went inside and crashed the lock across, making sure to keep my foot pressed against the door for good measure. It did smell, but hey, it’s a toilet, not the Tom Ford counter, and I’m not dabbing the toilet water behind my ears so let’s crack on. Ten minutes later I emerged (it was a slow mover up the charts) only to find he had waited for me outside. He picked up the conversation as though I’d merely blinked out of existence for a moment, rather than disappeared  a dump. “APPARENTLY IT’S THE DRAINAGE SYSTEM” he bellowed at me, as though I’d spent the last ten minutes in the lavatory staring mystified at the u-bend. I had no idea how to react, so I nodded politely and made to cross the car-park to the relative safety of Paul, who I could see chuckling away to himself.

Thankfully, the guy didn’t follow me, but did leave a final exclamation ringing around my ears that “IT’S BECAUSE we’re SO HIGH UP, SEE”. I waved him away. It begs a bigger question, however – he was still hanging around outside the toilet twenty minutes later when our taxi arrived. Either his wife had an awful lot of meat and was struggling in the ladies or he was absolutely mental. There was no suggestion that he was cottaging or being inappropriate, but what other explanation could there be? Even as our taxi pulled away he was staring at the toilet door with a concerned look. I like to think he’s there even now, yelling about poo and the standards of the toilet paper.

That was Guadalest. Now, onto the food.

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Double dip time!





to make creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle you will need:

Remember, you can leave out the booze if you like, but it adds a certain tang! Oh and this serves 2 – two very big-fatty portions!

to make creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle you should:

  • add a little oil to a large frying pan and heat over a medium-high heat
  • add the garlic and jalapeños and cook for a few minutes
  • add the chicken stock, tequila and lime juice, whack the heat up a little and cook until it’s reduced a bit glaze-like
  • remove from the pan and leave to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the philadelphia, quark and soy sauce – then keep aside
  • now is a good time to bring a big pan of water to the boil and cook the tagliatelle
  • in another pan (or under the grill if you prefer) add a little oil and add the chicken breasts
  • sprinkle over the salt and pepper and cook over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes each side or until cooked through
  • put the chicken on a plate and add the peppers and onion to the empty pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring every now and again
  • chop the chicken into 1″ cubes and add back into the pan with the onions and peppers
  • give a good stir, cook for a minute or two and then add the cheese sauce
  • mix well and add the drained pasta, and mix again
  • eat

Still not satisfied? Don’t worry – we’ve got tonnes of other recipes you can try. Just click one of the buttons below to find more!

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J