a proper tasty BBQ-friendly veggie burger

Looking for a proper tasty BBQ-friendly veggie burger? Of course. And we’re happy to oblige, mind you, but you’ll need to scroll down to the pictures as I’ve got a very happy post to do first!

We did something we never normally do yesterday: we were social! YES. Despite it being an unwritten rule in Chubby Towers that if the sun is in the sky on a Saturday we will still be in bed, we were roused at 8.30am (gasp), put on a minibus with a few lovely colleagues from Paul’s work and dispatched to Northumberland Pride, the very first pride event in our local area. It’s a pride event to celebrate being yourself and inclusivity, not marvelling at dry-stone walls and rolling hills, as the name may suggest if you’re a little bit touched in the head.

One minibus trip later – an unusual experience that, because who knew you could travel thirty miles on a motorway without a forty minute sojourn in a secluded layby – and we were pulling onto the rugby club. We put together a load of goodie bags, congratulated ourselves on having the best stall and then made our way down into Alnwick to get ready to join the march. I’ve never seen more rainbows in my life – it was like (what I imagine) the gayest acid trip ever. We took up position behind a group of drummers and a lady up on stilts because of course.

One thing that struck me, aside from the back of the huge pride banner I was wearing that felt like it had been stitched right into my spine, was the mix of people there. I’d always (through ignorance I suppose) assumed it would be a load of young and beautiful people having a powermince and banging the drum, but no: every age, every gender, every shape. It was genuinely lovely to see so many people in one place just there to have a good time.

Whilst we were waiting for the march to start we were approached by an elderly couple who looked the spit of a couple from our street – the ones who don’t talk to us and walk around with a face like someone’s pissed on their chips. The type of folks who last laughed when Thatcher took milk from the poor kids. I was expecting a stern lecture on the perils of sodomy (tell me about it love, no-one likes a racing stripe) and how we’ll burn in hell, but no: they wanted a sticker for their car as their grandson had just come out and wanted support. D’awww. We primly advised them that this wasn’t a commercial event and sent them on their way but OF COURSE we didn’t, we gave them a sticker.

The march began and people of all shapes, sizes, genders and colours slowly snaked their way through a town that would never have been my first guess for an epicentre of equal rights – how wrong I was. We were cheered and clapped and welcomed by folks young and old and the band literally played on, drumming the way to the rugby club. There, the afternoon was full of people smiling at each other, grabbing as many freebies as they could and just having a bloody good time. Not an ounce of bother. I drank a bit too much lager, we both flirted wildly with everyone within spitting distance and we came away with some mint-flavoured condoms. I might put them in the Slimmer of the Week basket.

All in all, an amazingly positive experience.

Naturally, a quick glance on facebook and the negative nellies were exposed. The local police force round here have changed the battenburg markings on one police car so that they’re pride colours. One car. We’re not talking about the whole fleet, they haven’t stuck a fucking unicorn horn on the police helicopter or changed the sirens for the opening notes of Your Disco Needs You. But this was enough to get the usual suspects in a tizz: ‘WAIST OV POLISS RESAUCES’ and ‘SHUD NOT BE POLITIKAL’ and other ohfuckoffery. It’s not as though Vera Baird is sitting letting out prisoners because the jail budget has been frittered away in Claire’s Accessories. Morons. It’s a wonderful, positive message to push out – that people who have been subject to hate crimes should feel no fear about speaking to the police because they will be treated with the respect and care that everyone deserves. It’s our police force too, you know.

Perhaps I’m a smidge biased because some especially handsome policeman allowed us to try his helmet on for size. In fact, we were even allowed in the back of the van, an experience we treated with the absolute solemnity and respect you expect from us. So much shrieking about being too pretty for prison.

Who knew cottaging was still a crime? #bangedup #northumberlandpride

A post shared by twochubbycubs (@twochubbycubs) on

Paul’s teeth look a bit like he could chew an apple through a letterbox in this photo, I’m not sure why – they’re as straight as I am bent. But it’s a great photo that was representative of a lovely day.

