thai chicken dipping balls – excellent taster night idea

Thai chicken dipping balls. Every time I say the title, it sounds filthier than the last. Don’t care. Listen, we weren’t going to post tonight as dearest Paul decided to crash his car (he’s fine, my wallet isn’t) but Musclefood called us to give us another discount – but only for 24 hours. So for crying out loud, if you want some cheap meat, get it now. Hopefully you dear readers will forgive us an advert right off the bat but it’s rare we do it and it’s only because it’s a flash sale that we’re sticking it in. If you don’t want to even look, click here and it’ll go straight to the recipe! See? Considerate!

Right, details are as below – Musclefood are giving us a 15/20% discount on our three main packages – you can see below the various offers and the links are here – they’ll open in a new window:

We’ve got syn values and more details on our Musclefood page but remember, this is a flash sale that’ll end tomorrow night – so get it whilst its hot!

Right, shall we get straight to my balls? We’ve made these because they’re an easy alternative to the usual stuff trotted out at taster nights, but actually, they make for a bloody good snack too as they keep in the fridge! We’re the gift that keeps on giving, no?

chicken dipping balls

chicken dipping balls

to make Thai chicken dipping balls you will need:

to make Thai chicken dipping balls you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • put the chicken breasts into a food processor and blitz until they have a mince-like consistency (you can actually just use 500g chicken mince if you prefer, but doing it this way with breasts makes for a nicer taste and texture)
  • next, combine all of the ingredients together in a big bowl
  • spray a large baking sheet with a little oil (don’t strip away the coating by using Frylight, use this instead and get the job done properly)
  • scoop out a tablespoon-sized ball of mixture and roll into a ball and place on the baking sheet, and then repeat
  • bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes
  • serve with whatever dipping sauce you like, we used sweet chilli!

Don’t dip your balls enough? Try your luck with us – and get making anything in the recipe lists below!

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chicken cordon bleu burgers

Here for the chicken cordon bleu burgers, which are so-called because god-knows-why? I understand. Far too many Slimming World burger recipes out there that have all the texture of an old gym mat. This, however, does not, and you know why?  We use chicken breast minced up ourselves rather than that watery muck you get in the supermarket that they cheekily call turkey mince. But first, speaking of mincers, it’s part three of our trip around Newcastle. Don’t want to read it? Scroll down to the food pictures…

click here for part one | click here for part two

When Paul first invited me to explore a foisty, smelly, starved-of-oxygen tunnel that has welcomed thousands of men from the 1930s onwards and now exists cobwebbed, abandoned and occasionally leaking, my first thought was that he could have warned me his mother was visiting and the second was ‘Classic Peterborough’. However, once I’d finished dry-heaving into my eggs benedict and Paul had reassured me that we weren’t about to be visited by his Mother Inferior, I realised he meant the Victoria Tunnel. Thank the Lord. We dressed in suitable tunnel-exploring attire (i.e. my work shoes and a thin coat – we’re Geordies remember, we won’t put on a second layer until at least two layers of skin have died in the cold) and we were on our way – by happy coincidence the tour started a mere five minutes away from our hotel. Naturally, we were five minutes late.

What is the Victoria Tunnel then? It’ll cause no gasps at all if I tell you it’s a tunnel, because, well, it is – but it has an interesting history. It was originally built in the 19th century to transport coal from a coal mine at one end of Newcastle (Spital Tongues, which I’ve always thought was a glorious name because it sounds like one of the made-up diseases you’d get in Theme Hospital) (which was a far better game than Theme Park and I’ll kick the tits off anyone who disagrees) down to the Tyne, where waiting boats would take it away. I had desperately hoped that the tunnel was used to get rid of the after-effects of burning coal in a boiler because then I could have used the killer line ‘…not the first time filthy slag has been deposited on Newcastle’s Quayside’ but it wasn’t to be. When Hitler started getting a bit rumbustious in 1939 the tunnel was hastily converted into an air-raid shelter, capable of taking thousands of men at once at the drop of a hat. But aren’t we all?

After the war finished and victory was declared the tunnel was closed until 2008 when a load of lovely folks – most if not all in some form of knitwear, I imagine – applied for a grant from the lottery, carefully repaired the tunnel and opened it up to guided tours. It’s listed as the number one attraction for Newcastle on Tripadvisor and I find that absolutely charming: I think of the money that gets spent on massive multiplex cinemas or exciting galleries and then look at this wee little tunnel full of absolutely nothing and it seems to captivate everyone who enters. I reckon that’s down to the volunteers who run it, and so, I’ll pick up my story back at the beginning of the tour.

We were warmly welcomed by a chap whose name I’ve already forgotten (purely because these days it’s all I can do to remember to blink) who sat us down in the waiting area around a table seemingly filled with furious looking people. Admittedly we were late by a moment or two (we’d made up some time power-mincing down the bank) but each pair of eyes conveyed the strong message that if either of us collapsed with heart difficulties down in the tunnel, not a single soul would attempt resuscitation. A couple of the kids looked like those awful children who speak in elongated vowels and whose triple-barrelled surname would wreck every form they ever completed. With my beard smouldering from the sheer force of ill-will we were experiencing, we turned our attention to our tour guides who were explaining the health and safety rules – no smoking (sensible), no going off on your own (correct), no entombing folks you don’t like down there forever (Fenneeeeeer!) and no eating. Paul looked stricken – he had a packet of Polo Mints burning a hole in his pocket. I told him to keep schtum. The reason there’s no rats or spiders down in the tunnel is because there’s no food for them to feast on, something which caught me by surprise as I’ve never seen someone from Newcastle walk more than 300m without dropping Greggs crumbs around them like greasy dandruff. We set off.

The tour begins at their visitor centre out on Lime Street and involves a short walk around the Ouseburn Valley, taking in sights such as Seven Stories and the chimneys. I used to live down on Newcastle’s Quayside a decade ago and the gentrification of the Ouseburn Valley was in full swing – I like to think that the ruffians were so taken by my fetching Florence and Fred shirts and effortless style that they thought ‘we could do that’. The river Ouseburn runs down through the burn and trickles out into the Tyne. Way back when, the riparian businesses (long since gone) dotted around used to tip all manner of chemicals and literal shite into the river, where it would eventually flow out to sea to bother some far-off Scandinavian country. The glitz! It had previously been a pretty overgrown burn under the bridges with a couple of decent pubs about and any manner of drugs available. I’m told. Now it’s still a bit ramshackle, possibly by virtue of being in close proximity to the rougher parts of Byker (if Newcastle was a slender runner’s leg, Byker is its gravel-filled knee), but full of galleries and pubs and quirky (for quirky, read ‘mildly hipsterish’) places to eat.

That’s not me jogging, in case you’re wondering.

We don’t just have fancy bridges in Newcastle, y’knaa.

Your Majesty.

Newcastle Council spent £4.7m to install a set of gates at the end of the stream to, amongst other reasons, keep the water level high to make the place look more attractive. Naturally, this barrier worked for a few months, and then…didn’t. It remains permanently open now, allowing the water in the stream to disappear into the Tyne twice a day, which in turn leads to the attractive sight of a smelly, almost drained river-bed to enjoy as you walk to the entrance of the tunnel. I’ve done a bit of research into the barrage to see why it hasn’t been fixed and it turns out that it does still work, but they just keep it open otherwise silt builds up behind it and stinks the place out. Dammed if you do, dammed if you divvint.

I’m digressing again. Our companionable host talked us through an excellent potted history of the area and led us up to the entrance of the tunnel on Ouse Street. We were given a hard-hat and a torch and you need to believe me that I’ve never felt so butch. I was a hi-vis jacket away from drinking too much and striking the children. We both struggled with getting the hat on – Paul because he has silly sausage fingers and couldn’t get the strap to loosen and me because I have a colossal, elephantine head. You know that thing David Cameron has where his face looks as though he fell onto a high-pressure tyre-inflator? I have that, and subsequently every hat causes me difficulty. I finally managed to extend the strap far enough to balance the hat on my head (just) and into the tunnel we went.

The turtle couldn’t help us.

You’ll float too.

Can I just stress how unflattering the light is? Paul doesn’t normally look like he’s fashioned from Trex. I like the angry eyebrows my glasses shadow has given me though. Please send us a stamped addressed envelope if you want an A2 laminated version to practice your snail-trails on.

Now, I’ll say this. It’s very hard to make a tour of a tunnel interesting via the medium of text – we walked for about 90 minutes, stopping and starting to hear stories from our two tour guides. Historical tours have a tendency to be dry, I find, with too much focus on the ‘facts’ of the matter, but this one was smashing because it told you of the people involved and their stories. It makes all the difference. What paints the better picture: someone droning on about brick density or someone telling you how, when everyone was sheltered in the tunnel, an incendiary bomb hit one of the sugar tanks in a nearby factory and the resulting fire resulted in a load of caramel being made? Which was great for the rationed, starving kids – at least until the diseased rats started chewing on it. There was an especially ghoulish part towards the end where they told the tale of three chaps who were caught at one end of the tunnel whilst an out-of-control coal-wagon (itself almost the exact size of the tunnel) hurtled towards them from the other end. Our guides turned off the lights for thirty seconds so you were stood in absolute blackness contemplating how it would feel to hear the rumble of your own approaching, almost-guaranteed death.

