fancy but quick fresh tuna niçoise salad

Summer is looming and your consultants will be frothing away with stuff like ‘if it swims, it slims’ (and yet they still refuse to put semen into the syns directory, I could be ingesting at least 20 syns a day!) – so in honour of that, here’s a nice fresh tuna niçoise salad. Nice and easy to make and you can take the extra in for lunch the next day. But first.

We’re in the slightest of pickles.

I’ve mentioned before that we have some excellent neighbours and a couple of well…how to say it, less pleasant ones. Nothing too offensive you understand, no-one’s smearing dog shit under my door handles or playing Now That’s What I Call Profound Hearing Loss at all hours of the day, thank God, although we do have one distant neighbour who seems to have been building a tiny brick wall for at least a year. A year! I’m so shite with DIY that I call our handyman over to change the lightbulbs in our bathroom but I reckon even I could get the hang of bricklaying if I had a bloody year to go at it.

Anyway, aside from one odd soul bellowing at us because we had the temerity of allowing dandelions to grow on our pristine lawn, they’ve all been very quiet recently, which is lovely. Until the sign arrived. Yes see, Paul thought it would be a gas to have a giant ‘VOTE LABOUR’ sign delivered for the front garden – a proper yellow and red affair, nice and prominent – in the vain hope that anyone driving onto our street at 2mph might be suddenly swayed by this spontaneous piece of politicking. It’s about as subtle as a kick in the fanny with a steel-capped shoe.

I agree with the sentiment – I’m Labour through and through – and so it was hastily erected. Well. We’ve had looks. We’ve had shaking heads. We’ve had so much tutting that I thought the cat was eating chewing gum. Nets have been twitching as we walk past and there’s been so many pained expressions it’s like living on Hernia Avenue. However, it stays – it’s important to make a stand on these things before it is too late, after all.

Things came to a head the other day, though. I spotted two of our neighbours standing in our garden peering over the fence. Confused as to what they might be doing in our garden (picking dandelions) I trotted out and enquired as to how I could help. Turns out they were speaking to our neighbours on the left and didn’t need my intervention. I resisted the urge to point out it was slightly presumptuous to let yourselves into someone’s garden to have a chat – clearly they thought I was at work. I was so frustrated I let myself into their house and helped myself to their pension books.

I was letting myself back into the house when the old chap caught up with me and plucked fitfully at my sleeve – you could tell he wanted to get something off his chest. I gave him a beatific smile and asked how I could help. He wants me to take down the sign. It blocks his view. Now, the ‘view’ that he is talking of is the side of my house, but nevertheless, I’m always one to show willing. He explained that he could see it every time he looked out of the window and it was causing him distress. I, politely as I could, suggested it ought to stay because it was our garden and really, from his angle, all he’d see is the edge of the sign 50m away from him – I haven’t exactly put a wind-farm up. We did the dance of being super polite with each other but then he played his trump card – he was having heart issues and could barely walk.

I resisted the urge to reassure him that Jeremy Corbyn would make sure that the NHS was well-funded and send him on his way, and instead, being a kind neighbour, I’ve relocated the sign into our back garden where at least he can’t see it. I feel like I’ve been played, though. I keep switching between being a good neighbour and leaving it where it is and being a bad neighbour and having something like this installed in the garden:

I don’t know why they don’t ask me to design the manifesto cover.

Anyway, I’ll let you know of any further developments. Let’s do the tuna niçoise salad, shall we? Before we do I should point out that this is a recipe straight from Joe Wicks’ Lean In 15. We’re not following his diet, but his book is absolutely full of easily adapted slimming recipes and we’re adapting a few for the blog. To think I only bought the book because I was so taken by the sight of him on TV. I’m not saying he’s good-looking, but I’d crawl on my belly through a mile of broken glass just to listen to him fart through a walkie-talkie. You can buy his book here and it is one I genuinely recommend.

This makes enough for two big bowls – scale up or down as appropriate.

fresh tuna niçoise salad

to make a fresh tuna niçoise salad, you’ll need:

  • two eggs
  • 150g of trimmed green beans
  • 2 x 300g tuna fillet steaks (or, if you want to save money, a tin of tuna each)
  • 60g of cooked puy lentils (we buy Merchant Gourmet ones from the shop – 2 syns for 250g) (half a syn – and then it’s between two, so really quarter of a syn per serving)
  • two big handfuls of spinach leaves
  • 25g of sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped up (1.5 syns, then divided up by two)
  • a little balsamic vinegar

By my reckoning, it’s a syn per serving. Easy. You may spot that rather than using balsamic vinegar in its usual form we’ve used balsamic vinegar pearls. Exactly the same only they burst on your tongue and are delicious. Naturally, Slimming World’s syns database doesn’t have them. They’ve on Amazon though, not too bad, and they add a nice dimension to dinner!

to make a fresh tuna niçoise salad, you should:

  • boil your eggs for about eight minutes then drop the green beans in with them and boil for another minute or so – you want the beans to have a bit of crunch and the eggs to be slightly softer boiled than pictured (I was distracted making this by our fit postman)
  • to cook the tuna, squirt a good non-stick frying pan or griddle with a few sprays of oil (coconut oil if you have it) and get it nice and hot and carefully place the tuna steaks to cook
  • if you like your tuna raw in the middle like I do (but again, I was distracted) then cook only for a minute each side – or cook it through for a couple of minutes if you prefer
  • take the tuna out, season with black pepper and a bit of salt
  • assemble your salad by mixing the green beans, tomatoes, spinach and balsamic in a bowl, stirring it all together, then plate up with the tuna – sliced thinly if you like – and the egg cut in half
  • enjoy!

Looking for more ideas? Click the buttons below!

seafoodsmall lunchsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall sausagessmall

Have a great bank holiday all!

J

spicy szechuan beef, and the coach trip continues, god help us

Spicy szechuan beef? Delicious. Coach trip holidays? Awful. If you just want the recipe for spicy szechuan beef, scroll on down to the picture. If you want part two of our awful holiday story, then you’re in luck because look – part two, right away!

click here for part one, god-help-you

When you last left us we were just sliding off a sweaty bus like how corned beef slides straight out of the tin, with an oozing plop. My shirt had been ruined by the blood and brain matter leaking from my ears and Paul was about one sassy remark away from stabbing someone in the eye with a Snickers bar. I’ve never been happier to leave a bus – we could have been touring a fat rendering factory and I’d have skipped off that bus with less relief.

Cadbury World, then. You’d think that as two confirmed fat bastards we’d be walking around a chocolate factory with tented trousers and a quickening heartbeat, but it was crap. It was your typical British experience – far too expensive, far too many people, duff displays, every opportunity to shake some more money from your pockets gladly taken. Our bus arrived for the 1.30pm entrance in good time but we still had to wait for over an hour in a queue full of fractious children and beetroot-necked adults. I asked how long we’d have to wait but realised it looked unseemly pressing for quick entrance to a chocolate factory.

We decided to nip over to the gift shop – I’d heard such wonderful things about this place – that the chocolate was super-cheap, that they practically force-feed you chocolate and other sweets, that you get tugged off using a handful of Crunchies, but no, it was entirely meh. Don’t get me wrong, things were cheap, but I’ve got a Cadbury’s outlet within stroke distance of where I live and it’s cheaper there and I get to look disdainfully at all of the reprobates buying their court suits from the Burtons outlet. We bought a tiny Bertie Bassett doll and a painted plastic duck, handed over altogether too much money to a cashier who didn’t so much look bored as pig sick of her life, and rejoined the throng.

I should make it clear – one good thing – we didn’t have to troop around the factory with the rest of the coach trip. We successfully managed to distance ourselves, although not by the 300 or so miles I would have liked. We could still hear a lot of them quarrelling and snarling in the distance, like chavvy Langoliers.

