recipe: bacon and tomato rigatoni – syn free

Bacon and tomato rigatoni – it’s a quick meal to throw together with the added bonus of some aubergine in there so you can ‘get your speed’ and all that pap. Full confession: this is inspired by a Hello Fresh meal we had. We’re trying out Hello Fresh whilst we’re stuck at Chubby Towers Adjacent because there’s not much of a kitchen here and it was getting to the point where we were on first name terms with the entire roster of the Just Eat delivery drivers. It sounds amazing eating takeaway every day but once Paul’s lips had turned blue from the effort of shaking the drips off after a piss, we needed to change. We aren’t being paid by Hello Fresh – indeed, somehow, Paul managed to be the only person in the entire world to pay full price for his first box – but we will keep you informed as to how we go. So far, so good! Don’t you fret, though, the meals on here will always be Slimming World friendly, and this bacon and tomato rigatoni is a good example of that! Take a look:

bacon and tomato rigatoni

Oh, and this bacon and tomato rigatoni is excellent for lunches!

Anyway. How are you all coping with the kids being at home during these difficult times? Because, frankly, it must be bloody awful for you. I have made no secret on here that I am terrible with children. They can’t tell good jokes, they’re rubbish at fetching things and they command your attention all the time. I’ve already got myself for that. Babies get angry and poo all the time (and seem destined to get troubling maladies like cradle cap – a friend of mine had a baby recently and I genuinely thought she had popped out a giant rice crispie), toddlers bump into things and shout, children need clothes and feeding and teenagers – from my own experience – are whirlwinds of emotions and Lynx Africa. Nope.

The reason I mention children is that I overheard an absolute belter this morning. A very prim and proper looking family (you know the type surely, Dad will be an accountant in a failing regional firm, mum will spend her evening writing lengthy diatribes about perceived supermarket injustices on Mumsnet) were in front of me when I went to collect breakfast. There was ever so much noise as you’d expect with two children in tow, with the youngest shouting Mummy over and over again and being largely ignored save by me who tutted and made a show of turning up the volume on my earbuds*. This went on for at least five hateful minutes before he shouted MUUUUUUMMY one last time and then loudly declared that he ‘needed a big shit’. Well: they are looked mortified and I had to feign a good old corona-cough into my elbow to mask my laughter. If I had a child, that’s the kind of kid I want.

* nothing makes me feel older and in the way than trying to change songs on my Samsung Earbuds. You have to tap three times to move back a song, and double tap to move forward. I just can’t get the hang of the tapping, and as a result I’m left walking down the street swearing furiously to myself whilst tap-tap-tapping at my ears like a fucking woodpecker. Honestly, I long for the days of my JAMP3 player where I had to agonise over which twelve Limp Bizkit songs to put on it and then cut about town holding what looked like a radon detector in my hands.

Children is something that will never happen, though. Can you imagine the resulting mess that would come about from Paul and I blurting into a test-tube together and getting it fertilised? If we were lucky we’d end up with a child who inherited my humour and height together with Paul’s fabulous eyebrows and exhaustive intellect but readers, we’re not lucky. The little bugger would get my “designed by Frank Gehry” nose, Paul’s pig-trotter feet, my total irrationality and some bizarre combination of the very worst of all our features. In short, our child would look like a badly-faxed photo of Ann Widdecombe, and that’s something this world doesn’t need.

I’ll concede on one aspect of having children around that I would like: taking them to magical places like Disney. I bet that’s an amazing feeling seeing their faces light up with joy and wonder. But see, that feeling would soon sour when we left them in the car with the window down whilst we went shrieking round the teacups. It’s just too much responsibility for a man for whom keeping a basil plant alive for two weeks is his crowning achievement in fatherhood.

Luckily, I have a nephew who I can deign to visit on occasion, and he’s really not bad for a mewling bespectacled hellion, though I’m reminded that I made the correct life choices within four minutes of being in his presence. If children came with an off button I’d be far more inclined to consider one, but the endless volume is really too much for my old ears.

Anyway. That’s quite enough chatter for now. Shall we get to the bacon and tomato rigatoni? We ought to: it’s really very good.

bacon and tomato rigatoni

If you’re not a fan of bacon in the bacon and tomato rigatoni, swap it out for chorizo!

bacon and tomato rigatoni

You can all sorts of vegetables into the bacon and tomato rigatoni, but this works jut fine as it is for Slimming World.

bacon and tomato rigatoni

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

We seem to have hit a bit of a run with pasta recipes here at twochubbycubs but I shan't apologise for it. No no. See, quick meals you can throw together with whatever shite you have in the fridge is our raison d'être and frankly, this bacon and tomato rigatoni is very much one of those. We have, of course, tweaked it slightly for Slimming World. But damn does it taste good!

Ingredients

  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 300g plum tomatoes, halved
  • 80g reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled (use your HEA!)
  • 400g dried rigatoni
  • 120g bacon medallions, diced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried crushed chillis

Instructions

  • first, preheat your grill to high and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil
  • as those are heating up, halve your aubergines lengthways, then slice slice each half into centimetre long strips, then slice the other way for cute little 1cm cubes
  • spread the aubergine cubes out onto a baking sheet into a single layer and spray with a little oil, and sprinkle with a little bit of salt
  • place under the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, then turn and cook for another ten minutes
  • as that's going on, cook the pasta according to the instructions
  • meanwhile, spray a large frying pan with a bit of oil and place over a high heat
  • add the bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes, until crispy
  • reduce the heat to medium high and add the onion, and cook until soft (about 4 minutes, stirring frequently)
  • add the garlic and the chilli flakes to the pan, stir, and cook for another minute 
  • add the tin of chopped tomatoes and stir
  • reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • once the aubergine is cooked, stir it into the pasta sauce
  • meanwhile, place the cherry tomatoes onto the same tray you used for the aubergine, spray with a bit of oil, and crumble over the feta. Pop under the grill for 4-5 minutes
  • when the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the tomato sauce with the grilled plum tomatoes, and stir
  • serve to gasps of amazement

Notes

The dish

  • diced aubergine really helps to pad this out and make it go further, and tastes bloody lovely
  • you can swap out the bacon for chorizo if you like

The books

  • our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 2400 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedback!