Oh and I say the same things every year, but here’s the counters to the most common arguments:

  • you’re just doing it to rub your sexuality in our faces” – pfft, you wish, and no, perhaps we’re holding hands or being close to each other because, you know, love; or
  • it isn’t needed anymore” – the goals have changed absolutely, but the core message of accepting yourself and others for something they can’t change or help remains the same; or
  • why can’t we have a straight parade” – you do, it’s called life, but if you want to walk down the street in your tan chinos and beige jumpers and hold hands with the harridan you regret marrying and celebrate your life, then please do so. I’d sooner be held up waiting for a pride march to pass than a protest.

Another thing that was fun was having people who knew of us through the website / facebook group / Crimewatch repeats come up and say hello. It’s super awkward because we’ve got all the social finesse of a bout of hot diarrhoea at a wake but we try our best not to offend and at least get off one witty bon-mot before their eyes glaze over and they start with the ‘really must get on, things to do’ comments. Actually, everyone we met yesterday was an absolute delight and it really does make our hearts and ankles swell when people tell us how much they enjoy our food, support groups and ability to shoehorn a reference to wolfbagging (don’t, just don’t) into a recipe for houmous. Mmm, bacon. But please, remember the rules. The deal is that you must tell everyone afterwards that we were 6ft 3″, could pass for Jason Mamoa in a dark room and that I had trouble walking as it looked as though I was smuggling a foot-long hot-dog in my jeans pockets. Be reasonable.

We’re booked up to help with Newcastle Pride in July. Apparently it’s a bit more seedy and sexy, which you can only imagine how devastated I am to hear. One side of me wants to help dish out the condoms and positive health messages, the other side of me wants to try and find some strapping, leather-clad cigar-smoking brute of a man to adopt us two Cubs and make us his own. We’ll see which side wins out.

Right, shall we do the recipe then?

veggie burger

proper tasty BBQ veggie burger

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 burgers

We were going to call these millennial burgers because ho-ho avocado but then we realised we weren't that insufferably tedious, so these are veggie burgers you can do on the BBQ or under the grill. We're not fussed! They look a little dry and to be fair, they are - that's why you use avocado, to grease the wheels and add a different layer of taste! So don't skimp on it - the syns are there to be used AND think of this way, nothing with eyelashes has died to make your burger. You swine!

Ingredients

  • 400g button mushrooms, chopped small
  • 2 tins of butterbeans, drained
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 wholemeal rolls (4x HeB)
  • few handfuls of rocket or lettuce
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, mashed (14 syns)
  • few drops of lime
  • few tbsp of our proper tasty coleslaw

Instructions

  • spray a large saucepan with a little oil and cook the chopped mushrooms until soft and all of the liquid has evaporated
  • add the butterbeans to the pan and cook for an extra minute or two, stirring frequently
  • remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher until well mixed
  • add the garlic and give another mash
  • divide the mixture into four, roll into balls and then flatten into burger shapes
  • carefully slide the burgers onto the barbecue and cook for 3-4 minutes each side - avoid turning them more than once as they're quite fragile

  • if cooking on the hob, do the same but on a large frying pan over a high heat
  • assemble the burger by layering cherry tomatoes, salad leaves and coleslaw, then the burger, and then topping with the mashed avocado - add a pinch of salt and some lime juice onto that avocado and then shove it in your big, gaping gob!

Notes

  • Fry Light is gonna knacker your pans - get one of these instead!
  • don't shit yourself at the syn value for the avocado - they're really tasty and really good for you!
  • looking for coleslaw recipe - but natch - click here
  • chuck whatever else you like in the burger - cheese, fried onions, etc - whatever you want!
  • mince the garlic in seconds with one of these excellent Microplane graters - no fiddly bits, easy to wash and you can use it for all sorts!

Courses BBQ

Cuisine vegetarian

Yum, right? I know, we’re fabulous.

