harissa steak sandwiches with sweet red onion pickle

Here for the harissa steak sandwiches, which are nothing more than the perfect low-syn dinner you deserve? Then you’re in the right place…but first…

I was planning on doing a more general Room 101 type post – and I’ll come back to that a little down the line – but upon writing my notes it struck me the amount of ‘internet pet-peeves’ appeared on my list. So, instead of a wider picture, take my hand as I pull you down a very specific tunnel of anger: e-annoyances.

Actually, first on the list, adding e- to any noun or verb. This isn’t the nineties anymore, Pat Sharp has long since got rid of his mullet and even Jim Bowen has died. Let’s all move on, shall we? We’re not going to e-meet, e-grieve or e-felch.

Next is vaguebooking. If you’re checking in at a hospital it should be the law that you have to give everyone every scintillating detail of what you’re in for. You want people to know you’re there, so don’t leave them hanging – even if you’re having a team of doctors giving you a smear test using a block and tackle and a diving helmet it doesn’t matter, put pictures up. Or: shut the fuck up about it. This is compounded by those imbeciles who check in and then don’t respond to the countless ‘is everything alright’ posts that invariably trickle in. There’s a special place reserved in Hell for you: I can only hope the doctor doesn’t warm his hands beforehand.

Along similar lines, anyone posting ‘karma will get you’ or ‘omg can’t believe what I’ve heard’ or any other vague statement designed to make them look faintly interesting whilst revealing their own crushing existential crisis, they can go jump in the sea. This seems to be common amongst those who believe shaving off their eyebrows and reapplying them using a highlighter pen is a good look.

Normally synonymous alongside the above is use of the word haters. There ought to be a reality check button on facebook to clarify that no, you’re not actually important enough to have haters. No-one is, unless you’re someone like professional shitgibbon Katie Hopkins, and look what happened to her. Why would you imagine that people are actively going out of their way to ‘hate’ you when most people simply pass you by? It’s exhausting: and, let’s say for the sake of argument that you do have haters, are you really ‘showing the haters’ by finally beating level 344 of Candy Crush? Haway.

They’re the same folks who usually upload jpeg images of Marilyn Monroe with the (incorrectly attributed) quote “but if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best” scrawled across it in Mistral. To compound things, the jpeg is usually accompanied with eight levels of tray-icons from being screenshotted from every mobile device known to man – I swear I’ve seen Marilyn Monroe (as viewed through a potato) with Super Mario Land playing in the background. This particular quote makes my teeth itch whenever you see it stretched badly over some canvas in B&M, nevermind seeing it on facebook too.

Whilst we’re here, if you’re having to put something like ‘Only God can judge me‘ on your facebook wall, then chances are you should be judged as you’re having to pre-empt people calling you out. I wish I was God: I wouldn’t hesitate on slurring the word biiiiiiiiiiiiitch out as you tried to put on your shoes.

Curveball time: if you’re writing ‘kitteh‘ or ‘doggo‘ or anything other than the actual name of the animal, and you’ve mastered not shitting your pants and solid food, then you deserve nothing more than everlasting shame and I hope your life is full of always thinking you’ve left something switched on at home. There’s simply no need for it. Cats and dogs are cute as they are without adding some ridiculously asinine mispronunciation on top of it.

Shall we cover leaving speeches? We see it ever so often in our facebook group – people flouncing out but having to put a big speech in just before they do to explain their departure. Why? Do they imagine all 70,000 of us are sitting there ashen-faced, looking at each other with pleading eyes, all desperate to know why Shelly Mamov5 McGee has forsaken us? It’s always done with altogether too many emojis and hysteria to be taken as constructive criticism anyway.

And finally, why the joint profile names, people? Surely it’s quicker just to upload a brief statement explaining who cheated who? #awkward, right?

RIGHT. That’s quite enough of all that, my blood pressure can’t take it anymore. Let’s do the harissa steak sandwiches!

harissa steak sandwiches

harissa steak sandwiches

harissa steak sandwiches

2 votes

Print

harissa steak sandwiches with sweet onion pickle

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 2 sandwiches

Now, for these harissa steak sandwiches, you have a choice: you can serve it up in your normal bread bun or, if you are feeling fancy, you can pop it in a ciabatta - you can have a Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll as a healthy extra, after all!

But here's the thing. Gluten free food is expensive and it can be a proper pain in the arse to find if you are following a gluten-free diet. That's annoying when you want to cook with it, but what if gluten free was the only bread you could have and you had to do without because some div on Slimming World was too frightened about just having a breadbun? Before you pick it off the shelf, have a think.

Before anyone tells us off, first of all: how dare you. We used a bog standard ciabatta for this. No regrets.

Ingredients

  • a couple of thin skirt steaks - or whatever steak you want to use, but skirt steak is super cheap
  • 3 tbsp of harissa paste (you can buy it in most supermarkets, and it's 1/2 syn per tablespoon)
  • whatever breadbun you want to use (a Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll is your HEB, but so is a bog-standard brown breadbun)
  • a bag of mixed salad leaves
  • fresh ground pepper and salt
  • two red onions
  • 4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar (or use normal white vinegar, if you don't have it to hand)
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • tsp of honey (1 syn)

Instructions

  • make the pickle - dead easy, slice the onion into thin half moons, pop in a bowl with the vinegar, chilli and honey - and leave to soak for thirty minutes or so
  • rub the harissa paste into the steak and lie flat on a plate, leave for an hour or so to marinate
  • next bit is dead easy - cook your steaks however you like - we like it still mooing, as you can see - and grill your ciabatta / breadbun
  • thinly slice your cooked steak
  • make up your sandwich - hot meat, pickled onion and green salad - yum!

It's as easy as that!

Notes

Courses sandwiches

Loved the sound of our harissa steak sandwiches and now want more sandwiches? Of course you do!

Yum!

J

ham, cheese and egg pancakes: breakfast of champions

Ham, cheese and egg pancakes – well, it’s better than yet another overnight oats recipe, no? Bit of a preamble on this one so do just click here to go straight to the recipe!

Do you know who I can’t bear? Gavroche from Les Misérables. I jubilantly throw my box of Poppets in the air whenever that tatterdemalion shithead gets blasted in the stomach. Perhaps that makes me slightly psychopathic, celebrating the untimely end of a wee (albeit fictional) child, but there we have it. I’ve always been a Javert man, anyway.

I mention Gavroche as there was a kid in front of us at the swimming baths yesterday who was giving it such great funs with his loud, obnoxious shrieking that we elected to go for a spa day instead of a calorie burning frontcrawl. It’s half term: the children are off the roads but by God, they’re everywhere else, like lice on a dog.

