syn free cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake

Here for the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake? WITH NO BLOODY QUARK? But of course you are, my love – the recipe awaits you at the bottom of this page. But before we get to the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, we have part one of our holiday entry for our Christmas trip to Sweden and Norway! Newcomers to the blog may not know this, but we’re also a ‘travel’ blog in that when we go away, we like to post the stories of what we get up to. Admittedly, this can lead to a long post, so to help you – if you’re here solely for the food, click the button below to go straight to it! I promise not to cry too much.

The rest of you settle back – this is a long one! And look, to celebrate, I’ve even tidied up the banners – I was sick of that awful messy looking banner template I had. This looks altogether more…Swedish, ja? Let’s go!

I’ve been looking forward to typing up this holiday entry ever since we came back – why? Simple: it was amazing! It’s not as though we did anything out of the ordinary or unique – just our usual pottering about in cities getting lost and having a good time – but there was just something terrific about the whole experience. Every day was a happy memory – I haven’t been able to say that about any holiday since we went on that coach trip. I jest, that was Hell in a 57-seater. But before you join us on our Scandinavian adventure, we need to dip back in time a bit further to a wet October afternoon, where you would have found me slumped over my keyboard at the end of a very, very long email exchange with the other half. Here’s how every single holiday of ours gets planned: I suggest somewhere, Paul sucks air in over his teeth and say ‘oooh’ with that look a roofer gives you when he’s going to need to take your tiles off, I suggest somewhere else, he grimaces like he’s shitting an acorn. He then suggests somewhere wildly expensive and extravagant and pouts when I point out he’s trying to live a Waitrose lifestyle on a shoplifted-from-Lidl budget. We both then give up and stop talking until one of us cracks and we’re friends again, holiday completely forgotten about. Hence, on this October afternoon, conscious of the fact we’d need to book somewhere before all the parents and (shudder) their snotty-nosed litter booked up all the fun places, I sent a plaintive little email asking if we dare broach ‘booking the big holiday’. Paul, to his credit, was very agreeable, but then we immediately started arguing about where to go.

So, I did something I would never normally do because it’s altogether too much effort: I acted unilaterally. Straight onto hotels.com to book four nights in Stockholm, flights to Oslo, four nights in Oslo, a train journey to Bergen, three nights in Bergen and then the flights back to London then to Newcastle. For good measure, I booked the train to take us up to Edinburgh Airport for our Stockholm flight and a hotel for the night before. I parcelled all the reservations in one big PDF and sent them to Paul, triumphant. His reply? ‘Ah good, sounds nice

It’s lucky he works twenty miles away and I’m so fat and lazy that I couldn’t be arsed to get in the car to go and tan his arse because damn, was my excitement punctured. He only won me around later by explaining he was in a meeting and actually he was very much looking forward to our lovely holiday and indeed I was the best husband in the world and no, he’d never sin again. I can’t say his agreement was purely because I was pulling on his balls like a farmer milking a cow at the time. Who can say…

To day one, then. Our journey begins as so many of them often do: a taxi ride to the train station by a man so Geordie and hardcore that he explained he’d recently suffered a heart attack at the wheel of his car, chalked it down to indigestion and carried on driving passengers around. It was only after a whole day of chest pains and breathlessness that he went to A&E. Great! I imagine he took my endless staring into his rear-view mirror as rapt attention to his mildly-racist stories but actually, I was just making sure his lips hadn’t turned blue and he wasn’t going to career us into a lamp-post. We made it safely to the station and I left him a generous tip. Well, something had to pay for the funeral buffet. We were due to take the 14.30 Virgin Train to Edinburgh, but, to add a frisson of excitement to the start of our holiday, they elected to jumble all the trains around and delay our train by a full hour. Super, but have no fear, we’re Rockafella Skanks – we had first class advance tickets and thus the utopia that is the first class lounge awaited us – what a treat!

No. You may know this yourself but the first class lounge at Newcastle is fitted out like the waiting room of an NHS dentist – all pastel colours on the wall, hotel biscuits and furniture that looks as though it’s blown in from a storm. It really is dreadful. We comforted ourselves with the fact we could eat as many biscuits as humanely possible and entertain ourselves with our phones, able as we were to take full advantage of the charging points. Only the charging points didn’t work, they had run out of biscuits and the toilet was blocked and overflowing. We’d have had more luxury fighting the rats on the train-tracks for some discarded Greggs and somewhere to shit. To compound my misery I spotted my old HR director from a previous job who I absolutely despised. She was to fun what I am to a chaste heterosexual lifestyle. She was very much one of those type of people who would click ‘skip straight to recipe’ on this blog and then email me to tell me she was allergic to food and how insensitive I was being by posting a recipe. She hated me especially because I burst out laughing when she fell over in the middle of the office, having stumbled into an open floor socket, falling down like one of those cooling towers you sometimes see getting blown up on the telly. I couldn’t help it: I have a nervous laugh, and anyway, she deserved it. She was Miss Trunchbull in a Jigsaw-outlet suit. We clashed many, many times – she upheld a complaint that I laughed too much, for example, and that I didn’t take the job seriously because I wore trainers to work. Pfft. I never said anything about her homage-to-Robert-Winston moustache.

I made sure to give her the sickliest, fakest, cheesiest smile I could muster up – a smile that said ‘Damn, I honestly thought you’d be dead by now, but here’s to the good times, you vile husk of a woman’ and walked past her, making sure she saw I still wore the trainers that used to irk her so. It did mean, however, that I couldn’t relax, because every time I stood up for a fresh coffee or a newspaper she would give me 100% pure stink-eye. So, all in all, a rubbish experience. Luckily, the train journey made up for it, though I wish they’d do away with the pretence of unlimited tea and coffee – we had one member of staff come around with the hot drinks, leave us a gin and gave us a sandwich, and that was it, no more, goodnight nurse. We’d polished off our ‘dinner’ by the time the train was whooshing past the house we’d left only 90 minutes before. No matter – we arrived in Edinburgh in the pissing rain, jumped straight into a taxi (why oh why oh why do people stand and wait for taxis these days? Just use bloody Lyft or Uber for goodness sake – embrace technology!) who whisked us straight to the hotel, but not before regaling us for forty minutes about why electric cars were the future. Forty minutes is a long time to nod politely: my poor neck sounded like popcorn by the end of it. Paul and I have an agreed arrangement: I deal with taxi drivers, he deals with the people who bring room service to our hotel room whilst I hide in the bathroom. It works very well indeed simply because I’m good at making small talk and he’s very believable as a fat bastard who has ordered enough food to feed two people. He’s seen many a hotel worker cast him a pitying look as they put down the laden trays of food in front of him.

Don’t worry, that bedspread soon looked as though someone had spilled Marmite everywhere   

Our night at the Dakota was very pleasant indeed, even if the room service left a lot to be desired. It’s all a bit frou-frou – I like to see people buckle under the weight of my plate, not be able to frisbee it across the room because there’s a bit of cress and a hair of cheese on the plate. In fact, we were so unsatisfied by the volume of our food that we waited a discreet twenty minutes and ordered another round. Well, when you’re on holiday, these things don’t matter, though I could have done without the judgemental ‘oh, TWO rounds of room service, my mistake’ remark from the receptionist when we checked out. I don’t think she had warmed to me because, upon seeing that the reception was full of blokes all in black kilts, full Scottish regalia and beards you could lose a dog in, I remarked ‘but I didn’t order breakfast!‘ to her with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink leer. That’ll be us on the blacklist.

I won’t bore you with the 150 minutes we spent at Edinburgh Airport only to make two remarks:

  • can someone please persuade my husband that we absolutely do not need to be at the airport so far in advance of a flight, especially when the only thing we’re taking on board the aircraft is hand luggage and chewing gum – I swear that unless Paul’s at the airport the day before he’s an unbearable nervous wreck; and
  • massive thank you to the Scottish toilet cleaner who, having not realised I was sitting in the cubicle next to the one she’d just gone in to clean, exclaimed ‘now which fuckin’ dirty c*nt has gone and done that’ in a loud Scottish burr. Thank God I was sitting on the toilet at the time because I would have pissed myself outright – it was so loud and so disgusted that I almost wanted to climb on my toilet to peer over and take a look.

Now here’s a new thing: we weren’t flying easyJet! I know! I want some reassurance from you all though – am I the only one who likes to fly with an airline they’ve flown with before? I think I rationalise it in my mind that they didn’t crash before, so it must be safe. Nevertheless, the lure of a cheaper flight won me over and so it was that we boarded an SAS flight to Stockholm. Well: what a revelation! Lovely new plane, free tea and coffee, USB sockets in the back of the seats – even the bog didn’t smell like a foot and mouth crisis in an open sewer like they normally do. I was very impressed, and even more so when they landed us safely in Stockholm without ditching us into the North Sea. Don’t get me wrong, my heart will always be with the tangerine-trolleys of easyJet, but I might use SAS on the side like the plane-hopping slag that I am.

Byeeeeeeeeeeee

Before we continue, I want to give praise where it’s due: to Paul. We’ve flown twenty times this year and each time he lets me sit by the window because he knows I like to be able to look at the engine and the wing to make sure everything is OK. I mean, I know the captain has a fair idea, but I’m sure it’s a comfort to him (or her) to know that I’m keeping an eye on the flaps from the back. Story of my life, that. Anyway, I always offer to sit in the aisle but Paul always gives me the window seat and for that he gets a gold star, or a go on my brown star, whichever he prefers. It makes the flight better for me so I want to say a big thank you to my gorgeous and lovely Shitty McGee.

I love this woman’s face. It’s like she’s being asked to blow into a smeggy knob.

We landed on time and were ushered through immigration in a wonderful Swedish efficient manner. I was pleased to see that the lady looked the spit of Agnetha from ABBA – exactly as I expected. We sloshed our way to the train station, took the airport express straight into Stockholm Central and then made our way on foot to our base of operations for the next few days: the Hobo Hotel on Brunkebergstorg. I chose the hotel simply because of the name and the fact it looked so cool and hip on the website. I wanted to see how they’d deal with two fat blokes whose idea of high fashion is a Cotton Traders. To their absolute credit, the staff – though they all looked like they were part of a really shit/unknown yah-yah electrosynth band – were unfailingly lovely and helpful.

Our room – we could watch the office workers over the road. No doubt my fat hairy arse has appeared in their company newsletter.

Our room was gorgeous too – massive bed, good steamy shower, television with Discovery on it (thank heavens – Paul was almost at 24 full hours without watching a How It’s Made) and lots of neat little touches. For example, there was a water pistol – imagine Paul’s delight when he’d just settled down for his ‘Welcome to Stockholm’ crap and I opened the door and squirted him right in the ear. How we laughed as he almost wrenched the toilet away from the wall in sheer fright. Ah, we’d arrived.

All I wanted was one nice picture.

Now, I’ve done the classic twochubbycubs holiday report opening and spent 2000 words getting us to the hotel. I did it with Copenhagen, Paris, Geneva…at this point, it would be rude not to. But let’s close part one here and get to the recipe.

Remember, folks – if you enjoy our holiday entries, please do let us know. I know they’re a longer read but we like to make it interesting. Feedback always welcomed!


Gosh, I’m spent – and now I need to do a full recipe for the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake that you’re all actually here for! This makes a giant dish of pasta – easily enough for six – but it freezes well and tastes bloody amazing. Let’s go! This uses six HEAs but makes enough for six – so I count it as one HEA per portion as you’re using a sixth of each. Yes, we’re splitting HEAs, but hey, let’s live a little. This is a heavy, rich dish so you’ll not be eating loads in one go. YEAH RIGHT. You could knock down the HEAs by using Quark instead of Philadelphia, but it won’t be nearly as nice.

pasta bake

pasta bake

to make a cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, you’ll need:

  • 500g of pasta – any type will do, I promise
  • two fat leeks (use onion if you prefer)
  • a pack of bacon medallions
  • optional: 200g button mushrooms, chopped
  • two cloves of garlic
  • 120g of extra mature lighter cheese (3 x HEA)
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2 x HEA)
  • 250ml of semi-skimmed milk (1 x HEA)

top tips:

to make a cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, you should:

  • preheat your oven to 200 degrees
  • cook your pasta – boiling water, salty as Paul in the morning, remove when there’s still a bit of give in the pasta
  • thinly slice your leek and chop your bacon (and add the mushrooms, if using) and gently fry it off in a pan with a few squirts of oil from your sprayer – as they soften, add the minced garlic
  • meanwhile, make the sauce by tipping your Philadelphia and milk into a pan, put it on a low heat and gently whisk until it’s all mixed together – it’ll be quite runny – at this point, add 100g of the cheese and keep whisking – you’ll end up with a nice thick cheesy sauce – season it with plenty of salt and pepper
  • tip everything together in the pasta pan, give everything a bloody good mix, slop it into an ovenproof dish, top with the remainder of the cheese, some chopped spring onion or leek if you’re feeling fancy, and pop it in the oven for about thirty minutes until the cheese is golden and everything is delicious
  • serve with a side salad which you studiously ignore

Gorgeous! Of course, if you’re looking for more delicious pasta ideas, we’ve got you covered:

Enjoy!

J

cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken

Cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken – a doddle to make. We’ll get to the recipe in a wee while, but saying as it has been so long since we shot out a holiday entry, I think we’d better fire one out, no? Skip down to the holiday banner if you want that, and scroll right down to the recipe if you’re only here for the food, like a proper stereotypical chunker. You’ll come back to Copenhagen with us in a matter of minutes, but even before that we have a little update on our Christmas Card donation drive:

We’ve had to increase our target because we absolutely smashed the last one! If you’ve enjoyed our recipes or nonsense and only if you can afford to donate a couple of quid, please do! We have had so many people apologising for just donating a couple of quid – please don’t apologise – every last penny is gratefully received! If we get over our target I might make Paul do a salacious nude calendar with a carefully positioned Bonio biscuit covering his one-eyed spitter. Poor guy! But yes, every little bit makes a difference – and thank you all for donating so far! When you add Gift Aid we’re actually already over £3000! But enough about that, let’s ga terug naar Kopenhagen!

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

You may remember that the last time you joined us in Copenhagen, Paul had almost fallen in a river and laid an egg with sheer fright. I, being a supportive kind soul, had almost given myself a hernia from laughing so hard at his misfortune. Also, I, being a fat greedy bastard, scooped up that hard-boiled egg and had it for a snack later, delighting the other people in the Metro carriage with the smell of overcooked pocket-fresh egg. I like to make friends with the locals.

Paws for thought.

We walked along the riverside until the sound of Danish laughter was faint and less upsetting. Along the way we met a big shaggy dog tied up outside what looked like a little ramshackle caravan. Now, everyone knows you don’t approach dogs you don’t know unless you enjoy the risk of your throat being pulled through your neck by something cute and adorable. We, naturally, ignored that, and took a good ten minutes making a fuss out of our new friend before realising that the caravan was actually a riverside sauna! How did we know? Because we could see a man gazing adoringly through the window at us, steam billowing about him and a fair sweat on his face. Well, that, and the Danish word for sauna is…sauna. Don’t exactly need to be Raymond Babbitt to work that one out.

