sundried tomato, chicken and parmesan couscous

Here for the sundried tomato, chicken and parmesan couscous? Something for the weekend, madam? Sir? Well regardless, it’s here, but continuing the theme of less blog posts but more quality writing, the next entry is a long one – feel free to scroll down to the food pictures if you’re short on attention / time / desire to read 2400 words about a camping trip.

It was my birthday last week (29, again, thanks – sure) and, confession time, I don’t handle getting older very well. Due to a mixture of being ill, a general lingering sense of disenchantment and work commitments, I took a strong and stable decision to postpone any celebrations until later in the month. I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday on Brexit Day, either. I think this is why Theresa delayed it.

This led to me trying to fill the void with all manners of tedious activities including clearing out the garage, which I’m totally doing because I want some extra space and not because I want to move the gloryhole into there as our knees are wearing a tread in the carpet. We’ll touch on that in another entry but all you need to know was that on one Saturday morning, we were to be found Sorting Out Shite in the garage. Well, I was, I’d sent Paul to try and find somewhere to store all of his nonsense / sentimental keepsakes.

Whilst he was away trying to assemble a deeds box as though he was in an automatic lock in in the Futuristic zone, I found a tent we had bought four years ago. I absolutely fucking love camping, or at least, I used to when I was a kid. We’d all pile into whatever rustbucket my dad was currently driving and speed up to the Highlands, consuming a week’s worth of second-hand Lambert and Butler smoke en-route (I was the only 10 year old in my school with a smoker’s cough), and spend a charming week somewhere bleak and dystopian enjoying the feeling of our bone marrow being drizzled upon. Since hitting puberty (and boy did I hit it hard) I’ve only been camping once, much to my chagrin, and that was with my utterly psychotic Scottish ex. Mind, that doesn’t count as camping – we were too busy trying to change my DNA sequence with his (Green Gobblin’) to concentrate on putting up the tent, which led to the whole thing flooding when a nearby river burst its banks. We came to in the morning in half a foot of water. Mind, the state he left my bumhole in, I’m surprised I didn’t soak it all up like the definitely-16-year-old sponge that I was. Ah, precious memories.

Now, you must understand, for as much as I love camping, Paul loves the act of complaining about it even more: he’s got a bad back / legs / attitude and no amount of sleeping out in the wild will cut the mustard for him. Paul’s idea of roughing it is a hotel without a bidet to wash his knot with and full room service. He’s all fur coat and no knickers, that one, and has certainly changed from the days when his mum used to put Netto washing up liquid in his bath because they were too poor for Matey.

So, for years, every time I suggested we go camping, it would immediately be shot down or a ‘compromise’ offered where he stayed in a nearby hotel, appeared on command for cuddles (or to check there wasn’t another man in my tent) and then fuck off. Well, I wasn’t having that: either shit or get off the marriage, I say. Hence on this Saturday morning, tent in hand, I decided that I ought to take myself off into the wilds of Northumberland – alone mind you – to have a night to myself. It was a glorious sunny day, the sky was full of hope and my heart full of joy, so after a quick mince to Argos for the essentials (air-bed for two, sleeping bag for two, night-light you could flag a plane down with) and Morrisons for the even more essentials (twelve packets of crisps, bottle of gin, six cans of tonic and blue Rizlas) I was set to go.

However, in my search for a carrier bag for my snacks, I noticed our greenhouse was now overflowing with garage stuff, and that just couldn’t do: I spent the next two hours clearing that out until events came to a screeching (quite literally) halt with the appearance of a spider that I genuinely could have boxed with. I’m not too bad with spiders as long as I can see them but this was a big, mean looking bastard and it came hurtling from under the table I’d just sledgehammered with the look of a neighbour whose bin I had knocked over. To be honest, had I been bent over at the time, this could have been a #metoo moment. Paul, alerted by my more-screaming-than-usual, came out to see what the problem is, then went immediately back inside, smartly closing the door, and taking a position at the bedroom window to peek at me through the blinds as though fearful the spider itself could have crowbarred the door open.

I’d made such good progress at this point that, after my heart resumed its normal beat of 180BPM, I dashed back in and valiantly set about the area with a shovel like I was beating out an oil fire, cracking two floor tiles as I went – but I got the bastard. It was certainly the first time I’ve ever felt a spider fight back. You know in Infinity War when Scarlet Witch is using her powers to hold back Thanos? That was this spider. I do hope its children were watching – I left the carcass on the floor as a warning. That and I couldn’t lift the bugger because adrenaline had left me weak. That all wrapped up, I was in the car and heading for God Knows Where in no time, just as the heavens started to open with that indecisive rain where it’s wet enough to make your thighs chaff but not enough to warrant putting the windscreen wipers on. Of course.

After a good solid hour of yelling and shouting and foaming at the gash about being stuck behind weekend drivers (seriously: why do you have a car with a three litre engine if all you’re doing to do is drive it to your hospice appointment at a speed so low I’m surprised the reversing lights don’t come on – why? Who hurt you? Me, if you don’t get out of the friggin’ way, you lavender-haired shitemare), I pulled into Wooler. Found a charming little campsite only to be immediately and snootily told that oh no, chortle chortle, they don’t allow tents. Yes, I can see the concern – the last thing you want on a campsite is people camping, after all. I mean, where would all the aforementioned arseholes park their Range Rover Evoques? I gave a harrumph of disgust and spun on my heel as gracefully as a fat bloke in size 12 Dr Martens can manage, swishing my none hair at the same time. You know, it’s been over 15 years since I had long hair and if you look carefully, I still instinctively push my hair out of my eyes when I’m concentrating or arguing. Fun fact.

All was not lost, though – a little down the road I found somewhere quiet and flat to pitch my tent and, after Youtubing how the hell you put up a tent, set about it. You might expect that I’d struggle with such a task, but it was easy! I had two ropes to pull and up the tent popped, legs locking themselves and boom, done. The only tricky bit was forgetting to bring a hammer, but it’s OK – one of the advantages of being so burly is that most things bend underfoot and I had that tent secured in no time. Trickiest part was inflating the air bed – it was a manual pump (aren’t we all?) and boy did that take some doing. I was wrecked – in any other situation I’d have given up there and then but damn it, I won’t be beaten by a velour covered mattress with all the structural integrity of an old man’s scrotum. I huffed, puffed and almost blew my house down but by god after ten minutes that bed was as taut and firm as my coldness towards my husband.

All set up, I set about reading the book I’d brought along for all of thirty seconds before my feet start itching and so, I set off to explore a rural village in Northumberland in the hope of finding somewhere for a drink. Well now. It was a pretty village absolutely, and I’m a confident guy, but wearing rainbow sheen DMs paired with this understated t-shirt:

gave me a touch more pause than I usually have. The pubs didn’t look terrifically welcoming and perhaps not the place for a cheeky crème de menthe. I’m sure everyone was going to be very friendly but I’d forgotten my douching bulb and if we were going to go full Deliverance in Wooler, this wasn’t going to be the night. I mooched about, bought some petrol station sandwiches and somewhat disgustingly sober made my way back over the hill to my tent to set about enlightening myself. I noticed a caravan parked nearby but they left soon after, presumably after they realised they’d be kept awake by my snoring and farting.

I had the snazzy idea that if I needed emergency lighting I could use my car key fob to turn the headlights on and bathe my tent in bright light, however, the car was facing the wrong way. That’s fine – I got dressed (and you have no idea how difficult it is to put a pair of wet jeans on in a 5ft tent when you’re 6ft 1″) and nipped out. A quick reverse to turn the car around and we’d be good, only, in classic me fashion, I managed to reverse over two of the lines keeping the tent fastened and also a good third of my tent. Listen, it was dark and I didn’t have my glasses on, so don’t be a judgemental cow. Tell you what though, instead of snapping, those ropes held firm and the car did a smashing job ramming the tent pegs into the Earth. I hope there wasn’t a lassie sitting having a piss on a beach in New Zealand because she probably got the end of my tent-peg tickling her clopper. Aside from a tyre print across the side of the tent, all was well, and I congratulated myself on my ingenuity by sitting and flashing my lights off and on: – …. .-. — – – .-.. . / — . .-.-.- / -… .-. . . -.. / — . .-.-.- / .-.. . .- …- . / … -. .- -.-. -.- … .-.-.-

And so it was that the night passed along, me entertaining myself to the fullest degree I could. The idea of setting in a canvas coffin, your breath and farts condensing on the ceiling and dripping into your hair as you sleep, might not appeal to most, but it was worth it for one moment in the middle of the night: I stepped out for a piss and after marvelling at the fact I no longer had a penis because it had hidden away in my lungs for the night, I looked up – not a cloud in the sky and all the stars you could ever want. Somewhere out there, a star shines for me.  There was no sound, no light nearby, and it was just magnificent: an absolute blanket of space and for all intents and purposes, not another soul around. I haven’t felt so perfectly alone in a long while and, far from it being awful, it was everything. Now admittedly, my giddiness could have been somewhat influenced by intoxicants, but I don’t care. I love the stars and I adored that moment. I do wonder if there was another couple watching the sight of an almost nude me staring transfixed at the sky for a good solid fifteen minutes and, if they were, I hope they enjoyed the sight of my bullet nipples and my milky-white bumcheeks positively coruscating in the moonlight.