It may surprise you that neither of us are born ‘spa boys’. The idea of people fussing about me with unctures and rubs holds zero appeal. However, we’re fortunate enough to live near a reasonable spa and, thanks to Groupon, entry was reasonably cheap. We did feel a bit out of place parking our muddy car in the sea of spotlessly white Range Rover Evoques (so-called, as they evoke feelings of ‘oh, what a smug looking c*nt’ whenever they swoosh past), and even more so traipsing in with our swim kit in an ASDA carrier bag. The lady on reception did blanch a little as we sashayed in. Pfft. I’m taking no judgement from someone who wouldn’t be able to register a look of surprise even if she dropped a pan of hot oil on her feet.

We’re realists – we weren’t going to inflict our naked, hairy bodies on someone whose on work experience certainly didn’t call for massaging our fat around like spreading butter on hot toast. Plus, I’m not one for being touched. I can take someone gripping my ears for stability and that’s about it. Although actually, I’ve heard masseuses prefer fat bodies as there’s more to work with, otherwise let’s face it, it’s like rubbing wax into a xylophone. I was having mild intestinal issues however, and didn’t fancy taking the risk of someone creating a biohazard by squeezing me like a tube of budget toothpaste. So, massages were off, and we decided to make use of the other facilities, which all involved some degree of sitting down and sweating. Couldn’t help but feel a bit ripped off, not least because I sit down and sweat just writing the blog.

Before that, a quick change. Luckily the place was quiet – not that I mind getting my knob out in front of folks, you understand, as a reasonably quick search on xtube will verify – and we were able to get changed in peace. Well – up until the point where it came to putting our stuff in the electronic lockers. We were just closing the door when a boiled beetroot in Jacamo shorts came barrelling over to shout at us / instruct us how to use the locker. It was a four digit pin, not the fucking Enigma machine, and I assured him we had it under control. He didn’t bugger off though, ‘supervising’ us as we locked our locker, leading to a slightly awkward moment where I had to shield the pin as though he was a street beggar after my money. Can’t be too careful. Satisfied that we had managed to satisfy Fermat’s last theorem / input four numbers into a locker, he lumbered off. We’d meet again.

Paul, keen to lose some weight through simple sweating, pushed us into the sauna. I hate saunas. I don’t see the appeal – I feel like a chicken breast in a sous vide machine, sweating and struggling to breathe through a dry heat of other people’s sweat and stink. Thankfully, unlike the other times I’ve used a sauna, there was no-one else in there – that’s great, because previous occasions have invariably had me sat oppostite an old dude sitting with his balls out. Have you ever seen what happens to a scrotum in extreme heat? Mine becomes so elastic that I can throw them over my shoulder and have them banging about like one of those old clackers toys from the eighties.

What’s good about a sauna, anyway? This particular one was turned up to over 90 degrees. To me, that’s approaching boiling point. I get uncomfortably hot when someone lights a church candle the next village over. I tried lying down but that made my back-hair sizzle. I tried sitting but was worried I’d cauterise my bumhole shut. Standing was no better – I just felt faint and knew that if I passed out, there’d be no way Paul could lift me out and I’d end up in there forever, cooking and desiccating until I ended up looking like Madge, Dame Edna’s assistant. I stayed in as long as I could but then had to dash out.

As I left the sauna our friendly neighbourhood beetroot appeared out of fat air and admonished me for not shutting the door quick enough, as though four seconds of the door being slightly ajar would reduce a room that was previously hotter than the surface of the sun down to the temperature of an Icelandic crevasse. I couldn’t tell if he was angry or just hot, though his skin had moved from rose to ruby coloured. For someone who had self-appointed himself as the King of the Spa, he certainly needed to fucking relax. I shut the door as quick as I could, leaving only four layers of skin crisping like bacon on the door handle. I thanked him. We’d meet again.

Paul slunk out of the sauna immediately after Al Murray had left, and we enjoyed a quick brisk shower before going for a sit in the aromatherapy room. I’m not going to lie: it was a novel experience to have the both of us in a heated room and for it not to smell like something has died behind a radiator, but there’s only so much pine scent you can inhale before you start getting light-headed and conscious of the fact you’re going to smell like an Air Wick for the next ten weeks. What is the aromatherapy room meant to do? I’m already Polo-shaped (I’m certainly mint with a hole), I don’t need to smell like one too. We left after about five minutes.

The last room was a steam room. To me, that’s just another sauna, but this time with steam. Woohoo! In we went, and there was Barry Big Bollocks spread-eagled, thankfully with his shorts on, steaming lightly. Now I could have cheerfully stayed in here save for the fact that the steam was clearly helping with his COPD, because no sooner had we sat down then he started coughing and hacking and clearing his throat as though he was drowning in phlegm. Nothing soothes the soul like steam and a fine miasma of the net result of forty straight years of chaining Lambert & Butlers. Every time our conversation halted he’d kick off again, clearly really getting in amongst his air-sacs for the full effect. He wasn’t so much clearing his throat as resurfacing the fucker. We left after about five minutes, speckled with blood and tar.

Only one thing left to do. The jacuzzi. I’m not a huge fan – let’s be frank, they’re nothing more than less portable hot-tubs – but hey, when you’ve spent twenty quid to get in, you have to get the use out of it. In we went. Now, yes, it was very pleasant, although they had positioned several jets in such a way that it was blowing my balls around rather a bit too dramatically in my swimming shorts. I had to move before my entire ball-sack floated to the surface and acted like a pool cover.

But even here I couldn’t relax. With my belly being pummelled from all directions, my fear of accidentally sharting and ruining the whole experience for everyone else was too much. Can you imagine how mortifying that would actually be? The more brazen amongst you might have been able to bluff it out by pretending you’d spilled a can of oxtail soup in the water but come on. I had to get out.

In all, we spent about 30 minutes at the spa and came out slightly pink and far less relaxed than when we went in. Best part for me was having Paul use the hairdryer in the changing rooms to dry my bum hair – such luxury! The receptionist asked if we had a nice time given it seemed as though we had hardly stayed. Naturally, we lied and said it was wonderful and we’d cheerfully come again, before spending the entire home bitching about everything. This is why we can’t have nice things, see. She did offer to see if someone was free to give us a pedicure but when I asked her if said person would be proficient in using a belt sander, she didn’t get the joke. We all mutually agreed that we ought to move on.

Sigh. Speaking of moving on, let’s do the recipe for ham, cheese and egg pancakes, eh?

I was going to call this recipe croque madame crêpes but Christ, I’ve seen how some of you lot spell two chubby cubs, I’m not going to start adding circumflexes into the mix. Without a moment of delay, let’s get to the recipe!

ham, cheese and egg pancakes

ham, cheese and egg pancakes

ham, cheese and egg pancakes

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 stuffed pancakes and two leftover!

Something new and tasty for breakfast for those days when you can't face spooning yet another load of dry as old nick overnight oats into your aching gob.

For the basic pancake batter, we're using the pancake advice from February, namely:

My recipe makes enough for six pancakes - four which will be filled with ham and cheese, and then two extra for gobbling. It's either that or having to mess about with smaller ingredients. Don't be tempted to fart about blending oats or any of that nonsense, there's simply no need. You're so much better have a couple of real pancakes and cracking on. Oh and if you find yourself reaching for a wrap instead of making a pancake, please, throw yourself into the sea.