Though, I confess my disappointment that it isn’t Sphinctenmoistunen or something equally as delicious.

You may notice from previous blog entries that I barely need any encouragement to get nude in public and so, despite Paul’s groaning and heavy-handed watch checking, in we went. Paul’s not a fan of saunas: it’s not so much that he finds the nudity uncomfortable, it’s more that he’s 35% sweat at the best of time – he needs no encouragement to move it along). There was a tiny changing area where you’d struggle to change your mind let alone have two twenty-stone blokes take their clothes off but we managed it with only two accidental penetrations. In we went.

Almost immediately, out we came. I ought to explain – the chap who looked like a normal bearded chap through the fog of steam and a dirty window was merrily wanking away as we went in. Not even a hello or a few lascivious winks to break the ice, no, just furiously masturbating with everything on show. Perhaps he thought I needed somewhere to hang my coat. You must understand that we’re no prudes – if he’d looked like The Mountain from Games of Thrones we’d have welded the door shut and died a happy death – but we’ll be damned if we’re going to sit in a tiny cabin full of aerosol-jizz. I should have realised something was wrong when it smelled just like my room did when I was 14. We dressed hurriedly and scampered back out, with the folks on the riverbank all judging us for wanking off Santa. Superb!

Traumatised and in desperate need of something to take the taste out of our mouths, we decamped into the nearby Café Langebro for a strong beer and a long hard look at our lives. This was a great little pub, full of people who smiled at you when you walked in as though you were bringing great news as opposed to some of the pubs in Newcastle where they’re eyeing up how best to separate you from your kidneys. I never used to be one for daytime drinking but I feel I could really get a taste for it, not least because the beer softened the image of Wankin‘ St Nick in my head. We wandered out, up and over the bridge, with nowhere to go but a city to explore.

Turns out, quite luckily, that the same street lead directly to a corner of Tivoli Gardens – a theme park in the middle of the city. How marvellous! We totally forgot that we had a discount card and paid full price for immediate entry – we had seen Rick Stein flapping his wattle in here but a few weeks ago and were keen to retrace his footsteps, bounding as they’d doubtless be.

Just some of the fantastic gardens on display

Wheeeeee

Now, we both love rollercoasters – we spent a month in Florida riding them so much that I gave myself heart arrhythmia and almost died on the flight home. I say almost died, I experienced a slight panic attack and tipped my gin and tonic over, but let’s not labour over the details. However, we have aged and spread like a melted candle, and now we have to consider not only whether our creaking bodies can take it, but can we actually fit in the seats? It’s always been a phobia of mine that I’ll get to the front of the queue only for some hairy-lipped streak of acne and malice to look at me, taking in my comprehensive tits and expansive belly, and refuse me entry. It hasn’t happened before, thank the Lord, but it’s been certainly been close, with me having to play Fatris when it came to slotting all my squashy body parts into one small bucket seat.

On top of that I have ear problems which mean I get dizzy from peeling the lid off a pot of yoghurt let alone hurtling through the air at 100mph, Paul has a spine made out of damp crepe paper, there’s a strong chance that I’ll be slapped in the face by Paul’s boobs as we go around a loop and, as I mentioned, I have a dodgy heart. In all, they might as well abbreviate those long health warnings at the front of the ride and just put ‘No, Paul and James, you can sit on the wooden bench outside and eat doughnuts, you horrendous beasts’.

Naturally, we ignored the warnings, and squeezed onto most things. I want to give a special mention to the Rutschebanan, one of the world’s oldest wooden rollercoasters. Nestled at the back of the park, it promises thrills, spills and catastrophic damage to your spine. Ancient, wooden, ridden by hundreds of thousands of men over the years and more than capable of making children scream in terror, Paul’s mother has never ridden this rollercoaster. It even comes with its own brakes-man, who has to manually apply the brakes on certain stretches to make sure the whole thing doesn’t come hurtling off the tracks. Fun!

You’re supposed to sit two abreast in the little carriages but there was absolutely bot-all chance that was going to happen – the coaster shook and rattled that much that there was a serious risk of us joining together like wax in a lava-lamp and me being destined to spend my life with my face joined horrendously close to Paul’s arse. We hopped in, pushing small children out of the way and taking one carriage each, and off we went. I tried taking a video but it’s just a blur of jiggling flesh and me shrieking – just like our wedding – so here’s one for you to get your own idea:

Great fun, but let me tell you – you feel every single bump and creak of that coaster. I’m not entirely sure I didn’t swallow a filling – and I didn’t have any to begin with.

With our bones roughly 10cm away from where they should be in our bodies, we slithered over to the nearby Paafuglen restaurant – handy timing, because I was absolutely fuglen starvin‘. We were seated after about eighteen hours – the place was absolutely rammed with elderly folk taking their sweet time gumming the pickled herring, but eventually they found us a seat right at the back. That’s fine, once I have food put in front of me, I don’t look back up until it’s gone. Years and years of Paul feigning something interesting before stealing my food as I gaze in the opposition direction has taught me to be cautious. The greedy sod.

Our waitress gave us a menu and then clocked off for the day. I’m not kidding – we sat there with hungry little bellies and pleading eyes – but she never appeared again. Perhaps she heard our British accents and assumed there would be no tip, I don’t know. How wrong she was – I always like to touch their arm as I leave and say ‘Jesus saves’. Almost thirty minutes passed (with plenty of reserved Britishness: “they’ll be here soon”, “let’s give it one more minute”, “let’s just chew open a vein whilst we wait”) before another waitress finally noticed that Paul had doused himself in the paraffin from the little lantern on the table and was about to set himself aflame in hungry protest. We ordered.

Well, attempted to. Copenhagen is famous in food circles (honestly, it is: we get drunken memos from Delia all the time. I jest, although technically Paul is a food circle, given he’s perfectly spherical) for Smørrebrød (pronounced: I’m sorry, do you speak English?). Smørrebrød is the concept of open sandwiches served on rye bread and they are genuinely one of my favourite things. I adore sandwiches – you could give me an urgent and terminal medical diagnosis sandwiched between two slices of lavishly-buttered bread and I’d remain cheerful.

It’s not like sandwiches in the UK, either. You get a vast mixture of wonderful toppings and exciting flavours and it’s just brilliant. There are entire shops devoted to it – windows packed full of sandwiches topped with meats and cheeses and salads and, eventually, my saliva, dribbling on the window as I am wont to do. Paul and I could easily move to Copenhagen and open such a shop (calling it Yeast Infection, naturally) and live out our Autumn years never tiring of the combinations on offer. I don’t normally recommend other food blogs because, well, they’re usually boring, but I can’t get enough of the ideas on The Danish Sandwich. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean. http://www.danishsandwich.com/

Anyway, I digress. We had decided that we ought to try a couple of these open sandwiches each – we’re big lads, we can handle such extravagance and remember, they’re open sandwiches so you only get one slice of rye bread to barely digest. However, the waitress disagreed with our approach. We spoke our order slowly and with a game attempt at Danish but each time we reached sandwich number three and four she would cross sandwich number one and two off her pad. Maybe she thought we were fat enough or that such decadence was unbecoming but try as we might, we could not convey the fact we wanted to try a range of smørrebrød to her without causing her to frown and sweat as though under intense interrogation. Had I thought ahead I could have prepared a Powerpoint presentation or a business case. After a good five minutes of harsh glottal stops and stuttering we seemed to finally reach agreement and she toddled off. Naturally, I’d forgotten to ask for more water, but I didn’t dare call her back lest she decided we were simple troublemakers and showed us the door.

Our sandwiches arrived shortly afterwards:

Nom nom nom. Urgh, I’m sorry

You’ll notice there’s only two plates. Our order hasn’t so much been lost in translation as strangled to death with good intentions. Nevermind – being brave, fearless tourists we powered through and thoroughly enjoyed the pork belly (me) and chicken salad (Paul) and they were absolutely delicious. The Danish have a wonderful proclivity for adding pickled vegetables to their dishes and it really makes everything come alive – quite a smart way of getting your ‘speed’ food in too by sousing everything in vinegar. I’d suggest it to Mags but she never returns my calls. We paid our bill and left content, but still faintly hungry. Have no fear: we rounded a corner to find an ice-cream stand and each enjoyed a five-scoop bowl which settled the stomach just enough to ease us gently into hyperglycaemia.

The rest of the day was spent drifting around Tivoli Gardens, eating things that we shouldn’t and getting sticky fingerprints on all the rides. It was great: like being 13 (stone) all over again. With sluggishly-beating hearts we left and decided to walk back to the Metro station, with the intention of taking a nap and then heading back out in the evening. We managed four hundred yards before happening across the nearby Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, a museum dedicated to the largest collection of Ancient Mediterranean art in all of Northern Europe. My excitement knew no bounds. This was me:

Quite

I’ve explained before: I’m a hopeless philistine – I know I should walk around deep in thought and reverie in an art gallery, but the only surprised gasps I let out are when my shin-splints play up. Don’t get me wrong, readers – there were some lovely paintings and cracking pots, but I was more taken by the Blockbusters gargoyles on the wall and this peculiar oil painting which seemed to capture exactly my mood.

Sigh

There was a very pleasant sub-tropical garden dot in the middle of the museum which afforded two things: the chance to rest and the chance to be absolutely horrified by this:

Give me milk!

I mean, no. Babies are creepy enough at the best of times, but crawling on a body like maggots on a corpse? Hell no. You better believe I saw that when I shut my eyes that night in bed. Luckily, I’d have a chance to remonstrate with the Carlsberg family the nvery next day, and that’s where we will leave our tale for now.

Enjoy our holiday entries? Please do give us feedback or share or whatever, it’s what we live for!


stuffed chicken
stuffed chicken

to make cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1½ peppers (we used ½ red, ½ orange and ½ green), finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 80g reduced fat cheddar (2x HeA), grated
  • 110g light Philadelphia (1x HeA)
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp cumin (or garam masala)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Honestly, you’ll never do better than the chicken deals we have – you’ll want big ‘uns for this, we have four deals AND there’s a pack for every budget!

Chips: Actifry. Teaspoon of oil. Tablespoon of worcestershire sauce. You’ll never look back – and they’re cheap on Amazon at the moment.

to make cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken you should:

  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil over a medium-high heat
  • add the diced peppers and onions to the pan and cook until softened and the edges are just starting to brown, stirring occasionally
  • tip the mixture into a bowl and add the cheddar and Phildelphia, and mix well
  • meanwhile, in a large bowl sprinkle the chili powder, cumin and garlic powder over the chicken breasts and tumble around until well coated
  • cut a hilarious looking gash into the side of each one, getting a big a space as you can but being careful not to slice all the way through
  • using a teaspoon, spoon the cheesy mixture into each chicken breast, stuffing it well but not overdoing it. don’t worry if you have some leftover mixture
  • next, add a little more oil to the frying pan and put back over a medium-high heat
  • carefully lay the chicken breasts in the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes each side – flip it gently so you don’t squash it, and don’t worry if a little mixture dribbles out
  • serve!

Howzat for a winner? Want more? Click below to get even more goodies!

poultrysmallfakeawayssmall    snackssmall tastersmallonepot

creamy chicken and vegetable soup

Creamy chicken and vegetable soup – well, actually, it’s thick enough to almost class as a stew, but you know sometimes you just want a bowl of chicken soup to put hairs on your chest and make yourself feel better? This is that dish. Easy to make, actually tastes decent and rammed full of vegetables to boot. What more could you want? But first, the final part in our Benidorm story – and thank goodness, because boy has this horse been flogged. I’d apologise, but we get plenty of lovely messages from folk who seem to adore our holiday stories, so…if you’re not one of them, click on the shortcut button of the (deep breath) ELDERLY BEWHISKERED CRONE DRESSED IN PEASANT’S CLOTHING WITH A SAGGY OLD ASS to go straight to the recipe. We’ll stay here and not gossip about you, promise.

Pfft. Right one wasn’t she, bet she buys her shoes from the market. Tsk. Right, back to the sun for one final trip…

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 | click here for part seven

Part 8! We didn’t think it would take this long to reach climax, but well, it’s been a long week, and there’s worry at work, and sometimes he’s just not that into you. But hey, here we are. Now, rather than bore you with every tiny detail, I’ll sum up the end of the holiday in three key stages. Enjoy! But before we get started, just a quick video to get you slick in the nethers…

Final night

The final night was a long, drawn-out evening of gentle drinking and gambolling about. Nothing much of note save for the fact that Paul decided he had heartburn – we spent around an hour trying to find somewhere that sold El Gaviscon but it wasn’t to be. Don’t worry readers, he spotted a frozen yoghurt shop and decided that this was essentially the same thing as a glass of cool milk. I wasn’t so sure, but let me tell you how amazingly brave he was, choking back his 500ml of frozen yoghurt covered in brownie bites, caramel, Haribo sweets, marshmallow, flake bits, Rolos and chocolate sauce. It’s funny, his heartburn seemed to just melt away with this concoction. Isn’t he a trooper? Because I’m trying to be good I settled for some passion-fruit flavoured yoghurt that was as lurid as a hangover piss, but surprisingly tasty. Paul, still a bit sore from our bickering earlier in the day, wouldn’t share. I’m sure you can agree he’s a poor sport.

Our final meal was in the Italian Garden (we had given up trying to find a decent ‘local’ restaurant at this point, and our cankles were protesting at the thought of mincing over to the Old Town). Paul chose the place because he wanted some stodgy pasta to weigh down the sugar-bomb in his stomach. I agreed with his choice because the waiter was the spit of Gianno d’Marco from nineties Eastenders, who had been the cause of many a teenage erection back in my formative years. I can’t write anything exciting about the food other to say that the chef must have had an almighty tremor – I ordered an exotic mushroom salad and it was positively floating on balsamic vinegar to the point where it was like looking at a mirage of Paul through the vinegar fumes. Paul had pasta. Paul always has pasta and then complains he’s too full and can’t walk. Ten years together and he’s never left a meal without clutching at his belly and/or chest and graphically telling me how quickly he expects to see his dinner again. You can’t buy that sort of class, can you? We paid up, me personally thanking the waiter – he thought I’d left a massive tip but I had to explain that my phone number. He’s never called. Bastard.

Lockdown

Anyway, poor Paul did have to waddle because we were straight over to Lockdown, Benidorm’s Premier Escape Room. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely sure there’s hundred of rooms in Benidorm where desperate young men and women fight to escape before the hour is up, but that’s the consequences of cheap drinks and easy living. We turned up fashionably early which led to us having to wait in the lobby. That would have been fine but we thought we had it to ourselves and were merrily shrieking and clarting about when some poor chap popped his head up from behind the counter where he’d been fiddling with the computer. Ah well. He introduced us into the room – it took us both a while to tear ourselves away from his delicate facial hair and big kind eyes – and left us to it.

