chinese chicken lo mein

We’re off gallivanting (actually, we’re watching Homeland with vodka) so just a super quick recipe tonight – but BY GOD it’s good. The sauce does use a lot of ingredients but they’re Slimming World staples – I bet you have them in your cupboard. Mirin is rice vinegar, before anyone asks. Seriously, I dare not use bloody panko again!


to make chinese chicken lo mein, you’ll need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
  • packet of whatever syn free dried noodles you want
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 handful of mangetout, ends trimmed (about twenty pods)
  • 60g spinach
  • 1 red pepper, cut into slices (we only had a green pepper so we used that and added some cherry peppers for some colour!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper


  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 1/2 tbsp Mirin
  • 2 tsp honey (2 syns)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (2 syns)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 180ml cold water

to make chinese chicken lo mein, you should:

  • cook the noodles according to the instructions, drain, and set aside
  • next, make the sauce – it makes it much easier to do this first. In a large jug whisk the cornflour into the water until there are no lumps
  • add all of the other sauce ingredients, mix, and set aside
  • meanwhile, add the chicken to a bowl and toss well with the salt and pepper, haha
  • add a little oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat and cook the chicken until browned
  • remove the chicken from the pan and place onto a plate
  • add a little more oil to the same pan and add the red pepper, mangetout, garlic and ginger and cook for about two minutes, stirring frequently
  • add the spinach and cook for another few minutes until it has wilted
  • add the chicken back to the pan and the noodles
  • pour the sauce over the two and mix well until everything is well coated and cook it for a moment or two, just to thicken
  • serve immediately


steak au poivre

No point in fibbing, we used neither a proper steak or a double cream based sauce for this, but well, we’re on Slimming World and something needs to counter the massive packet of Pinballs that somehow got eaten on the drive home from the cat and dog shelter today. We’ll come to the recipe a wee bit later but first, a couple of things.

Really, just a gentle reminder to all that we’re completely unofficial, and what we write is entirely our own opinion. I like to think we’re genuinely nice people and what we post is all in good humour, but please remember, this is ultimately a personal blog and we’re allowed to let our opinions slip through. Same goes for our Facebook group/page. We’ve experienced a bit of a ‘problem’ user who took great umbrage to me asking, perfectly innocently, where she got her serving platter from and that I thought it was pretty. She inexplicably took this as me suggesting she ate like a pig (which she didn’t, and I wasn’t) and then went onto one of the big facebook groups making out like there had been a whole campaign against her and I was planning on taking out an advert in The Times calling her a fatty-boom-boom. Maybe I exaggerate but, like crabs, exaggeration is catching. What did annoy me – and so little does, honestly – was her making out like I was a bully. I’ve never bullied anyone in my life – I’m too soft-hearted, despite all the puff and bluster. I’d be absolutely and utterly mortified to have caused genuine upset, but what I think happened was that she wildly misconstrued the original comment and then couldn’t quite calm down. An over-reaction against a slight that never happened – that’s the Internet for you. I did explain, over and over and over, but…ah well. If you’ve come to the page expecting Hitler in an XXL Cotton Traders t-shirt fatshaming women all over, you must be sorely disappointed. If you’re here wanting diet advice and a few laughs and pictures of cats, you’ve definitely come to the right place. Take a look over the last year’s worth of posts, pictures and recipes, and then decide if I’m a bully. 

No need to leave a comment re: the above!

We’re struggling more and more not to buy a dog. Personally, I think it would be a little mean given we’re out all day, but then, dog-sitters exist…every time we come away from the cat and dog shelter I almost have to drag Paul to the car weeping and wailing over some cute bundle of fur that he’s seen. It’s like Sophie’s Choice every fucking Sunday. We’d be absolutely excellent ‘parents’ but I don’t know. I mean, we’ve just had that lovely sofa delivered. I’d prefer another cat, but given our two alternate between tearing lumps out of one another and spending an hour or so licking each other’s arsehole in front of our TV, maybe it’s not the best time to introduce another. There’s a cat there called Malcolm with beautiful tiger stripes and big green eyes and I know, I just know, he’s going to end up being put into our car at some point. It’s funny, back in the day when we had three cats (before we gave one away to a lonely friend), when we introduced Cat 3, Cat 1’s reaction was to piss on everything we owned. She pissed on our skybox, she pissed on Paul’s slippers, she even climbed up onto the hob and pissed all over that. She even left us a few hot links in the shower for good measure. She seemed content enough but for ages our tea had a faint scent of ammonia about it. I just wish I was rich, then I’d give them all a home.

