the perfect Slimming World Big Mac

Big Mac in a bowl? Big Mac tater tots? What happened to a plain old Big Mac stuffed firmly into your mush until the grayus runs down yer chin? Well, on Slimming World, that dirty Big Mac will cost you 25.5 syns and a threatening midnight call from Commandant Bramwell. Something needs to pay for her timeshare in Magaluf and the second-hand, nicotine-tainted Subaru Impreza (private reg: MMB 4EVA), let me tell you.

So, us being generous Cubs, decided to finish our American holiday entries with a Slimming World Big Mac which weighs in at an altogether less unseemly 6.5 syns. You could have four! But don’t, you greedy bugger. Before we get to the recipe, indulge me for another few minutes as I give you a happy ending to be proud of, as it’s part seven of our New York trip!

slimming world big mac

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

We decided that it was imperative we be at the airport in good time lest we be late and miss our flight – I mean, can you imagine being stranded in New York? I’d feel like little Kevin McAllister, only without the shenanigans and inappropriate touching. As such, rather than clart about with the trains, we hailed a taxi. Our taxi driver was colourful with his language, going to great lengths to tell us what’s wrong with most Brits (we don’t tip, we’re too hoity-toity, Paul’s too fat, that sort of thing) and speeding through the streets like he’d stole the car. When it came to paying the fare I made a gag about asking Paul if he had twenty cents so we could give the exact fare and I swear to God, I thought the driver was going to shoot my face through the back of my head. I don’t like to exaggerate but I’ve never seen such ire in a man’s eyes – and I’ve gone in dry on more than one occasion. Just saying.

Naturally, with Speedy McMoodytits at the wheel, we arrived at the airport thirty minutes before check-in even opened, meaning we had to sit around forlornly by the front doors with our suitcases. It’s about the only time I miss smoking, at airports – it gives you something to do between getting fingered by some terse security attendant and spending the rest of your ‘foreign money’ on expensive tat for work colleagues. Do you know, I don’t think I’ve successfully managed to pass through an airport without buying a giant Toblerone since I was eighteen and got my first job? There’s always sarky remarks about originality but hey, at least it wasn’t a giant bag of wax fruit sweets that every other fucker brings back from their holiday.

I remember the first time Paul and I flew long-haul together (to Orlando, the tales of which you can find in our honeymoon book, which I’ve told is attractively priced on Amazon and available at the touch of a button on the very device you’re reading this on now). We were committed smokers at that point and the thought of nine hours in the air filled us with terror and dread.  We spent almost an hour mainlining fags outside of Manchester Airport then, once we had landed, it was literally the only thing we could think of. Fuck Mickey Mouse I cried, we’ve got emphysema to nurture. Naturally, Paul had lost the lighter and we spent a tense fifteen minutes trying to buy matches before some kind soul wheezed to our aid. It’s embarrassing, looking back.

Anyway, without smoking to pass the minutes, we occupied ourselves by streamlining our hand luggage and eating the bags of sweets I’d bought for my parents. It’s what they would have wanted. Finally time moved forward just enough for us to be granted permission to check in. The guy behind the counter was another grumpy sort who spent more time than I thought was decent fannying about with my passport. I resisted the urge to touch his hands and say ‘I’m sorry, I’m married, but I can send a signed photo by Fedex’ but he looked as though he’d snap my fingers.

What followed was the longest three hours of my life. Is there a more surprisingly awful, boring airport than JFK? I assumed that, being an exit hub, it would be full of vibrant shops and classy eateries for the carefree tourist to spend their money in. Nope. We had a Starbucks and watched the planes for a bit. Then we had a McDonalds and watched the planes for a bit. I enjoyed twenty-five minutes of furiously looking at my iPad whilst it failed to connect to the public Wi-Fi. We both went for a shite just to pass the time but found ourselves unable to commit the dirty deed because yet again the toilets only had a metal postage stamp for a door. I hate making eye-contact with anyone, let alone when I’m trying to birth an otter. Bah!

After looking around the duty free shop for the fourth time (why? Perhaps we thought there was an undiscovered wing to explore just behind the Smirnoff stand? Or that they rotated the stock on an hourly basis?) we succumbed and bought some aftershave: Paul some cloying Issey Miyake stuff, me some classy Tom Ford. I’ve come a long way since spraying my Mum’s bottle of Mum under my boobs before PE, I can tell you.

Finally, it was time to board. As usual, four hundred people leapt up at once as though fearful the plane might accidentally nip away before they’d had a chance to fuss about with the safety cards and put their duty free in the overhead bins. We hung back – we’re too fat to move safely in crowds – one of us trips and we’re taking people out on the way down. When we eventually made it to the final beep-beep check of the tickets and passport, a very stern lady with ice-blonde hair and a face that had never seen sunlight told us to stand to one side.

They then took our passports and tickets away from us whilst people walked past tutting at us as though we were terrorists. I mean, fair enough I hadn’t shaved, but I wasn’t a complete disaster.  For almost five minutes we waited whilst they let other people past. My arsehole was nipping so much I was surprised the two kilos of coke stuck up there didn’t fall out. Paul remained calm – as usual – I could hurl a burning pan of hot oil into his ear and he’d still yawn and look impassive, though he might feel a bit sad that he wasn’t getting chips.

Finally, we were given new tickets and told we had been moved from our original seats. We’re not fussy so didn’t say much and rejoined the queue. It was only on boarding that we were told we’d been upgraded. Hooray! Premium Economy is the lowest class we’ll fly because we’re fat and snotty (just kidding: it really is just because we’re fat) so anything higher was always going to be great. A genuinely lovely end to a fantastic holiday.

Quick thoughts? It was great being able to lie down properly on an overnight flight, although I didn’t like not being right next to Paul – I find it hard to sleep unless some of his fat isn’t rolling over me and the sound of him choking on his own neck is lullabying me to the land of nod. Having my own ‘pod’ was a novelty though – I spent a good forty minutes pressing every switch, turning on every light, opening every little drawer (a drawer to put my shoes in: how clever!) and carefully secreting every freebie into my bag. It was only when the Captain announced that someone was draining the power from the engines that I stopped whirring my chair, charging my iPod and frying myself some chips.

slimming world big mac

BYEEEEEEE LOL MISSING U HUN

The stewardesses came around shortly after take-off and asked everyone if they would like anything to eat. Paul, much to my horror, said he was full and only wanted a vodka. I was foaming. Everyone knows you need to make the most of this type of situation, even if it makes you look like a grasping harlot. I ordered a gin and tonic and a full meal (despite having already had a three course meal in the airport – ah well, I had plenty of time to sleep it off).

Here’s the thing – this is why I can’t have nice things. I was served a wonderful array of dishes but to me, they were nothing special and the portion sizes were tiny. I appreciate this is just me being a big fat pig but it seems the more you pay for food, the less you get. Don’t get me wrong, I put it all away in record time and did a discreet celebratory burp into my pillow for good measure, but I don’t like being served a big white plate with a shaving of radish on it and a flea-bite of cheese. I could have breathed my dinner into my lungs. I did make Paul watch me eat a delicious chocolate melting pudding, though – I stared right in his eyes and smacked my lips. That’ll teach him.

The night flight passed smoothly, soothed as I was by the sounds of my fellow fliers sleeping soundly and farting long into the night. Paul woke up at one point thinking the landing gear was coming down until I explained it was merely the mechanics of my chair straining under my bulk.

