one-pot chicken and mushroom pie

We’ll get to the recipe for chicken and mushroom pie in a moment, but first…

One downside of this bad weather has been the fact that, for the third time in about eight years, I was forced to take a bus to work. A bus! I’m not one of those lazy snobs who call them peasant-wagons or walks around with my nose so high in the air that my snot freezes but you must understand that I can’t bear public transport. It’s not either people (for the most part) but rather the fact I like the Fortress of Solitude that is my crappy little DS3. I like to be able to sing without worrying that the bus driver is going to take such offence that he’ll drive us straight into a river. I like to be able to fart without having to go for the rigmarole of breaking wind and then looking owlishly around at everyone else as if to say ‘is someone burning hair?‘. I like to be able to colourfully swear at other people without the fear of having my teeth introduced to my uvula. And, let’s be honest, there’s no better feeling than a little toot on an impotent horn when someone cuts in front of you, no? MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A BIG MAN.

However, I can’t drive in snow, and frankly, another day cooped up working from home with Paul breathing noisily (indeed, at all) next to me was going to tip me over the edge, and so it was that I traipsed out into the snow and slush at ungodly-o-clock on Friday morning to do something I haven’t done in years: treat another human being with civility before 10am.

I arrived at the bus stop just in time to see a bus-full of sad faces sliding away down the street, a good ten minutes early. That’s fine, it would give me a good opportunity to wonder at my own nipples turning into masonry bits in the Baltic cold. I barely had time to consider throwing myself under a passing car like a modern Emily Davison before I was joined at the bus-stop by another group of people who look equally as pissed off as me that we had to go to work. Everyone had that thin-lipped, furrowed brow thing going on, possibly because they were all sharing my thought that everyone in that bus-stop had better not jump the queue. Naturally, none of us said a word to one another. I was positively itching to turn around, place my palms out in a welcoming gesture and say ‘Now you may be wondering why I’ve called you here today’ in a rich, pleasing baritone, but sadly no. We waited in silence for twenty six years.

Just as my lips were turning black and peeling away, salvation appeared: a bus! A lovely, shiny, green beacon of hope, belching diesel fumes as it slipped its way up the street. Given I was first at the bus stop I appointed myself Chief Bus Wrangler and stood in a nice prominent position to get the bus to stop. It didn’t. Well it did, more than a few yards down the road, and when I climbed on board the driver shouted at me for not sticking my hand out. Our bus-stop is served by one service, on a street with no shops or places of note. What did he think all eighteen of us were standing by the side of the road for? Perhaps he thought it was an impromptu meeting of the Timetable Worshipper Aficionado Tribe, or TWAT for short. Surely he could have taken a quick glance at my brisk office attire (which is the same as my gardening outfit, only I change my shoes) and assumed we would want a lift into town? Pfft.

It wasn’t even a ‘oh silly you’ telling off but a full-on bark at me – it seems unusual for a passenger to be thankful of the spit-guard but I was that morning, because I reckon I would have been spittle-flecked in no time at all. I apologised profusely, told him ‘I don’t usually get the bus’ (don’t worry, I came up with nineteen better retorts in my head later) and then, in my flustered state, managed to lock my phone. That’s bad because I now held him up for another minute or so whilst I tried desperately to get their stupid buggy app to open so he could see that I wasn’t trying to scam the bus company out of a few quid by getting on for free. The temperature behind me must have dropped suddenly because I could hear quite the cacophony of tutting, which I took to be their teeth chattering.

The bus ride itself was uneventful – I mean, it’s a bus journey, what more do you want me to say about it – but it afforded me the opportunity to be simultaneously burnt and frozen at the same time. Due to someone smelling of vegetables and cigarettes sitting beside me, I was pushed up against the side of the bus, meaning my left leg was resting straight on the nuclear reactor that is the bus heater. You’ve never lived until you’ve felt your bone marrow boiling in your leg. The pain was tempered by the fact that someone in front of me thought it was sensible to have the window open because, you know, who needs to worry about their sperm count? To be fair, I don’t: as long as it doesn’t come out like a line of Crest toothpaste I couldn’t care less. The combination of burning and freezing left me feeling like a chicken breast being defrosted in the microwave. Great! Thankfully, someone ignored their Britishness, got up, slammed the window shut. We all thanked him silently.

This only left one other concern. Condensation. I’ve never really considered it before, but when I’m moving my hands around on the window to get rid of the fog that has built up, I’m smearing my hands around in other people’s saliva, amongst other things, aren’t I? Is my science correct? I mean, my bus originates from Blyth – that spit is going to be 80% knock-off Golden Virginia, isn’t it? No wonder I was gasping for a tab when I got off, though I’m probably the first person in the world to develop emphysema from osmosis.

