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!


gallo pinto: a pan of tasty rice and beans

Rice and beans! Gosh, those words take me back. Absolutely no messing about tonight, straight to the recipe – I had plans to sit and type out the next part of our Stockholm adventures (one a week) but like all best laid plans, they were unravelled by the introduction of a wildcard third party, this time in the form of my parents. We received a phonecall at 2pm to inform us that they’d broken down (the car, not their personalities) in Blyth (for those that don’t know, Blyth is a verruca on the model’s foot that is the Northumbrian coast) and could we possibly get them a pack of batteries as they thought the immobiliser key was at fault. Meh, fair enough: should be easy, no? You’d think so, only they didn’t know the size of the battery. Or where to go. I rang Halfords who were about as much help as a glass hammer, Maplins who didn’t bother to answer and Homebase who put me on hold until time immemorial to ‘check the stock’. I don’t know if anyone is missing a pleasant-voiced nana in the North East area, but I assume she’s trapped somewhere in the back of Homebase under a load of decking. We schlepped around the shops – in the snow, no less – and managed to secure one of those cards of tiny batteries from B&M of all places. I hate B&M – it’s all a bit shellsuit, isn’t it – but at least they had what we needed.

A nice 15 mph crawl back to Blyth (stuck behind someone who was driving as though the lightly falling snow were greasy ball bearings) revealed the next part of the fun – none of the batteries were the right size. Oh good! Helpfully, neither parent had brought along their glasses meaning they couldn’t read the tiny make and model of the battery, but luckily Paul’s eager eyes spotted it. Off we went, once more, into the snow, car swerving merrily on the slick roads. If I asked you where to get a PX28A battery at 3pm on a Sunday – with only an hour to go until the shops shut – what would you do? We took a gamble on a mad dash to another Halfords a few miles away. Paul rang ahead to check and salvation lay within: they had six of what we needed. Driving altogether too quickly for safety and adding in an alarming drift around a roundabout, we arrived with minutes to spare. I sent Paul in for what should have been a quick purchase and out, but five minutes passed and still he hadn’t reappeared. A text came through from him to say he was “stuck behind some chavvy c*nt with liquorice teeth arguing about baby seats”. I went to investigate and he was spot on – one of those vile arrogant-without-a-good-reason bucket-boxed trollops giving it the Big I-Am because she’s got an bottom-end Audi on extensive finance and who thinks she’s Anita Roddick because she’s a green level Younique seller. She was doing that awful thing of repeating what she was complaining about over and over and louder and louder (with a foul mouth) without listening for a reply. To her absolute credit, the cashier managed to shut her down in the end and turned to serve us with broken eyes. We bought those batteries with two minutes left on the clock.

I don’t like to be cruel, but I do hope that Audi span into a river on the way home.

Anyway, a sharp drive back to Blyth was met with sarcastic replies about timekeeping from my parents and much shivering. The battery was hastily replaced, the key was turned…and the battery was flat. Repeated attempts to start the battery had left it as flat as a witch’s tit. We tried to jump start it using my car but a combination of me being a total fanny about anything mechanical and us all being unable to get to my engine meant we had to rope someone else in – and then it turned out that wasn’t the issue either. Finally: time for my parents to bite the bullet and phone a bloody breakdown service. We then had to sit all huddled in my car for an hour or so, which was fine, but the car park we were in is a notorious dogging spot and so it was altogether exceptionally awkward. To pour salt in the wound, we were dispatched to get a McDonalds for our nephew meaning my car now smells delicious and we had to watch all sorts of lovely food being chowed down by folks who don’t know they’re born. Bastards. Ah well. We got home at 7pm and whaddya know, the local newsagents just doesn’t sell the green beans nor veal that we needed for tonight’s tea.

I’m thinking about having them put in a home prematurely.

Anyway listen, let’s not procrastinate. I said I would get straight to the recipe and I failed you wildly. I apologise. Let’s do the rice and beans – to me, this makes more than enough for a proper meal (veggie too) but if you want to bulk it out, grill some chicken breasts with peri-peri sauce and feel like you’re in Nandos, only without having to pretend that the chicken and chips you’ve massively overpaid for isn’t a bit shit, actually. I hate Nandos: it’s a cesspit of first dates, crap chicken and folks who think they’re too good for KFC.

I’m sure this recipe is entirely inauthentic but I don’t care, it was tasty! Serves four-ish. I found the recipe on and adapted it only slightly to make it SW friendly – full credit to them!

rice and beans

to make gallo pinto (rice and beans) you’ll need:

  • one large red pepper
  • one large white onion
  • two cloves of garlic
  • a tin of black beans – you can find them in most major supermarkets, sometimes in the ‘World Foods’ bit, but if not, use kidney beans)
  • 8 tbsp of salsa (2 syns – the salsa we use is from ASDA and comes in a Hot and Spicy edition) (but most salsa kicks in about the 1/2 syn for a tbsp mark)
  • a good glug of worcestershire sauce (or tamari)
  • 200ml of beef or chicken stock (or veggie)
  • chopped coriander for the top
  • 400g of cooked rice – much better to use day-old leftover rice, but MAKE SURE THE DISH IS COOKED THROUGH GOOD AND HOT
  • if you can’t be arsed with leftover rice, cook some fresh and allow to cool.

top tips for gallo pinto (rice and beans):

to make gallo pinto (rice and beans) you should:

  • chop the onion and pepper up into little chunks and gently fry them off in a few squirts of oil (0.5 syns, but between four? Come on)
  • once they’re softened, add the garlic (minced: use one of these to save your smelly fingers!)
  • tip everything else in bar the coriander and give everything a stir and allow to bubble quickly for a few minutes until the stock has almost boiled off and the rice is steaming hot
  • top with the coriander and serve!

Easy peasy – and a great side dish! Want more random ideas? Click any of the buttons below to be whisked away on on adventure through time and eating!

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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!

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


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!




cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken

Cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken – a doddle to make. We’ll get to the recipe in a wee while, but saying as it has been so long since we shot out a holiday entry, I think we’d better fire one out, no? Skip down to the holiday banner if you want that, and scroll right down to the recipe if you’re only here for the food, like a proper stereotypical chunker. You’ll come back to Copenhagen with us in a matter of minutes, but even before that we have a little update on our Christmas Card donation drive:

We’ve had to increase our target because we absolutely smashed the last one! If you’ve enjoyed our recipes or nonsense and only if you can afford to donate a couple of quid, please do! We have had so many people apologising for just donating a couple of quid – please don’t apologise – every last penny is gratefully received! If we get over our target I might make Paul do a salacious nude calendar with a carefully positioned Bonio biscuit covering his one-eyed spitter. Poor guy! But yes, every little bit makes a difference – and thank you all for donating so far! When you add Gift Aid we’re actually already over £3000! But enough about that, let’s ga terug naar Kopenhagen!

click here for part one | click here for part two | click here for part three

You may remember that the last time you joined us in Copenhagen, Paul had almost fallen in a river and laid an egg with sheer fright. I, being a supportive kind soul, had almost given myself a hernia from laughing so hard at his misfortune. Also, I, being a fat greedy bastard, scooped up that hard-boiled egg and had it for a snack later, delighting the other people in the Metro carriage with the smell of overcooked pocket-fresh egg. I like to make friends with the locals.