I was disappointed by the toilets – I wasn’t expecting someone to come in and wipe my taint but really, it’s not very upper class to be standing in someone else’s piss whilst you slap on the Elemis eye-cream. I know that on Emirates’ A380 you can actually have a hot shower whilst you fly. I can’t conceive of something I’d rather do less at 38,000ft – I know that as soon as I undressed and climbed into the shower we’d hit extreme turbulence and I’d end up shooting out of the bathroom with suds in my hair and my cock a-flapping whilst everyone screamed around me. It’s what happens when I get changed at the gym, why should it be any different in the sky?

We landed in good time and, unusually, were through security in no time at all. We did the usual things – updated Facebook to show off our fancy flying, texted my mother to tell her that I hadn’t made an unscheduled stop into the sea and that she could cancel the hearse, then made our way through grey London for our Virgin train back home. As you’d expect with a train journey, it was entirely uneventful, and we were home in no time for a good sleep.

That’s that! New York – done. It’s somewhere we’ve always wanted to go and it was made all the sweeter by Paul not knowing about it in advance. Normally I can’t keep a secret for toffee but somehow I managed to pull off a full holiday without giving the game away. The people, for the most part, were friendly, and everything we visited was absolutely worth it. I can see why people go back – we’ve only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer.

We’d move there in a heartbeat save for the fact that a decent flat in a nice area is over a million quid and well, we don’t have that sort of money hidden down the sofa (feel free to buy more copies of this book though, it might pay for a lamp or something). I think my favourite day, of all of them, was walking around Central Park – nothing much happened but it was so beautiful and so New York.

We travelled with Virgin Trains (reasonable), British Airways (excellent) and stayed at the Wyndham New Yorker (lovely, but ask for a newer room – our room was a bit old-fashioned and stuffy. We liked it, but you might not).

Onto the next holiday…


Right! Yes. THIS MAKES FOUR! If you want fewer, just reduce the amount as you need to.

slimming world big mac

to make a Slimming World Big Mac, you’re going to need:

  • (this makes enough for four, mind you)
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 6 wholemeal rolls (use 4x as a HeB each, and then syn the remaining two at 12 syns to make the middle bun)
  • half an iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • sliced gherkins
  • 4 slices of reduced-fat processed cheese (12 syns)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced

for the special sauce

  • 4 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp reduced-fat thousand island dressing (1 syn)
  • 4 tsp chopped gherkins
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt

We used a proper bun for the pictures and don’t even care – if you’re using white buns with sesame seeds, you’re looking at about 12 syns, and even then it’s half the syn cost of a proper one. AND you can reduce the syns further still by swapping out the cheese for some of your proper HEA cheese, but if you’re going to do this, you’ve got to do it properly, see?

Two things we used to help with this recipe, neither of which are critical to the recipe but they do help: our Optigrill and our canny little burger maker (dirt cheap)!

to make a Slimming World Big Mac, you should:

  • bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and add the chopped onion – simmer for 30 seconds, then drain and set aside
  • next, mix together the sauce ingredients in a bowl, including 2 tbsp of diced onion, and set aside
  • add salt and pepper to the mince and then divide into 8 balls (just over 60g each) and flatten into burger shapes – they don’t need to be perfect, and remember, McDonalds burgers are normally thin!
  • if you’re using the OptiGrill: fire it up and select the ‘burger’ option – when the light goes blue simply whack the burgers on, close the lid and cook until the light is orange
  • otherwise – preheat the grill to high and cook the burgers until done – remembering to flip over
  • whilst they’re cooking, toast the buns
  • next – assemble the burger – you want it in this order:
    • bottom bun
    • tbsp special sauce
    • tbsp diced onion
    • chopped lettuce
    • slice of cheese
    • burger
    • bun half
    • tbsp special sauce
    • tbsp onion
    • lettuce
    • gherkins
    • burger
    • top bun
  • forget you’re on a diet
  • turn into poo

How nice is that? For the full McDonalds experience, try and eat your burger whilst eighteen kids off their tits on e-numbers and sugar run screaming around your ankles whilst neck-tattooed dads stare glumly at you with their dead, soulless eyes.

Big thanks to @TEFALUK and @Foodies100!

Fancy more to fill your pie hole? Just click one of the buttons below!

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J

grilled harissa chicken summer burgers

Harissa chicken burgers with grilled vegetables you say? Yes, I can understand why you might be moist at the thought. They certainly look delicious. But first, a shock announcement!

  • I’m a closeted heterosexual – Paul is a marriage of convenience and I pick up ladies on the side using the name Jason Dickthrust;
  • I’m becoming a Vida Devina coffee seller – ah wait no, I didn’t fail my BTEC in hairdressing;
  • we’re going to be doing the odd sponsored post.

No I know! You might be crashing your lips at the thought of us selling out and I’m sure I can hear someone crying out that I’ve got the integrity of a milk dildo at the very thought, but here’s the thing. We don’t saturate with adverts, we don’t spam. We’re only ever going to do sponsored adverts on one condition: we can be brutally honest and it doesn’t change the writing style of the blog. So don’t worry, please. We’ll always give an alternative to the product (see recipe below) and if we’re recommending it, it’s because we actually use it, not just because we’ve been given money to say it. The only man who can put his hand up my bottom and make me speak is my doctor when he checks my prostate. Which was weird, because I’d only gone in to see about my ingrown toenail.

Plus, I mean look – I work all night and I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay. Ain’t that sad? And STILL there never seems to be a single penny left for me. I’d go on the game but I hate owing money.

Anyway, in the spirit of twochubbycubs and being open and honest, whenever we do a sponsored post (which I promise will be the rarity rather than the norm) we’re going to post this subtle banner to keep you informed, much like the tiny ‘P’ symbol that appears on Corrie to show you might see Sawfee Webster using a Nationwide cash-machine:

No I know, it’s barely noticeable. It was going to be Paul rolling around on a sea of pound coins like Scrooge McDuck but his fat would suck the coins up and he’d be paying out for weeks after like a faulty fruit machine.

So what are we peddling? The Optigrill. It’s like a George Foreman grill, but more pleasant to look at and far more efficient at even cooking. Our current George Foreman is currently stuck in what we call our Gadget Graveyard – the forgotten cupboard under the breakfast bar that we’re both too fat and lazy to get to. I mean, it involves moving the trolley and meh, too much effort. Currently in there is the George Foreman, the egg cuber (I’m sorry), a billion and one cake-tins, the electric can opener which did more damage to my wrist than any can before it, two Actifrys (not because they’re broken, but just because wanted the newer model, so shallow) and possibly a cat. The George Foreman went in there for two reasons:

  • I absolutely bloody hated cleaning the thing – it would sit there greasy and in the way, fouling the air – and I’ve got Paul to do that, I don’t need anything else; and
  • I was sick of eating meat that was scorching hot and dry on the outside whilst wet and raw in the middle. I like consistency in my dinner, not a Bushtucker Trial.

Luckily, both those problems were solved by the Optigrill, and we’ll get to that.

What does it do?

Put simply, it’s a grill. You put your meat in it and it cooks it. Big deal you might say, I can do that and I’m only sixty pounds an hour, no kissing. But see this is more than a grill. This clever grill measures the thickness of your meat (ah it’s like being a teenager all over again) and adjusts the timings to compensate. The front of the grill is adorned with various settings for burgers, chicken, bacon, sausage, red meat or fish,

Let’s take steak as an example (and you’ll see our steak recipe later down the line). Say you fancy a well done steak – simply take your steak and leave my house for not eating properly. I’m very much of the vein that all you need to do for a good steak is wipe the cow’s arse and throw the steak for a moment or two on the grill. I want my steak to moo.

But no, if you want rare, you simply press the button for red meat, wait for it to preheat, and once it is up to temperature, throw on your meat and pop the lid down. The grill then measures the steak and adjusts the time it takes to get to rare – you’ll hear it sizzling away and once the big LED light is yellow, take out your steak. Want it medium? Wait until the light is orange. Want it well done? Wait for red.