The room was Cold War themed, with the curious task of defusing a nuclear bomb thrown in for good measure. It was brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! No point in giving you any spoilers but it was possibly the most interactive one we’ve done so far – tonnes of hidden secrets, attention to detail and hell, even a chance to dress up. What more could a lad want? Whenever we were stuck the phone would ring – we were supposed to reply with a codeword when he spoke but I was lost in a moment and asked ‘what was he wearing’. Paul took the phone and steered us to victory!

I say this each and every time – if you have never done an escape room, get one booked! They’re a great way to spend an hour and as they get more and more popular, the standards keep climbing. Do it!

With that done, we walked back to the hotel, took a drink up to the room and watched the streets hustle and bustle below. It was a great end to the holiday that we thought we’d never want to begin.

Return

Our flight back to Newcastle was at the altogether unseemly hour of 8.30am, which meant having to get up at around 4am to allow enough time to shave, shit, shower, get to the airport, learn how to fly and stand in for the pilot. I can’t deal with 4am: I look like I died four days previously and someone’s just pulled me out of the morgue. I may have told the receptionist who rang me at 3.50am with a wake-up call to fuck right off in my sleep-addled state. I later apologised. I can’t rely on Paul to get us up – he’s constantly saying ‘ten more minutes’ and going straight back to sleep. Our house could be a raging inferno and he’d still be lying in bed telling the firemen he can’t get up until he’d done his ‘stretches’. Pfft. The only thing belonging to Paul that stretches in the morning is his arsehole, and that’s only to release eight hours of shitgas that’s been building up through the night. I’m thinking about seeing if he can have a pilot light fitted on his taint – I can’t remember the last time I woke up not dry-heaving into my pillow.

Regardless, we were out of the hotel in enough time to sit and wait for our ‘private transfer’ back to the airport, which turned up late and in the sort of car you see rotting in fields near illegal caravan parks. We climbed in – gingerly, we didn’t want to disturb his rust collection – and he shot off like we were slingshotting round the moon. Three minutes later we stopped to let in a lovely couple from a less salubrious hotel and I’m going to tell you something now – if you’re a smoker and you’re one of those people who save half your cigarette in your packet for later – you need to know that you absolutely honk. There’s no two ways about it – I can smile politely through most things, but that smell, no way. Especially when you’re hacking away spreading it all around the taxi like a cloud of rancidness.

That was the least of my concerns, anyway – the driver, clearly just passed his test with the Henri Paul School of Motoring, drove us to that airport as though his life depending on us getting there before the sun came up. Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate a fast driver and clearly he wanted to get us to the airport, but at the same time, I’d prefer not to fly home scraped into a strawberry jam pot. Twice I genuinely thought we were about to crash – first he overtook another speeding taxi with about four inches to spare, then he wandered across two lanes of traffic and the hard shoulder whilst he fiddled about with his phone, presumably trying to work out the necessary mph for take-off. I snuck a glance at Paul who was absolutely ashen-faced and then resumed the task of clinging onto the back-seat using the full suction of my own sphincter. I saw death that warm Spanish dawn, and he wears a soiled Benidorm or Bust t-shirt. We gave him a tip (“slow the fuck down!” – hello?) and cleared the area before our taxi companion had a chance to light up the remnant of her stinking tab.

What is there left to say? Our flight back was entirely uneventful – clearly the Spanish sun had calmed the lungs of most of the passengers as, unlike the flight in, it was relatively free of phlegmy coughing. One thing: do Ryanair switch the seatbelt sign on more often than other flights? I was bursting for a piss but every time I stood up for the bog, on came the light – felt like I was doing the hokey-cokey with my bladder. Either they were desperate to clear the aisle to make sure they could peddle their chotchkies and scratchcards or the pilot was a bastard, because that flight was as smooth as a vaselined otter. We landed in a sea of grey clouds and disembarked to a mist of blue smoke as the brethren of the blackened lung lit up, completely ignoring the no-smoking rules. Cases retrieved we made our way home and that’s it, readers – Benidorm done. Are you relieved? Have we left you satisfied and smiling? We always do.

Thoughts

I’m holding my hands up. As I touched upon in part one, we could not have been more wrong about Benidorm. We thought we’d absolutely hate it – that it would be full of rough people shouting incoherently and rustling in their shellsuits. Don’t get me wrong: it was, but by god it was a fun holiday. Doesn’t matter how late we were out or how spit-and-sawdust the pubs we were in, everyone has having a good time, there was no bother, no trouble. The only continuous loud noise I can remember was one of laughter. You don’t go to Benidorm to stroke your chinny-chin-chin at the museums and have yourself an egg-white omelette as you jill yourself off over the Observer, you go for a drink and the company. You’re not going to get Michelin food – hell, you’re hard pushed to find anything you wouldn’t find in the reduced bin at Farmfoods for the most part – but sometimes you need a bit of junk stodge food to fill your hole. There’s lovely parts that we left unexplored – we can always go back, and if we don’t, I’m sure there’ll be a Channel 5 shockumentary on it soon enough. Our trip to Guadalest provided a bit of proper Spain and with the addition of a hire car, we could have seen so much more. Don’t let this blog put you off going – we deliberately did the ‘Benidorm’ experience!

Would I recommend it as a holiday? If you’ve got no airs and graces – definitely. If you’re as common as muck but you consider yourself fancy because you buy name-brand baked beans and aren’t paying off your TV in weekly instalments, then also recommend. If you’re a genuine snob then nah, probably not. It is, after all, a resort where someone has made a career popping things out of her muff.

Still, if that’s good enough for Kate Middleton…


Please remember to leave feedback on the holiday entries: we crave your attention!


Let’s do this thick chicken and vegetable soup, then. You can leave out the pasta if you like, it makes it super-thick, but really boosts the meal. The recipe we based this on is here! Please don’t be put off by the look of this, it tastes grand!


chicken and vegetable soup

to make creamy chicken and vegetable soup, you’ll need:

  • four big handfuls of shredded/chopped chicken – use leftovers from a roast, or follow our recipe here to slow cook / Instant pot it
  • two cloves of garlic, minced (save your fingers with one of these)
  • two large chopped onions
  • one large green pepper
  • one large red pepper
  • 1 stick of celery
  • one large leek
  • two large carrots cut into thin matchsticks, or sliced thinly
  • 1.25l of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp of hot sauce (google it, you can buy it in any supermarket, or leave it out)
  • half a teaspoon of dark soy sauce
  • one big bag of spinach
  • a couple of ‘nests’ of dried egg noodles
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2xHEA)

Damn, this is simple – add whatever veg you want, change it out, do what you like! Also, if you’re planning on stocking up on chicken, don’t forget you can build your own hampers with Musclefood now – so many chicken deals, just look!

to make creamy chicken and vegetable soup, you should:

  • super easy – prepare all of your vegetables (bar the spinach) by chopping them nice and small and chuck them in a big pan with some spray olive oil and sweat everything down until softened with the garlic
  • chuck in the soy sauce, hot sauce and stock and simmer for a good forty minutes until the vegetables are soft, I went for thirty minutes
  • add the spinach and pop the lid back on until everything has wilted down – then add the chicken and noodles (break them up a bit) and heat through until the noodles are softened
  • before serving, stir the Philadelphia in – make sure you stir it until it has completely absorbed into the sauce, then serve!

How easy. JUST LIKE YOU! Want more recipes?

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Cheers!

J

creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle

Creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle! Right – no farting about because it’s a long entry tonight! So, if you can’t be arsed to read, just click here and it’ll whizz you straight to the recipe. No sarky comments this time!

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

I can’t quite believe we’re on part seven – I’m sorry if you’re not a fan of the holiday entries. When Paul first suggested Benidorm I thought the only thing I’d get from it was a urine infection and fleas, but clearly I had a much better holiday than I first expected! When you last left us we had deliberately gassed an old lady, I’d set my face on fire and we’d seen a Meat Loaf tribute act more Martin Mull than Marvin Lee. Think about it, that works. In this, our penultimate entry, we take a trip out.

Guadalest

After so many hours of being around braying English folk and all that that entails we decided we absolutely must try and get out of the town and go somewhere more…Spanish. A quick nose on Tripadvisor for places reachable by bus (we couldn’t hire a car because guess who had left the documents at home?) turned up Guadalest, a pretty village about forty minutes away. There was one bus there and one bus back – and this story isn’t going to go the way you might be expecting. We turned up at the bus stop nice and promptly in the morning, awaiting our carriage through the mountains. The bus turned up late, with an exasperated looking driver sat in front of what looked like 200 old folk squeezed behind him. If he had braked hard enough I reckon they would have all melded into one another, like that bit in Terminator 2 when the evil Terminator gets obliterated into pools of mercury, only to reform. Yeah, imagine that, only with the addition of 800 barely-sucked Murray Mints scattered about. We had more chance of getting on the Mayflower than we did this bus. Perhaps that’s for the best: long-time readers may recall the last time we went on a coach-trip, it didn’t go well. So we elected for a taxi which didn’t so much as drive us to the village as warp space and time to get us there before I’d even had a chance to say ‘how much, guv’nor’ in broken Spanish. We were going that fast it was like looking at a watercolour through the windscreen. However, once we stopped…

Not a SKOL ashtray in sight.

Just out of shot is a big old dam. You may remember I’m scared of dams. I know, I’m awfully brave.

Anyway, what treasures did Guadalest have clutched to her busom? Quite a lot, actually, although you wouldn’t spend the summer there. I reckon you’d die of boredom within two days. But for a day out, there was plenty. We ambled around the streets, buying trinkets from little shops, cooing at the pretty houses and desperately pleased that we had arrived before the Saga-louts, who were but a distant mumbling on the horizon. First on the tour was Museo de Microminiaturas, a charming wee museum which gave you the opportunity to gaze in wonder down a microscope lens at some stunning vista depicted on a grain of rice. The Spanish lady behind the counter laughed politely when I said I was experienced in finding tiny pleasures in the dark, but I could tell we’d never speak again. We walked around earnestly at first, oohing and aahing at a village carved into a flea, or a woman with her fanny out balanced on the head of a match, but I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult to remain enthralled by the eighth time you’ve rounded a corner only to see another row of magnifying glasses in front of you. The artist, Manuel Ussà, must have been a saucy bugger mind – I’ve never seen so many spread-eagled forms, even in miniature format. We didn’t want to look boorish by nicking out after five minutes so we stretched out our admiration for a good twenty minutes, before the deafening sound of dentures being sucked landed upon us and the elderly had arrived to serve as a distraction. We slipped out.

See?

Something familiar about this…

After a few minutes more climbing the stairs of the town and gasping theatrically into our sleeves we happened across another museum, the Museo Micro-Gigante. This sounds more like my cup of tea, the big wind-socked size queen that I am. We hastened indoors, paid for our tickets and were ushered past the entrance curtain…into a room full of magnifying glasses. It was another museum of miniatures.

Why? What town needs two museums dedicated to the world of the microscopic? Are they rivals? Do they hate each other? Do you reckon it might boil over one day and one of the owners will nip into the other museum and throw a cup of boiling water over their exhibits, cooking the rice and bankrupting them? Who knows. We again feigned interest in teensy-tiny things, me drawing on my year long experience of dating someone with a penis like a cat’s nipple*, and wandered about. Once we were sure we weren’t being watched, we ran upstairs, took a picture with the giant horse (hence the Gigante part of the name) and ran straight back out.

Oh I say!

 

*You might think I’m harsh drawing attention to my ex’s tiny willy, but he was an absolute bellend. A horrid, mean bellend. You don’t need a big knob to make someone happy, but it sure helps act as a distraction when you’ve got a personality like a blown-out arsehole.

By this time Paul was hungry – it had been at least two hours since he’d doubled his weight – and so we set about finding somewhere for a bit of lunch. Guadalest isn’t quite awash with beautiful places to eat but we did manage to find a lovely little café in the main square – even if it did have plastic chairs that creaked ominously underarse. Paul ordered some peri-peri chicken and I went for the healthy choice of a chef’s salad. His looked delicious – good quality chicken, well spiced and grilled to perfection. Mine looked like the little polystyrene tub of salad you get with your Chinese takeaway that sits and sweats under your chow mein. I’d have gained more nutrition from eating the napkin. It really annoys me that people can’t make a decent salad – iceberg lettuce belongs in nothing at all, the tuna was tinned and sweaty and the tomatoes, well, if you can’t grow a decent tomato in sunny Spain then frankly, you don’t deserve to serve lunch to the public. What makes this all the more offensive to me were the two asparagus stalks that had been slapped on the top – grey, thin and slimy. It was like having Voldemort’s cock pressed on my salad.

Naturally when the owner came around we were full of compliments and good cheer and ‘oh we’ve never had better!’, despite the fact I’d tipped most of my salad into the carrier bag we were carrying our trinkets in. Even now my Guadalest fridge magnet smells of onions and disappointment. We left a tip regardless because we’re nice like that.

Squint.

Tasteful!

A trip around the castle followed, then more bric-a-brac shopping (shown above) (I’m sorry, I really am, but if you’re wondering which lout rearranged the lovely letter-tiles you use to make up your house name into ‘El Homo’, it was I) and then onto the final museum – the Museo de Saleros y Pimenteros. That’s the museum of salt and pepper shakers, for the uncultured amongst you. I mean, really. A museum dedicated to some poor sap who decided to start collecting salt and pepper shakers and wasn’t able to tell her friends to stop bloody giving them to her for Christmas. I’m underselling it – this pepper collection was not to be sneezed at.

Ah bugger off.

We went inside and spoke to a charming woman who seemed positively delighted to see us. I can’t imagine there’s many visitors, to be honest, but that’s a great shame because it was actually very, very interesting! Here me out, won’t you – there’s well over 20,000 pairs of shakers in here, in every conceivable forms. They’re separated out first into theme and then into colour and the whole effect is just great – a real treat for the eyes. There’s not much to read (how many words can be said about condiment containers?) but your eyes are drawn to all sorts of oddities – shakers shaped like Diana and Charles, two little penis-shaped shakers (you have to shake the salt for a good five minutes but then poof, you get a proper spurt of salt for your efforts) and my favourite, two big bears cuddling in the corner. There’s something heart-warming about collections like this – your first thought is why bother, but then the real question is – why not? Better than collecting bodies in a cellar.

My favourite picture of the holiday.

Closer.

Closer still.