The queue finally moved forward and we were given four chocolate bars each to be getting on with, with an extra one to apologise for a ‘closed exhibit’. More on that a bit later. I did ask whether we could have a bag only to be met with a look that would stop a clock. Apparently such a thing was beyond the wit of man unless I paid something silly for a fancy tote bag. I don’t want a tote bag, I don’t do yoga. We were left to stuff the chocolate into our pockets (along with the gifts we bought earlier) which meant, given we’d been superheated on the coach, everything immediately melted and made putting my hands in my pockets a terrifyingly shitty experience.

We wandered around the jungle bit which explained where the cocoa came from, we enjoyed the god-bless-them-they’re-trying acting parts and hell, we were both glad of a sit down in the little theatre. Again, though, because we were packed in there like level 999 tetris pieces, it was hard to relax. There’s a bit with big scary signs saying ‘people with heart, back or neck problems should stand up’ which got us both quivering with excitement and hypertension but it amounted to nothing more than the ‘pews’ shaking a bit and making our tits jiggle. You just know there’s hidden camera footage somewhere on xtube of this.

Then…that was it, really. There’s a whole section where you can see the factory and machinery which makes and packages the chocolate but er, it was all closed down. So you’re left squinting at some dusty machines trying to figure out if they splurted the yellow bits into creme eggs or packaged up the Love Hearts. It’s about as exciting as I’m making it sound. Both Paul and I are massive geeks when it comes to production lines and factories, we find them endlessly fascinating, which is lucky as our TV is seemingly permanently tuned to How It’s Made. Nuclear war could be declared and we’d be oblivious, though if you needed to know how they mix paint we’d be cooking on gas.

We kept walking in the vain hope we’d find something to do. There’s an outdoors bit with a big 4D cinema, which I’m sure would have been just amazing only there was a massive queue (gasp) and we needed to be back on the Boat of Charon by 4pm. So, that was that. We queued up to experience the Cadabra (a little too close to cadaver if you ask me, although that seems fitting given we were bored to death) ride where you sit on a little guided car and experience the thrills of 90s animatronics whirring by. It was like being at Disney, only not at all. We deliberately pulled the most miserable faces we could when the camera went off which at least gave us a chuckle when we bought our photo at the end of it (£10, which I was overjoyed to pay).

Now, here’s the thing. I’m kvetching about the cost of stuff here because it’s a blog post and we have to try and be faintly entertaining, and the moaning about money is part of our schtick. But we hide it very well when talking to staff or other people because christ, no-one likes a proper moaning minnie. The reason I mention this is because we ‘made a friend’ –  the very second we gave up and sat outside to wait for the bus, another traveller made a beeline for us with his face full of woe. He then spent the next five minutes moaning at us about what a waste of money the trip was, how ripped off he felt, how it was the worst thing he’s ever experienced in his life. You know when someone looks as though their face hasn’t seen a smile for a good few years? This was him. The type of guy to complain if you hung him with a new rope.

Oh and I just couldn’t be arsed. Let me put this in perspective – if he paid anything like us, the whole journey – bus travel, hotel stay, dinner, breakfast, a trip to Cadbury World and a trip to a safari park would have cost less than £80 for the whole weekend. The way he was going on you’d think the driver had co-signed him on a fucking mortgage and made him buy the bus. I feigned explosive diarrhoea and we left him to his sobs. I can’t abide it. I know I’m a negative nancy but by god I put a good fake face on when needed. The fact that we had to hide from him meant that we had to hide in the toilets for a good twenty minutes and then, when 4pm rocked around, we sprinted onto the bus before he had a chance to give us the old watery-eyed gaze.

The hour long trip to the hotel was as bad as the six hours that preceded it. Kids screaming, this time sugared off their tits. Parents arguing. The couple in front continuing to give me enough reason to contemplate running screaming to the front of the bus, grabbing the steering wheel and driving us straight into the Gas Street Basin. Thankfully, we pulled into our hotel before I completely lost control. There was more awed oohing that I can ever imagine has happened before as our eyes fell upon the Birmingham Airport Holiday Inn.

We all checked in, moving like cattle at the slaughterhouse. I asked about dinner, expecting a couple of hours window forus to drift downstairs and get something to eat, only to be told that all of the coach party would be eating in the same place – a meeting room away from the main restaurant at 6pm sharp. I retorted whether they expected us to wear an orange jumpsuit to complete the prison feel but it fell on uninterested ears. We slinked to our room – perfectly pleasant – and had a lie down until 6pm. We decided to brave it.

We lasted less than a minute. We opened the door to the meeting room, saw everyone sitting in rows like Hogwarts: The Borstal Years, was pushed out of the way by someone with more make-up than sense carrying four blue WKDs, then we turned on our heel and fucked off. No way was I going to top the day by listening to people smacking their lips and clacking their teeth as they snaffled from the trough.

Stuck with nothing to do and no change of clothes for a decent night on the town, we decided to spend the rest of the night in the room watching Eurovision on the tiny television, which was shite. We ordered room service: a burger, a pizza, some dips, a bottle of Coke and a bottle of house white wine. £75. I hadn’t realised that I was paying someone to press the fucking grapes. Our room grew steadily hotter thanks in no small part to the air-conditioner which couldn’t have blown the froth off a cappuccino and at 11, we called down for a fan. Nineteen years later a small fan was brought to the room.

Naturally, the fan had a fucking blade missing, meaning it was unbalanced and when turned on it clattered and scattered all over the table. It would have been quieter to build a wind turbine. I asked for another fan, another was brought – this one didn’t work. Didn’t switch on. I called down for a third fan and finally a working fan arrived. Pfft.

We spent the night tossing and turning in the sticky heat and, at around 4am, we both kicked off the duvet, sat upright in bed and decided we were going to go home. We would hire a car in the morning and drive back in air-conditioned comfort. Soothed by this thought, we fell into a fitful sleep.

In the morning we went down and told the driver that we had been called urgently back to work – he was really quite lovely – but even seeing the coach sent Paul into violent tremors. Once we knew that we were free the morning became all the more sweeter. We went for all-you-can-breakfast in the hotel restaurant which was very tasty and marred only slightly by the fact there was a bodybuilding competition on at the hotel and thus it was full of preening peacocking men strutting around in vests and mooing on about egg-white omelettes.

Paul and I enjoyed a bit of mischief when this very well-to-do fart sat down on the table next to us and started harrumphing about our giant stack of food. He was, but of course, a Daily Mail reader, so we sat and exaggerated our liberal viewpoints – going on about how wonderful immigration is, how terrific Corbyn will be as a leader, how they should fund the NHS until money pours from the drip stands – and he went more and more red in the face as we continued. Paul kicked me under the table when I started waxing lyrical about how fantastic Europe is lest it proved too much for the poor chap and he pitched forward angrily into his beans.

Full, we Ubered our way to Birmingham Airport, made our way to the Hertz exchange and picked up a Qashqai. The lovely lady (and I’m not being sarcastic, she was charm personified, especially when faced with our dour faces) wouldn’t let me haggle though, even when I worked in a ‘family death’ and ‘having to cut our holiday short’. Bah. We drove back in no rush, enjoying a good singalong, and realised that our holidays will only ever work when it’s just us vs the world.

Coach trip, done. Now let’s never talk about it again. Common decency prevents me mentioning the company we used but actually, they were the only part of the holiday that worked well, so fair play.