It’s all terrifically simple. It can cook from frozen – simply press the frozen food button and then the meat you want and off you go.

It also cooks vegetables and other stuff – there’s a nice manual mode that is easy enough to use. In short, if you can grill it, this will do it and leave satisfying marks on the food.

Here’s what we’re going to do. For the next few recipes, we’ll be using the Optigrill, and we’ll tell you how it cooks various things, rather than give you a blanket ‘omg it’s proper lush’ tut. But a few other points.

How does it look?

Stylish. If you’re a fan of brushed steel, coloured lights and sexy hinges, you’re going to be thrilled. It doesn’t take up a massive amount of space on the worktop and it doesn’t look like a cosmonaut’s helmet, unlike some other gadgets. It’s got some heft to it – it’s not so heavy that you can’t lift it without a few lines of protein but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart the second you ask it to grill anything other than a sprig of parsley. That’s reassuring, because the Optigrill is an expensive product and you’re going to want it to last.

Cleaning

It really couldn’t be easier. We left it out on the side and our cleaner cheerfully dealt with it. No I’m kidding, we did it ourselves. Like big boys. Anyway our cleaner is still in intensive care from cleaning our bedroom for the first time and being overcome by the miasma of Slimming World farts that greeted her. All the grease and fat dripped into the sturdy drip-tray under the machine leaving only the plates to clean and – THIS IS A REVELATION – these detach and can be popped in the dishwasher. No more scrubbing away with a sponge and your own tears.

Verdict

Here’s the thing. Do you need an Optigrill? No. If you’ve got a grill, you can make do. It’s fancy, it makes life easier, and it has shiny buttons which appeal to the magpie in me. But if you’re in the mood for a new gadget, this does fit the bill. If you’re thinking about getting a worktop grill and you can afford a bit more, buy it. We’ve used it for a week (and you’ll see the various recipes coming up with the results) and found it useful. £120 useful? Yes, if you have the disposable income, less so if you’re watching the pennies. It absolutely does what it says so fair play to Tefal for that and we be keeping it out on the worktop for a little while yet.

You can have a look for yourself by clicking here, where it’s currently reduced in price.

Right, shall we get to the recipe? It’s a wonder! Grilled harissa chicken summer burgers. Oh yes! Harissa paste can be found in most supermarkets and is a blend of chillis and other fragrant spices – it’s not too hot, but feel free to swap it out for a gentle rub. Said that before. Hell, lemon and garlic marinade would work just as well!

to make harissa chicken burgers you will need:

  • 2 large chicken breasts (the ones from our Musclefood deal are perfect!)
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste (2 syns)
  • handful of rocket leaves
  • 1 large red onion
  • 50g reduced-fat mozarella (4 syns)
  • one large beef tomato
  • 1 tbsp red pepper houmous (see note below)
  • 2 wholemeal rolls (2x HeB)

Things to note: we used a brioche bun for our burger because frankly, we deserved a treat. To make this Slimming World friendly, make sure you use a HEB bun. I don’t want Mags coming round forcing you to grill your fingers as penance.

We also chose to syn the mozzarella rather than HEA it. You can have 70g as a HEA but see, 50g is enough for two, and I couldn’t be arsed to work out percentages of HEA. Have yourself a glass of milk and calm down.

The chicken is from our Musclefood bundles – we like them because the chicken doesn’t look like a prawn once it’s cooked, unlike those supermarket breasts! Plus we’ve always got a good deal on them.

Finally, we didn’t syn the houmous – we used our own recipe  and added roasted peppers into the mix, but if you can’t be bothered with that, 1 tablespoon of red pepper houmous from Tesco is 1.5 syns.

to make harissa chicken burgers you should:

  • cut the chicken into chunks and rub the harissa paste all over – leave to marinade as long as you can
  • slice the tomatoes, mozzarella and onion into thick slices
  • time to sort your onion and tomato: slice both into big, thick slices – about a centimetre thick – and squirt with a bit of oil then:
    • if using an Optigrill, press the manual mode twice to get it to preheat to a medium heat, and then put the thick slices of onion and tomato to grill and cook on both sides for about 7 minutes – you want them softened and charred
    • if you’re using a normal grill – bit of oil, put them on a tray under the grill for a few minutes, but remember to turn them at least once so it’s nice and uniform
  • next, cook the chicken:
    • if using an Optigrill, keep the same setting as the onion and tomato and pop the chicken on, then close the lid and cook for as long as it takes for your chicken to cook through – we cut ours into tiny chunks so we were done in five minutes, but please make sure it’s cooked through – the skitters might be good for weight loss but think of your poor nipsy;
    • if using the grill, same as above – cook for a few minutes, remembering to turn things, and make sure it’s cooked through
  • whilst that’s cooking, assemble the bun by slicing and spreading houmous along the bottom half, then topping with rocket and the mozzarella slice, followed by the tomato and onion (with maybe a pinch of salt)
  • when the chicken is cooked, remove from the plates (or pan or whatever) and spoon on top of the burgers
  • quickly toast off the top half of the buns by putting them straight into the Optigrill or under the grill
  • enjoy!

Big thanks to @TEFALUK and @Foodies100!

Craving more? Of course you are, you dirty girl. Just click on one of the large, throbbing buttons below to get even more ideas to stuff your hole!

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Phwoar, that was a long one! Listen, if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further – can you let us know what you think about this style of sponsored post? I’m hoping you agree that it isn’t all gushing and cloying and we’ve kept our writing style, but I do want feedback! Enjoy!

J

proper dessert alert: the chubby cheesecake

Chubby cheesecake! Yes that’s right. I’ve been away and/or revising lately but here’s a cracking recipe to make up for it. It’s delicious and it’s made with decent ingredients and you’re not going to make it, taste it, hoy it in the bin and then drown yourself in eight full tubs of Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s ice-cream until your significant other finds you dead with a chocolate fish stuck up your nostril and marshmallow in your moustache. Yes, your moustache.

I’ve never considered SW desserts essential. They’re crude and unspeakably plain. You may remember we tried to make the ‘delicious’ half-syn roulade a couple of years ago, with the end result being something I wouldn’t use to wipe my cat’s arse with. There seems to be a fundamental belief that by stirring a sack of sweetener into a yoghurt you’ve suddenly created tiramisu that would make Jesus weep. It just doesn’t work.

Here’s the thing. You’re never going to get a diet dessert that doesn’t taste like arse unless it’s fruit. You’re going to have to spend some syns to get something halfway between ‘full diet’ and ‘full fat’. Fat-light, if you will. With this in mind, we took our favourite dessert – the cheesecake – and researched ways to make it lighter without using sweetener and tears. Cheesecake is normally made with buttery biscuits on the bottom. Delicious, buttery biscuits. The filling is usually full fat cream cheese and sugar. The end result is perfection. So how to cut that down? Bake it. A decent, stodgy, slightly wibbly-wobbly cheesecake with a crunchy bottom and lots of taste. Yep, it has syns, but not that many per portion – and we found that this actually serves well as a ‘breakfast’ cheesecake in the morning, so have a slice for breakfast.

Before we get to the recipe, though, why not have a quick gander at this flowchart to see if you’re ready?