As we had the place to ourselves (I imagine we had just missed the morning rush which must surely have been like Black Friday at Brighthouse) we were able to devise a game where one of us would nip around the corner, take a picture of a random shaker and then task the other with finding it. It was all very Famous 5 until Paul bent down to snap a photo and broke wind with possibly the loudest fart I’ve ever heard him do. I’m surprised the curator didn’t rush in sure that the shelves had collapsed. Mortified – as they would have doubtless heard this in Catalonia never mind the entrance lobby – we made a dash for the exit, only to be stopped by the sweet-faced old lady owner who wanted to know what we thought. We didn’t want to give her short shrift but I was also conscious of the fact that there was a cloud of effluence billowing out from under the exit door and had she smelled it, it could have finished her off. So, I feigned being deaf. I know that’s dreadful but it works – I pointed out my ears and made some complicated hand gestures which I hoped at least looked like we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It worked, mind – she gave us a beatific smile as we left.

We ducked into a church to rest our ankles and have a look around. The statues were a little…unique.

Poutin’ for Jesus – we also put out a prayer that whatever cruel curse that gave Paul a tiny desktop fan of a right ear would soon be lifted.

Let’s hear it for Mary – she’s got one eye on your sins, the other eye on the other side of the room.

Ah yes, The Slutty Shepherd and his Doughnut Carrying Dog     

We slipped out when the nuns came in to strike us down.

It was almost time for the return bus back to Benidorm and, aware of the fact we could easily skittle a few old biddies out of the way to ensure a seat on the bus, we wandered over to the bus-stop. However: no such luck. All those dear folk on the outbound bus were dutifully waiting in one bluey-grey mass, waiting to board. I suppose what comes up a mountain must come down. We were stuck: no obvious place to call for a taxi, no payphones, even Google couldn’t assist. Bugger. We walked around bickering in that passive-aggressive ‘well I knew we should have gone to Portugal’ way of ours until Paul spotted two stations of relief – a public toilet (I was bursting) and a tourist information centre, which, against all odds, was open. We asked for a taxi and he sat us outside in the sun to wait.

Aware that the taxi was coming all the way from Benidorm and thus we were in for a long wait, I diverted myself to the public toilet to while away the time dropping off my dinner. I was met outside by the type of bloke you see in local newspapers pointing furiously at leaves in his garden whilst his wife considers her life-choices in the background. A tedious, boring fart. He saw me heading over and I swear his eyes lit up with eagerness at the sight of someone fresh to talk to. His opening line was: “I’VE just been in there and it ABSOLUTELY stinks”. I applauded him on a job well done and told him to try the Salt and Pepper Museum if he fancies the smell of a lingering shit. I went inside and crashed the lock across, making sure to keep my foot pressed against the door for good measure. It did smell, but hey, it’s a toilet, not the Tom Ford counter, and I’m not dabbing the toilet water behind my ears so let’s crack on. Ten minutes later I emerged (it was a slow mover up the charts) only to find he had waited for me outside. He picked up the conversation as though I’d merely blinked out of existence for a moment, rather than disappeared  a dump. “APPARENTLY IT’S THE DRAINAGE SYSTEM” he bellowed at me, as though I’d spent the last ten minutes in the lavatory staring mystified at the u-bend. I had no idea how to react, so I nodded politely and made to cross the car-park to the relative safety of Paul, who I could see chuckling away to himself.

Thankfully, the guy didn’t follow me, but did leave a final exclamation ringing around my ears that “IT’S BECAUSE we’re SO HIGH UP, SEE”. I waved him away. It begs a bigger question, however – he was still hanging around outside the toilet twenty minutes later when our taxi arrived. Either his wife had an awful lot of meat and was struggling in the ladies or he was absolutely mental. There was no suggestion that he was cottaging or being inappropriate, but what other explanation could there be? Even as our taxi pulled away he was staring at the toilet door with a concerned look. I like to think he’s there even now, yelling about poo and the standards of the toilet paper.

That was Guadalest. Now, onto the food.

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Double dip time!





to make creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle you will need:

Remember, you can leave out the booze if you like, but it adds a certain tang! Oh and this serves 2 – two very big-fatty portions!

to make creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle you should:

  • add a little oil to a large frying pan and heat over a medium-high heat
  • add the garlic and jalapeños and cook for a few minutes
  • add the chicken stock, tequila and lime juice, whack the heat up a little and cook until it’s reduced a bit glaze-like
  • remove from the pan and leave to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the philadelphia, quark and soy sauce – then keep aside
  • now is a good time to bring a big pan of water to the boil and cook the tagliatelle
  • in another pan (or under the grill if you prefer) add a little oil and add the chicken breasts
  • sprinkle over the salt and pepper and cook over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes each side or until cooked through
  • put the chicken on a plate and add the peppers and onion to the empty pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring every now and again
  • chop the chicken into 1″ cubes and add back into the pan with the onions and peppers
  • give a good stir, cook for a minute or two and then add the cheese sauce
  • mix well and add the drained pasta, and mix again
  • eat

Still not satisfied? Don’t worry – we’ve got tonnes of other recipes you can try. Just click one of the buttons below to find more!

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J

double-dip special: baba ganoush and minty beetroot raita

Raita? I barely knew ‘er! Oh I know, but listen, it’s been so long. Forgive a fat man his nonsense. Here for the two dips? Quite rightly, they’re stunning. A big complaint of Slimming World is that it’s hard to find a decent dip or snack – now that we’ve discovered Broghies we’re snacking for England. The recipes are right down below the holiday entry but, as I’m feeling generous, if you want the food with none of my nonsense, just click the shortcut button below. Yes: just click on the SCALY OLD TROUT and you’re good to go.

Thank god they’ve left. All fur coat and no knickers, that one. For the rest of you, take my sweaty hand and we’ll skip back to Benidorm…

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

Not doing well with this ‘just the important bits’, am I? Ah well. We walked along the seafront and despaired at the sight of so many bright blue sun-loungers with bright pink English folk perched on them, merrily burning away. You couldn’t have set down a handkerchief amongst the people, let alone a beach towel, and oh god, the noise. It’s a bad job when you can’t hear the crashing sea over the sound of 5,000 disparate accents all bellowing at their triple-named snaggletoothed crotch-fruit to GET OUTTA FAAAACKIN’ SUN. It would be more relaxing trying to sunbathe on the wing of a crashing jumbo jet. We moved on.

I felt like James Cook gazing upon the unspoilt sands of Australia.

Eventually we reached what I think was the Old Town – lots of quaint streets to tumble about in, some interesting shops, some reasonable places to eat. We did spend a pleasant couple of hours here, not quite managing to fall in love enough to spend any money, when we decided to go for tapas. We’d have a couple of places recommended so off we trotted.

The first place we chose was charming on the outside. We were promptly seated by a pleasant looking waiter who was the double of Super Mario and had the water poured and the bread basket on the table before I’d even had a chance to look at the menu, tuck the tablecloth into my trousers and scatter the salt around. When the menu did arrive we were aghast. Now, before you all think we’re uncultured swines who don’t try local food or unusual tastes, just google what a rimjob is and come back to me. However, this menu was full of all sorts of horrendous sounding dishes, all of which sounded like the outcome of blending the Saw franchise with Watership Down. So many severed bits of animal served up like the top prize on Bullseye. Paul actually turned green, which at least made for a pleasant contrast against his reddened neck. We had to think fast (well, one of us certainly did – I’m not saying Paul’s slow but in his mind he was still coming through passport control back at the airport) so I told Paul to start fanning his face theatrically as if to feign feeling faint.

Of course, he goes full ham, giving it his all, rolling his eyes in his head, slack jaw opened, wafting his face with the menu, looking all the while like a Victorian maid who has stumbled across a passionate bout of illicit sex. If we’d had a few minutes more I’m sure he’d have slumped to the floor with a collapsed lung and started frothing at the mouth. I kicked him under the table to calm himself down when the waiter came back for our order. Me, in a language closer to Gujarati than A-level Spanish, explained that my partner was feeling unwell and we’d need to move on. The waiter, to his credit and my shame, couldn’t have been lovelier, his big brown eyes full of concern. I slipped him a ten euro note to pay for the water and we sloped off, Paul inexplicably limping. I told him round the corner that I was aiming for dicky-belly as opposed to a full debilitating haemorrhagic stroke.

Now, what to do? We were still hungry – this wouldn’t normally have been a problem but the second place on our list was nearby – literally over the other side of the wee square the first restaurant was one. We’d been told by all and sundry that this was the place to get heavenly tapas, couldn’t miss it, best in the country, blah blah blah. Being easily led, we had to go there, which immediately set us off on a game of having to sneak into another restaurant without the kind-eyed waiter from the previous debacle seeing us and knowing Paul’s illness was a sham. I couldn’t bear to see the hurt crack across his face when he realised our cruel deception.

This second place seemed a lot more informal and was clearly very popular, meaning we were forced to sit outside. I positioned Paul in the shadows in such a way that had the waiter from over the square glanced over, he might have reasonably assumed I was eating lunch with the ghost of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. To make up for his shite acting I sent him in to order for us. He came back with two diet cokes and a beaming smile – he’d managed to order us tapas without any problems at all. Attaboy.

No sooner had he sat down with a ‘fat man sigh’ than the waiter came out – yet another bronzed god whose eyes screamed sex but his face screamed ‘ripped off for a Visa story in Take a Break’. Hmm.  There must be a factory where these Spanish studmuffins are pumped out on a conveyor belt – if anyone has the address, please let me know so I can volunteer myself as a loading dock. Anyway, he popped a wee plate in front of us with two tiny discs of bread and a bit of grey meat on it. An excellent, if unidentifiable start. Down the hatch it went – couldn’t tell you what meat it was but it was juicy enough. Paul enjoyed his morsel very much and we were looking forward to a tasty range of tapas brought to us one by one to sample. You know where this is going, don’t you?

Yes, we sat there for a full thirty minutes, sipping our flat coke and staring sadly into the kitchen, where no-one met our gaze. Turns out Paul hadn’t actually ordered us tapas, as such, but rather, just one. A tapa, if you will. When we eventually gave up I asked him if he’d paid and he confirmed that he had indeed done so and how remarkably cheap it had been – less than five euros, including drinks! You know when you look at someone with such incredulity that your furrowed brows almost come off your head? That was me. In an hour we’d managed a disc of bread, a gulp of water and one cube of mystery meat. We gave up, trundled off back down the streets, but not before the first waiter gave us a proper look of ‘told you so, you limey bastards’.

We moved on. I can’t remember where we did end up eating – apologies – but it was very good and we had more than enough to fill us, leaving plates and boards and crumbs strewn extravagantly over our table. The rest of the afternoon was spent mooching about – we headed towards where the gay bear bar was, but they’d shut up shop. Probably seen how much food we’d put away and pulled the shutters down lest we came in and snapped their sling.  Bastards. By god there were some rough hotels around this area, mind – I especially liked this hotel with a pair of shitty drawers strewn over their welcome sign…

Classy!

Now listen, it wouldn’t be terrifically exciting to describe the fact we wandered around shopping, then went back to the hotel to splash about in the pool and watch Tipping Point. I know what you’re thinking: the glamour – it never ends! You’re quite right.

The plan for the evening was to head out to try and locate Sticky Vicky – well, we had to, didn’t we? For those unfamiliar, you lucky bastards. You know that scene in Mary Poppins pulls the lips of her bag apart and pulls out all manner of odd things – a birdcage, an umbrella, a lamp? It’s pretty much that act, but rather than a carpet bag she uses her fanny. Sorry, how crass: her grot-slot. She uses her blart like one might use an overnight bag or a drawer in a utility room. A quick glance (through my fingers) at videos online showing her pulling batteries, light-bulbs, razor blades and fruit from her snatch. Even the man from Del Monte would say no to that. Her wiki entry (not a euphemism) describes her as a ‘vaginal magic show’. A vaginal magic show? Please. David Blaine’s a vaginal magic show, and that’s because he’s a c*nt.

Mother, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry.

Anyway, bless, it’s not the original Sticky Vicky as she has sadly contracted uterine cancer – but she handed over the act to her daughter. What are the odds that both mother and daughter would have a liver-sock like a closing-down sale at Wickes? She was quite the legal eagle too, you know – she successfully sued someone for stealing her act and trademarked the name Sticky Vicky. I can’t imagine that a moron in a hurry would confuse her pulling half a rack of lamb and an aga out of her gammon-flaps for anything else, but hey. We researched online to see where she would be only to be met with the disappointing/thank God news – they’d both stepped down. There’s a rash (that’s what’ll happen when you’re yanking breeze blocks out of your chomper) of people doing similar acts now, so although we couldn’t see the original, we decided that if we headed out we’d most likely bump into someone pulling something out of/putting something in their blurter – even if it was just replacing their fannynanny in the street. I mean, it is Benidorm.

So, again, out we tottered, drinking at various establishments along the way – I’d be more specific, but god knows the plastic chairs and burnt skin tends to run into one another, especially as you consume far too much alcohol. We had somewhere in our minds that we ought to go watch the Meat Loaf tribute act down at Jokers bar. I was reluctant at first: I was furious with the act for missing his golden opportunity at the best possible pun name he could have had. Seriously, if you’re an overweight Meat Loaf tribute act performing in Spain, why the fuck would you not call yourself:

‘Fat out of El’

I mean honestly. Nevertheless, the thought of someone belting out some classic Meat Loaf was inviting enough to win me round. First some food – the usual problem of trying to find somewhere to eat that looked faintly decent. We looked everywhere but nothing came up and after a good hour of walking around, we settled for a classic Spanish spread in the er…Clay Oven Indian restaurant. Of course! Listen, we tried, we really did, but the only other place that looked remotely inviting was packed to the rafters with a sea of lightly wobbling elderly folks. It looked as though there was a tiny earthquake taking place. Anyway, the Clay Oven wasn’t bad at all, save for the fact it took us two hours to complete our meal, 40 minutes of which was waiting for the waiter to bring us the bill. He disappeared with the promise of getting the card machine and never came back. I presume he’d left the machine back in their sister restaurant in Bangalore. The food was delicious mind – for reasons we can’t go into it’s been a long while since we’ve had a good rich calorie-laden meal and this really scratched the itch, although the onions, spices and sauces were almost immediately playing havoc with my belly. We paid up and moved on, finally seeing Jokers looming large on the horizon. In we went.

It was rammed. Absolutely rammed. Clearly a lot of people want to see a bit of Meat Loaf, and who could blame them? The bar was shaped like a horseshoe with the stage in the middle and it was standing room only, even right at the back. We bought drinks and found a space where we might glance the top of his head. That’s fine – live acts are like casual sex – doesn’t really matter what they look like, you’re more concerned with the noises they’re making.

This was the only way I could get a shot of him!

But, oh no. We had trouble.