Right, shall we get to some spicy szechuan beef, then? A doddle to make, low in syns and you can add all sorts of other veg in. The recipe makes enough for four. Let’s do this.

to make spicy szechuan beef you will need:

  • 400g beef (steak, diced or strips will do you just fine)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 large carrot
  • 500g rice noodles
  • 3 spring onions, sliced

for the sauce

  • 1 tbsp sriracha (½ syn) (it’s hot sauce_)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • 2 tsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (2 syns)

Our hampers have beef strips in – but actually, here’s a switch: you can now choose what you want to go in your hamper – so if you’re not a fan of beef, say (unlike me), hoy some more chicken in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

to make spicy szechuan beef you should:

  • make sure the beef is sliced into thin strips – if you’re already using stir fry strips they’re fine as they are. diced beef will be best cut in half (it also makes it go further!)
  • place the beef in a large bowl
  • mix together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chilli flakes and cornflour in a bowl and pour over the beef – allow to marinade while you prepare the rest of the ingredients
  • thinly slice the red and green pepper and garlic (or just use the chopped stuff if you can’t be arsed) and pop into a bowl
  • peel and grate the carrot and place in the bowl with the peppers and garlic
  • next, mix together all of the sauce ingredients together in a jug
  • cook the noodles according to the instructions, drain and then rinse with cold water to stop them cooking – keep aside until you need them later
  • next, heat a large frying pan over a medium high head and add a little oil
  • add the beef and cook for a few minutes until only a little pink remains
  • add the peppers, garlic and carrots to the pan and cook for a few more minutes
  • add the sauce to the pan and cook until thickened slightly and everything is well coated
  • add the noodles to the pan and stir to mix (bit of a faff-on, mind – use a couple of forks to pull the noodles apart and get it well mixed)
  • serve and sprinkle over the spring onions

Done and done! Looking for more fakeaway recipes or stuff to do with your meat? Aren’t we all. Click the buttons!

fakeawayssmallpoultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmall

J

homemade coronation chicken – perfect for jacket potatoes

Here for the coronation chicken? You should be, it’s bloody amazing. You know where you often find coronation chicken? In a sandwich. Guess where you can buy sandwiches? At a service station. What stops at a service station? Coaches. A coach you say? Like a coach holiday? Holiday post? No problem! I know, classic segue right? Hmm.

You know when people say you should never wish your life away? They’re right. It’s far more fun to spend your time wishing great calamity on the wider public. You know how we are trying to squeeze twelve holidays into this year? Well, we recently returned from our 3rd holiday (actually our sixth, but sssh) and I need to get all my love out before I forget any precious detail. You’ll find out how we spent almost £400 to have a burger in Birmingham Airport. Look, here’s a banner…

Do you want some good news? This isn’t going to be one of those holidays that spreads out over several posts whilst I witter on about sculptures and Paul’s flatulence. This is a two entry only deal, much like Alton Towers, or unlike my anus. We decided on a coach tour because frankly, I’d spent enough time stuck behind the fuckers on the A1 that I could rattle off their booking number like my own email address. I thought I’d love it all, me: the camaraderie, the singing, the whip-round for the driver, the toilet stops.

I was wrong.

Before I start though, a quick word. Rather like the caravan holiday, I know a coach trip might be the highlight of the year for some folks, and if it is, more power to your elbow. Different strokes for different folks and all. So keep your angry diatribes and moaning emails for someone who cares.

I should have realised something was amiss when we got on the coach and didn’t see a sea of lightly trembling lilac and nicotine-yellow hair. I was expecting something like what I posted last time, which I’ve had to mock-up in Photoshop as no photo demonstrates my point:

It took me hours to do that, but I reckon you can barely see the joins.

It wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like that at all. A few folks of around our age climbed aboard and we were left thinking how marvellous it would be if the coach sped away down the A19 with just us brave souls aboard, lounging around with plenty of space to do our Puzzlers and gawp out of the window. That would have happened but we stopped in Gateshead where a fair litter of children got on with their parents. I knew straight away that all hope was lost when one of the mothers reached into her PAWLS’ BOOTIKUE bag, pulled a full can of Relentless (it’s like Red Bull, only a quid cheaper) out and gave it to her five year old kid. Now that’s parenting. That shit gives me heart palpitations and I’m the size of a small family car, for goodness sake. Within ten minutes the kid was manic with energy and bouncing around, but don’t worry, she gave him a bump of ket as we passed Middlesbrough which seemed to settle him down.

The next and final pick-up filled the bus to the brim with yet more parents and their darling offspring. A couple behind us were arguing as they got on the coach, arguing as they sat down and arguing all the way to the services. Not an interesting argument, you understand, I lost interest after the eight hundredth ‘naaaw nah’ and ‘like’, but enough to provide background noise. A kid to our right threw up within I reckon three minutes of sitting down, leading to his mother chastising the sod and telling him he if threw up again they’d need to cancel their holiday. Poor little mite – as if he was deliberately sicking up his Cocoaed Pips. I gave her a look. To cap it off, a very new-age mother and her male friend got on, sat together and left their children to sit by themselves across the aisle.

That would be fine, save for the fact he wouldn’t stop shouting for her and she didn’t stop yelling at him.

All of this combined made for a great first couple of hours, didn’t it? I felt like the camera operator on Jeremy Kyle. It was like having tinnitus, only instead of a high-pitched whine we had a Geordie one in 360 degrees. Paul went to sleep, the Big Fat Judas, and my headphones were in my suitcase which was packed away, leaving me with nothing to do but sweat (the bus was roasting) and listen to the badly-tuned radio hissing away above me. I was contemplating using the emergency hammer to stave my skull in when the driver announced we were stopping for a refreshment break. Hooray!

I have mentioned many times how much I love to stop at the services when I’m driving – nothing makes my heart soar than gambling away all my change in the rigged machines and then prostituting myself until I have enough bank notes to buy myself a cup of piss-weak tea and a phlegmy-burger from McDonalds. I adore trying to piss whilst simultaneously fending off obvious cottaging and trying not to pass out from the urine fumes. I get goosebumps now just thinking about the feeling of knowing some fat-cankled youngster is going to scratch my car with a carelessly thrown open door and then get sticky Calippo fingerprints all over the bonnet as she heaves herself through. I can tolerate all of that – and more – for about ten minutes.

Naturally, we stopped for almost an hour. Why? Twenty minutes would surely be enough for everyone to go trembling into the toilets for a slash, then out again, then for another quick try before setting off? Nah. Of course not. That’s not to say that the hour we had was all bad though – our boredom was alleviated by people watching, noticeably:

  • the sheer amount of DILFs swarming around – I don’t know if it was because there were loads of construction crew, football supporters and lorry drivers milling about but I nearly fainted from having an erection for 50 minutes – Paul had to bring me a sweet tea and a blindfold before my shoes started squelching; and
  • an old woman with a face like an unmade bed smoking two cigarettes at once.

Two! I appreciate that you probably get to 90 years old and think ah fuck it, I’ve beaten lung cancer, let’s double down, but that’s serious commitment to addiction. We’re not talking holding one cigarette whilst she finished the other, we’re talking alternating between each hand on every other breath, bringing her hands up to her face like she was doing an American sobriety test where you have to touch your nose. Her face reflected every single cigarette she’d ever smoked and was an advertisement for giving up  – you’d need to put make-up on with one of those Ronseal-spray guns you use for decking, it was that lined and creased.

We only noticed her because we were standing in the queue which snaked out of the Greggs outlet. You may remember I’m Geordie. She had a place in the queue too but clearly thought that as she was immediately outside the shop and not inside that such courtesies as not forcing every other poor bastard to develop emphysema whilst they waited for a steak bake needed to be observed. I thanked God, who I don’t believe in, that she didn’t climb onto our coach. Her coach was yellow-tinted, ran on lungbutter and hockle and had ‘Golden Tours of Virginia’ on the side.

