syn-free chicken jalfrezi, and it’s time to talk

Syn-free chicken jalfrezi – our streak of ‘what you pick up after a night out’ (aside from undetectable chlamydia, hussy) meals continues without any sign of stopping! But before we get to it, an important message. Long time readers of the blog will probably have heard this before, but bear with me – it’s Time To Talk day.

What’s Time to Talk Day I hear you mutter, in that alley-cat hiss of yours. It’s really terribly simple: it’s a day put out there to encourage everyone to talk about mental health, to hopefully try and reduce the stigma and suffering of anyone out there with mental health issues. It’s about being open and honest and non-judgemental and it’s a day that shouldn’t be needed, but sadly is.

Some of you may know that I (James) have a mental health problem: I have health anxiety. Whilst in all honesty it hasn’t bothered me significantly for a good couple of years now, it’s only because I have built my own systems for keeping it in check. Health anxiety is when your brain becomes consumed with the idea that there is something fatally wrong with you: a headache is a brain tumour, pins and needles in your arm is the beginning of motor neurone disease. At my worst, I was convinced I was going deaf and blind because my vision was a bit shaky and I was struggling to hear. Even my ovaries ached at one point.

Health anxiety is an especially cruel beast because anxiety forces the body to react in a ‘fight or flight’ mode all the friggin’ time – so your muscles ache from sitting tensed up, your head hurts from your mind going a-mile-a-minute, your eyes are irritable because you’ve been up all night fretting – and then all of those aches and pains feed back into your worries and you become sure that you are actually suffering with an illness and it really can’t be all in your head and anyway, what do the doctors know because fuck it, I’ve found my disease on google. It’s an endless, cruel, feedback loop.

Only it isn’t endless, not at all. At my worst I thought that my life was over – even if I wasn’t actually physically ill, my mind would never rest again – I’d be alright until the next crisis and then back to wobbling and feeling like warmed through shit. You have no idea how exhausting it is dying every single day. However, right now, I barely worry. I barely give twinges and aches and pains the slightest thought, and if I do concentrate on them, it’s because they actually hurt and they’ll go away. Which, touchwood, they always do. I’m actually a very healthy young man who has been supremely lucky in his life not to be beset by something tragic. I concentrate on that now, rather than wishing my life away. Hell, I knew I had overcome the worst of my health anxiety when I went for a shite the other day, noticed it was almost bright red and, rather than sorting out my will and ringing for an ambulance because my bowels were turning into a cancer-soup, simply remembered I’d knocked back a whole jar of pickled beetroot the night before. See: now I’m just a fat fucker, as opposed to a dying one.

So what helped? It’s hard to actually say, because what helped me may not help you. That’s the way things are – no two minds are the same (plus my mind is probably riddled with prions turning it to crumpet thanks to my mother’s predilection for cheap beef in the 80s). But, put succinctly, I trained myself not to care. I took the view that if I had MS or Parkinsons or motor neurone disease or toxic shock syndrome or blood cancer or feline aids or mad cow disease or a club foot or rabies then sitting rocking in my chair in front of Jeremy Kyle and sobbing wasn’t going to fix a damn thing. I had all of those and that’s that. So, before my legs turned to playdoh and my mind became a mist of memories, better to get out and enjoy things again. And that’s what I did: I forced myself out. I forced myself to socialise, I forced myself to ring the doctors ‘tomorrow’, and then made sure that tomorrow never switched from future to present. I’d go a bit further and a bit longer before giving in.

Of course it was hard – at times impossible – but progress was made. If you’re convinced in your mind that you have leg weakness, for example, pick up a football and punt it as far as you can, preferably through a neighbour’s window so you have to leg it afterwards. If you think you can’t remember, pull up the best ever sex you’ve ever had from your wank-bank and visualise it in explicit, squelching detail. I guarantee you’ll remember some small detail, but don’t feel down on yourself, that’s just what God gave you. Test yourself not by thinking about what you can’t do but instead what you can. Positive reinforcement instead of negative. It sounds wank and like I say, may not work for you – but when I got to the end of a week without ringing the doctors I felt ten times better than the ‘relief’ I felt from hearing a doctor telling me for the nineteenth time that I wasn’t leaving the surgery in a body-bag. Try it.

The other factor that helped me was having a decent support network. I’m very lucky: I have a husband who would sit and be patient with my wailing and whingeing – he never rolled his eyes at me or told me I was being stupid. He never shook me like that hysterical woman from Airplane. He may have wanted to – I cringe when I think I used to wake him up in the dead of night because my heart was racing (from anxiety, not the heart disease I then suspected) but he was lovely and kind and patient and exactly the type of rock you need to build a stable future on. Plus he’s fat and squashy, which acted like a stress ball during the worst of it.