Yes, it’s all so clear now! OK, let’s not fart about for a moment more. To the Chubby Cheesecake! We owe a debt of gratitude to rachelcooks.com for the original recipe which we’ve bastardised and made our own – hers is an excellent website if, like us, you’re looking for decent food as opposed to slop. We’re calling it chubby because, like Paul, it wobbles gently when you put your finger in it. This makes nine servings. Nine! 

to make a chubby cheesecake, you’ll need:

for the base

  • 160g of bog-standard oats (4 x HEB) (hence using this for breakfast!)
  • 25g of butter (gasp!) (9 syns)
  • 25g of sugar (brown makes it crunchy but white is fine) (5 syns) (nurse! NURSE!)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

for the filling

  • 600g of cottage cheese (fat free)
  • 200g of fat-free Greek style yoghurt (the thick stuff) (ooer missus) (slut)
  • two tablespoons of maple syrup (4 syns)
  • 3 large eggs
  • couple of drops of vanilla essence

for the swirly bit

  • tablespoon of honey (2 syns)
  • pinch more of cinnamon

BUT I DON’T LIKE COTTAGE CHEESE OMG I HATE YOU.

Shut up. You can’t taste it. It adds the creaminess without getting you blue-lighted to hospital with grey lips. You’ll barely be able to know it is there. But if you hate cottage cheese, you mustn’t feel like you need to leave us a comment telling us. We get that all the damn time. Substitute something else in. Quark. Extra-light Philadelphia. Cocaine. Whatever makes it worth for you.

You’re also going to need an eight-inch square deep cake tin. Something like this. Oh and a blender – we use our super-fancy Magimix but then we would. Have a look and tell me you wouldn’t want that in the kitchen. But listen, a bog-standard stick blender will do the job just as well.

Final point, if you make this with vanilla essence, it’ll be lovely. However, I’m not a fan of vanilla, so I used custard flavouring from Lakeland. It makes it taste like a dirty big egg custard. Feel free to mess with the flavours and make it exactly how you like. Christ, I’m going to have a nosebleed soon if I don’t get on with it.

to make a chubby cheesecake, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line the cake tin with non-stick baking paper
  • mix together all the base ingredients with the melted butter and press it right down into the bottom of the tin – really push it down
  • into the oven it goes for a good fifteen minutes – you don’t want the base to burn but you do want it to crunch up a bit (it’ll soften again with the topping on, so this is a good way to stop it getting too mushy – and actually, it tastes lovely mushy too)
  • whilst that is baking, hoy all the filling ingredients into a food processor or a bowl and blend the buggery out of it – you want it smooth, mixed and lovely. We use lovely big farm eggs so it goes a golden yellow
  • out comes the cake tin, pour the filling over the top
  • get yourself a little sandwich bag and pour the honey and cinnamon into a corner of it – mush it together with your hands and then cut off a tiny bit of the corner, allowing you to drizzle it all over the top of the cheesecake
  • I’m not artistic so I just allowed it to drop all over the place
  • into the oven for a good forty minutes – you want it to stop being jiggly in the middle
  • take it out and allow to cool completely before cutting it up into nine bars
  • enjoy!

If you want to serve it like us, heat some raspberries up, lightly break them up and pour over the top. The cheesecake is stodgy enough to take the tartness of the fruit. This keeps well in the fridge in a sealed container and yes, does lovely for a bit of breakfast!

Want more dessert ideas other than this chubby cheesecake? Why not? Click the buttons and live!

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J

chicken and mushroom one-pot paella

I’m saying our chicken and mushroom one-pot paella is a paella even though it doesn’t have seafood in because for goodness sake, seafood ruins everything and I don’t care who knows it. Next part of our New York entry for you today, with the finish line in sight…then how about a few new entries that aren’t holiday related? We did receive a snotty comment that someone comes here to read the recipes, not the holidays of two gay men – pfft. People shouldn’t forget – this is a personal blog and the food is a mere afterthought. If you don’t like sodomy and sass with your slimming slop, then bugger off to 💓 💓 Cutezy Mom & Her Moonlight Children 💓 💓 or some other asinine shite and don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out. Eeee what a thing to say. Let’s go travelling! Remember I love feedback on our travel entries!

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

At SOME point during this holiday we visited the Empire State Building – but can I balls remember what day it was. As a result, I’m just going to squeeze it in right here, on the last day we were there.

We woke with a start at around 6am – it’s true, you know, New York is truly the city that never sleeps. We know this because there was a mad person shouting obscenities down on the streets below. Nothing rouses me from slumber quicker than someone with spittle on his lips shouting about the coming apocalypse and the risen Jesus. It was the last day so we showered glumly, packed our things sadly and exchanged blowjobs with a downturned mouth. It’s difficult to be enthusiastic on the last day. We left our luggage with the charming staff in the lobby and made our way out.

Well, it was certainly bright. Turned out that the city had received a fair dumping of snow overnight and the streets were white and pretty. I fretted momentarily that we would be trapped in New York (oh no, imagine my devastation) but found that this thought was giving me far too much joy for so early in the morning. We could see the Empire State Building way off in the distance so decided to head there, walking the three miles or so slowly to prevent any accidental slips or falls. We were in the most litigious country in the world, after all. We stopped for a quick breakfast in a tiny corner deli – I had a sandwich the size of a church draught excluder, Paul had a slice of cheesecake. Of course!

The Empire State Building was astonishing, though. The lady dishing out the tickets warned us that we would be unable to see anything much due to the heavy cloud but we waved her worries aside – we at least had to tick it off the list. I’m so glad we did. It’s an absolutely gorgeous building, both inside and out, done out as it is in the fabulous art-deco style of the time. We had the tourist part of the building to ourselves, most likely due to the early morning and the winter weather, and we were able to wander about and take our time.

Proof that we enjoyed the tour was the fact we took on board two facts about the Empire State Building: two separate people have attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the observation deck only to be blown back into the building on the way down. I’d certainly feel like I was born again in that situation: imagine expecting to be a thin red jam on the pavement only to find yourself safe and sound with only ruffled hair to account for your troubles. Along similar lines, the world record for the longest survived elevator fall took place here, when rescuers saving poor Betty Lou Oliver from a plane hitting the building managed to miss the fact that the elevator carriage she was riding in had weakened considerably. Just as they reached for her the cables holding the lift snapped and she, and the lift, fell 79 stories.  She survived with serious injuries but fuck me ragged, I had my heart in my mouth on the Tower of Terror ride at Disneyworld, I can’t imagine doing that for 79 floors! Blimey.

The kiosk lady was right, by the way – we couldn’t see very much. But the feeling of standing on the 102nd floor in the middle of a snowstorm was incredible. I felt like I was in a chewing gum advert. However, a minute standing outside had sent my bollocks retreating somewhere behind my lungs so we sharp made our way back in and into the gift shop, where we bought all manner of tat and nonsense.

See, brisk.

Knowing our flight wasn’t until the evening we decided to spend the rest of the day just walking about to see where we ended up. Oddly enough, after much random mincing and stopping for coffee, we found ourselves down on Pier 86 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a museum devoted to well, air, sea and space. We had time to kill and ankles like jelly, so why not? They have a decommissioned aircraft carrier to nose about, and well, I haven’t had a chance to visit an old wreck full of seamen since the last time I visited Paul’s mother. Ouch.

As seems to be the way with attractions in New York, there was a bewildering array of entrance tickets to be had – some with simulations included, some with access to the space shuttle, some with a frisky handjob by a passing sailor. We chose the standard admission and were immediately told to decide which simulator we fancied. We elected to have a trip on the exciting G-Force Encounter, half-thinking it might be one of those centrifuge things where they spin you around and you’re left with the arresting sight of your own double chin snaking its merry way up over your eyes.

Well, it certainly wasn’t that. We were ‘boarded’ by an indifferent Kenan and Kel and told to strap ourselves in. Sounds exciting! Well, let me tell you this: I’ve felt more G-Force getting out of my computer chair when the takeaway man knocks on the door. The perils of war-time flight were bought to life via the medium of Windows 95’s very best graphics. The simulator creaked this way and that and there was an awful lot of hissing – we probably broke a hydraulics pipe somewhere – but that was it. Thrill ride? I had more excitement reading the opening hours.