I have to confess the dramatic moment was somewhat ruined for me by the sound of Paul crunching a Polo approximately 8mm from my ear. In the dark it sounded like a horse snacking on gravel and even though I couldn’t see them, the heat registering on my face told me we were the focal point of the group’s angry stares once more. Meh.

We walked up a steep slope (fear not, fellow fatties: the slope, though steep, is short and we managed it with hardly a problem, though the guy in front did have to put up with me shallow-breathing in his ear for the next ten minutes) to be told about further tunnels that lay ahead, sadly out-of-bounds, and how the toilets worked and illness spread. It was fantastic. We made to walk back out of the tunnel with Paul and I, usually the cow’s tail (always at the back), leading the way. Naturally, I banged my head on a particularly low part of the tunnel at the top of the slope, leading to the sight of my hard-hat bouncing merrily away into the darkness. It made such a cacophony of bangs and crashes that, for the third time that morning, the skin on my neck started crinkling from the ire of the crowd behind. It didn’t help that each ‘for goodness sake’ tut from behind sounded like someone firing a musket.

Thoroughly chagrined but pleasantly informed, we all made our way to the exit where, after tipping the guides and assuring everyone in the group that we’d never meet again, we all dispersed. I did plan on writing up the full day but, having spent 1700 words telling you how we went into a tunnel and back out again, I’ll not bore you further.

The Victoria Tunnel is open for guided tours only and tickets must be booked in advance. We took the two hour tour and the time flew by – the volunteers are incredibly knowledgeable and made the whole thing very interesting indeed. You can find more information by clicking here and I strongly encourage you to do so. Don’t be put off by the idea of a long walk, it’s not bad at all, though you may struggle if you’re claustrophobic, although one of the guides will whisk you straight back to the entrance if you start getting the heebie-jeebies. It thoroughly deserves its number one spot on Tripadvisor!

OK I know, gush much.

Let’s get straight to the food. This makes enough for four burgers, see.

Got a bit of a wide-on for our chips? Of course you have. They’re Actifry chips. Not Actifaux from Aldi, not the Airtower or the Hairdryer or whatever you’ve managed to hide in the pram dashing out of Wilkinsons, but a good old fashioned Actifry. Get decent potatoes, use a teaspoon of oil and a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce, and you’re sorted. Life’s too short for shit chips man, buy an Actifry whilst they’re cheap.

to make chicken cordon bleu burgers you will need:

  • 4 wholemeal buns (HeB), sliced (yes, we’ve used a brioche bun for the photo because, well let’s face it – they taste nicer. If you do the same, remember to syn it!)
  • 400g chicken breast (you can use chicken mince if you want, but chicken breast is better – the ones in our Musclefood deal are excellent!)
  • 12g panko (2 syns) (normal breadcrumbs will do)
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • good grind of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp seasoning of your choice (we used a steak seasoning mix, but use whatever you like – cajun, fajita, garlic – whatever you want!)
  • 4 slices of ham
  • 4 slices leerdammer light cheese (2x HeA, so half a HeA each)
  • 2 little gem lettuce

Oh god I can hear it now. I can. WHASS PANKO PLZ HUN. I beg of you, if you have that question, click this mysterious link… Panko is not this:

to make chicken cordon bleu burgers you should:

  • if you’re using chicken breast (which you should, because it tastes better!) chuck it into a food processor and pulse until it has a mince-ish consistency. This won’t take much doing – be careful not to over do it
  • mix together the chicken, panko, paprika, salt, pepper and seasoning into a bowl and mix well
  • divide the mixture into four and squash into burger shapes
  • next – cook the burgers. we used our Tefal Optigrill for this and it worked a treat but you can do them under the grill too
    • for the Optigrill, press the ‘Burger’ button, wait for it to heat up and cook until the light is Red
    • otherwise, preheat the grill to medium-high and cook the burgers until they’re done, turning halfway through
  • add the lettuce to the bun, and top with the burger, then the cheese and then the ham

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kung pao chicken meatballs with dressed spaghetti

Hello! Here for the kung pao chicken meatballs? Well you’re in luck – there’s no time for a long ramble today as lots to do but you know, I think you deserve a treat. So we have the kung pao chicken meatballs recipe coming up in a moment but first, look at our tree!


Isn’t that a beauty? But let me tell you: blood was almost shed. Let me paint you a picture. There’s me, in the bath, luxuriating / basking in a sea of Molton Brown bubbles and The Archers omnibus playing in the background. Paul was in the living room fussing about the tree like a make-up artist at a wedding. I could hear the occasional shout and strop but hey, the bath was lovely. After an hour or so a plaintive cry came from the living room for me to come and help – his tiny Nick-Nack legs didn’t quite afford him the height needed to pop our furry star on top of the tree. Fair enough – the tree is 7ft and Paul drives a Smart-car.

I clamber out, the bubbles caressing my every curve. It was exactly like the bit in Casino Royale when Daniel Craig emerges from the sea in his little blue knickers, only with far more heart disease and loud straining. I mince into the living room and exclaim at how pretty the tree is before immediately fretting as to whether our Dyson Digital can cope with the quarter-tonne of pine needles that already litter the floor. Completely nude, I lean into the tree to make the final adjustment, to adorn it with the shiny star of Christmas, and how was I rewarded?

With a fucking pine needle right down my hog’s eye. My beef bullet was speared by the cold fingers of Christmas present. I know that a lot of you ladies out there will have been through child birth but honestly, that would have been like ripping off a wet plaster compared to this. I don’t like to exaggerate but it was literally the worst pain in the world. There’s places that nothing should ever venture and a gentleman’s scrotum-totem is one of these. I since looked it up on the internet only to find it’s an actual fetish, with people putting all sorts of things down there. Internet: what is wrong with you?

Anyway, you’ll be relieved to know that he’s fine and still in working order. Phew, right? Let’s get straight to the meatballs, apropos of nothing. This makes enough for four and yeah, it looks like a bit of a ballache to make, but it’s worth it – something different to that boring old SW meatballs in the freezer! Plus you could make the balls and freeze for later.

kung pao chicken meatballs

to make kung pao chicken meatballs you will need:

for the spaghetti

  • 500g spaghetti (or noodles!)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 160ml soy sauce
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 75ml shoaxing rice wine (4 syns)
  • 2 tbsp red chilli paste
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (6 syns)

for the meatballs

  • 500g minced chicken (or turkey)
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 egg
  • 35g porridge oats (1x HeB)
  • 1 tbsp sriracha sauce (1/2 syn)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

You know when we say mince ginger or garlic? Use a microplane grater. It’ll stop your fingers smelling, as long as you stop picking your bum. But seriously, don’t fart about peeling ginger or garlic, just grate it as it is – it’ll be perfect. Click here for our recommended mincer! 

for the sauce

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (1/2 syn)
  • 1 tbsp red chilli paste
  • 1 tbsp honey (3 syns)

to make kung pao chicken meatballs you should:

bit of a fuck on this, but I promise it’s worth it.

  • firstly, preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • then, make the meatballs – spray a non-stick baking sheet with a little oil
  • mix together all of the meatball ingredients, roll into about twenty meatballs, plop onto the baking sheet and cook for twenty five minutes, and whilst that’s going on, do the other bits
  • next, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the spaghetti (or noodles) according to the instructions – try and time this so that the spaghetti will be finished at the same time as the meatballs
  • meanwhile, in a bowl whisk together all the other ingredients for the spaghetti, except for the garlic, and keep to one side
  • add a little oil to a large frying pan and heat over a medium-high heat
  • add the minced garlic and cook for about thirty seconds
  • pour in the reserved sauce, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for a few minutes, until slightly thickened
  • add the cooked and drained spaghetti (or noodles), toss well until nicely coated with the sauce
  • in another bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients
  • when the meatballs are cooked, toss them gently in the sauce
  • serve the spaghetti onto plates, and top with the meatballs
  • sprinkle over the spring onions
  • we added a few chopped peanuts as well for a bit of crunch (if you’re doing the same, remember to syn them)

Serve! The oats really bulk the balls out. Mahaha!