Tools

  • nothing fancy needed for this recipe, but if you need some new lunchboxes for work, the SISTEMA ones we use are currently on sale at time of writing - click here!

Courses dinner

Cuisine pasta

Tasty stuff! Once you’ve had your fill of syn free bacon and tomato rigatoni, why not spin the wheel on our other pasta dishes? Here’s links to ten syn-free dishes!

Enjoy!

J

chorizo and bacon carbonara: carbonara? I…ah bugger it

Boy, am I sick of that joke. Yes, though, chorizo and bacon carbonara is coming up – we posted it on our Instagram a few weeks ago as just a lunch idea but we had enough people asking for the recipe that we thought we would throw it on here. I mean, the chorizo and bacon carbonara is just our bog standard carbonara but damned if I ain’t seeing people making carbonara with vanilla yoghurt yet again: and I wish that was a joke, truly I do.

How are we? Still holed up at Chubby Towers Adjacent, still fat and still mean-spirited. We are having work done to the original Chubby Towers. This means a steady stream of builders, electricians and mean-looking gas men which leaves me with such a hot flush that you could fry an egg on my head. To be fair, you could run a motorway layby food-van on there given the size of my fivehead but that, Madam, is entirely besides the point. Our temporary residence in a local hotel does, however, come with some perks.

Firstly, we have been in the same hotel where Network Rail temporarily house all of their engineers when they’re in Newcastle, and to say it has been a treat for the eyes is a massive understatement. Every single day, around 8am, the reception is full of hurly-burly bearded men all coming back from a difficult shift mending the railways. Around 9pm, they all depart for the night. I know this because I’m usually outside smoking with my face full of lust and my brain full of ways I could reasonably make Paul disappear and thus be free to live a life as a worker’s wife. They’re stunning. I’m not saying I’m obsessed but I’m fairly sure they could helicopter me in as their shift organiser, given I seem to know their schedules down pat. The hotel had to ask me to come down later for breakfast because frankly, the whistle of my dilated bumhole was getting mistaken for a faulty kettle. But that’s quite enough of that, although know that if I do disappear and the blog is never updated again, I’m rolled up in a carpet down a railway embankment with the biggest smile on my face.

Secondly, breakfast: they’re kind enough to put a free continental breakfast bag out in the morning, which delights my obesity. When we first ‘moved in’ these bags consisted of a little croissant and an orange because it was the height of lockdown and everyone was about to die. Thankfully, they have upgraded these to include a cereal bar, some toast and two little Costco muffins. Paul, who takes great pains to assure me that he isn’t snacking as he’s trying to lose weight, was rumbled by me getting into his car and finding about thirty of the muffin-cases stuffed guiltily under the passenger seat. To be fair, he’d find far worse under mine. A recent development is free hot bacon sandwiches which are a treat because they use proper stotties and bacon that they set away cooking when they put the Christmas sprouts on. I’m not mocking: it’s nice to have a sandwich that you’re still feeling the benefit of a couple of days later when the bacon works its way back under from your teeth.

Thirdly, temporarily living in a hotel has given me many occasions to totally make a tit of myself, which honestly takes no effort at all for me given my life seems to be a series of slapstick and pratfalls. By way of example, we’re on the sixth floor, and on three entirely separate occasions I’ve been returning to the room a touch tiddlysquiff, entirely engrossed on my phone and failing to notice the lift stopped on the fifth floor when I got out. I go careering down the corridor and start braying on the door of what I think is our room, shouting jokey obscenities and yelling that Paul had better not have anyone in there, only for the door to be answered by some very startled looking guest who wasn’t Paul at all. Or if it was Paul, he’s really been cracking along with his keto – and has grown a better set of boobs than what he currently has – given it’s always been a lady who answered the door. She looked less forgiving the second time I accidentally woke her, I can tell you.

At least I’m on good terms with the reception staff and have totally embraced my role as Filthy Alan Partridge (Anal Partridge?). Upon learning that the seal under our bath had been leaking water into the bedroom below (that poor lass really does have it difficult), a man was dispatched to fix the bath. Upon returning to the hotel later that evening I was told that the flood had been caused by ‘my ring perishing’. I heartily guffawed that it wouldn’t be the first time altogether too loudly, much to the consternation of all the lovely tradies drinking their beer. All that was needed was for Paul to bend over and his bra to come pinging off and Carry On Chubby would have been completed.

Anyway, I digress. But I wanted to say, all is well, we are well and I hope you are too. Now before we get to the chorizo and bacon carbonara, just the small matter of our planner. As you may or may not know, it’s been out for a couple of weeks and the reviews are lovely! Going forward, we will be doing a planner post every week (next one tomorrow, then it’ll shift to Monday). Keep an eye out!

bacon and chorizo carbonara

How good does that chorizo and bacon carbonara look? EH?

To the chorizo and bacon carbonara then, and not a moment too soon.

chorizo and bacon carbonara

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 2 servings

Right, perfect for Slimming World and all other diets, this chorizo and bacon carbonara is a fucking delight. There, I've said it. Hoy some parmesan on at the end if you're feeling decadent but otherwise, it takes ten minutes to make and will really satisfy you in a way that no battery powered dongle ever could.