That was the only downside, though. The rest of the exhibition was great. We spent a good hour or so wandering around the aircraft carrier, getting a taste of what it must be like spending all that time locked away with nothing but other men to keep you company. We both signed up for the US Navy as we left.

Not just content with letting us explore the poop deck, the museum also had all manner of aeroplanes and helicopters to look at. I have to confess: this struggled to hold my attention. I mean, they looked great and all, but a plane sitting on the ground is still a plane sitting on the ground, you know? We did spot that they had a Concorde parked down by the water so we bustled over to it. I’ve been in Concorde before, though not for a flight (sadly) and the bloody thing is tiny. You’re fair jammed in with the rich and famous and I imagine it’s like crossing the ocean in a cigar tube. Of course, you get no sense of this lack of space as you’re not allowed to board the Concorde at the Intrepid, which is a pretty poor show.

I do wish they’d bring back Concorde, however. Imagine flying from London to New York in three and a half hours, as opposed to double that with BA’s current fleet. I’d barely have enough time for the blood around my swollen ankles to clot before we landed. Paul’s dad has been on Concorde, and, having met Paul’s mother, I can absolutely understand the need for supersonic flight. That’s two jibes in one article, I am awful.

Next on the list was a trip into a submarine – one which was hilariously named ‘Growler’.

This meant that Paul had to endure about twenty minutes of me saying ‘I’ve never seen a Growler this big’ and ‘do you reckon I’ll be able to fit in the Growler, it looks tight’ and ‘I hope the Growler doesn’t smell of fish and damp from being underwater’. I only stopped when blood started trickling from his ears. We joined an orderly queue of prim, exceptionally thin people who were all shepherded aboard before us. This meant that we were now at the front of the queue with people behind us which immediately gave me the heebie-jeebies. Why? Because what if we didn’t fit through the absolutely tiny doors onboard?

Look at them!

There were warning signs everywhere. All I could imagine is my arse acting like a giant plug and everyone behind being slowly starved of oxygen. As it happens it was an incredibly tight fit but I managed fine – it was actually Paul, with his tiny coffee-table legs, that struggled, given you had to lift your legs really quite high to climb through. At one point I nearly cried ‘abandon ship’ and made for the exit but it all came good in the end. I bet though – in fact, I absolutely guarantee – that our denim-clad arses are on at least eight Japanese iCloud accounts as we speak.

To be fair, my rack has indeed been a welcome sight for many seamen.

We wrapped up our visit with a trip around their space centre, which held the space shuttle Enterprise and lots of bright and interesting information boards. I’ve been to NASA in Orlando so seeing the shuttle wasn’t so amazing, but I’ll say this: when you see it up close you realise exactly how much fun it must be being in space. Honestly, I’d never get tired of shooting various liquids around in zero gravity – after twenty-four hours the live feed to the inside of my space-shuttle would look like a badly tuned TV channel.

I tried to buy a helmet from the gift shop but yet again, my elephantine head defeated me.

See? Look at my sad face.

Seeing that we’d need to get a move on and head back to the hotel, we wandered up the streets, retracing our steps from the morning. We were side-tracked for another hour or so by a stop at a beer bar (The House of Brews, firmly recommended) where we managed to put away several pints of various beers together with a plate of nachos that was positively indecent. I love American nachos – they do it properly, with loads of chilli, cheese, sauces and spice. What do we get? A microwaved packet of Doritos with a Cheesestring melted over the top. Bah. We spotted a dartboard and, perhaps fuelled by that rare beast testosterone, had ourselves a little tournament. Naturally, I won, but then I’ve always been accomplished at finishing myself off with a double-top.

So manly, even if it looks like I’m wanking off a tiny pint of Guinness.

We made it back to our hotel, had a very strong coffee to stop our eyes swimming, and picked up our luggage. With a heavy, cheese-stuffed heart, we were bidding goodbye to New York.

Nah, I’m good thanks…


Did you enjoy that? If not, tough titty, but the end is in sight – one more entry to go and then we’re back on track. Actually that’s a fib, we’ve got Copenhagen coming down the line. And London. Oh god it never ends! But before we get to all of that, let’s do the recipe. This is adapted from Macheeshmo’s website so full credit to him, but we’ve taken out the seafood because that shit is nasty. This made enough for four big portions!

to make chicken and mushroom one-pot paella, you’ll need:

  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 150g shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 100g button mushrooms (or whatever type you like), chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (get one of these!)
  • 300g paella rice
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 litre chicken stock (dissolve two chicken stock cubes in a litre of boiling water)
  • pinch of salt and pepper

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

to make chicken and mushroom one-pot paella, you should:

  • prepare the onion, chicken and mushroom and place into bowls – it makes it much easier!
  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • in a large ovenproof casserole pot, add a little oil over a high heat
  • add the chicken in two batches until seared in each side (this will take about five minutes)
  • remove the chicken the pan into a large bowl and set aside
  • add the mushrooms and cook for another few minutes, then add the onions, chopped garlic and some salt and pepper
  • tip the mushrooms and onion in with the chicken
  • add a little more oil to the now-empty pan, and then add the paella rice and spread out well int he bottom of the pan
  • add the chicken stock and give a good stir, and then add the tomatoes, chilli powder and paprika
  • stir in the chicken, mushrooms and onions and give another good stir, then bring the lot to a simmer
  • place the pot in the oven uncovered for about 40 minutes
  • serve!

Canny right?

Hungry for more? You know what to do:

poultrysmall lunchsmallpastasmall   snackssmall soupsmalldrinkssmallonepot

Enjoy!

J

super quick and easy chicken saag aloo

Chicken saag aloo – we’re talking about a dish that takes about ten minutes to make from beginning to end, as long as you’ve got a hot pan and a filthy mouth. God knows that’s you lot covered. No time for shenanigans so let’s go straight to part five of our New York entry. Buckle up. I’d really welcome feedback on the holiday entries!

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

We decided to break with looking around the busy city and to take a nice walk along what is known as The High Line – a disused railway line that runs for a mile or so around Manhattan and affords lovely views of the Hudson and various arty-farty establishments to poke about it. We didn’t really have much of an excuse, it was only a ten-minute walk away from the hotel and boy did we need some ‘fresh air’. New York is amazing but you don’t realise how built-up it is until you look at your partner and he’s milk-white from lack of sunlight.

It was charming. I hate to use that word because it’s what pretentious knobheads use to describe tiny coffee places where they serve the coffee in a flat cap but I mean it. We went early enough so that it wasn’t completely awash with hipsters and pretty much had the place to ourselves, save for a few joggers. I was pleased to see that the ‘I’m about to cum’ face that British folk adopt when they run seems to have made it over the pond. Seriously, why pull that face? Running isn’t that exciting. At least, I can’t remember it being so – admittedly the last time I ran was back in 1997.

The High Line is full of little activities and things to do. We happened across a tiny park with stepping stones and tunnels to climb through, which then allowed you to pop your head up through the path to frighten passer-by’s. Great fun, until you realise that the tunnels probably weren’t designed to accommodate some twenty-stone Geordie with a fat arse and cheap jeans trying to turn around in there – it was like trying to turn a sofa around in a lift. I managed to get in alright but every time I moved backwards my coat scrunched up on top of me, stopping progress. It was only after my plaintive cries reached my dear husband – and in turn, once he had stopped laughing and taking pictures of my jammed arse – that he reached into the tunnel and pulled my coat free, allowing me to scuttle back out.