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droptober recipe #13: spinach and feta stuffed meatloaf

Yeah yeah, spinach and feta stuffed meatloaf will follow, but see, I am FURIOUS. Well, maybe furious is over-selling it, I’m a bit peeved – we were doing so well with the old Droptober business and then oops, technical problems abound, and we missed a day. Ah well. If you’re out there sobbing into your fifth cheesecake of the day and barely able to breathe due to the Rolos stuffed up your nose, you can blame me. Or the good folks at WordPress. I’ll post two recipes tomorrow to make up for it, and, if that doesn’t cut the mustard, I’ll strip off and whip my back with a few Curly-Wurlys melted together. I’m like Jesus Christ but in elasticated Cotton Trader trousers.

I’m going to tell you a quick story about Paul which has been on my mind all day. I can’t recall mentioning it on the blog when it happened but see, he’s switched to a new employer and a new job and thus I feel we can get away with mentioning it without him getting into mischief. See, he used to work in a very serious area of social care and part of that meant attending very important, very serious meetings with doctors, the police, social workers, judges and lawyers all sat around a table. Due to the nature of what they were discussing it was mandatory for the meeting and everything that was said to be video-recorded, and this was done by several small cameras on the desk which would automatically pivot to whoever was talking. All terrifically serious and no jokes allowed.

Naturally, Paul managed to make an absolute tit of himself. See, he dropped his papers. That’s fine, but Paul spends about 96% of his working time tucking his shirt back into his trousers so no-one sees the top of his arse. He’d forgotten to do that, meaning he had to awkwardly crouch down to get his papers rather than mooning all the very ashen-faced folk around the table. And, because he was tense and trying to bend awkwardly, he let loose with a fart that didn’t so much echo around the room as fucking gallop around the table. That in itself wasn’t so bad, but the whole moment of crushing embarrassment was punctuated by the sudden and accusatory whirr of all the cameras immediately spinning and pointing at the cause of the sound. His cheeks weren’t red, they were slightly browned and smelling faintly of last night’s Mongolian beef.

At this point, had everyone collapsed into giggles and chortles (though, more likely spluttering and choking, with people flinging themselves at the glass windows in the hope of sweet escape), the tension would have been relieved, but no. No, everyone shuffled their papers, cleared their throats and cracked on, leaving Paul to burn away merrily with shame and anguish. His boss did ask on the drive back to the office whether ‘anyone had heard an unusual noise’, bless, but everyone knew it was him. I blame myself – the beef was two days out of date.

Luckily, I’ve never had to endure such acute embarrassment, though I’m prone to making a tit of myself, it’s always low-level stuff. For example, I can’t make small-talk with male cashiers without it sounding like I’m leading them on or being plain weird. There’s a young guy in our local Tesco who, bless his heart, could see both ends of a bus coming as it came round the corner. He’s absolutely not my type. It doesn’t stop me feeling I have to be ‘nice’ when he’s helping me in the self-scan – last time I was there I asked who did his tattooes as they ‘looked really nice’, which instantly gave the impression I’ve been leering lasciviously at this bloke. He went pink, I went red and he forgot all about the security check and pushed my trolley through. Perhaps that’s the key to shoplifting – as soon as you approach the Scan ‘n’ Shop bit just wink at the guy standing looking serious, paw at his arse and go ‘OOOOH CUT ME OFF A SLICE OF THAT’. Or, don’t.

I’m forever mis-spelling words in emails (signing off with kind retards, asking accunts to sort out expenses) to the point where I can’t send an email without triple-checking things now, which is unfortunate when someone needs an answer straight away and I have to check to make sure I haven’t slipped bumfucker into my ‘next steps’ paragraph. Oh, there was one time I managed to embarrass myself to the point where the air in my throat chokes me even now as I think about it – way back in high school my lovely form tutor sat us all down at the start of the year and told us she had some important news – her husband had hung himself over the summer holidays. Awful, of course, absolutely awful. But see, I just can’t handle solemn silences, I get so anxious and stressed that it manifests itself into giggles and tics. Of course, I laughed, and I swear to God, I’ve never apologised to anyone more in my life since that moment. I remember masking it as a coughing fit but that just made it worse.

I’m not a complete bastard, please don’t judge me. It’s 100% involuntary and since that moment I’ve gone out of my way to remove myself from situations where people tell me sad news. Hell, I’ve only been to three funerals in my life and even at my nana’s I almost burst out laughing because I imagined her hearing aid still whistling away in the coffin like a distant fax machine. My aunt and uncle died at the same time when I was a teenager and I was probably the only person in that church simultaneously crying and balling my fist into my mouth to stop the laughter – to be fair, they brought out the second coffin and set it down on a trestle table with very wobbly legs, giving me visions of the whole thing giving away and tumbling his corpse down the aisle. What can I say, I love a bit of slapstick.

Anyway, I can barely type because I’m cringing so much I’m getting neck-ache. Let’s deal with dinner, shall we? This makes enough for four and you’ll need a smallish loaf fin!

spinach and feta stuffed meatloaf

to make spinach and feta stuffed meatloaf, you’re going to need:

  • one 500g pack of turkey mince – normally 2% fat, so syn-free
  • 130g of reduced fat feta – two people’s worth of a HEA
  • one HEB breadbun – 60g
  • 25 of Tesco Ingredients sundried tomatoes – these are dried ones rather than done in oil – you simply hydrate them in water beforehand – or use sundried tomato puree, or leave it out, hey, listen, you don’t need me telling you what to do
  • that’s a fib, you totally do, should we agree a safeword?
  • two big red onions
  • four cloves of garlic
  • one or even two large bags of spinach, depends how much spinach you like – I like loads and you’ll note that when you boil down two large bags of spinach, it’ll wilt down to approximately the volume of a postage stamp
  • one large egg
  • one egg white from another large egg
  • pinches of salt, pepper, basil if you have it, oregano if you have it
  • any name-brand passata, let’s not be fussy

to make spinach and feta stuffed meatloaf, you should:

  • chop the onions nice and finely and gently cook them off in a pan with a few sprays of oil
  • remove the onions into a bowl
  • add the spinach into the pan and let it wilt right down
  • once wilted, take the spinach and squeeze every drop of water you can out of it

Here’s a top tip from us: use a potato ricer to squeeze the water of spinach in no time at all. Potato ricers also make amazing mash, but this is a brilliant use for it – you can buy one by clicking here – and they’re nice and cheap! 

  • add it back into the pan, just off the heat, add the minced garlic, crumbled feta, sundried tomato and the egg-white and stir to mix it all up with a load of black pepper
  • put that to one side and let’s start building the meatloaf – stick the oven onto 170 degrees
  • tip the turkey mince into the same bowl as the onions – add the breadcrumbs, egg, pepper, bit of salt, basil, oregano and then really go to town mixing it all up – don’t be shy, pound away at it, get it all mixed up
  • if it is still a bit wet, add more breadcrumbs, but remember to syn them – I didn’t need extra breadcrumbs though
  • pop a few sprays of oil into a loaf tin and then shape the mince along the bottom and up the sides, saving some on the side to make a lid
  • spoon the spinach and cheese mix into the middle and then form a top over the spinach to create a full seal
  • hoy it in the oven – after thirty minutes, add a glaze over the top of some passata, then cook for another forty minutes or so until the meat is cooked
  • turn it out, leave to cool, slice it after ten minutes and serve with your sides
  • done!

Feel free to swap the turkey mince for beef or pork mince! Right, if you want more ideas, click the buttons below and, look, we’ve got lots more meatloaf recipes:




droptober recipe #9: chicken cakes

Chicken cakes? I know, it sounds as appetising as sleeping face-down in the cuddle-puddle after a hot session with orange shitbag Donald Trump, but please, bear with me. You can have fishcakes, yes? Well these little buggers are gorgeous, trust me. Like a chicken nugget only you’re not spending ten minutes afterwards thinking about whether you’ve just eaten a bumhole, eyelid, or combination of both.

Only a recipe tonight, mind, as we’re busy working on something exciting. Well, I am, Paul’s busy ironing. WHAT AN EXCITING LIFE EH. This recipe makes about eight or so cakes, and I’m synning them at half a syn each rather than the 0.75 syns that it should be. Don’t tell Mags, eh?

OH one thing. We’ve had word that there’s a Slimming World group in Cornwall somewhere where one of the members is printing off the recipes and selling them as a booklet. Please, don’t do this. We do this for free and we want it to stay that way. If you want to profit from our hard work, at least ask. Don’t be a fucknugget about it.

chicken cakes

to make chicken cakes you will need

  • 500g chicken (or turkey) mince (or chicken breasts, whizzed up in a food processor)
  • half a red, yellow or orange pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch chilli flakes
  • half a chicken stock cube
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise (2 syns)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ black pepper
  • 2 shakes Tabasco sauce
  • 25g panko (4½ syns)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard (1 syn)

to make chicken cakes you should:

  • in a large pan, spray in some oil over a medium-high heat and add the onions, pepper, chilli flakes and crumble in half the chicken stock cube, and cook together for about 3 minutes
  • add the garlic and cook for another minute
  • add HALF of the raw chicken mince (you read that right – trust me) to the pan, and cook until cooked though – it’ll take about 3 minutes
  • remove from the heat and set aside to cool
  • in a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, tabasco, panko, egg and dijon mustard
  • add the cooked chicken (wait until it’s cool enough to hold) and the remaining raw chicken (it’ll be fine! honestly!) and mix really well together
  • divide the mixture into 8 balls and flatten each one into a burger shape (this burger press is only £3.50 and will do the job nicely)
  • plonk onto some greaseproof paper so they don’t stick and pop in the fridge for about half an hour to let them firm up – pour yourself a gin
  • spray a large frying pan with oil and whack on to a medium-high heat
  • using a spatula, add the chicken cakes to the pan (you might need to do it in batches) and cook for about 4 minutes per side until cooked through
  • serve and enjoy!