Paws for thought.

We walked along the riverside until the sound of Danish laughter was faint and less upsetting. Along the way we met a big shaggy dog tied up outside what looked like a little ramshackle caravan. Now, everyone knows you don’t approach dogs you don’t know unless you enjoy the risk of your throat being pulled through your neck by something cute and adorable. We, naturally, ignored that, and took a good ten minutes making a fuss out of our new friend before realising that the caravan was actually a riverside sauna! How did we know? Because we could see a man gazing adoringly through the window at us, steam billowing about him and a fair sweat on his face. Well, that, and the Danish word for sauna is…sauna. Don’t exactly need to be Raymond Babbitt to work that one out.

Though, I confess my disappointment that it isn’t Sphinctenmoistunen or something equally as delicious.

You may notice from previous blog entries that I barely need any encouragement to get nude in public and so, despite Paul’s groaning and heavy-handed watch checking, in we went. Paul’s not a fan of saunas: it’s not so much that he finds the nudity uncomfortable, it’s more that he’s 35% sweat at the best of time – he needs no encouragement to move it along). There was a tiny changing area where you’d struggle to change your mind let alone have two twenty-stone blokes take their clothes off but we managed it with only two accidental penetrations. In we went.

Almost immediately, out we came. I ought to explain – the chap who looked like a normal bearded chap through the fog of steam and a dirty window was merrily wanking away as we went in. Not even a hello or a few lascivious winks to break the ice, no, just furiously masturbating with everything on show. Perhaps he thought I needed somewhere to hang my coat. You must understand that we’re no prudes – if he’d looked like The Mountain from Games of Thrones we’d have welded the door shut and died a happy death – but we’ll be damned if we’re going to sit in a tiny cabin full of aerosol-jizz. I should have realised something was wrong when it smelled just like my room did when I was 14. We dressed hurriedly and scampered back out, with the folks on the riverbank all judging us for wanking off Santa. Superb!

Traumatised and in desperate need of something to take the taste out of our mouths, we decamped into the nearby Café Langebro for a strong beer and a long hard look at our lives. This was a great little pub, full of people who smiled at you when you walked in as though you were bringing great news as opposed to some of the pubs in Newcastle where they’re eyeing up how best to separate you from your kidneys. I never used to be one for daytime drinking but I feel I could really get a taste for it, not least because the beer softened the image of Wankin‘ St Nick in my head. We wandered out, up and over the bridge, with nowhere to go but a city to explore.

Turns out, quite luckily, that the same street lead directly to a corner of Tivoli Gardens – a theme park in the middle of the city. How marvellous! We totally forgot that we had a discount card and paid full price for immediate entry – we had seen Rick Stein flapping his wattle in here but a few weeks ago and were keen to retrace his footsteps, bounding as they’d doubtless be.

Just some of the fantastic gardens on display


Now, we both love rollercoasters – we spent a month in Florida riding them so much that I gave myself heart arrhythmia and almost died on the flight home. I say almost died, I experienced a slight panic attack and tipped my gin and tonic over, but let’s not labour over the details. However, we have aged and spread like a melted candle, and now we have to consider not only whether our creaking bodies can take it, but can we actually fit in the seats? It’s always been a phobia of mine that I’ll get to the front of the queue only for some hairy-lipped streak of acne and malice to look at me, taking in my comprehensive tits and expansive belly, and refuse me entry. It hasn’t happened before, thank the Lord, but it’s been certainly been close, with me having to play Fatris when it came to slotting all my squashy body parts into one small bucket seat.

On top of that I have ear problems which mean I get dizzy from peeling the lid off a pot of yoghurt let alone hurtling through the air at 100mph, Paul has a spine made out of damp crepe paper, there’s a strong chance that I’ll be slapped in the face by Paul’s boobs as we go around a loop and, as I mentioned, I have a dodgy heart. In all, they might as well abbreviate those long health warnings at the front of the ride and just put ‘No, Paul and James, you can sit on the wooden bench outside and eat doughnuts, you horrendous beasts’.

Naturally, we ignored the warnings, and squeezed onto most things. I want to give a special mention to the Rutschebanan, one of the world’s oldest wooden rollercoasters. Nestled at the back of the park, it promises thrills, spills and catastrophic damage to your spine. Ancient, wooden, ridden by hundreds of thousands of men over the years and more than capable of making children scream in terror, Paul’s mother has never ridden this rollercoaster. It even comes with its own brakes-man, who has to manually apply the brakes on certain stretches to make sure the whole thing doesn’t come hurtling off the tracks. Fun!

You’re supposed to sit two abreast in the little carriages but there was absolutely bot-all chance that was going to happen – the coaster shook and rattled that much that there was a serious risk of us joining together like wax in a lava-lamp and me being destined to spend my life with my face joined horrendously close to Paul’s arse. We hopped in, pushing small children out of the way and taking one carriage each, and off we went. I tried taking a video but it’s just a blur of jiggling flesh and me shrieking – just like our wedding – so here’s one for you to get your own idea:

Great fun, but let me tell you – you feel every single bump and creak of that coaster. I’m not entirely sure I didn’t swallow a filling – and I didn’t have any to begin with.

With our bones roughly 10cm away from where they should be in our bodies, we slithered over to the nearby Paafuglen restaurant – handy timing, because I was absolutely fuglen starvin‘. We were seated after about eighteen hours – the place was absolutely rammed with elderly folk taking their sweet time gumming the pickled herring, but eventually they found us a seat right at the back. That’s fine, once I have food put in front of me, I don’t look back up until it’s gone. Years and years of Paul feigning something interesting before stealing my food as I gaze in the opposition direction has taught me to be cautious. The greedy sod.

Our waitress gave us a menu and then clocked off for the day. I’m not kidding – we sat there with hungry little bellies and pleading eyes – but she never appeared again. Perhaps she heard our British accents and assumed there would be no tip, I don’t know. How wrong she was – I always like to touch their arm as I leave and say ‘Jesus saves’. Almost thirty minutes passed (with plenty of reserved Britishness: “they’ll be here soon”, “let’s give it one more minute”, “let’s just chew open a vein whilst we wait”) before another waitress finally noticed that Paul had doused himself in the paraffin from the little lantern on the table and was about to set himself aflame in hungry protest. We ordered.

Well, attempted to. Copenhagen is famous in food circles (honestly, it is: we get drunken memos from Delia all the time. I jest, although technically Paul is a food circle, given he’s perfectly spherical) for Smørrebrød (pronounced: I’m sorry, do you speak English?). Smørrebrød is the concept of open sandwiches served on rye bread and they are genuinely one of my favourite things. I adore sandwiches – you could give me an urgent and terminal medical diagnosis sandwiched between two slices of lavishly-buttered bread and I’d remain cheerful.