Back inside, comfortably returned to the welcoming embrace of rustling sleeping bags and my own scent, I fell into sleep, and my night was done, save for an arresting gasp at about half five when I woke up disorientated and panicking due to shuffling so far into my sleeping bag that I thought someone cruel had buried me alive, I slept like a log. Honestly, I could have cheerfully stayed, but boo, work and someone needs to feed the cats. And oh aye, Paul. I nicked into a nearby toilet block for a shower and what a treat that was, mind – I’ve never felt fresher than I did soaping my balls under a shower I had to walk around in to get wet. Temperature? Glacial. Which made the next fifteen minutes of drip-drying all the sweeter, I can promise you – I’d forgotten to bring a towel and well let’s be frank, there’s a lot of flesh and hair to hold the water. I had to knock the icicles forming on my cock before I had a piss. After twenty minutes of dry-humping the airbed to try and get enough air out to enable me to fold it into a C3 and ten minutes of feeling sorry for myself for falling over in the mud whilst doing so, I was on my way. Stopped for a fried breakfast in somewhere artsy-fartsy and was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t judge me for not having muesli, then a quick drive back home (after the briefest of 200 mile diversions, you understand, to take in some familiar views) it was all over.

Camping, done. Definitely going to do it again. But enough about me, suppose we should do the recipe. Sundried tomato, chicken and parmesan couscous, here we go.

sundried tomato chicken couscous

sundried tomato chicken couscous

sundried tomato chicken couscous

sundried tomato, chicken and parmesan couscous

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

A handy lunch this, if you're stuck on stuff to eat during the day. Keeps well in the fridge and tastes better for being left. If you're feeling like an indulgent hussy, add yourself a small knob of butter when you add the couscous. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 200g Ainsley Harriott sundried tomato and garlic cous cous (6 syns) (save syns by using plain couscous, but you know: taste)
  • 6 handfuls of baby spinach, chopped up
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 30g parmesan, grated (1x HeA)

Instructions

  • chop the spinach finely
  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil over a medium heat
  • add the garlic and cook for one minute
  • add the chicken and cook it off until it's white
  • add spinach, basil and pepper to the pan
  • crumble over a stock cube and add 350ml water along with the couscous
  • mix everything together and bring to the boil
  • remove from the heat, cover the pan with a lid and stand for 5-10 minutes until the water is absorbed
  • sprinkle over the parmesan and serve

Make it more indulgent by adding 90g more of parmesan (3 x HEA!) and living the bloody dream. Stir it in!

Notes

  • don't let Frylight ruin your pans - use one of these oil sprayers instead!
  • you can easily make this syn free by using plain cous cous instead
  • to chop the spinach simply bunch together a handful and slice thinly, then slice lengthways. Or, if you're really lazy, just chuck it into a food processor
  • make quick work of the garlic with one of these Microplane grater! No fiddling!

As with all of our recipes, you can add anything you like into this. It would work well with roasted peppers, feta cheese, olives, sausages, packet of crisps or Trex.

 

Courses lunches

Cuisine dunno mate

The problem with recipes like sundried tomato chicken and parmesan couscous is that it’s super hard to make the photos look good – doesn’t help that it looks as though I’ve tipped a ped-egg over the top! But damn it, it tastes good and is worth giving it a go! Want more lunch ideas? Sure thing, sugartits:

Mwah!

J

cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers – oh, and hello Liverpool

Here for the cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers? Who can blame you: it’s like breakfast but someone tickling your molly at the same time – it’s that good. But fair warning: there’s a big entry in front of it.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it, since I really got my juices flowing and spaffed a long article all over your keyboard? Listen, I know you might not be in the mood for a long entry – you’ve turned into such a frigid cow since the days when you used to have me in your bed every night – so if you’re not in the mood to read, simply click the entirely random set of teeth below to be whisked straight to the cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers.

They say, in life, never meet your heroes. Well no, they say it somewhere on Pinterest in between all the inspirational quotes and pictures of satchels. Anyway, last Thursday, I went to Liverpool for a day out to do exactly that.

Imagine my disappointment when I realised Cilla passed away in 2015 after a quick breakdance routine down a flight of stairs. Actually, that’s a fib. My eyes couldn’t have been drier on that day, and you’re talking to someone whose eyes are ruined from squinting owlishly at the most appalling porn on a mobile when Paul’s fallen asleep.

The original plan was to go down on the 4.30am train but, as with all my plans, it all fell apart at the last moment with the appearance of Storm Gareth. Gareth! Who the fuck is in charge of naming storms these days? If you were told Storm Hercules was approaching, you’d batten down the hatches, lock the cats away and get in the Anderson shelter. Well, you would, I’d be outside in the garden with my bum-cheeks spread and ‘DON’T STOP EVEN IF I USE THE SAFE WORD’ carved in my jiggly-joggly bumcheeks. But Storm Gareth? No disrespect to any Gareth folks that are out there but the name suggests a storm that couldn’t blow the froth off a pint of piss-weak bitter. It’s like being menaced by a headache called Susan or shaken down for money by Lil Dwayne. Pfft.

However, two things: I’m prone to catastrophic thinking and I’m a tight-arse Geordie: there was fuck all way I was going to miss the escape rooms and cinema that had all been paid for simply because Storm Gareth had Selby-ed my train. So, after begging mercy from the man upstairs, praying to the good folks at First Direct and sweet-talking the husband to ignoring my demands for a frugal month, I was on a train travelling down the night before.

And what a journey! I’ve never known such opulence as the Transpennine First Class. I wasn’t expecting luxury given I was travelling on a converted bus, but fucking hell. The clues were there: the fact that first class was cheaper than standard class should have given it away. No reserved seating – I had my eye on the one individual seat but this was immediately taken by some bampot with a face like a bee-keeper’s apprentice, forcing me to share a table. Now look: I’m a social guy and I like a conversation but only on my own terms – on a train, unless his cock is nudging against my knees under the table, I’m never going to be keen.

So of course, I was immediately joined by a chap who wanted to talk about business and nonsense and his marriage, and this was all before I’d finished fussing around in my bag and making sure I had easy access to the four bags of Haribo that I’d spent eighty quid on in WH Smith. I feigned polite interest until I managed to detangle my headphones then gave him a ‘long day mate, just gonna relax’ smile to get him to shut the fuck up. He didn’t. He was lovely, don’t get me wrong, but by the time we reached Durham and I’d taken my headphones out for the eighteenth time I was four blinks away from smashing his teeth out with the wee red emergency hammer which was tantalisingly close.

Luckily, the train manager provided him a distraction when she came around with the ‘free food and drinks’, which amounted to a cheese muffin that had survived the Cold War and wine: red or white. I had to pinch myself to remember I wasn’t on the Orient Express, truly I did. I ordered white wine and was pushed into a cup of tea to go with it (the perfect pairing!). Must have made her day because she clearly poured the white wine from the same kettle as the tea. Warm? I could have made a Pot Noodle with it. I had five more glasses because it was free, of course. Chatty Man stopped his nonsense once we were past Darlington (amazing what the sight of an impoverished war-zone can do for a good mood) and I was left in relative silence for the rest of the journey.

Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram decided to have a shitfit at this point meaning there was literally nothing to do, so the three hours just flew by. There was a curious moment when a businesswoman sat next to me, then got up and sat across the aisle ten minutes later and started crying. I tried to catch her eye to reassure her that one day she too could smell as good as me (Maison Margiela, Across Sands eau de parfum, since you were wondering: I’m giving the Tom Ford a rest) but she wouldn’t look at me. I thought about changing my Wifi Hotspot name to ‘sorry love, that’ll be the cheese muffin and hot wine’ but that seemed like altogether too much hassle, so I left her to her wracked sobs.

I want to qualify that last sentence though: I’m not a monster. If I had a chance to do my ‘there there’ voice and ask if she was alright, but there was a very clear ‘everyone leave me be’ vibe. Hmm. Now I’m thinking about it, I hope she’s out there with a smile on her face and not floating in the Mersey. Contact me if you’re reading this: I was the chap in leather who was spilling over into your seat. Perhaps that’s why you moved, maybe it was me shallow-breathing through my nose, perhaps you were upset I never offered you one of my Starmix. Who knows?

The train dropped me off in Liverpool and after a short argument with Google Maps (I don’t trust technology) I found my hotel, had a lovely plate of the very best Iceland microwave bits they could find, read my Point Horror book (it was the best friend all along!) and after checking Paul hadn’t killed himself in my absence, went to bed. I actually didn’t make it that far, I fell asleep fully clothed because I couldn’t be arsed to take my boots off. Which sounds lazy, until you realise I was wearing these:

Once all laced up and tight, it’s actually quicker to saw off my own legs than it is to clit about trying to untie them enough so they can slip over my cankles. I woke up bright and literally breezy the next day with Storm Gareth making the windows rattle and after picking newsprint off my face, went to meet my mate.

Remember a few posts ago there was a foul-mouthed recipe for roast potatoes and a guide to a buffet that would have made your gran blush? Well, that was the chap (Paul II) I was meeting up with – thrashing out negotiations for payment for his blog post Theme Park style (wouldn’t work through, I have tiny hammy hands, he has hands like a water-swollen badger corpse). What better way to immediately test a friendship than to try an escape room together?

