budget week: tuna frittata with a boob of couscous

Who doesn’t love a boob of couscous? Eh? I’ve normally got some degree of couscous caught up in my chest hair since we’ve taken to buying the industrial-sized catering tubs from Costco and eating couscous for every meal where we can’t be arsed to cook. Seriously, it’s hard work being so hairy.

Mild hysteria yesterday when, after both getting in from work and GASP, discovering the TV was covered in a dust blanket (which would have needed oooh…around 3 seconds to remove, but we were tired), we went straight to bed for a lie-down. As you do. I was winding Paul up by putting my finger in his belly button whilst he dozed only to pull out a finger covered in soft, brown, lumpy matter. I genuinely fell off the bed in horror thinking it was faeces. How and why didn’t cross my mind. Paul woke up with a start (he tends to when I start shrieking, I’m like the campest alarm clock you could think of), saw the mess and looked equally confused.

Turns out it was a big old chunk of chocolate muffin that had spilled down his shirt whilst he wolfed it down in the car on the way home so I wouldn’t know he’d cheated on his diet. See? Some people find out their husband is having an affair through errant text messages or boxer shorts that look like a painter’s radio – I find out Paul has been cheating on his diet because his belly-button filled with chocolate. The poor bastard never gets a break, does he?

I managed to mortify him in Homebase yesterday when I told the woman behind the counter that the scented candle she proffered me ‘smelled like my nana’s house, and she’s been dead for four months’, then wandered off chuckling whilst Paul fished about for the Nectar card. I do that a lot, make comments and roll out of shot – we were once in ASDA behind someone describing (I think) a car crash by saying ‘first he thrashed it over to the left, then the right, then it span out of control and four people got hurt’, when I jokingly said ‘Sounds like one hell of a smear test that’ and disappeared into the magazine aisle. Paul’s still got the burns from the glare he got off the poor lady. Ah well. It’s all fun until someone gets punched on the tit.

Our house is still an absolute bombsite but at least, thanks to our excellent painter, all the painting is finally done. Excellent. Our cats decided to celebrate by dragging a bird through our cat-flap and splattering blood all over our hallway wall (Dulux Urban Obsession, since you ask). They’re kind like that. How I chuckled and clutched at my sides as I pushed them back out the cat-flap with the toe of my Dr Martens and put the lock on. I think they knew they had upset me, they spent the next thirty minutes silently meowing at the living room window before giving up and resuming licking their arses with their back legs stuck up like a big fuck-you-finger to common decency.

The other bit of good news is that my absolute legend of a dad has finished building us our lovely patio outside in the back garden. Whilst that’s smashing news for us as it means we can lounge about on our fabulous oak outdoor furniture, it’s bad news for anyone walking down the street as it means we can lounge about on our fabulous oak outdoor furniture, and they’ll be sick with jealousy. Well, perhaps not jealousy, perhaps nausea. What kind of noise does a sweaty back peeling away from wood make? Like pulling the last rasher of bacon out of the packet I imagine. They’ve got that to look forward to.

Anyway, that’s quite enough nonsense, I’m getting a pain from my back from typing this on the computer whilst sitting on a set of decorating ladders. The things I do for you lot. Tonight’s recipe comes with a warning: it looks absolutely bloody revolting going into the oven. I thought Paul had taken up regurgitating my food for me and good lord, the smell. But persevere, because it actually made a tasty little dish with plenty left over for the morning! So, tuna frittata – this serves six easily!

tuna frittata

to make tuna frittata, you’ll need:

  • 1 tin of tuna in water (62p from Tesco) (added benefit of being pole and line caught)
  • 2 shredded large carrots (Tesco Everyday Value bagged carrots – 53p – worked out about 10p)
  • 1 chopped onion (9p from Tesco)
  • 2 minced garlic cloves (30p for a whole bulb from Tesco, two cloves, let’s say 4p)
  • 100ml of 1% milk (5p – 2l from Tesco being a quid)
  • two wholemeal breadbuns (12 for £1 in Tesco, so 16p)
  • 8 eggs (12 free-range eggs are £1.75, so £1.15)
  • 1 chicken stock cube (everyone has stock cubes)
  • salt and pepper to taste (ditto)
  • parmesan cheese – now, here’s something you don’t necessarily need but let me tell you something – you’re better off buying a block of it and using it sparingly rather than chucking it on with gay abandon – so we’re going to call it 50p, given the block I buy is normally around £4 and lasts forever
  • optional extras: served with two packets of Ainsley Harriott’s couscous (nearly always £1 for two) and a big bag of rocket (£1.50) (add an extra 45p for the sides or come up with something else)