It’s not like sandwiches in the UK, either. You get a vast mixture of wonderful toppings and exciting flavours and it’s just brilliant. There are entire shops devoted to it – windows packed full of sandwiches topped with meats and cheeses and salads and, eventually, my saliva, dribbling on the window as I am wont to do. Paul and I could easily move to Copenhagen and open such a shop (calling it Yeast Infection, naturally) and live out our Autumn years never tiring of the combinations on offer. I don’t normally recommend other food blogs because, well, they’re usually boring, but I can’t get enough of the ideas on The Danish Sandwich. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean.

Anyway, I digress. We had decided that we ought to try a couple of these open sandwiches each – we’re big lads, we can handle such extravagance and remember, they’re open sandwiches so you only get one slice of rye bread to barely digest. However, the waitress disagreed with our approach. We spoke our order slowly and with a game attempt at Danish but each time we reached sandwich number three and four she would cross sandwich number one and two off her pad. Maybe she thought we were fat enough or that such decadence was unbecoming but try as we might, we could not convey the fact we wanted to try a range of smørrebrød to her without causing her to frown and sweat as though under intense interrogation. Had I thought ahead I could have prepared a Powerpoint presentation or a business case. After a good five minutes of harsh glottal stops and stuttering we seemed to finally reach agreement and she toddled off. Naturally, I’d forgotten to ask for more water, but I didn’t dare call her back lest she decided we were simple troublemakers and showed us the door.

Our sandwiches arrived shortly afterwards:

Nom nom nom. Urgh, I’m sorry

You’ll notice there’s only two plates. Our order hasn’t so much been lost in translation as strangled to death with good intentions. Nevermind – being brave, fearless tourists we powered through and thoroughly enjoyed the pork belly (me) and chicken salad (Paul) and they were absolutely delicious. The Danish have a wonderful proclivity for adding pickled vegetables to their dishes and it really makes everything come alive – quite a smart way of getting your ‘speed’ food in too by sousing everything in vinegar. I’d suggest it to Mags but she never returns my calls. We paid our bill and left content, but still faintly hungry. Have no fear: we rounded a corner to find an ice-cream stand and each enjoyed a five-scoop bowl which settled the stomach just enough to ease us gently into hyperglycaemia.

The rest of the day was spent drifting around Tivoli Gardens, eating things that we shouldn’t and getting sticky fingerprints on all the rides. It was great: like being 13 (stone) all over again. With sluggishly-beating hearts we left and decided to walk back to the Metro station, with the intention of taking a nap and then heading back out in the evening. We managed four hundred yards before happening across the nearby Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, a museum dedicated to the largest collection of Ancient Mediterranean art in all of Northern Europe. My excitement knew no bounds. This was me:


I’ve explained before: I’m a hopeless philistine – I know I should walk around deep in thought and reverie in an art gallery, but the only surprised gasps I let out are when my shin-splints play up. Don’t get me wrong, readers – there were some lovely paintings and cracking pots, but I was more taken by the Blockbusters gargoyles on the wall and this peculiar oil painting which seemed to capture exactly my mood.


There was a very pleasant sub-tropical garden dot in the middle of the museum which afforded two things: the chance to rest and the chance to be absolutely horrified by this:

Give me milk!

I mean, no. Babies are creepy enough at the best of times, but crawling on a body like maggots on a corpse? Hell no. You better believe I saw that when I shut my eyes that night in bed. Luckily, I’d have a chance to remonstrate with the Carlsberg family the nvery next day, and that’s where we will leave our tale for now.

Enjoy our holiday entries? Please do give us feedback or share or whatever, it’s what we live for!

stuffed chicken
stuffed chicken

to make cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1½ peppers (we used ½ red, ½ orange and ½ green), finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 80g reduced fat cheddar (2x HeA), grated
  • 110g light Philadelphia (1x HeA)
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp cumin (or garam masala)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Honestly, you’ll never do better than the chicken deals we have – you’ll want big ‘uns for this, we have four deals AND there’s a pack for every budget!

Chips: Actifry. Teaspoon of oil. Tablespoon of worcestershire sauce. You’ll never look back – and they’re cheap on Amazon at the moment.

to make cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken you should:

  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil over a medium-high heat
  • add the diced peppers and onions to the pan and cook until softened and the edges are just starting to brown, stirring occasionally
  • tip the mixture into a bowl and add the cheddar and Phildelphia, and mix well
  • meanwhile, in a large bowl sprinkle the chili powder, cumin and garlic powder over the chicken breasts and tumble around until well coated
  • cut a hilarious looking gash into the side of each one, getting a big a space as you can but being careful not to slice all the way through
  • using a teaspoon, spoon the cheesy mixture into each chicken breast, stuffing it well but not overdoing it. don’t worry if you have some leftover mixture
  • next, add a little more oil to the frying pan and put back over a medium-high heat
  • carefully lay the chicken breasts in the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes each side – flip it gently so you don’t squash it, and don’t worry if a little mixture dribbles out
  • serve!

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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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corned beef nacho bites for taster nights

Very quick post for the corned beef nacho bites tonight as it is our local election and damn it, I want to be out there throwing eggs and shaking up the system. If you haven’t voted, get those wibbly-wobbly legs on the go and vote – doesn’t matter whether you’re voting to ruin the country or who wins The X-Factor – if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. I’m not one for political rioting and fighting the powers that be – that honour belongs to Paul who, if there’s an excuse to put on a tabard and his woolly hat and cause a ruckus, will gladly do so.

I remember a few years back when he used to work for our local council and they were led out on strike over pensions. I begged him to keep a low profile as being sent as a rabble-rouser at a time of redundancies and cuts was never a good idea. Hardly heard a peep from him all day until I was busy making lunch and I heard his voice bellowing from the living room. Oooh he’s back early, what fun, afternoon delight time – no.

No, there was my dear heart, giving it large about ‘GUURLD-PLATED PENSIONS’ live on BBC News at 1pm, live in front of the nation resplendent in his ASDA hoodie. I don’t know why he’s got such fat lips in the photo but we can assume it’s not from suckling on the tit of capitalism. Or something.

Oh, and he managed to throw himself in front of the Chief Executive’s car whilst calling her a scab for crossing the picket line. Here’s a picture of the car all parked up.

Ah at least he has morals. I’d give up workers’ rights and pension pots for the first hunky politician to make a bit of side-eye at me.