Boy, were we good. We’re both massive fans of the escape room format (as previously discussed) but it’s always a risk doing one with an unknown personality – and you never know which personality either of us is likely to have on any given day. However, Team Myra and Ian’s Cassette Mix were a delight, even if the name made the room host wince. The theme was time travel and although I spent the first thirty minutes taking it far too seriously and desperately searching for a button to plummet me back twenty years, we escaped with a good thirteen minutes to spare.

And mind, this room was hard. A tiny central room which opened up four times over to reveal scenes from different times, meaning one minute you were fumbling around trying to work out the moves to Saturday Night Fever (or, as I call it, cock-throat) and next you were working out morse code to discover where the nukes were dropping. It was very well done indeed and the combination of someone being excellent at maths and sweating (Paul II) and the other being great at words and getting in the way meant we absolutely nailed it. Before we went in we were full of bravado and told the Host that she mustn’t give us clues and that we were super-clever. We only caved once, and to be honest I think that was more her stepping in before we ended up wrestling on the floor with him trying to extract my Mind Stone.

A brief tour of Liverpool followed and I’ll say this: I had in my head some dystopian town, full of homelessness, graffiti, no-go areas, low value shops and gruff, barely literate shufflers. I realise my error now, in retrospect: due to the addition of Liverpool Cathedral, it’s actually classed as a city. Silly me! No I jest: what a beautiful place – I was very pleasantly surprised.

Speaking of pleasant surprises, Captain Marvel was next. We were temporarily held up by some pipe-cleaner in a Burtons suit who not only pushed in front of me in the popcorn queue but then who proceeded to hand me his card to tap it on the contactless point. If I’d been less tired and emotional I’d have thrown his Vanquis card straight into the nacho cheese pan and let him suffer the third degree burns needed to it out. It was bad enough paying a trillion pounds for two fizzy worms, let alone repeating the process for him.

There’s always a frisson of excitement going to the cinema with someone new, isn’t there? Are they a talker? Will they want to share your sweets? Will they spend half an hour asking ‘who is that’ and ‘why are they talking’ and ‘why is that cat on fire?’ etc? I was fearful as to whether I’d be able to hear Captain Marvel kicking off over the sound of his nose whistling – it was like being sat next to an idling bus – but all was well, with only minimal dipping into my sweets bag (not a euphemism, readers – or for good measure, Paul I). Captain Marvel was a perfectly pleasing romp with simply the best angry pussy committed to film since Teeth.

We then had a wander around some of the finest shops known to man (dressing like I was on remand and trying to turn my life around had never seemed so possible!) and ended up down on Albert Docks, where I was furious to discover that they had taken away the This Morning weather map. I mean honestly: it served as a handy paedo-holding pen if nothing else. I blame Alison Hammond. For everything that has gone so astonishingly wrong in my life. A quick restorative coffee and a ham and cheese toastie in Costa and it was time for Escape Room 2. Again, we made lots of small talk with the very handsome cub behind the counter (my heart sank when he mentioned his wife) (and then rose again when I remembered how many times I’ve had ‘don’t tell the wife’ muttered emotionlessly into my ear) and asked that we weren’t given many clues. Old pros, you see.

Well fuck me: we were terrible. The room was Viking themed and terribly clever, but some of the clues were a little too abstract for my tastes. We spent the first twenty minutes shrieking and banging cups about before things started to click into place – you always know you’re onto a winner when a bookshelf slides open revealing another two rooms to complete. But boy, did we need help. What started out as ‘only raise your hands if you’re desperate for a clue’ became such a farce that I’m surprised she didn’t dash in to see if I was standing on an exposed electrical wire.

At one point you had to climb into a Viking barge and row in unison to the soundtrack of a man shouting commands. In theory, easy, but see it required me to perch on a tiny seat with Paul II (we need a better name) immediately behind, and well, we’re both husky gentlemen. My back fat hindered his forward stroke (story of his life) and his Honey Boom-Boom frame blocked my backwards movement (story of my life). What should have taken a matter of moments took nearly four minutes of solid rowing, though I imagine that was due to the hostess spending three minutes and forty seconds silently dry-heaving at the sight of us sweating and panting through mild exercise. We’d have looked like two bouncy castles attempting coitus.

However, we did escape, and with plenty of time on the clock. She was very positive about our efforts but there was a glint of second-hand embarrassment in her eye that suggested we’d be on the staff Christmas Party blooper-real. Ah well. We never needed anything spelling out – except how to use the defibrillator – and actually, for two fat blokes still grappling with each other’s idiosyncrasies and personality traits, we did alright.

We finished off the day with a cocktail or two in Revolution. Fun fact: I haven’t been in a Revolution since before Paul I days, and the very last time I was there I gave an old-fashioned to my married manager. Funnily enough, he said don’t tell the wife too, especially pertinent since she worked in another team across the floor. Come again? Yes.

I’m beyond this current trend to put all sorts of tat in with a cocktail. I ordered something sickly sweet – a Cherry Hot Karl or something – and it came with slush and a scattering of rainbow drops. I’m comfortable enough in my sexuality not to be phased about carrying the drink equivalent of twink night in a sauna through a crowded bar but there was a guy sat next to us with arms as thick as my legs – fraction less stretch marks though – and I could feel his judgement. I loved it.

In no time at all it was time to say goodbye / get the fuck back to the train station so he didn’t miss his connections. The walk was no problem for him: he’s six foot four and can cover distance surprisingly quick given his gazelle like pins – but I had to hide my agony as my feet were flayed in my boots. It was unusual being the short one and I now have a newfound appreciation for Paul I’s vista of having to look up all the time. I like an ass in my face, don’t get me wrong, but not when it’s billowing out breakfast-scented death as it galumphs up a flight of stairs.

It had been a great day with a marvellous friend but now it was over, he was on his way back to the land that vowels forgot and I was left with an hour to kill in twilit Liverpool. I decided to spend that hour pooping in John Lewis (he didn’t mind) and spraying myself with industrial levels of expensive aftershave before realising, far too late, I was a good distance from the train station with only minutes to spare. Power-mince? I sashayed so hard I brought the paving slabs up. I made it with moments to spare and enjoyed a lovely trip home, with only an hour to spend in York despondently waiting for a connection that never came.

Still: at least I had the total absence of free snacks and drinks to cheer my soul whilst I waited. Pfft.

And that folks, was my day trip to Liverpool. It’s been a while since I did some proper writing so I apologise for the length, but you bloody loved it. Next time I visit there’ll be more culture, more umming and aahing at galleries, more cooing at national treasures. Aye rights – it’ll be more escape rooms and Infinity War. Yasss!

Suppose we ought to do a recipe, eh? Let’s knock out the cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers – just something super easy for breakfast that is better than your usual pap.

cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers

cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers

cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 2 people

Aye it's a cheese toastie, but hey, let's call it breakfast soldiers and just get on with it. Fussy knickers. This makes enough for two, or if you're like us, one person with double portions. And yes, they're called cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers, but that's because the thought of having a soldier for breakfast amuses me.

Ingredients

  • four slices of whatever wholemeal bread you can have on your SW diet (2 x HEB)
  • 160g of grated mature cheese (oh I know - you don't need that much really, you could get away with saving half for your other HEA)
  • good quality ham
  • bit of dijon mustard
  • 5 eggs

Instructions

  • boil four of the five eggs to however you like them
  • smear a bit of mustard on half of the bread, add ham, add most of the cheese, add the other slice of bread so you're left with two sandwiches
  • beat the remaining egg and add the rest of the cheese then dip the sandwiches in
  • fry them in a dry non-stick pan until the cheese melts and the crust forms
  • cut into soldiers and serve with your boiled eggs

Notes

Courses breakfast

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Delicious, right? Get it in you, quick! Oh you can make it fancier AND make your wee stink – try the asparagus stuffed ones!

Looking for more breakfast ideas?

Mwah!

J

potato, bacon and beer bake

Admit it, you’ve been worried that, following our eight minutes on prime-time TV, we’d have gone all celebrity: shagging about, coke binges, drunk-driving and fisticuffs outside the top bars. Please: they barely let me into a Wetherspoons with my rent-by-the-week shoes and I make Paul buy the Lidl own-brand paracetamol.

I meant to post a new recipe last week but time got away from us. We’ve been doing some exciting stuff on the back of This Time Next Year (did you know we were on the telly?) and well, look. Mischief takes time. But, before we get to the potato, bacon and beer bake, let me tell you our tale.

The story starts like all of mine, with an unexpected pussy. I was busy leering out of our bedroom window at the one neighbour we have under seventy (and who mows his lawn with his top off, which I know is for my benefit – even if he doesn’t acknowledge it, there’s a twinkle in his eye that gives away his intent) (could be cataracts, though, he does smoke a lot) when I spotted a cat in our greenhouse. That’s not uncommon, we have all manner of feline visitors who love nothing more than falling asleep on all of the gardening equipment I leave out to show our gardener that I mean well. Out I trot, handful of Dreamies and a heart full of love, to make a new friend. I’ve yet to meet a cat that I haven’t been able to seduce with a scratch of their ears or a rub under the chin, which is also how I got Paul to agree to polygamy. Hand outstretched, I manage not to scare the cat away and he turned his wee head to me…and…oh my.