Ingredients

TO MAKE THE PANCAKES

  • 50g plain flour (8 syns)
  • 150ml of skimmed milk (2 and a quarter syns, but really, 2 syns)
  • one egg

So that's ten syns for six pancakes. But I'll syn them at 1.5 syns because you can bugger off if you think I'm putting 1.66666666666666 syns per pancake.

FOR THE FILLING

  • four eggs
  • whatever ham you fancy
  • 60g extra grated mature cheese (2 x HEA)
  • chopped chives

So to be clear, you're having two filled pancakes each, and you'll have enough batter leftover for a third if you want to scoff that too!

Instructions

  • blend all the pancake ingredients together - add a pinch of...a pinch of...bleurgh...a good grinding of pepper, please
  • now, depending on your skill in the kitchen, you could fry the eggs in one pan and prepare the pancakes in another, but let's assume you've got the cooking skills of a turnip, and go step by step
  • fry your eggs off - don't cook them into full submission, you still want a bit of give on the yolk so it pops
  • pop your fried eggs on a plate on the side and start making your pancakes - a couple of sprays of olive oil, nice hot pan, tip a sixth of the batter in and quickly spread it around the pan
  • once the pancake has 'dried out' and coming away from the pan, flip it over - don't be frightened, you've got spare batter
  • once it is flipped, layer 15g of cheese in the middle, top with the ham and the fried egg
  • fold the sides of the pancake over like in the photo and cook for about thirty seconds to melt the cheese a bit
  • top with chives and eat!

Honestly, it sounds like a faff, but all this recipe is is a pancake stuffed with cheese and ham and egg - if you balls it up, it might not look great, but it'll taste absolutely fine.  Remember, aim for taste, not perfection!

Notes

  • we whisk up our batter in our Nutribullet - gets rid of any lumps, but honestly, a bowl and a fork will do the same job and get you some Body Magic. Don't buy one just for this - though they are very good!

Courses breakfast

Now come on, that was easy! But if you fancy something different for breakfast, why not try something new from our list?

Yum!

J

sausage and white wine risotto: low syn and gorgeous

Sausage and white wine risotto, if you don’t mind!

We’ve come to the end of our second bootcamp and can’t quite believe it. For two lads whose idea of exercise was a casual Sunday wank or rolling over in bed so our sleep apnea doesn’t suffocate us, I’d say we’ve done really rather well! I’ll talk about it more in due course but honestly, if you’re out there thinking you can’t exercise, get yourself moving! I mean…I haven’t died, yet…

Just a quick recipe tonight to keep you going – but this is delicious! You may know our approach to risottos – just chuck everything in and leave it to cook itself. Might not be 100% authentic but by god, it’ll leave you satisfied. Without further delay…

Oh one thing: if you’re still after a Halo fryer, they are now the absolute lowest they’ve ever been – get it ordered!

This serves four! Oh and it’s actually 1.25 syn per serving, but I can’t be arsed to be that anal. It’s been a long day!

sausage and white wine risotto

sausage and white wine risotto

1 vote

Print

sausage and white wine risotto

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 big bowls

Sausages, booze, and stodge. This sausage and white wine risotto is THE perfect dinner idea that you've been waiting for! Robust, meaty and just a little bit fruity - just like us. Even though it's full of rich ingredients this is just one syn and a bit each and one of the tastiest things we've ever made!

We've adapted this and made it a bit skinnier from our 'spirit daddies', The Hairy Bikers. Their original recipe is in the brilliant 'Meat Feasts' book - you can get a copy at Amazon! Don't forget to check out their website for more tasty ideas. 

Ingredients

  • 4-6 sausages (see notes)
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 300g arborio rice
  • 125ml white wine  (5 syns)
  • 60g parmesan, grated (2x HeA)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Instructions

  • cook the sausages however you like them, and then slice and keep to one side
  • meanwhile, heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and spray in some oil
  • add the sliced onions and cook until starting to turn brown - remember to stir them about regularly
  • once the onions have started to lightly caramelise, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, herbs and rice and stir well
  • pour in the stock and stir again, and then put the lid on the pan
  • cook for twenty minutes - no need to stir!
  • gently drag a wooden spoon through the rice - if it falls back in 'waves' it's at the right consistency - cook for a few minutes more if it's not
  • stir in the sausages slices and sprinkle over the parmesan
  • serve and sprinkle over the parsley

Notes

  • you can cook the sausages however you like - we used our Optigrill - but however you like it will do, just make sure they're cooked!
  • you can use any sausages you like - including veggie ones if you want - but just remember to check the syns! We used Muscle Food Low Fat pork sausages which are syn free
  • you can use a sprig of rosemary and thyme instead of the dried stuff if you prefer, just remember to fish them out before serving
  • use any wine you like but remember that different types have different syn values so remember to check. We used normal 12.5% stuff.
  • slice the onions in double-quick time with a mandoline - just watch your fingers if you're a clumsy twat
  • a good, heavy lidded pan works best - this is what we use

Courses Dinner

Cuisine Italian

Looking good right? Want some more risotto ideas? We’ve got loads – why not try one of the following?

Enjoy!

J

chicken, leek and bacon quiche – syn-free and delicious!

‘ey up!

I think, if someone held a gun to my head and demanded I pick one meal to eat for the rest of my life, I’d go for quiche. You have no idea how much I love it – I grew up on my nana’s cooking and her idea of quiche was two eggs, bacon that was still oinking and more salt than the Dead Sea. It was delicious, not least because it took away the taste of her apple pie. I’m not sure if it was a result of growing up in the war (she fought a pivotal role in the Transvaal Rebellion) but she was never lavish with her ingredients – she remains the only woman I ever met who could turn a postage stamp sized bit of pastry into eight full fruit pies and a batch of sausage rolls. The apple pie didn’t so much have a filling of apple as a light dusting. I would love to be able to bake like that – absolutely no measurements, timings or fuss: just 100% pure instinct.

That leads me to my simple point that I want to make before getting straight to the recipe: don’t fall into the trap of following recipes slavishly – everything we post is merely a guideline. Don’t like an ingredient? Leave it out (though use common sense, you’ll struggle to make tomato ketchup if you use Weetabix and tears, for example) and put in something you actually want to eat. Recipe not looking quite right? Cook it for a bit longer. Use cheaper meat if you’re short on cash. Don’t stress about the little things – and never more so then in this chicken, leek and bacon quiche recipe, because you can chuck any old shite into a quiche and as long as you season it well, you’ll be laughing.

chicken, leek and bacon quiche

chicken, leek and bacon quiche

1 vote

Print

chicken, leek and bacon quiche

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 large wedges

This chicken, leek and bacon quiche is perfect for either using up all manner of leftovers from the fridge or specifically for a tasty, lovely lunch. You can add anything you like - add more cheese, some mushrooms, pepper, red onion...anything you like! Easy to make too.