Finally, we went to B&M today which is always a mistake because I end up getting so wound up. Who out there is buying those bits of wood with messages like ‘MEMORIES LIVE FOREVER, DREAMS FADE’ and ‘BITCH OF THE KITCHEN’ on them? Because whoever you are, please stop it immediately. I swear I walked through an aisle so full of motivational slogans and ‘PRINCESS’ tags that I came out the other end with diabetes and an hour to live. Though, I did chuckle to note that the second ‘S’ from a big lump of shite with ‘Princess’ emblazoned on it had fallen to the floor, leaving it looking like a motivational plank for a tin of corned beef. To my “delight” they had put out all the Christmas decorations, meaning I got a good early look at all the tat I’m going to be driving past and tutting at. Again – tell me – who buys those awful ‘snow scenes’ with the tiny people whirring around on sledges? Who wants what looks like a lump of asbestos knocked out of a wall and painted by a lunatic sitting atop their mantle? But I think, really, the very worst thing I saw was a toilet seat cover with Santa’s cheery face on it. Because nothing says ‘IT’S CHRIIIIIIIISTMAS’ like having to look at Santa’s twinkling eyes whilst you’re touching cloth? I think there’s something deeply troubling about having to lift up Santa’s face to curl one out – it’s like you’re shitting on Christmas itself. Still, a bargain at £1.99.

That said, we didn’t come away completely empty-handed. We caved and bought a few bits of shite for our props cupboard – that’s the random stuff you’ll sometimes see in photos, such as the hot-dog wrappers and the popcorn stand. That’s the problem with running a food blog, your kitchen becomes awash with absolute nonsense items bought for one photo and consigned to the back of the cupboard. Remember the little machine I bought that turns eggs into neat squares? It’s fun, but it’s been stopping our little drawer under the oven from closing properly for about six months now. Ditto the popcorn machine. Ditto the lollipop moulds…and so on. OH MIDDLE CLASS PROBLEMS RIGHT?

steak au poivre

to make steak au poivre you’ll need:

  • 2 hache steaks – we used the two from Musclefood that come with our box – details here – but if you want to buy them on their own, they’re right here! They’re a decent, cheap alternative and according to the syns calculator, they come out as syn free. NICE. They’re like a really thick, tasty burger. Also, you can use any steak of course!
  • 75ml worcestershire sauce
  • 10-20 peppercorns
  • 75ml fat free fromage frais
  • ½ chicken stock cube

to make hasselback potatoes you’ll need:

  • 1kg of charlotte potatoes (or similar)
  • Filippo Berio spray oil (7 sprays is ½ syn)
  • 2 tbsp parmesan, grated (2 syns)

to make crispy kale you’ll need:

  • as much kale as you’d like
  • Filippo Berio spray oil (7 sprays is ½ syn)
  • pinch of five spice seasoning


to make steak au poivre you should:

  • pour the worcestershire sauce into a small saucepan
  • heat the saucepan over a medium high heat until it starts to boil and reduced by about half, leaving a thick syrup
  • remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes – this is very important so that the mixture doesn’t split – and don’t worry if it goes sticky, that’s fine
  • when cooled slightly, add the fromage frais and mix to combine, it should end up a caramel colour. use a silicon spatula to scrape the syrup up from the pan if you need to
  • crumble the stock into the mixture and stir
  • place the pan back on the hob on the lowest possible setting and keep stirring, keeping a careful eye on it to make sure it doesn’t split
  • next, add the peppercorns and stir – the more you use, the hotter it’ll be (we used all 20 and it was lovely)
  • meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over a medium-high heat with a little oil
  • add the hache steaks to the pan and cook to your liking
  • serve, pouring the sauce over the steak

to make hasselback potatoes, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • place the potato into the bowl of a wooden spoon – this stops you from cutting all the way through
  • cut into the potato at a sharp angle until you hit the spoon edge
  • do this every 3mm or so and complete for each of the potatoes
  • place all of the potatoes onto a baking sheet and spray with the oil
  • sprinkle over some salt and the parmesan
  • bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes

to make the crispy kale you should:


  • spread the kale out onto a baking sheet
  • spray with only a couple of pumps of oil
  • sprinkle over some five spice
  • bake in the oven at 210°c for about 10 minutes



stir fried greens with plum sauce

Man, I feel rough as a badger’s arse this evening. So you’ll forgive me if I go and tip every potion and lotion into the bath and go baste for a good hour.  I have a lengthy Corsica entry typed up but it needs proofing and oh god, I am boring myself. So, here is a recipe to go with the delicious garlic beef we served yesterday. PRAY FOR MOJO. Can’t claim credit for this one – well, we can, we made it suitable for Slimming World, but it’s actually bastardised from a Wagamama recipe. Oh my.

stir fried greens with plum sauce

to make stir fried greens with plum sauce, you’ll need:

  • 200g dried noodles
  • 150g broccoli florets
  • 1 onion, sliced thickly
  • 3cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 pak choi (or 2 baby pak choi), chopped roughly
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp plum sauce (3 syns)
  • 1 red chilli, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 100ml chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • 2 tsp cornflour (1 syn), dissolved in 2 tbsp chicken stock

to make stir fried greens with plum sauce, you should:

  • prepare all of your ingredients beforehand- trust me, it makes things MUCH easier
  • cook the noodles according to the instructions – drain and set aside
  • heat a large frying pan or wok over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • stir fry the broccoli and onion for about two minutes
  • add the ginger, garlic and pa choi and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes
  • add the plum sauce, soy sauce and chilli and cook for another two minutes
  • add the stock and the dissolved corn flour and stir for about half a minute until it all thickens up
  • add the noodles to the pan and stir to combine everything
  • serve!




roast beef with french onion gravy

BEFORE I BEGIN. We have a major backlog of comments. I turned off notifications for the blog when I went away on holiday, forgot to turn them back on and just noticed I’ve got 78 comments to approve. Oops. If you have commented and you’re sitting there thinking what a rude fucker I am for not replying, I apologise profusely. I’ll work through them. OK? So calm down!

Gosh. Finally something to do with that slab of beef I’ve had chilling in the kitchen going a bit green. Yes, I set him to work cooking some roast beef for ma dinner. BOOM. He deserves to be put to work, anyway, for the cheeky crack he made about me in my new coat, which zips right up to under my chins. Upon seeing me (and remembering that I’m especially bearded at the moment) in my fancy new coat, he told me my ‘face looked like a seventies porno muff’. Nice!

I’m spending the evening looking at hotels and bits and bobs to do in Iceland. We’ve decided to give Air B&B a go. 

I know, I know. We’re asking for trouble. 

I’ve always wanted to stay at a B&B, because they’re usually somewhere beautiful and it doesn’t quite feel like you’re sleeping in the jizz-dust of 1,000 businessmen that have literally come before you. But I just can’t. For one, I have a shit poker face, and if I was shown into a room and I didn’t like it, the disappointment avalanching across my ashen face would immediately make me an enemy of the host and she’d spit in my breakfast. I can’t bear chintz and flimflam and unnecessary accessories (although that would make a good band name, no?) either, so unless it was a perfectly sterile room decorated in tiny nice things, I’d feel uncomfortable. Then there’s the small talk – I don’t want to be fussed over as I try not to die in my morning coffee or asked where I’m going / how I’m getting there or tutted at when I don’t take my boots off. I’d spend the entire time away agonising over any little offence I may have caused that I’d simply need another holiday afterwards to relax. 

That said, I did once see a B&B on Four in a Bed where about two hundred cats roamed the property and it was pretty much a guarantee that you’d end up in bed with a hairy Persian sitting on your face – and well, that sounds good to me.