Poor little bugger had completely caked over eyes, scratches all over his face and well, looked like he was about to die. Cats leave their home to die away from their owners and it would just be my luck that this cat would roll a seven on my tomato feed. We couldn’t bring him in because we’ve got two of our own who I barely trust not to kill me in my sleep, let alone an imposter, and anyway he was lifting with fleas. A stray. Well, that was me. I know you see me as some stone-hearted brute with the emotional range of a house-brick but not when it comes to animals. People, fuck ’em. Children? Pah. But cats? Oh no. I lifted him into a cat basket and sat him on the cat tree, wiped his eyes with water and went to fetch my Abide with Me CD. I brought him a slab of Whiskas (incurring piss-taking from a friend who took great delight in pointing out I was feeding stray cats on a Le Creuset saucer), some water and left him to it on a blanket. Our own cat came dashing out of the cat flap but, perhaps sensing the other cat was no threat, left him to it (though ate half the food – cat after my heart). We checked in during the day and he was sleeping, barely moving, and after we returned from seeing Escape Room at 11pm, popped our heads in only to see he had still barely moved and was breathing shallowly, like me reading a sentence longer than eight words.

Well, we couldn’t cope with that level of emotional discomfort and a decision was made to take him to the vets, finance be damned. We rang the RSPCA who were absolutely bobbins (of course!) but luckily our own vets agreed we could bring him in, but could we drop him off at an emergency shelter up the road? 30 miles up the road? Of course. Nearing midnight now, on a Sunday no less. We attached a blue light to the Smart car and went to bundle the cat into a car carrier. In the dark, because no lighting in the greenhouse, because of course.

Let me tell you: for a cat that couldn’t see and was nearing death, he came to life like Evel fucking Knievel, hurtling around the greenhouse in a petrified blur. Could we catch him? Could we balls. Imagine trying to get a distressed cat into a carrier with only the light of a phone to guide you. I’ve got hands like Freddie Kreuger trying to get a jacket potato from a campfire. Hissing, shrieking and screaming – and with the cat making similar noises – we got him into a corner, only for Paul to drop the carrier and set him off again. We were about to let nature simply take its course when an unexpected turn: a very stylish gay lad turned up at our gate. At midnight. Asked if we wanted a hand, and I was a second away from asking him if he’d made an appointment and even so, you’re at the wrong door for that mate, when he mentioned he’d lost a cat. He was walking past looking for his cat at the very moment we were trying to stuff him into the carrier. What serendipity! We let him in, he looked at the cat and confirmed that indeed, it was his. Well, not immediately: the first thing he did was sniff the air and say our greenhouse smelled like cat piss. My gay peacock-feathers shot up at this barb but I resisted the urge to say that it was because OF YOUR BLOODY CAT, and let it slide. He joined us for a cigarette in the garden, which must have looked peculiar to the neighbours to have three men sitting in the dark at our fabulous garden table, but hey. He was actually very lovely and friendly and I want his coat but that’s by the by.

We swapped numbers (because: I’m a slut) and off he toddled. All done, cat rescued.

Phone rings ten minutes later. Cat guy. Sounded terribly perturbed. Turns out he had passed the petrol station behind our house at the very moment it was being turned over. We could hear the alarms blaring in the background, and of course, we immediately called the police. Less than a split second later our house was locked up, we’d sprinted across the lawn at the front and were away in the Smart car to have a gawp. The CCTV footage of our dash is hilarious – Paul’s car goes over the speedbump like a rocket. You may remember he drives a toy car. The police were indeed there and we realised it would look suss to drive past eight times in a bright orange tiny car, so made our way home, where the police were waiting because they thought the robbers might have made their escape down our street. Listen: it’ll not be the first time a rough local trick with an ASBO has dumped his hot load in my back-alley, but I thought it remiss of me to boast. The policemen were delicious, though it was super awkward when they asked us for our new friend’s name and I had to explain I’d put him into my phone as Cat Man Noooo and didn’t know his name. In a sweet twist, the policeman asked if we’d been on the telly recently because his girlfriend comes to Elite with us and had mentioned us. I tried to hide my tittylip at the mention of his girlfriend because fuck me, he was handsome as all outdoors. All the while our cat chap is ringing with updates and then texted to say he was nearly home.

All done, cat rescued, petrol station robbery embroilment over. And so to bed.

Phone rings. He’s lost his keys and is terribly upset. Perhaps they fell out during the cat chase, perhaps whilst he was dashing away from a robbery. Well, as much as I wanted to go take advantage of the horn that only a brush with the law could give me, out we went to search the garden, again with phonelight, with Paul away up the street to help look. Ten minutes later, the chap calls. Found his keys. In the inside pocket of his jacket pocket, because bless him he was all a tizz from the night’s excitement. We confirmed that he was in his house, settled, cat in the carrier, no chip pan fires or plane crashes. Content that the night’s excitement was over, we all said goodnight, I got his real name and we all agreed to meet for a drink in a couple of week’s time when we’re not doing bootcamp. Just getting into bed and vehemently disagreeing with Paul that 2am isn’t too late for bumming even when one of us has to be up at 5am to register for Elite’s weigh-in thingy when oof, phone rings.

It’s not his cat.

In a curious turn of events, our lovely friend had assumed it was his cat (and later sent a picture of him with his actual cat to show the similar markings) and in a fit of excitement, taken the wrong cat home. Well, honestly. At this point, what more could be done? He graciously agreed to look after the cat and take him to the vets the next day, and after three more calls in the night to discuss the cat’s wellbeing and invite us over (hmm), this story was wrapped up neatly. He did indeed take the cat to the vet and sadly, it wasn’t chipped, but at the time of writing he’s still alive and responding well to whatever they’ve given him. We’ve made a new friend as it turns out that Cat Man – Dan – is actually hilarious (and it’s nice having a fellow gay in this town, and unusual in that we haven’t tasted his semen before learning his first name) and everything has turned good.

But the worst part? The cat, in its panicked state, flipped our Le Creuset saucer onto the floor and chipped it. I mean, for Christ’s sakes.

Gosh: that was a story and a half, wasn’t it? I so much prefer it when I have something to tell you. But, your poor belly. You must be starving, you’ll be working your way through your back-up gunt at this point. Let’s do the recipe: potato, bacon and beer bake. As you were.

potato bacon and beer bake

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potato, bacon and beer bake

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Yield 4 servings

Now. You can lower the syns in this by swapping out the beer for stock, but honestly you're doing yourself a disservice. The beer adds a lot of the taste, but it isn't essential. For the sake of a couple of syns, you'll get a great side. 

We found this recipe in an Italian cookbook by a chap called Gennaro. We adapted it slightly, but full credit to the guy who looks the double of Paul's dad on the front cover. You can pick up an ecopy here.

This makes enough for four decent servings as a side dish, but we had it between the two of us because: obesity.

Ingredients

  • 1kg or so of potatoes, peeled
  • 200ml of good lager - I used Brewdog's Lost Lager but any will do - around 6 syns 
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil (6 syns)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large onions
  • 200g of bacon - you can buy medallions and cut them up if you like, but we just used bacon lardons and didn't syn them because we're not frightened of a bit of redundant fat, unless it's Paul's mother
  • 80g of light extra mature cheddar (1 person's healthy extra, so fuck it, I'd be minded not to count it, but that's your choice to make) (or, do as we did, and double the cheese because you're a greedy heifer)

Instructions

  • put the oven onto 200 degrees
  • using your mandolin or a knife, thinly slice the potatoes and onions
  • throw the potatoes into a large bowl, add the beer, oil and lots of salt and pepper
  • line the bottom of an overproof dish with sliced tatties, onions, few cubes of bacon and some of the grated cheese
  • layer over and over and press down damn hard with your hand as you go, covering the top with more grated cheese
  • pour over the beer mixture, give it another press down and cover in foil
  • bake for an hour, then remove the foil and cook for another 30 minute
  • serve with whatever slop you want on the side

Notes

Courses side dish

Cuisine italian, supposedly

Nice, eh? Problem with making a potato bake is that the resulting photo always ends up looking like a scabby knee so, just trust your cubs on this one and I promise you it’s worth a bake.

Want more? Greedy cow.

Enjoy!

J

introducing the not quite so chubby cubs!

And it’s done! The most erotic thing you’ve ever seen on the TV since Nigella pushed her fingers into that cream horn that one time. Just me?

We didn’t hit our weight loss target of 20 stone between us before the recording – but I came closest to 10 stone, missing out by a few pounds – we then followed it up afterwards and stopped when we were happy – I (James) ended up losing 10 stone 3lb, Paul lost 8 stone 7lb, which means a combined weight loss of 265lb between us – 18 stone and 9lb. To put it another way, that’s about 120 bags of sugar, or a weekend delivery to Katona HQ. No wonder our bed doesn’t scream when we climb in anymore.

You can watch our bit below – there’s two videos, the ‘before’ bit and the ‘after’ bit. Fair warning, you might want to put a towel down.

We’ve got a load of blog articles about the experience queued up but just to answer a few of the pressing questions:

How did you do it?