Ingredients

  • two chicken breasts - grilled, poached or baked - cut into cubes or shredded
  • a few rashers of bacon
  • one large yellow pepper
  • one chilli pepper
  • one leek - get a big one, mind, you want it to leave you wincing every time you pick it up
  • lots of salt and pepper
  • 180g of ricotta (2 x HEA)
  • 40g of extra mature lighter cheddar (1 x HEA)
  • eight or so eggs (if you're using whole eggs) or 12 egg yolks (so much nicer!)
  • 30g of parmesan (1 x HEA)

NOTE: so this makes enough for eight wedges, but let's assume you'll eat two wedges. That's one HEA.

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan
  • cut your bacon into raggedy chunks
  • thinly slice your leeks - we used a mandolin slicer because it'll do it in no time at all
  • thinly slice your pepper and chilli
  • cook off the leeks, pepper, bacon and chilli together in a pan until the bacon is cooked and the leeks have softened
  • add the chicken
  • mix together the ricotta, cheddar and the eggs - now this is where you need to use your judgement - you may not need as many eggs if you have big eggs or less mixture - you want a good thick 'sauce' when it is all beaten together
    • I prefer to use egg yolks only because it makes a lovely rich quiche, but can work out pricey for eggs - if you go down this route, don't waste the egg yolk - make these peppermint meringues!
  • mix everything together in one bowl and add a good pinch of salt and pepper
  • slop it all into a good non-stick dish - I like to grate half the parmesan into the bottom of the dish before putting the mix in, then top the quiche with the rest of the cheese
  • cook in the oven for about 35 minutes, or longer if it is still wobbly
  • allow to cool and serve with salad!

Notes

  • we use a smart silicone dish for this chicken, leek and bacon quiche - this has never failed us once!
  • this freezes perfectly - cut it up, wrap the pieces in foil and take one out the night before for lunch
  • feel free to tip the mixture into several smaller tins to make individual quiches
  • you'll note that there's no wrap involved in this mixture - that's because we're not insane, see?

Courses snacks, evening meal

Cuisine British

You can’t beat a good quiche! Want some more quiche ideas? Of course!

Plus, we’ve updated our recipes page again, we’re now nearly at 600! Enjoy!

J

budget: creamy parsnip and apple soup

Creamy parsnip and apple soup – part of a new category of budget Slimming World recipes that we’re planning on doing. We’ve done a budget week before, you understand, but it became such a ballache having to work out a tenth of a stockcube that we stopped doing it – I know, I’m shameless. But at the time of writing ASDA are selling bags of parsnips for 20p, so you can make this entire pan of soup – which serves six – for less than £1.50. Freezes well, too.


Forgot to say: apologies everyone who received an empty email talking about a risotto – we haven’t published that yet and the email was sent in error – pressed the wrong button. Blame my sausage fingers, it’s why I’ve never mastered the keyboard or wettened an eager beaver. I’m a hamfisted slut! That’ll come online shortly, I’m sure.


Budget is a difficult topic to gauge, to be honest. What is cutting back to me might be eye-watering extravagance to you – what might be penny-pinching to everyone else might be essential to a few of you. Who knows. The reason we’ve decided to reboot this category is simple: I read an excellent article from Jack Monroe, author of cookingonabootstrap, entitled My Ready Meal is None Of Your Fucking Business. She tears apart the whole argument that people can eat ‘well’ on a few pounds a week far more eloquently than I ever could. So I won’t try, but I’ll give you the strongest push to have a read of her blog, especially if you’re struggling for money and need some cheap but decent food ideas. To think, somewhat ashamedly, that my only initial recollection of her was someone who used to vaguely vex me (because she looked like a teacher I disliked) on the Sainsbury’s adverts. Having read up, and realised that as well as everything else she does, she also managed to royally piss off the Daily Mail, well, fair play to her.

Paul and I are lucky – no dependents to fund, no mortgage to pay, plenty of that luscious pink pound to waste on Ritter chocolate and extravagant trips around Lidl. In theory. In reality, we’re both tighter than a photo finish – we hate spending money and will desperately try to avoid doing so unless it’s for a holiday. There’s a certain outdated stereotype that as gay blokes, we should be tripping the light fantastic in decadent clothes, but trust me when I say the most expensive thing in our wardrobe is the dehumidifier. All of our clothes come from the supermarket – I don’t think I’ve ever owned a shirt that hasn’t come from a multipack and poor Paul has been barrelling into work now in shirts that are almost six sizes too big for him. He fell over the other day in the wind and it took five minutes for him to float to the ground like a feather. I park 2.5 miles away from my work and walk in to save the £7 a day parking fee I’d otherwise occur. I like to tell people it’s because I’m trying to get fit but actually, it’s all about the money. The biggest muscle on my body is the thumb I use to keep my wallet shut. I’ve been trying to encourage Paul to allow us to be a ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’ sort of household but we had to stop when the entire house started stinking like Sugar Puffs mixed with tuna.

Both of us came from families that didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but neither of us is any worse off for it – I wasn’t one of those spoiled brats who looked enviously at other kids going to Florida for their holidays – I was more than happy piling into the back of my parents’ car for the eight hour drive to the top of Scotland, thank you very much. Even now I can’t relax in a car unless I’ve got a tent peg threatening to burst my eardrum as I drive along. We never stopped at a Little Chef or anywhere fun en route either, no no – it was warm egg sandwiches and sullen faces all the way. Paul didn’t even get to go on holiday bar a trip to Ireland at the height of the troubles and some trip to Spain at the height of teletext-bargains. I’ve just asked him for a ‘poor’ memory and his was going to school with a pair of Activ trainers from Whittlesea Market whilst everyone else had Diadora specials. Pfft. He won’t elaborate further but I bet his Adidas trousers were two-stripe, with the third stripe being formed from his mother’s cigarette ash. Tsk.

There’s two exceptions to our thrift that I can think of: we like expensive aftershave (Tom Ford) and decent shoes. I like to think when I leave a room that I leave a pleasing order and a wonderful footprint, even if I do look like I’ve come dressed for a bet. Cheap shoes are a false economy – Paul struggled the three miles into work one day in a pair of gardening shoes when the entire bottom of his shoe came away, leaving him limping home in the rain like he’d staggered away from an explosion. A good pair of boots will last you forever, but of course, getting the funds together to buy them in the first place…

Anyway, in my usual roundabout way, I want to apologise if our budget recipes aren’t budget enough for you – but please, do feel free to suggest some more to us! Without further delay, let’s crack on with the creamy parsnip and apple soup, shall we? It’s from the Hairy Bikers, you know. Nope, not the first time two hairy bikers have left us satisfied and smiling with a slight pain in our bellies, but here we are. Do enjoy!

parsnip and apple soup

parsnip and apple soup

creamy parsnip and apple soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 bowls

Remember: according to the folks at Slimming World, if you cook fruit, it becomes synned. We don't always agree with this blanket rule and in this case as we've used two apples between six people and haven't made it into an apple pie so we've chosen to not syn it. I know. Mags will put my lights out.