I told my mum what was happening at the time and, although more blunt and honest with me, she was also incredibly supportive. She reassured me it would pass, that my worries would ease and my mind would clear, and it did. Mums are always right. Nearly always. I told a few friends but not many – I’m far more private than my 2,000,000 words and counting personal blog suggests – and it was interesting how many of them also suffered with mental health or knew someone that did. It isn’t the ‘just me’ problem you may think it is, you know, and the more that we are honest and open and brave about discussing it, the less power it has. The less shame is felt. More people will talk about it rather than bottling it up thinking it is something to be ashamed about. You wouldn’t feel embarrassed about going out with a broken leg, unless someone wrote that you were a bellend on your cast. Why feel bad about a broken mind?

I’m rambling, which is probably a symptom of my early-onset dementia. But if you take anything from this nonsense, it’s this – if you’re unwell at the minute, open up to someone – a friend, family, a co-worker you can trust. Don’t have those? Look at websites like Time to Change for resources, or www.mind.co.uk, or talk to the doctors. Yes, it’s a bit of a crap-shoot at the moment with the NHS’s approach to mental health, but we know who to blame for that. But something is better than nothing. If you’re on the other side of the coin, feel good – and be prepared to listen. Don’t tut. Don’t roll your eyes. Be honest with the person pouring out their heart to you – you don’t need to patronise or say ‘there there’ (because what the fuck does that even mean?) but feel free to be candid (but not cruel). Never tell someone they’re worrying over nothing and to buck the fuck up, because that isn’t how it works – no-one chooses to be mentally unwell and there isn’t a switch.

But, to end on a ridiculously cheesy note: there’s always hope. It might be hidden under a pile of black, steamy turd, but it’ll be there, and it’ll come through. Recovery might take weeks, months, years or never, but you’ll cope. You always have so far.


CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN SWIM EVERY SEA! And to think you just came for a syn-free chicken jalfrezi. I am sorry, but that was important. Let’s do the recipe, shall we? It’s a piece of piss, no doubt about that. This is a recipe by Simon Rimmer so yes, unfortanately, that means you’ll be getting….RIMMER? I BARELY KNEW ‘ER. Eh? You having that? Hello?!

syn-free chicken jalfrezi

syn-free chicken jalfrezi

to make a syn-free chicken jalfrezi, you’ll need:

  • one onion, peeled and chopped
  • one teaspoon of chilli powder
  • three teaspoons of tasty, tasty turmeric
  • a good pinch of salt
  • four big fat chicken breasts, the kind of dirtypillows yer mother would tell you off for, chopped into chunks
  • one tin of chopped tomatoes
  • one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger (see my comment about your knob down below)
  • two cloves of freshly grated garlic
  • three teaspoons of cumin
  • three teaspoons of coriander
  • one big fat lemon
  • we served ours with chips – remember we have an easy guide to making your own here

top tips for a syn-free chicken jalfrezi:

  • if you’re using ginger, don’t keep buying fresh – buy a big knob and keep it in the freezer until you need it, then just use a microplane (no need to peel) to get what you need without even needing to defrost – we love our microplane, as well you know, and you can buy one here
  • the chicken from musclefood is consistently good – it doesn’t waste away to a watery epididymis unlike supermarket chicken – so buy yourself a massive pack at a decent price by clicking here and taking advantage of our unique deals
  • a good oil mister is perfect for this one – this is what we recommend
  • it might look like a lot of spices but these are all staples you should have in – remember, don’t buy in the spices aisle at Tesco, go find the world foods aisle and you’ll get so much more for the same price

to make a syn-free chicken jalfrezi, you should:

  • spray a good decent heavy pan with some oil and gently sweat the onions and garlic off until the onions are golden
  • mix the chilli, turmeric and salt together in a bowl and then toss the chicken pieces in – make sure they get covered evenly
  • put the spicy chicken in the pan and cook through – a good ten to fifteen minutes
  • stir the tomatoes, ginger, cumin and coriander into the pan and reduce the heat until it’s bubbling nicely
  • cook with the lid on for about twenty minutes until it has reduced down and if it’s looking a bit too thick, add a splash of water
  • now: if you’re feeling decadent, you add butter at the end: 25g is nine syns, so between four that’s just over 2 syns each! Just stir it in before serving, together with the juice of a lemon
  • serve with chips, rice or panache

 

Easy and syn free! I mean, what more could you desire?

Want more curries? I’d be delighted to assist.

J

syn-free minestrone soup in a hurry

Syn-free minestrone soup in a hurry tonight, and that’s very fitting indeed because I have to get the blog done, get washed and showered and dressed all before our taxi gets here at 7.30pm. I wish I could say we were off to do something exciting but good lord, we’re going to play bingo in Ashington. If you’re not familiar with Ashington, just picture Aleppo but with more B&M outlets. It’s a safe bet that I’ll be mugged, but all bets are off as to whether it’ll be by the taxi driver, the smokers outside the entrance doors or the old biddies feeding their pensions into the lobby slots. Wish me luck!