Recipe then! Look, we’ve tried to make these look appealing but you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. We thought these would be a nice thing to take along to a taster class (you would assemble them there, mind you, don’t fancy carrying these towers on the bus). Has to be a better option than a bunch of bloody grapes or a quiche with cat hair and fag ash in it. The whole recipe makes enough for 24 discs, so at about 8 syns for the lot, that’s three for a syn. Eeee, you couldn’t make it up!

to make corned beef nacho bites you will need:

  • 2 large potatoes, cut into half-a-centimetre slices
  • 250g lean corned beef, diced (3½ syns)
  • 160g reduced-fat cheddar, grated (4x HeA)
  • handful sliced jalapeños
  • 4 tbsp reduced-fat soured cream (4 syns)
  • half an onion, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

for the salsa

  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • half an onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Or just buy salsa and live like a queen!

to make corned beef nacho bites you should:

  • preheat the oven to 220°c
  • place the potato slices onto a lined baking sheet and spray with a bit of oil (don’t use Frylight – use this instead and get a proper mist!)  and sprinkle over the salt and pepper
  • bake the potatoes for about 20 minutes, then flip over and bake for another 15-20 minutes (keep an eye on them!)
  • meanwhile, mix the salsa ingredients together and set aside
  • when finished cooking, remove from the oven and place a little pile of grated cheese on top of each potato slice, followed by some corned beef cubes
  • whack under a hot grill until the cheese has just melted
  • add a dollop of sour cream and salsa, then chuck on the jalapeños and onion
  • serve!

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speedy mexican lasagne and día de las madres

Mexican lasagne, yes, but first: happy Mother’s Day! Yes, it’s that time of the year again where mothers all around the country have to smile wanly through being woken up early and eating a poorly made fry-up just because their spawn have put a macaroni approximation of Mother on a card and can’t wait to give it over. A day where boxes of Dairy Box go through the roof, the Ambassador has a run on his Ferrero Rochers and there’s someone stabbed to death over a bunch of Tesco flowers at quarter to four. With my birthday on Wednesday I was hoping to come to some sort of arrangement with my mother where we don’t bother with cards and presents for each other but sadly she beat me to it. Bah! I know, my generosity warms your heart, no? I love my mum to bits – she’s me but twelve stone lighter and with a better moustache. I’ve typed many words over the years about how supportive she’s been, how honest she is, how hilarious I find her, how generous she can be, and well, we don’t need to go to that well again.

So, to mix it up, I thought I’d share a memory about my mother (I was going to call it a mummory, but that sounds too much like mammory, and Christ that wouldn’t be appropriate…well, perhaps for Paul’s story) and Paul would do the same. I’m even taking off his leash so he can type out his own words, bless him. You know, he always frets that he isn’t funny when he writes his bits so if you’re reading this, do me a favour and show him some love. Now, I know I always describe my childhood as some dystopian timescape where I was left foraging for seeds whilst Father toiled in the sun for pittance, but actually, it was full of laughter. I’ll give you one memory plucked from deep within.

James’ memory

I’ll open with a confession: my sister and I were horrible people sometimes growing up. But all kids are, even yours, so please don’t sit in judgement, you’ll only break the seat. We grew up in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere and fighting and bickering and bullying was the only thing to do. My sister and I had a mortal enemy (well, no, we would be friends with her one minute and then, following a fall-out over a Madonna CD or something we’d all be bickering) in the village who we used to call by a very mean name to do with her top lip. She’d give as good as she got, mind, and we were forever fighting. Things came to a head one day on the school bus between my sister and this girl and there was an almighty scrap. Hair was pulled, there was lots of screaming and shrieking, but once I calmed down the fight itself was the usual girlfight. We were all unceremoniously chucked off the bus and made our way back to our own houses to calm down.

My mum comes into it at this point. She was busy watching Countdown when we snuck in, only to have the phone ring and it to be the mother of the other child ranting and raving. Now given we all used to fight with each other no one child was in the wrong, and my mother wasn’t having all the names being thrown at us via the phone. On went the comfortable shoes and out she strutted with a face like thunder, Lambert and Butler furiously clamped between her teeth as she departed. At the other end of the village was the other mother and they’d agreed to meet in the middle. Gasp! It was like a duel at sundown. We followed as surreptitiously as we could, hoping to see a flurry of fists and fag-ends and hair pulling, but it was all terribly anticlimactic – they shook hands, agreed their offspring were all little bastards and agreed to become alcoholics together and run away like a budget Thelma and Louise. We then both got the top layer of skin smacked off our arses and sent to bed.

Pfft. Oh and as a quick aside, who could forget the time I went careering off my bike, landed on my face tearing my lip open and I suspect breaking my nose, and she came running across four farm fields and a motorway with merely a teatowel to staunch the blood loss. No trip to the hospital either! No wonder I’ve got a nose that constantly whistles.

Right: over to Paul.

Paul’s memory

James loves me telling this story – I sometimes have to go through it as some sort of bedtime story to help him drift off but if anything it just makes him more awake through chuckling. This story takes place back in…oooh, I reckon about 2002-2003. I was a fresh-faced yet acne-pitted sixteen year-old on a residential weekend for some youth worker event. Me and my friend James (not my James, he was just whoring himself in Newcastle at the time) had been nominated to attend which was pretty much just an underage piss-up over at Loughborough University with a couple of workshops on during the day to make it seem a bit more legit. I had a whale of a time! Now, because my family were so poor, I was sent away with no more than £5 in my pocket – thankfully everyone else was kind enough to let me share their bottles of 20/20 and the odd Superking.

Anyway, when I returned home I did the usual thing of firing up the Compaq and dialling-up onto AOL to check on my Faceparty etc to see what had happened when I was gone. Mother, in all her Littlewoods-outlet-glory, was on fine form and almost as soon as I’d walked through the door (a fog of Lambrini fumes behind me) started arguing about something. Mother has this great knack of when she’s in a huff managing to pull an argument out of nowhere and flogging it and flogging it and flogging it until you just admit whatever wrongdoing she’s pinned on you just to get her to piss off. This argument started with something innocuous like me leaving the milk out (easily done), but then managed to snowball into a multitude of other things. I think she was just getting a weekends’ worth of whinging out of her system, like lancing a boil. So on it rolled –

“You drink far too much fackin’ squash. It’s no wonder you’re so fat! A pint! A fackin’ pint of squash!”

“I can never get you trousers, I have to go all the way to BHS for ‘em! They ent cheap, yer know!”

“And you nicked my Fleetwood Mac CD” – for some reason she was convinced that I’d stolen her Fleetwood Mac CD. Bear in mind that I was sixteen at that time and hadn’t even heard of Fleetwood Mac. What did she think I’d need with ‘Rumours’?! Anyway, it turned up years later in a DJ Sammy DC case of my brothers but she’s still convinced that I snuck in during the night after hopping on the midnight train from Newcastle to slip it back in.