After forlornly picking at our Greggs dinner and wondering whether or not we had time to set up a gloryhole station in the lorry park, we were allowed back onto the coach. I’d hoped that the driver might have aired it out a little but no, it was still lovely and stuffy. I felt my thigh fat sizzle as I pressed the metal latch of the seatbelt against it. Part of me – and I use ‘part’ in the same way that a ‘fat’ person might want part of a delicious cake i.e. all of it – hoped that our charming seatmates in front and behind had accidentally wandered onto the wrong coach and were bound for a weekend in Runcorn, but no, here they came, Mikey-this and Mikey-thatting all down the bloody aisle. My eyes rolled back so far into my head that I was able to act as a reversing camera for the driver.

The next 100 miles or so passed in an unending, dismal blur of listening to the guy behind us shout at his kid for absolutely any little thing and the lady in front of me doing absolutely anything but FUCKING GETTING UP AND SITTING NEXT TO HER OFFSPRING. I tried to doze but at least every twenty seconds I’d hear MIKEY STOP IT MIKEY or MIKEY GIVE ME THE AYE-PAD or MIKEY BE NICE TO YOUR BROTHER or MIKEY YOU CAN’T GO TO THE TOILET or MIKEY DO YOU WANT SOME HARIBO SOME CRUNCHIE A HAM SANDWICH AN EGG SANDWICH A FUCKING BAGEL DO YOU WANT ONE DO YOU DO YOU DO YOU MIKEY MIKEY MIKEY DO YOU MIKEY CAN YOU HEAR ME MIKEY

AAAARGH! I have never, in all my life, been closer to snapping and shouting at a stranger. It was only the fact that she had her kids with her that prevented me from getting up, kicking the emergency exit door open and throwing myself into traffic. It was infuriating. I know that looking after children is tough but here’s a tip, dear heart, get up and BLOODY MOVE NEXT TO YOUR KID IF YOU NEED TO SPEAK TO HIM! DON’T YELL ACROSS THE BLOODY AISLE. I glanced a look at Paul and his eyes was twitching maniacally so I knew we had barely any time.

Oh and just to act as a cherry on top of this shitstorm, they devised a game which involved her loudly announcing everything she could see on her side of the bus. You try relaxing when you’ve got someone shouting I’VE GOT A HOSPITAL or PATEL’S BOOZE NEWS AND CONVENIENCE or ABORTION CLINIC in front of you. I felt so drained and weak by the time we pulled into Cadbury’s World that had the Fraud Squad got on and asked me how I was doing, I’d have confessed to the Brinks Mat robbery just to get some peace.

Please: if you’re a parent reading this, just remember one thing – not everyone thinks you and your children are darling and just-so. I’m fine with crying babies, I’m fine with fussy toddlers, I don’t mind kids being kids, that’s what they’re all about. But I do mind you making a racket or dragging everyone else into your drama. Have the bloody manners and respect you rightly expect everyone else to have.

Before we get to Cadbury’s World, I’ll say this: all of the kids on the bus were fine! They behaved exactly like how you’d expect kids on a long coach trip to act and I can say nothing bad about them. Hell, one little anklebiter made me laugh out loud when he, in response to being told to quieten down by his exasperated father, replied with a hearty ‘FUCK OFF’.

He couldn’t have been older than four.

Part two soon.


This recipe makes enough for four big servings (pictured is one serving) of really good coronation chicken – plus you can tweak it however you like. A little pot of coronation chicken from ASDA is 22 syns – this is a perfect low-syn alternative!

to make homemade coronation chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts (want some that are way more than a handful? Get some from our fantastic Musclefood deal!) 
  • 2 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney (2 syns)
  • ½ tsp mild curry powder
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 10g sultanas (1.5 syns)

to make homemade coronation chicken you should:

  • cook the chicken breasts by heating a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a little oil or frylight
  • place the breasts in the pan and leave to cook for about 10 minutes (the edges should start to go opaque)
  • after ten minutes, reduce the heat to medium, flip the breasts over and cover the pan with a lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes until cooked through
  • allow breasts to cool, and cut into small cubes
  • meanwhile, mix together all of the other ingredients in a large bowl
  • add the chicken and stir to combine

Now come on, that was a piece of piss, wasn’t it?

poultrysmallfakeawayssmall lunchsmall sausagessmall  snackssmall

Yum!

J

chicken saltimbocca skewers with wedges, because we’re fancy

Chicken saltimbocca? Aside from the fact that saltimbocca sounds like something you’d contract from a £5-a-shot prostitute, what on earth is it? I’ll let the recipe speak for itself, save to tell you now that it’s quick, easy and tasty. Like me. Plus, saltimbocca means ‘jump in my mouth’, so it fits even more, doesn’t it? The gags write themselves.

Which is lucky, actually, as we’re still recovering from an AWFUL holiday last week.  I’ve typed out the majority of my notes so I reckon I’ll post it on Friday, but sweet jesus. It was a coach trip, yes, but it was like being in the Jeremy Kyle audience, eye-watering Joop fumes included. I thought the bus would be full of the lovely elderly, like this (I’ve lightly photoshopped it just to bring the colour out):

Sadly, I was wrong. You’ll find out more in due course.

In the meantime, we have a guest writer who not only typed us up a blog entry but also, gasp, has done us a recipe too! I like this, it means I have more time to sit trying to reach my toenails with the clippers and breathing heavily into a sofa cushion. I won’t give his name but he’s giving us an inside look into a dangerous, cruel world…over to the third chubby cub! I’ve given him a subtle pseudonym.


baby it’s cold inside by Barry Big Knob

Chubby Cubs are just like fidget spinners. We’re eeevverrywheeeeere! I’m a chubby cub from Bolton where I live with a cub of my own too, (yes, we too dance at the other end of the proverbial ballroom), so when the cubs asked me if I’d like to share a recipe on their blog, I couldn’t resist. Hirsuite Solidarity and all that.

But first I should mention that I work for the big boys themselves… Iceland! Yeeeees, the very purveyors of Slimming World Sausages and Kerry Katona’s Punched Lasagnes of yesteryear (Prawn ring anyone?). As Iceland exclusively stock the Slimming World range, you can imagine we get the entire spectrum of Slimming World…participants (including the two of us, so I’m allowed to judge!)

The funny thing is that the most popularly sold items in the same shop with people who buy the Slimming World range? Greggs Sausage Rolls. I love going to the Greggs freezer cabinets, or the dessert and pizza cabinets and finding discarded boxes of Slimming World Sweet Potato Curry where people have had their “you know what? Fuck it!” moments and chosen to instead have a threeway with Dr Oetker and Aunt Bessie (whilst Mr Kipling waits for sloppy seconds, the dirty bastard).

But some of these folks that come in? Yes, you get the charming posh types in their twinsets who have come to investigate peasant food whilst looking for cheap prosecco, “I’ve never been to an Ice Land before, I must tell my friends Flossy and Cyprian. Oh golly, I wonder if they’ll think I mean the country! Arf arf arf!”, to the stereotypes you know we all imagine, Wayne and Waynetta Slob, waddling down the aisles like It’s A Knockout costumes. I am telling no lie when I say that I once heard someone shout to their son, “Yer not having sweets, Lambrini!”. The class. It oozes. It gurgles. It sticks to the bottom of your shoes.

But I also love seeing the people who come in with proper weight loss success stories, and if it’s via Slimming World, I can’t help but wax lyrical a bit, but also recommend they check out Two Chubby Cubs for some great recipes and a good laugh. Speaking of which, I was meant to be writing up a recipe here wasn’t I? Here goes then!