Speaking of cats, we took ourselves off to Mog on the Tyne (what can I say, I’m a sucker for puns – I’d eat my dinner in a clap clinic if it was given a pun for a name…something like Spotted Dicks or The Leaky Bucket) a couple of weeks ago. Mog on the Tyne is Newcastle’s first cat café and, with a rare afternoon off, Paul and I decided to try it. 

It’s brilliant. The food is basic café food – paninis, quiche, brownies et al – but the focus lies squarely on the ten or so cats that mill around the place, fighting, purring or – as is always the case with me – showing their bumholes as you try to finish your brownie. The café is fitted out with all sorts of toys, climbing frames and beds and the cats seem perfectly content – of course they are, they’re getting made a fuss of. You have to pay a fiver each for entry (which is unusual, because in the Bigg Market, usually it only takes a Blue WKD and a ten-deck of Lambert and Butler to be guaranteed entry) (sorry) which pays towards the upkeep of the cats, and the food is reasonable quality. It was a charming way to spend an hour and I’d heartily recommend it if you’re a cat fan. Of course, if you’re not a cat fan, then you have other options available, such as having a quiet word with yourself regarding the direction your life has taken. Our favourite cat was seemingly everyone else’s – a beast of a pussy called Stan who had suffered a nasty road accident. Aye, he took the bend at Billy Mill roundabout at 50mph in a Ford Capri and lost control. 

No, he got run over and although he’s fine now, he’s unable to put his tongue in his mouth, meaning he has a permanently dopey expression. I’ve shamelessly stolen a picture from another blog because all of my photos look like I’ve taken them using a potato (credit to – click here to read their report).


Now then! You can find more details on Mog on the Tyne at their website – – give them a go!

Of course, the bonus of visiting Mog on the Tyne was that as soon as we got back, our cats were all over us like flies on muck. I felt like a husband cheating on his missus, especially as the cats kept sniffing the end of my fingers and recoiling (which to be fair, I do myself). Awkward.

Right, tonight’s recipe.

roast beef with french onion gravy

to make roast beef with french onion gravy, you’re gonna need:

  • 1kg beef (silverside or topside) – tip if you’re a tightarse, scour the reduced sections in your supermarket on Monday morning, they’ll always be shifting beef
  • 8 small carrots or four large ones or two massive carrots or one carrot as big as your leg – chopped

Sorry, can I just jump in here and say how much I hate logging onto Slimming World’s website to check syns? It’s the ‘Log in and Love It’ slogan. Love what? Using a website that acts and feels like it was built back when geocities was a thing? Love typing ‘olive oil’ into the syns checker and getting nothing but typing ‘artisanal rice crackers’ and getting Tesco’s entire stock inventory? Fucks sake.

  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 170ml white wine (6 syns)
  • 600ml beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500g brown onions
  • 1 tsp honey (1 syn)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbsp corn flour (1 syn)

Shit the bed! Eight syns! Yes, but the syns all belong in the gravy and unless you’re going to be drinking from the gravy boat, you’ll not get anywhere near eight syns. Hell, this serves 4 anyway. So calm down.

to make roast beef with french onion gravy, like a big bloody pansy, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 160 degrees and heat a large casserole dish
  • lube up your meat with a little oil and plenty of salt and pepper
  • pack your meat in the warm, waiting dish and return to the oven to brown for about ten minutes
  • meanwhile, spray a frying pan with a little Frylight and fry the carrots and celery for ten minutes, and it’s alright to spend five minutes shaking your fist at the sky at a cruel God who decided celery should be a thing
  • plop your meat out of the pan, and slap it to one side
  • pour the wine into the casserole dish and boil for two minutes over a high heat
  • pour in the stock, return the beef and add the carrots, celery and bay leaves – you’ll feel like such a posh fucker using bay leaves
  • cover and return to cook in the oven for two hours, turning the meat halfway – you don’t need to wait at the oven until exactly sixty minutes to turn it, this isn’t The Cube
  • meanwhile, thinly slice the onions and heat a little oil in a large frying pan
  • stir in the onions, thyme and seasoning to taste
  • cover and cook gently for twenty minutes on a low heat until the onions are soft but not coloured (racist)
  • remove the lid, increase the heat and add a little more oil and the honey and cook the onions until they caramelise, stirring often
  • remove the thyme sprigs, brush the cat’s teeth with them or something
  • when the beef is ready remove from the casserole dish and leave to rest
  • reheat the onion mixture, stir in the corn flour and cook for one minute
  • mix the onions into the casserole dish to make a thick gravy – you’ll want it thick enough that it runs down the side of your meat and makes your tatties sticky
  • slice the beef and pour the gravy over the top – now, if you’re not good at slicing meat, let someone competent do it – Paul cuts meat like he’s shaving a fucking ice-sculpture with a chainsaw – we only get two slices a pop from our sourdough
  • serve with a fabulous selection of superfree food, or, in our case, more roasties than ten decent people would eat