If you’re a vegetarian seeking more recipes from us, then by god can we help – just look at some of the suggested beauties below:

Country roads, take me home.

J

lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes

I was just going to launch straight into the recipe for lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes but I can’t see through my tears. See, I’ve long clung to the belief that Prince Henry Charles Albert David, or Prince Harry if you prefer, or Gingerbollocks as I bet the Queen calls him, was going to have a last-second crisis of identity before he got married. In my mind, he was sure to have a look at the albeit beautiful Meghan (I would never say this to her face, but she’s a wonderful person and a gifted artist), realise that he prefers cock and slightly middle-class Geordie men, dash into his armoured Mercedes and drive to Newcastle (avoiding the Tyne Tunnel, of course) to declare his love and demand I sit on his throne.

However, it wasn’t to be. The closest I got to receiving a royal hand last night was my own Queen, Paul, slumping forward during the ‘exploratory’ part of the mission after one too many gins.

I like the Royals. Not so keen on what they stand for, and I balked at the sight of homeless people having their sleeping bags taken away from them just so folks born into the greatest luxury in the land wouldn’t have their wedding photos ruined, but I do enjoy a bit of pomp and ceremony. I always imagine Camilla would be the best on a night out – she’d be the one ordering shit mixed drinks and telling everyone to fuck off and glassing the bouncers by the end of the night. She’s got that look in her eye that says ‘I’ll give you a gobble behind the bins but don’t spaff on my tiara‘, I think.

Perhaps it’s because I was never a huge fan of Diana. I know: blasphemy. Actually, no – that’s unfair, I have no real strong feelings about Diana, but her death was certainly the beginning of this awful ‘who can be the most upset’ competition that occurs whenever someone faintly famous dies or something horrendous happens in the world. Grief should be a private, personal emotion, not an excuse to whip out your Minions-quote-template and best UP WITH THE ANGLES line just because Gemma Collins bruised a nail tripping on the slip-mats in Lidl.  I saw that sea of flowers pushed up against the walls of Buckingham Palace and all I could hope was that Liz had stocked up on Piriteze. All that pollen – I sympathise, if someone blows a dandelion clock in Sussex I’m laid up in bed for four weeks groaning and streaming snot from every hole I possess.

Anyway, look, this is all by the by. Harry didn’t come by in the end, and by all accounts it was a lovely, traditional wedding. I say traditional, it didn’t end with someone having too many Archers Aquas and vomiting in a plant-pot, so really, was it a wedding at all?

Oh! We did celebrate the Royal Wedding with a bit of light baking, see?

Fancy! I made ginger nuts (of course) by following our recipe here and rose-scented meringue bites by tweaking this exciting recipe made from chickpea pre-cum and I swear to God, that’s exactly what we used.

Oh and final point on the Royal Wedding – we were schlepping around Tesco yesterday buying BBQ bits and pieces when we overheard a very earnest, rah-de-rah mother saying to her chubby-checked wee child that ‘shall we dash home now so we can get a look at Meghan’s dress?’ to which the kid – a future in comedy awaits – completely deadpanned that she ‘really couldn’t care less‘. Good on you, child whose name will inevitability contain ‘Ella’.

OK, let’s do the recipe then. I was given a big bag of greek oregano by a friend from work and I need to tell you know, it smells amazing. The oregano, that is, not my friend, I couldn’t comment on his redolence. I did have to spend altogether more time than I anticipated smiling wanly at people spotting the bag of oregano on my desk and asking if it was drugs, ho-ho, slap my knees. I was that busy laughing hysterically that I barely had time for my 11am ket-bump in the bogs.

roast potatoes

roast potatoes

1 vote

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lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

How many times do you need a side for a BBQ and you find yourself opening a pack of coleslaw and crying because everything is so boring and you're sick of being fat and anyway, that miserable cow next door is already twitching her curtains and complaining about the smoke? Well, screw that, screw her and screw boring sides: our amazing lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes are a doddle to make, low in syn and taste bloody amazing.