Trouble in the shape of a miserable, moaning, sour-faced old bag who was sat RIGHT AT THE BACK of the venue and was complaining that because we’d stood in front of her, she couldn’t see. You need to understand that immediately in front of us was a stag party, also stood up, so the very best she could see before us was a row of arses clad in George at Asda jeans. I could hear her mumbling away, getting louder and louder, saying to her husband that she’d been sat there three hours (WELL SIT AT THE FUCKING FRONT THEN, YOU SAGGY, DEATH-DODGING HUSK) and now the night was ruined because of ‘those fat men’. Fat! I mean, she’s right – when Paul and I stand next to each other it’s the equivalent of someone parking a small lorry in the bar – but still!

You better believe then that we spent almost an hour of Meat Loaf’s tribute act on our tip-toes, waving our arms around, shrieking and wolf-whistling. Anything to block her view just that bit further. She was muttering away like a stuck budgie but I cared not. Had she asked us to move – despite it making no difference to what she could see – we would have gladly done so because we’re not arseholes. But because she was rude she was granted no mercy at all. Oh, and we had one final trick up our sleeve – or rather, up my arse. Remember all that rich, spicy Indian food I’d put away a couple of hours earlier and washed it down with lots of beer? It was making a dramatic gassy re-appearance round the back, meaning she got the full force of a good spicy after-dinner-hint in her general direction every 30 seconds or so. I know, I’m rotten. By the time we decided to leave she had a big brown streak in her grey hair, though at least it went swimmingly with her nicotine fringe.

Have to admit, it was difficult to get out of the venue, what with the team of paramedics trying to bring her round.

Anyway – the rest of the night descended into more drinking, more stumbling about and, somewhat embarrassingly, I set my moustache on fire with a flaming shot from some knockabout bar. I was gutted: I’ve been trying to grow a neat beard for so long, and poof, gone – a big chunk missing from the top of my lip. With the smell of burning in my nostrils, the sound of Paul retching in my ears and nearly all the money we went out with still in my wallet (seriously, it’s so hard to spend money in Benidorm – everything is so cheap), we went to bed. Oh and for those who think I’m mean to poor Paul, let me tell you this – I actually got up in the night to put a load of furniture in front of the balcony doors as I was so terrified that Paul would get an idea to jump out of the balcony in his heavily drunken state. What can I say: I’m a love. Actually, it’s more because I didn’t want breakfast to be cancelled the next morning as they scraped Paul-jam off every conceivable surface. Trust me, I know what that’s like…

Anyway. Until we meet again.

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


Double dip time! Both are delicious and here’s the thing – I don’t like aubergine and I don’t like beetroot. But I like both of these…you couldn’t write the script! Or something. Either way, these dips are perfect with chunks of Broghies. Remember us twattling on about these the other day? They’re one syn each, big enough to break into six good chunks and are great for dips. They’re not bursting with flavour so it’s important you have a good dip for them – but they are satisfying our crisp itch like nothing before. You can find them in Iceland or, even better, contact them via here (it’ll open in a new window!) and let them know you want them! Both are dead easy to make.

baba ganoush



baba ganoush

to make baba ganoush, you’ll need:

  • four big aubergines – get big buggers mind, you want ones that demand you buy a copy of Razzle just to hide them under in case the neighbours see
  • one tablespoon of good olive oil (6 syns)
  • salt and pepper
  • one lemon
  • three garlic cloves
  • one tablespoon of tahini (5 syns)
  • chopped parsley

to make baba ganoush, you should:

  • if you have gas and a lot of time, have yourself a good fart and then get ready – you want to cook the aubergines nice and hot so the skin blisters, so yes, if you have gas, you can prick them with a fork and then hold them over the naked flame of your hob until they’re cooked through and blackened
  • but who the fuck has time for that, honestly – do what I do, prick them all over and stick them under the grill for twenty minutes, turning halfway through
  • mash up your olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar (or just mush it with your hands)
  • cut the aubergines in half, get the flesh into a bowl, mix it with your oil mixture from above, and scatter with chopped parsley
  • enjoy!

We can thank Paul Hollywood for this. Aubergines have plenty of moisture in them but if you want, add another tablespoon of tahini for 5 more syns. I won’t tell Margaret. Can’t find tahini? You’re not looking hard enough – most supermarkets sell it and it’s not expensive to buy. Worth tracking it down! Don’t want to spend syns? Fine, make this beetroot raita instead! I found this in Meera Sodha’s vegetarian Indian recipe book, which I love more than I can possibly tell you. There’s not a thing in there I don’t adore. Have a look – it’ll open in a new window. I’ve tinkered with the recipe to make it even easier.

minty beetroot raita

minty beetroot raita

to make minty beetroot raita, you’ll need:

  • a pack of cooked beetroot globes – we bought ours in Tesco, the ones that are vacuum-packed – tasty
  • two garlic cloves
  • a nice big lemon
  • 1 tbsp mint sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • fat-free natural yoghurt (if you want it syn-free) or a decent natural/Greek yoghurt if you’re only concerned about taste!
  • optional: Broghies, raw veg or whatever you want for dipping!

to make minty beetroot raita, you should:

  • grate your beetroot – I think you can buy grated beetroot actually, but if not, whizz it through a food processor with the grater blade on – it’ll make sharp work of it – we’ve got the Magimix and there’s nothing more satisfying than watching it destroy stuff
  • mince your garlic (use one of these bad boys – you’ll save your fingers and you don’t need to fart about peeling the garlic)
  • squeeze yer lemon and save the juice
  • take your grated beetroot, minced garlic, mint sauce and lemon juice and pop it into a frying pan – you want to cook the beetroot a little just to ‘dry’ it out a bit, using lemon juice to stop it sticking
  • add a good pinch of salt and lots of black pepper
  • allow it to cool and then mix with the natural yoghurt until it’s the consistency you want – don’t do it when the beetroot is hot though otherwise the yoghurt will split!
  • serve with raw veg or a delicious Broghie!

Want some more recipe ideas? Just click the buttons below! You’ll love it, I promise.

vegetariansmall   snackssmall slowcookersmallovernight-oatstastersmall

Enjoy!

J

velvety leek, potato and cheddar soup – instant pot or hob

Velvety leek, potato and cheddar soup – because frankly, it’s Autumn, and clitting about with consommés and gazpachos can fuck right off. You want a soup that’ll put hairs on that big old chest of yours and get stuck when you strain it through your Kevin Webster moustache. So here we are. Sorry for the lack of posts but well, you can probably guess that we’ve been away. Anyway, before we get to the fabulous leek, potato and cheddar soup, you’ve got the next part of our trip to Benidorm to smile politely through. If you can’t be arsed with reading all them big words, don’t fret, just click on the handy shortcut button below to be whisked straight to the pictures. Yes: just click on the mirror below.

Phew. We’d all had enough of her cockadoodie attitude, am I right? Let’s go back to a sunnier time…

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

You know, rather than prattle on about the last two days of the holiday, and bore you to tears with a 300 word monologue about the different types of toast we have, I’m going to do what we did with the Cornwall entries (good God the horror) and recount the memorable bits rather than go at it chronologically. I know what you’re thinking: James, you’re fabulous. Assume that the bits in between were taken up with us swimming in the pool, crisping in the sun or dozing.

Whenever we mentioned online that we were going to Facebook we were met with two things: aghast responses and ‘GO TO THE OLD TOWN’. I harboured a strong hope that the Old Town was actually Barcelona but no, apparently it’s the ‘nice part’ of Benidorm, in much the same way that the Isle of Arran is the nice part of Glasgow. Ah I jest, Glasgow, we love you and would move there in a barely-detectable heartbeat. So, hunger thoroughly satiated by way of the breakfast buffet (room 2002, two-thousand-and-two, dos-mil-y-dos, aaaah for fucks sake) and our hackles risen by the sight of our doubles mincing about the yoghurt station, we set off with the faint aim of walking to the Old Town, taking in what we could during the day.

Oh! Before I get there, can I quickly discuss this?

A lift that judges you.

The lift had a bastard ‘FAT PERSON’ monitor on it. When the two of us got in it went straight to cock-level, which sounds about right for us, until you realise the lift was built for ten people. I mean, we’re fat, but not quite that bad. I think if we had risked it after a particularly bountiful breakfast it may have started shrieking “¡ayudameMis cables!” in hysterical robotic tones. Anyway, the day was young.

It began with a crushing disappointment. We had seen no end of elderly couples whizzing around on double-seater mobility scooters, looking to all the world like particularly gelatinous takes on the future humans from Wall-E (only with far more fag-scorched winceyette). We wanted in on the action, if only because it would have made for an hilarious video of the two of us careering through the streets like the tank chase from Goldeneye. Completely unashamed we wandered into the first mobility scooter hire place and started trying out the various models. All good fun until some harried little Spanish lady came hurtling from out the back and started shouting at us in Spanish. I tried to placate her that, even though I’m hilariously obese, I’m not the easily forty stone or more that I’d seen the mobility scooters having to shuttle around outside. She has having none of it – apparently you need to be registered disabled (fair enough) or old (see previous comment) to hire a scooter. I caught a glance of Paul’s haggard face in the rear-view mirror of the Leviathan-shuttle nearest to me and wondered whether we could pass him off as over 55. Gloria Estefan wouldn’t have accepted it though, so we slunk away.

We carried on walking, dropping into the odd shop on the way. One thing I can’t understand is how all of the tatty shops selling cheap towels, tatty ornaments and fridge magnets and t-shirts with ‘I LOVE COK’ and ‘YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CRAZY TO ENJOY BENIDORM BUT IT HELPS’ and other shite manage to keep going. There are hundreds of the buggers – probably one for each family that landed. Surely there can’t be a demand for it? I’d like to live in a world where there wasn’t demand for one of these shops, let alone a whole neighbourhood of them. But nevermind. We nipped into the cheap cigarettes store just to see how much baccy costs now – nothing confirms your decision not to smoke like seeing the fact that you’re spending more on tobacco than you do for a good dinner. Plus catching the yellowing eyes of the walking dead shuffling around buying their Lambert and Butlers, coughing out lung mist all the while. This was clearly ground zero for the coughing plague that would accompany us on the plane home. We did have a titter at the fact that the 200 Lambert and Butlers came with a free bottle of Jägermeister sellotaped to the front. Hey, know your market. Listen, we’re not being snobby about smoking – we once had a drawer in the kitchen that was full of tobacco and Rizlas, that’s how dedicated we were – but if you’re going to smoke, try something with a bit of taste. You never know, the Marlboro Reds probably came with a well-aged Châteauneuf-du-Pape attached. I tried taking a picture of the fags but got roundly reprimanded (again!) by the lady behind the till, who shouted ‘NO PHOTOS’ with such ferocity you’d think she was guarding the nuclear codes as opposed to a cancer factory. Pfft. We left empty-handed, but at least able to move more than twenty yards without our lips turning blue.

Fags.

Just round the corner from the cheap fag shops was a cheery little minigolf course. Five euros for eighteen holes – you can’t get vexed at those prices, can you? I confess we only went in because it looked as though there was a gay bears convention behind us in the queue, and hell, if there’s one thing we both enjoy it’s having several bearded men lining up behind us all desperate to sink their balls into an easy hole.

Oh I know, we’re so nasty. But seriously, they looked like they’d all just finished lumberjacking and fighting oil-rig fires. I could barely bend to pick up my ball without poking out my own eye.

As usual, things between Paul and I became immediately competitive – whereas I’ll always beat him at pool, Monopoly and growing a beard (he doesn’t so much grow a beard as frighten it away), he nearly always wins at minigolf. I just don’t have the patience, I hate golf. It’s so tedious and arbitrary and pointless. At least with rugby you run the risk of being accidentally penetrated in an especially violent scrum. With golf what’s the most exciting thing that can happen? Someone with pipe-cleaner legs, clad in whatever shite was heavily discounted at the garden centre, comes and primly tells you off for not wearing the right shoes? Pfft. I’m yet to meet anyone who has been seriously into golf who I haven’t suspected of being on some sort of register. Maybe I’m jaundiced because we have a golf course at the end of our street and I’m forever having to dodge Audis and BMWs piloted by triple-chinned moonface fuckheads not concentrating on their driving because they’re too busy thinking about their stroke / hypnotised by the rancid pattern on their trousers.

Action shot! I can’t recall the balls being quite so ovoid, though.

Anyway, I digress (if I ever become rich and famous and in need of an autobiography, that’ll be the title – and the book will open with me being born and then 1000 pages of bitchy comments about the hospital canteen and Paul’s mother). The mini-golf course was actually good fun – very much a file under ‘god bless, they tried’ sort of affair, but good fun none the less. Paul struggled with a tricky shot through a windmill which almost gave me a victory but I was distracted on the eighteenth hole by the sight of one of the bearded gentlemen bent over to tie his shoes and that was it for the day. Paul cruised to an easy victory and made sure I knew it. Personally, I thought it was a little churlish of him to gloat – it’s hard to concentrate on your stroke when you’re desperately trying to engineer a situation where you could feasibly fall over and expose your rear like a cat on heat. As we left Paul noticed a mechanical bull and asked if we should have a go. Fearful of the hydraulics wheezing asthmatically and then enveloping us in thick blue smoke, I declined. I bought us both a knock-off Spanish Magnum instead and we moved on.

Someone has to do it, I suppose.

We stopped briefly at an Ale-Hop shop (very much like a Tiger, if not a Tiger under a different name) where I desperately tried to find a hat to find my giant head. It’s my eternal struggle and one I’m yet to beat. I’m a reasonable looking bloke, I think, but I have a head like the Bloaty Head patients from Theme Hospital. Every hat I try on is always about four inches too small, sitting on top my balding expanse like a fey little affectation rather than the sun protection I so desperately need. When I was much younger I found a natty little Kangol bucket hat in a hedge that fitted perfectly – no idea where it came from (although it did have J. Merrick scrawled on the inside) but by god it saw me through so many summers, until one fateful day when it blew off my head into the English Channel. I like to think it served its purpose and moved on to rescue some other elephantine-bonced poor bastard. Mind you, for as much as I struggled to find a hat…

…Paul was suffering more trying to find a bra to protect his poor heaving busoms.

Poor guy. He’s a busty double-D, if anyone has one spare they can pass to him.

Right, here’s the thing. As usual, I started out with good intentions about keeping it succinct but I’ve actually managed to hit the 3000 word mark. I’ve cut that out for the next two posts but hey, let’s get to the recipe. I appreciate I can’t keep your attention for too long, what with all the shiny things in the world to look at. Until next time…

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


This soup, then. You don’t need an Instant Pot to make it, you absolutely don’t, but it’ll make it so much quicker if you have one. Before you ask, yes, you probably could do it in a soupmaker too, though I’d have reservations about adding cheddar in case it sticks to the bottom. Your choice. The Instant Pot is currently pretty cheap on Amazon, mind you. This makes easily enough for six people.



to make leek, potato and cheddar soup you will need:

  • 3 leeks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp dried thyme (or two sprigs of fresh if you’re fancy)
  • 1½ tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 125ml light white wine (4½ syns)
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, diced into 2″ chunks
  • 110g Philadelphia Lightest (1x HeA)
  • 40g reduced-fat cheddar cheese (1x HeA)
  • 2 bacon medallions (optional, just if you’re feeling SUPER fancy)

Look, if you can’t find light white wine, just use any old slop you have kicking about. Use mouthwash for all I care. I’m not your boss!