  • Diet – Slimming World

We’re huge fans of Slimming World, as you know. We’re also rebellious in the extreme. So we did the plan, but by god, we did it our way. We didn’t use Frylight, we used olive oil and didn’t syn it. Never synned a bloody avocado, cooked fruit. We had full-fat yoghurt, not Mullershites filled with sugar.

Not once did we have: Slimming World ‘sweets’, crappy treat bags, CREAM HORNS MADE FROM WRAPS AND QUARK, apple turnovers made from bread and sweetener, pease pudding ‘lids’ for pies. If we wanted chocolate, we had it. Ice-cream, no bother. Give up booze? Pah! We took NINE holidays during our ‘year’ and still lost just shy of nineteen stone between us in a year. 

So, now, I can finally say with PROOF what we’ve been saying all along: EAT PROPER FOOD. Cook with proper ingredients, with decent recipes, and you’ll not be hungry, you’ll not feel like you’re on a diet and your weight will come off. Other recipe blogs, in between nicking from Pinterest, push Frankenfood recipes made from sweetener and fake food all to sell ingredients and it is bollocks. And now, look: the proof is in our pudding.

That pudding doesn’t contain any xanthum gum, forty eggs and seventy-five Amazon links, either. Do Slimming World, the support is fantastic and the plan if you follow it is great, but instead of chasing colossal weight losses every week – do it properly, cook more, avoid the temptation for fake food and look at what you’re actually putting into your body. No quick fixes, just a diet that doesn’t feel like you’re missing out.

All of our recipes – the stuff we ACTUALLY EAT, can be found here – it’ll open in a new window!

  • Fitness – Elite

Six months in and, finally able to buy one pair of jeans instead of two and stitching them together, we realised our weight loss was slowing and our fitness levels were absolutely shite. It’s all well and good being thin enough for sex but it loses the horniness when your lips turn blue when you climb on top. I’ve always said there’s no point being skinny if you get out of breath pulling back the lid of a yoghurt, and the above is just a fruitier take on the same line. So, what did we do? Gyms are boring, we’re too fabulous to run outside and there’s no guarantee of totty at a spinning class. We found Elite!

Elite is a nationwide company, expanding all the time, which offers a range of programmes to build your fitness. They are bloody amazing. We signed up for the ‘Transformation’ package where you pay a chunk for six weeks of high-intensity workouts (three a week) and a diet plan (which, because it’s low-fat healthy stuff, we made work with Slimming World). Here’s the kicker: if you lose 20lb (or more) in those six weeks, you get your money back – in total, no catches, no deductions. What greater incentive for a fat tight-arse Geordie can there be? We completed the first transformation, rolled it over another few times and lost 11 stone between us before we finished in April.

Worried you can’t do exercise? Trust us: you can. And they’re fun classes of bloody hard work, different nearly every time, with a great mixed group of people. No machismo, no pretence – everyone just getting on with their bit. Previously, the only time we’ve laughed during exercise is when Paul’s shorts split bending over to pick up a stray chicken ball – with these, it’s actually good enough fun that you can ignore your tingling fingers. There’s a mix of abilities from people who are super fit to those, like us, chubbies who could barely move. You do what you can do: you’re pushed bloody hard, but never beyond your limits. By the end of it, you’re a team. It’s cheesy and as confirmed anti-social helmets, we thought we’d hate exercising with people. Now we wouldn’t be without it. I mean Christ we ran a bloody 5k last year (remember?)

If you lose the weight, you get your money back. Simple as that. If you join up through our link, we get commission too, not going to lie, but I’ve been recommending this for months without the promise of cash in my pocket. You know us: we don’t bullshit with recommendations. If you’re local to Newcastle, let us know, we’ll happily keep you company if we can. I’m fully first-aid trained so if you pass out, my whiskery face will bring you back. I’m going to write a proper blog post about Elite and general fitness, but feel free to ask questions or, even better, click the banner below to be whisked away to find out more – and if you do sign up, mention us: twochubbycubs. Something has to pay for the great American road-trip in 2020…

What’s Davina like?

Tiny. But such a lovely, genuine, warm person – I wasn’t starstruck, I’m used to dealing with celebrity – I once saw the back of Raquel from Coronation Street’s head as she rummaged around in a freezer for frozen carrots in Presto – but any nerves disappeared the second Davina started talking to us. She’s a class act, through and through.

How do they film it?

That’s for another blog entry, but simply: you go down to London to film the first part of the show where you’re sitting on the sofa breathing shallowly and wearing your best ‘fuck me, that’s a bold pattern’ shirt. Then a whole year of filming bits into a camera, which is then edited for the middle part. Then off you go to London after a year, Davina puts the same dress back on and you walk out new men. Stitch it all together and boom, it looks like it happened overnight.

Any regrets?

Didn’t get the number of the gorgeous bear who did my make-up. I fall in love easily, and anyone who doesn’t wince as he gets out a giant pot of foundation for my fivehead is a keeper for me. Also, the cameraman who came up to film us was absolutely dreamy. If you’re out there and fancy doing a bit of extra on the side, we’ve got an onlyfans account that needs excellent production values.

It would have been nice to hit the target, but damn, we stopped where we thought we looked good. We could have done it if we had signed up to Elite a bit quicker or spent more time at home instead of holiday, but you know what, if ifs and buts were sweets and nuts, we’d just eat them too.

Final words?

If you’re reading this, and you’re inspired – do it. Start tonight. Start right now – make your own pledge, tell your family, take a whole year. Ten stone in a year sounds frightening until you realise it’s about 2.5lb a week. There’ll be days when I bet you could crap 2.5lb by 10am, the amount you eat. People get hung up on massive amounts to lose and get disillusioned when you only lose three pounds in a week. It’s Slimming World’s biggest curse that you’re constantly being pushed for bigger losses. Don’t fall for it. Lose weight slowly, lose it well, and you’ll be magic. Finish this for me.

This time next year, I’ll…

J


Media enquiries / sponsorship / centrefold shots / tasteful nudes: cubs@twochubbycubs.co.uk

actifry presents: best ever southern fried chicken

Actifry Southern Fried Chicken! I know, listen to us, rubbing our breasts with spice (classic Newcastle behaviour that, just need a quick romp in a bus-shelter and a bag of chips and I’ll be sorted) and going on about the Actifry. You know what that means…

actifry

Yeah, I know. Usual twochubbycubs stuff applies here: we’re always honest, we don’t say it’s good for the sake of it and frankly, this Actifry Southern Fried Chicken will leave such a good taste in your yawning gob that’ll it replace the bad taste from our sponsorship. And anyway, hush, Paul has rickets from New Year and I’m putting cardboard in my shoes. What more do you want? If you want me on my knees begging, well, contact us on Grindr and make a payment.

We’ve got a couple of big posts coming over the next two including a big announcement tomorrow (!) so I won’t keep you here too long. I’ll only tell you this: how our New Year’s Resolutions are going. I’ve taken up smoking. Paul’s had two affairs and worn out his knees in the local forest (and he wasn’t looking for truffles, as you may suspect). We tried to give up terrible trash telly but Paul’s busy shouting at the telly because there’s a family with one set of teeth between them on Jeremy Kyle. Exercise is going great guns though: I split one pair of gym shorts trying to do a somersault at boot-camp and Paul had to take a seat and catch his breath from filling up his water bottle. My attempt to calm down behind the wheel came to an end the second one of the distant neighbours didn’t wave animatedly enough as I let him onto the street and it took all my strength not to back the car up at 60mph and run over his loafers. Kindness to the cats disintegrated once one of the little hellions decided the best place to put his face, including his tiny cold nose, was between the cheeks of my arse as I slept. I don’t know who screamed more: Paul at the shock of me hurtling out of bed, the cat because, instead of the rich Bovril scent he expected, he was met with a blur of chronic obesity and swearing, or me: I’ve been married twelve years and any unexpected action around the rear is both a colossal shock and an unwelcome distraction.

Anyway. Enough razzmatazz. We’ll save that for the upcoming posts.

Actifry contacted us to take part in their New Year Revolution a couple of weeks, challenging us to make something new in the Actifry. Once I’d checked that this involved absolutely no physical movement, and been reassured that no, I could do it from the comfort of my chair, we were good to go. They sent a fetching pinny (I can’t begin to tell you how hot I look: imagine someone rolled a marshmallow on a barbershop floor and stuck two boss eyes on it) which I can’t wear because it excites Paul too much when I wear a smock. He thinks he’s getting fed. Also, a wonderful plastic meal-decider which makes a charming rattle when you spin it. The good folks loved me as I shrieked through playing with that, I promise.

The Revolution (because the Actifry spins, see) was to take an old recipe or a family favourite (my own family’s favourite is bitter arguments over cheap supermarket beer, but that option wasn’t on there). We spun the spinner and landed on Southern Fried Chicken. Well, honestly: that’s easy, we spend so much time in the KFC drive-thru that they know when to rota extra staff on to cope with our order. So, off we went.