Now this syn-free minestrone soup looks like it’ll be a pain in the arse but it’s ridiculously easy, although I’ve taken some liberties with the recipe. The recipe this is cribbed from (Delia Smith) has you sweating vegetables and taking your time. Balls to that: this is soup in a hurry. This makes enough for four big bowls of soup.

syn-free minestrone

Ours looks a bit oily because we didn’t cut the fat off the bacon. Because we’re decadent.

to make syn-free minestrone soup in a hurry, you’ll need:

  • 100g of bacon medallions (see note below)
  • one large onion (see note below)
  • two stalks of celery (see note below)
  • 150g of carrots (peeled) (see note below)
  • 2 large tomatoes, ripe
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • two leeks (see note below)
  • handful of spring greens
  • 75g of pasta (little macaroni is best, but we only add proper size)
  • 1.5 litres of chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree

top tips for syn-free minestrone soup:

to make syn-free minestrone soup in a hurry, you should:

  • spritz a heavy-duty pan with oil, heat to medium and chuck your chopped onion, bacon, minced garlic, celery, leek and carrot chunks in on a medium heat with a splash of water – allow to sweat a little
  • add a good pinch of salt and pepper and continue to let them sweat for a good twenty minutes or so, giving it a bit of a stir every now and then so it doesn’t stick
  • add your hot stock, bring to the boil and then allow to simmer gently for a good hour
  • once the hour is done, add the macaroni, spring greens if you’re using, and cook uncovered for another ten minutes or so until the pasta is cooked
  • serve in bowls topped with your healthy extra allowance of Parmesan and lots of black pepper

Easy! Want more soups?

J

Slimming World sides: macho peas & orange and carrot mash

Sometimes we have recipes that don’t really warrant a post of their own – usually they’re simple side dishes – so tonight I’m bundling two for the price of one into the same post. You might worry that your inbox can’t handle two at once but I’m sure if you bear down and push out, everything will be tickety-boo. The macho peas recipe is a variant on the Nandos staple and the orange carrot mash was found in a BBC Good Food magazine that I found in the dentist. I’m not saying the magazine was out of date, but when they kept referring to getting in the carrots before the Luftwaffe wrecked the carrot fields, well…

OH: IF YOU’RE READING THIS ON THURSDAY 25 JANUARY 2018, and you want something worth £50 on Amazon – click here and use the code BIGTHANKS to knock a tenner off. Better than a slap in the face with a big wet willy!

So not farting about: straight to the recipes. Both recipes make enough for two large sides. Obviously the orange carrot mash doesn’t refer to orange carrots, but rather the fresh orange juice you use in the recipe! First, macho peas!

macho peas

to make macho peas, you’ll need:

  • three big handfuls of frozen peas – or fresh, if you’re fancy
  • one finely chopped onion
  • a nice big red chilli pepper or a teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • a good bunch of fresh mint (hell, use mint sauce if you want) (but it won’t taste so good)
  • for the first time in my life, I recommend a little knob – of SALTED BUTTER! AND THE CROWD GOES WILD! 10g of salted butter will make all the difference – 3.5 syns, and what’s that between friends? You could leave it out but I remind you: it’s two bloody syns each

to make macho peas, you should:

  • get a pan of water bubbling and throw in your peas – cook until softened slightly but not mush
  • pop your onion – finely chopped mind – into a pan, pop it on medium and sweat them down
  • whilst they’re cooking, chop up your mint nice and fine together with the chilli if not using flakes
  • drain your peas, mash them slightly  stir in the butter, onion, chopped mint and chopped chilli
  • serve!

See? Gorgeous! And now…

to make orange and carrot mash, you’ll need:

  • 500g of fresh carrots
  • 250ml of fresh orange juice (we use Tropicana 50/50 – 1 syn per 100g – 2.5 syns)
  • 500ml of vegetable stock
  • chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of fat free greek yoghurt

to make orange and carrot mash, you’ll need:

  • peel your carrots and then thinly slice them
  • spray some oil into a decent pan, heat it up and then pop the fennel seeds in until they pop
  • chuck in the carrot slices
  • add the orange juice and vegetable stock and bring to the boil
  • allow to simmer for thirty minutes until most of the liquid has disappeared and the carrots are soft
  • mash those carrots with lots of black pepper and a spoonful of fat free greek yoghurt

top tips for your orange carrot mash:

  • use a bloody mandolin slicer to slice your carrots quickly and uniformly – but please watch those fingers! Only £12 on Amazon!

Two lovely sides for you to consider. Want more veggie recipes? Of course!

Yum!