Broghie

Wondering what on Earth that broghie thing is? Hard to describe! But it’s just the thing for dipping and adding crunch – like a prawn cracker in consistency only without the oil and fat and fishiness that comes with it. We’re using them a lot for satisfying the crunch that we miss from bread – and they’re only a syn each. You’ll see them in a few of our recipes because we’re well stocked up – bigger Iceland stores sell them, and they’re popular in Ireland – just like I wish we were! We’re not getting paid to promote them, just something that I saw on Facebook and wanted!

to make leek, potato and cheddar soup you should:

  • wash and finely slice the leeks – if you’re not too clumsy, get one of these and do it in seconds!
  • press the ‘saute’ button on the instant pot and add a bit of oil
  • add the leeks to the pan and stir regularly until softened
  • add the garlic, stir and cook for another 30 seconds
  • turn off the instant pot and add the thyme, oregano, bay, wine and potatoes to the pan
  • dissolve the stock cubes in 1.25l of boiling water and add to the pan
  • give a really good stir, then cook on high pressure for 10 minutes
  • meanwhile, cook the bacon until it’s super crispy and chop up into little bits
  • when it’s finished, use quick release and stir in the philadelphia and cheese
  • use a stick blender to blend the mix until it’s smooth
  • serve in bowls and sprinkle over some of the bacon bits

If you haven’t got an instant pot don’t fret – you can do this on the hob just as easily. Chuck the leeks into a giant pan until soft, add everything else (except the cheese), bring to the boil and them simmer until tender, add the cheese then blend with a stick blender. Simple!

Enjoy that? Of course you did, you saucy bugger. Want more? Click.

soupsmallnaughtyfooddrinkssmallbbqsmallonepot 

Goodnight for now! Remember to hit the share buttons below if you’ve enjoyed the recipe!

J

roasted rainbow aloo gobi – syn free and amazing

Roasted rainbow aloo gobi if you please, and syn free to boot! You know sometimes you make a vegetarian dish and it’s OK but you’re left craving meat like a sex-starved nun? This wasn’t the case with this – in fact, it was so tasty and colourful we ended up making it again the next day. Then had the leftovers the day after. By that point the neighbours were banging on the window sure, so fetid and thick was the fart-air billowing from under our door, that someone had died. So, make it, but be warned: your leather cheerio will turn black and die.

You know, it’s a wonder I don’t get asked to write the recipes for Woman’s Weekly. Anyway, before we get to the pure sex that is the aloo gobi, you’re going to have to endure a night out with us, as it’s part four of our Benidorm trip. We’ve even got videos for you! Don’t want to read all our shite? That’s fine. I’ve put in a shortcut button. yes, for this one, you just need to click on the OLD MONA WHO’LL LET ANYONE CHUCK THEIR PAINT ON HER FACE below:

Possibly the classiest photo we’ve ever had on here and I’ve used it to make a spunk joke. Eee, what am I like. Shall we continue?

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

When you last left us we had endured a breakfast buffet, met our doubles and sizzled by the pool for far longer than could be considered reasonable for a travel blog. Remember that time, we had hope in our eyes.

We used the day to plan for the night ahead, with an eye to having a bit of dinner somewhere local to the hotel and then heading out to a place we’d heard excellent reviews about – the Showboat, just up the road. Dinner was so awful that I can’t remember where we went, only that it was exactly like the slop you get in lay-bys from people who’ve used their food hygiene certificate to wipe their arse with. I’ve been told you can eat well in Benidorm and it’s undoubtedly true, but every single place we looked at within about half a mile’s mince from the hotel were full to the brim with people pointing at pictures of egg and chips on the laminated menu. If my memory serves me correctly, Paul had a hot-dog and I had a club sandwich. Presumably the Club the sandwich referred to was the Cavern Club because this sandwich tasted like it was made back in the sixties – I’ve never had to dip a sandwich in my pint before to moisten it.

Showboat, then. I’m not too sure how to couch my experience of the place, really – not least because we drank 11 pints each over the course of the entire evening. People in our facebook group were treated to some wonderfully awful videos, I can assure you. Let me say that the staff were lovely, the venue was clean and the toilet, far from the Trainspotting homage I expected, was spotless. We’d shuffled in at 8pm and had the place to ourselves – the entertainment such as it was started at 9pm so we decided on a game of pool. There was one pool cue and well, the lines on the table weren’t especially clear.

Like playing at The Crucible!

I won, because I always do when it comes to pool – Paul’s flipper-arms make holding the cue difficult – and then it was time to get a round in and enjoy the first act: a Tina Turner impersonation. Here’s the thing: when your opening gambit is a declaration that despite appearances, you’re not actually a man in drag, then it rather sets the tone. She (and she was a she, I could see no Nutbush City Limits under her straining skirt) was really good! She belted out a few of the classics, though I did feel sorry for her when she tried to get the audience up on stage – the front two rows looked like they couldn’t manage to breathe unassisted let alone jive through Proud Mary. She gamely pressed on.

We don’t need another hero. We just need someone to call a nurse.

Things reached a pinnacle when it came to River Deep Mountain High – one of my favourite songs. You know it – it has a great lead-in and then straight into Tina singing. I was all ready to stand up and clap and throw my knickers on the stage (the size of the fuckers meant they’d probably come back down in someone’s tapas in Valencia) but there was a problem – she uttered the first line and then stopped. Completely forgotten the words. I was devastated: I was itching to see her strut/stumble through my favourite, and it wasn’t to be. I yelled out that she must leave Ike before he did any more serious damage and, taking this on board, she carried on and saw it through to the end. Towards the closing notes I saw our doppelgängers arrive and take seats near the front. We exchanged glances. Tina shuffled off. More drinks for everyone.

Then came Stella Artois. A drag act. I’m going to hold my hands up here and say outright, I’m not a huge fan of drag unless it’s done superbly well. This guy wasn’t. Actually no, let’s rewrite that a bit: I don’t mind drag acts, but I don’t like the fact that some people seem to think it gives them a licence to be an abrasive, nasty arsehole. Stella was absolutely in this second category. They opened with a few gags which actually did make me laugh (and listen, I’m not a hard person to please, I’m probably the only person in Britain who’ll happily sit through You’ve Been Framed) and then boy oh boy did that show degenerate quickly. It’s pretty bad when you’re hearing material stolen from Peter Kay’s early work, it’s even worse when it’s from Bob bloody Monkhouse. I think if the crowd hadn’t been (barely) lapping it up he’d have started a Vera Lynn singalong.

That’s when things just got worse and worse. I’m all for a coarse gag – as evidenced in nearly every single post on here – but make it funny. I thought we’d reached a low point when he was talking about his arsehole but then the racist stuff followed. We’re not just talking like the naff racist gags you expect in a flat-roof social club but just vile shit about blowing up mosques and *clutch my sides* not seeing a white face in Birmingham. Jim and Saul were slapping their knees and sloshing their campari all over their shoes at the ‘humour’ whereas I was hoping to find blood in my urine just to cheer myself up. The show lasted an hour during which we anaesthetised ourselves with a lot more booze and making videos for the group. Not going to lie, we were thankful when they tottered off the stage, though I admit I was fretful about whether or not she would get back to Peterborough in time to put tea on for Paul’s brother.

I’m kidding, he looked nowt like Paul’s mother. She’s got a much more pronounced beard.

Anyway, Stella fucked off, and I thought the entertainment was over the night but then, WHAM! On came a George Michael tribute act. He was so much better! He looked more like George Osborne than George Michael but he could belt out a tune and that’s all that matters. He did all the classics: Fast Love, Careless Whisper, Faith, shot his load up the cubicle door in the gents, the lot. It was great fun. At one point he asked the crowd for their favourites – I, buoyed by more alcohol units than is sensible for a man of my obesity, shouted LAST CHRISTMAS. He immediately sniped back that that was a stupid suggestion because it was September, to which I shouted back that he was supposed to be dead, so all bets were off. He sang Freedom with a proper sulk on.

We left, though I took a moment to step on my double’s foot as I walked past. I like to think my weight on his foot dislodged a fragment of his doubtless infected toenail which shot straight to his heart, leading to a full cardiac arrest later in the holiday. Fucker shouldn’t have stolen my beans and/or looked like me. After a long stumble down the street, we were in bed, snoring and farting the rest of the night away.

Anyway, we made a supercut of the night for your viewing pleasure. You have no idea how long it took to make this faintly appropriate for the blog – the amount of bits we had to cut out just so we didn’t get shut down / put on the front pages of the tabloids, well, you’ll never know.

Oh and if you’re wondering how we were feeling the next morning…

I know, imagine waking up next to that breathing at you from across the pillows. To be honest, you’ve got the far better view out of the two available to you at that point.

Part five will surely come, but first, we really ought to crack on with the aloo gobi, yes? Before I go – all of that above and the sentence I’m most pleased with is the WHAM remark. I chuckled away to myself with that one.

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


This makes enough for easily four people, whether as a side or a full main. You could chuck some red peppers in to increase the colour still further. I got the basic idea from my absolute favourite Indian cookery book, Made in India by Meera Sodha. There’s not a recipe I’ve made yet that hasn’t been absolutely gorgeous, so hats off to her. You can buy the book dirt cheap on Amazon! She recommends making this as a light salad and serving in a poppadom with crushed peanuts, but as I can almost hear Mags clutching her Facebook-raffle-prize pearls from here, I’ve slimmed it down a little.

rainbow aloo gobi

rainbow aloo gobi

to make roasted rainbow aloo gobi, you’ll need:

  • 500g of new potatoes – if you get Jersey potatoes or similar, they’ll be nice and yellow
  • 600g of cauliflower – to make it rainbow, buy rainbow cauliflowers – Marks and Spencers sell them – they come in yellow, white and purple
  • two large red onions
  • one big bastard bag of spinach
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • three cloves of garlic, minced (use one of these bad boys – you’ll save your fingers and you don’t need to fart about peeling the garlic)
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds or half a teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • salt and black pepper
  • spray oil, but not Frylight, because you’re so much better than that muck
  • red pepper optional

Let’s quickly talk about oil, for those that haven’t been with us since the beginning. Here’s the thing: we don’t like Frylight. It’s pushed too hard in a lot of recipes and it tastes like poo. We prefer to use a good olive oil (and if we’re absolutely honest, we don’t syn it – never have) but for the sake of you lot, we always factor the syns in. Most of the time for blog recipes we recommend using a spray oil – you’ll get enough from 10 sprays and that’s 1 syn according to the calculator. Divided between four, up to you if you syn such a negligible amount. We use one of these filled up with olive oil but listen, you can buy spray oil in the shops. Just look for the Frylight, knock them over, choose something decent. It’s your body – why eat plastic crap if you don’t have to do so?

to make roasted rainbow aloo gobi, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • chop your new potatoes into similar sized chunks
  • pick the cauliflower apart into chunky little florets
  • arrange them both on a baking tray, spritz them with a few sprays of oil, scatter over the garlic, chilli, cumin/cumin seeds and then season with a lot of salt and black pepper
  • into the oven they go for thirty minutes or so, turning them every now and then
  • meanwhile, thinly slice your onion and pepper if using, then gently sweat them in a few sprays of oil – cook them slowly mind, let them sweat and golden and caramelise
  • add the chickpeas (drained, obviously) then the spinach so it wilts down
  • mix in the potatoes and cauliflower and serve!

Super tasty and easy to make.

Want more ideas? You greedy bugger!

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Enjoy!

J

cheesy bacon chicken goujons – my word, so good

Cheesy bacon chicken goujons. Cheese? Bacon? Chicken? I’ll prep the defibrillator for your stopped heart and Paul will fetch a mop for the slug trail you’re leaving. These are bloody lovely – normally we’d suggest dipping them into a ranch dip but frankly, as I don’t want to hasten your consultant to eternal slumber, let’s keep the syns low and serve with beans. We’ll get to the recipe in a moment, you understand, but first, nonsense. If you can’t be arsed to read, just click on the OVER-AGED RIPE STINKER below:

Thank god they’ve left. Someone had their make-up gun set to whore, am I right? Let us begin…hey, remember though, I love getting feedback on the holiday entries. I read them all!

click here for part one | click here for part two

We decided, given our somewhat alcohol-tinged gadabouting the previous night, that we would do the Very British Thing and have a day by the pool, only moving to eat, burn and bask. Normally we’re quite good at getting “out and about” when we go on holiday but you know what, sometimes all a boy wants to do is lie back, singe his titties and ogle the lifeguards. Actually, scratch that last bit – the lifeguards looked about 12 years old and would struggle pulling the plug out of an empty bath. I had no high hopes that if I suffered cardiac arrest from doing half a minute of gentle swimming that they’d be able to hoist my bloated corpse out of the jacuzzi area. I’d be left there for time evermore, bubbling away in the heated jets and turning into James soup.

So, on that alluring note, we decided (against our alcohol-souzed brains’ better judgments) to rise early and go downstairs for the buffet breakfast, which was thoughtfully included in our hotel booking. Good food soaks up booze, after all – but catastrophe. We got to the buffet floor only to find a queue of elderly people all sucking their teeth and murmuring. It was like a sequel to Cocoon, only with Spanish dubbing. By joining the queue we actually lowered the mean age of the queue by forty eight years. It was like being on the flight to Corsica all over again, where I was absolutely sure we’d accidentally boarded a pilgrimage to Dignitas. The queue shuffled as slowly as you can imagine it would (if you’ve ever tried doing your lunch shopping in Marks and Spencer when they’ve put the £10 meal deal on, you’ll catch my drift – that’s right, isn’t it Alan?) and when we eventually arrived at the front we were shouted at by some officious bloke on the desk who couldn’t understand my room number of 2002. He asked me to repeat it every which way possible – Paul was set to do some interpretative dance – before finally caving in and letting us through. Here, mate – I’m not that fucking enamoured with bright red overcooked Spanish sausages that look like diseased dogs’ dicks that I’m running a breakfast racket, alright?

Oh and you better believe that this repeated itself over and over throughout the holiday. Every morning the same problem, the same jobsworth man with a face full of woe, the same discussion. On the penultimate day I actually took a picture of the room number on our door as proof but Paul wouldn’t let me show it.

We sat down to breakfast. Actually, I sat down, Paul was dispatched to find coffee and orange juice. I can only presume he walked to Seville for the oranges because by the time he reappeared he’d grown a grey beard and a zimmer frame. Turns out he’d just picked them up by osmosis from being trapped in a crowd of the elderly at the omelette station. Coffee downed for fortitude we went for our food, promising each other that we would be healthy. Paul wandered off to the yoghurts and fruit station, I went straight for the gold – cooked breakfast. I know, Englishman aboard and all that shite, but I wanted something to line my stomach and a fucking Activia yoghurt and some sawmill muesli wasn’t going to cut it.