Get it down you!


sweet and sour pork meatballs

James is busy trying to be all macho with his dad putting together our new utility room but there’s no manly way to hold a handheld Dyson or use a microfibre cloth. So tonight’s post comes from me (Paul). Sorry about that.

Blimey. What a day. I knew there was something the matter with us when we starting planning our day at IKEA. ON A BASTARD BANK HOLIDAY. IKEA is pure hell at the best of times – one of these places that makes you think you’re going to have a wonderful day bouncing about on sofa cushions and bean bags and being one big giggling family with a hot dog and an ice cream at the end, when the reality is actually you spending one floor staring intensely into the back of someone’s head because they’re walking far too slowly, and the second floor wanting to just die because you’re SICK OF THIS SHIT ALREADY. So, against our better judgement, that’s what we did today.

But with a difference.

After having the Ikea experience on multiple occasions for big projects (like the kitchen) we’ve eventually got this all down to a tee. So, down to the second, we had the whole day planned out that minimised any interaction with slow-walking, gormless members of the public, ordered a new living room set, refunded a dodgy kitchen door (that I accidentally drilled through – eeehwhatamilike) and threw in a breakfast for good measure. Well, you need that energy if you’re going to mutter ‘FUCKING MOVE’ under your breath every ten seconds.

We arrived on the dot, just as the revolving door started to move and slyly minced our way through all the shortcuts to get straight to the restaurant – the most important part of the day. Once James had wiped away his tears after noticing they’d gotten rid of the potato cake (NOOOOOOOOOOOO) we were straight to the BESTÅ stand to fuck around on some crappy little computer bunging cupboards on walls. If you’ve ever fancied having a sob into some KUNTÅ sidetable go ahead and try and plan your living room on their online planner. It’s what I imagine it’d be like to be Stephen Hawking on speed trying to describe the texture of Quark on that little Atari he’s got strapped to his chair. Stressful isn’t the word. You might as well etch your design it into your arm with a compass and present it the warehouse staff.

I’d fantasised about at least ten ways of dispatching multiple rough sorts on the way to the lighting section. I can never understand the mentality of people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to just stop in the middle of an aisle when there’s practically a stampede of guffawing Geordies rampaging towards you (not unlike that scene in the Lion King but with a lot more polyester and teenage pregnancies). I bet those people are also those that pull their trolley across in a supermarket like a barrier. I’m far too polite (cowardly) though to ever say anything. I just stare at them like I’m trying to burn through them with laser-beam eyes. James isn’t quite so composed and will just barge through shouting at people to ‘MOVE!’, like a hairy snow plough. He almost ran someone off the road simply for having the temerity of having a mauve car.

Fortunately though the whole day was a success, despite all the eejits and lack of an ice cream at the end and we got everything sorted. They even managed to refund us the drawer and door that I ballsed up without a receipt. God love ‘em. As a thank you I was sure to press the green smiley face button that measures people’s happiness as many times as I could. I’d like to think it made a difference.

One way we always make our IKEA experience a little more fun is to watch out for any couples that are eyeing up a particular piece of furniture. If either of them makes a muttering that they quite like it we’ll always come up behind them and then start slagging it off. ‘Oh that’s fucking gopping’, or, “Oh lord, I’ve never seen anything as tacky as THAT in my life’. They’ll soon walk off and have a tiff a little further on. Oh we’re such terrors.