J

chicken dopiaza: syn-free, easy to make gorgeous curry

Your chicken dopiaza will follow in a moment. But first, I was listening to a very interesting podcast all about regret this morning on my way into work. It was particularly befitting, as I was regretting my choice to walk in, regretting my choice to wake up in the morning and especially regretting letting someone go in front of me at the gate to the town moor, as it then meant I had twenty minutes half-walking-half-hanging-back otherwise their lycra-clad lumpen arse was filling my field of vision. I don’t have many regrets – what’s the use? I’m not Doctor Who, can’t turn the clock back (trust me, if I could, I’d go back fifteen years and tell myself not to cut off all that fabulous hair I used to have, even if a good third was missing from setting it on fire lighting a cigarette from a gas hob), so why worry? But that said, because I’m in the mood to write tonight, let me tell you about just a few things in life that I do lament.

#1: meeting Paul

Eeee no, of course not, I’m joking. We fit together like the square and the l shaped in Tetris. I very much doubt there is another man with cracking tits out there who would cheerfully put up with my arse-of-death and histrionics every morning.

#2: spending three years of my life looking like the bastard offspring of The Scottish Widow and Bubble from Big Brother 2

Let me explain. I’ve always been an up-and-down-dieter: sometimes I’m fat, sometimes I’m thin, sometimes when we touch the honesty is too much. But, after losing a hefty amount of weight in my teenage years, I couldn’t overcome the acute embarrassment I had about my big fat wobbly body – despite being only 13 stone – and so I dressed for about three years solid in a giant black wool coat that a friend bought me (little did I know) from the ladies section of C&A. I adored that coat – long, swooshing and magnificent – I’d cut about the village I grew up in like the gayest spectre of death you’d ever seen. I was by no means a goth: I was too clumsy for eyeliner, too cheerful for Livejournal poetry. But what people mistook for vivacious fashion sense (dry cough) was actually masking the desire to hide my body away in the biggest cloak I could find. Looking back at photos I’m left mortified – in 99% of them I’m wearing 28″ waist jeans and a coat that you could comfortably cover a Renault Passat with in a cold frost. In short: I look like a twat. You know what compounds the look though? I found a black bucket hat in a hedge one day and loved it that much that I took it home, washed it and never took it off again. I honestly shiver when I see it now.

And yet you know, it’s funny: I couldn’t give a toss what people think of me now. I wear what I want, most of my holiday photographs have some form of nudity in it with either my fat arse or my rack on show, and you know what? I’m all the better for it.

#3: I wish I’d bothered learning to drive sooner

I grew up in a tiny village in the middle of Northumberland with one bus connection and a kitchen outlet store. It wasn’t exactly a den of homosexuality, though I did alright on that front due to the various ‘friends from school’ I had over. But still, whenever I drive home nowadays and see all those lorries parked up, all those fun little country lanes, all those crashes with van drivers where someone gets rear-ended or has their bumper pushed in from the back…well, it’s hard not to feel like I’ve missed a glorious opportunity. But see I moved out at 18 into the centre of Newcastle and the need to drive never really came up – now it’s my most favourite thing in the world. I’d cheerfully be a lorry driver if I thought my back was up to lifting suspect rolls of carpet into ditches, but no, that time has passed. I only learned to drive at the age of 27, though I fear I’ve subtracted eighteen years of my life due to damage to my heart from getting so wound up about other drivers since then. Life’s a balance.

#4: buying cheap batteries

I let Paul convince me that buying 64 AA batteries from IKEA would be a safe bet, simply because we go through them at such a rate of knots that people think we’re road-testers for Ann Summers – which is ridiculous, because all of our sex-toys are wired straight into the fuse-board. They’ll be fine, he said, slipping lurid packets of bright yellow into our trolley. Well they’re bloody well not. I seem to spend a good third of my day sliding the plates off the back of my keyboard, remotes, magic mouse, doorbell, ped-egg and Xbox controllers because the batteries inside couldn’t power a mouse’s kettle. It’s like they’re filled with mist. What makes it worse is that our Nest smoke alarm is battery-powered. It doesn’t just beep – oh no – it shrieks, in that cold robotic voice – THE BATTERIES ARE LOW. PLEASE REPLACE THE BATTERIES, which is just what you need to wrench you from sleep at 4am in the morning. Oh and if you ignore her she ups the ante considerably: she decided to warn us that there was smoke in the hallway the last time we were in Lidl, meaning us screaming back home in the Smart Car only to find it was just her malfunctioning. Internet of Things will change your life they say. Aye, they’re not wrong: I’ve developed generalised anxiety disorder every time I hear an electronic chirp. Twitter is hell.