Er, oy, calm your tits. We can’t go straight to the recipe, I need to add my summing up paragraph first! Tsk. He’ll learn, we’ll belt it into him. I don’t mind Iceland myself – their ability to stuff absolutely any sort of filling into any sort of crevice leaves me breathless. However, our local Iceland happens to be in the same area as our local riot-ready zone, and taking a trip ranks slightly lower than cartwheeling across an active volcano. Marginally more sulphurous gas, mind. I typed an article out when Slimming World launched their ready meals and everyone lost their mind – I remember someone saying she wished another shopper was dead for having the temerity to buy more than three bags of sausages. It’s all calmed down now, though whenever something new gets launched it causes a bit of frothing at the minnie. God knows why – I love Slimming World but I’m try anything remotely close to palatable from their range. Adding eight tonnes of pepper to one chicken breast does not make a tasty dish.

But SPEAKING OF A TASTY DISH, let’s get back to the saltimboccas!

to make chicken saltimbocca skewers, you’ll need:

  • a wee bit of olive oil (you can use Frylight if you’re not a sinner)
  • four skinless chicken breasts
  • tomato purée (5 tablespoons)
  • worcestershire sauce (2 tablespoons)
  • bacon medallions (12)
  • sage leaves (12… but this is optional)

You’ll also need some metal skewers – something like this? Cheap as chips.

Oh and sorry to do a double advert…but all of our Musclefood hampers have tonnes of chicken and bacon in – but actually, here’s a switch: you can now choose what you want to go in your hamper – so if you’re not a fan of pork, say (unlike me), hoy some more chicken in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

to make chicken saltimbocca skewers, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees if it’s a fan oven, look it up on google if it isn’t
  • put the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of cling film and pound the living hell out of them with a rolling pin until they are wider and thinner
  • mix the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce and spread 1 tbsp. of the mixture over the top of each chicken breast, reserving the remaining mixture
  • cover each breast with 3 bacon medallions, lay 3 sage leaves on top of each breast (if you’re doing the sage bit) and season with pepper
  • roll up each piece of chicken and using a large knife, cut into bite-sized rolls, and thread the rolls onto 4 skewers
  • place the skewers on a grill pan, brush with the reserved purée mixture and put in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them over after 10, until the skewers are golden and the chicken is cooked through

Et voila! Bit of faffing about but pretty bloody tasty. Serve with some decorative salad and wedges.

to make wedges you should:

Just make some. Seriously, they’re just potato wedges.

They’re totally syn free, and would probably work well on a barbecue too. Serves 4 technically, but 2 if you’re hungry! Also if you’re making them for friends, mistakenly call them Chicken Saltybollocks before comically correcting yourself. They’ll think you’re a regular Frank Carson.

Lovely! Looking for more recipes? Here, what am I, Penny Librarian? Click the buttons!

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmall

Remember, if you want to contribute an article or a recipe, get in touch – leave a comment or message us via our facebook page: www.facebook.com/twochubbycubs 

J

all day breakfast poutine – an amazing breakfast idea

All day breakfast poutine you say? What is poutine? A Liverpudlian telling you who is running Russia? No. It’s fast food from Canada, usually consisting of sausage, chips and cheese smothered in gravy. We’ve given it a lighter spin because we’re just so good like that. But first…

I alluded yesterday to being in pain. I still am. Let me set the scene – I’m late for work and fresh out of the shower, nude, dripping (as I can only imagine you are too, dear reader, at the very thought). I hurtled into the kitchen to try and make a cup of coffee that wouldn’t take two layers of skin off my lips. I stepped over a cat to reach for the milk jug (the niceties must be observed, even at times of great urgency) and OOOH – a big shard of glass went right through the bottom of my foot. I screamed incredibly theatrically (who knew?!) and then launched into a fit of angry swearing whilst my foot dripped blood onto our freshly-cleaned floor. I don’t know what annoyed me more – the fact that SOMEONE (IT WAS PAUL) had clearly broken something and then not cleaned up properly OR the fact I’d just paid the cleaner to completely bleach our floor and now it looked like Carrie White’s gym knickers.

The cat, by the way, sat staring at me impassively, my cries of pain clearly nothing to him. I got my revenge later by giving him a pouch of Conshita cat-food from Lidl – which he also ignored.

I wish I could tell you that I made like Bear Grylls and pulled it straight out but it had slid into the pad of my foot and disappeared, probably on a fantastic journey straight to my heart. I sat on the sofa and picked away at the hole, trying not to cry, but no joy. I couldn’t stand on it because every time I put my foot down, it sank in a little more just to drive the point home. Luckily, my work are used to my Calamity James hijinks and took my blubbering and woe with good humour. I rang my doctors to see if they could maybe extract it and they coldly told me to go to a walk-in centre. We did both chuckle lightly at the irony of attending a walk-in centre whilst I was all but hobbled. Off to Wansbeck Hospital I went. I confess myself disappointed that they didn’t send the air ambulance to pick me up from my front garden, whilst I rolled around clutching my leg like I was on 999.

Upon arriving at the hospital I was somewhat distressed to see that they have decided that car-parking is a folly and that really the huge expanse of tarmac previously used for cars would be the ideal place to build some more identikit houses instead. I took a small diversion via Ullswater and ended up in their satellite car park, where I was pleasantly surprised that parking was a mere £4 for the day. I have a faint recollection of previously having to feed notes into the car park meter like a junkie at a fruit machine, so £4 wasn’t too bad. The trek to the walk-in centre was no problem at all once I’d lost all feeling in my foot and my shoe had filled with blood, and I took the small obstacle of visiting entirely the wrong department at entirely the wrong end of the giant hospital in my stride. My blood-soaked, glass-stabby stride.

From there everything happened ridiculously quickly. I was shown to a chair in the waiting room, asked to wait mere moments before being seen by a triage nurse, and then sent to x-ray. I was actually quite disappointed as I was really getting into Homes under the Hammer and wasn’t in a great mood to shift. However, my foot needed to be irradiated to make sure that I hadn’t splintered whatever was in there in my ham-fisted attempts at self-surgery. The very charming x-ray man asked me to lie on my side, which immediately exposed the top of my arse to him due to my badly-fitting trousers, and zap zap zap, my foot was x-rayed. Then x-rayed again because I had moved. Then once more for luck, and once again because we both agreed that ending the x-ray on an uneven number would be bad luck. I bet my foot glows now. I might have a midnight walk tonight dressed all-in-black so all people can see approaching them in the dark is a green disembodied foot mincing towards them, like Michael Flatley has joined The Blue Man Group. I digress.

I did have to wait for a bit whilst they tried to work out what was stuck in my foot and how it managed to penetrate my leathery soles. I was surprised myself, I’ve stepped onto a fire before and not realised for a good ten seconds. The x-rays were inconclusive – I could tell they were being polite and that actually they couldn’t see because it was like trying to find a diamond in a sea of hairy margarine – so they sent a very lovely man in to squeeze my foot.

His opening gambit? ‘This won’t hurt a bit’. Pffft. For a start, I’ve heard that line before as I’ve been climbing into bed and I’ve been left unable to shit properly for two weeks. Also: LIES. IT REALLY HURT. He was an absolute gentleman and very funny, but let’s be honest, anyone sticking a needle into an open wound on your foot is never going to rocket up your best friends list. Although, he was dishy, so…hmm. Anyway, after a good ten minutes gouging and squeezing and pressing, out popped the shard and believe me when I tell you it was relief all round. Relief for me because the pain subsidised. Relief for him as he didn’t have to look at the wound anymore. Relief for the security who were on the verge of evacuating the wards and sending my stinking trainers to the high level isolation unit.