Before the recipe, the advertising bit. I know, but bear with us. If you take a gander through our old posts you’ll see we have always been advocates of the Actifry – hell, we’ve shifted enough of them via Amazon that we really ought to have shares in Tefal. But there’s a reason: they’re excellent. We chuck all sorts in ours but here’s a top tip: put your sausages in with your chips – the oil from the sausages cooks the chips, the chips roughen up the sausages and everyone is happy, including even you. Syn free chips? No bother: no oil, bit of Worcestershire sauce, beef stock cubes. Go. The Actifry cooks things nice and gently and means you can still have your favourites without all the fat and grease of a deep-fat fryer. Personally, the only deep, fat fryer I love is Ali who runs our chippy: he has a belly I could build a nest in and arms that could ‘gently persuade’ me to sleep. Sigh. One day.

You might think OH BUT I CAN GET AN AIRFRYER FROM LIDL for a tuppence and yeah, you’re right, but you’re so much better than middle-Lidl-purchases and anyway, at least this Actifry looks the business. I tire of seeing £19.99 rejects looking like bad Daft Punk cosplay littering our reader’s kitchens. What price dignity, people? Have a look under the recipe to see you can do so much more! And here’s a guide to the various Airfryers out there.

Right, let’s do this Actifry Southern Fried Chicken, shall we? Don’t want to use syns? Shame on you. You can make this syn-free though. Don’t forget if you’re having a burger, use your HEB.

southern fried chicken

southern fried chicken

southern fried chicken

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best ever actifry southern fried chicken

Prep

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Total

Yield 6 people

Now then. We've done a KFC recipe before, we've done bits and bobs with crispy chicken, but we reckon this is the best. I mean obviously we would say that because the good folks at Actifry aren't going to give us silver if we say it's pap, but listen, we've been honest all the way through this!

Don't have an Actifry? Well, gosh. Get one. Or, do this in the oven - it'll be a wee bit soggier though. Not a huge fan of soggy breasts, usually.

Ingredients

  • five chicken thighs and four chicken breasts or whatever you want
  • 100g panko (18 syns, but this makes enough for 6 people - and if you use panko, you can use a HEB for your breadbun and have a burger - IMAGINE SUCH LUXURY)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp onion granules
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp marjoram
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Or:

  • cajun spice from the supermarket because haway, you're not that fancy to have all them spices. Bet you say ORIGANNO too

Instructions

  • pour the panko onto a plate or shallow dish and mix together all of the other dry ingredients
  • crack three eggs into another shallow dish and beat (the eggs, that is)
  • dip the chicken into the egg and let any excess slop off
  • roll the chicken into the panko and herb mixture until well coated
  • place into an Actifry (paddle removed) and cook for 30 minutes
  • make into a lovely burger, have with salad, yeah right, and crack on

Notes

  • panko is a type of breadcrumb y0u'll find it in all the main supermarkets (head towards the 'world foods' aisle, or near the Japanese stuff). If you can't get your hands on it normal breadcrumbs will do
  • you can reduce the syns by using your HeA choice wholemeal bun blitzed up. It won't be as nice, but it'll work
  • use any chicken you like! We used thighs because they're juicy (like us) and breasts (because we wanted a burger too) but you can use whatever you want. Drumsticks and even chopped up chicken will work just as well
  • if you can't be fannied on with all the herbs and spices any mix will do, cajun works well in this, or chicken seasoning. The flavour will be different, but as long as you like it, who cares?
  • using an Actifry makes this so easy to do, just plop them in and close the lid! If you haven't got one yet, what's wrong with you? Check out Amazon for the best deals!
  • when cooking, it might be a good idea to gently move them around halfway through to make sure they cook evenly
  • this made enough for 5 thighs and 4 breasts - if you're cooking less than that just amend the recipe as needed
  • don't have an Actifry - whack it in the oven

Cuisine American

Happy? You should be! Looking for more Actifry recipes? We got you, fam:

Enjoy!

J

easy egg and cheese tortilla pie: breakfast time!

Tortilla pie awaits you at the bottom, under all this guff. Do be a love and take a look.

Yes, we’re back.

It seems fitting that not long after Cher announces her comeback, we make a triumphant return. Listen, I’m robotic, tuneless, ageless and popular with those light in the loafers, but you don’t need to pay £600 to hear me blasting out Believe. I’ll do it for a pack of Frazzles and a quick punch of my backdoor by your husband.

You know they say the road to hell is full of good intentions? Ours certainly is: we fully intended to come back with new recipes after Canada…and we did, briefly, but then we buggered off to Tokyo. Then Christmas necessitated full concentration as we worked on turning ourselves spherical. Our road isn’t full of good intentions so much as it has many lay-bys and each one of them has a Hungarian lorry driver in it who is missing his wife. You know what it’s like – you get your head down, close your eyes and poof – three months have gone by.

How are we? Let’s touch on a few of the regular beats of this blog and I’ll update accordingly. Paul and I are fine: both still fattened by Christmas, not sleeping enough and spending far too much money on trinkets and holidays. We continue on our merry-go-round-and-round of ‘fresh starts’ and ‘let’s get healthy’ but it always dissolves the very second trade comes over who smells faintly of takeaway. I’m a sucker for a fat kebab, after all. We’ve had adventures: thrown ourselves off the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, broke a robot in Tokyo, powerminced around the CN Tower in Canada, Paul’s pregnancy scare – but here we are at the start of 2019 in the unusual position of having nothing planned for the year ahead. I say that, we’ve got bootcamp starting next week so at least I can look forward to a trip in an ambulance and six months of hearing my mother desperately trying to convince the doctors to turn off my life-support. Cheers Christine, but it’s only a sprained ankle.

Tell you one thing though: I still feel old. I’ve never been one for navel-gazing – not least because my navel is currently hidden by my festive tits – but boy oh boy. I’ll be 34 this year, and that means it’s the last year where I can stay in the 25-34 field when signing Paul’s life insurance documents. This is terrifying to me. Assuming my lifestyle of sitting down at any given opportunity and counting crisps as a five-a-day because potatoes grow in the ground catches up with me, I can probably realistically expect to live to just 68. I’m halfway through my life and all I have to show for it is a nice house, many holidays a year and a fabulous beard (his name is Paul). Truly I am cursed. A friend of mine uses the question ‘how many partners have you had in the last three months’ during his visit to the clap-clinic as a measure of his success in life, I use how many months closer to the grave I am. However, I’m not letting this continuing existential crisis bother me, I promise – just a quick quiet sob in the lift at work when I realise my beard is streaked not with manschpackle but the salt-‘n’-pepper that comes to all men.

I asked Paul how he’s feeling and he said he’s alright. That’s the problem with Paul – he paints with words and it’s sometimes so difficult to pin down exactly what he means.

It’s a new year and whilst I’m not given over to making resolutions, I’ve made 4.

Family is fine – parents are working feverishly to make sure I don’t have any inheritance left and, out of the shrapnel that might fall out of my mother’s jackboots (who knew that the Wehrmacht catered for a size 2 shoe?), most of it will be going to my nephew. Tsssk. I know adopting a child out of sheer avariciousness is wrong but if it helps me get my hands on the family silver (the foil in my mother’s Lambest and Bitler) then maybe it’s an option. Gives me something to entertain myself with in between Switch releases.

Work continues ever onwards.

Neighbours – we’re still disliked as though we’ve personally been in each house and walked dog-shit into the carpet. We’ve been here five years and whilst there’s a few lovely ones, we still get all manner of shitty looks whenever we go outside. We get told (and we promptly ignore) where to park our cars, how to cut our garden and what flowers to plant. It’s all so presumptuous – I don’t knock on their doors to give them a guide to douching, although given how full of crap they are it might not be such a bad thing.

And finally, the blog itself. What started as a vanity project for my recipes has become a behemoth and a millstone, but in a mostly good way. We’ve got a few surprises coming down the line which I’M STILL NOT BLOODY ALLOWED TO TALK ABOUT, and lots to say!

Going forward, the plan is a weekly article and recipe, with the odd recipe sprinkled in when we can find the time. This way, you get regular updates but I don’t get myself a nervous breakdown trying to come up with my eightieth euphemism for vagina that night. Kid-shitter. Front-bum. Pink demon. This should also cut down on the sheer amount of idiots who message us whingeing about recipes or asking us to explain the plan in minute detail. I’d sooner rather listen to Ed Sheeran breathing heavily in my eye whilst his ginger beard dances across the back of my neck than have to spend ten more minutes trying to decipher what Shirley ‘School of Hard Knocks’ from Runcorn means by ‘cnt av pastargh hussband on fire owminty syns in tuffpast‘. You don’t know the toll it takes on a man to have 128 notifications of a morning and only three of them from bears with the rest of the notifications being from dinner ladies who should know better. I swear 40% of you only joined Slimming World because they spell sins as ‘syns’ and you thought you’d found a kindred spirit in The Fearless Leader Bramwell.

Kidding. Love you really. Let’s do the recipe then, shall we? Tortilla pie. Dead easy.

tortilla pie

tortilla pie

3 votes

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syn-free cheese, ham and egg tortilla pie

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 2 servings

You have no idea how much I love Nigella Lawson. There's something about her tremendous hair, elegant way of chatting and her ability to eat absolutely everything with style that warms me to her. This is from her At My Table book, which I heartily recommend if you want to sit with your tongue hanging out. This takes less than five minutes to make and 15 minutes to cook - one of the easiest breakfasts we've ever made. Thank you Nigella!

Ingredients

This makes enough for two people. Cook it, cut it in half.