#5: arguing with sucker-lipped thick idiots on Facebook about manners

I know I’ve mentioned this before but honestly, I can’t help myself. I’m in a group which asks people to say please and thank you when they request help from others. The fact that it even needs to be specified boils my piss as it is, but I’m always first to point out if someone’s being an ill-mannered dick. The amount of folks who think it’s appropriate to hold up some knock-off yoghurt and say SINS without so much as a kiss-my-arse is mind-boggling. I appreciate that we’re not in church but good manners costs fuck all. Put that on a tea-towel and wipe your fadge with it. So as you can expect, I end up in all sorts of arguments with people with faces dusted with Wotsit-powder and lips like a bee-stung arsehole who say stuff like WE ARE NOT KIDS (but you are! You always are! Just because you’ve got two babies and an Elizabeth Duke pay-as-you-go engagement ring doesn’t mean you’re not 17) and THIS IS WURST THAN SCHOOL (how would you know?) and then THE ADMIN R WORSER THAN HITLER. That’s the best one: you’re compared to a man responsible for the gassing of millions of folks simply because you’ve got the cheek to expect a please before helping out. And THAT’S my regret: that I bother arguing. Have you ever tried arguing with a thick/entitled person on the Internet? You’d get a more reasoned discussion by lifting up the cat’s tail and bellowing direct into her pouting vulva. All they do is respond with an attempt at insulting you (it’s hard to take offence when you can’t decipher their spelling) and then so many crappy emoticons that it’s like watching The Emoji Movie in a haunted hall of mirrors. You can’t make someone see sense – you can lead a horse to water, but you have to strongly resist the urge to push their head under until all you’re left with is a bloated cadaver, a neck tattoo of a badly-spelled take on the name of a Love Island contestant and a scum of Paul’s Boutique foundation floating on the water.

So yes: I regret trying to encourage people to use manners.

And you know, that’s about it. It really is. As I said, what’s the use in regret? It gets you nowhere, you can’t change what has happened and most of all, it tethers you to the past when you should be moving forward.

Speaking of moving forward, let’s do this chicken dopiaza recipe – if you’re here for a good curry recipe, a chicken dopiaza is absolutely perfect. Promise you that this is easy to make, tasty and very customisable! It’s quite a mellow dish but you can make it as spicy as your little ring will handle!

chicken dopiaza

chicken dopiaza

to make chicken dopiaza you will need:

  • 500g chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or chilli powder)
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 5 tomatoes, chopped

top tips for chicken dopiaza

to make chicken dopiaza you should:

  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray in some oil
  • sprinkle the cumin seeds into the pan and stir until they start to pop – which’ll take about 20-40 seconds
  • stir in the onion and cook until starting to turn brown
  • add all the spices, ginger, tomatoes and garlic and stir well – cook for another couple of minutes
  • use a stick blender to gently blend all the mixture together until smooth
  • put the pan back over the heat and add the chicken
  • bring the whole lot to a simmer and cook for about twenty minutes or so – slosh in some water if it starts to thicken too much
  • if you want, slice another onion and quick fry with a little oil in a pan – optional but tasty!

Are you a spicy bird? We’ve got loads of curry recipes!

J

lemon and blueberry overnight oats

Just the quickest of posts for lemon and blueberry overnight oats tonight as I’m more than conscious that we’ve had a lot of waffle lately! Plus, it’s just been one of those days and all I want to do is lie on the settee with a cold flannel on my head whingeing to Paul about the state of the world. Let me how my day has gone:

  • woke up twenty minutes late as the alarm didn’t go off, meaning I had to shave/shit/shower/brush in approximately forty seconds – I’ve probably still got sweetcorn in my teeth;
  • stuck in traffic for a billion years because everyone can’t stop screwing and having awful children which apparently need educating;
  • work (and I like my job, but if you tell me you don’t have days where you’d cheerfully pitch yourself out of the window, you’re a liar and you’ve got no class)
  • half-day – hooray! – only no, I got stuck behind some silly bag in a Clio who decided to stop her car in front of the car-park entrance, blocking the exit whilst she went and found her parking ticket on the eighth floor;
  • volunteered to walk a dog at our cat and dog shelter only to find halfway that the world was in imminent danger of falling out of my arse, necessitating a prolonged spell in a supermarket toilet
  • three stone lighter and on a drip, I was given a dog to walk – a beautiful white husky – hooray! Salvation. Only no, lovely dog, but I don’t like dogs that are always showing their bumhole as they walk in front of you;
  • Archers omnibus hadn’t downloaded and with no signal all that I had to listen to was the laboured sounds of my own breathing;
  • fell over in the mud because they usually give me a tiny Jack Russell and I wasn’t aware of how powerful a husky can be;
  • went to cuddle the cats, got scratched on the neck for my bother;
  • came home to find one of our cats had accidentally been locked in the bathroom and had pissed in the bath as protest – I mean, there’s a friggin’ toilet right there;
  • spent forty minutes on the phone to Adobe Customer Support being passed through six different teams, none of whom could understand me nor fix my problem;
  • fixed that myself by having to reformat our Mac, meaning there’s all sorts of filth and pornography lost in the digital ether; and
  • I’ve made myself even more furious by recounting this all.