This went on for a few hours and I was getting pretty tired (I was also likely still pissed) when she come around to “and I know you’re on that internet, speaking to them mens” – that’s a direct quote by the way, the Fens have a lot to answer for. I feigned outrage at such a suggestion, as I hurriedly minimised as many Gaydar chatroom windows as I could and ‘brb’d all the busily-wanking 40 year old blokes. I wasn’t prepared to put up with such slanderous accusations so I leapt out of that chair in preparation for a mega-strop out the back door. She must’ve been just as frustrated as I was and grabbed her flip-flop to give me a slap across the arse with it (as was the style at the time) and duly did, but in a state of pure rage I pushed her onto the sofa. I didn’t have a clue what to do next so I thought that I’d made it that far, I might as well do *something* so I grabbed her flip flop and slapped her on the arse back just as hard as I could. They still talk of the Phantom Slap that ricocheted round Yaxley to this very day, inbetween gazing cluelessly at aeroplanes and interbreeding. Her face was an absolute picture and it was completely worth it. I think it was a mixture of shock, bit of pain but also trying to understand what had just happened. Before she had a chance to retaliate I ran screaming from the house and spent a week living between friends houses so she could fucking find that CD and stop bloody whinging.

Back to James.

Bless him, he loves her really. The way one might miss the ache of an ingrown toenail once the doctor has removed it. Speaking of cheese, let’s do this mexican lasagne. Why is it Mexican? Who knows. I had refried beans in a Mexican restaurant a while back and, having spotted they’re free on SW, and inspired slightly by that meat’n’beans mince you get in ASDA, here we are! This serves six – we served ours with wedges done in the Actifry before you ask: the new Actifry is dropping in price again on Amazon!

mexican lasagne

to make mexican lasagne you will need:

  • 1kg beef mince
  • 16 pitted sliced green olives (3 syns)
  • 1 tin of refried beans (free!)
  • 3 tbsp of taco seasoning
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp sliced jalapeños
  • half an onion
  • half a box of lasagne sheets
  • 160g grated low-fat cheese (4x HeA)
  • 4 tbsp low fat sour cream (6 syns)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced

You get so much beef packed into our freezer filler with Musclefood that’ll give you a tingle somewhere intimate just thinking about it! Treat yourself: you can’t beat our meat. Don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window!

to make mexican lasagne you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • brown the mince in a large frying pan
  • meanwhile, chop up the green olives in a mini-chopper
  • tip the chopped olives into a bowl and then add the cherry tomatoes, jalapenos and onion and blitz to make a salsa
  • (you can do the above two steps by hand if needed)
  • add the chopped olives to the mince along with the taco seasoning, salsa and tin of refried beans, and stir well to combine
  • spray a little oil around a 9″x 13″ baking dish
  • add one third of the mince mixture to the dish and top with lasagne sheets
  • sprinkle over a quarter of the cheese
  • spoon over another third of the meat mixture and top with lasagne sheets and a bit of cheese, and then do that once more
  • sprinkle over the remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour
  • remove from the oven and add the diced tomato
  • drizzle over the sour cream and sprinkle over the spring onions and extra jalapenos
  • enjoy

Good news with all that spice too: you’ll have plenty of time to re-evaluate your life as it thunders back out of you later on!

More recipes you say? Of course.

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low syn cheesy nacho mince and rice

Right look, no bullshit. This cheesy nacho mince and rice is one of the best recipes we’ve made – not sure why, the ingredients aren’t anything flash and there’s no magic ingredient (THIS RECIPE CONTAINS 4 SURPRISES – NUMBER 3 WILL SHOCK YOU! – no, it won’t). It’s simple to make, full of flavour and cooks well. I’m starting to sound like one of those awful food blogs where everything is amazing and wonderful and guaranteed to give you a wide-on. But it really is worth giving a go.

Tonight’s entry was going to be another part of our Swiss trip but I spent forty minutes writing about toilets and my fingers are aching. So, by the miracle of copy and paste, I’m going to share with you a tale from our newest book instead. Paul and I attended a wedding last year that never made it onto the blog, but hey, weddings are always fun. Especially our take on them. If you’re just here for the recipe and you’re not in the mood for any of my nonsense, you go ahead and click this lovely button below.


Oh I know, I’m a sod.

twochubbycubs on: a nice day for a white wedding

Long-time readers may recollect a particularly disastrous trip to a wedding in the last book where, in no particular order, I forgot my tie, our suit hiring folks forgot to remove the massive security tag on my suit jacket and, after a particularly bouncy bit of drunken sex, Paul and I fell asleep and missed the entire reception.

Since then, we have managed to avoid weddings, which is probably for the best given our ability to embarrass ourselves at any given notice, but we were invited to a New Year’s Eve wedding at the start of the year before and given it was someone who I a) like and b) strongly suspect would cut my face if I had turned her down (I mean, she’s from Worksop, they use a headbutt like one might use a comma), we had no choice but to go.

A bit about the bride: I’ve been her PA at various points in my life. I follow her around like a persistent dose of thrush. I joined her team as a fresh-faced young man full of innocence – she then systemically ruined me over the course of the next few years. I’d seen her blossom from a cantankerous, foul-mouthed, cock-hungry hussy to a slightly older cantankerous, foul-mouthed, cock-hungry hussy. It was with a great sense of pride that I was to see her down the aisle, her flaming Rebekah Brooks hair trailing behind her.

A bit about the groom: Paul and I both would.

Paul hates weddings so it was a case of promising him that it was going to be a fun event, there would be delicious food AND it was to be held up in Otterburn so there was a slim-to-maybe chance the night could end with one or both of us being tumbled around a field by a gang of rough-handed, drunken squaddies. It’s exactly the same way I get him to go to family BBQs.

Usual pre-wedding promises were made: lose plenty of weight, get a decent suit, pick a decent present. Usual pre-wedding promises were then completely ignored: we put more weight over Christmas, our suits came from Marks and Spencer’s ‘GOOD GOD MAN YOU’RE OBSCENE’ range and the bride wanted cold hard cash, which was something I could immediately get behind. The cash that is, not the bride. I feel that may have been a tad inappropriate during the service and anyway, the groom looked like he could take us both in a fight.

Paul drove us the 50 miles there. You all know how I feel about his driving – there’s still three fingernails lodged in the passenger side door from my grip.

We’d booked ourselves a fancy suite in a gorgeous old country hotel – just the thing to pick our arses in, clip our toenails into the carpet and watch The Chase in. We know our place. The receptionist was a delight – he looked exactly like a tiny version of Paul, and well, Paul’s pretty miniature anyway. I wanted to reach over and pick him up, half expecting there to be an even smaller version of Paul inside, played by Hervé Villechaize in a fat-suit. The receptionist was definitely one of us and there was more than a hint of ‘anything else you need; you just ask’. I told him that we were good for now but if I woke up at 3am fancying a Mexican Pancake, I’d ring down.

I had a quick bath, mainly to rid myself of the fear-sweat that soaked me through following Paul’s ‘driving’, then, after a change into our court outfits, we were ready.

The wedding was a mile or so away at an absolutely beautiful hall (Woodhill Hall, if you please) and so we piled into a people’s carriers lest I got my shoes muddy. There was just time enough for a quick drink and a look at everyone’s pretty clothes and Sunday best shoes before we were directed to take a seat in the sunroom. The service was terrific – not all fussy and old-fashioned but some custom lyrics and a fair bit of crying. I begged Paul to let me hurtle down the aisle screaming “It Should Have Been Me” like that bit in Vicar of Dibley but he told me to behave myself. Boo. You have no idea how difficult it is for me not to cause a scene.