This makes enough for two. 

Ingredients

  • 200g of linguine (I use that instead of spaghetti, but it really makes no odds)
  • 50g of chopped chorizo (6 syns)
  • four or five bacon medallions with all the fat cut off
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • three egg yolks - you can use the whites to make an egg-white omelette, or you can stop bumping your lips and throw the whites down the sink so you can watch them sploosh down the plughole like everyone else, you contrary tinker
  • black pepper

Note: do not salt the water when you boil your spaghetti: chorizo and bacon add a lot of saltiness, so don't be adding more for Christ's sakes

Instructions

  • get a big old pan, fill it with cold water and get it boiling away
  • pop your linguine in to cook
  • meanwhile, if you don't mind, chop your chorizo and bacon off as finely as you can - we like to cook it almost so it goes like crumbs, but it's up to you
  • finely slice the green of the spring onions whilst you're waiting
  • when the linguine is cooked through, get ready to act quickly
  • drain the water from the linguine, keeping aside a small cup full
  • add the egg yolks, bacon and chorizo in with the hot linguine and stir to absolute fuckery - you want the heat to cook the egg but you don't want it to scramble (though if it does, no big loss, it just doesn't look as good)
  • if it goes a bit claggy, and it shouldn't if you're quick, add a tablespoon or two of the hot pasta water
  • once mixed, plate up and top with the greens of the spring onions
  • add grated parmesan and so much black pepper if you so desire

We serve ours with the bacon and chorizo on top - see the picture - but there's no right or wrong way.

Notes

Food

  • you can absolutely leave the chorizo out to save on syns, but only if you're devoid of all fun and taste in your life
  • crumbled up sausage meat is also lovely in this - fry it as you would fry the chorizo
  • don't be adding oil when you do the bacon and chorizo because the chorizo oil is all you need

Tools

Books

  • our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now - full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 2400 5* reviews - even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant - you can order it here - thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedback!

Courses dinner

Cuisine Italian

Chorizo and bacon carbonara done, perhaps you need some more pasta recipes? Sure thing!

Enjoy!

J

cheddar cheese risotto – don’t mind the chest pains

Cheddar cheese risotto. Listen, if that doesn’t put a teardrop in your knickers then you’re dead inside and no amount of me luridly describing Jason Momoa spitting in your mouth during rough sex is going to get you in the mood, is it? What an opening sentence! It’s Saturday, so that means new post day, and here I am, up at the crack of dawn feeling sorry for myself because Yodel are delivering a parcel and that means having to set aside fourteen years to anxiously pluck at the blinds in my living room and wait for the delivery man to come sauntering up the street to the house next door to put a ‘sorry we missed you’ card through their door. They’re not sorry.

I’ve been suffering with a particularly severe form of tinnitus the last few weeks and I can’t deny it’s been getting me down. I’m alright at work, surrounded by noise, but first thing in the morning, or when I’m sitting on the toilet, or just drifting off to slumber, I hear it – this slightly camp, Liverpudlian/Oxford/Welsh accent (imagine if Inspector Morse fucked Cilla Black, and then sent the offspring to a detention centre in Llandudno (and a consonant please, Rachel) and you’ve got the idea) mewing away saying ‘when are you posting part two of my article, you fat, unloved bastard’. It’s been especially distressing the last couple of weeks when it’s become an endless barrage of lisped letters and threats so thinly-veiled you could use them as petrol station shit-tickets. So, without further delay, and possibly because there’s a real threat of my eyes being set on fire if I don’t comply, here’s part two of Shigella’s guide to the perfect buffet. Please do leave him feedback: he’s a budding writer (in that he’s just learned how to use a pen at 38 years old) and craves attention.

STRONG WORDS OF WARNING: he, like me, has an especially blunt sense of humour. If you are easily offended, boo-hoo, have a box of biscuits and shush. It is, however, a long article, so scroll until you see a plate of pure sex in the form of cheddar cheese risotto if you’re just here for the recipe. But trust me, you’ll be missing out. 

cheddar cheese risotto

click here to read part one – it’ll open in a new window, because we’re super fancy and don’t want to risk losing all that juicy ad revenue

With sausage rolls done, you’ve now got the beige foundation in place. A scotch egg, whilst delicious, is too big to be a buffet food, so go for the mini eggs you can get in every supermarket. You want the ones that contain the egg mayonnaise type mixture inside, don’t do what I did recently and get caught out by one of the fucking awful imposters that have flooded the market. I fell for this trend for fuckery from Marks and Spencer’s of all places (a yellow stickered reduction, obviously, I was only in there to shoplift pants). I got home, tore feverishly into the packaging and lobbed a whole mini egg into my gob (I’ve had the entire patronage of a German Gentlemen’s club in there before, one egg is nothing). I bit down expecting a meaty, eggy explosion only for my mouth to be filled with…ketchup. Now I realise those fancy folk at M&S are my social betters and must know more than me about these things. I’ve tried to be M&S standard but I’m too fat to go fox hunting (have you ever seen a large family car on top of a horse – if not, imagine that, and you’ll see my distress) and my uncle prefers my brother over me so I’ve given up trying to understand their ways. But who in their right mind thinks ‘well Kenneth, if they like smooshed up egg and mayo, they’re going to fucking love vinegary tomato water as well’?

It’s all a bit ‘Heston’ for my liking. All that shit he knocks out for Christmas. Christmas Pudding with a whole plum in, mince pies with half a satsuma, turkey stuffed with a goose, stuffed with chicken stuffed with a divan drawer containing a missing girl from Dewsbury. Like Pandora’s Box or James’ legs, once they’re opened they won’t close. A line needs to be drawn. Stop buying this shit and they’ll stop making it.