Sigh. At least this whole experience didn’t cost the Earth, eh? Only £18 for two days.

I console myself with eating good food. These one pot chicken and mushroom pie is just the ticket for a warm winter night! Get it made! And look – we’ve even got a video guide for you to cook along to! Let us know what you think – or, just scroll down for the text. We’re not really arsed.


chicken and mushroom pie

chicken and mushroom pie

one pot chicken and mushroom pie with proper pastry!




Yield 6 servings

You might be tempted to forgo this recipe if you're trying to save your syns, but remember, you get 15 syns a day: and what better thing to spend them on then something tasty and delicious? This is a chicken and mushroom pie made in a frying pan which then goes in the oven: one-pot dish AND wonderful!


  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 105g Phildelphia Lightest (1x HeA)
  • 2 good handfuls of frozen peas
  • 4 potatoes, diced
  • 150g ready rolled light puff pastry (30 syns)
  • 2 eggs, beaten

So, cut into four, this pie is 7.5 syns per serving. But cut into six and served with veg, it's only 5 syns! And it's worth it for that pastry, that sauce, that taste!


  • add the potatoes to a pan of cold water and bring to the boil
  • reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potato is soft, then drain
  • meanwhile, spray a large oven-safe frying pan with a little oil and add the onion
  • fry gently over a medium-high heat until soft
  • add the garlic and cook for another minute or so
  • add the chicken, tarragon, stock and philadelphia to the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • add the potato and peas to the pan and cook for another five minutes
  • remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool
  • next, preheat the oven to 180°c
  • drape the pastry over the top (cut off any excess) and crimp gently around the edge
  • brush with the rest of the egg and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden
  • remove from the oven and allow it to rest for a couple of minutes
  • dig in, serving with whatever the hell you want


top tips for making chicken in a frying pan pie

  • leftover roast potatoes will work like a dream in this too!
  • if you want to make a smaller pie you can do - just halve the recipe and use a smaller pan
  • Frylight will knacker your pans. Use one of these instead! 
  • don't be tempted to swap the Philadelphia for quark. Quark will split and go manky. Stick with Phildelphia - it's more stable and tastes nicer!
  • shortcrust pastry works well with this one too if you prefer

Courses dinner, leftovers

Cuisine British

Seriously, how good does that look?

You want more stodge recipes? Who am I to say no…


five spice chicken skewers: taster night or bust!

Taster night five spice chicken skewers – there’s a lot of love in Chubby Towers for these – but as it is Valentines Day tomorrow, we’re having a night off! So no blog post, just a wee bit of admin – first of all a message, then the recipe.

That’s right folks: try another new and lovely recipe! You might find it sticks in your throat at first, but just relax, you’ll be fine, and you’ll end up enjoying it! And now, a recipe…

five spice chicken skewers

five spice chicken skewers

to make tasty five spice chicken skewers you will need:

  • 400g chicken breast or thighs, thinly sliced
  • 250g pineapple, cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 green pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 tbsp five spice
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 100ml soy sauce
  • 8-10 wooden skewers (soak in water to stop them from burning)

top tips for making tasty five spice chicken skewers:

  • want juicy breasts that won’t shrivel up? Order from our fantastic Muscle Food deals!
  • you can also cook these under the grill instead if you’d prefer, set it to medium-high and cook for ten minutes, turning frequently
  • yeah, technically you should syn the pineapple if you’re following the plan to the letter, but lets be honest – it’s not a huge amount of pineapple, it’s not getting mashed down or owt, no magical sugars are being created and frankly – life’s too short. We didn’t bother. You can if you like.
  • Fry Light is crap because it tastes crap and you get a pissy little stream. Get a mister instead – you’ll never look back!
  • metal skewers work fine too – just watch your hands!

to make tasty five spice chicken skewers you should:

  • mix together the five spice, garam masala, black pepper and soy sauce in a bowl and add the chicken
  • leave to marinade for as long as possible – overnight is best
  • preheat the oven to 180ºc
  • thread the chicken slices onto the skewers followed by the peppers, onion and a big chunk of pineapple
  • give a good spray with a bit of oil
  • place on a baking sheet and cook for twenty minutes
  • eat!

Want more Chinese style recipes? We’ve done a whole raft of them recently, see?



chinese cherry coke chicken thighs – perfect for taster night

Cherry coke chicken thighs await you in a moment – and good news, this is just a quick post, but first…

cherry coke chicken

Aaargh! I don’t know why I inflict facebook groups on myself, you know. With pancake day approaching, the pages are awash with people suggesting they can make “delicious syn-free pancakes” from blending oats, frying them in frylight and mixing with yoghurt and sweetener. Why? yeah, you might save a few syns, but what price dignity? What price the crap that you’re putting into your body in the name of trying to get a syn-free dinner? I know it’s personal choice and that’s all well and good but I bet there’s the same amount of calories, or close, in the amount of oats you’ll use, plus oil, plus sweetener, then there is in a couple of proper pancakes. And even then, why not enjoy your food? You’ve got one body and you’re here only once – why not enjoy your food? Have good food and eat a bit less and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it all the more. 15 syns to spend on making the stuff you’re eating enjoyable, tasty and memorable.