This dish uses the HEB of two people for the bun and a portion of someone’s HEA for the milk and a HEA for the cheese, but really, split between six, it’s nothing. Up to you if you count it. No syns though!

and so…

  • stick the oven onto 190 degrees
  • sweat the onion like a bad-ass, then chop the garlic up and add into the onions
  • in a bowl, tear apart the breadbuns and soak them in the milk
  • after five minutes, add the onion, salt, pepper, chicken stock cube and eggs into the bowl and whisk everything together using a hand-whisk or just good old elbow grease
  • throw in the tuna and grated carrot and mix mix mix
  • grease a pyrex dish of your choosing and slop your dinner into it, then grate 30g of Parmesan on the top
  • try to see through your tears at the smell and look and put it in the oven to cook for around 50 minutes – keep an eye on it mind 
  • take it out to cool and make up your sides – I cook the couscous simply by pouring boiling water on, no butter, putting it into a bowl and tipping it out – hence the boob!
  • enjoy

to gussy it up:

  • add frozen peas
  • more cheese
  • top the top with tomatoes
  • buy better tuna, though actually, the cheap tuna from Tesco is decent and fairly caught

to save even more:

  • spend a bit of money and buy a friggin’ microplane grater – it’ll make your garlic and parmesan go so much further, trust me. Get one here!
  • buy cheaper eggs – no guilt from me for suggesting this one – free range eggs are better, absolutely, but if you’re on the bones of your arse, meh. Free range doesn’t mean much these days, sadly;
  • more carrots to bulk it out!

 

spicy tuna and bacon pasta

Just a recipe today folks, as we’re having a lazy day in front of Netflix. We literally could not have done less today – we stayed in bed until 10am, got up, took the duvet with us and got under it on the sofa and have barely moved since.  Paul went for a piss sometime after noon and I’ve made a few cups of tea, but put it this way, if we had a pedometer attached to one of our flabrolls, it would read ‘ERR’ right now. Ah well. We work hard, we can rest! It’s lucky that neither of us are the type to look with jealous eyes at other people on Facebook who are out protesting, or burning in the sun, or rolling down hills in plastic balls. I mean, yes, that’s fun, but it’s so energetic. We like to rest before we get tired.

Tell you what though, we have had a minor bout of decisiveness – we’ve only gone and booked our Christmas holiday! Yes, we’re shuffling our jellyforms onto a plane bound for Iceland. Iceland! Not the shop – the idea of spending my holiday surrounded by a herd of woman with moustaches buying horse-arse burgers and a suitcase of ice-pops holds no appeal. Thinking about it, Iceland really is the perfect holiday destination for two plus-sized puffs:

  • they’re super gay-friendly, which is a bonus as it means I can hold Paul’s hand without having my teeth kicked out through my arse;
  • a lot of their food seems repellant to me, and christ, I’ll put any old shite in my mouth, but ‘singed and boiled sheep head’ and ‘shark fermented in piss’ seems a bit much even for me. I might get old Magsy on the blower tonight and see if she’ll do a piss-shark special in the next magazine;
  • it’s cold – very cold – which means we don’t need to be walking around fanning our faces like frisky debutantes and worrying about the sweat patches forming under our bitch-titties; and
  • it’s not going to be full of awful people who think a SKOL ashtray and a STELLA umbrella is the sign of a fine establishment, although, the other side of that coin is that it’s bound to be full of hipsters photographing the Northern Lights and saying yah-but-really-though all the time.