Oh, and now I have to go into work because I forgot to bring home the parcel of meat that I need for tonight’s dinner. Here’s a pro-tip, Newcastle: if you’re planning on getting on the road tonight and end up in front of a C3 apparently being driven by a beetroot on legs, either make sure you’re speeding or get out of my way. Cheers babes love you!

I know we’ve had a glut of overnight oats recipes lately but this lemon and blueberry overnight oats idea came from the fact that Slimming World have upgraded blueberries to a speed food. Begorrah! The world’s most duplicitous fruit (it’s not blue) has come through for us all. Hoy a handful into your breakfast and reap the whirlwind of barely noticeable flavour.

lemon and blueberry overnight oats

to make lemon and blueberry overnight oats, you’ll need:

  • 40g of oats
  • any yoghurt you like, but we used natural greek yoghurt – make sure it’s syn free
  • a big handful of blueberries
  • a lemon

This makes a very tart overnight oats, so if you like, use a vanilla yoghurt to temper the taste a little. I like a little tart in my mouth of a morning, so I’m tickety-boo.

to make lemon and blueberry overnight oats, you should:

  • cut up your blueberries and put them in the bottom
  • mix your oats with as much yoghurt as you like
  • finely grate the lemon rind (not the pith) into the yoghurt – about half
  • add a squirt of lemon juice if you fancy
  • mix it all together and save for the morning!

Look, I know, it’s not super exciting – but sometimes you need simplicity, no? If you’re seeking more exciting overnight oats, why not give our last three a try?

J

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 stripedspatula.com 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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J

banoffee overnight oats – simple and delicious

Banoffee overnight oats? Oh I know, we’re terrible, but it’s been that long since we did an overnight oats and I woke this morning just itching for a breakfast that’ll stick to the roof off my mouth and take eight weeks to pass through me. I shook Paul awake [joke redacted here involving a famous case from the 90s] and sent him to the shops to buy all the bits we needed.

Well, I couldn’t very well go myself, could I? Have you seen it out there? I can’t claim that we’re snowed in or anything dramatic, but rather we’re just awash with shite winter weather. You know the sort – the snow is icy rather than powdering so making a snowman is out of the question unless you’re wearing chain mail gloves, every conceivable surface is covered in ice just waiting to send you crashing to the floor with a fat-man-oof and the roads, oh god the roads, are full of either people driving at 2 miles an hour like they’ve got a burning chip pan in their laps or sprinting along at 90mph and wondering why you haven’t moved out of fourth gear on a 20mph limit. I just can’t be done with it.

What I can be done with however is efficiency, and that’s why today I’m treating you and going straight to the banoffee overnight oats recipe! No flim-flam. Remember to share us around!

banoffee overnight oats

banoffee overnight oats

to make banoffee overnight oats, you’ll need:

  • 40g of oats – any you like, we use Quaker oats because we’re just fancy-dan
  • one big banana – don’t be shy, get one that’ll make your eyes water
  • 4 Werthers Original sugar free sweeties (they’re only half a syn each by the way, so a good sucky-sweet) (2 syns)
  • a toffee yoghurt – any you like, but make sure they’re syn-free – Muller toffee yoghurt is certainly syn free)
  • lighter squirty cream (12.5g) (look, I just put a good squirt in there, I don’t care) (1.5 syns)

You can make these in any old container, you know, you don’t need a fancy glass. Just remember to mix things!

to make banoffee overnight oats, you should:

  • if you don’t know this by now, you will never never never know this (sorry, and mind I can’t stand Mick Hucknall, he looks like a unwashed chode emerging from a sea of ginger pubes)
  • cut your banana into thirds, and then mash two thirds up*
  • put a spoonful of mashed banana at the bottom of your glass
  • then, mix your oats with the toffee yoghurt and a spoonful of mashed banana and put in the first layer
  • smash up your werthers and sprinkle most of them in as the next layer
  • add the second layer of oats and yoghurt
  • slice up the remaining banana and dot it around the top
  • when you come to eat it the next day, top it with the squirty cream and the remainder of the smashed up sweets – yum!

OMG YOU SHUD SYN THE BANDANAS IF UR MASHING THEM

Yes, technically, you ought to syn the banana if you’re mashing it with your fork. Don’t you know mashing RELEASES THE SHERGARS? Pfft. Listen, you’re eating the same amount of banana whether you poke it in your ear, mash it with a fork or stick it up your arse. We’ve been through this. To take it to the most ludicrous conclusion, you could always put the banana in your mouth, mash it with your teeth and then spit it out again. Or just be a bloody normal person and understand that mashing a banana with your fork isn’t going to make an ha’peth of difference to your weight loss.