Later, Paul spotted a statue with the instruction ‘kiss to receive water’. Naturally, being Paul, he bent down and mimed performing cunnilingus on it so that I had a classy photo to put in the album. He was tutted at by someone who was more beard than man but hey, we have fun. We stopped at the end for a bagel and coffee and discussed where to go next, before deciding on the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Because we’re fat, we got a taxi. I’ve never heard my own feet say ‘phew’.

We arrived at the 9/11 Memorial Museum and were glad that the snaking queues we had witnessed a day or two before had dissipated and that actually, it wasn’t too busy.

It’s funny. We’ve all seen the footage on the TV or in print but until you’re there, it’s truly impossible to put it into perspective. To imagine the size of the buildings, the sheer amount of people caught up in it, the absolute terror that must have ensued. The museum itself was surprisingly sombre and tasteful – I admit I’d expect a certain amount of ‘America is Great’ bombast, but there was none. Just recollections, pieces of the building, subdued reconstructions and hushed tones.

One beautiful piece is a wall of almost 3,000 pieces of fabric paper painted in different shades of blue – it’s a tremendous sight with a sobering quote in the middle: ‘No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time’. Very true. Behind the wall is a room full of the unidentified remains of people caught up in the attacks, where they will lie forever until they are positively identified and taken by families, something which made even granite-faced me dab at my eyes. I’d encourage anyone visiting New York to have a look – it makes for a depressing hour but some things should never be forgotten. We moved on, and, because I want to change back to our normal tone of writing, let me draw a line under this.


Fancy! Next on our list was the Grand Central train station. You’ll have seen it before in so many movies – it’s a fabulous, colossal train station full of period detail and busy people. You may remember seeing it in such famous Lindsay Lohan movies such as ‘Just My Luck’, or infamous Lindsay Lohan movies such as ‘Yes, I’ll Let You Eight Guys Ride Me Like A Train for some meth’.

We decided to take a headphones audio tour of the station and do you know, it was one of the best things we did in New York. I know that sounds ridiculous but it was just the right mix of getting in people’s way, hearing interesting facts and having sights that you would never have known to look at pointed out to you. Case in point: the ceiling of the main concourse. Who ever looks up when they enter a train station? You should here – it’s a gorgeous astronomy map with glowing stars. That’s fascinating in and of itself, but see the ceiling was almost hidden from view by years of tobacco smoke and pollution. It took twelve years to clean it and restore it to its natural beauty, with one tiny square left to show the difference.

I made a mental note to contact Paul’s mother on my return to see if she wanted to hire the same cleaners to try and get the fifty-eight years of Samson roll-up smoke peeled from her ceiling (it’d be like using a spatula to clean the grill pan), but then promptly forgot about it when our audio tour guided us to the whispering walls.

Seriously, what fun. Under the main concourse is a dining area and part of that, near the Oyster bar, is the Whispering Wall. Due to the way the tunnel is built, sound whispered in one corner of the giant room travels all along the arch and can be heard a good ten metres away across the room. It’s a bloody weird effect.

Naturally, I stood in one corner and sent Paul to where I thought the whisper could be heard across the tunnel. Well, look, I can only apologise to the little Chinese lady who was very startled to have the ghost of a Geordie whisper the word c*nt in her ear from apparently nowhere. Turns out Paul was standing in the wrong place. In my defence, it was hilarious. We sharp moved on.

By some amazing coincidence our audio tour ended with us being taken into the gift-shop. Fancy! We were taken by all the lovely cartographic items and ended up buying six metal subway signs to sit above the doors of our house. Which, yes, sounds shit, but trust me when I say it looks good. It adds that New York sophistication to stumbling to the shitter to drop the kids off at night, trust me.

Next on the list of things to do was lunch, and, I’m ashamed to say this, we ate in a TGI Fridays. All those wonderful places and we ended up somewhere where a chav takes a hot-date in the hope of getting his fingers dipped. In our defence, it was the one in Times Square and we only went there because at this point, our feet were more blood than shoe, but it was grim. Because they don’t have to try, they absolutely didn’t. The food was bland, the drinks were sickly sweet and the waiter so full of false bonhomie that I could have asked for a blowjob instead of a dessert menu and he’d have sunk to his knees just to see me smile. His name tag was ‘Will!’, which I imagine took immense willpower (pun intended) not to put eight exclamations after.

We did leave a substantial tip though – the place was awash with British families taking a break between smacking their children and complaining to eat something similar to the Iceland muck they have at home. Past experience tells me that they won’t leave a tip because ‘it’s not right, we don’t have to do it, blah blah’ and frankly, that’s just shitty. Our lunch might have been shite but see, that wasn’t the fault of Smilin’ Will.

After lunch we waddled over to the Rockefeller Centre. You’ll know this place, too – it’s where they put the massive Christmas tree and ice-rink every year. We had paid for a day and night pass, which allows you to see the views during the day and then return later to see the same view but in inky blackness.

It was wonderful – there’s only so many times I can write about going up a tall building and making it faintly interesting for you, dear reader, so just let me say that being able to sit on a bench 70 floors in the air in the winter, looking out over New York, was just lovely. We had a romantic moment (which makes it sound like I noshed Paul off, but no, we just had a cuddle) and stayed up there a while.

As we left we were shepherded through a room of interactive lights – if you stood on the floor, certain ceiling lights would come on and your movement would be tracked. I suppose this is modern art. Paul exclaimed that it was ‘just like I’m in a video game’ and my reply of ‘Yes: FATRIS’ was a little louder than I had anticipated, leading to lots of shared guffaws amongst everyone. I do worry that I come across as such an arse to poor, put-upon Paul, but listen, he gives as good as he gets, don’t you worry.

Having satisfied ourselves of the view and done about as much marvelling as one can do before your face caves in through smiling, we made our way back through the building and back out onto the streets. After a little idle wandering we spotted a nearby church, and, never missing the opportunity to sit down and let my chafing thighs cool, we went in. If memory serves me right, it was St Mary the Virgin’s church and it was utterly beautiful.

Unusually, we didn’t burst into flames the second we stepped over the threshold and nor were we cast out for being sodomites. Religion, am I right? The church was gorgeous – beautiful stained glass windows, comfortable pews, perfectly ornate detailing, just lovely. It was heart-warming to know that the donations and money raised was going straight into keeping this prime piece of real-estate looking pretty so that all the homeless folk outside could at least have somewhere charming to rest their heads between starving and freezing to death. Hmm.

We sat in the pews for more time than is entirely decent, trying to discreetly rub our throbbing feet and not shallow-breathe on the necks of the people in front, who were bowed in prayer. I’m not a religious person but even I said a quick prayer for one of those feet-spas that all mums had in the Nineties that bubbled a bit of Radoxy-water around their hairy toes.

The serenity of the moment was shattered somewhat by the sound of a clearly mentally-ill woman bursting through the doors, running down the aisle screaming and then falling on the floor.  She was treated with all the compassion and understanding you might expect from the Church – pinned to the floor by the security guard’s knee, shouted at by some hurly-burly prick clutching a bible and then unceremoniously picked up and thrown back out into the street like a piece of rubbish. It was all very inelegant, though it did cause enough of a distraction for me to break wind, which, with my cheeks firmly pressed against the wood of the pew, sounded like a little helicopter landing. Sweet relief! Air befouled, we moved on.

Unfortunately, my notes for the day end here, which leads me to think we just went and got progressively more drunk during the rest of the day and then stumbled back to the hotel at some indecent hour. I have a faint recollection of being in a late-night pharmacy buying Doritos and spinach dip. Hey, we know how to party! We definitely ticked off the ‘buy a slice of New York pizza’ activity though, and I know this because there’s a photo on my phone of Paul fast asleep with a chunk of crust sticking out of his gob. We’re a classy pair, you know.