Please: don't be tempted to skip the olive oil. It's worth it. You could use Frylight, yes, but why bother? Syns are there to be used for good food!

Ingredients

  • about 900g of new potatoes, scrubbed a bit but not peeled, cut into smallish chunks
  • two tablespoons of olive oil (see notes)
  • four garlic cloves, minced (see notes)
  • a couple of teaspoons of dried oregano
  • a few grinds of salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 150ml of beef stock (or veggie stock if you're veggie, duh)
  • 150ml of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano - optional, dried is fine, but use a little less

Instructions

  • get the oven up to about 200 degrees, and find a good non-stick roasting dish
  • pour the chopped potatoes in, together with the oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper (don't be shy), oregano and then pop the lid on and shake shake shake - really throw everything around to get it all coated
  • bake in the oven for about twenty minutes, take out, add the stock, shake and back into the oven it goes for about fifteen minutes
  • out it comes, add the lemon juice and again, shake it to buggery - then back into the oven for a good twenty minutes or so, until everything is cooked and most of the liquid has disappeared
  • top with fresh oregano and serve 

Use your common sense here - if it needs a bit longer, keep it in! But make sure it doesn't burn.

Notes

Courses sides, vegetarian

Cuisine BBQ

Yum!

Looking for more BBQ ideas? Then please, let us help you out:

Have a good weekend folks!

J

orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad: a fresh lunch idea

Here for the orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad? Then you’ve got exceptional taste, and you must be rewarded. If you’re in a hurry, scroll quickly to the video and watch the recipe, or read the words explaining how to make our delicious orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad. If you need a good light lunch, this is the one you’ll need. But first…

Paul has done some foolish things in his short time on the Earth. For example, he once pooed on the tracks of the East Coast Main Line just to see what would happen when a train went over it at full-clip. That also explains why we’re banned from Durham train station. Ay-oooo, I’ll be here all night, try the veal.

However, he’s excelled himself now. He’s signed us up to run a 5K at the end of the month to raise money for The Albert Kennedy Trust. I ought to explain: I get out of breath driving 5k, and that’s including a break to ogle/fellate the lorry drivers at Washington Services. The thought of running it makes my heart race all of its own, but that’s me and my hilarious tachycardia all over. I’ve been reassured that we will be fine and that actually, there is an air ambulance station only five minutes away from the run location. So I mean, that’s great: my lips might turn the colour of old liver and my brain will likely be starved of oxygen as all my blood pools in my cheap, not-suitable-for-running trainers, but hey, I get a ride in a helicopter.

Actually, that really IS a dealbreaker, I’ve always wanted to leap from a helicopter like Anneka Rice in Treasure Hunt. We’ll get Mags in as Wincey Willis, standing in front of a cardboard map pinning arrows of my location on with gay abandon, though we’d need to ask her to tone down her hairspray cloud to Bhopal levels lest Paul took an asthma attack.

Readers born in the late nineties might not get that reference. Ah well. I don’t understand how to use hashtags properly or why everyone is insistent on putting dog ears on their photos, so we’ll call it even. Seriously folks, why do you do that? Do you want conversation, or taken outside for a shite?

Anyway, I jest, of course. This fitness burst is actually a culmination of our efforts from New Year to increase our activity levels. I was tired of getting out of breath putting on my shoes. Paul was literally tired – he could barely sleep for fretting that I was going to choke on a landslide of my own neck-fat. I didn’t do much snore as drown through the night. So, naturally, we decided the sensible approach would be to go straight into a bootcamp (which wrecked us, but in a good way) and gym membership, and now here we are able to run for a mile without being blue-lighted into hospital and/or asked to leave because the resonance of our thighs slapping together is putting the structural integrity of the building at risk.