But that’s enough yak. In the spirit all things IKEA we’ve managed to bring together a delicious meatball recipe that’ll cure any takeaway pangs you have… here’s our take on Sweet & Sour Pork Meatballs.


to make our sweet and sour pork meatballs, you’ll need:

for the meatballs:

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • half a pineapple, cut into small chunks (0.25cm)

for the sweet and sour sauce:

  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minded
  • ½ large red pepper, sliced
  • ½ green pepper, sliced
  • 3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • half a pineapple, cut into chunks (halve again into two separate portions)
  • 115g tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey (5 syns)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

and this is how you make it:

  • preheat your oven to 180°c and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper
  • heat a small saucepan over a medium heat and add a little oil
  • add the minced garlic and spring onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened and slightly browned. set aside
  • in a large bowl mix together the mince, carrot, peppers, egg, basil, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, pineapple pieces and the spring onions
  • roll the mixture into even sized balls – squeezing out the liquid if you need to – don’t worry if it seems too wet (fnar), they’ll keep their shape if you squeeze enough liquid out (fnar)
  • place the meatballs onto the baking sheet and spray with a little Frylight
  • cook for about thirty minutes or until golden brown
  • whilst the meatballs are cooking you can make the fruity sauce
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a little oil
  • add the sliced red onion and garlic and stir frequently until the onion is slightly caramelised
  • add the peppers one of the pineapple portions and cook for a few minutes until softened
  • add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and keep cooking, stirring frequently
  • using a sieve, crush down the other half of the pineapple chunks portion into a jug to get the juice
  • add the cornflour to the pineapple juice and stir until dissolved
  • add the tomato paste, honey, cider vinegar, lemon juice and 120ml water to the jug and mix well
  • pour this mixture into the frying pan, bring to a boil and simmer for about ten minutes until the mixture thickens
  • serve the meatballs and pour the sauce over the top

Please don’t be put off by the long ingredient list – you’ll probably have a lot of it already in your cupboards and if not, go get some! It’ll all be dead cheap and useful to you for future recipes. Also, don’t be put off by the syn values – yes, this uses honey and cornflour but divided by four this only comes in at 1.5 syns, which is nothing compared to a takeaway. And, it’ll finally give you a reason to use that pineapple you keep buying and leaving to rot on your windowsill…

Technically, because you’re squeezing the juice out of a quarter of a pineapple you could syn it if you’re anal about such things. We didn’t because we take a more common sense approach to tweaking. You can if you wish – I reckon it’d be about half a syn’s worth (if that).

Smaklig måltid!

200 posts – plus turkey and bacon meatballs with homemade bbq sauce

Well christ almighty, we’ve made it to two hundred posts. 200! To put that into perspective, each post on average is around 1500 words, so that 300,000 words, or Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix combined with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. AND, unlike JK Rowling, I can still crack a smile or two! Actually, that’s unfair, she seems like a lovely person – she’s just always looks as though she’s seen her arse and doesn’t care for the colour. I bet the words of a fat diet blogger really stings – she’ll be sobbing into her solid-gold handkerchief and dabbing her tears with £50 notes.

But honestly, it’s just incredible to me that we’ve racked up so many recipes, posts, slang words for willies, nonsense and flimflam in just under eight months, and that’s excluding the various interludes where we stuffed ourselves with pizza fixed up the house or the website. Normally we take up a hobby and give it up fairly quickly, but it’s become a proper routine in Cubs Towers – plan the recipes, buy the ingredients, type the blog.

Occasionally it can feel like a slog typing it all out, but listen – we know what it’s like to be on SW and seeing the same old recipes bandied around. There’s lots of nice foods but people limit themselves to the same watery stews, anaemic veg and nonsense chemical concoctions, and it’s just not sustainable. The best ‘recipe’ I’ve seen recently is a ‘jam doughnut’, which was a bloody brown breadbun injected with a bit of jam and rolled in sweetener. That’s no more a jam doughnut than I am a black lesbian. Why do that to yourself? Why not have a jam doughnut and syn it? Or, make a decent attempt at a low-syn pudding and take the edge off? Eh, I don’t know.