If you want to follow Slimming World's exact advice, this would be about 15 syns - 2.5 syns per bowl - or approximately 2x HeB choices split between six. How silly.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 600g parsnips, peeled and cut into wee chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 600g Bramley apples, peeled, quartered and cut into chunks
  • 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
  • 150ml milk (3 syns)

Instructions

  • spray a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a bit of oil
  • add the onions and parsnips to the pan and gently fry for about fifteen minutes
    • as an aside - if you want, take your parsnip peelings, spray them with a bit of oil, rub in some curry powder and roast them for a few minutes to crunch them up - you can use these to top the soup!
  • add the garlic and apples to the pan and cook for another couple of minutes
  • pour in the stock and bring to the boil
  • reduce to a simmer and cook for about twenty minutes - the parsnips should be soft
  • remove from the heat and blend until smooth
  • add in the milk and give a good stir - add plenty of salt and pepper
  • serve!

Notes

We’ve done some amazing soup recipes! Have a look:

Enjoy!

J

slimming world tiramisu – no quark, no sweetener

Slimming World tiramisu – that might fill you with horror at the thought of someone whisking an egg into a tub of Splenda and smiling wanly as they try to pretend they’re eating anything other than their own crashing disappointment, but don’t worry – you’re in good hands with us. That said, instead of a wordy post tonight, because we’re on the subject of awful desserts, I present to you our recipe for Slimming World doughnuts. Worth sticking with until the end, it explains our stance on desserts and Frankenfood ever so well…

Christ, that thumbnail. I look like Moby with dysentery. Trust me, it’s worth a watch. Let me know what you think! Let’s get straight to the Slimming World tiramisu. We know that desserts is the one thing we lack on here – well, that and modesty, so we’re working hard to put that right. This Slimming World tiramisu could be lightened by using jelly instead of sponge and sweetener instead of cocoa, but you know what else you could do to save syns? Keep your gob shut.

slimming world tiramisu

slimming world tiramisu

That’s Bowser, by the way. Or as we call him, Kittler.

Slimming World tiramisu, but done properly

Cook

Total

Yield 2 large servings

Tiramisu, but done properly, like it ought to be. Yes, we've replaced a few of the heavier ingredients but with smart substitutes to make this a proper tasty dessert. It's OK, I dry-heaved at the use of the words proper tasty too. Let's get to it.

Ingredients

  • two nice glasses, like the ones shown, or stick it all in a pyrex dish. Hell, you could serve it from the cat's dinner-bowl for all we're going to judge
  • 6 sponge fingers (you'll find them in any supermarket baking aisle) (6 syns)
  • 25ml of strong black coffee (syn free) or if you're better than everyone else, use 25ml of Tia Maria or similar coffee liqueur (3.5 syns)
  • 180g of ricotta (90g is a HEA)
  • one of those large pots of Muller Greek Style coffee latte yoghurt
  • 50g of chopped hazelnuts (25g is a HEB)
  • 1 tsp of cocoa powder (1 syn)

SO, as this makes two, this will either be just over 5.5 syns each if you use coffee liqueur or 3.5 syns if you use plain coffee. Also, you could adorn it with something other than hazelnuts - fruit maybe - to save your HEB! If so, knock another syn off.

Instructions

  • take your glasses, put them on and read this bloody recipe
  • cut the sponge fingers up and layer them in the bottom of the glass
  • spoon over the coffee or the coffee liqueur and allow the sponge to soak it up with a big old slurp
  • mix the ricotta with enough of the yoghurt to get a nice thick mix - if you're feeling extravagant, add a pinch of coffee into the mix so you get wee pockets of coffeeness - yeah, coffeeness
  • spoon over the top and lightly shake until it is level
  • pour the hazelnuts into a bowl, top with cocoa and move them around until each one is coated - then pour over the top of the tiramisu
  • job done!

Courses Desserts

Cuisine Fancy

Come on, that looks as good as me getting out of the bath with half of the towel wedged up my crack, no?

Want more dessert recipes? Really?

J

a proper syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne

A syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne? With my reputation?

Do you know, in all the time we’ve been doing this, we’ve never just done a straight-up plain lasagne? We’ve done a slow cooker lasagne (amazing), a chicken and pea lasagne (ignored) and a cheat’s lasagne. We’ve served it in a cup. We’ve made a Mexican version. But someone asked us the other day for a bog-standard version and could we hell as like find one – so here we are! Although classic us, we have tweaked it a little: we found a recipe that uses wraps in one of Davina McCall’s books and thought that we would give it a go instead of dried pasta sheets that either always go slimy or don’t cook enough. It works a bloody treat!

Just a recipe post tonight as I have lost my voice. You might assume that this doesn’t stop me from typing – and you would be right – but it does preclude me from summoning Paul every ten minutes to make me a cup of tea or to rub my feet, so it’s a no-no-Nanette for long posts. I’m not going to lie, I’m tired of feeling under the weather – feels like one of us has been ill for ages! Still doing boot camp though, which probably isn’t the best idea when you’ve got a chest infection and you’re eating reheated red lentil dahl for lunch. Last night I spent so long clamping my own arsehole shut and trying not to spray lung-croutons everywhere that I barely had time to do my squats. One of our exercises involves falling onto the floor, hoisting our legs in the air and staying there. It’s taken eight classes to stop me from automatically moaning and reaching about for the phantom bottle of poppers.

Anyway.

Let’s get straight to it, then… syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne! This is makes enough for four large servings.slimming world lasagne

slimming world lasagne

slimming world lasagne

proper slimming world deep dish lasagne

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This doesn't need to be served in a deep dish - just make it like a normal lasagne, if you don't mind - it serves four people and uses wraps in place of pasta. I know, I know, we're scum, but listen, it works really well. This is Davina McCall's recipe, and you don't argue with the Queen.

This serves four and uses your HEB and HEA .- but it's absolutely bloody worth it, and you get loads!

It might look like a lot of ingredients but honestly, this is quick to make! Also, top tip: if you're using a circular dish, before you start cooking stick it upside down onto a wrap and cut out around the dish the perfect shape - your wraps will now fit lovely and snug!