So: if you’re a fan of our previous travels to Ireland or Germany, you’ll enjoy hearing us battle our way through the customs and traditions of Iceland. Anyway: tonight’s recipe, before I pass out through sheer exhaustion, is a spicy tuna and bacon pasta.

spicy sw pasta

I know what you’re thinking. Bacon and tuna is an odd mix, but it works. I’m not a big fan of fish, but I found this tasty. If you don’t have any fancy-dan pasta like us, just use any old guff that you find rattling around in the back of the cupboard. This is a recipe that you could tart-up by adding lots of other vegetables, but actually, the simplicity works for us. We know our limits. So…

you’ll need this to make spicy tuna and bacon pasta:

  • 200g of any pasta – we used fusilli lunghi from Tesco, but just use what you have
  • one tin of tuna – look, I never use this blog to tubthump, what you buy is your own business, but if you can afford it, buy decent tinned tuna, at the very least stuff that is caught ‘pole and line’ rather than the cheap stuff (actually, some of the cheap stuff is alright and the known brands are crap, like John West and Princes, but just do some research). Tuna caught in massive nets is bad because the same nets suck in all sorts of other sealife, such as sharks and turtles. Terrible when you think that turtle could have made someone a lovely ashtray)
  • 6 bacon medallions, or you know, you could be normal and just trim the fat off proper bacon
  • 1 yellow onion 
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated, and yes, I’ll plug the microplane grater again for this: click here if you want one – at least your fingers won’t reek of garlic
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4tsp of cumin powder and 1/4tsp of chilli powder (which you can leave out if you’ve got a sensitive balloon-knot
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 125ml of milk (1% is 2.5 syns, this serves two)
  • drop of two of oil, or Frylight, for all your pan-ruining needs!

and to make spicy tuna and bacon pasta, you should:

  • cook your pasta in salty water until it’s cooked – fling it off a tile to see if it sticks, though you’ll look like a monkey throwing its shit around in a zoo;
  • let your chopped onions and minced garlic gently cook in a drop of oil until they go as see-through as a whore’s knickers
  • in goes the chopped bacon, which you’ll cook unil it’s golden brown (texture like sun)
  • then in go the chopped tomatoes, which you’ll cook until they soften
  • once that’s done, in go the spices, tuna, chilli powder and oregano, which you’ll mix up nicely
  • ready for the milk now – chuck it in, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer until it thickens up
  • in goes the cooked pasta, swirl it and mix it all up
  • serve with a sprinkling of parmesan (30g is a HEA)

Enjoy. Like I said, it’s not the most amazing thing to look at, but it’s tasty and quick

baked cod with samphire

What a lovely day! An hour spent bellowing at my nana – not out of malice you understand, but remember, she’s tone deaf so you end up repeating things in incremental degrees of volume until you’re screaming NO THANKS I DON’T NEED A METRIC TONNE OF MINT IMPERIALS I’M ON A DIET like you’re trying a hail a taxi from the moon. Bless her, it would be quicker and easier for me to have my side of the conversation tattooed onto my body and relayed back to her via sign language than it is to have a two-way conversation punctuated only by the sound of her hearing aid whirring away like an old 56k modem. Bless her though, I’d not change a bit about her. Even the answers in her Puzzler are hilarious – when she doesn’t know, she just adds random letters in like someone upending a Scrabble board.

But, before we went to my nana, we spent three hours walking dogs! It was BRILLIANT. I love dogs (not as much as cats – it’s my ambition in life (or rather death) that when I snuff it, I lie in a living room with eighty cats picking away at my carcass and eight pouches of Bite ‘n’ Chew in my birds nest hair) but we can’t have one in our house. It wouldn’t be fair, as we both work long hours and I’d spend all day worried that the dog was looking out the window with a doleful expression on its face, waiting for our DS3 to come bouncing over the speed-bump/her at Number 2 at the bottom of our street. So. How to get some body magic in and meet new dogs? Easy! We rang up a local cat and dog shelter (Brysons of Gateshead) (I’m not sure if that needs apostrophising and now I’m stressing, so if it does, I’m sorry) and asked if they needed people to walk their dogs – and they do, so we did!