Certainly, our weight loss has been slow – but it’s been steady. I haven’t updated that banner in a few weeks but we’re nearly up to 60lb weight loss between us, and cumulatively, we’ve actually lost more than that – but gained a few pounds back on holiday. Our aim has always been 2lb a week for me and 1lb a week for Paul. I’ve seen grown women throwing tantrums because they’ve “only lost 2lb this week” (although actually, it’s usually “OMG onli lst 2lb dis wk :'(“, like there’s some kind of fucking tax on vowel usage) and I just despair – it’s so much better to lose slowly and not feel like you’re on a diet than it is to starve yourself, eat beans all day and shit your way to weight loss which you’ll immediately put on the second you slip into size-16 knickers. We’ve all been there too, losing a stone and then zipping around Tesco like we’re on the final round of Supermarket Sweep, running our arm along the biscuit aisle and emptying the shelves into our trolley. It’s pointless and doesn’t work. 

Look through our recipes and you’ll see many, many different styles of cooking and flavours. We consciously avoid repeating recipes too much, and we’ll normally try and sneak in an unusual flavour or arrangement at least once a week. We’ve learnt so much and, for once, we’re enjoying being on a diet. This blog gives me (James) a mouthpiece for rambling and nonsense but it’s actually kept us on track – having to think up new foods means we’re focused on our diet and the ‘can’t be arsed’ element disappears.

But – and christ, prepare for your teeth to start rotting – the best part about all of this is you. Seriously. Seeing people trying our recipes, sharing links, joining our group (4,000+ members) or facebook page (almost 14,000 likes in two weeks), passing around that FAQ or even stopping us to let us know how much you enjoy it – well it genuinely, whole-heartedly makes our day. I’m actually quite a quiet person at times, and it’s such a lovely feeling to know people are enjoying what I have to say. Please continue to comment, to share, to take part, we love it all, and we promise that in return we’ll keep going. Not least because I want to get to 365 posts…!

Right, you can come back now. I know, feelings much. To celebrate, I’m going to post a recipe that we’ve been keeping back for a special occasion because it was so, so nice. It’s a long one, but you can take it. Just push out and think of England.

turkey meatballs with bacon

How best to do this…let’s go for constituent parts. So…

to make the sauce, you’ll need:

  • one very large white onion, or two smaller ones, I’m not a size queen (that’s a lie, I totally am)
  • 500ml of passata
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp of honey (5 syns – but this makes – easily – eight servings, so I’m going to say one syn for the dish)
  • 3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce
  • pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper
  • some chilli flakes if you want to punish your nipsy

This recipe is wonderfully easy. You’ll need a receptacle for your sauce – this makes enough to fill two medium sized ketchup bottles. Ours are Kilner and like everything else, we bought it from Amazon. You can get six for a tenner here. You’ll use about a bottle’s worth in this recipe, so the other bottle you can keep sealed in the fridge. It really does make a wonderful sauce which would be amazing on pulled pork or burgers.

The other thing I’m going to push here is our Kenwood Mini Chopper. Normally we chop our onions by hand but because the recipe calls for it to be very finely chopped, we used this. It makes very quick work of cutting up onions and various other things and is excellent for making breadcrumbs too. It’s £14 on Amazon. Not essential but I will say this – as people who use a lot of gadgets, this is probably one of our favourites. Right, so…

you’ll need to do this:

  • if you’re using a chopper, finely pulse the onion and garlic until you get a finely chopped paste – don’t make it too mushy mind
  • if you’re using a knife, you want it cut very fine
  • tip into a pan with a drop of oil and the salt and, on a medium heat, allow to soften
  • add everything else into the pan after five minutes or so (make sure the onion doesn’t catch, although, a bit of smokiness is no bad thing)
  • simmer gently for five minutes or so
  • allow to cool, and then blend it – again, we just tipped it into the Mini Chopper, whizzed it up and then poured it into the ketchup bottles – no need for extra dishes or gadgets