Ingredients

  • three Weight Watchers White low fat wraps (one wrap is a HEB - so as this serves four, you'll use just under your HEB allowance, but easier just to say you've used it)
  • 500g of 5% beef mince
  • two large red onions, chopped finely
  • one large pepper, chopped finely
  • two garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • two tins of chopped tomatoes
  • one large bag of spinach
  • one courgette, grated
  • 180g of ricotta cheese (2 x HEA)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2 x HEA)
  • teaspoon of wholegrain mustard (1/2 a syn - up to you if you want to syn an eighth of a bloody syn!)
  • cherry tomatoes to go on the top

Instructions

  • pop the oven on 180 degrees (fan)
  • start by making the mince layers for your lasagne - gently fry off the onion, pepper and garlic for a few minutes in a few sprays of oil
  • add the mince and beef stock cube and cook until browned
  • add the chopped tomatoes and oregano together with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • allow to simmer and bubble until it has reduced right down to a thick mince, which is also my name for Paul
  • start on the middle layer whilst the mince is cooking - first step, wash your spinach - don't dry it too vigourously
  • tip your spinach and grated courgette into a pan with just a tiny splash of water and wilt it down over a low heat (if you leave the lid on, the spinach will steam and wilt much quicker
  • once everything has wilted down, take the spinach over to the sink and squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can
  • seriously, keep squeezing - top tip is to put the spinach on a chopping board, put another chopping board over the top and squeeze the two together - get every last bit of moisture out!
  • finely chop the cooked spinach and tip back into your pan together with the ricotta and nutmeg - stir until the ricotta has softened and the spinach is mixed in, then set aside
  • layer your lasagne in the deep dish: half of the mince mixture, followed by a wrap, followed by the spinach and ricotta, then a wrap, then the rest of the mince, then another wrap
  • make the white sauce for the top by popping your philadelphia into a pan, add the mustard and soften it over a low heat - add a splash of milk if it is too thick, but it should be fine 
  • pour over the top, add halved cherry tomatoes and grate some extra cheese on top if you want more, though do syn it!
  • cook for a good forty minutes and then enjoy!

Notes

  • if you're looking for a place to get excellent low fat beef mince, try our Musclefood Freezer Filler: you get loads for the price together with excellent chicken and bacon! I mean, what's not to love? Click here to order
  • sort that garlic in seconds with one of these Microplane graters! It’s our most used kitchen gadget!
  • if you're struggling to find a deep dish, have a look in TK Maxx - we found ours in there. A deep cake tin will do exactly the same job, or throw it in a normal Pyrex dish - there's no need to spend a lot of money here!

Courses dinner, low syn

Cuisine Italian

Perfection, right?

Mind we’ve got some bloody amazing, different pasta recipes – let me show you some syn-free suggestions!

J

a proper old fashioned trifle – two ways to syn!

We had to make this – we’ve seen someone passing off a frozen yoghurt with crushed berries on the top as a ‘traditional trifle’. That’s about as much of a traditional trifle as I am confident around a fusebox / football discussion / vagina. Sometimes it feels like we’re screaming into the wind trying to encourage people to eat proper food, but nevertheless, here’s a rare beast: a twochubbycubs desserts. Yes, it has syns, but it’s easy to make, tasty and you know, proper food. Before we get there, two things:

  • wouldn’t normally stick an advert here but Amazon have a proper cracking deal on Morphy Richards soup-makers at the moment, including this £100 model down to £40. If you’re looking for one, now is the time to get it! Prices correct at the time of writing (18 March). Click for that – it’ll open in a new window!
  • and – this is also a holiday entry – boo – so if you’re here just for the food, click the button below and head straight there!

Yeah that’s right. Moany bag! Let’s do it.


 

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

The last time you left us we were getting pulled off by the police. In my imagination, because the officer looked like Javert’s lumberjack brother. I almost certainly would yield when we came face to face. BOOM: culture/anal reference right off the bat! We went to bed shortly afterwards (unaccompanied, sadly) and awoke the next day as fresh as a daisy. We ordered breakfast: croissant, coffee and amyl nitrates to bring me back round when they put the bill down, then off we went. For the sake of your eyes, we’re going to wrap up the two days left in Stockholm in one concise entry.

Museums

We spent the morning wandering about the Vasa Museum (a museum about a famous Swedish warship which was the best of its time, until it sank six minutes into its maiden voyage), the Nordiska Museet (a museum of Swedish history) and the Fotografiska, an art gallery. You know where we stand of those: usually eight steps away from the exit, moving swiftly. Don’t get me wrong, there were some interesting pieces to look at – there was a great exhibition of x-rays to gaze at and diagnose myself with (I knew my uterus was hurting, I just didn’t know why) and it gave me an always-welcome opportunity to stare disdainfully at people whose legs were thinner than my wrists and shoes more expensive than my car. Why do so many art aficionados always look so brittle? You’re not living in squalor in the Bohemian bedsits of 19th century Paris, love, have yourself a sandwich and fuck off.

We did find something a bit vag-esque outside though. Hence the faces. Also, Paul perfecting his Jayda Fransen face. Only, he’s not banned from Facebook, unlike that vile racist shitbit. Mahaha!

The Nordiska Museet was slightly more entertaining, not least because a lot of the exhibitions had buttons to press and TVs to gawp slack-jawed at in that uncultured fashion of ours. We know what we are. There was an exciting moment when Paul attempted to crawl through a small door made for a child only for his arse to catch on the frame of the door and wrench a good portion of it away. We made our excuses and left, with no-one around to witness our embarrassment.

The Nordiska Museet

We did get a chance to dress up, mind, and I think we can all agree that I make a Santa that you’d happily allow to empty his sack onto your best duvet cover, no?

See? And look, Paul makes a sexy secretary elf!

You’ve never been wetter, have you?

Speaking of wetness, the Vasa Museum was an absolute bust. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing that they managed to salvage and restore the boat, and it looks mightily impressive in the grand hall, but…OK, deep breath now…sigh…

…if I wanted to see an old, creaking wreck that resulted in the death of an immeasurable amount of seamen, one that was barely held together and had succumbed terribly to the harsh ravages of time, something that just didn’t work and was 95% rust and rot, something that appears preserved in time but smells of foist and rot…you’ve guessed it…

I’d go see Paul’s mother! Eh? You having that? Hello?

Eee she’s lovely really, you know, and I give her some awful stick on here – she was absolutely cracking as Zelda in Terrahawks, too.

After paying polite respects, we left.

Subway stations

You may laugh, but we spent the next three hours tootling about on the subway system taking pictures of the stations. Partly because we needed to rest our cankles but also because Stockholm’s subway stations are awash with art – some painted in very dramatic fashion, some stations themed, some looking like the entrance to Hell. It was terrific: cheap, fun and, rather unlike the Tyne and Wear Metro, we weren’t asked for a tab, money or used as a soft spot to rest a carving knife. It makes me realise that, as much as I love the UK, we could do everything so much better by spending a bit of money to make things a little less shit. The artwork on our Metro extends to some toerag writing INCH everywhere and PUT ARE CUNTRY FURST stickers left by spittle-lipped wankers. Stations, bar for a couple in the centre of Newcastle, are grey and dingy and threatening. Luckily, the Metro only runs for 5% of the time before being cancelled, so you get plenty of time to appreciate the squalor. Here’s three of our favourite Stockholm shots, and if you’re wanting to try it yourself, here’s a very handy guide to the best stations!

Fun fact: this is the exact same viewpoint as one of my sperm.