Next to your mini eggs, eggs being the keyword here, not Asda own brand red sauce, you need something a bit more robust. You can’t go wrong with pork pie. Whilst I admit I may sound slightly hypocritical by saying I enjoy pork pie topped with and onion chutney or a pickle, these are too fancy for a buffet. Like any good gay I keep the satisfying toppings to the privacy of my own bedroom, kitchen, living room, the woods, the back of a car, the bonnet of a car, next to Boy George’s radiator, public toilets… I’M A PRIVATE KIND OF GUY AND I WISH YOU’D RESPECT THAT. Slice your pork pies into quarters so your guests can decide whether they want a bit with more delicious boiled pig jelly or if they’d prefer to go in dry.

Now you need some crisps. Unless you’re serving them from the bag (you fucking tramp) no one is going to see what kind you’re serving so there’s no need to go posh. Pringles from the tube, whilst convenient, are a fucking nightmare to get out unless you’ve got a Jeremy Beadle style claw-machine hand, so it’s a no to them. I remember a birthday part I went to as a kid where the bowl of crisps was loads of different flavours mixed together. My tiny little mind was blown. Every bite a different flavour? Fucking witchcraft. Things to avoid: Wotsits: you don’t need people wondering round your house smearing orange gunk all over your soft furnishing. Plus, there’s always the risk of getting found out that one of your guests wanked you off to thank you for your hospitality when your husband sees your knob glowing bright orange like you’ve had a tit wank off Katie Price on fake-tan top-up day. Also, I’d pass on the Scampi-n-Lemon Nik-Naks. For obvious, unfortunately-censored reasons. [James edit: aye, I like it near the knuckle, but so do they]

Fancy up your crisps up with a dip selection if you’re so inclined. There is nothing wrong at all with one of those four in one dip packs you get at supermarkets. When serving one of these it is important to throw away the lid before it reaches the table so no one knows what they’re eating. That way people will eat all the dips because they’ll forget which one tastes like the underside of a rent boy’s foreskin after the weekend of the Tory Party conference. If you’re having dips you may as well get breadsticks. When I went to America a few years back my mind was blown to discover a breadstick could actually be a delicious, warm stick of actual bread and not those brittle sticks of dust that could be used as an effective weapon in a prison brawl. Regardless, someone eats them so pop them out and they can be used to mop up residual dip.

A good buffet needs sandwiches. This is the most time-consuming part of the preparation but I’m afraid they’re essential. However, the best part of buffet sandwiches are they fact they’re so arse-numbingly boring that you don’t need to spend ages on the fillings.  You only need to do 3 types of sandwiches, all on bread so white and cheap it would vote leave, get hard over a blue passport and complain their Spanish holiday they got for a tenner from tokens in the Mail on Sunday is ruined by being full of foreigners. Smear liberally with your favourite ‘I can’t believe it’s not dripping’ butter substitute then apply one of the following three fillings:

  • grated mild, flavourless, cheddar from a bag.
  • ham – the kind you get 20 slices for a quid and have to blot with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. One single slice per sandwich.
  • egg mayo – from one of those giant tubs that when you open the house fills with a smell best described as Rolf’s arsehole after his first week in prison.

That’s it. No pickle, no mustard nor any cress. A true buffet sandwich is as basic as a pumpkin spiced latte drank whilst wearing Ugg boots and listening to Ed Sheeran. Cut into wonky quarters and cover badly with cling film so the edges stale slightly until ready to serve.

A buffet staple that is becoming increasingly overlooked these days is food on sticks. I’m not talking the frozen stuff you get from Iceland (I’ll get to them) but the homemade stuff. That’s right people: cheese and pineapple. This is the stuff that childhood dreams and adult wank fantasies are made of. Hacking away at a block of Smart Price cheddar the size of a house brick and spearing it aside a pineapple chunk you’ve fished out of a tin then having it displayed proudly from a foil wrapped baked potato is what this country was built on. Well that or racism, but as one of my friends is black I’d like think it’s this. If I don’t see one of these bad boys on your buffet table you better believe I’m going to fuck your husband and wipe my knob off on your nets after. Britain is already broken, why make it worse?

Now, here’s a controversial one for you but hear me out. You trust me, right? We’re all friends here. I promise it won’t hurt for long, shhhhh don’t cry, just push out as I push in…cocktail sausage and mini pickled onion on a stick. Now unclutch those pearls and let me explain my logic to you. Cocktail sausages are more of a texture than a flavour, they need a fuck load of salt or ketchup to really get them tasting of anything. The sharpness and crunch of a cocktail onion really bloody works with it. Next time you’re setting up a buffet, try it for yourself! Worst case scenario and I’m wrong (but if I managed to convince that jury I fell and landed on every single penis in that football team, then legally I can’t be wrong) then you can serve the sausages and onions separately. But we can’t be friends.  Lovers, but not friends.

These are your buffet staples and you can make large enough quantities to feed everyone without extra fuckery. But if you want to pad it out, supermarket party food is the way to go.  Especially now it’s always on multibuy offers so you can fill your freezer until you need them. Unless like me, it’s 3am on a Wednesday and the fit ginger lad from Greggs as just been around to feed me his YumYum and I feel the need to follow it up with 24 assorted vol-au-vents. If you’re using pre-packed party food the biggest piece of advice I can give you is FOR THE LOVE OF CHER MAKE SURE THERE IS ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE. Got 20 people coming? 40 chicken skewers minimum. Don’t be that fucker that puts out 10. If you are that person, look in the mirror. Take a long hard look at yourself. Who hurt you Brenda? Why are you like this? Most supermarkets have got clever so the party food all cooks at the same temperature so you can do it in advance. Except mini kievs. Do these fresh, no one likes a cold kiev. If there’s no risk of a garlic butter spray that leaves you with third-degree burns then, frankly, it’s a waste of chicken gristle and panko.