Ah I dunno. I can’t get my head around the mentality of thinking spending syns on your dinner is a bad thing but sitting cramming a chocolate bar into your mouth “because you can” is the way forward? Frankenfood and nonsense is totally against Slimming World anyway, and let’s be fair, I’m hardly their most ‘anal’ fnar fnar follower. You need this to be a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. When people lose all the weight will they be eating oat pancakes and “sausage rolls” made from wrapping a manky sausage in a wrap? No. Then what happens to that weight loss? But hey, what do I know? Follow SW’s rules, they know what they’re doing. Mostly.

Let’s do some cherry cola chinese chicken! The cherry cola adds a nice glaze and using chicken thighs keeps the meal cheap and easy. Let’s be honest: if there’s one thing you love, it’s some cheap and easy thighs. Right?

cherry coke chicken

to make chinese diet coke chicken you will need:

  • 8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
  • 150ml diet cherry coke
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes

top tips for chinese diet cherry coke

to make chinese diet cherry coke chicken you should:

  • in a jug mix together the coke, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and chilli flakes
  • plop the chicken thighs into a bowl and pour over the marinade, turn the thighs over to make sure they get a good coating
  • leave in the fridge for about an hour, then remove from the marinade and pop onto a paper towl
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray in some oil
  • add the chicken thighs and cook until browned, then turn
  • pour over the remaining marinade, bring to a simmer and cover with a lid
  • cook for five minutes, then remove the lid and cook for another five or until the marinade is nicely thickened
  • serve!

Still hungry? We’ve got plenty more chinese fakeaway recipes for you!



sticky sesame chicken (pressure cooker/hob)

A rare beast tonight! With The Governess still unwell and me struggling away at the helm, we’re going to go straight to the recipe without a moment of delay. Enjoy!

This makes enough sticky sesame chicken for four people. This is known as General Tso’s chicken in America, if you’re curious. You can leave off the sesame seeds at the end if you absolutely must but they add a nice crunch!

sticky sesame chicken

to make instant pot sticky sesame chicken you will need:

  • 4 big chicken breasts
  • 6 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce (3 syns)
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • ¼ tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (3 syns)
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced

top tips for instant pot sticky sesame chicken:

to make instant pot sticky sesame chicken you should:

  • cut the chicken into bitesized chunks
  • spray the bottom of the instant pot bowl with a little oil and press ‘Saute’
  • add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken is white all over (don’t worry if it isn’t cooked all the way through)
  • in a jug mix together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes, hoisin sauce and honey
  • pour the sauce over the chicken, put the lid on and switch to ‘Manual’ mode
  • programme the machine for ‘high pressure’ for ten minutes and leave to cook
  • once finished, use the quick release method
  • in a bowl mix together the cornflour with one tbsp cold water to get a thick sauce
  • switch the instant pot back to ‘saute’ mode and pour in the cornflour
  • stir gently until the mixture thickens, and serve
  • sprinkle over the spring onion and sesame seeds

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, don’t fret – you can make this on the hob by cooking off the chicken, adding the sauce and letting it bubble and take its time!

Want more Instant Pot or pressure cooker recipes? Natch!


our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway

Lemon chicken, if you don’t mind – but I do mind, because it’s my favourite dish and I want it now. James is still laid out with illness and, in between dabbing his fevered brow and attending to his every need *cough*, we still have to get a blog-post out. However, luckily, the other half writes out his holiday entries well in advance so when times are dry for things to write about, we can whack one of these up. To that end, if you’re here for the recipe and the recipe alone, click the button below to be whisked straight there. Or scroll until you see the food. I imagine that’ll pose no difficulties for most of you.

Thank goodness they’ve gone. I bet they own more television remotes than books, you know. Let’s go back to Stockholm!

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

Look, if we carry on at the rate we’re going, we’ll never leave Stockholm. We’ve got three more days there and frankly, if I keep spending 1000 words describing the type of coffee I enjoyed, we’ll never get anywhere. So let’s try something different: I’m going to write about the highlights of the trip in a loose, fudged-together timeline. If you’re like Rose and are displeased, I invite you to stop being such a surfitta-lit. Best not to google that one, though.