Rings fingered and kisses given, we were all put in another room to enjoy a gorgeous meal of local delicacies and whatnots before listening to the speeches which, for once, were actually funny. There’s nowt worse than people thinking they’re funny (although to be fair I’ve created quite a sideline from it) but these got more than a few titters from me.

Bellies full and hearts singing / straining, we nipped back to the hotel room to get changed into slightly less strained shirts – there’s only so long I can sit fretting that my collar is about to burst open and blind someone with a stray button – and the excellent news is that we managed not to fall asleep like we did at the last wedding. I’d hate to get a reputation as someone who just turned up at weddings for the sandwiches and free drinks and then buggered off away to bed before my wallet came out. I mean, that IS exactly who I am, but I’d hate to have a reputation.

Anyway, back at the hotel we bumped into El Ehma (who the book is dedicated to) and, after dressing, we headed down to the bar for a quick drink before nipping back to the venue. Emma’s idea of a ‘quick drink’ turned out to be a triple Tanqueray and tonic, which seemed to cause the barman great consternation. She had to explain several times over that a triple was three shots, and it was with a very shaky hand that he set about the optics for the third time. I didn’t care, I was already fairly tipsy at this point. After more gin we set off back to the wedding venue, with El Ehma promising hand-on-heart that we’d meet again at 1am to get the car back to the hotel, with the offer of a ‘chocolate Baileys’ as a nightcap.

I write as a hobby and like to think I have a good handle on most euphemisms but even I wasn’t sure what a chocolate Baileys entailed. Would I ever find out?

The rest of the evening’s festivities were held in a giant tent in the gardens of the hall. There was a roaring fire in the middle and thankfully, I was too drunk to entertain my catastrophic thinking that the whole place would go up like the school in Carrie. At some point in the evening the DJ started playing the songs that each guest had requested months prior to the wedding – because this was a more alternative wedding there was a lot of rock music and loud noise, but the atmosphere was great. I had completely forgotten what I had put down on my reply.

Anyway, seeking some “fresh air” and “time to ourselves” (seriously though, there’s something about weddings that gets us both hilariously frisky – I’ve only got to hear the first few seconds of the Wedding March and the old cock-clock jumps straight to midnight), we ventured outside behind the venue, eventually finding a little shed that we could “rest our feet” without fear of interruption.

Let me tell you this – naughty outdoors wedding sex is great fun, it really is, especially when the air is crisp and cold and there’s the distant sound of people having an amazing night, but it doesn’t have put you off your stroke when you’re near the point of climax and you hear the DJ shout your name over the crowd followed by the words “…specially requested this all-time classic – OOOH AAAH (Just A Little Bit) by Giiiiiiiiiiina G”.

Listen, I’ve had sex under pressure, I’ve had sex in dangerous places, but there was no possible way I was going to be able to paint the town white under these circumstances. Having a barely successful Eurovision singer annotating your thrusts is a recipe for disaster. We zipped up and headed back inside, putting our flushed faces down to musical embarrassment. Sort of true, I suppose.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur of food, liqueur, dubious dancing and actually, everyone just having a bloody lovely time. I’ve never been to a wedding before where everyone who mattered was smiling and laughing and do you know, it was grand. When people are there not out of obligation but out of friendship, well, you know you’re on the right track. The evening finished with a midnight fireworks display set to Pour Some Sugar On Me (some Canestan might have beenb better) and sparklers and then everyone slowly made their way to bed.

Not us, though. No, despite El Ehma’s promises of keeping the car ready for us, piloted by her lovely sober husband, and us turning up at dot on the time we said, she was away, leaving us stranded. Bah! We could see her brake lights snaking away down the road. Clearly she was in a rush for that chocolate Baileys / anal.

There was no chance of us walking back because by this point I was seeing six legs when I looked down, so we threw ourselves on the mercy of the lovely lady behind the bar. She was probably struck with the frightening idea of seeing our swimmy eyes and moon faces leering at her gin collection all through the night and so it was that we found ourselves packed into the back of her Fiat Uno, being driven all the way back to our hotel. I could have kissed her. Hell, I was that pleased (and blue-balled from earlier) that I would have fathered her children had she given me a bit of keen-eye.

We tumbled into bed (just Paul and I) and were straight off to sleep. Things came to a lively head at about 4am when Paul tumbled drunkenly out of bed, setting the very posh and old bedside table crashing over, which in turn knocked a chest of drawers asunder, which then set a lamp crashing to the floor. It was like Total Wipeout, only with more gin fumes and Paul trapped in sheets on the floor. We inspected the antiques with all the care and concentration you’d expect from two burly men who at that point were more gin than human, and hastened back to bed.

The cold light of day revealed that, somewhat surprisingly, there had been no damage done, save for a mobile-phone shaped bruise on Paul’s arse where he had landed on his phone. If only he’d been charging his electric toothbrush then at least one of us would have seen some action round the back. We quite literally staggered to the breakfast room where we were met with El Ehma’s fresh face (“eee we waited! We did! We did!”) and a fry-up that came on two plates. Across the way from us were a couple visiting from down South and who had ordered a tiny bowl of muesli and a cup of smugness and by God were they repulsed by my alcohol fumes and unshaven face. I’m just glad I don’t smoke anymore – if I had lit a match at that point I would have gone up like a dry forest fire.

We couldn’t leave at this point because we were still tipsy so we had to walk around Otterburn until we were safe to drive. You know when people say the best thing to do for a hangover is to get some fresh air? Balls to them. I’ve never felt rougher than I did when I had my face lashed by the cold Northumberland air and soaked by the type of rain that gets in every single gap in flesh, clothing and soul. When we could eventually drive home, we did so silently, green-faced and gingerly. What a truly amazing wedding, though.