What even is panko, anyway?

[James edit: fuck off]

I don’t serve pudding at a buffet, I’m a savoury kind of guy, but if I’m feeling festive I’ll empty a few tubs of celebrations into bowls and scatter them around the table and that usually will do it. I will put on a cheeseboard but my love of cheese is a whole other ten-thousand-word essay.

So, to surmise:

  • hot fork buffet are for wankers who put their Lidl shopping in Waitrose bags before they get out of the car
  • make enough fucking food for everyone
  • beige is best

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to hear more from me, let the cubs know. They’re keeping me in their attic at the moment and I’m having to survive on what I can wring out of their ‘magic’ socks and rainwater. Please send help/cash/nudes.


I know, right?

You’re back with James now, don’t worry. The gay sex jokes are just as laboured but at least you won’t be starving. Please. You’re always hungry. Neither of us got to the point of scrolling right to the end of the available sizes on H&M and crying from being moderate with our food intake.

Food time. This is another recipe we’ve ‘appropriated’ from Nigella, but she’s cool, she’ll appreciate the thought of two fat blokes shrieking in the kitchen as they tip an entire worktop’s worth of grated cheddar into the risotto pan. You, with those raw thighs, ought to stick to the SW recommended amount of cheese.

cheddar cheese risotto

1 vote

Print

cheddar cheese risotto: with ham and leeks and everything

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Right, look - risottos take a bit of time, and I actually made this the proper way by adding ladles of stock one at a time, stirring until absorbed and gazing icily into the sitting room where Paul was watching telly whilst my ankles ached. But you can do it the twochubbycubs way too: just throw all the stock in, bang the lid on and walk away for twenty minutes or so. I don't care, I'm not your mother: if we were, you'd never go out wearing that, young lady.

I use butter in this recipe because it's nicer, but if you wanted to make it syn free, just use Frylight. Pfft.

Ingredients

This makes enough for four, but only uses four Healthy Extra A choices. Because that matters. So don't worry, if you're being a fatty fatty bum bum, you can have an extra Healthy Extra A later. But I don't care.

  • 25g butter (7 syns, if you use reduced fat butter, or if you're like me, make out like you did but actually used proper full fat butter because it's sexier)
  • 5 finely sliced baby leeks
  • as much shredded/cut-up ham that you have
  • 300 grams risotto rice
  • ½ teaspoon dijon mustard (which I'm not synning, and you can fuck right off if you're worried about a tenth of a syn)
  • 1.2 litre hot vegetable stock
  • 120 grams grated extra mature cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Instructions

  • melt the butter on a low heat and add your leeks - allow to soften and burble away nicely
  • add the mustard and the rice and stir everything through, coating all the rice in that delicious, filthy butter
  • now, it's up to you:
    • add all the stock at once, throw the lid on and allow to simmer for about twenty minutes until cooked; or
    • add the stock one ladle at a time, waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more - this makes a creamier risotto and is generally worth the effort but, I know, that Chat magazine isn't going to read itself
  • once the rice is cooked, add the cheese and ham and stir, saving a bit of ham for the top if you're fancy
  • sprinkle with chives or, if you're like me, leave them in the fridge

Enjoy!

Notes

  • for a risotto - and especially if you're going to do the old throw-it-all-in-and-walk-away technique - you want a good heavy pan that doesn't stick - we use Le Creuset because we're posh and Amazon currently have a good range
  • can't afford to spunk £150 on a pan or just plain old tight? No worries - Marks and Spencers currently do a knock-off Le Creuset range which is really decent for the price
  • this recipe is adapted from Nigella Express, one of my favourites
  • add peas, garlic, peppers, bacon, any old shite

Courses evening meal

Cuisine stodge

Yum! What more could you possibly want from us?

We have an absolute bucketload of risotto recipes, why not try them?

Enjoy!

Also: 5 February 2019. Sssssh.

spinach, pea and ham thick soup

I’ve tried so hard to make this soup look faintly attractive in the photos, but I can’t. It’s green slop, but it’s so tasty – pea and ham thick soup that looks like something from the sink trap. Anyway, it’ll do the job for days when you want something quick and easy to satisfy your hole and the postman has already been. I say that with an air of familiarity – our postman is delicious. I know it doesn’t do to judge people on looks but goodness me, he has legs I could spin around on and a face that just screams ‘I’ll apologise after’. Here’s me looking forlornly out of the window once he’s passed by.

If you’re a fan of sporadic updates, non-food related shenanigans and overly-saturated photos of bear cubs so past their prime we should be dancing on a rescue advert somewhere, then why not join us on Instagram?