Skyview at the Ericsson Globe

First on the list was a trip on the Skyview – an external lift that goes up and over the Ericsson Globe arena down in the imaginatively named Stockholm Globe City district of Stockholm.

It’s like a Bond film without a budget!

You’ll know the Globe, I bet: it’s hosted the Eurovision Song Contest at least twice (fun fact: for three days after these events they don’t actually need to power the lifts – they rise up on the fug of amyl nitrate of their own accord) (and mysteriously, all the previously stuck doors just ease open to allow easy access) and there’s been all manner of big stadium concerts in there. And Shania Twain. We learned this fact by having to bear witness to the same Shania Twain five-second advert on loop whilst we stood in the queue for ten minutes waiting for tickets to be the first to board. No man should ever have to endure that much Shania Twain – I felt like I was 14 again, listening to my sister play ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ for the eighty-seventh time. She’s a hard to please witch, isn’t she – Shania, not my sister: frankly, if there’s any rocket scientists out there with a car and fine hair, get in touch. I get impressed by a bloke who can eat his dinner without spilling a third of it on the carpet, much lower standards. We were second in the queue with only a wee Chinese grandma in front of us so we were guaranteed admission to the first pod and then we could be on our way.

Only, no; she bought tickets for 22, and out of the McDonalds over the road came a tour-bus of selfie-sticks, expensive winter wear and Marlboro Reds, pushing us back into the third pod. That meant twenty more minutes of Shania looping. If I close my eyes now I still see her fabulously-conditioned hair and Polo-mint-teeth burnt on my eyelids. Keeping things in perspective, I spent those twenty minutes staring at the suspension cable of their pod in the vain hope so much venom would melt the steel. It was our turn soon enough and I mean, it was good fun and affords you a pleasant enough view of the city, but nothing that the (much cheaper) TV tower earlier hadn’t done the day before. Plus, the clean freak in me wanted to open the pod and run a squeegee along the windows, they were absolutely hacky.

#inspirashunal #omgbabez

Twenty minutes is a long time to spend looking over the top of a mall and some distant buildings, though we were at least entertained by the three teenage girls who spent the entire twenty minutes posing in front of their phones. I swear, they couldn’t have looked out of the window once. Just how many shots do you need of:

  • sucking invisible spaghetti;
  • thousand yard stare;
  • oh my god spontaneous shot of me I promise but actually, it’s taken twelve minutes;
  • McDonalds eyebrows; and

for your friggin’ Instagram? You know how I take photos of us? I point the camera somewhere north of our staircase of chins, and click take photo. Done. It’s that simple.

The ABBA museum

Next, the ABBA museum. Well, it had to be, didn’t it? We made our way via Sweden’s excellent underground rail system. First of all, they must have known I was coming because they put up some especially camp warning signs.

No mincing please

Secondly, our journey was greatly enlivened by the fact that a woman, clearly off her tits, stood up, started shouting in Swedish and then pissed herself at great length. Was it my aftershave? I don’t know, but we had to all get off at the next stop – her to clean herself up, me to wring the bottom of my jeans out. Poor lass pissed like a bloody racehorse. Luckily, we were close enough to walk to the Abba museum and it only took us ten minutes of sliding around on the ice to do so. Now, remember me telling you that Sweden is eye-wateringly expensive? I was in full gush when I paid for our tickets here: £44 for two. £44 to enter a museum! That’s not £44 for a sit down meal and a chance to try and talk Agnetha round, no no – just to give you access to the turntable. I mean, I know they’ve got to make their Money Money Money, but come on.

We paid up and went in and boom: something to make it all worthwhile. Who the hell knew that Benny was such a DILF back in the day? I mean now he looks like someone you’d see arguing with trees but back then, fuck me – lucky I hadn’t spotted him yesterday, or else it really would have been The Day Before You Came. I was quite taken – all sorts of shirtless photos and videos plastered the walls – at least I had somewhere to hang my multi-language headset, I suppose.

He’d be Benny, Paul and I would be the Jets

And actually, despite the shafting at the start, the museum was excellent – very thorough, detailed and interactive. Almost too interactive actually: there were booths you could nip into and do karaoke without people being able to hear you. We elected to give Mamma Mia a bash and thought we sounded great until we listened back later on via their website and it sounds like a livestream from a condemned abattoir. You know how you think you can sing in the shower? You can’t. I’m surprised they didn’t ask us to leave.

Make just one swap in this photo and it’ll match the thumbnail of at least two of our xtube videos. Just saying.

It only got worse – we rounded a corner to find the next exhibition was where you could get up on stage and sing along as the 5th member of ABBA whilst they superimposed the other four alongside us. FLABBA, if you prefer. I said we couldn’t, but the museum worker was very persuasive – she literally said you can dance, you can jive. I tried to explain that I dance like my feet are on fire and she replied ‘Dancing Queen’. I retorted by calling her a homophobic blonde bitch.