After spending ten minutes doing my normal parking routine of driving into a parking space, leaving it, driving back in at one degree less than before, checking the lines, driving out, putting my wipers on instead of my indicators and then finally driving in another bay just up the road, we were there, and after handing over ID (lest we stole the dogs, I assume) we were given Max (a spaniel, I think) and Scout (a greyhound). Off we trotted, with the greyhound almost immediately pulling me over. I’m a big guy, but this bugger was strong! Paul had worn a shitty pair of old trainers so he was fine clarting around in the mud, but I’d inexplicably chose Chelsea boots to wear, and I pretty much skated my way through the mud along the Bowes Railway. We spent ages trotting along with the dogs who were wonderfully behaved, giving them a good walk (and us some great body magic) and generally enjoying ourselves. The dogs seemed happy to be made of a fuss of and getting some fresh air, even if my dog (Max) spent a horrendous amount of time picking absolutely every bit of rubbish up off the ground and trying to eat it, followed by me trying to stop him – I don’t think we’d be able to take dogs out again if I returned it with a Panda Pop bottle poking out of his bumhole.

Here they are!

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Gorgeous little buggers. Great way to get more exercise and to help out a local charity. They also need cat cuddlers but I don’t think my heart can take it. Here’s our two, beautiful as ever. You’ll note the cat beds hanging from the radiator, spoilt little buggers.

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Bowser is particularly pleased, as he managed to get a whole piece of cod for his tea. Cod from the recipe below, which was also our meal this evening…enjoy!

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to make baked cod with samphire, you’ll need:

ingredients: 250g of halved cherry tomatoes, 100g of pitted black olives, two tablespoons of capers, two tablespoons of mixed herbs (not the mixed herbs – use thyme, dill and oregano), four cod fillets (frozen), tablespoon of olive oil, two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and a packet of samphire.

and to make baked cod with samphire, you should:

recipe: place the tomatoes, capers, olives and fish in a pyrex dish – fish nestled amongst the other ingredients rather than sitting on top. Make a oil from the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs and drizzle over the top. Add salt and pepper. Put into the oven for 20-25 minutes (if frozen, if you’re using fresh go for 15 minutes and check if it needs longer). Five minutes before the fish is ready, boil a pan of water, chuck in the samphire for two or three minutes and sieve. Put that on a plate, add a piece of fish and some of the capers/tomatoes/olives. Drizzle over some of the liquid that was released when the ingredients cooked, and bloody well enjoy!

extra-easy: perfectly. There are syns, but you’re supposed to use them, and again I’ve been fairly conservative with the syn value here – the dish serves four, and the two syns is per serving, but you could lower the amount of olives and adjust the syns accordingly. It’s really not high though, and the ingredients are beautifully simple. Samphire can be tricky to find, and if you’ve never had it, give it a go. It’s got a strong, salty taste, but is delicious – you can eat it raw, but I prefer it blanched for a moment or two just to take the edge off. It grows by the sea and really adds to the fish dish!

Enjoy. What a day!

J

seared tuna with carrot flowers

The meal this evening:

Tuna

Tonight was supposed to be a lovely romantic night, filled with Amazing Race and cosiness on the settee. I was going to take the lock off the central heating and allow Paul to put the heating on – well, it was icy on my car this morning, I think I’ve been entirely Geordie enough about the temperature thing. We’ve got one of those god-awful ‘why yes, I’m incontinent’ gas fires that the previous old couple had installed and I hate it. It hisses and smells, rather like Paul – and has equally dangerous levels of combustible gas. Anyway. That idea was quite literally put to bed as, after I made him the delicious dinner you see below, he went to ‘drop the kids off’ and fell asleep on the toilet. So he’s away for an early night (in bed, that is – he’s not still on the netty) and I’m left to do the cleaning up, accompanied only by the sound of his snoring, gasping for air and death-rattle farting. He’s lucky he’s so deliciously squishy.

Actually, I say it’s quiet, but I’m actually being tormented by Cat Number 2 (Sola), who is currently outside the house trying to get in. No problem, I’ll open the door. Except when I do, she sits there meowing and runs off as soon as I go to pick her up. Now she isn’t fucking Lassie, I know there’s no-one trapped down a well (and plus she’s an evil cat – she’d be at the top of the well having a shit over the rim rather than dashing for help), she’s just doing it to torment me. I sit down at the computer chair, and I hear the scratching at the front door begin. Then, she sticks her paw in a loose bit of fixture on the door and pulls it back just enough to make a tapping sound. Again and again and again. I put up with it, I curse at her, then I eventually get up, open the door, and off she flees. My own cat is playing Knocky-fucking-Nine Doors with me! It’s bad enough I wake up to the sight of her licking her pencil sharpener every single morning, now she’s bullying me at night too! Bag. I might see if I can take her to the vet and get her un-spayed, just because she was so hilariously grumpy for the few days after her last op. That’ll teach her.