  • two wraps - make sure they're the HEB allowance, which changes every single time Margaret runs out of ultra-clutch Elnett - currently the Weight Watchers white wraps are free - racist
  • 80g of extra mature cheese (40g being a HEA for one person, but in BOLD NEWS, you're allowed two healthy extras now - so feel free to double up the cheese again!)
  • as much cooked ham as you like
  • four eggs
  • pinch of sea salt
  • optional: add a splash of hot sauce, some slices of tomato, spring onions...anything you like
  • ooooh, fuck that, add bacon - all the bacon

Instructions

  • get yourself a wee sandwich tin and either Frylight it or use a drop or two of oil
  • squeeze one of the wraps into it, making a small bowl
  • drop in the ham, crack in the eggs (don't break the eggs up, you want what looks like a fried egg) and add a pinch of salt onto the eggs
  • add any extras and add a third of the cheese
  • frylight or use a drop of oil to brush over the second tortilla and place it oil side up on top - pinch it down around the sides
  • add all the cheese in the world and a good squirt of hot sauce on the top if you want it
  • bake it in the oven until the cheese is cooked and the wrap has brown and risen up on the side
  • serve with beans

Notes

Courses breakfast

Cuisine breakfast

Delicious. Get it in you.

More wrap ideas? Why don’t you give these a go?

There. All done.

J

Actifry presents: perfect paprika chips and maille popcorn

Howdo! ACTIFRY TIME!

Firstly, in the interests of openness and transparency, let me wheel out the banner:

actifry

Some other blogs prefer to stick that out of sight – not us. We pride ourselves on honesty – if we’re recommending a product to you, it’s because it’s a magnificent product that you’ll actually benefit from, not just something we’ve had slipped into our products by some lovely marketing team. You guys know we’ve massive fans of the Tefal Actifry and thus, when they came to us to ask whether we’d be interested in a free Actifry and a chance to take part in their 360 degree marketing idea, we leapt at the chance. Well, we leapt as much as two fat Geordies with weak ankles could ever muster.

One thing we get asked a lot here at 2CC is for recipes for airfryers – people buy them, make chips in them and then spend the next few months staring angrily at it gobbling up space on your worktop. If it wasn’t there, imagine the tat you could have on display? Your collection of mugs with cats on. A banana stand shaped like a phallus? Your children? But see, the Actifry can do so much more than chips and what better way of showing you this than by…giving you a chips recipe. Oh I know, listen, but we’re just one small part of a fantastic idea to get so many blogs to contribute a recipe – and frankly, who better to do a chips recipe than the lads who are at least 60% potato? We’re also doing a popcorn idea – bit higher in syns but frankly, you’ve saved your hardened arteries by not frying your chips in tallow, why not splash out on dessert? You will when you see what goes into it.

What is the 360˚ challenge? Well, to demonstrate how versatile the Tefal Actifry is, those crazy cats are hiring a ferris wheel down at Exmouth and cooking all sorts of delicious meals in each capsule, to be dispensed to the adoring public below. When I first read the brief I thought we were going to be cooking in public and lord, that would never do: the Actifry may be a good bit of kit but it won’t work if I’m lying on the floor crying because I’m so high up and Paul is clawing at the emergency exit. Thankfully, all us bloggers have to do is to attempt to make a main and a dessert and complete the ferris wheel – so here we are! Our two recipes will be used on the ferris wheel, along with the contributions of so many other bloggers you know and love.

But why an Actifry? Listen, we know. You can buy something that looks like bad Daft Punk cosplay from B&M that’ll heat your food like a broken Premier Inn toaster and it’ll cost £5. An Actifry – a proper one, mind – is a big investment. But they work so well. You can chuck all sorts in there and it’ll cook evenly, with minimal fuss, browning your food to perfection. You only need a spoonful of oil to make proper chips – no more choking down pale, bouncy slivers of foam cushion for you. You’re not just limited to chips though – curries, chillis, desserts, stews…all sort of things are possible if you just believe.

Best part is? When you’re finished, you can whack all the cooking parts straight into the dishwasher. No standing at the sink crying into your Ajax for you! We explore the benefits of the Actifry in great deal right here!

As part of the challenge they sent us a lovely chopping board which you can see in the video – it’s a heavy, wooden beast – just like the husband. But more excitingly, knowing that they needed me to look professional, they sent me a new pinny to replace my current B*Witched apron. I think I dress up lovely and smart.

actifry

I’M A PRO.

Because the Actifry is all about quick easy recipes, we’ve turned our normal blog recipes into two Youtube videos – save you having to read all those big words! First, the paprika chips:

Hand on heart time – these were the best chips we’ve ever done, and we’ve made so many chips in the Actifry that we consider ourselves megaminds on the subject. Not least because of my giant head. The sesame oil adds a lovely new taste and the paprika makes them smoky. Just look at them!

actifry

Paul tried to get his hands on my share, but don’t worry. I ironed his face like Little Mo.

Paprika chips done!

actifry

And then the Maille Popcorn Aperitif:

Looks good when it comes out! Tastes decent too. Not going to lie, I had reservations about it because I thought it would be super five-spicy, but no it works a charm! You could add powdered cheese instead of spices. Cheese and butter. Don’t tell your consultant.

actifry

And I can complete the dessert wheel!

actifry

Enjoy! Right – that’s our bit done, but now, if you’re curious for more Actifry, can I suggest you let your fingers do the talking and have a look at the next blog who we are challenging to come up with more Actifry recipes, the lovely Veggie Desserts! Click on their logo to be taken straight there. I have to warn you – their desserts are absolutely immense.Yum! Fair warning though – the lovely Kate does proper desserts that don’t taste of sweetener and hot bum. Let your belt out.

Let us know what you think of the video recipes!

J&P

toad in the garden – better than your hole, for sure

Toad in the garden will follow shortly. It’s like toad in the hole, but we’ve added peas, because god knows you need some vitamins in you.

‘ey up, you bunch of bastards. Three and a half weeks we’ve been off and not one single person came and set themselves on fire on our lawn. Call yourself fans? When they took Lost off the air I was sending pubes and threatening letters for eight months before I had to stop. Ran out of pubes.

Please: my body creates hair on the same manic level as your body produces insulin. Desperately.

Where did you go, my lovely? Well here’s a clue: this is mid-bum on a Via Rail train to Halifax, Canada. They’ve contacted us for the rights to use the picture in their adverts but we have, so far, declined.

Anyway, we’ve actually been away. Through clever scheduling of posts, you had no idea we were actually in Canada from 28 August through to 2 October, did you? Perhaps the only hint that we’d moved across the globe is the reports of that super-gonorrhoea had started to spike in Vancouver. We’re the gift that keeps on giving. Yes, we took six weeks to explore Canada and it was absolutely bloody amazing. Plenty of tales to tell you all, so get practising that glazed-eye-oh-how-interesting smile that you save for when the kids tell you all about their day at school.

However, such an amazing holiday created a really awful problem: coming back home depressed the actual living buggery out of me. I’ve had a face like a slapped arse for a solid few weeks now and it’s just not getting better. I thought once I’d settled back into the usual routine things would be better. I don’t know about you lot, but whenever I go away on holiday I always imagine that when I come back, things will be different. I’ll be viewing things through fresh eyes rather the jaundiced, bloodshot and jismed eyes of old. It’s never the case, though.

Within a day we’d had a neighbour ‘politely’ telling us that we had parked our car incorrectly and that we really ought to put it somewhere less inconvenient than in our own parking bay. You mustn’t worry: he was dispatched with a cheery ‘mind your own fucking business’ and he hasn’t talked to us since. I appreciate it’s hard to imagine my devastation, but do try.

I know it doesn’t do to dwell on the holiday blues but Christ, when you spend so long in a country that never once failed you for beauty, personality or something to do, coming back to Grey, UK and picking up with the reality of things has been a massive ballache chore. I appreciate this is self-indulgent – I live a charmed life, for goodness sake, but even so. The first thing I spotted when I popped out at Newcastle Airport was a seagull cannibalising another seagull – he had the poor bastard’s eye in his mouth. Greggs wrappers billowed all over the place like the Geordie snowflakes that they are. Everyone was grey and blue and washed-out and two steps from death. I checked my work email and groaned. I checked our twochubbycubs inbox and saw nothing but a raft of people complaining or suggesting we should go vegetarian / vegan / stop eating meat / stop making sex references / stop swearing. They can go fuck themselves with a hotdog made of baby deer.

To help myself, I’ve gone and done a list:

Pros for being in the UK:

  • new series of Doctor Who is brilliant – Jodie Whittaker is magnificent, even if she does look the absolute double of my old English teacher and it’s creating a weird schism in my head every time I see her;
  • see above – having the joy of reading the salty, bitter comments of people who still live with their mam crying on about ‘political correctness gone mad’ because there’s a female doctor. You know, it doesn’t matter how bad life gets, I’ll never be as bad as those. Plus, I’ve probably had more sex in the last week than they’ve collectively had in the last ten years. I know that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but you’d be amazed how much having your nipsy smashed in can improve the mood;
  • this Mario World remix giving me life;
  • dunno, cats;
  • Aquaman – seriously, when did Jason Momoa happen? I’ve seen him around on TV many times but something about him in his Aquaman fish armour get-up makes my butter churn. Perhaps there’s something about scaly men who smell of fish that make my cock-clock race to midnight- would explain why I wasted a year of my life rubbing Betnovate into my ex’s shoulders. Cracking arse though. But only because he couldn’t reach it himself.