I jest, on we went – there was no-one about anyway bar her and I’m sure she’s seen two eighteen-stone Geordies pretending to be Abba before. Who hasn’t? I’m sure it was a storyline in an episode of Vera – if it wasn’t then it bloody should have been, because we absolutely murdered the song. Of course, no sooner had we started caterwauling and shuffling around like sad bears in a rubbish zoo than a gaggle of other gay men – all stylish and shrieking – came round the corner and started giving us bitchy appraising looks. Honestly, the collective effect of them pursing their lips at the same time pulled at my eyelashes. The curator had the good grace to at least shut the music off after a minute rather than making us do a full set. We slunk off stage like the fat national embarrassment that we were and we hadn’t even went through the exit doors before André, B’Michael, Brandonael and A’Joseph were belting out Does Your Mother Know.

The rest of the museum was awash with dresses, videos, quizzes and all sorts of memorabilia. Yes: far too expensive, but worth it. I mean, it’s Abba.

Putting at least one syllable into country singer


Eating and drinking

We spent more than a couple of lovely hours in the Ardbeg Embassy tasting all the various beers they had to offer. Listen, when a beard with a man hanging off it offers you a giant glass of ‘Just Don’t Call Me Brett’ or ‘Cellar Troll’, you just don’t say no.


Always wondered what happened to Casualty’s Clive Mantle, and now we know – he’s ordering a pint in Sweden

What started as a ‘quick drink’ became an elongated ‘work our way down the list’ until we were a) smashed and b) poor. Fifteen quid for two pints, remember.


Drunk and beholden to our empty stomachs, we ventured out to find food, only to stumble into the first place with an open door that we found – Sally’s, next door. It was delicious. You know how good food tastes when you’re steaming and hungry? That, but coupled with big doughy flatbreads and good cheese – you need to understand that I haven’t had bread for several months at this point and I’m not kidding when I say my side of the table lifted up a fair few inches when they brought it out. Almost spilled my wine.

I want this again.

Oh and because it was Christmas, I had the reindeer carpaccio for starters. They even stuck a little red tomato on the plate in what I thought was a rather cruel jibe at poor Rudolph. Christmas is cancelled and I’m turning it into poo.

This was better than it looks.

The 3am graffiti

At some point we were tucked up in bed, doing our best to keep the hotel awake with our beer-smothered snoring, when I got up for a gypsy’s kiss and noticed that for the first time in the entire holiday, it was proper snowing. Not that stupid vicar’s dandruff sort of snow we get, but big thick flakes of it, all settling merrily on the ground. You need to understand that we went to Iceland, Switzerland and Copenhagen in winter and saw barely any snow so this was a big deal, so much so that I woke up Paul by throwing water in his face (accidentally, I knocked over his bedside glass in the excitement – I haven’t taken to waterboarding him in his sleep – yet) and got him out of bed. We dressed in all the fabulous winter attire we had brought and thought we wouldn’t need and dashed out to play in the snow like the two big kids we are. The city was asleep, we had to place to ourselves – I managed to sneak in some free advertising:

I was going to try and put other SW blogs on there but I didn’t have time to draw out the eight adverts necessary to go with it.

We made our way down into a small square that was absolutely pristine with snow – a complete blank canvas.


It took less than a nanosecond before we were both studiously working on writing out the most offensive swearword we could in the biggest letters our legs would allow. Unhappily, I was only a third of the way through the ‘N’ when two police officers came over to see what all the gleeful screaming was about. You’ve never seen someone turn a nine foot capital ‘N’ into a ‘B’ and a tiny ‘S’ quicker than me that night – I was like Michael Flatley on ice. They asked what we were doing and I lied through my teeth to try and explain we were making a giant version of our logo – it was only when I showed them twochubbycubs on my phone that they understood.

Now in a normal situation both Paul and I would have been well-up with being bundled into the back of a van by two tattooed, bearded, uniformed men and roughly manhandled, indeed, we call it a successful night at Washington Services round here, but not that night – it was that cold that my testicles were rolling around in my scrotum like peas at the bottom of the freezer. Any ejaculate would have slid out like a Mini Milk, so even I didn’t bother making the ‘whatever can I do, officer’ fluttering eyes/arse at them.

A mite embarrassed, we returned to our beds.