We served with chips and some extra-light mayonnaise because we’re classy bitches. Want more recipes? Click the buttons below!




syn free sweet potato and turkey layered casserole

Turned up for the sweet potato and turkey layered casserole, that’s syn-free and awash with taste? Well, don’t hasten along just yet. A word please, but for once, I’ll make it a quick one.

How do people keep falling for Facebook scams? It’s beyond me. I get it, people are keen for a bargain and would snatch the skin off your face if it meant getting 25% discount at Aldi, but please, exercise just a modicum of common sense. Tesco aren’t giving away 500 gift-cards with £500 quid on them because they’ve turned 50. You can tell that because a) Tesco wouldn’t give away a quarter of a million quid via stay-at-home-mums on facebook ‘buy ‘n’ sell’ pages (the ‘n’ stands for not having THAT in my house because it’s fucking gopping) and b) Tesco wouldn’t give you the steam off its piss.

I only mention it because Alton Towers have had to issue a statement explicitly stating that they’re not running a promotion for five free tickets for each person who shares some crappy low-res and clearly photoshopped picture of a ticket. I just find it perplexing that people get suckered in by crap like that. Surely at some point during the ‘complete X surveys’ and ‘submit your Paypal account details here’ an alarm bell must ring, and presumably that bell is going to be bloody loud because it’s got no brain to muffle the sound? Pfft. If I was in charge of Alton Towers, I’d honour the crummy tickets and put all the people most vocal about it straight on The Smiler – and I’d put the work experience kid in front of the controls. I mean HONESTLY.

This wouldn’t have caused me so much ire if Alton Tower’s official status on Facebook wasn’t awash with people who immediately started twisting their gobs about how Alton Towers had a duty to provide free tickets as compensation. Com-pen-bloody-sation! Listen, you should get compensation if you have your legs blown off by faulty wiring or your eyes smacked from your skull from a falling crane, you don’t deserve compensation just because you got your juicebox in a froth thinking you’d get a free ticket because of some barely literate sharing on Facebook.

Anyway, the last time I went to Alton Towers I had a very reasonable time. Make of that what you will. I enjoyed waiting in the queues for a one minute ride, I loved looking at the delicate displays of litter and wasps and found the experience of applying for a loan just to buy a small fries and hotdog to be remarkably thrilling. I love theme parks but I’ve been utterly spoiled by spending a month in Florida, with the added bonus of not being the fattest person in the park.

My mind boggles.

Speaking of mind boggling, you need to give Stranger Things a go. It was recommended by a friend, who, to her credit, is normally fairly spot-on with her recommendations and tea-making. It’s sublime. Wonderfully shot, gorgeously scored, tightly plotted and just something so unusual on TV these days – a real rare treat. It’s on Netflix and I can’t, in turn, recommend it highly enough. Who knew Winona Ryder (Ryder? I barely knew her!) could act? She’s a revelation. Even the kids can act! How comes whenever we see children on UK television they’re always that unique breed of smug, breathy annoyances with a know-it-all attitude and a name like an old Victoria affliction. OH LITTLE DROPSY, DO COME ALONG, YOU’LL BE LATE FOR YOUR MANDARIN CLASS. That kind of shite.

If it helps sweeten the deal, there’s a policeman in there with a strong jaw and a mean attitude, so at least you’re guaranteed a bit of rain at Fort Bushy.



Let’s get to the bloody casserole, eh, before I give you a nosebleed.

Look, it doesn’t look great, but it’s a good way of getting some speed veg in, it freezes well and you know, you could do worse!

sweet potato and turkey layered casserole

to make sweet potato and turkey layered casserole, you’ll need:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 500g turkey mince (or use beef mince, and yeah, you’ll get plenty in our box below)
  • 250g bacon medallions (you’ll get some in any of our musclefood deals!)
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 50ml almond milk (this works out at less than 1/3rd of a syn – I didn’t count it but you can if you like)
  • 4 tbsp quark
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 150g mushrooms, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper

to make sweet potato and turkey layered casserole, you should:

  • begin by peeling the sweet potatoes and cut into chunks, and add to a pan of boiling water, cook until tender and drain
  • in another pan meanwhile, cook the bacon under a hot grill until crispy – when done, remove from the under the grill and set aside
  • great – now preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • cook the cauliflower florets in a pan of boiling water, for about 7 minutes (or until tender)
  • over a sink, drain the cauliflower and put into a food processor (or blender)
  • completely blend with half of the almond milk, a load of black pepper and half of the quark – blend until smooth and set aside
  • kindly do exactly the same with the sweet potato, but add parmesan if you want rather than peppers
  • in a large frying pan, add a little oil and cook the turkey mince
  • now, once the mince starts to brown, add the onions and mushrooms to the pan and keep stirring every now and again
  • mainly a job of layering now – in a large ovenproof dish (pyrex is best!) spoon half of the mince mixture and spread out to a thin layer
  • yes, add all of the cauliflower mix and spread out, then add the remaining meat mixture followed by the sweet potato
  • bake in the oven for 30 minutes
  • usually, we chop or crumble the bacon into little pieces and spread over the dish when cooked
  • masses of casserole for everyone – serve!

Looking for even more recipes? Good lord woman, steady on, you’ll snap it off. Click the buttons below for even more!


Hope that left you satisfied and smiling.


delicious buffalo turkey meatball subs

Are you dripping from both ends at the thought of these delicious buffalo turkey meatball subs? Well, I’ll get to them. I will, honest, but first, something awful happened yesterday.

I say yesterday, but it was a few weeks ago – I just didn’t want to write about it because I felt so bad. I’m not a man who easily shames – I’d need the priest to cancel his summer if I ever went into a confessions box – and I’m very much a ‘meh’ person when it comes to morality and decency, but sometimes even I feel penitent. I need to apologise genuinely to everyone out there who thought I was a decent person. Let me explain, OK?

Naturally, because I’m a gobshite, I’ll need to set the scene. It was a glorious summer day – the type of Sunday afternoon that is just fizzing with possibility – do you spend all day watching Four in a Bed re-runs on More 4 or the Come Dine With Me omnibus on 40D? Due to the weather being so damn warm we were at serious risk of bonding directly with our leather sofa so we decided, after peeling ourselves off the leather with a loud, wet fart, to ‘go for a drive’. My parents used to take me and my sister out to go ‘there and back to see how far it is’, and that’s exactly what we planned to do. An amble out in the car to shout loudly at the back of caravans and the front of BMWs.

As you may or may not know, we live near the Northumbrian coast, and it was a matter of minutes before we were beetling up the coast road, with Paul’s terrible taste in music playing loudly through the speakers of my car. That’s the deal. If we take my (better) car he gets to choose the music, meaning eight hours of Tracy Chapman Sucks The Joy Out Of Every Conceivable Situation. Meh, I like doing the driving so I let it slide. Anyway, we had only been going for about fifteen minutes when he turned the music off and turned to me, mischief writ large on his already burning, doughy moon-face, and suggested we go and look at caravans.

Well, I was shocked, let me tell you – Paul has all of his own teeth and isn’t unemployed, so why suggest a caravan? He explained that he didn’t want to buy a caravan, rather just have a nosey around, and that he had seen a sign for an ‘open day’ at a nearby caravan park but a few moments ago. I can’t say no to Paul – one look at his rheumy, beady eyes and I’ll give him the world.  Caravans have never appealed to me – I don’t see the joy in dashing away on holiday to look at the same four walls you’ve previously looked at for a long wet week. The ones I have been in always start of smelling of foist and sex and end up smelling of farts and shame, which perhaps says more about me. I’m not a snob, I’m sure there are some lovely models out there that don’t come in discharge-beige, but they’re just not my scene.

Nevertheless, I turned the car around under the guise of humouring Paul but really wanting to have a nose myself. I’ve always wanted to see how someone could find sweating in a plastic box so inviting. We pulled in at around 1pm with the idea that we would have a gander around a couple of caravans, maybe swear at some children in the bar and buy some cinder toffee for the drive home.