N3rdsbar

Cruising over, my phone suggested that we were near to a place called N3rdsbar – a videogame themed bar full of vintage games consoles you could actually play, Nintendo artwork and a toilet full of retro instruction manuals. Paul thought I had the shits when actually I was just finally figuring out how to get past Grimace’s Highlands in MC Kids. Anyone who disagrees with me that MC Kids was one of the best NES games out there can go burn in a fire.

Silly me, that’s not how you spell Count!

I’ve never felt more masculine in my life.

It was fantastic – they even had a full range of videogame themed cocktails, including a ladder of multi-coloured shots called Rainbow Road. Imbued with nostalgia and more than a little pissed, we put our card behind the bar and settled down for a game of Mario Party 2 on the N64, signalling for more drinks and shots and beer and wine and burgers whilst making the absolutely fatal error of not asking the prices and forgetting we were in Stockholm, where you get charged forty quid just to wipe your arse after a plop.

£310 later…

Yep. Not our proudest moment. A brilliant night though, only tempered with what happened next – we were just deciding what to do when my phone flashed up with a text from our lovely neighbours who look after our house – emergency! That’s all it said, with a short message asking me to give them a call. Naturally I start catastrophising – clearly the cat had been run over, or had somehow worked out how to get the chip pan out and start a fire. Perhaps we had been burgled – the thought of some rough scally running his fingers around in my underwear drawer usually gives me pause but not when I’m on holiday – but no, no notifications from our Nest alarm. I tried to call back but in my heavily drunken state couldn’t remember how to dial internationally, or indeed, how to form words consisting of more than strings of vowels and slurred Ss. When I eventually got through I was inconsolable and speaking gibberish (I was worried and drunk, be fair!) – my poor neighbour, it must have been like the calls Bryan McFadden still gets from Kerry Katona when there’s been a 25% discount at Oddbins. Eventually it transpired that our outdoor tap had burst in the cold and was spraying water everywhere, necessitating a quick call to my dad to establish what a stopcock was (do I look like someone who has ever said that word?) and then a second call to the previous owners of the house to find out where the stopcock was, then a third back to our neighbours who were dispatched to turn off the stopcock in our bathroom. The thought that Paul might have left a skidmark on the toilet before we flew to Stockholm that had been sitting baking for four days was enough to sober my mind and it was with that image that we decided to cut short our night out and head back to the hotel – we were flying to Oslo in the morning anyway, so perhaps a clear mind for international travelling would be wise.

As a side-note, we really do have excellent neighbours – well, the ones that look after our house, anyway. They’re like surrogate grandparents – I don’t think I’ve ever met a more cheerful woman and her husband keeps me in vegetables and stories. There’s still a few living near us who don’t speak to us even when we speak to them, but you can imagine how little that concerns me. Ignorance wears tan corduroy. Five years we’ve lived here and never been so much as a bother – we even employ a gardener just to keep our lawns short even though frankly, I couldn’t give a monkey’s jot what our garden looks like. Anyway…

We did, however, stop for hot-dogs on the way home.

I genuinely can’t remember the last time Paul looked at me like that.

Still, we were home in good enough time…

Night night!

We awoke the next day to absolutely wild weather – a proper winter storm. It was amazing – certainly puts our Beast from the East into keen perspective – it was like stepping into an untuned television. Would we get away to Norway? Were the trains running? Of course. Indeed, our fretting about whether or not we would be able to even get to Oslo in light of the heavy snow, blowing winds and freezing temperatures were relieved as soon as we got to Stockholm Airport and saw that not a single plane was showing as delayed. Very much business as normal. Now I’m not daft – I know that their infrastructure is designed to cope with harsh weather and ours isn’t, and I’m not going to be one of those curmudgeons who goes on about how we can’t handle snow…

…but at the same time, Newcastle Airport shuts up shop if someone so much as sneezes in Durham. Why? It was snowing that hard in Stockholm that we had to take a husky-ride with Santa just to get to the plane – which made a refreshing change from being packed into a tiny sweaty bus with two hundred other people, chewing your way through someone else’s armpit hair as you careen around the runway. Everywhere you looked there were bearded blokes in hi-vis jackets throwing snow about and bellowing at each other in some mysterious language. It was like an LSD-infused wet-dream for the both of us, and we almost missed our flight, so taken were we with the view from the window. We boarded with about three minutes to spare, with the Chief Flight Attendant giving us a look that would have emptied a lion’s cage. I gave her my best ‘but we’re British’ smile but she was having none of us, and ushered us to sit down.

Hejdå Sverige

Our plane – Norwegian Air – was clean, spotless and, more excitingly, came with free Wifi. I had managed to forget to download anything interesting to my phone and the thought of having to make polite conversation with Paul for an hour filled me with dread. I’m sure he felt the same. Paul’s role on the plane is to occasionally order me drinks and smile indulgently when I pick at his sleeve and ask him whether he thinks the chimes from the stewardesses means the cockpit is on fire or whether we’re making an unscheduled, atomised stop in Uzbekistan. The poor bugger spends so much time taking out his earphones and putting them back that his Radio 4 podcast sounds like the poshest dubstep ever. The flight was wonderfully smooth and we were descending into Oslo in no time at all. Quite literally: we seemed to go from about 33,000ft to being on the runway in the time it took me to put away my Camembert-ripe feet and do up my laces. Even the stewardess seemed surprised – she barely had time to finish her shave.

We were through security with all the brisk efficiency you expect from the Norwegian, and, one short train trip later, we were at our hotel. That’s an excellent place to leave not only our luggage but also this post – until we meet again…

…as an aside, what an absolute joy it was to jump countries: from hotel to hotel took us less than five hours, including the flight. If you’re looking at a Scandinavian trip, we heartily recommend Norwegian for internal flights – without luggage (we travel light) the flights were about £30 each and there’s a flight every hour. Can’t get vexed!

Seems like a good place to leave it!

REMEMBER FOLKS: we love feedback on the holiday entries! It makes my day! So please do leave a comment to gee us along!

previousArtboard 1


Right, the trifle then! We’ll give you two options here – the proper way and the lower syn route. We recommend the proper route – it’s tastier – but if you must, you can make some swaps for a lower-syn end result. But…

slimming world trifle

slimming world trifle

a proper slimming world trifle

Prep

Inactive

Total

Yield two bowls

If you're looking for something sweet at the end of a meal, have a Polo. But if you're still itching for dessert, make one of these dead easy trifles! Still well within your syns limit, they make a nice change from shattering your teeth on frozen yoghurts or trying to pretend your 'sponge cake' tastes of anything other than sweaty hot arse.

This makes two big bowls or, if you're fancy, serve them in a nice glass like we did.