Right, let’s do the chicken saag aloo! You can cheerfully leave out the chicken and make this into a veggie dish. Why not? You’re the boss! This makes enough for two big bowls. Why chicken saag aloo? Simple. You may remember dear El Ehma from my work? She’s never cooked a meal that didn’t have freezer burn, but she’s really taken to saag aloo. I promised to make a version that she can follow and well, Joe Wicks has a recipe ready! You remember me mentioning Joe Wicks and the fact that we’ve found a whole load of recipes in his book that are perfect for Slimming World? Well we did, and you can buy it here. You can buy his book here and it is one I genuinely recommend.

chicken saag aloo

to make super quick and easy chicken saag aloo, you’ll need:

  • 700g new potatoes
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • two cloves of garlic
  • a little knob of ginger, haha
  • 2 tbsp of garam masala
  • two large chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 big handfuls of spinach leaves
  • squeeze of lemon juice

For the ginger and garlic, grate them finely using a microplane grater. It’s the one gadget we use all the time – you can use it for parmesan, peppers, garlic, ginger, lemon…all sorts! Click here and save!

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

to make super quick and easy chicken saag aloo, you should:

  • cut the potatoes in half, pop them in a microwave dish and cook them for three minutes – then let them rest – and cook again for three minutes – drain and set aside
  • thinly slice your spring onions and cook them off gently in a few spritzes of olive oil
  • once they’re softened, add the ginger and garlic until golden
  • add the potatoes
  • add the garam masala
  • stir everything then add the thinly sliced chicken breasts with a few splashes of water and cook everything through, with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • cook hard and quickly until the chicken is cooked through then add the spinach and allow to wilt down
  • serve with a squeeze of lemon

Easy!

Want more recipes? Natch. Click the buttons!

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmall

J

garlic puy lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese

I know: garlic puy lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese – what a mouthful! Plus there’s lemon breadcrumbs as a topping too. We’re fancy here at twochubbycubs. It does make me sad, though – whenever I post a decent vegetarian recipe it’s like I’ve posted announcing myself as a dog-fiddler or something – tumbleweeds all round. I just feel like the vegetarian side of Slimming World is sorely lacking and it doesn’t need to be. I’m a huge meat-eater: not only literally, but euphemistically and sexually as well. However, swapping out one meat-packed meal for a veggie recipe saves a canny bit of money and is probably better for your shitpipe in the long run. Oh hey, what does a vegan zombie eat?

GGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS

I’ll be here all night.

I’ve been doing all sorts of behind the scenes stuff on the blog this weekend – all terribly boring – but I notice that I’ve never finished off posting our New York stories! We have a few hanging threads like this so the next few posts are going to be the remaining holiday posts from last year with the aim of getting everything nice and lined up for the holidays ahead! Does that make sense? Of course not. But just put a smile on and bear with me. We went to New York in February 2016.


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

One of the things you apparently must do when in Central Park is a trip on a horse-pulled carriage. A quick look on tripadvisor would tell you that it’s simply a quick way to have your wallet emptied by toothless crones running scams but hell, we like to live life on the edge and anyway, any activity that meant we were moving without having to use our feet was good enough for me because at this point in our holiday the bottom of my feet looked like something unpleasant that had been run over. Pouring blood out of your shoe isn’t a great look.

We wandered around a bit trying to catch the eye of one of the swarthy looking gentleman in charge of the horses but to no avail, meaning we eventually had to go up and ask for a romantic half hour trip. Well, Paul did, I didn’t want to be witness to seeing how much money had to change hands. No, I was busy watching the horse who, upon seeing me and Paul shuffling towards it, looked absolutely terrified by the thought of having to pull us two lardarses. I suppose it’s the equivalent of me nipping outside and pulling a bus with the hairs on my arse. We climbed aboard. The horse immediately filled his nappy which I think was possibly a protest, but it really did set the scene.

Luckily, our driver’s grasp on the English language didn’t extend further than telling us the price and shouting at his horse meaning we were free to enjoy ourselves without making painful small-talk but actually, the whole thing felt awful. He kept yelling at the horse, seemingly for going too slow, which felt rather cruel given the poor bugger was pulling the equivalent of a Skoda Octavia behind it, then when he wasn’t shouting at the horse he was bellowing incoherently into his mobile. Perhaps he had another horse on the line. Either way, between the dirty carriage, world’s angriest jockey and poor, frightened horse, it was awful. About as relaxing as trying to solve a Rubik’s cube whilst someone sets your trousers on fire.

After about ten minutes of this we motioned that we would like to disembark and cut our 45-minute trip short. Of course, he was furious, but hey, at least it gave him a chance to shout at us rather than the horse. I like to think that made us equal, my equine friend. He stuck his hand out for a tip after arguing with us for five minutes and I had to really resist the urge to give him a high-five and tell him to fuck off. It was a tempting thought but I didn’t fancy Paul having to scrape half of my face from the tarmac path afterwards. We bustled away and he shot off with the horse, shouting and ranting until he was nothing more than a speck on the horizon. Even now, when I shut my eyes, I can hear “estúpido caballo de mierda” over and over…

Well, that left us in rather a pickle. We’d planned a nice easy jaunt around Central Park, letting the mane take the strain (boom boom), but now we were in the middle of nowhere somewhere near the top of the park with the horrifying thought that we’d need to explore under our own locomotion. But, you know what, that’s exactly what we did – and it was terrific.

We spent a good few hours just walking slowly through the park – taking little side paths, exploring nooks and crannies, unusually, not dogging – it was lovely. We saw some lovely things:

This was my favourite. Not just because they’re fellow Back-Door-Deirdres, but what a sentiment to live a life by. How rare we stop to sit and enjoy the good times, instead we wait until it is too late and mourn them instead. Hohum. Hey, I’m absolutely itching to get a plaque made for a bench in our local park that says ‘JAMES AND PAUL’S BENCH: because doubtless you’ll need a rest, you big fat fucker’ – I can’t see the council signing off on it, though.

We also spotted what Paul’s mother would look like if she was a sheep:

yer yer ‘ere ‘ow do I get that fackin’ Flash player werkin’ I mean he don’t faaackin’ listen

Spotted Ed Sheeran! Actually that’s a fib, got no clue who it is. Just wanted a picture of a couple because every picture of Paul and I one of us is staring moonily at the camera and the other is squinting.

At one point we decided to cut out of the park to grab a coffee from Starbucks (don’t worry, there’s one every four buildings so you’re generally OK). We sat and read the papers and people-watched. I declared, as I always do on holiday no matter where we are, that we should really sell our house in England and move here. I could be a writer with a tiny balcony on which to type my stories and Paul could go and serve beer somewhere where his fatness would be appreciated and welcomed, like a leather fetish bar. We could tell fabulous tales of our metropolitan life, start a food blog, eschew Slimming World and all the pointless rules about not eating avocados…basically, live the dream. We’d get to 55 years old and, having made a pretty penny selling stories and blowjobs, we could jack it all in, mortgage our property and open a little cigar bar in the gay district and call it ‘Big Brown Butts’. We’d laugh uproariously and drink beer and develop a decent salt-and-pepper beard before one of us died from emphysema and the other was reduced to giving handjobs on the subway to make money. Oh my.

Paul immediately burst my bubble by waving the property section of the free paper in front of me where an apartment about the size of our bathroom cost more than our entire house. I might add: we own the most expensive house on our street – it’s no wonder all the other neighbours look furiously at us as we skip mortgage-free to our cars in the morning. That put paid to our dreams and, a little deflated (I mean come on, Big Brown Butts is an amazing name for a gay cigar bar, yes?), we made our way back to Central Park, giant waste-paper-bin-sized coffees in our hands.