WE WERE THERE FOUR FUCKING HOURS. FOUR! Why? Well, this is the bit I feel I have to apologise for. We had no sooner walked in when some wonderful, charming, effortlessly polite young man hustled over in a veritable cloud of Lynx Africa and sat us down in a comfy chair. I immediately started mouthing DON’T SAY ANYTHING to Paul but he had his eyes on both ends of an eight-berth caravan with balcony and when asked if we’d like a coffee, said yes please. I could see at this point we’d be there a while NOW MY HUSBAND HAS COMMITTED US. Yep.

The guy was charm himself and I didn’t want to feel like we were wasting his time so when asked whether we were thinking about buying, I issued a vague ‘we’ve come into a bit of money but can’t commit today’ in the hope of appeasing him and getting away sharp. No. No, he couldn’t have had a firmer grip on me if he’d sunk his teeth into my scrotum. He promised us a look around, asked a few questions which Paul, lost in a reverie thanks to his machine-brewed cappucino, left me to deal with. I floundered but still the salesman pressed on. He asked us how often we would be visiting (never), what attracted us to caravans (nothing) (perhaps maybe the swinging), how long we’d been together, who held the purse-strings…

advert - freezer-01

Speaking of purse strings, feel free to blow the dust off your purse and buy some meat. Look at everything you get in our freezer filler – buy it and live like a meat-filled queen. I do.

Out we went. We were treated to an almost two hour tour of the facilities. As caravan parks go I’m sure it was lovely, but I just can’t relax when a good half of the men walking about look like they’re going to kick your teeth out through your arsehole and their wives have more writing on their knuckles than on the work experience bit of their CVs. We wandered down to the beach which afforded us wonderful views – and that part is true, I’ve never seen an aluminium smelter glint in the sunlight with such beauty – but listen, I know what gets discharged into the North Sea (hell, I’m responsible for the worst of it) and I don’t fancy bobbing out of the water with a turd-cigar in my mouth.

Actually, that point was highlighted a little later with the appearance of a ‘secret beach’, a little sandy cove hidden out of sight by virtue of a bit of marshland and the flats of the dried-up river-bed. Nothing says ‘enjoy a summer picnic with me darling’ like watching two seagulls fighting in the carcass of a bloated cat and a rat trying to free itself from a spent condom.

All through the tour the sense of feeling shit for wasting this guy’s time was growing, but we thought he’d be finished in no time and then we could slip away before most of his afternoon was wasted. But he just kept going with his endless energy. I don’t know who his girlfriend is but I bet she walks around with a huge smile and two pairs of chapped lips.

So much time passed that we couldn’t in all good conscience tell him we had only wanted to look around a caravan and nothing more. He extolled the virtues of the site-wide WiFi (because we would definitely want to be on the same network as some of the guys we’d spotted looking mournfully from their caravan windows, yessir), the on-site entertainment and the swimming pool. Actually, the pool looked great – it’s been ages since I’d had a verruca to pick at. I’m not going to fib though – whether it was the heat of the day, my body expressing shock at moving more than 100 yards under my own steam or just his excellent sales patter, the idea of owning a caravan here was starting to look more tempting. If only so I could lie down and scratch my feet with a match-box.

We finished the afternoon with the most awkward hour of my life – looking someone in the eye who was so keen for a sale that he skipped over my obvious attempts at deflection – we’re gay, Paul’s an arsonist, I have bail conditions banning me from being near old folk – with that deft, assured mannerism that must come from months of getting people off the fence and into caravan ownership. He asked for a number to contact me on and in my haste to get away I gave him the right number – which he then called a day or two later – thus this being the first instance of me giving my number of a guy and him not immediately scribbling it on a toilet wall with the annotation ‘CAN TAKE THREE AT ONCE’. We discussed finance packages, we discussed carpet options, whether I’d bring my own gas from home (I always do, I chortled, and the crowd went mild), park rules (which essentially boiled down to not nicking the copper from the exchange box and not being a grass), whether my parents would be interested and whether we’d need a two double-bed set-up. I exclaimed that we weren’t that fat which finally seemed to kill the mood and, after many promises that we would be in touch, we were able to slink away.

Paul made to put his Tracy Chapman music back on once we were in the car but I slapped his hand away and reminded him that as his cappucino had almost cost us £30,000 in 6540 crippling monthly payments, I’d choose the music. Our salesman called us a few days later and we explained that my parents hadn’t quite died just yet and that we’d be in contact and do you know, he was so nice – said no worries, thanked us for a lovely afternoon and bid us goodbye. I was so stricken with guilt that I immediately called back and asked if I could send a letter in about his wonderful customer service (and it really was – fair enough he chewed my ears off but he was polite, courteous and charming to an absolute fault) but he said we didn’t need to, as long as we kept him in mind if we ever wanted a caravan. I felt like I’d kicked a begging dog to death.

So, my apology then. A big, heartfelt genuine apology to the poor lad who showed us around for an entire afternoon with the impression we were going to buy a caravan. We weren’t. We had gone in just to have a nose about and were too cowardly to say we were just nebbing. In our defence, we did try to make it obvious we couldn’t commit, but you were so impassioned by your job that we didn’t want to break your spirit. There comes a point a couple of hours in when it’s too late to back out and we hit that point around the time of the secret beach. But: you were great, you really were, and if we ever do decide that we want to give up on life and get a caravan, we’ll come to you. I hope we’re forgiven. I still think of you when I get stuck behind a Shitcabin Deluxe-3000 on the A69 and even now the remorse is raw. Goodbye, Mr Caravan Man.

Now, before anyone kicks off, let me reiterate one thing: this blog is written for comic effect. Of course the folk at the caravan park weren’t exceptionally rough and I’m sure it’s a charming place to stay with kids. It’s not our cup of tea, no, but I’m not genuinely taking the piss. If you enjoy them, go, and have a whale of a time. I’ll watch from the car. With the windows up. In the height of summer. I’ll take the risk.

Oh, as an aside, remember my dislike of caravans for a much later post, won’t you? We’re planning something fun in 2017 which might just revisit them…

I love a Subway sandwich, and see we’ve made a marinara sub before which you can find right here. I’ve said 2.5 syns per sub – it’s actually a fraction less – but you have to make sure you’re using a HEB bun! Or Mags herself will come and smack your ankles in with an iron bar. It’s the rules!

buffalo turkey meatball subs

to make buffalo turkey meatball subs you will need:

serves 6

to make buffalo turkey meatball subs you should:

  • in a large bowl, mix together the turkey mince, celery, carrots, garlic, chilli powder, paprika, panko, parmesan and egg, and roll into 18 meatballs
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook the meatballs until cooked through – turn them regularly!
  • when cooked, plop three into each bun and top with one tbsp of natural yoghurt, and 1 tbsp buffalo sauce
  • eat

Admittedly, it’s a sloppy eat and you’re going to end up looking like you’ve been the bullseye at a badly-gone-wrong bukkake party, but hey! Enjoy this fakeaway? Click the buttons below for more ideas on fakeaways, beef or poultry!




chicken and pea lasagne

Chicken and pea lasagne? Yes! Just scroll down if you don’t want to hear all my prattle.

Before we start: some good news. I’ve had a weird thing happening with my neck for ages where if I look to the right, there’s a click noise and a lot of pain. Very frustrating. But the good news: I was sniffing a flower and the pollen made me sneeze so hard that I’ve fixed whatever what was wrong with my neck. I’ve sneezed myself better! Let’s celebrate by being nice. No…

I’ve discovered a new past-time. Admittedly it’s one that shows off my mean, vexing side, but I don’t care. I <3 looking through and commenting on the Facebook ‘buy and sell’ groups in our local area. Honestly, the tat people try and sell is just beyond me. Plus, you get the bonus of looking at pictures of people’s houses and getting to suck air over my teeth at the state of the wallpaper or the “canvas art” littering every room. If I see another KEEP CALM AND DRINK PROSECCO poster I’m going to find a way to reach through the atoms on my iPad screen and torch their house.

As an aside, Paul used to know someone who drank from a cup that said ‘KEEP CALM AND GO MENTAL’ on the side. I rather think it remains to his credit that he didn’t smash it over her head.

I recently got into a spat with some orange harridan with a face like a rushed omelette who accused me of being a bald fat fuck because I accused her ‘100% NOT FAKE’ Calvin Klein dress as being fake. First of all, you can’t insult me by calling me a bald fat fuck because, if you remove the spaces from that and add slut, that’s my Grindr name, and secondly, I don’t think Calvin’s knocking out dresses under the name Calvan Kline. Calvan Kline sounds like a ski village in Norway, for one thing. Anyway, spluttering ill-conceived and predominately vowel-less insults at me has no effect. It rolls off me like gravy off a fat duck’s back.

Just an aside, I’m not always mean. I’ve bitten my tongue all weekend after seeing a PicCollage (it’s always a fucking PicCollage) recipe for ‘Hawiian BBQ chicken’. Hawiian? That’s how a Geordie mother calls her children in off the street.