You’ll be pleased to know that I’m alright now. It hurts a bit but I’m a big boy and I was super brave. I know I say this every single time I post anything hospital related but the NHS is just terrific. I was seen, x-rayed, talked to, treated and dispatched all within the morning. Every single member of staff, from the receptionist to the cleaners to the nurses to the x-ray man to the guy squeezing my foot, were all polite, cheery and full of happiness. I tried to make a point of saying how grateful I was but it never seems enough! I hobbled back to my car thinking about how shit it would be to have to pay for our medical treatments like they do in America. One x-ray of my foot would be $70, for goodness sake. Given I seemingly had five, I’d have expected a blowjob and a bumtickle included before I handed over $350. Still, not as though the people running the country are likely to force privatisation on us, is it? Ah fuck.

The recipe, then. All day breakfast poutine! I apologise to our good friends in Canada for what will be a total bastardisation of a national favourite – we know you’re suppose to use french fries but this was easier. So suck it, ay. I’M SORRY I’M KIDDING PLEASE LET US LIVE WITH YOOOOOU. This makes enough for four big bowls of fun, but you’ll need to add a couple of extra fried eggs.

to make all day breakfast poutine you will need:

  • 1kg potatoes
  • 6 low fat sausages (our Musclefood sausages are perfect!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g fat free cottage cheese
  • 300ml chicken gravy (4 syns, we usedBisto Chefs Specials Chicken Gravy with Sage & Onion)
  • pinch of salt

Listen, I know I say to dice things below, but don’t shit the bed over accuracy. It is what it is. Breakfast. You’re just going to turn it to poo anyway, doesn’t need to look beautiful. Also, watch your sausages. Make sure you pick low fat sausages and check the syns, or Mags herself will be coming round to scrawl FAT BASTID on your front door.

to make all day breakfast poutine you should:

  • cook the sausages however you like them (we cook ours in the actifry with the paddle removed), then set aside to cool
  • meanwhile, dice the potatoes into 1cm cubes, spray with a little oil (this will make the job easy) and sprinkle over a little salt
  • cook the potatoes by either dumping into the actifry for thirty minutes, or spread out evenly onto a baking sheet and bake at 190ºc until browned, turning frequently
  • whilst the potatoes cook, slice each sausage lengthways into three, and then slice across the width so you’re left with tasty sausage chunks
  • next, prepare the ‘curds’ by plopping the cottage cheese into a sieve and give a quick rinse so you’re left with the pearls – leave to drain until you need them
  • heat a large frying pan over a high heat and spray with a little oil, and fry the eggs to your liking
  • make up the gravy and set aside
  • when the potatoes are cooked, tip into a big bowl and mix in the sausage pieces and three quarters of the cottage cheese
  • divide onto four plates, top with a fried egg and the remaining cottage cheese, gravy and a little bit else of what you fancy (we used chives!)

Tastebuds aching for more? Just click one of the buttons below to find more tasty recipes!

porksmall  sausagessmall  breakfastsmall tastersmall

J

roasted grapes and goats cheese stuffed sweet potatoes

Are you silently heaving into your gunt about the thought of these roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes? Listen, they’re delicious. Sweet, yes, of course, but they make for a lovely side dish. In America they make a weird casserole of sweet potato and marshmallows, and that’s a step too far, but we’re all about something different remember – if you always stick to the same dishes then what is life for? The recipe follows below, but first, through a bit of a haze of self-prescribed pain relief (more on that tomorrow), let us reflect for a moment.

You know who I never talk about on here? My sister. Yes, I do have one, but she’d take my face off if I revealed her to the world. But it’s her birthday and so I’ve been thinking about her today. She could not be more of my opposite, as a thin, pretty, tiny, blonde girl. When we stand together now for family photos it looks like Robbie Coltrane holding hands with Polly Pocket. But, in the rare spells where she wasn’t:

  • rifling through every conceivable hiding place in my room to find anything illicit;
  • stealing money from the massive whisky jar where my mother put her coppers;
  • setting things on fire;
  • throwing a video box-set off my mum’s head;
  • sending fake letters from the school in order to get money to nick off to London to see Madonna in concert;
  • covering each square inch of her carpet in detritus and Culture Club memorabilia;

she was actually quite darling.

Memories? I know that these posts always descend into some weird Catherine Cookson-esque writing where we scrabbled together potatoes from the field and all shared one shirt, but indulge me for a bit. We didn’t have a great lot growing up and the village where we spent our formative years was about as exciting as having a tooth pulled. Remember Horsley? The village of less than 200 where you could buy a kitchen from a kitchen outlet centre but a pint of milk was beyond the wit of man? Where the one time I added a bit of masking tape to our village sign to change it to HORSEEY it was deemed such an outrage that it made page two of the Hexham Courant? And don’t forget when I edited the Wikipedia page for the village, said Tosh Lines from The Bill was living in the woods and shouting at the clouds, only to make the Hexham Courant again and be described as an Internet Vandal? Pfft. Well, we weren’t exactly spoiled for thrills and excitement.

Memories then. I remember making a go-kart with her, but whereas other kids had lovely fancy things, we tied a plank of wood to our skateboard, upon which we sat either side and set away down the steepest bank away from the village, the road to Horsley Cottages. Problem was my sister weighed the same as a mouse’s fart and I was a ten-tonne-tessie, meaning we had to adjust it so there was about half an inch of wood for my sister to sit on and I was six foot away from the skateboard ploughing through the hedgerow, coming out looking like Carrie after a particularly nasty fight with a blackberry bush. By god though we’d pick up some speed, flying down that road in the care-free, danger-be-damned way of children, completely unable to brake. I remember rocketing around a corner only to find a Northumbrian Water lorry coming straight towards us on this single-lane road, requiring me to lean heavily to one side and pitch us into a stone wall. How my mum laughed as she picked gravel out of our face.

What else? We were certainly quite entrepreneurial. We had two businesses. In the summer we’d go around everyone’s gardens picking all of their soft fruit, then wander about selling it back to the neighbours. It was quite the racket – we’d steal gooseberries out of Nancy’s garden only to sell them to Elsie in exchange for the chance to nick her raspberries, then the raspberries would be traded for apples, then the apples would be stotted off the roof of the old lady we used to dislike tremendously because she’d stop us playing in the phone box. We weren’t exactly Jane and Michael Banks, you understand. Our fruit picking landed us enough for a sweet weekend in Largs, playing the bandits whilst my parents worked keenly on their smoking.

We also ran – with staff, mind you, made up of the other urchins and ruffians of the village (we were one step down from The Mandelbaum Gang) –  a proper little ‘odd jobs’ company. We would wash cars, weed gardens, mow the grass, and reap the rewards. I say rewards, all the old biddies were notoriously tight with their money, but hell there wasn’t much to spend the money on so we made do. We did spend two hours washing and waxing some bewhiskered old dolt’s car only for her to press 50p into my hand to share amongst four. Pfft. We returned in the dead of night and covered her car in mud. Yes, I know, we should have been taken in hand, but still. We also stuck a potato in the exhaust of the vicar which launched itself off with an almighty bang, causing a very unsaintly curseword to bellow from his lips. I dobbed him into Jesus next time I was forced to pray.