The pea and ham thick soup, then:

pea and ham thick soup

pea and ham thick soup

pea and ham thick soup

1 vote

Print

syn free pea and ham thick soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 bowls

This syn free pea and ham thick soup - there's no way of making it sound attractive - comes straight from Jamie Oliver himself. I know he's divisive but I have a lot of time for him - anyone who can make decent food through such a heavy mist of spittle is a winner in my books. This soup is so easy to make - chuck it in a blender, throw it in a pan, spin it out the window, dance like no-one's watching. Keeps well in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 350g frozen peas
  • 300g frozen chopped spinach
  • 100g ham
  • big handful of fresh mint
  • 300g dried pasta, any old shite will do
  • 50g feta cheese (use your HEA)
  • 1600ml of chicken stock

Instructions

  • chop the spring onions
  • throw the peas, mint, spring onion, ham, frozen spinach and 400ml of chicken stock in a blender and blend the buggery out of it - add a pinch of salt and pepper
  • pour into a pan and add 1200ml of chicken stock
  • smash up your pasta - hit it with a rolling pin - and tip it in - let everything bubble for about twenty minutes until the pasta is cooked
  • serve with the feta crumbled in
  • lots of black pepper and salt, natch

Notes

  • this recipe came from Jamie's book all about his family and their expensive house and wholewheat pasta and Cath Kidson tableware. If you fancy replicating the experience with your B&M saucepans and Charles and Diana pinny, you can order his book from here
  • actually fair play to him, it's a great book - tonnes of recipes easily adapted for SW
  • it won't surprise you but we have a fancy blender that could blend anything, you can get one, or just use a stick blender - you don't need to spend lots of money to do our recipe!
  • we let ours bubble away for a good two hours (accidentally, I fell asleep watching Murder She Wrote) and it was lovely and thick - don't be frightened to cook it for longer!

Courses soup

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Fancy, right? Want some more soup that you could smash your face in? Of course, we’ve got loads that are syn free!

Yum!

J

red pesto pasta – the easiest dinner in the world, ever

OK so maybe not the easiest dinner in the world but red pesto pasta sure as hell beats ‘shit with sugar sandwiches’ that my mother, bless her blackened heart, used to threaten us with when we whinged on. Pfft, at least we would have got some fibre into our diet!

I’m pleased as punch writing this – I totally pulled at Pride on Saturday. Now you must know that Paul and I are terribly loyal to one another but we’re realists, there’s no harm in looking at the sweet-shop as long as you’re not unwrapping and swallowing. And, if you are, you enjoy your pic-n-mix together, see? But I asked some hurly-burly bear where he got his t-shirt (check me out, being social) and he responded with ‘oooooh, off yer bedroom floor love’.

I think, technically, that means we’re now betrothed and we’ll need to send Paul away with all of his clothing packed into a Lidl bag, walking out into the night back to Peterborough. Ah I jest. Listen, you can’t have James without Paul – it’s like French without Saunders, or Fred without Rose. It just doesn’t work.

Pride was great fun though, as it always is, though an entirely different beast to Northumberland Pride – lots more stalls, huge queues and lots more fetishwear. I dropped my wallet on the floor in front of the burger stand and had to be very cautious picking it up in case some leather-daddy took it upon himself to fist me like Winnie the Pooh reaching in for honey.

I love Pride events – so many happy people out to celebrate love. But by Christ, it makes you feel old.  remember being teenage and full of literal and metaphorical spunk, having a whale of a time and being myself without stressing about labels and identity and gender. Happy times. Now I spend a good half of the time at Pride wondering where I can get a nice sit down because my feet hurt. I actually found myself wincing when we went into the music tent, although in our defence they were playing S Club 3. You’ve heard of them, yes? S Club 7 with all the talent removed. So, S Club 7.

No that’s mean, Don’t Stop Moving is a belting tune. Much better when The Beautiful South covered it in a blues style, though:

The day passed in a blur of trying not to buy stuff because we’re cheap, trying not to eat stuff because we’re on a diet and dealing with the super-awkward situation of being recognised by lovely folks who said hello and then had to immediately witness us stumbling over our words and blushing furiously. Admittedly, it’s not like anyone is camping out on our lawn, but it does happen more often than you think and when it does, it throws me off. Don’t let it stop you, though, if you ever see us out and about do come over and say hello: if you’re a fan of awkward conversation and slightly too long stares, you’ll get your fill with us!

Oh, and we also rescued a dog.

Good heavens! Good boy!

A post shared by twochubbycubs (@twochubbycubs) on

Again, maybe it speaks to my age or my obesity, but all I could think of was how hot he must be under there. Not his naked lithe body, no, that doesn’t do anything for me, but I was sweating like a glassblower’s arse and all I had on, as you can see, was a cheap H&M sailor shirt and half a shaved gorilla. I think I have more hair draped over my right nipple than Paul does on his entire body. He must have been absolutely dripping under all that PVC, and to make things worse, I saw him locked in a car in ASDA car-park later. Dogs die in hot cars, you know.

What else to report? Very little, I’m afraid: our evenings have been given over to stuffing envelopes and licking stamps and trying to think of 800 creative ways to draw knobs on envelopes when we’re sending out our twochubbycubs badges. The good news is that our badges are flying out so get your orders in and keep us in gin.

Dunno what she means…

I messed up a little bit by addressing a badge to a lady but calling her DILF-MASTER GENERAL, though. See, what was I saying about gender insensitivities? Right, shall we get to the red pesto pasta? It’s almost a cheek to call it a recipe, because honestly it’s just mixing a few things together, but sometimes you want something plain filling your hole, but still tasty. This red pesto pasta is exactly that! So enjoy.

red pesto pasta

red pesto pasta

1 vote

Print

red pesto pasta

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This recipe is ridiculously easy but doesn't 'alf pack a punch on the taste front. This should take you no more than 10 minutes and only uses one pan! What's not to love?! 

Ingredients

  • 500g linguine
  • 6 tbsp red chilli pesto (9 syns)
  • 90g ricotta (1x HeA)
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 30g parmesan (1x HeA)

Instructions

  • cook the pasta according to the instructions but stop just short of fully done - you want it to have a bit of bite to it
  • reserve half a mug of the pasta water
  • drain the pasta and return to the pan
  • lob in the pesto, ricotta, basil and parmesan and stir - dribble in a bit of the pasta water to loosen it if needed
  • serve!