Cons for being in the UK:

  • everything;
  • you especially;
  • everyone;
  • everywhere.

That’s not fair. There are, of course, some better reasons. We’re going to be on TV soon, which will lead to all manner of awkward stuff which I can make blog posts from. My friends and family are here, although we made more than our fair share of friends in Canada who I’m itching (though not as much as they’ll be: get the Dermac ready!) to get back to. We have the endless, unceasing joy of twochubbycubs to crack on with. We’re going on holiday again in three weeks. Time for me to suck it up, buttercup, and stop whingeing.

One bit of light: the new Halloween movie is genuinely very good, and I was worried it would be pap. Jamie Lee Curtis, playing my mother playing Laurie Strode, is a smasher. We went with a load of other gays and had a great time. What would the collective word for a collection of homos be? A screech? A purse? A hiss? Yes: a hiss of gay men. Great fun though, even if it did require me to be social at a time when I’d rather set my own cock on fire than be outside pulling wan smiles.

But mind even that was ruined by someone who sat behind me and spent the entire movie sighing, huffing and scratching at her bag. I had to turn around and check that Gareth Williams hadn’t risen from the dead for another crack at hide and seek. No, it was just another mouth-breather clad in two inches of make-up and one inch of decency who had seemingly shrink-wrapped every last fucking M&M she was rustling into her giant, quaggy mouth. I was hoping for a proper jump-scare in the hope she’d choke in fright but alas, can’t have everything in this world.

I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me. I’m already dead.

toad in the garden

3 votes

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toad in the garden

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

I stole this recipe from a magazine in Tesco who called it a lighter toad in the hole. Way to make it sound unattractive: that's like Diet Coke or Vanilla Sex. So I gave it a cute name - it's toad in the garden because of all the peppers and peas, see? Because they grow in the ground. Oh shut up.

If you're one of those classic mumpsimuses who can't move away from the idea of never spending syns on food, our recipes aren't for you. This uses syns and uses them well. If you want to save your syns so you can get your clapper wet over a sandwich bag full of off-brand biscuits and Muller-shites, so be it. Not for us, though.

Ingredients

  • 100g of plain flour (18 syns) 
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml skimmed milk (1.5 syns)
  • 1 tbsp of chopped sage
  • 2 red onions, chopped into wedges
  • 1 large red or yellow pepper
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil (6 syns)
  • 8 sausages of your choosing (choose low syn sausages, of course, because heaven forbid you'd enjoy some taste in your dinner) (though I'll caveat it by saying this: Slimming World sausages. I love Slimming World, but christ almighty you could break into a safe with one of those bad-boys. Don't do it)
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • gravy - none of your blended mushy pea meconium gravy, either. The real stuff, or leave immediately

Instructions

  • oven goes onto 200 degrees, if you've got a fan - bit hotter if you haven't
  • pop the flour into a jug and slowly add the milk, eggs and sage until you've got a smooth batter - put to one side
  • drizzle that oil into a decent sized oven dish and scatter the tomatoes, peas, peppers and onion all over - mix everything up, put in the oven for ten minutes to soften
  • add the sausages and let them cook for another ten minutes
  • add the batter and let everything puff up and get nice and golden for about forty minutes or so
  • serve with gravy and whatever vegetables you're going to pretend to eat

Notes

Courses dinner

Cuisine twochubbycubs

no regrets: the perfect roast potatoes – go for it!

Perfect roast potatoes! Oh yes! Hello! Something new for the next few entries – you may remember we put a call out for folks to either submit a recipe or a blog story? Well – you came through in droves. I’m furious, I was expecting a couple of entries and then I wouldn’t need to put out.

Oh come on, we all know I’d put out for anything. I’m the third Tyne Tunnel. Anyway, speaking of windsock-arses, it’s over to Frederick “Rose” West for his competition entry. He gets two tickets for this – story AND a recipe? I promise it’s not just because I want him in me.

“But, enough about me, I hope this hasn’t been boring for you.”


This is my recipe for PERFECT roast potatoes. PERFECT must always be written in capitals because they are PERFECT and anything less is underselling them and a hate crime.

Apparently every fucker and his arthritic dog has their own method for roasties and I’ve read them all and spent 4 years perfecting my own. Most people learn from their Mum/Dad/Creepy uncle but sadly the only recipes passed down in my family are for wine and painkiller cocktails. Whilst these cocktails are deliciously numbing I could never get them crispy or to go with gravy.

I didn’t start working on these until my early 30s because my ex, for all his flaws (and clammy, bony hands) was a wonderful cook. Sadly our relationship wasn’t to go the long term because he apparently had a problem with other men’s penises being inside me, the little prude. I struck it lucky again when I met my current partner/first husband when I had another good cook. EXCEPT FOR ROAST DINNERS. Now when you shack up with a bloke from Lancashire who cries gravy when you bitch about his dead mother, you expect him to be able to knock out a decent roast. But no, his spuds are flaccid, his meat dry and his stuffing completely underwhelming. (fnar)

So I set about cooking roast after roast until I mastered PERFECT Roast Potatoes. Follow my instructions to the very letter and you will soon be basking in crispy carby Nirvana. Deviate from this plan and then you are only hurting yourself.

Do your research on this, if you’re doing a roast and want to keep it on your plan as much as possible, then this is where to spend your syns. A Sunday dinner without decent roast spuds is like sex without having to change the sheets and get a few stitches after. Not fucking worth it.

James here: don’t bollocks around ‘making do’ on Slimming World with a few scratty potatoes. We’re moving this into our no regrets section because honestly, it’s so much better to have something good once and a while than endless bouncy pale tatties. Listen to the man!

Let’s get straight to it, then.

perfect roast potatoes

perfect roast potatoes

2 votes

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no regrets: Frederick West's perfect roast potatoes

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield lots of potatoes

Put the oven on, sit back and read - then cook these beauties and live like a Queen! From your favourite Queen, after Paul and James: Paul II.

Ingredients

  • Maris Piper potatoes - Two medium sized potatoes per person.  (These are the best. If you use other spuds they will not be PERFECT and I hate you for not listening to me)
  • vegetable oil - about a third of a bottle (not goose fat, not sunflower oil, basic bitch vegetable oil)
  • salt
  • a roasting tin with shallow sides (too deep and they won't crisp)

Instructions

  • get someone else to peel the spuds for you - this is a ball ache and boring

  • always cut the spuds on the diagonal, more surface area means more crispy magic. If it's a big potato, cut it into 3. You want them all to be roughly the same size, it doesn't matter if you have the odd small one as it turns into a delicious crispy lump, but don't have anything freakishly big cos it will take longer to cook and cock up the rest of them

  • pop the spuds in a pan of cold water, make sure they're all covered and salt the water liberally. I don't know what the salt does but I've never met a food that doesn't taste better salted

  • preheat your oven to the hottest temperature it will go. Pop down Co Op and put an extra quid on the leccy. It's worth it

  • put a lid on the pan, bring to a boil then set a timer for ten minutes. Run back into the kitchen when the pan boils over and extinguishes the flame from the hob. Take three deep breaths of the gas filling your kitchen and embrace the cheap high before relighting the flame

  • drain the spuds and put back into the dry pan. (No spit this time, breathe deep and you can do it) Lid back on and give two or 3 vigorous shakes. Fluff up your edges but don't trash the spuds. Put the lid back on at this point and let them steam in their own warmth as you go onto the next step

  • fill you roasting tin so there is about a CM of oil covering it, turn the oven down to 200° (That's fan, not sure what it is if you're living in the 50s and don't have a fan oven) put your roasting tin of oil on the top shelf for ten mins

  • this is the stage you have to be quick at. Tin out of the oven and get your spuds in. You don't want to over crowd the pan, give each one a couple of CM to breathe on all sides. As quick as you can all spuds in, be careful with the lid of your saucepan dripping water into your oil as you take it off as it will spit, you will shit yourself and you will ruin your kitchen floor

  • have a big spoon to hand and baste each spud with a liberal slather of oil

  • whack the tray back in the oven and forget about it for 20 mins

  • after 20 mins get the tray out and turn each spud, give it another baste and back in for another 20mins

  • now you need to use your own judgement, if they look done, dinner time! If you think they could do with one last turn, do it and baste again but they shouldn't need more than ten minutes

  • as soon as they're out of the oven, get them straight into a serving bowl or onto plates. DO NOT leave them sat in the oil any longer than absolutely necessary, it will undo all your hardwork and you'll hate yourself

Notes

  • looking for a good roasting tin? Buy a set from Amazon - we're not just recommending them because we get a few pennies from each sale, but also in the hope you might buy our book while you're on there

Courses no regrets

Cuisine sunday dinner

James back now. Come on, how good do they look? I’m a firm believer in a little of what you fancy does you good, and although I personally don’t have the level of restraint not to push my face into a pan of hot oil and eat them all straight away, like that wee lassie from Spooks so many moons ago, perhaps you do. Maybe they can be part of a SW diet, maybe not.

However, if you’re looking for more no regrets stuff we’ve done or other recipes, here’s a random few:

Enjoy!

J