Now, a lovely bit of news. You may remember from previous posts that we are part of something called the Reddit Gift Exchange? In short, you pick one of the monthly themes (for example, The Simpsons, or The 90s) and you’re matched with a complete stranger from somewhere else in the UK. You then buy this person a gift pertaining to the theme and send it to them. It’s a giant Secret Santa. You’re guaranteed a present in return from someone else and it’s all very jolly-hockey-sticks and amazing. We love it. In the twelve months we have been doing it we’ve had some genuinely brilliant gifts – homemade cookbooks, a massive box of ‘tourist’ paraphernalia from Scarborough, posters and gaming kit and plenty of others too numerous and marvellous to mention. I do love a Secret Santa, although I did once get my ex-boss a duck for her bath without realising it was a vibrator. That caused much embarrassment, especially when she tried it out in the office no-she-didn’t-don’t-worry. We didn’t have a bath!

So the theme this month was favourite decade and for both Paul and I this was definitely the 90s. It had it all – great TV in the shape of The Crystal Maze, 999 and dinnerladies, superb music (aside from Eiffel 65, fuck those guys) and proper morning-piss yellow Sunny Delight. Though for the record, remember we didn’t have much money and so branded radioactive drinks were out – the best we had was a bottle of Overcast Ennui in our lunchbox. What a time to be alive.

Anyway, our Secret Santa totally knocked it out of the park with their selection of 90s goods – just look at what we received!


Quite hard to see from Paul’s tiny photo which, in the spirit of the 90s, he seemingly took with a Game Boy camera, but there’s three CDs which I used to own and absolutely fucking love (especially the one on the right), a packet of Nintendo Playing Cards, two Tamagotchis, some Hot-Wheels and a proper little watch. There was also a lovely card. But good lord, what a perfect selection of 90s goodness – I had such a rush of nostalgia that my pubes disappeared and my voice unbroke. I know that’s not a word, squiggly-red-line, but it makes sense in this sentence.

I was always very lucky in that I didn’t go through the whole protracted stage of my voice breaking – I went to bed one night with a voice like Joe Pasquale and a scrotum like a tangerine, woke up the next morning sounding like Isaac Hayes and had a ballsack like a Bassett Hound’s ear. Perhaps it didn’t go quite as deep as Isaac but certainly I avoided all the squeaking and dropping that so many teenage lads seem to experience.

It was the Pogs that really sent us both whooshing back into memory land though. I absolutely loved them. God knows why, it’s just some natty coloured cardboard discs, but something about the simplicity really won me over. Paul and I tried to have a quick game only to send them tumbling all over the kitchen floor so god knows what has happened since, but back in the day, I was the King of Pogs. Well, perhaps the Queen of Pogs. I had the full set, a fluorescent green Pog holder and a slammer which was really just a massive, heavy-duty washer that my dad brought home from work. The Pogs epidemic swept through our school like the norovirus, with fights and scuffles leading to the outright ban of Pog battles in the playground. Didn’t stop us – we used to just play out of the sight of teachers. Honestly, you wouldn’t believe the amount of lads I beat off behind the sheds when no-one was looking. Some things never change, eh.

I reckon Pogs was also the first flirtation with crime for both me and my sister. We had been dragged along to a car-boot sale somewhere inexplicable and indoors and were bored shitless. Parents, don’t take your kids to car boot sales. They’re full of things other people don’t need or want and anything interesting a kid finds is always met with a ‘WE DON’T NEED THAT’ from the parents. Oh, but we do need a VHS of Beverley Callard’s Fitness First and a giant glass ashtray, apparently.

We had spotted a Pog stand full of slammers that looked like something out of Saw and not-quite-Pogs that were possibly printed at home. Didn’t matter. All about volume in those days, see. Anyway, I distracted the lady behind the decorating table by commenting on how fine her moustache was or something whilst my sister proceeded to fill her trousers with Pogs, all held in by virtue of her Adidas Poppers had been tucked into her socks. Genius right? We were like the Krays of South Northumberland.

Don’t judge us too keenly, we were young and bored. Karma got us back anyway because the Pogs were of such bad quality that the ink ran and they were ruined by the heat of a rustling shellsuit. I’m sure my sister probably has a faint imprint of a Tazmanian Devil somewhere on her ankle even now.

Mind, as an aside, Pogs were nothing compared to the thrill of completing a Panini Premiership sticker book. Seeing Alan Shearer’s smug, insufferable face sliding out of the packet on a shiny backing meant being King of All Things, if only for a day. Nevermind the arguments that Pogs caused, I’ve seen fights that looked like when The Bride battles the Crazy 88 in Kill Bill 1 over a four inch by two inch sticker of Tino Asprilla. No amount of trading Paul-Furlong-for-Kevin-Pressman-and-the-Nottingham-Forest-logo is worth having your first adult tooth kicked clean out of your mouth for.

Dangerous times indeed!

Speaking of teeth, you’ll need them to chew the next recipe. I know right, a flawless segue. Now listen, I can’t claim any credit for the idea of this recipe, I found it on another site (Every Nook and Cranny) and thought it looked delicious. Naturally, ours came out looking like someone had driven a car over it before serving, but hell, who cares. It tasted fine and I’ve adapted it for Slimming World. So let’s do this.

chicken and pea lasagne chicken and pea lasagne

to make chicken and pea lasagne you will need:

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded (three if you’re using supermarket ones) OR 500g chicken mince

Here’s the thing. Chicken breasts from our big Musclefood deal – you only need two because they’re so large and don’t shrivel away to nowt like the supermarket ones do. Click here to have a look – it’s definitely a good deal!

  • 2 leeks, finely sliced (save your fingers and time by using a mandolin slicer, not least because they’ll be uniform and so skinny it’ll make the other vegetables jealous) (also that’s the cheapest I’ve ever seen this slicer)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (use a mincer – garlic powder is fine, but a mincer makes short work of this and takes no time at all – buy one here and I promise you you’ll never look back)
  • 8 to 12 lasagne sheets (it depends on what size dish you use, see, I’m not just being awkward) (totally am)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 3 tbsp passata
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 200g peas
  • 250g quark
  • 30g grated parmesan (HeA)
  • 70g reduced fat mozzarella ball (HeA)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (because I’m an ostentatious sod, I’m using ones grown in our greenhouse – next year raise a tomato plant and you’ll be amazed by the difference in flavour – because home-grown tomatoes actually taste of something, see)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • worcestershire sauce

If you can’t get chicken mince and don’t have a food processor to make your own, don’t panic – use turkey mince instead. Perfectly acceptable swap and very easy to buy in supermarkets. Chicken is tastier, though.

to make chicken and pea lasagne you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • if you’re using chicken breasts you will need to mince it – if you don’t have a fancy mincer (who does?!) then you can use a food processor with a grating blade, or use a cheese grater. Either way it’s a clart on so use chicken/turkey mince when you can!

Because we’re super fancy, we have one of these wonderful Magimix mixers. We threw the chicken breasts in there, pulsed them for a few seconds and that was that. If you cook a lot and have some spare moolah, I can genuinely and heartily recommend it. If you’re someone whose refrain to anything is ‘I CAN GET IT CHEAPER IN ALDI’, perhaps don’t even look.

  • heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add some squirty olive oil, but not Frylight. Never Frylight, it scares me.
  • add the leeks, reduce the heat to low and cook until they soften, which will take about ten minutes
  • when the leeks are soft, add the garlic, stir, and then add the chicken
  • raise the heat to medium and stir well and cook until the chicken is no longer pink, because you don’t want to be revisiting the lasagne thirty minutes after eating as it thunders out of your arse
  • add the oregano and sage, stir, and then add the chopped tomatoes, passata and tomato puree with 60ml of water
  • stir the peas into the pan and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce has reduced. If it looks too thick add more water
  • add salt, pepper and worcestershire to season however you like it
  • in a small saucepan add the quark and parmesan and heat over a low heat until it softens, then remove from the heat as soon as the mixture is well combined, adding salt and pepper if you like – I like a really peppery sauce so I always shoot for the moon at this point
  • in a deep dish assemble the lasagne however you like
  • spoon a third of the chicken mixture into the bottom of the dish, followed by a third of the cheese sauce and a layer of lasagne sheets. repeat for two more layers – if you don’t have enough, just do two layers – it’s all going to get turned into poo, it doesn’t matter how well you put it all together
  • top with torn chunks of mozzarella and pop on the cherry tomatoes
  • bake for 35 minutes or until everything looks delicious and the top looks like a burnt knee
  • serve with a side salad of speed food, or, do as I do, give a portion to your other half and then secretly eat all the crusty cheesy topping under the guise of going back to the kitchen for a drink
  • it’s no wonder my thighs smell of bacon, is it

See? Nice and summery and a bit lighter than your traditional hefty lasagne. You can adapt this recipe however you want. I got scolded last time for using two HEAs in my recipe on the basis that one person is only allowed one healthy extra. This is true. But, this also serves four folks easily and six people at a pinch, and frankly, if you’re eating enough lasagne in one sitting to feed six people, you’ve got more to worry about than an extra 30g of cheese.