Keep those bottles to one side. Don’t put the lids on until they’re nice and cool mind. On we go…

to make the spinach, you’ll need:

  • a big family bag of spinach – not a pissy little few leaves, because it’s a scientific fact that spinach reduces in volume by 10,000% if someone so much as breathes near it
  • two garlic cloves – cut into the finest of slivers
  • a couple of squirts of oil or Frylight

and then you:

  • squirt the bottom of the pan with a drop of oil or frylight
  • add in the garlic
  • apply a gentle heat and allow the garlic to take on a bit of colour and flavour the oil
  • add spinach, lower the heat, cover and allow to wilt right down
  • serve (note: this spinach takes about five minutes, so make it at the end of your meal)

to make the meatballs, you’ll need:

  • 500g of turkey mince – a lot of people ask me where they can find this – Tesco is my answer, and here’s another tip, it’s forever being reduced. If you spot it in the reduced meats bit, check to see whether it has a £3 for £10 sticker on it still – if it has, SCORE. Buy three packs and although it’s reduced in price, it still discounts the lot as though they were full price, which means you end up paying about £4 for three packets of mince. Damn, I shouldn’t give that away…
  • 6 bacon medallions, or normal bacon with the best bit cut off
  • 4 spring onions, chopped fine, white and green bits used please
  • one small breadbun made into breadcrumbs (HEB) – you’ll may not need them all
  • 1 small egg
  • 2 tsp of ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp of dried parsley or even better, fresh parsley, but double up if it’s fresh

you’ll then need to:

  • put the oven up to 200ºC or 180ºC fan – do you know, I really loathe how Mary Berry says ‘fan’, fact-fans
  • cook your bacon – nice and crispy mind, then allow it to cool and cut it up (or use your chopper) into nice small bits
  • put your turkey mince into a bowl, add everything else, and mash it all together. Really take out your frustrations here. Lady in Primark gave you a shitty look? Someone cut you up in a company-lease BMW? Sat behind someone with dickies on the bus? Imagine that’s their face and PUMMEL
  • once you’ve got all that anger out and your tears have dried on your cheeks, you want to set to work dividing up the meatballs – keep them small – perhaps the size of a child’s bouncy ball* – and place onto a baking tray sprayed with one spurt of oil or Frylight
  • at this point, you might find you’ve got too many to eat in one go – that’s fine – set aside any leftover balls on a plate and put into the freezer, and once they’re frozen, take them off the plate and put into a bag (that way they don’t stick together whilst they freeze, genius right?)
  • brown your balls in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes until they’ve firmed up and taken on a bit of colour
  • finish them off in a frying pan – get it fairly hot, drop in your balls and then tip in maybe a quarter or half of your sauce, and cook them through, letting the sauce glaze your balls
  • serve on top of your noodles and spinach with carrots on the side if you want them

* know this. I spent about fifteen minutes, I shit you not, trying to think of something comparable in size to a meatball, and all I could think about was testicles. It’s hard being me. 

to make the carrots, you’ll need:

  • six or seven carrots, spiralised
  • 1 tbsp of honey (2.5 syns)
  • a squirt or two of oil
  • caraway seeds

Just a note about the spiraliser – you don’t need one. Look you really don’t. But they’re good fun and a piece of piss to use. We’ve only just got one and if you’re interested, you can buy one for £27 here. They make courgettes into spaghetti and various other things, but you can do the same thing with a knife, so don’t get your bajingo frothing if you can’t find one. 

and then you’ll need to do this:

  • spiralise or cut up your carrots
  • put into a bowl and add the oil and honey
  • chuck in the caraway seeds and a pinch of salt
  • mix, mix, mix, mix – get everything nicely coated (it helps to use runny honey) 
  • chuck in the oven until they’re soft – or crunchy, if you prefer it, up to you!

We cooked up some syn-free noodles and layered our plate with noodles, spinach and meatballs, with extra BBQ sauce on the top and those carrots on the side. You don’t need the carrots, but they’re a nice addition – we just had a surplus rattling around in the bottom of the fridge, so why not?