Enjoy that? There’s all that in more in our fantastic new book The Second Coming, which at the moment is rising up the Kindle charts like a foul burp – JK Rowling must be absolutely shitting herself. Click here for that – don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window. Right, to the recipe then…

cheesy nacho mince and rice cheesy nacho mince and rice

to make cheesy nacho mince and rice you will need:

  • 400g lean minced beef (stop wasting money on ghastly gristly supermarket mince – try one of our fabulous Musclefood deals instead!)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (you know it: this’ll help!)
  • 1 red pepper, diced finely
  • 400g orzo pasta (or rice)
  • 400ml passata
  • 350ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (0.5 syns) (sriracha is hot sauce – any spicy sauce will do, or, if you don’t like your arse all a-tingle, leave it out!)
  • 160g reduced fat cheddar (4x HeA)
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • pinch of paprika
  • pinch of onion granules
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 olives, halved (1.5 syns)
  • 30g bag Doritos (7.5 syns)
  • bunch of chives or spring onions

Ah I want to clarify something, by the way. We’ve had a couple of Clever Dicks (who aren’t that clever) sending us snide messages about ‘wen u uze oyul u hv 2 sin it‘. Well, yes, indeed. When we say a bit of oil we mean a few sprays of Filippo Berio spray oil, or indeed, any oil decanted into one of these. That’s half a syn. Between four. If you want to get your titties in a tangle over 1/8 of a syn, be my guest. I’m not proposing people pour a gallon drum of Castrol into their frying pan, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to suckle the Frylight teat – it’s a nonsense, plastic product and why use it when you can use decent stuff and – if you feel you must – syn accordingly? BAH!

to make cheesy nacho mince and rice you should:

  • add a little oil to a large frying pan and put on a medium-high heat
  • add the mince and onions and cook until the mince has browned
  • add the garlic and pepper and continue cooking for about 3 more minutes
  • reduce the heat to medium-low and add the orzo to the pan, along with the passata, chicken stock, sriracha, chilli flakes, paprika and onion granules and stir well
  • cook for about 12-15 minutes until the orzo has absorbed the liquid, stirring occasionally
  • remove from the heat – take three quarters of the cheese and stir it through the dinner, and then sprinkle over the top the remainder of the cheese, chopped tomatoes, olives, chopped chives/spring onions and crushed doritos (and anything else you’re using)
  • heat the grill to high and pop the frying pan underneath – you want it under for just a few minutes to melt the cheese (keep an eye on if it has a plastic handle)
  • serve!

if you too can’t be arsed to wash up, why not try some of these recipes?

or if something else tickles your fancy, have a look through some of our other recipes by clicking the buttons below – we’ve got over 400!

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beef, bean and chorizo chilli

Yes, another slow cooker recipe if you please, but you can always just make this beef, bean and chorizo chilli on the hob if you prefer. Apologies that we’re a bit slow-cooker heavy at the moment, but we’re batch-cooking see and the slow cooker lends itself so well to having food portioned off into foil containers, ready to disappear into the freezer until they’re thrown out fourteen months later. Batch-cooking: it only works if you don’t have a freezer that looks like an Iceland lorry crashed down an embankment. We must be the only couple in Britain whose freezer is 50% Häagen-Dazs, 50% good intentions.

The other reason for this chilli was so that we’d have something warm and comforting to come back to after nipping out last night to watch the fireworks at Hexham. I know I’ve waffled previously at length about firework displays – in short, I thoroughly enjoy the spectacle but not the a) crowds b) thought of wasting so much money and c) did I mention the crowds? And of course, the main problem with Hexham fireworks is that the whoooooosh and squeeeeeeeee of the fireworks is almost drowned out by the braying and neighing of all the posh, chinless lot scrabbling around in their Hunter wellies and desperately unhappy marriages. I’ve never seen so many children dressed like accountants and stable-hands squealing and yelling. Still, the fireworks were really very good, and the hour or so we spent trying to get out of the overflow carpark in a sea of BMWs, Range Rovers and other shitcarriages gave me plenty of time to practice my swearing and make adamantly clear to Paul that we’ll never have a child. To be fair, I think that’s rather a moot point, I can’t envision Paul ever telling me ashen-faced that he’s managed to get someone pregnant. I mean, we’ve been trying for ten years…

Oddly, it’s not the first time this month that I’ve been sliding around in a muddy field. No, for whatever god-knows-reason, we decided to go along to the local car boot sale a week or so ago. I didn’t take much persuasion, but then I never do when it comes to being in a dimly-lit field surrounded by men with their car doors open flashing their wares. My DS3 is possibly the only model out there whose interior lights don’t so much blink on and off as actually strobe. Ah well. We are what we are. No, I rather relished the chance to revisit a bit of my youth, spending many Sundays way-back-when as a boy at the Corbridge car boots. I remember it fondly – lots of colourful board games, piles of NES cartridges, stopping at the mobile hot-dog van for a small saveloy and severe gastroenteritis. I did once find a set of James Herriot books which came in useful 20 years later propping up my broken bed, so that was useful.

We piled into the car at ungodly’o’clock on the Sunday morning (by ungodly, I mean before dusk) and beetled up the dual carriageway, giving my nana’s old house a friendly wave as we chugged past. She was always such a big part of our Sundays that, even now, it feels odd driving through the village where she used to be. Any soft feelings of nostalgia were eventually swapped with mild anger as, upon getting to the general area of the car boot sale, we joined a queue of waiting traffic. I couldn’t believe it. I thought we were the odds ones for going but here we were, part of an eager mass of beige coloured cars, cardigans and fingernails. I touched Paul’s hand and asked if they were giving out free blowjobs and chocolate but nope, these were just folk wanting a ratch about. What had we become?

We were shown to an overflow car-park by an officious looking tit with a poor attitude and dandruff – the exact type of person who you know came a bit when he was given a hi-ves jacket and a clipboard. He told me off for going around the overflow car park in the wrong direction as though I’d killed the second coming of Princess Diana and then scuttled off to harass some poor old biddy in her Fiat Pubis. With heavy hearts, we trooped in.

What’s to say? It was awful as I expected. Look, I know that so many of you will get a lot out of a car boot sale, I really do, but it definitely wasn’t for us. For a start, the absolute fucking tut on display was second to none. I wanted to see if I could find any decent N64 games and, whilst I managed to locate a small cache of them, the owner wanted way more than I’d pay for them on eBay. I tried haggling – I’m not shy – but I would have had more success arguing with the decorating table he had spread his wares on. Someone else seemed to have brought everything from her home that wasn’t fastened down – books (fine), dirty cups (dubious) and various magazines, including last week’s What’s On TV? Why? Who needs that? I’d cheerfully bet my house that there hasn’t been a single instance of someone sitting bolt upright in bed in the dead of night clamouring to read the synopsis of what’s happening in Eastenders a week ago.

The same bewhiskered dolt was also selling a selection of used ashtrays. We’re not, as you might expect, talking tasteful art-deco pieces here, no no, just those awful pub style ashtrays with XXXX on the side, with lots of burns and ash-marks on them. Here’s the thing. If you smoke, you’re going to already have an ashtray, unless you’re a common slattern who puts her ash on the carpet and hey, you laugh, but I know of at least two blood relatives who do this. I fell over in their living room once and came up with my hair looking like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Returning back to the point, who did she think was going to buy these ashtrays? It’s not like they could be roughly distressed by some twat in a lumberjack shirt who has set about it with a power sander. I find it all very odd. We moved on.

I wish I could say we had at least some success, but nah. Stalls full of unwanted nonsense, committed (at least, they fucking should be) car-booters all scrabbling around and being rude, rubbish fast-food options – we won’t be going back. We did make a purchase, though, in the vain hope that they could at least look good in our games room – a battered box with some Super Mario rollerskates. Great! No, sorry, not great – shit. When we got back to the sealed box that was our car, we realised that they’d clearly come from a house where it was obligatory to smoke forty Capstan Full Strength tabs before dinner, meaning they’re now in our shed gathering dust and wheezing gently. We should have returned them – I was half-tempted to nip back to the old lady’s stall and buy the Rollerskates Family a few ashtrays as a pointed joke – but the clipboard man was looking furiously at us again so we drove away. All in all – a failure. Nothing of interest and a new bit of shite that will clutter up our lovely shed.