Though exercise caution with your banana because remember:

Enjoy!

Want more of our fabulous ideas for overnight oats? Of course!

J

super sticky mushrooms (or chicken) one-pot

A super quick fakeaway dinner of sticky mushrooms tonight because it’s boot camp in an hour or so and I need to go put on my industrial-strength Lanacane with a paint roller. Honestly, you could fry an egg on my thighs after boot-camp, which to be fair would go remarkably well with the scent of bacon that pervades. Cor, stinks in ‘ere, dunnit!

Anyway I’m terrifically excited. You know how last year was the year of mini holidays? This is the year of the beast, and we’ve finally agreed it with work, booked the flights and figured out how we’re going to look after the cats – we’ve decided to spend the next few months training them how to use the electric tin opener and leave them a slab of Whiskas. We’re going somewhere we’ve always wanted to go but never found the time: OH CANADAAAAAAA! Yes! It’s like Cub Heaven: it’s cool in temperature, hot in bearded-men stakes and full of beauty. If we happen to catch the eye of some bearish mountain daddy who wants to keep us both and take us logging, both literally and euphemistically you understand, then so be it.

You know the best bit? We’re turning left on the plane. That’s right, the pilots have read all my witty comments about having a go at the controls and said, you know what, he’s seen enough episodes of Air Crash Investigation, he knows what the flaps do, let’s give it a whirl. No, I’ve actually just come off the phone with an incredibly helpful agent who managed to get us into first class both ways (proper first class, mind) for pretty much the same price as premium economy. I was breathing that heavily with excitement that he patched me through to 111 thinking I was having chest pains. We’ve flown first before but not for 10 hours and not on the massive A380. I don’t doubt that I’ll make a tit of myself within ten minutes by blowing cheese pasty crumbs across the floor and breaking wind as they hand me my pyjamas but what can you do? I’m just upset that poor Cilla Black carked it because I would have loved to have pushed her out of her seat.

Now we’re not boasting or showing off here – we save up all year for our holiday and forgo all of life’s little pleasures to get there – we don’t smoke, don’t do drugs and only drink alcohol every other hour. We tried prostituting Paul but he just came back with a runny nose and an empty wallet. Anyway listen – it’s going to make for an absolutely blinding set of travel posts, so look forward to it!

Speaking of looking forward, I bet you’re just wishing I’d shut the hell up and get to the sticky mushrooms. Of course! This is a veggie recipe but you could very easily swap in some chicken or beef – but actually, the mushrooms work just fine on their own. Trust me! Plus if you’re in the mood for something quick and tasty, this will really hit the spot because you can make it in less time than it takes to cook the rice. You don’t need to serve it in quite such a froufrou fashion as me, either, but I remind you: I am homosexual.

sticky mushrooms

sticky mushrooms

to make super sticky mushrooms you’ll need:

  • two cloves of garlic, minced
  • 400g of mushrooms – now, get a good mix (the oriental selection in Tesco is absolutely perfect) of types and flavours and chop them up to a good uniform size – don’t just get boring plain mushrooms, you need the flavour
  • 4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (please, don’t use sweetener – you could, but it’ll ruin the taste of the dish) (3 syns) or swap for honey (1 tbsp – 2.5 syns)
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • serve with steamed rice, sliced radishes and chopped spring onions, or whatever veg and rice you want!

top tips:

  • if you want to use chicken, you may need to add about 50ml of stock – the mushrooms release a lot of water which is what creates the sticky sauce
  • keep the chicken chopped nice and small
  • mince your garlic with a little mincer and stop your fingers reeking
  • seriously don’t use sweetener – this’ll taste so much better with proper sugar!
  • this serves two

to make super sticky mushrooms you should:

  • get a good solid pan out of the cupboard and start cooking your rice – this dish only takes about fifteen minutes or so
  • spray with a Gina G of oil (ooh-aah just a little bit)
  • add your minced garlic and gently saute it until it smells laaahverley
  • add all the mushrooms and cook for a minute or two more
  • add everything else into the pan (bar the rice and spring onions and radishes, duh) and then leave to gently burble away on the hob for about ten minutes – add some stock if things start looking dry
  • once it’s dark and delicious, serve with your rice!

Now come on. Tell me that’s not easy – you add everything into one pan and gently heat until deliciousness ensues. Short of me coming around and feeding you, I can’t do anything more than that!

Want more fakeaways? Want more vegetarian recipes? Have no fear, we’ve got stories for years – click the buttons below!

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J – who is off to practice his ‘oh how cute, this is economy, is it?’ expression. I’m kidding. I’ll never change. I’m one shave away from being Rab C Nesbitt.

slow cooker pork and apple stew

We’re all about the slow cooker pork and apple stew and we’re going to get that out to you in a moment, but first, a clarification from Paul.