Ingredients

Proper route:

  • a bag of frozen raspberries
  • two Tesco trifle sponges (7 syns)
  • one sachet of Hartley's sugar free jelly - we used raspberry (1.5 syns)
  • six tablespoons of light squirty cream (1 syn)
  • 200g proper custard (light) - (7 syns)
  • 10g of hundreds and thousands (2 syns)

That's a total of 18.5 syns - so for each trifle, just over nine syns. But it makes a big, proper dessert. Worth it!

But if you're worried about syns, you can drop it by either:

  • leaving out the sponge and replacing it with more fruit (-7 syns)
  • replacing the custard with banana and custard Muller yoghurt (-7 syns)

That brings each dessert to just two syns. But really.

Instructions

  • break up your sponge cake into tiny little pieces and line the bottom of your bowl with it
  • optional: you could drizzle on some creme de cassis if you wanted, 25ml is 3.5 syns!
  • build up a tight layer of frozen raspberries - pack them in so they can't roll about
  • make up your jelly and gently pour over the raspberries and sponge until it just covers the fruit
  • leave to set
  • top with custard (yes!) or Muller Yoghurt (booo), then the cream, then the hundreds and thousands

Enjoy!

Notes

Courses dessert

We don’t have a great amount of desserts to offer, but have a look…

J

spicy dynamite baked beans – a syn-free breakfast!

Dynamite baked beans, if you please. And even if you don’t, tough tit: it’s all you’re getting. But look, a new thing!

Jump straight to the recipe!

Oh I see, itching to get past all my drivel, eh?

Apologies for another extended break! I know, we’re awful. But in my defence, we’ve been briefly away down South (I know, I’ve got some nerve) and well, I can’t deny the fact that I’m feeling blue. Too much to do, too little time to do it in! Paul’s been unwell, the cat has broken her tail and now the worst news of all: Jim bloody Bowen has floated off to the big two-berth caravan in the sky, only a century away from the big 180. Gutted. Honestly, I know Stephen Hawking was a hero and a gentleman and a bloody great mind but I’m more upset about Jim – I bloody loved Bullseye. You might assume it’s because he championed darts – one of the few sports out there where a bloke with a fabulous rack can have a chance at being a champion. You’d be right.

I think I’m upset it’s because it’s another fragment of my childhood that has peeled away and exposed the fact that I’m getting older. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he has died unsullied and innocent as opposed to so many other eighties stars: if it had come out he had been finishing on a double-top of the children, that would have been too much to bear.

But Bullseye was a part of my childhood in much the same way that staring mournfully out of the window was, or getting road tar on my white Nick trainers. It lived on throughout recent years thanks to Challenge TV, where it’s always 1989 somewhere, and Paul and I loved to watch two unemployed perms from the Tyne Tees Television district winning a speedboat of an evening. We always joked that everyone in the audience – all blue rinses, lemon cardigans and beige bags clasped tightly to their chests – would all be dead by now. How we laughed. Too many legends dying, and it’s only going to get worse. I’m keeping a close eye on my beloved Anneka Rice.

That said, I would have loved a go on the Prize Board: there’s something elegant about winning a trouser press, a Soda Stream and a sewing machine for the wife on a throw of a dart. But perhaps someone more mature than me can explain something: why was a decanter and tantalus seen as the height of good taste back in the eighties? Nearly every show featured one as a prize, and you’d see Jackie from Anglia Television (“‘ospital cleaner, Jim“) throwing her darts like a severed marionette to try and win one. Can someone explain the appeal? Whilst we’re here, were televisions with a remote on a string really a thing? Eee, it’s a different world. I remember when my nana in Darlington had a TV with a box you had to put money into just to watch, with someone visiting every week to take away the quarter-tonne of 50p pieces. Simpler times. Now they just rob you via the licence fee, am I right, eh? Hello? Is this thing on? Fucking wants to be, I paid for it.

Not arsed about Ken Dodd though. Something about him left me cold and nervous, in much the same way as my mother can’t abide Lionel Blair. I’ve seen that woman storm out of a room in a fury before when he cha-cha-chaed his way into Dictionary Corner on Countdown, looking to all the world like the result of incestuous fraternisation between Gail from Corrie and a runover E.T costume. I asked about at work to see if anyone else shares these irrational celebrity dislikes and the results were varied and illuminating: for one colleague Keira Knightley leaves her cold (“stupid lollipop head”), another flies into a blistering tirade at the mere mention of Gary Barlow. That I can understand: Gary is the colour taupe assuming a human form. Paul can’t stand James Corden, but that’s fine, he loves himself more than enough to make up for it. We no longer use confused.com now he’s screaming and spitting into the camera about sheep – it’s a bad job when you long for the days of Sheila’s Wheels and their backwards car.

Ah let’s be honest, it’s all irrelevant anyway: we’re going to be irradiated ash by May. Can anyone else see this Russian crisis ending any other way than a nuclear bomb being dropped on one of our major cities? I know, deep in my heart, that I’ll nip out to get some milk and end up piddling myself in the street like that lass from Threads before every atom of my face is blown into the North Sea.

Still, must get on.

Speaking of a spicy burst of heat that’ll result in a crowd-clearing, fiery blast, let’s do the recipe for dynamite baked beans. I can’t take credit for this one, t’s from one of my favourite recipe books: Tasty, by Tony Singh. It’s available on Amazon for 55p! We have been trying to find a decent recipe for livening up baked beans for a while and this is just the ticket. A hearty, farty recommendation. This makes enough for two portions, but do just scale up if you prefer more.

dynamite baked beans

Don’t worry folks, we even prepared a video if you can’t be arsed to read!

We’re trying to do a good mix of video recipes that are simple and shenanigans! Let us know what you think!

1 vote

Print

dynamite baked beans: spicy breakfast time!

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 2 servings

Looking for a syn-free breakfast or a gorgeous side? Try our spicy baked beans! They're gorgeous - easy to make, can be done in bulk and they freeze well! Top with a fried egg for something deliciously different!

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of baked beans
  • 2 small red onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2.5cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1tsp green chilli, finely diced
  • 1 tsp garam massala
  • 150ml beef stock

Instructions

  • spray a frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
  • add the onions and fry until the start to soften and go golden brown
  • add the garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for another five minutes
  • add the chilli and stock, and give a good stir
  • add the garam masala to the pan, stir and simmer until thickened
  • add the beans to the pan and stir
  • cook for a few more minutes until the beans have warmed through and serve with a fried egg!

Notes

  • want to make this fancy? add cubed bacon - smoked is ever better!
  • if you can't be arsed clitting about with garlic and ginger, just buy a paste! You can buy it from Amazon or most major supermarkets - a good tablespoon will do it!

Courses breakfast, sides

Enjoy!

Want some more Slimming World vegetarian recipes?

J

one-pot chicken and mushroom pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

chicken and mushroom pie

chicken and mushroom pie

2 votes

Print

one pot chicken and mushroom pie with proper pastry!

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 servings

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

Ingredients

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

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

Instructions

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

Notes

top tips for making chicken in a frying pan pie

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

Courses dinner, leftovers

Cuisine British

Seriously, how good does that look?

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

J