However, and this is awful, our most lucrative gig came in the form of Mr Tines. We were asked to clean his house – and mind you, we did, despite it being filthy – and keep him company. Not in any especially creepy fashion, I hasten to add, although we did once turn his stairlift off for twenty minutes because we thought he was coming to kerdiddle us. WE WERE KIDS I STRESS. He asked us to try and wallpaper his bathroom. We were thirteen and fourteen respectively. The whole place ended up looking like a tidal wave of Solvite has washed through. My parents had to come down and put it right, oops. But this guy used to give us lots of pound coins as payment and boy, did we think we were well off. Even more so when we discovered he inexplicably had a stack of easily 500 ‘Explorer’ tickets, which allowed you to travel anywhere within the North East. He never left the house and was more than happy to gift them to us, albeit we used to take five for every one offered, and collectively the village children went all over Northumberland – it was fantastic! They didn’t expire, either, meaning we had unlimited travel for a good two years.We’d tell our parents we were playing in the woods when we’d actually be in Carlisle or at Newcastle Airport. Me and my then beau, Big Lee, must have had awkward teenage sex within 200 yards of every station on the Metro line. I saw him the other day from afar, and he’s skeletal to the point where he looks like a haunted hair comb. Clearly I’ve spoiled him for all men. I wanted to rush over, sweep him into my arms and tell him ‘BUT LEE, WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE OUR SUMMER IN SHIREMOOR’ but well, the time has gone.

As an aside, Mr Tines also used to have the most amazing, random nonsense stuffed into his cupboards. Case in point: we found a tiny fitness trampoline in the coal bunker which was immedately deployed into the back yard. My sister jumped on, took one bounce and pitched herself smartly over the wall, into the road, onto her face. Oops.

Summers passed in a blur of bike rides, fighting and Dr Pepper. Can you imagine children who were so delighted by finding Dr Pepper? And secret smoking – I don’t think there was a piece of furniture in our house that didn’t have cigarettes secreted behind them. Our childhood house has long since been sold, but I do wonder what the new owners thought when they eventually got round to dusting the tops of the door-frames and five nine-year-old Lambert and Butlers came tumbling down. Let’s not forget the time she ran away from home in a squall of teenage fury: she, rather cleverly, didn’t run away at all, just hid in the false ceiling of our washhouse like she was Anne Frank. There was plenty of food and drink in there and who would think to look amongst the suitcases? She came down three days later and even my mother couldn’t hide the relief that she hadn’t hitchhiked to London to make a name for herself. She certainly did better than I did when I ran away – I left a carefully annotated map with a set of ‘directions’ on my bedside table and I think my parents picked me up three miles down the road, where I’d stopped because my ankles were swelling.

Happy times. As usual, I’ve painted a bleak picture of some dire childhood filled with impecuniosity and petty crime, which means I’ll get an angry text from my mother later (I get them for two reasons: if I use the Big C on the blog or if I make out like she was Fagin) – but actually, nothing could be further from the truth. My childhood was full of laughter and love, and my sister was responsible for at least a quarter of that.

That is, when she wasn’t turning her eyelids inside out and licking the undergunk to make me vomit.

Ah what a time to link to the recipe!

to make roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes you will need:

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 200g seedless black grapes
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 80g soft goats cheese (2x HeA)

Slimming World tell you you really ought to syn the grapes if you’re cooking them. If you think you should syn a handful of grapes because you’ve introduced them to some heat, then by all means do. 3 syns per 100g. But, if you choose this, you won’t impress our KERRUH:

to make roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes you should:

  • preheat the oven to 175°c
  • stab the potatoes with a fork and wrap tightly in tin foil
  • bake for between 45 minutes to an hour, until soft when you poke it
  • remove from the oven, cut a gash down the middle and allow to cool for a bit
  • meanwhile, whack the oven up to 230°c
  • spread the grapes out over a non-stick baking sheet and spray with a bit of oil (don’t let Frylight knacker your pans, get this instead!), roll them about a bit to help coat them a bit and them spread them out again
  • roast for about 25 minutes, or until they start to burst
  • remove from the oven and allow to cool
  • scoop out the flesh of the potatoes, taking care to keep the skin intact and place in a bowl
  • mash together the potato flesh, salt, pepper and most of the goats cheese, reserving some to dot on the top
  • spoon back into the potato skins
  • top with the roasted grapes
  • place back in the oven to warm through if needed

Click the buttons below to find more of our tasty recipes!

lunchsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall    drinkssmall

J

cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni

No time for shenanigans tonight, so it’s a cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni for you and an early night for me. An early night? Yes. I’m in desperate need of one. I don’t want to be crass but we had a takeaway last night and the twilit hours became an assault on all the senses. Twice I was woken by my own flatulence, then by Paul laughing at his own flatulence, then the cat gagging, then the vet’s ambulance arriving, then stomach pains, then being unable to breath due to the lack of oxygen in the room. I swear if our alarm clark had been faulty and started sparking we would have ended up in a Backdraft style situation. I didn’t get to sleep until way past 4am and Paul hasn’t been to sleep at all. Not going to lie, it made it difficult driving into work on the motorway, not least because everyone was so loud with their beeping as they rudely drove towards me. Tsk.

I will however take a moment to say THANK YOU to everyone who has bought the paperback and proper weighty versions of our books – I didn’t think anyone would want us in hard form but here we find ourselves, looking at the Amazon sales, seeing tonnes of you snapping the buggers up! Perhaps you’re planning on taking us on holiday, perhaps you want your husband to get jealous at the thought of you spending the night with two strapping men, who knows? Either way, thank you. You’ve paid for our next holiday! If anyone else wants to hold us firmly in your hands and demand satisfaction, you can buy all of our books here!

Right, dinner then. Nowt to this, very easy to make but lovely and tasty!

to make cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni you will need:

  • 350g rigatoni
  • 280g frozen spinach
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (this bad boy will make the job easier)
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 60ml red wine (2 syns) (we use Asda cooking wine to avoid opening the fancy stuff)
  • 1 medium courgette, sliced and then quartered
  • 180g ricotta (2x HeA)
  • 140g reduced fat mozzarella, torn up into small pieces (2x HeA)

to make cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • cook the rigatoni according to the instructions but still with a little bite to them, then drain
  • heat a little oil in a large frying pan and and add the spinach until it has defrosted and wilted, tip into a sieve and squeeze out as much water as you can and plop back into the pan
  • add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, wine and courgette to the pan, mix well and bring to a simmer
  • reduce the heat and then add the ricotta and a quarter of the mozarella, and give a good stir
  • spray a large baking dish (save your pans and ditch the Frylight, get this instead!) with oil and tip in the pasta and then the sauce, giving it a good stir to mix it up
  • top with the remaining mozzarella and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes
  • eat

Hungry for more? click one of the buttons below to get even more tasty recipes!

lunchsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall seafoodsmallbreakfastsmall

J

strawberries and cream overnight oats

My word, just take a moment to look at those strawberries and cream overnight oats –  what a thing of beauty. Normally our food looks crap but I’m happy with how that picture turned out! Overnight oats seem to be making a bit of a resurgence amongst the slimming rabble online so I thought it’s about time we had a new one. This meant a trip to Lidl – normally I’d send Paul but see he went to bed ‘to rest his eyes’ at 2pm and he’s still in bed now! I should probably check he hasn’t choked to death on his own fat tongue but meh, Doctor Who is on shortly. So no, I went to Lidl myself, and that’s a very dangerous thing indeed.

Why? Because anyone who knows me will tell you I’m as tight as a nun’s gee but somethings comes over me at Lidl and I’m throwing the cash around like Barry Big Bollocks. Admittedly, this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans because you could probably buy the entire stock inventory of our local Lidl and pay the staff with the total of the coins in my car ashtray. It isn’t an ashtray but I can’t be arsed to google and find out what the compartment is called. You may remember I contemplated pissing in it once, though (don’t worry, that risky click will open in a new window).  But see I went into Lidl this afternoon to buy one box of strawberries and spent nearly fifty quid on absolute tat. This doesn’t happen to me in Aldi, possibly because I’m too stressed about approaching the checkout and having my shopping hurled off the back wall by a cashier with a forearm like a Russian shot-putter, but Lidl, every fucking time.