Of course, where there’s muck there’s money – perhaps next week Paul and I should load our car with all of our tat (my car, not his: it would be a bit of a shit display if we used his car, given we could only fit a tie-pin and a sachet of coffee into his car) and go and sell it. I couldn’t, though. For a start, I wouldn’t be able to deal with hagglers – I’d take it as the purest insult if someone tried to suggest my slightly-wrong-colour-Le-Creuset cups weren’t worth full price, for example. Then, if we didn’t sell, I’d fall into a deep self-doubt – thought the giant lava lamp was tasteful – why didn’t Elsie and Eric want it for their caravan? The soft light would really diffuse the harsh blue veins of a swinging party, for example. Ah well.

Right, come on now, let’s do this recipe, eh? Remember, you can make this in the slow cooker (after browning off the meat and veg) (and trust me, I’m not usually a fan of browning my meat) (too far?) or on the hob. Do as you wish, my love. If you’re trying to save syns you could perhaps leave out the chorizo, but why? It adds a lot of taste and warmth. This splits out between four and you can freeze it.

beef, bean and chorizo chilli

to make beef, bean and chorizo chilli, you’ll need:

Now, you can any old extra shite into this chilli, that’s the joy of these things, but if you eat it as it is above, it’ll be less than 2 syns a portion. Nice! For the photo, we served ours with rice (underneath), a few Doritos (7.5 syns per bag, we shared one, so 3.5 syns each) and a dollop of black pepper soft cheese (2 syns for 25g, we used less than that – so 1 syn) – so all in all, if you have it with the toppings, maybe syn the lot at 7 syns. Not bad if you want a treat! Alone, with rice, the chill is wonderful in itself. Anyway, enough guff.

to make beef, bean and chorizo chilli, you should:

  • phew, deep breath now
  • get yourself a good pan and give it a few squirts of oil
  • slice your onion, dice your chorizo, cut up your peppers, mush up your mushroom – put them all into the pan on a medium heat and let the onions soften and the chorizo sweat a bit
  • chuck in the mince and the garlic, spices, pepper and leave to cook right through – no pink!
  • add the tomato puree, beans and chilli beans and then give everything a good stir with the beef stock
  • either leave to simmer nicely for an hour or two, or, much better, decant everything into your slow cooker and leave to cook on low for six hours (we actually went for about ten hours, it did no harm)
  • easy!

Remember, this freezes well, or, kept in the fridge, makes for a lovely topping for a jacket tatty the day after. Enjoy!

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I mean really.


slow cooked pulled pork chilli boats

To be honest, I know the slow cooked pulled pork chilli boats look crap, but do you know what? I don’t care! We saw them on Pinterest (I know, it’s a miracle I saw anything between all the JuicePlus ads and knock-off Etsy bumph, but hey) and thought we’d give them a go. Lesson learned? Don’t try and copy anything from Pinterest. It never works for us. What looks cute, unusual and fluffy on Pinterest usually ends up looking like the end result of a family car backing over a cat. 🙁

It’s the same with this blog, to be fair. We do try and make our food look presentable but you have to remember, we spend a lot of time fannying about with the dishes this way and that way to try and get them to look half decent. That’s because we want to promote our food. You, on the other hand, shouldn’t fuss about – get down to the business of turning your hard work into poo, instead. It’s what you want.

Anyway, I wanted to give a quick guide to how we blog. This isn’t a funny post but it’s something that we get asked a lot about. I’ve seen a lot of people over the last couple of years start up food blogs and most of them stop after a while, and there’s a bloody good reason – it takes a lot of time! If you want to share your recipes then go for it. You can host on WordPress for free and it’s an excellent platform for your own blog – very easy to use! We take all of our photos with our iPad and touch them up slightly in Photoshop (normally to balance the colours – we have a very, very red kitchen). It’s worth taking the time to write properly but don’t stress too much about telling a story – there’s far, far too many blogs out there (possibly including my own) that, for example, when writing about a chilli will tell you about the time they went to the market to buy chillis, and how amazing chillis are, and how much they love chillis…if you’ve got a story, tell it, but if you’re just filling out the word count, don’t!

We do spend a lot of our time doing this – finding recipes to adapt to make them Slimming World friendly, writing out the posts, taking the pictures, researching the syn count, publicising the posts – each post takes about two hours to do, I reckon. If you’re committed, it’s a fun, worthwhile hobby, but jeez, when I think about all them hours…

If you’re looking to make money from a blog, unless you really, REALLY build up the readership, you’ll struggle. There’s plenty of ways to do it, but you’ll not make much to begin with unless you have a blog full of adverts and trick people into going there. That’s not good. Readership takes a while to build – we get on average about 25,000 views a day but for the first year we were hitting 500 and being glad of it. I remember how excited I was when we got up to 50 subscribers – now we’re not a kick of the arse off 10,000! That’s just insane to me.

If I could give only one bit of advice – do it with love. Now I know that’s going to make everyone’s teeth turn black from all the sugar but honestly, Paul loves cooking and I love writing so a food blog is the perfect outlet for that. If you’re the same, give it a go! If you don’t fancy writing full-time, don’t forget you can guest write for our blog if you want to see your name up in lights. Just drop us a line in the comments and we’ll contact you.

OK, with that out of the way, let’s get to the bloody pulled pork chilli boats.

slow cooked pulled pork chilli boats

to make slow cooked pulled pork chilli boats, you’ll need:

  • a good joint of pork, we used shoulder from Musclefood – it came with very little fat on (and we just cut it off) and an excellent price at £6.00 per kg – click here for that!
  • tin of tomatoes
  • tin of beans
  • tin of black eyed beans
  • an onion
  • a small carton of passata
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • a slow cooker
  • Old El Paso Stand and Stuff tacos (4.5 syns each)
  • one slice of Edam (the sliced Edam from Tesco – one slice is a HEA, or just use your syns for about 4 syns)
  • potato wedges for the side
  • chopped lettuce

to make slow cooked pulled pork chilli boats, you should:

  • put everything bar the taco, cheese and lettuce into the slow cooker and cook overnight on low – then shred the pork with two forks
  • stuff into a taco
  • make a cheese sail
  • put it on a bed of lettuce
  • serve with potato wedges and a feeling of what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-with-my-life

Meh! It made Paul laugh. The leftovers can be served with rice the next day and put into a sandwich. Hell, you could even put it on a pizza like this old recipe of ours. This chilli really is the bare bones – add as many vegetables like peppers or mushrooms as you want. Really, it was just an excuse to muck about with our food. Enjoy!

For other pork recipes, click the icon below!