Notes

  • we used linguine (it's like a flat spaghetti) but honestly, any pasta will do
  • if you can't find red chilli pesto just use normal red pesto and add half a teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • you could use quark or Philadelphia instead of the ricotta if you like - but where's the fun in that?
  • like our pan? It's Le Creuset - you can buy it here!
  • this will take up only half a Healthy Extra A choice per person but if you prefer to use your syns instead it's only 5 each
  • you can easily scale this recipe - just half or double it as needed - it'll still come out fine.

Courses lunch, dinner

Cuisine italian

How easy was that? Tell your friends.

Now if you want some more pasta lunch ideas, of course, we have loads, including:

Yum!

J

no regrets proper macaroni cheese

Well, this is naughty: our no regrets proper macaroni cheese. It’s macaroni cheese done right, and comes in at 24 syns a serving. This is in no way diet food: but sometimes you need a Hot Flavour Injection before you get back on the horse to Bland Town. This dish is the culinary equivalent of telling your wife you’re discussing spreadsheets at a conference when you’re actually paying someone to do all those things to you that you read in Schmutziges Erotik-Pferd back in the fifties. Filth!

We shan’t mess about with gossip and flim-flam – I don’t doubt you’re chomping at the clout to get to our proper macaroni cheese, so let’s get straight to it. No foreplay.

proper macaroni cheese

proper macaroni cheese

I know, right?

1 vote

Print

proper macaroni cheese and to hell with the syns

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 servings

Sometimes you need something dirty. In situations like that, no amount of pretending Quark is anything other than something scraped from under a particularly pungent bellend will do. No, sometimes you need something proper to hit the spot rather than pretend, and this macaroni cheese - loaded with butter, cheese, chorizo and more cheese, will do just that. 

This is 24 syns per serving. You'll need to put a towel down, just saying.

Ingredients

  • 500g penne
  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 chorizo ring, finely chopped (31 syns)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 50g panko (9 syns)
  • 6 tbsp butter (33 syns)
  • 70g flour (12½ syns)
  • 1 litre whole milk (30 syns) 
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp sriracha (2 syns)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 125g extra-mature cheddar, grated (25 syns)
  • 125g red leicester, grated (25 syns)
  • 125g mozarella, grated (17½ syns)
  • 50g parmesan, grated (12 syns)

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions, then drain
  • place the cherry tomatoes onto a baking tray and drizzle with a little oil, and sprinkle over some salt, and bake for twenty minutes
  • heat a large pan over a medium-high heat
  • add a few teaspoons of oil and fry the chorizo and onion until crisp
  • use a slotted spoon to scoop out the chorizo and onion, and set aside
  • reduce the heat to medium and add the butter to the same pan (with the tasty chorizo oil) and stir continuously until melted
  • add the flour to the pan and stir for a minute
  • whisk in the milk and bring to the boil, whisking constantly
  • add the mustard, sriracha and Worcestershire sauce to the pan and keep whisking
  • add in the cheese, reserving a quarter of each for the topping, plus the chorizo and onions, and keep stirring
  • tip the drained pasta into the cheese sauce and mix well
  • tip into a large dish and top with the cherry tomatoes
  • sprinkle over the panko, parmesan and the rest of the cheese and bake for 35 minutes

Notes

  • you may need one of these from Amazon
  • If you find that your companion has gone blue at the lips, follow these steps:
    • place the heel of your hand on the centre of the person's chest, then place the other hand on top and press down by 5-6cm (2-2.5 inches) at a steady rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
    • after every 30 chest compressions, give two rescue breaths.
    • tilt the casualty's head gently and lift the chin up with two fingers. Pinch the person’s nose. Seal your mouth over their mouth and blow steadily and firmly into their mouth for about one second. Check that their chest rises. Give two rescue breaths.
    • continue with cycles of 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths until they begin to recover or emergency help arrives

Courses whore

Cuisine Italian

Now of course one must remember that this is a diet blog so, if the above has left you leaking like a broken fridge but unable to see said leak because you’ve got a continental shelf rather than a gunt, panic not. We’ve got you, fam – here’s some diet takes on macaroni cheese to keep you going:

Enjoy!

J

coronation chicken pasta salad: batch cook lunch!

You’re here for the coronation chicken pasta salad, and who can blame you? Lunch times – when you work – are one of the hardest meals to get right when you’re on Slimming World. There’s only so many times you can crack open a tupperware box of cherry tomatoes and unwrap a Hifi bar before you seriously contemplate pushing your face into your desk-fan and ending it all. No? Just me?

Well the good news is it’s just a quick post tonight as we’ve got boot-camp to go to and these tits aren’t going to heave themselves, are they? But I do have a quick question for all the cat lovers out there: is there a reason why a perfectly standoffish cat would certainly be all over me like bird crap o a just-washed car?

I ask because that’s exactly what has happened with Bowser, our tom cat with the torn ears. He’s gone from spending his life giving me disdainful looks and wiping his arse on the carpet (particularly galling – he’s fully wormed, so he’s doing it out of spite and/or copying Paul) to hanging around me all day, mewing and purring. He seems happy enough – no obvious pain, eating his food, constantly looking cheerful, he’s given up smoking – but I can’t deny it isn’t getting irritating.

Things came to a head today when I woke up with his tiny little anus about the distance of the thickness of a stamp away from my eyes. He had decided, in his infinite, faintly-Whiskers-scented wisdom, that the first thing I needed to see when I cracked my eyes open was an extreme close-up of what looked like a drought-hit reservoir. It took me a moment or two to work it out, and you can only imagine how pleased I was that I hadn’t assumed it was Paul coming in for a kiss.