So what did I buy? I bought some strawberries, yes, very good. But I also bought two giant bars of Ritter chocolate. Some stuffed vine leaves. Some kirsch. A self-watering plant pot which has already broken from when I threw it in the boot. A ‘chips and dip’ bowl I wouldn’t even sell at a car boot sale. Some suncream – why? I live in Newcastle, the closest I get to a tan is walking past the heated cabinets in Greggs. A citronella candle with a wick so thick I feel like I’m part of the lighting of the beacons from Lord of the Rings. I bought a selection of real ale simply because the names amused me, even though I’m about as much into real ale as I am playing football and punching horses. There’s also a bag of crisps made from pasta which I’m sure will actually make Slimming World spontaneously combust as they battle to work out whether it is a tweak or not. I had to stop myself buying a set of telescopic hedge trimmers on the basis that a) all of our hedges are about 10ft and growing wildly b) I’m lazy and c) we have a gardener for that sort of thing. Not showing off, it’s just two hilariously obese blokes aren’t exactly cut out for hard graft in the garden (see Paul’s current status, above).

I did go too far, though. I bought my cats some Coshita, or whatever the Lidl cat food is. I’m not a snob, not in the slightest, but by Christ my cats are. I slopped this out of the sachet, gagging all the while (who knew that ash mixed with horse sphincter and mouse droppings could taste so nasty) and our cats wandered over to try it. I say try it, they didn’t even sniff it – just looked at the pile of food and then back at me with a look that said we’d never be friends again. I actually had to rush to our first aid box because I was so severely burnt by their coldness. They both turned and stropped straight out the cat flap and I haven’t seen them since. If I didn’t know that cats don’t have opposable thumbs I’d be willing to bet they were currently hitchhiking down the A1 to London in the hope of meeting a kinder owner who would feed them fresh chicken every day. I can’t understand their mentality – I’ve seen one cat chew up the brains, eyes and skull of a poor mouse only to then sick it back up and have the other cat have a bash at it. They’re certainly very picky considering they must spend at least 30% of their day rasping away at each other’s arsehole.

Pah. The list above isn’t even exhaustive, you know. I came back with three big bags and nothing to actually show for it. That’s why I send Paul – he knows that if he spends money on nonsense he’ll have to put up with me sitting around with a face like a collapsed mine kvetching at him for frittering money away.

Anyway, enough about me and my sexy temperament. Let’s do this recipe!

strawberries and cream

to make strawberries and cream overnight oats, you’ll need:

  • 40g of oats – any old oats will do, maybe not the wild oats that your male friend keeps asking you to try
  • as much syn free natural yoghurt as you want – or use a Mullerlight if you’re not feeling fancy
  • a couple of good handfuls of strawberries
  • lighter squirty cream (12.5g) (look, I just put a good squirt in there, I don’t care) (1.5 syns)

I suppose if you cook the strawberries you ought to syn them if you follow SW’s diet to the absolute letter. People will feverishly tell you, whilst covering your blouse with their yellow spittle, that it’s because ‘IT RELISUS THE SHERGARS‘ or other bumtwattery. It isn’t. The rule is there to stop you over-eating. It doesn’t apply in this case. If I was asking you to blend fifteen punnets of strawberries then yeah, you should syn it. But as I’m assuming that you not a fucking dormouse and thus could easily sit and eat five or six strawberries in one sitting – and therefore, as you’re not ingesting any extra calories then you normally would – I don’t think you need to syn it. However, if you’re one of these people who demand everyone follows it 100% or else they’re worse than Hitler, here’s a pro-tip: have yourself seventeen Muller-lights and a Hifi bar, do it your way, I’ll do it my way, and everyone can be happy! Tra-la-la.

to make strawberries and cream overnight oats, you should:

  • mix together your oats and yoghurt
  • chop up all of the strawberries into little chunks and mix half into the oaty mix
  • pop the rest into a cup and microwave for ten seconds, just to get the juices running, and then mash lightly with a fork
  • take your phone off the hook to stop the Slimming World Mafiosa ringing you up, slurring down the line about tweaaaaaaks
  • layer the jar like in the picture – half the jar with oats, then the layer of mushy strawberry, then the rest of the oats
  • put it in the fridge overnight
  • in the morning, top with your squirty cream and another strawberry
  • easy!

OH we got our jars from here!

Want more overnight oats recipes? We’ve made loads! Hell, there’s even a boozy version for all of you who shake your way through the day!

More breakfast ideas? More inspiration? Just click what you need!

overnight-oatsbreakfastsmallsnackssmall dessertsmalltastersmall

Enjoy!

J

meatball masala sauce – syn free and tasty!

Meatball masala! Why not? Plus, because we’re all about quick and punchy these days, the recipe is just below! But first…

I’m actually feeling particularly cross after having an argument with an idiot on Facebook about aspartame. We can all take a view on it, that’s fine, but she was adamant that she ‘never ingests any sort of chemical, only pure and natural’. I pointed out that water is a chemical and she got in a right old strop, pointing out that because she gets a headache from aspartame, it clearly means that it’s poison, not just that she’s sensitive to it. I cautiously mentioned that just because I’m allergic to pineapple doesn’t make the Man from Del fucking Monte a bioterrorist.

We agreed to disagree and so here I am, brain leaking from my ears. The problem is people get themselves so wound up in their misguided belief in some shitty product that they can’t possibly see reason or logic or common sense. There’s a post going around with some insoles for shoes that people ‘swear’ drain the fat out of your body as you wear them. How, at the end of a busy day, do they not take off their shoes, realise that these plastic insoles don’t look like buttered toast and then realise it’s a load of bloody twaddle? Where do they think the fat goes – decanted out of their shoelaces like a tiny petrol pump? There’s no helping some people. I genuinely think if I set up a facebook profile selling jars of ‘slimming air’ that has ‘been PROVEN BY SCIENCE’ to ‘help shift those pounds’ I’d get at least five people trying to sell it to me.

Anyway, enough chitter-chatter. Let’s get this meal done. Now this dinner doesn’t look amazing, and trust me when I say you could easily bulk it out with more veg and other nonsense, but it tastes mighty fine and served with decent rice, you’ll be cooking on gas.

to make meatball masala you will need:

  • 400g beef mince
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp turmeric

Our hampers have meatballs in – but actually, here’s a switch: you can now choose what you want to go in your hamper – so if you’re not a fan of pork, say (unlike me), hoy some more chicken in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

to make meatball masala you should: –

  • in a bowl, mix together the beef mince, egg and chilli powder and form into twelve meatballs, then leave in the fridge to firm up
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, spray in a bit of oil (don’t ruin your pans with Frylight, get one of these instead) and add the sliced onions
  • cook the onions for about ten minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and golden
  • add the garlic, cumin, garam masala and turmeric
  • stir well, and cook for about a minute
  • add the carrot, celery and red pepper to the pan along with the tin of tomatoes
  • fill the tin with water, slosh about and pour into the pan
  • bring to the boil, cover, and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes
  • meanwhile, heat another pan over a medium-high heat and spray with oil
  • add the meatballs, stir frequently until they are completely cooked through (or, even better, use an Actifry and take out the paddle – it works perfectly)
  • when the masala sauce has finished cooking, use a stick blender (or an upright one if you have one) and blend until smooth
    add the meatballs to the sauce and serve

Easy peasy! Warning, you might get a hot ring! More ideas?

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmall

J

corned beef nacho bites for taster nights

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

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

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

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

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

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

to make corned beef nacho bites you will need:

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

for the salsa

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

Or just buy salsa and live like a queen!

to make corned beef nacho bites you should:

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

Want more dazzling party ideas? Click the buttons below to find even more!

snackssmall tastersmallnaughtyfooddrinkssmallbbqsmall