Paul does have a chin – he has a collection, actually – it’s just the lighting

Seems like a good place to leave 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

Let’s do the lemon chicken recipe then. This makes enough for four large portions, and if there’s anyone who can handle a large portion, it’s YOU!

lemon chicken

lemon chicken

to make our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway, you’ll need:

  • four chicken breasts, big and fat, cut into chunks
  • 3 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of rice vinegar
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 175ml chicken stock
  • 75ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 2 tbsp of honey (5 syns)
  • 1 tbsp of cornflour (1 syn)

top tips for our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway:

to make our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway, you should:

  • in a bowl, add the chicken chunks to the soy sauce and vinegar and make sure every piece is covered – longer you leave it, the better it will be
  • when you’re ready to cook, cook the chicken off in a pan until it is cooked through
  • mix together the chicken stock, lemon juice, honey and cornflour and then tip into the pan with the chicken and cook until it has all thickened up
  • serve with rice and finely grated lemon rind
  • mwah!

Easy peasy! We’ve done loads of fakeaways lately, take a look:


our best ever mixed chow mein recipe

Now, you can have a mixed chow mein, or you can keep it simple with a plain chicken chow mein, but either way, this is possibly my favourite recipe that we have done in a while. Mixed chow mein is easily the one dish I order most from the Chinese takeaway – well, that and trapped wind – and so to make a perfect replica of it, well say no more fam. Or something. Scroll down for the recipe, or…

Indulge me for a moment. I had a right strop the other day about that stupid TUI advert with the silly woman hyperventilating through ‘Ain’t Nobody’ like an anxiety attack given a melody. Well, working from home on a Monday means that I have to run the gamut of daytime advertising – I like to have the TV on as background noise because a) it blocks out my tinnitus and b) daytime TV makes me feel better about my own life choices. For example, on a Jeremy Kyle catch-up this morning, they were arguing about whether someone had shat in a fridge.

Just let that sink in for a moment. I can’t conceive of any situation in my life that might end up with someone shitting in my fridge. Can you? I mean, we have one of those giant American fridges, you could take the shelves out and build a rudimentary portaloo, but even then I don’t know a single soul who, however drunk they got, would think that was a viable option for relieving themselves. So not only do you have a gaggle of inbred mouthbreathers with a shitty fridge, they think the best thing to do to clear it up (use Flash and warm water, surely) is to go on national TV to be soaked in indignant spittle and to show off your Thorntons Fudge Selection teeth to a judgemental nation. I could have a bomb up my arse and Jeremy Kyle could hold the defusing code and I’d still rather die than sit in the back with Graham awaiting my turn to bound on effing and jeffing. The mind boggles.

But anyway, this isn’t about Jeremy Kyle. I want to kvetch on about adverts again. Top of the list is the Nationwide adverts, and I don’t care that I bank with them, they can take all my money away if it means I’m never subjected to Toni Collette’s stand-in and Sharon Watt’s double singing their cutesy-poo wee ditties and playing the keyboard. Why? Some clever sort will doubtless say the advert works because I have remembered it but that’s like saying Anusol is wonderful because I once bought a tube of it back in 2008. It’s a negative memory: I don’t buy it now just for the nostalgia. This advert has done the opposite – it’s made me get off my fat arse and finally get around to switching banks over to First Direct who, although they overdo the ‘bants’ side of things, at least don’t have adverts that make me want to push my face into a thresher.

Next on the list: WHAT’S THAT? YOU HAVEN’T CLAIMED FOR YOUR MIS-SOLD PPI? You know the one, smarmy streak of piss in a shiny suit asking you whether you can afford to miss out on thooousands of pounds. Gladstone Brookes, I believe – you would think with all the money they’re raking in from charging a significant fee for something that people could easily do themselves that perhaps they’d fund a better advert, but no. I hate his incredulous tone and overacting and stupid beady eyes to the point where I’d like to kick a hole in my TV and send them the invoice. With knobhead protection insurance included, of course.

Surely the king of irritation – an almost superhuman level of advertising thrush, if you will – is the friggin’ Shpock advert though. For a start, shpock is a shite name for a company – the fact I had to google it to work out how to spell it says enough. What kind of word is shpock anyway? It sounds like something that would be forming in a drip on the end of a diseased penis – look at that, you’ve left a smear of shpock all over our bedspread, for example. According to their advert, it’s like having a boot sale in your pocket. Well whoopity-doo. The last time we went to a car-boot sale it was dreadful – people selling used ashtrays and dirty clothes and urgh. If you go by their advert the app will be full of fancy bikes, cars, beautiful people and distressed furniture. I loaded it up to try and shift my giant shirts and found it awash with such levels of illiteracy that I thought I’d somehow switched my language settings to Russian. There wasn’t a thing on there I would even entertain having in my house, and that’s just the sellers. It was deleted quicker than the time I accidentally downloaded Snapchat. I mean, I’m not a 14 year old girl.