I forgave him quick enough when he turned on his tractor-purr and started padding about. He means well, and anyway, who hasn’t been so proud of their own jail purse that they want to show their nearest and dearest? It’s why I’m not welcome at weddings.

However, I can forgive many things, but not using my scrotum as a pulling-up point. See, in his haste to get up on my shoulders, he decided to climb up me as I sat nude after the shower – and rather than using his feline athleticism to leap up onto the back of my chair as he has done so many times previously, he jumped up and implanted his claws right into my ball-sack on his way up.

Well.

I’m amazed that he didn’t explode Scanners-style, given how high-pitched and immediate my reaction was. He dashed out into the garden whilst I tried to work out how I’d gone from approving posts on facebook to staggering around with a punctured spunk-bunker. Thank god I don’t need to worry about my fertility.

Anyway. All is well. I sat on a bag of peas for a bit (Paul can have them in his dinner, they’ll come with free dental-floss for after) and thankfully, everything still seems to work. At 4pm the cat came back in and, looking as compunctious as a cat can be, spent the next hour rubbing against my legs and purring until I picked him up and placed him back on my shoulder.

He makes a shit parrot.

Worst pirate ever. I definitely can't hear the sea.

A post shared by twochubbycubs (@twochubbycubs) on

If anyone has any clues as to why he’s suddenly come over all familiar, I’d be delighted to hear it. Now, let’s get this coronation chicken pasta salad underway, yes?

coronation chicken pasta salad

coronation chicken pasta salad

coronation chicken pasta salad

1 vote

Print

coronation chicken pasta salad

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 servings

Listen, you can chuck anything into a salad like this, but we've kept it simple. If you want to drop the syns, leave out the mango chutney or get rid of the sultanas, but listen: this makes six massive portions, and the syns make it so much better. You'll enjoy this coronation chicken pasta salad more for using proper ingredients, trust me.

You can leave out the chicken if you want to keep costs down!

Ingredients

  • 500g of macaroni pasta
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (this is 2 HEAs - so you're using a third of your HEA...up to you if you just want to sneak it through - gasp!)
  • 1 tablespoon of mild curry powder
  • 4 tbsp of mango chutney (6 syns) 
  • 200g of fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 50g sultanas (7 syns)
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • two chicken breasts, cooked and diced/shredded (feel free to leave this out)
  • pinch of salt

So that's thirteen syns between six servings - let's call it two syns each. These are big portions!

Instructions

  • well I mean, come on
  • cook the pasta, drain it and run a load of cold water through it so it doesn't stick
  • chop the celery, chicken and cucumber (remove the seeds)
  • mix everything together in a giant bowl
  • tadaaaaa!
  • so how easy was that?

Notes

Courses lunches

Cuisine Italian

More lunch ideas you say? Want more pasta ideas?

Yum!

J

roasted tomato, bacon and chorizo pasta

Just a lunch idea tonight: roasted tomato, bacon and chorizo pasta. How many times do we end up buying something bog-awful for lunch just because we didn’t plan the night before or because we can’t face another day of choking down an asbestos-flavoured MugShitz? Make a batch of this and never look back! And look, no nonsense to read through to get straight to the recipe!

roasted tomato, bacon and chorizo pasta

roasted tomato, bacon and chorizo pasta

1 vote

Print

roasted tomato, bacon and chorizo pasta

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 lunches

Looking for a quick lunch? Have yourself a packet of crisps and a good cry, or, make this gorgeous little pasta salad - it'll keep well in the fridge and serve you well for a good couple of days. Don't be tempted to make this roasted tomato, bacon and chorizo pasta without the chorizo - the tiny crunchy bits of oily goodness is what makes this dish sing!

Ingredients

  • 100g chorizo, diced (12 syns)
  • 6 bacon medallions, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 130g reduced fat feta, crumbled (2x HeA)
  • 500g pasta
  • salt
  • pepper

Instructions

  • pop the tomatoes in a roasting dish and set away on a low heat, chopped in half, for about twenty minutes - you want them softened but not burst
  • cook the pasta according to the instructions, scoop out a little of the water into a mug and keen aside, then drain 
  • meanwhile, spray a bit of oil into a large frying pan and place over a medium-high heat
  • add the chorizo and bacon and fry until golden
  • remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside
  • add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook in the chorizo oil until translucent
  • add the tomatoes to the pan and a couple of tablespoons of water
  • cook until the tomatoes have softened and the sauce has reduced, add a bit more water if it starts to look a bit dry
  • chuck in the chorizo and bacon to the pan and give another good stir
  • add the pasta and stir again - use some of the water you collected earlier if needed to thin out the sauce
  • serve into bowls, top with the crumbled feta and salt and pepper to taste

Notes

  • sick of Fry Light stripping your pans? Use this instead!
  • don't be afraid to use chorizo - it's what makes this one so tasty! Substituting it for something lower in syns will just dull the flavour. Syns are there to be used!
  • mince the garlic in seconds with one of these! Don't fanny on with awkward garlic presses!
  • you can use normal tomatoes in this if you prefer - just cut them up into cherry tomato-sized chunks
  • don't like feta? Use any cheese you like - just remember to check the syns
  • you can use any pasta you like - we used Gigli because it's pretty and cooks quickly

Courses lunch, pasta, salad

Cuisine Italian

See? What’s not to like about a dinner like our roasted tomato, bacon and chorizo pasta? Easy, uses only a couple of syns and actually tastes of something other than the shite you pick up in the supermarket!

Want more ideas for lunch? Of course! Try one of these:

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

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!

previousArtboard 1


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

beef chilli and bean pasta bake


beef chilli and bean pasta bake

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

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

top tips to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you should:

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

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

J