We’ve made three other lasagne recipes, why not take a look?

If you’re looking for more pasta ideas or chicken recipes, click on the buttons below and be whisked away to a land of recipes and whimsy.




turkey biryani and Corsica shenanigans

Three things before we set off:

  • I was in ASDA before (the glamour!) and as I was busy upsetting the self-scan machine, I heard some pompous bellend bark at an ASDA employee to ‘fetch me a basket’. The worker had the good grace to point him in the direction of some baskets, but I was instantly reminded why I hate people before I love them. The only thing I would have fetched him was his arsehole through his throat. 
  • It’s approaching poppy season, which means the people whose DNA had to decide between growing black teeth or growing brain cells and promptly decided on the former will be on facebook telling you that poppies can’t be sold in XYZ because of Muslims. I’ve exhausted myself on facebook arguing with numpties, but look, it’s bullshit. The Royal British Legion have confirmed. Just research it!
  • First weigh-in since we decided to give it a bit more effort. I lost 5.5lb (and you’ve seen the meals I’ve been eating!) and Paul managed a respectable 2lb, meaning half a stone’s worth of pressure has been taken off the metal slats of our bed. Good. See, eating properly works, so put down your Scan-Bran and crack on.

A lovely lady at class last night told me I had to crack on with my Corsica holiday trip – and she’s quite right, of course, as ladies always are. So here we go. The last entry finished with us landing at the world’s smallest airport and being given a Peugeot 206: Sloth Edition to trundle around the island in. If you’re not a fan of my writing and you just want the recipe, hit the scroll button, because this is a long one. Like you can’t handle a long entry, you FILTHY MINX. So…

After landing at Figari, and wrestling the keys from a woman who probably could have brought the car in on her shoulders, we were on our way down the N198 (the main road ‘around’ Corsica) to the charming little town of Sainte Lucie de Porto Vecchio, which was a good half hour drive away. We didn’t mind the drive, it gave us an opportunity to let the scenery sink in. Corsica is beautiful – a true island of contrasts, with white beaches, heady mountains, green fields and dusty trees – and not what I was expecting. Our car, protesting as it did every time I dared nudge it above 40mph, shuttled us towards the town, and, us being us, we drive right past the turn off for the villa. Good stuff! We realised our mistake a good twenty minutes down the road and pulled over in a dusty lay-by by a beach to take stock. I could have texted the rep for directions and assistance but Paul had packed away my mobile into the suitcase, locked the suitcase, and put it in the bottom of the boot. It was altogether too much effort to sort. Paul insists on locking the suitcases at every opportunity, partly because they’re fancy-dan editions where the zips actually form part of the locking system. He locked them after we had wedged them into the boot of the car. He remained entirely non-plussed by my bewildered reasoning of ‘who the fuck is going to nick anything from a moving car, a tiny Corsican gypsy hiding in the ashtray?’. Honestly, the things I have to put up with. Frankly, if someone is that desperate to be at my passport that they want to sort through my extra-extra-large t-shirts and his ‘broken in’ boxers shorts, they deserve a reward.

Paul nipped into the bushes for a piddle and came dashing out with an alarmed face – not because of snakes, or scary wild boars, but (in his words) ‘there’s SO MUCH SHITTY BOG PAPER IN HERE’. Oh lovely! That would be a bit of a theme mind. Corsica is astonishing, but by god don’t venture into the bushes to change your clothes, empty your shoes of half a ton of sand or for a piss, because they sure do love shitting and leaving the paper for nature. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t imagine anyone would take their skidmarked paper home like a flower pressing, but at least bury it, don’t festoon the fucking branches with it. Honestly, it looked like Christmas in Worksop.

We stopped at a nearby Spar for groceries. Groceries isn’t quite the right word for the food you buy on holiday, though, is it? The only thing we left the shop with that could provide any nutritional value was the receipt. I’m going to hazard a guess that it will be the only time in my life that a bottle of Limoncello, swimming googles, eight bags of Haribo, headache pills, Pringles and enough bread to build an ark would appear in my shopping basket together. We did buy a token bag of rocket which looked great in the fridge at the start of the holiday and even better in the bin at the end. As a ‘car snack’ we bought a pretzel the size of a steering wheel to eat in the car (I was reassured that I could have dislodged any errant blobs of dough from my teeth with the toenail clipping that the previous driver had generously left on the dash) and we were back on our way. Let me tell you – it’s difficult to drive an unfamiliar car on unfamiliar roads whilst trying to make sure Paul didn’t get more than half of the bread. We made our back, veering dangerously across the road and spraying crumbs everywhere until we spotted the turn-off.

I have to say, the approach to the villa wasn’t very inviting – it looked like the start of every dodgy serial-killer film I’ve ever seen – and the architects had carefully and assuredly made sure to put as many possible pot-holes and boulders on the drive-way, so that the 100m drive up to the villa made me feel like a trainer in a tumble drier. It was worth it, though.


living_dining_terrace master_bedroom_2

Casa Julia! I’ve stolen the photos from Simpson Travel’s website because frankly, my photography skills are up there with Stevie Wonder’s. I could be alone in the world and still manage to get the back of someone’s head or a rogue thumb into my shots. Anyway, we paid a king’s ransom for the villa, I’m fairly sure they can let me use their photos. Isn’t it beautiful? It accommodates ten people, so naturally it was just the right size for Paul and I to mince around naked and use every single bed to get the full value out of the holiday. Anyone else do that? God forbid the maid would get a moment to herself, we were too busy crinkling the bedsheets and leaving chest hairs in every conceivable crevice to care. Paul went for a dump almost immediately, despite having ‘freshened the air’ at the airport a mere hour ago. He uses new toilets like one might stamp a passport – to say he’s been. 

Nevertheless, the suitcases hadn’t been unlocked more than half a minute before I was fully undressed and scampering to the pool. That’s a fib, I’m too fat to scamper. Let’s go with trundle. Lumbered. Yeah – I lumbered excitedly to the pool. That doesn’t work either, actually, because you can’t lumber with enthusiasm. How the fuck do you describe that grotesque speedy ‘shift’ that us fatties do? Shall we say I galumphed to the pool? That means to move in a ‘loud and clumsy way’, which describes the way my thighs slap when I go at speed. I galumphed to the pool. Not quite ‘Arnold raced out of the door’, mind.

I spent five minutes teetering on the step of the pool because it was SO BLOODY COLD. Not because it wasn’t heated, it was, but because I was so overheated in my ‘English’ clothes that anything less than a pan of boiling jam hurled in my face would have felt a bit ‘nippy’. Paul shouted encouragement from the lavatory (thankfully that was a one-way process – I don’t think the locals would have been especially pleased to hear my Geordie tones shouting ‘PUSH’ and ‘IS IT CROWNING YET’ across the fields) but that’s rich coming from him. Paul has never, ever just ‘got’ into a pool. He has to inch himself in, letting the water hit each part of his body and letting out a tiny scream as it does so….OOOH ME ANKLES…OOH IT’S COLD…OOOH IT’S ON MY HELMET…CHRIST MY GUNT….and so on. He’ll then spend ten minutes with it lapping just under his tits before finally he’ll crack and tumble in like a falling mountain. A fatslide, if you will. I’m the opposite, I’ll dither and fanny on for a little bit and then just jump in. I’ve got the luxury of all-over hair, see – the cold doesn’t bother me so much because it has to penetrate my shag. It does rather look like someone has pushed an old persian rug into the pool, however. Even the air-filter gasped rather unnecessarily when I waded in, I thought.

Once I’d managed to acclimatise to the coldness of the pool and my scrotum had stopped resembling a Shredded Wheat, it was lovely. I swam around in that fat-person style – 2m of front-crawl, bob under the water, kick my legs about, lie on my back. I got a bloody fright when I felt something swim underneath me and envisioning some kind of aqua-wild-boar, I hurtled (again, however a fat man hurtles) to the other end of the pool only to realise it was the bloody pool cleaner. I hated it immediately. I have an inherent and deep phobia of machinery in water ever since I watched 999 and watched some poor horse-faced lady get stuck underwater when her pony-tail was sucked into a filter. Brrr. Although looking back, everyone was panicking and screaming but really, no-one thought to grab a pair of scissors? Anyway, this little device looked like a Roomba – a smooth circle of menace attached to a hose and with three turning wheels, and it’s job was to beetle around the pool during the day (when normally, the guest would be out), sucking up leaves and hair and tagnuts. It was creepy. It moved silently through the water aside from a tiny electrical hum every now and then and all I could think was that it was going to either get entangled in my arse-hair (imagine THAT 999) or it’ll somehow become live and fry me in the water like an especially fatty pork chop. I couldn’t relax until Paul finished his dump, fished it out for me (the robot, not the poo) and placed it to the side, where it lay gasping and spluttering and wishing me dead. We did manage to turn it off before it drained the pool. Phew.