OK one final gripe. Gambling adverts. Why are these allowed? Have you tried watching ITV2 or Challenge or Sky Sports in the evening? You can’t move for flashy adverts advertising betting or bingo sites and frankly, you’d be absolutely buggered if you had a gambling problem. They don’t allow adverts for cigarettes, so why something as addictive as gambling? And it’s always such a bullshit advert – sexy people playing in glamorous virtual casinos, all sultry stares and coquettish laughter and massive wins. I’d admire any company that portrayed the grim reality of someone sat in yesterday’s clothes, unshaved, unwashed, desperately clicking the spin button over and over and over in the hope of winning back a tenth of what they’ve been encouraged to gamble away if only so they can keep the wolves away from the door for another few days. They say that ‘when the fun stops, stop’, and then they play their adverts over and over and over. How does that work then?

In fact, I’d go as far to say that these are the worst adverts of all. They have the power to absolutely destroy lives, and they’re sandwiched repeatedly between bloody Love Island repeats. As if that shower of shits wasn’t bad enough.

I feel better for that! Right, let’s do this mixed chow mein. Remember, you can use whatever meat you want – we used leftover pieces from all the fakeaway recipes we’ve been cooking lately, and of course you could use prawns but why would you? They’re bloody awful. It’s as simple as that. This makes enough for four massive portions – we portioned it up (for once) and put some in the freezer.

Have no fear though, we took it back out again ten minutes later and ate it. I mean, we’re not called twochubbycubs for nothing, you know. Let’s do this. Don’t be tempted to leave out the oil – between four, it’s 1.5 syns each – think how many syns your normal takeaway would be. It’s worth it for the taste. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it really isn’t!

mixed chow mein

mixed chow mein

to make a mixed chow mein, you’ll need:

  • whatever meat you want – we used scraps of beef, some char sui pork and two chicken breasts, but honestly, there’s no rhyme or reason – if it’s already cooked, you’ll just need to warm it through in the instructions below, but if it is raw, make sure you cook it well
  • two or three nests of dried noodles
  • two cloves of garlic, minced
  • one large onion, chopped
  • 1 bag of beansprouts
  • one bunch of spring onions – sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (1 syn)
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil (6 syns)
  • one large red pepper, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons of oyster sauce (free – yes, I was surprised too – and it doesn’t taste fishy, don’t worry)
  • 1 teaspoon of cornflour (1 syn)

So in total that makes eight syns: 2 syns each for a giant portion!

top tips for a mixed chow mein:

to make a mixed chow mein, you should:

  • mix the cornflour with 1 tablespoon of the dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the light soy sauce, 2 tablespoon of the oyster sauce and pour over whatever meat you’re using to marinate for a few hours
  • cook your noodles according to the instructions and then when cooked, run under cold water to stop them sticking
  • heat the oil in your pan and either heat your cooked meat or cook off your raw meat
  • take the meat out and throw in the onion, minced garlic, pepper spring onion, pepper and beansprouts and cook high and hard to soften everything
  • add the meat back in with the remainder of the wet ingredients (and the marinade you have left over, if you’ve kept it) and then add the noodles – stir everything through until the noodles are piping hot, then serve
  • want it saucier? Don’t we all – just add more oyster sauce!

How good does that look, honestly? Want more fakeaway recipes? Hit the links below!

Remember to share!


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, 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.


syn-free chicken doner kebab wraps

Syn-free chicken doner kebab wraps! Yes! We’ve got a fantastic streak of recipes coming down the line and this is just the beginning – proper ‘naughty’ food, and yes, I cringed too writing that.

I’m not going to keep you too long, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve found a butch new past-time – boxing! Well past-time might be overselling it but we’ve just done a boxing class at boot camp and I bloody loved it. I suppose there was always a certain inevitability that I’d enjoy being pummelled in the ring by someone more tattoo than man but still. N0, none of that business, just a few boxing moves in the darkness.

One thing that it brought to light was how terrible I am at throwing a punch – but see, I’m a lover, not a fighter. I prefer to cuddle, but that’s frowned upon, especially when everyone is sweaty. When it was my turn to be the ‘puncher’ I really struggled to work out the technique until, miraculously, that annoying little ‘What’s A Computer?’ shitrat’s face appeared on the pads in front of me and I absolutely leathered them. It felt great! All that anger being released in a safe and controlled fashion, rather than coming out in the form of the spittle dripping down my windscreen. In my head I felt like Conor McGregor, but I’m sure in the harsh light of the gym I was more John Prescott when he got hit by an egg.

I could have cheerfully carried on punching but we had to switch roles (it’s OK, I’m gay, it’s a routine part of our existence: sometimes you’re Jim Henson, sometimes you’re Kermit) and it was my turn to block the punches. That’s fine when it’s Paul and his brittle wrists but when you’ve got people with arms like oil pipelines, it becomes terrifying. All I’m saying is that it’s probably quite hard for the leader to keep up the macho, aggressive atmosphere when you’ve got a big fat mincer shrieking ‘mind me teeth! MIND ME TEEEEEETH‘. Aaaah, good times.