to make seared tuna with carrot flowers:

Tuna2

No need for a recipe breakdown here, I don’t think – says it all above! The bit about balsamic pearls is just something extra, you absolutely don’t need to dick about doing that. It does look good though, even if the tuna in the photo looks like Vern from the leech scene in Stand by Me. Don’t judge, I only had a crappy sugar thermometer. Always good to learn new techniques though and it was the recipe here that I used. Give it a go!

Oh! One thing. You could easily make this a syn free meal by omitting the horseradish, but I find it adds a nice hit of heat to an otherwise plain, but delicious, dinner.

I’m trying hard to get into fish for an evening meal, with the old adage of ‘if it swims, it slims’ ringing in my ears. But so far, only tuna has passed muster, with everything else being deemed too fishy by my sensitive tastebuds. People always do the same thing when I mention I don’t like fish – have you tried swordfish, oysters, trout, blah blah – yes! I have! I’m not unadventurous when it comes to food – I’ll try anything and never say I don’t like something without trying it. So I’m working my way through more fish, but, you know if you were to put down a steak and a piece of fish, you’d be able to tell which was fish because of the taste? It’s THAT taste I don’t like. Not fishiness, just…non-meatiness!

Fish does remind me of a favourite memory, though. I used to go on holiday to Montreuil-sur-Mer with a very good mate, and despite us both being common as muck, we decided to see if we could get a table at the poshest restaurant in the area, the Château de Montreuil, a ridiculously uptight fine-dining affair, not quite our level. Well no, nowhere near our level. We managed to bluff our way through the million courses until we were served a tiny blini with what I imagine was very good caviar atop. At the precise moment my friend put it into his mouth, I made a snide comment about one of the waiters and, of course with me being so deliciously cutting, he promptly burst out laughing, with the barely digested blini and caviar arcing gracefully across the table and landing in my doubtless very-expensive glass of white wine. Well, that was it for me, I was beyond help, in veritable paroxysms of laughter, but he was momentarily ashen. What to do? All manner of French lemon-mouthed hoity-toitys had turned to look at us. So, cool as a chinese cucumber, he reaches across the table, lifts my glass and downs the lot – wine, caviar and blini – in one full gulp and crashes the glass down on the table with a loud exclamation of ‘DEE-LICIOUS’.

Good heavens.

It’s no wonder other nations think we’re such an uncultured bunch. Ah he’s brilliant.

I’m off to try and rouse Paul and salvage the last of our evening. I want my bloody one-syn chocolate orange for one thing! I’ve mulled over the best way to wake him up, and I’ve settled on playing Les Dennis doing his Mavis impression on loop through the wireless speaker in our bedroom. Ain’t I a stinker…

Goodnight,

J

a fisherman’s burger

Tonight’s recipe is Fisherman’s Burger – basically a breaded cod fillet in a bun with homemade tartare sauce. I’m not kidding – I’m not a massive fan of fish, but this was just tremendous! And so easy to make, give it a go. Here’s a recipe card:

fishy

ingredients: cod fillets, skinless and boneless, lettuce, gherkins, two small wholemeal buns, four small slices of wholemeal bread, extra light mayo, fat free fromage frais, dill, parsley, salt and pepper, garlic, onion and gherkins.

recipe: easy! blitz the sliced bread, garlic, parsley and dill to make crumbs, dip the fish in egg, then into the crumbs. Pop it in the oven for fifteen minutes until crunchy. Whack it into a bun with crunchy lettuce and tartare sauce as made above. Serve with chips, mushy peas and lemon.

extra-easy: it’s three and a half syns per burger, and you’ll need to use your healthy extra B for the bun. If you’re having two, syn the second bun for 6.5 syns. It’s worth it though! You could make a salad to go with the bun to up your superfree though. I think (and I may be wrong) that the syns come from the crumbs, but most of that stays in the tray so I’d actually say it was 1.5 syn per burger. Bloody go for it! Fish is an excellent food – if it swims, it slims.

Enjoy 🙂