Now, do you know, this was actually a very good breakfast. I’ll refrain from listing all the delicious things they had, not least because I don’t want you getting a wide-on when I mention fried bread, fried bacon, fried eggs and fried milk (not even kidding). However, it was here that I met my holiday nemesis. I met me! I was reaching for the ladle for the beans when some fat fuckface actually pushed my arm out of the way to get there first. I followed his arm, slightly aghast, only to realise it was attached to the body of someone who was almost my double – same glasses, same shaved head, same beard, same build – honestly, if I ever needed a stunt double this would be my guy. I mean, it wasn’t a complete replica – his cheap trainers let him down and he was almost certainly wearing Lynx as opposed to my Tom Ford – but it was so close. He was 100% definitely on my bus too – I could tell by the way he was pursing his lips in a ‘yeah and what’ face at me.

In any other timeline, where Paul had blinked out of existence, it would have been at the very most ten minutes before we were having animalistic hot twin-sex over the hash-browns, but because he was rude, that was it, no chance. We made our way down the queue together, me behind tutting at his choice of fried egg over poached, me sighing theatrically when he put the mushrooms spoon in with the cubed potatoes, him huffing when I took the last bit of bacon. The tension was palpable. Also, he was one of those people who feel the need to tower their food at a buffet rather than eating like a normal person. I was hoping, praying even, that the sole of his Aldi trainers would come loose and send him crashing to the floor, but alas, God, you let me down again.

Now, it doesn’t end there. When I got back to our table and breathlessly (well, it was a long buffet) recounted my tale of meeting my double to Paul, he told me a similar story – he too had bumped into ‘me’ and then, to top it off, had then spotted him making his own way back to his table where he sat down with a ‘Paul’ – Mama Cass with a five o’clock shadow. Turns out we’d stumbled across an evil version of ourselves: just like when Sabrina the Teenage Witch met her evil twin Katrina. There’s a reference everyone will get! We christened them Jim and Saul and, much like the breakfast maître d’, they would haunt our holiday.

One thing we did notice: they were always miserable as sin. Every time we did spot them the bigger one had a face like he’d lost a fiver and found a pound and his long-suffering husband was trailing behind him like a condemned man. Paul and I have lots of faults, but we’re always bloody laughing.

With breakfast demolished and the chest pains subsided we returned for our room for Paul to ‘drop the kids off’. This took twenty five minutes, all time that I spent anxiously bouncing about on the balcony looking at all the sun-loungers disappearing under rolls of pink flesh. Have you seen videos on the tourists waiting for the bell so they can dash out and claim the sunbeds?

Actually, this is just over the road from where we were staying. I’d seen this video a week or two previous to the holiday and knew that we had no chance of a sun-lounger by the poolside. I kept trying to urge Paul to hurry up but ‘it was a slow mover up the charts’ apparently and we were in for the long-haul. So frustrating! By the time he had birthed, showered, dressed and suncreamed it was knocking onto 11am and yes, indeed, by the time we got down to the genuinely lovely pool there wasn’t a sun-lounger to be had. We wandered around ashen-faced before Paul let out a yell and made a dash as quick as a fat man with troublesome bowels dared – he’d spotted a couple leaving (possibly because we were blocking their sun) and their loungers were ours!

Anyway, here’s a video from our pool, together with our voices and faces and hairy shoulders. You poor sods.

What followed were a good few hours of relaxing, soaking up the sun and reading, mixed with a few little splashes in the pool. It was lovely, but I’ll be damned if I can make an interesting couple of paragraphs about it. So instead, let me touch on something else which I’ve mentioned before – don’t worry about your body when you’re on holiday! There were far too many ladies, bless, hiding their less than toned bodies behind giant towels or worse, sitting in a t-shirt sweating away. I know the feeling, I’ve done it myself – you’re worried that you’ll look awful when you step out in a bikini (OK I haven’t done that before) or go for a swim. Why though? Why giving a flying fuck what people around that pool think of you?

For a start, no-one is bloody looking anyway, and if they are it’s only to try and read the page of Take a Break that has been inked on your tit from lying out in the sun too long. Then there’s the small fact that, unless you are spectacularly unlucky, you’re never going to meet this same group of people ever again, unless you’re watching a Judge Rinder marathon. So for goodness sake, you spend so much money to get out there, let the wobbly bits, untanned streaks, saggy boobs and spaniel-ear-ballsacks hang loose. You’re a long time dead! The best looking people around that pool were the ones who walked with a bit of confidence, misguided or not. Schlepping around like a Babushka in your eighty-seven layers, face dripping with heat exhaustion, is never going to be a good look.

Now, let’s do the recipe and pick up this story next time. I can sense a lot of teeth gnashing going on. Least I hope it’s your teeth.

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Cheesy bacon chicken goujons. I mean, you just WOULD.

cheesy bacon chicken goujons cheesy bacon chicken goujons

to make cheesy bacon chicken goujons you will need:

Oh god, look, just google panko. It’s a breadcrumb you can buy from most supermarkets. Or make your own. Technically this is 2.25 per serving, but if you’re going to shit the bed over quarter of a syn, why don’t you just go back to your ready-meals and crying into your Chat magazine?

to make cheesy bacon chicken goujons you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200ºC
  • lay a sheet of baking paper over a large baking sheet or tray
  • cook the bacon until it’s well done – we used our Optigrill which did the job perfectly but you can do yours however you like – make sure its really crisp!
  • put the bacon into a food processor (if you’re after a decent one you can’t beat a Magimix) and blitz until a quite coarse sand-like consistency
  • tip the bacon into the panko and add the cheese, and mix well – it’s not a bad idea to split the mixture into two bowls because as it starts to get a bit ‘claggy’ from the egg it won’t stick as well.
  • cut each chicken breast into 2/3 long slices
  • dip each goujon into the egg mix and roll in the panko until well coated
  • lay each goujon onto the baking sheet and spray with just a little oil (don’t go mad, it only needs a bit of a mist to help it brown off – this does the job perfectly!)
  • bake in the oven for 20 minutes (there’s no need to turn)

Enjoy! These really were lovely – good work.

Want more inspiration? What do we ever get from you? Psssh! Click the buttons below!

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J

chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms

Chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms – there’s not one bit of that description that doesn’t give me a stiffy. You’ll find the recipe below, but first, the next part of our trip to Benidorm. If you read the entry and enjoy it, please do leave feedback. I love feedback on the holiday entries, I truly do! Don’t let me down. However, if you’re feeling mean, you can skip straight to the recipe by clicking on the GASSY OLD SAGGY BAG below.

Right, she’s gone. Did you see her clothes? Is she wearing those for a bet? Let’s get straight back to Spain…

click here for part one

Let’s get straight back into it. That Wilkinson own-brand sun lotion won’t slap itself on, you know? You last left us at the airport, which is totally understandable. You were probably like me and, having seen the place as the plane descended through the clouds of Lambert and Butler, were wondering whether you ought to take a chance clinging to the undercarriage on the returning flight. With a deep sigh, we pushed on.

Paul then decided to hit me with another revelation – we had a private transfer to take us the 40 minute or so trip to the city centre. Marvellous – I can’t stand transfer buses: they’re always full of loud folks in loud clothes smacking their children and fretting whenever some half-finished shitpit looms large in the driver’s window. I envisioned a nice air-conditioned taxi, deftly driven by some Spaniard with big brown eyes and reassuring arms, who might be so taken by Paul and I that he would whisk us up into the mountains to feed us tapas and make us both his wife, spending many many years trying to make us bear children.

Well, that didn’t happen. The taxi driver looked like an meth-addicted gopher and the car had seen better days, namely the 1970s. I can get past that but then Paul explained that our private transfer wasn’t private at all – we had to share with two other folk. The indignity! How is that a private transfer? If you nip into a public toilet and have to shit in a cubicle with someone else, that’s not private, is it? Adding anyone extra into any situation, unless it’s an orgy, negates any notion of privacy. I started rolling my eyes so much Paul thought I was going into hypoxia and made me blow into a crisp packet that was caught against the airport doors.

As it happens, our company was terrific – just the type of people we would actually want to be stuck in a hot car with, full of laughter and bawdy jokes. Sharon and Kim, I remembered your names, which is some feat as I find most people so completely forgettable that they drift out of focus by the time we get to the ‘and who are you’ part of the conversation. They did little to allay my concerns about Benidorm’s reputation mind, given their second sentence was warning us about pickpockets and their third was telling us the areas to avoid if we didn’t want to get beaten up. I felt I didn’t know them well enough to lean over and ask them for directions to the sexual assaults hotspots with a knowing wink: well, I didn’t want to look too keen.

The taxi ride passed remarkably uneventfully, though it was had to discern anything outside as it was going past in such a blur – the guy was driving so fast that I can only assume that he was trying to blast the rust off his car. We arrived at the Hotel Melia precisely four minutes before we set off from the airport and first impressions were excellent. The lobby was airy and full of plants, mobility scooters were banned* and the staff were exceptionally welcoming. Alejandro on the front desk could not do enough for us – I genuinely think if I’d asked for a quick rim in the panoramic lift he’d have been on his knees quicker than you can say ¿te has sentado en un poco de chocolate?

* mobility scooters. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone all Jim Davidson on you (not least because I’m reasonably funny, as opposed to being an objectionable shovel-faced c*nt) and started taking pot-shots at the disabled. No – Benidorm gained a bit of a reputation for chavs and cattle hiring mobility scooters to blaze around the place in, as much as you can blaze anywhere with a setting of ‘tortoise’. People were being dashed against walls or tumbled into road as these whirring menaces scooted past. Benidorm Council decreed that you must be over 55 (years, presumably, though stones would do it) and/or disabled before you can hire them, and quite right too. If you’re disabled then of course you should use them, but if you’re only doing it to rest your sweaty cankles or to be a dick, then frankly, I hope you have your next period in a shark tank.

We took the lift to our room on the 20th floor and took stock of our bedroom. Comfortable, well-appointed, decent bed and the TV was tuned straight into ITV2 so you know the previous occupants had been watching Jeremy Kyle. Least I hope that’s the case – I’d hate to think a housekeeper has been learning English by watching that show given none of the people on it can speak it in the first place. Hell, most of them can’t blink in unison. We immediately decanted all of the toiletries into our suitcase and called down for some more. We also ordered room service – we wouldn’t normally be so greedy but we hadn’t had anything since our gold-plated yoghurt and it was too hot to move.

Room service was disappointing. I called up only to be put on hold for a good five minutes and then passed to someone who spoke neither Spanish or English. That’s fine, no problem, but I didn’t have the time to look up the Latvian for cheeseburger (sorry Mags) and two diet cokes. We stumbled around each other before he gave up and handed the phone to someone else. I can only assume he did so for a bet because this chap was even worse – it was like trying to place my order with Ludo from Labyrinth. I was giving it the old college try with my broken Spanish, but no. Nevertheless, after four days, we placed the order and what turned up was dreadful. A pre-BSE beef burger, chips that managed be so tasteless I wasn’t sure I’d eaten them and time-machine salad which catapulted me back twenty years to when my rough nana thought a salad should consist of sliced cucumber, quartered pink tomatoes and the shitty part of the iceberg lettuce (i.e. all of it) tossed in vinegar and cigarette ash.

We gamely tried to choke it down but most of it ended up being scraped into the bin. Paul thought I had tears in my eyes but it was actually my long-suppressed gag-reflex coming to the fore. We lay on the bed for a bit, watched a bit of TV for a bit and must have dozed off because we only came around when the dulcet tones of Susan Calman came bellowing out of the TV. I was confused: if she was on the TV, who was taking part in every single Radio 4 show? Goodness. For some inexplicable reason this seemed to trigger my ‘let’s get the fuck out of here’ button so we moved out on the balcony to admire the views.

Not bad considering the air is 40% Jet2 fuel and 60% Joop

Look at that sea view! It’s like a beach hut in Corsica, no?

I know what you’re thinking – we must have felt like the only ones there! I can’t say this sight filled me with any joy – looking at all these indistinct high-rise buildings towering in front of me left me feeling like a piece of knock-off Lego. In the 50s Benidorm’s fishing industry fell on its arse, leading to the Council approving all sorts of charmless buildings. It worked though – in a rare instance of ‘if you build it they will come’ actually working out, tourists flocked to the city. So, a necessary evil, I guess.

We took the lift and went over the road to the supermarket to get holiday hotel room supplies, namely off-brand Coke and sandwich making bits and bobs. I picked up a packet of something which looked a lot like ham but had no mention of jamón on the packet, but fuck it, I’m a game soul, I bought it anyway. Upon later consumption it had the taste of a teabagged-scrotum – and I finished the lot. 

After shopping, sex and a shower, it was time to finally head out and see what was out there. First stop: the airport to check for any possible free seats. I jest. No, we went to the Red Lion just down the road where we immediately dropped any pretence of staying sober by ordering two double vodkas and cokes. We took our drinks outside to watch the people walk by.

Now here’s the thing: you know what struck me? A glass hurled by a chav. No, obviously not. It was the sound of laughter. Every single person in that bar – and all of the people walking past – were laughing, having a good time, enjoying themselves. I think it’s easy to forget sometimes when you’re being faux-snobbish about Benidorm that people don’t go there for the haute cuisine (thank fuck) or the fabulous architecture but rather because it’s cheap, hot and fun. Just like Paul. Oh and also, everyone was talking to everyone else. People weren’t sitting primly at their tables rolling their eyes and tutting at others but rather engaging each other in conversations and jokes. Hell, we’re the most antisocial pair you’ll ever meet and even we ended up getting involved and it was marvellous. This scene would occur over and over and over in every single place we went to on this holiday and it was such a wonderful change.

Now, the rest of the night was a blur, if I’m honest, because we simply walked along the beachfront and stopped at random places on the way. I’ll save some of the descriptions for a later post. We can chart our progress in photos:

6pm: Happy to be here.

7pm: The look of a man who is terrified how much the charge will be for two double vodkas paid for on a credit card.

I know! It’s like wandering through Florence in the spring, isn’t it? I’m including this photo because it was immediately after we both shat ourselves – just behind that sign was a fireworks display. We (perhaps sadly) thought it was a terrorist attack and we were being shot at. When I got my breath back and asked Paul why he hadn’t run for cover, his reply was ‘eh, I’d rather die than run’. That’s my man!

8pm: sliding. Also, I love how this looks like we’ve taken the photo using Photoshop, but let me reassure you, we DO actually own these shirts and wear them out in public. And yeah, I know my glasses are bent. But so am I, and I could wreck your arse if you made a cheap joke.