Well, Cubettes, I am FUMMIN hun x (it’s Paul here, by the way). After reading yesterday’s blog entry written by James, I’m going to have to put a few things straight. Namely:

Here’s how every single holiday of ours gets planned: I suggest somewhere, Paul sucks air in over his teeth and say ‘oooh’ with that look a roofer gives you when he’s going to need to take your tiles off, I suggest somewhere else, he grimaces like he’s shitting an acorn. 

I’d just like to say this is a total lie and in fact it’s bloody James that does this! I’m totally amenable to going anywhere (as long as it’s not a shithole). In fact, I can think of at least ten places I suggested that were kicked off the list for daft reasons; “too hot”, “too cold”, “we’ve done a city break already”, “they won’t like fat people”, “that’s the kind of place your mum would go”. My suggestion initially for the ‘big holiday’ was Las Vegas but that was knocked back because it was too ‘gambly’.

Honestly. I bit my tongue so hard that it gave me piles. But then, James has always been the neurotic one – we’ve written before about how he is convinced that every electrical appliance in the house is waiting for us to leave so each one can spontaneously combust into flames. Even the smoke alarm is in on the act. Have you ever known someone take out the batteries when they go away on holiday?! He will however happily leave the Mac running 24 hours a day so now those two little bald men at the top are actually burned into the screen.

So that, dear readers, is the truth. And you can rely on it being the truth because I’d never lie to you. Unlike Fatty McFat-tits. Now that’s out the way, let’s move back onto marital bliss, and this absolute belter. slow cooker pork and apple stew

slow cooker pork and apple stew

to make slow cooker pork and apple stew you will need:

  • 500g diced pork
  • 300g baby carrots
  • 1 tbsp gravy granules (2½ syns)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely sliced
  • 175ml apple juice (3½ syns)
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp thyme

We found this recipe on daisiesandpie – thoroughly recommend you take a wee look!

A slow cooker is essential if you’re following Slimming World! You don’t even need to spend much money, a cheap one will do the job just as well! You can pick one up from Amazon for peanuts and help to send a few pennies our way!

to make slow cooker pork and apple stew you should:

  • switch on the slow cooker to the LOW setting
  • spray a little oil into the bottom of the dish (Fry Light tastes shite. Get this instead!)
  • chuck everything (bar the gravy powder) into the slow cooker, pop on the lid and leave to cook for 8-9 hours
  • once you’re ready, take everything out with a slotted spoon and slop the sauce into a pan – add the gravy powder, whack the heat up and thicken that sauce
  • serve with a bit of mash for perfection

See now come on, how easy is that – and cheap too! Perfect winter warmer!

Want more slow cooker recipes? Have a look at these!

Enjoy!

J

super spring greens soup, plus a new video!

Super spring greens soup is all well and good, but let’s be honest, it’s about as exciting as receiving bad medical results in the post. There’s simply no way to make it interesting, so, instead, let me post our latest video. We are messing about with making videos but can’t be fussed making ten-a-penny recipe videos, plus not sure if we can promise you diet recipes when you can see our fat wrists clawing away at the pan handle. There’s a euphemism.

What a catastrophe! Ah I hope you like it. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

So, the soup then. We wanted something nice and fresh, despite it being mid-winter. Here’s the thing: sometimes you really do need some vitamins to wash down your endless pasta, mince, cheese, beef…this doesn’t make a smooth soup mind, so if you’re one of those fannies who can’t abide soup that isn’t like drinking gossamer silk, then tough titty. This isn’t a taste explosion, no, but it’s hearty and healthy.

Do you need a soupmaker? You can use one if you like (this is the one we have) but in all honesty, this is a pan and stick blender job. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a stick blender – a tenner will do!

spring greens soup

a

spring greens soup

to make super spring greens soup, you’ll need:

  • one big head of broccoli
  • 200g of spring greens
  • 100g of watercress or spinach if you prefer
  • 750ml of veggie stock, made from bouillon powder preferably, but listen, I’m not arsed
  • lots of black pepper and salt
  • optional, but necessary if you’re a fancy-dan like me: a scattering of pumpkin or sunflower seeds (2 syns-ish)

to make super spring greens soup, you’ll need:

  • if you’re making in a soup maker – get the stock bubbling and then cook the broccoli and spring greens for about fifteen minutes until softened – add the watercress and blitz!
  • if you’re making in a pan, much the same – boil the veg, add the watercress, use a stick blender to blitz until fairly smooth
  • top with lots of black pepper and a pinch of salt
  • serve with your nuts laid on top if you’re using, mahaha!

Want more soup ideas? Who wouldn’t?

Yum! Off to mash another banana now. Someone call A&E!

J