As we re-entered the park we noticed a terrific fuss at one of the entrances and a lot of shrieking. Turns out it was a gay wedding and they were pulling up at the gate to have some pictures taken. Aww. We’ve come a long way, baby. The gay man in me (Paul, usually) felt a bit of pride that it was all so accepted and lovely, but then also, the gay man in me winced a little at their completely white suits. We’re talking Gareth Gates in the video for Unchained Melody, here, only without his Jordan-torn foreskin* dripping down his leg. Listen, that wouldn’t have been so bad (and I’m far from a dedicated follower of fashion in my ASDA shoes and Bet Lynch coat) but they’d overdone the fake-fan to an especially luminous degree. Their long white bodies topped with a bright orange face gave them the odd appearance of looking like cigarettes from a distance. Now, there’s an obvious joke there, but I’ll be the better man and not make it.

* Can anyone else remember that? Jordan claimed to have fucked him so hard that his tight foreskin ripped in two. How the fuck have I remembered that? No wonder the poor bugger had a stutter – it was probably fear of round two with that tangerine tart.

We stayed back for a bit whilst they fussed about posing before we both got bored and, realising that there was no way of getting past without interrupting their photo, we walked back up a bit to another entrance so that we could walk back down behind them. See, we can be considerate, especially when fellow chutney-ferrets are involved. We did rather think that once we got back to where they were they’d be finished and we could walk on by, but no, when we got there they were releasing doves. I wanted to stick about in case they wheeled out Elton bloody John (although, given his predilection for olive oil, they could have just slid him down the street) but the day was drawing to a close and we really had to get going. As a result, we should probably apologise to our orange friends who have a set of wedding photos with Paul and I bustling away behind them in our discount coats and me with Frappuccino froth in my ‘tache.

We wandered for ages more – just taking our time, enjoying the crisp, Winter air and the magic of being in Central Park when it was a bit snowy and cold, looking desperately around for the bird lady from Home Alone 2 (though on reflection that was fruitless, as she was at home in Peterborough dropping cigarette ash into Paul’s brother’s dinner) and just having a nice time together. It was all very romantic. Paul was clearly swept up in the romance as he allowed me to buy some food from a street vendor – I wish I hadn’t bothered. They were selling those giant doughy pretzels that I loved so much in Orlando – the ones where when you bite into them you’re rewarded with cheesy goodness and warmth. Pfft. I could have given myself a full body shave with this one it was that dry and tough. I almost went back and bought another so that I could fashion a pair of snow shoes out of them but didn’t want to hand over any more to the grasping charlatan behind the cart.

Mind, we did walk with some style.

Eventually, as dusk gave way to night, we found ourselves at the giant ice-rink. We had no intention of strapping blades to our already swollen, sore feet – that would just be ridiculous. Naturally, we ended up doing exactly that ten minutes later after a lot of ‘it would be silly not to’ and ‘I’m sure it’ll be fine’. It was, for me – I can ice-skate, despite it looking like a wardrobe is thundering around the rink – but Paul has all the co-ordination you’d expect from someone who is twice the weight he should be and has eyes that move entirely independently of each other. It was like that poor horse from earlier had strapped on a pair of blades. Like Bambi, but with something terrifying pressing on his brain stem. We couldn’t skate for long – our ankles were bending as though made from playdoh – but it was a good laugh. Paul did almost take some poor child’s fingertips off when he skated perilously close to her fallen body but luckily, all was well. We decided to stop before we injured someone irreversibly and, after spending about fifteen minutes trying to take off the skates without everyone hearing our rasping, heavy, exhausted breathing, we were back on our way.

Thankfully, without realising it, we’d walked almost to where we started and were able to get an Uber straight back to the hotel. I say straight back but the journey took almost fifty minutes thanks to traffic and tourists. Tchoh. Tourists. Our Uber driver, unusually, wasn’t a frightening ranting racist but instead a perfectly erudite young man who displayed excellent taste by telling us he wanted to move to Scotland and live on an island. We traded stories and the time flew by. We tipped generously, staggered to our room and put our heads down for a quick nap before going back out.

Nope, in what is becoming a running theme for our holidays, we knacker ourselves out so much during the day that we fall asleep early evening and sleep right through. I woke up at about 11 and tried to shake Paul awake so we could go out and get some scran in the city that never sleeps, but he just grumbled something uncouth at me, farted heartily, then went straight back to sleep. After a moment’s furious sulking, I did exactly the same.


Right, let’s get to the lentils! A veggie recipe, yes. But you know, it’s cheap to make and it tastes delicious. In fact, this was a triumph! I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS. It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction. This makes enough for two hearty bowls and I’ve adapted it from an Anna Jones recipe from her book A Modern Way To Cook, which you can pick up here. It’s the first vegetarian book I’ve bought with decent recipes in, so fair play.

garlic puy lentils

to make garlic lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese, you’ll need:

  • 250g of cooked puy lentils (we buy Merchant Gourmet ones from the shop – 2 syns for 250g)
  • five cloves of garlic
  • a few sprigs of thyme (if you don’t have fresh, don’t shit the bed, just use dried)
  • a veggie stock cube
  • 400g of decent cherry tomatoes – there’s some amazing cherry tomatoes out in the shops right now – don’t buy cheap and don’t put them in the bloody fridge, keep them in the sun
  • a teaspoon of lemon juice
  • a wholemeal bun (60g) (HEB)
  • 100ml of fat free cottage cheese
  • 2tbsp of horseradish – we use Colmans and it comes in at 1 syn per tbsp

Now, the original recipe calls for you to cook your own lentils in stock, with four cloves of garlic and a tomato, plus the thyme, until they’re soft. If you like, you can do that. But we’re all about express today.

to make garlic lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese, you should:

  • mix your horseradish into your cottage cheese and set aside
  • cut your tomatoes in half and squirt them with a spritz or two of olive oil – but don’t go mad, the tomato flavour is more than enough
  • take your cloves of garlic, don’t worry about peeling them, and put them on the same tray as the tomatoes
  • roast them in the oven for maybe 30 minutes
  • once they’re done, prepare your breadcrumbs – whizz the bun into crumbs and then, in a bowl, pour the lemon juice over the crumbs and shake them about – you want just a flavour of the juice, not to soak them, then pop them in the oven to crisp
  • peel your garlic cloves and mush them up
  • reheat your cooked lentils by pouring them into a pan, adding 2ooml of stock, the mushed garlic, a few sprigs of thyme, salt, pepper and then cook it right down – nice and quick
  • assemble on the plate – lentils, then tomatoes, then cottage cheese, then the crumbs!

Delicious! I know no-one will make this but hey, worth putting it out there! Want more veggie recipes? Click the buttons below!

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Enjoy!

J

fancy but quick fresh tuna niçoise salad

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

We’re in the slightest of pickles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fresh tuna niçoise salad

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

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

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

to make a fresh tuna niçoise salad, you should:

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

Looking for more ideas? Click the buttons below!

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Have a great bank holiday all!

J

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

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

click here for part one, god-help-you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

to make spicy szechuan beef you will need:

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

for the sauce

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

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

to make spicy szechuan beef you should:

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

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

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J

homemade coronation chicken – perfect for jacket potatoes

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

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

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

I was wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He couldn’t have been older than four.

Part two soon.


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

to make homemade coronation chicken you will need:

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

to make homemade coronation chicken you should:

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

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

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Yum!

J

chicken saltimbocca skewers with wedges, because we’re fancy

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

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

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

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


baby it’s cold inside by Barry Big Knob

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

to make chicken saltimbocca skewers, you’ll need:

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

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

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

to make chicken saltimbocca skewers, you should:

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

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

to make wedges you should:

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

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

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

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

J