We went to a bar and ordered something called a Fat Frog. It was revolting. I think it was a blue WKD, a Smirnoff Ice and a Bacardi Breezer mixed with a Brighthouse payment schedule and a lot of regret. It was like being 15 again, only I didn’t need to tug off the rugby captain to get a drink.

10pm: decay

Midnight: deterioration

2am: ruin.

We finished the night by stopping at The Red Lion on the way back – well, we needed a local. Another double vodka and coke please, barman. We sat down and people-watched. It was great, if incredibly loud, bar one thing that spoiled it completely. A few tables across from us was a young lass sitting by herself tucking into a fishbowl cocktail. Great, why not? Well here’s why: her easily-less-than-two-years-old baby was in the pram next to her, gristling and grumbling away, and she was sitting glued to her phone, cackling at something asinine on Facebook. The only time there was any contact with her child was when she practically burnt his eyelashes off every time her fag-holding hand slumped down off the table. Now, doubtless, I’ll get told off for being judgemental, where was the dad, blah blah, but no: there’s no situation where a kid that young should be in a bar that loud that early in the morning. It’s as simple as that. If he couldn’t sleep, then stay with him in a hotel room – she was paying him absolutely no heed at all. I’ve never been so close to snatching a child – it was only the worry that Ryanair would probably charge me a £55,000 Unexpected Infant Companion tax that put me off.

Didn’t put Paul off though – in a rare bout of gobshiteness, he called her Mum of the Year as he left. She responded with a volley of abuse as filthy as the table her drink was sat on. Pfft. Don’t care. We retired to bed in what would be an early for this holiday 2am. Let’s leave it there!

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


Right, to the recipe, which works wonders as a posh starter or for a taster night or a tapas night! You can use the rubble to stuff a pepper with if you prefer. Or a marrow. Or your big gob. Whatever!



to make chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms you will need:

  • 16 biggish button mushrooms
  • 100g chorizo, finely diced (12 syns)
  • 4 bacon rashers, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sherry or white wine (not sure how to syn this, to be honest – it’ll be around 2 syns, if that, divided by 16, and most of it cooks off – so I’m not choosing not to syn it)
  • 1 tbsp breadcrumbs (same)
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan (same)
  • ½ tsp paprika

If you want to be super anal about it, work out how many syns in a tbsp of breadcrumbs and cheese and divide it by 16. There’s your answer.

For this whole recipe, we chopped everything in our little Kenwood mini chopper. It doesn’t need to be uniform or fancy, just everything cut really fine. Can’t fault ours – we use it all the time, and it even handled the chorizo well. Just like Paul. Buy one here: opens in a new window!

to make chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms you should:

  • preheat the oven to 220ºc
  • chop off the mushroom stalks and – you got it – finely chop
  • add the mushrooms stalks, bacon, chorizo, onion and garlic and cook for five minutes – you don’t need to add oil here as the chorizo will release plenty of oil
  • add the parsley, chorizo and then the white wine or sherry and cook until the booze has evaporated
  • remove the pan from the heat and add the breadcrumbs and cheese, add a little salt and pepper to taste and then the paprika
  • spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps and place on a baking dish
  • cook for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms have browned and the mixture is hot
  • stick a cocktail stick in each one to make them easier to handle and eat

Done! Less than a syn per mushroom. Good for a taster night, a tapas meal or anything else you like!

Want more ideas? Fine! Click the buttons and go!

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cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls

Cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls awaits you, but before we get there, we have a small diversion to take via Benidorm. Buckle up folks, it’ll be a bumpy ride. Not interested in our holiday stories? Click the LEATHERY OLD SLAPPER just below to be whisked straight to the recipe.

Pfft, like we wanted her to stay anyway, eh? Let’s do this.


I know that technically that’s not the Spanish flag but honestly, saying as I think I heard one sentence of Spanish in the entire holiday, I thought it was fitting to overlay the United Kingdom flag behind it.

Let me start by reminding everyone that these our own views and that your experience may differ. Whilst I’ll play up our snobbiness for the blog, we don’t really think that bad of folk. Hell there were some sights to be seen for sure, but for the most part it was a decent holiday. Before you light your rolled-up copies of That’s Life and march on my doorstep, remember: shut up.

So, why Benidorm? Why, on the Earth full of beautiful places, interesting cultures and wonderful sights, did we settle on five days in a concrete wasteland full of boggle-eyed Brits shouting at waiters for DOS BEE-URS POR FAV-WHORE? Easy. Paul. The problem I have is that I’m very easily led – work hard enough on me and I can be persuaded to do pretty much anything. Anything, just saying. I once drove home behind a bus with an advert for ladies private healthcare on the back and had to be stopped from booking myself in for a full cervical screen and a hysterectomy. Paul takes advantage of my suggestibility an awful lot, which is why I have a Smart car on the drive and a bumhole like the end of an exploding joke cigar. He had seen me slumped in my chair on the plane back from Portugal, working my way through a rum and diazepam on ice, and suggested we go to Benidorm. He’d watched a programme on Channel 5 and thought it would be hilarious. I was too busy seeing individual moments of time fragment before my eyes to argue, and so it was that we’d no sooner landed, got home and fed the cats than he had the flights and hotel booked.

Great! I spent the next three weeks moaning to all and sundry that it wasn’t my idea of a good holiday place, and, as a result, I could barely get excited for it. If I want to see port-coloured Brits wearing full football kits and kicking in the locals, I need only nip down the road and book myself into a hostel in Whitley Bay, possibly the only place in the UK where the beach is more dog shit than sand. Nevertheless, time rolled on, and here it was the night before our flight and I had to pack. Paul had one job – wash our work clothes so we didn’t have to blunder about when we came back. Easy, yes?

No! He did indeed manage to wash them and hell, they even ended up in the tumble drier right on schedule – but he neglected to check the pockets, meaning our debit cards were treated to a full hot wash and tumble. They were wavy, and completely unable to fit inside a cash machine. This meant that for the entire holiday we had to withdraw money via our credit card which, because banks are bastards, ended up costing more (roughly) than the hotel. Pfft. Imagine the kind words that were exchanged between us. Actually, I just look into those protuberant, wobbling, bloodshot eyes (or try to, one is usually swivelling around like Mad Eye Moody sitting on a washing machine) and all is forgiven. I can’t stay angry with that wee face.

Our flight in the morning was an altogether reasonable 9am, but Paul does love to be at the airport in plenty of time, so usually we end up setting off the previous Christmas to ensure we make the ten miles to the airport without incident. I always mock him for this but for once, he was actually right to tip me groaning out of bed, into the shower, wash me under my boobs and get me dressed because – catastrophe – my car had a flat tyre. Although I didn’t admit it at the time, I later confessed that I thought I’d damaged the tyre when I was making the car bump and groove to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun as I drove home the day before. Taking his car was a no no because we were carrying more than a leaflet with us and thus, there wasn’t room.

What a to-do! I’m sure folks out there more manly or competent than us wouldn’t have spent ten minutes looking at the jack in the boot of the car, wondering whether 6am was too early to wake a neighbour to come and be butch for us or discussing whether to chance a ride to the airport with a flat tyre. In the end, we caved and ordered a taxi. We were told it would be here within ten minutes – it actually took forty, and the unshaven, brutish oik of a driver didn’t so much as apologise. We did spend the entire car ride nodding politely at his stream of racist comments. Paul had to hold me back when he started banging on about the work standards of immigants (sic) – I looked around at his filthy taxi, stinking of smoke as it did despite the no smoking sign, looked at the footwell full of litter and the clock which showed we were thirty minutes behind schedule, and all I wanted to do was to say that if this was the benchmark upon which to compare work ethics, well, the quicker Krzysztof arrived here in the back of a lorry the better.

We didn’t tip.

Newcastle Airport remains a disappointment. It has a few shops but I mean, come on, which joker thought Sports Direct was a good idea? There’s also a kebab house, a Greggs and a poky WH Smith for good measure. I nipped in there to buy some chewing gum and was asked to show my boarding card. For a packet of chewing gum. I think he knew from how loudly I rolled my eyes that it wasn’t going to happen. We went to the only place that wasn’t full of stags and hens – so, so many hens shrieking and cackling – indeed, the only place that looked halfway decent. We ended up paying over £16 for two coffees and two bowls of yoghurt and muesli. I mean, get fucked.

Oh and to top it off, Paul was upset by some braying skidmark in a cheap suit who, when asked to move out of the way as he was blocking the entrance, told him to fuck off. Pfft! Because we’re British and hate direct confrontation, it was only later when I was able to respond in kind – we were stood behind him waiting to pay for our breakfast when I loudly wondered out loud if ‘when your nose hair gets to such an extensive level, do you not consider a combover’. The guy knew we were talking about him because he touched his nose as he left. Let’s hope he develops a complex and ends up old, alone and covered in matted nosehair.

I hate airports – it just feels like everything is designed to piss you off in some way. Security is a ballache – a necessary one, absolutely, but for goodness sake crack a smile, tell a joke, lighten the mood a little – if you’re going to be groping my cock to see if I’m carrying on an extra 20ml of Tom Ford at least be gracious about it. You go into shops and it’s the same shite for sale as everywhere else, only with fake reductions on it, and everyone gets in your way. You get corralled into tiny ‘gates’ where there’s enough seating for the five people on your full flight and then when they call you to the plane, they don’t let you board, preferring instead to keep you penned together at the bottom of a flight of stairs, sweating and collectively tutting away. I know you can pay extra to get into the airport lounges but Newcastle’s lounge is an absolute joke – if you like piss-weak flat prosecco and scrapping over lukewarm Costco muffins with a Grouponed-gaggle of hens, maybe it’s for you. Frankly, I’d be more relaxed if I board the plane freefalling from 35,000ft in the air.

Perhaps I’m just being grumpy. But see, I had two other concerns. Firstly, we were flying Ryanair, and it was just at the time when they had started announcing flight cancellations and all sorts of problems with the schedules. The relief when I glanced outside our gate window and saw they had actually sent a plane rather than a cardboard cut-out to fool us was immeasurable. But the fact that the plane was there at all created another worry – we’d never flown Ryanair but have heard all sorts of horror stories about how they gouge you at every opportunity. I was that ready to be shafted that I’d lubed myself up in the toilets and soaked my boarding pass in amyl nitrates. To top it off, they charge you to sit together – actually actively go out of their way to pull you apart to force you to pay more – and so, out of protest, Paul had ignored this, meaning we weren’t sitting together for the flight out!

Great! I’m not scared of flying but I do like to have Paul next to me so that, if the plane was plummeting towards the earth in a ball of fire and wrenching metal, I could push him in front of me to act as a crude take on an airbag, even if that airbag is full of air that smells of pure, concentrated death. We had speedy boarding so we were the first to be released from the holding pen and we took our seats.

Thoughts? Awful. Listen, Ryanair is very much ‘what it says it is’, but for goodness sake, there’s not even a seat pocket in front of you to put your stuff in, meaning you have to balance your iPad, phone, headphones, water and headphones on your lap. By the end of the flight I was a grade four juggler. Actually, that’s a fib, but I was technically deaf. I’ve never been on such a loud flight. There were no groups of stags or hens – thank God – but everyone was speaking at about twenty decibels more than necessary. I tried listening to a podcast but it’s difficult to concentrate on Sheila Dillon when you’re sat in the middle of a People’s Postcode Lottery advert. People who, rather than get up and walk down the aisle to talk to a family member, preferred to yell down the plane like they were hijacking the flight.

Oh and christ almighty, the coughing. It was like being on a last-chance flight to Lourdes. At one point I was actually thankful for the lack of seat pockets because they’d be full of blackened lung. I hoped for a small fire just to get the oxygen masks to deploy and give their lungs a break. We’re not talking delicately coughing into a tissue here like Satine in Moulin Rouge, but rather, huge rasping barks where you can hear the air-sacs ripping. Half of the time there wasn’t so much as a hand in front of their mouths, meaning the air in that cabin was probably 80% lungbutter particles. I couldn’t bear it and I could sense from the shade of Paul’s ears a few rows in front that he felt the same. Folks, if smoking means you can’t get through a three hour flight without sounding like you’ve just escaped a house fire, give it up! For goodness sake!

Aside from the volume and coughing, the flight passed smoothly – it was canny of Ryanair to make sure we didn’t get a moment’s rest by coming onto the intercom every five minutes to sell us sandwiches, drinks, duty free, scratchcards, perfumes, a 15 minute turn in the cockpit and the odds on the plane having enough jet fuel to land safely. They should have came round with a trolley full of Strepsils, they’d have turned enough profit to pay John Travolta to fly all of those cancelled flights.

We landed safely, if somewhat abruptly, and cleared passport control in mere moments, which was lovely. I was still hoping that someone had slipped a kilo of coke up my arse at this point and we’d be sent home but no, no such luck. We had arrived – for better or for worse. Let’s leave it there and do the recipe though, eh?


This makes about twelve rolls, more if you’re stingy, and make for a nice little tapas style dinner!

 

to make cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls, you’ll need:

  • two aubergines, as big and thick and as phallic as you dare – if you’re not worried about the neighbours seeing them tumble out of your car, they’re not big enough
  • 200g of ricotta (two HEA)
  • 80g of soft goat cheese (two HEA)
  • 25g of breadcrumbs (just use ready made, 4.5 syns – or you could clit about with your healthy extra but zzz)
  • 200g of wilted spinach
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns)
  • salt and pepper

In total then, if this makes 12 rolls, you can have three rolls for 2.5 syns and a HEA. You’ll need a griddle pan for the best looking rolls, an Optigrill, or hell, even a frying pan will do it but you’ll not get the fancy griddle marks.

to make cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls, you should:

  • thinly slice your aubergine, lay them out flat and rub salt into each slice – leave for thirty minutes to pull some of the bitterness out of the slices
  • pop your oven onto 180 degrees
  • meanwhile, wilt your spinach – not a euphemism, don’t give yourself a strum in the kitchen – once it’s wilted, chop it fine
  • want a tip? put your spinach on a plate and put a plate on top and squeeze – it’ll get all the water out
  • mix the spinach, ricotta, goat cheese, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper into a bowl
  • when you’re ready to cook, take each slice, pat it down to get rid of the water, and brush each slice with the oil – you only need a little bit of oil per slice so don’t go mad here, I did make the tablespoon last!
  • time to grill your slices:
    • if using an Optigrill, whack the heat sensor up to red and let it get up to temperature – I sprayed the plates a couple of times with spray oil (not Fryshite) – when up to temperature, lay your slices on and cook them until the griddle marks are nice and clear – done!
    • if using the griddle pan or frying pan, same as above – get it out, cook for a few minutes, remembering to turn and take off the heat when the marks appear
  • take each slice, put a teaspoon of the filling at one end, and then roll up
  • pop them all into an ovenproof dish and whack it in the oven for fifteen minutes
  • done!

Easy! Looking for more ideas for quick dinners? Here’s a random collection of buttons that’ll see you right!

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