We then spent a hearty two hours getting in and out of the pool, lying on every sun-lounger and swinging in the hammock that rather put me in mind of a big metal bollock. By god they were comfy. I looked for them online when I got home only to discover they were over £1,000 each. I like comfort, but I don’t think an afternoon lying in the mild air of Northumberland quite justifies the cost. Plus, I’d need to be dressed here, and it just wouldn’t be the same. I was swinging away in my hammock telling Paul all my thoughts on the stewardesses and Corsicans when his lack of answering – and his rumbling snoring – told me he was off to sleep. Ah well. Regular readers will know that we can’t go more than a few scattered minutes without impressing some kind of embarrassment on ourselves and it was my time to shine with a trip to buy yet more beer and bread. Beer and bread, it genuinely doesn’t get better than that for a fatty. Don’t worry needlessly however, we weren’t forgetting our roots – the beer was an entirely unnecessary raspberry froth called pietra (recommended by a far classier and tasteful friend) and the bread a foccacia with pressed olives and bacon wedged inside. We’re that fancy. Leaving Paul in the hammock to fart away to his heart, and indeed his arse’s, content, I stole out of the villa with a view to restocking the fridge with all manner of local ‘nice things’ from the other grocery shop I’d spotted down the road.

You may recall that I can’t speak a lick of French. I really can’t. I only managed one year of ‘French lessons’ before I got so bored it was either transfer to Spanish or defenestrate myself. Actually, we used to take our lessons on the ground floor so the most I could have hoped for was a grazed knee and an audition for drama school. It didn’t help that our French teacher had an eye full of blood for seven months. It’s all any of us could look at. No wonder I never learned my pronouns for goodness sake, he looked like the Terminator 2 poster rendered in Microsoft Paint. After a year I transferred over to learn Spanish and well, no me arrepiento, right? That said, I’m always keen to at least try, so I spent the fifteen minutes walking down to the shop reading my language app and practising out loud anything I may need to say – ‘…huit tranches de jambon, s’il vous plaît’, or ‘une petite portion de fromage local, mon amour‘ or indeed, ‘…pouvez-vous me montrer aux préservatifs extra-forts?‘ I genuinely thought I’d be welcomed and praised for my attempts, that perhaps someone would admirably slap me on my back and strike up in French with me about the local political situation or Greece’s turbulent economy. Thank fuck they didn’t – me repeating ‘QUOI’ over and over wouldn’t have quite the same effect.

Anyway, you can guess, that didn’t quite happen. No. I minced around the shop, filling my basket with ham and eggs and cheeses and, somewhat inexplicably, a box of blonde hair dye because I had a fit of the vapours and thought about dyeing my hair blonde because I’m on holiday, which has to rank up there amongst the ‘unlikeliest thing to do because I’m on holiday’ together with having a colonoscopy or visiting the dentist. My basket was full of deliciousness and I was immensely proud of myself for engaging the various shop folk in stilted, bare-bones chatter. I spotted the beer I’d seen earlier and put two six packs in my basket. All good. No. In my haste to reach for a bottle of mixer, my basket tipped over and deposited everything I’d picked up all over the bloody floor, each beer bottle shattering at once in the most noisy fashion. It would have been quieter if I’d ramraided the shop in a fucking train.

Time stopped. Every single person in the shop – indeed, the island – span around to look at me in a most accusatory manner, as if I was some tiny-scale terrorist. I stood there, desperately fishing around in my head for any relevant French, but I could feel every last French word in my brain popping like champagne bubbles, rendering me entirely mute and confused in a sea of glass and blood-coloured beer. Finally, the silence was broken by the absolute harridan behind the till yelling and shouting at me in incomprehensible gibberish and waving her hands around like Tony Blair bringing in an aeroplane. After a good couple of minutes I FINALLY remembered and I blurted out ‘je suis désolé‘ over and over until she FINALLY twigged I couldn’t understand her. Do you know what is shameful? I only know ‘je suis désolé’ from a bloody Madonna song. Thank God for ole Vinegartits! Some genuinely tiny hairy man came bustling out from the back with a brush and set about clearing away the glass with such exaggerated sighs and harumphing that I almost emptied out my tomatoes and gave him the paper bag to breathe into. I wish I knew what the French was for FAT, ENGLISH, CLUMSY OAF. I felt paranoid that the cow behind the counter was going to put a tannoy announcement mocking my silliness so I hastily paid (her slapping the coins down into my hand with such venom that if I turn my wrist towards the sun, I can make out the imprint of a two euro coin under my thumb) and scuttled back to Paul, who hadn’t so much as noticed I was out of the pool.

To make up for my folly, he prepared a delicious tea of French bread, cheese, ham, grapes and that great equaliser, Pringles. ROSEMARY FLAVOURED PRINGLES, mind you. Living the dream! We spent the rest of the evening lounging and watching Modern Family on the Chromecast.

Sweet Jesus. I’ve typed 3,000 words and all I’ve managed to do is get to the villa and drop some beer. I need an editor! We’ll leave it here, because the tip-tapping of this tiny Mac keyboard is getting on my tits. What do we have for dinner tonight? Turkey biryani! I’m making a bit of effort to use turkey mince where I can because it’s cheaper and a lot of you ask us for cheaper recipes – plus it’s very low in fat. That said, if you’re feeling like a decadent trollop, swap in beef mince. Don’t let the long list of ingredients put you off – it’s easy to make and tastes delightful. Ah fuck, I said delightful. That’s one of my least favourite synonyms.

turkey biryani

to make turkey biryani, you’ll need (deep breath):

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 500g turkey mince
  • 1″  knob of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli pepper, finely shopped
  • 1 tsp of cardamom seeds
  • 1 tbsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
  • 6 cloves or half a tsp of clove powder (but you’re so much better with actual cloves)
  • 1 cinnamon stick or half a tsp of cinnamon (see above)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp crushed black peppercorns
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 25g sultanas (4 syns)
  • 250g basmati rice
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • salt
  • 100g fat­free yoghurt
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint (or 1 tsp mint sauce)

You can get away with leaving out the odd spice, just use what you have. 

then to make the turkey biryani, you should:

  • cook your onion gently, until nicely golden
  • add the turkey mince and cook over a medium heat until cooked through
  • stir in all the spices bar the turmeric and leave to cook for a minute or two
  • add the tomatoes, stock, sultanas and a pinch of salt
  • bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to let it gently cook for around forty five minutes
  • meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160 degrees
  • cook the rice however you like – we use the one cup of rice to two cup of water rule – add the turmeric before it boils – BUT STOP after ten minutes – you don’t want the rice fully cooked yet
  • mix together the turkey and the rice and place in a casserole dish
  • cover and cook in the oven for 25 minutes, add a little more stock if the rice isn’t cooked after 20 minutes
  • meanwhile, core the cucumber of its seeds and then grate it into the yoghurt, adding the mint
  • serve everything together

Yum. I am so tired now.


courgette and turkey meatloaf balls

Well, howdy. Just a quick post tonight as we’re both feeling pretty lousy for a myriad of different reasons – all rather banal and a bit wimpy but will be solved easily with some trash telly and a cup of tea on the new sofa. Which, I have to say, is divine. I don’t know how we existed before we had a reclining sofa. My ankles have never been so unswollen!

This recipe comes courtesy of the latest ASDA magazine and tweaked a little bit to make it Slimming World friendly. I hate those magazines, I really do. They’re always full of gap-toothed kids doing something cutesy-poo whilst some yummy-mummy type looks on. Blechh. So, anyways, here it is – courgette and turkey meatloaf balls. This is a great recipe to make from whatever’s left in the cupboards at home – turkey mince can always be found in our local supermarket reduced so we’ve got a freezer full of it, and all the other bits are probably floating around in your kitchen. And now you’ve finally got a recipe for that softening courgette you’ve all got in your fridges…


Here’s what to do:

to make courgette and turkey meatloaf balls, you’ll need:

  • 1 courgette, grated
  • 500g lean turkey mince
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 wholemeal roll, made into breadcrumbs (HEA)
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs

and then to make the courgette and turkey meatloaf balls, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • squeeze as much liquid as you can from the grated courgette and then place in a bowl with the spring onions, garlic, egg, worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs and herbs
  • line eight muffin tins holes with greaseproof paper (or spray with frylight)
  • divide the mixture into eight, roll into neat balls and plop into the holes
  • bake for 25 minutes

and that’s all there really is to it. Easy! We served ours with some mashed potato and baby turnips but you do whatever you like. The only uses 1/4 of a healthy extra so go to town, why not throw in some syns as well?