There is a downside to the whole experience – slipping on a pair of communal gloves that have been used for eight classes previously that day…was grim. I felt like I was fisting an especially lubed bumhole. Now: I’m going to tell you something but because it’s super rude, I’m going to a) hide it in white text so you’ll need to highlight it and b) suggest that anyone prudish scrolls to the next paragraph. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

Wondering how I know what fisting someone feels like? Because I did it accidentally. I had met someone for – let’s not be polite here – casual sex (long before I met Paul) and one aspect of gay sex is that usually, you’ve got to apply a fair bit of lube. That’s fine, I was oiling his keyhole when he pushed back without warning, sending my whole fist and half my forearm up his arse, the way a vet does to a cow when he’s trying to deliver a difficult calf. He didn’t even flinch. I’m not into this at all, but what the hell do you do in that situation? It didn’t so much kill my mood as tear it wide open and leave it gaping. I pulled out my fist, checked I still had my ring on (he didn’t) and apologised profusely. He was fine about it, but there was no fucking way I was following it up – I’ve got nowt to be ashamed of, but I’d hate to meet the man who can compete with the girth of his own balled-up fist. I made an excuse (my arm looks like a giant fizzy cola bottle, THANKS) and legged it. 

Legend has it that if you listen carefully, in the right conditions, you can actually hear Ben from Hartlepool’s arse whistling in the breeze even now.

You’re back! We’re going to buy our own set and one of those wee mannequins that you can punch about the room without fear of being sent to jail. I might stick Little Mo’s face on it from Eastenders and pretend I’m Trevor. Man, I used to have such a thing for him, which I know is terrible: he was a monster, but I wouldn’t mind being face-down in his gravy, I can promise you.

Anyway, on that charming note, to the recipe! We’ve adapted this from recipetineats which is a fantastic site – if you haven’t visited yet go there now!

chicken doner kebab wraps

chicken doner kebab wraps

 to make chicken doner kebab wraps you will need:

  • 8 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
  • half a red cabbage, finely sliced
  • half an iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tabasco sauce (or any hot sauce)
  • 4 WeightWatchers low fat white wraps (4x HeB)

for the marinade

  • 250g fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or hot chilli powder)
  • 1½ tsp onion granules
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2½ tbsp tomato puree
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

for the yoghurt and mint sauce

  • 100g fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp mint sauce

top tips for chicken doner kebab wraps

  • we had lettuce, cabbage, onion and tabasco sauce in our kebab but you can have whatever you like!
  • cooking in the oven will give you the best results but if you can’t be arsed you can also do them under the grill – just be careful they don’t burn and make sure they’re cooked in the middle
  • a Tefal Optigrill will also make light work of this – just press the ‘Chicken’ button and cook until the light is yellow/orange, turning once or twice halfway through
  • you can help keep the chicken moist by spraying with a bit of oil before it goes in the oven, and just before you turn them halfway through. Frylight tastes rank, get one of these instead and go for a proper tasty mist, with real oil!
  • you really want chicken thighs for this one – you could use breasts, but they might go a bit dry
  • don’t be shy when stuffing your wrap – you’ll probably have quite a bit of meat left over – this makes LOADS

to make chicken doner kebab wraps you should:

  • in a large bowl mix together all of the marinade ingredients
  • add the chicken and mix to coat well
  • cover the bowl in cling film and leave to marinade in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or ideally overnight
  • in another bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients and leave in the fridge until you need it
  • preheat the oven to 220°c
  • find a baking tray that’s the right size so that you can sit the skewers for the next bit on either side – a pyrex dish is perfect for this
  • remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and divide into two piles
  • fold the chicken thighs over and push onto two parallel skewers – think about those horrible ice lollies you had with two sticks – that’s the kind of thing you’re after. use two skewers for each pile, so you’ll end up with two big kebabs
  • sit the ends of the skewers on the edge of the dish so that the meat doesn’t touch the bottom – you don’t want to lose any of that tasty marinade!
  • bake in the oven for 35 minutes, then turn and bake for another twenty minutes
  • remove from the oven and then carefully stand them up on a chopping board, and slice thinly
  • open up a wrap and fill with your chosen toppings
  • add the chicken, drizzle over any sauces, fold over the wrap and eat
  • make it tastier by toasting the wrap first in a griddle pan or Optigrill!

Or, to put it simply: marinade your chicken, skewer it and cook it in the oven – easy.

That’s a wrap! Oh noes, my sides. If you love wraps as much as we do, have a look at some of our other recipes!



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 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!


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.