That mile thing is, well, a proper milestone – for months I’ve been telling myself that there’s simply no way I could run for that long without dying until, on Saturday, I told myself to give it a go. Armed with the reassurance that I had the emergency-stop clip attached to the waistband of my shorts (I think I managed to clip about half of my neatly-trimmed pubic hair too, just to add an extra frisson of excitement to possible failure) and a hurly-burly chap to my immediate right to give me mouth to mouth should I need it, away I went. And do you know, I did it without any drama, fanfare or worry – just plodded on through! So there’s hope yet.

Speaking of hope, that’s what we’re running the 5K for. The Albert Kennedy Trust provide support, help and sometimes accommodation for LGBT folks who are experiencing difficulties, especially those who have just come out and are facing adversity from their parents or guardians. I’ve told you the story of my ex who came out to his parents only to have his kind, patient, God-loving dad put a screwdriver to his throat and lock him away in the house until my mother went all Andy McNab (Mandy McTab, surely) and kidnapped him? Yeah: they help with folks in that sort of situation, and much worse. You can’t help your sexuality any more than you can change your eye-colour or the clip of your bumhole: why then should you live in fear over something you have no control over? Hmm?

If you would like to sponsor our run, then by all means do – look, I even made a dapper wee banner for you to click on (it’ll open in a new window) and anything at all would be absolutely amazing. But listen, if you’re sitting there on the bones of your arse with nothing but shrapnel and dreams in your purse, don’t fret for a second. We’re not shaking you down here: if you can and you want to, by all means donate and we’ll be delighted, but we won’t think anything less of anyone for not donating! There’s a million charities out there all equally as important to someone, I’m sure. Click to donate! One final thing: don’t worry, we’re not going to become jogging-wankers. I still think running is bloody awful. Why use your own locomotion when Uber is only a strained conversation away? We certainly won’t be doing fun-runs and sprinting along the town moor with that permanent ‘I’m about to cum through my own self-worth’ face on. And no to any sort of lycra, though that’s more for your benefit than mine: I look like a Shar Pei dog snuffling for truffles in a bin-liner when I wear any sort of figure-hugging outfit. No, that just won’t do.

Now that’s quite enough waffling on. I apologise that the drought of posts continues, but so does the drought of free-time we’re currently experiencing, so just bear with us. Today’s recipe for orzo, mint and tomato salad was borne from the need for a quick lunch to answer all the ‘what can I have for lunch’ posts we keep getting. This takes no time at all to make, uses only a few ingredients and keeps well in the fridge. To make up for the lack of recipes, we’ve done a video recipe for you – we’d love some feedback!

Let’s do the proper recipe now: orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad, just for you.
orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad

orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad

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orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad

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Yield 4 servings

Looking for a lunch that you can keep in the fridge and it'll only get better? Then something like this orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad will hit the spot! Orzo is a type of pasta you can buy in most supermarkets - cheap, tasty and carries a sauce well.

Don't be tempted to use Quark: you're so much better than that. 

And yes, you could use cherry tomatoes and make this syn-free, but proper sun-dried tomatoes are tastier and will bring your dish up a treat! Give it a go!

Ingredients

  • 350g orzo
  • 25g chopped mint
  • 110g Philadelphia Lightest (one 1 x HEA)
  • 100g chopped sundried tomatoes (6 syns)
  • 150g spinach
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • boil your orzo for about eight minutes until soft
  • drain the orzo, keeping aside 100ml of the cooking water
  • pop the orzo back in the pan, pop the water back in and put it on a very low heat
  • add the mint, sundried tomatoes, spinach and cream cheese together with a pinch of salt and pepper and allow the cheese to soften down and the spinach to wilt
  • stir and serve!

Notes

  • this makes enough for four decent sized portions and keeps well in the fridge
  • add peas, peppers, onion, anything you like - but we like to keep it simple
  • looking for a lunchbox - you can find us on xtube, or buy your own for your dinner right here - nice and cheap, on both counts

Courses lunch

Cuisine salad

Looking for more salad ideas, you healthy bugger? Fine:

And, loads more in our salad section!

Enjoy!

J

sarah’s slaggy speed syn-free sauce – guest blog!

Sarah’s slaggy speed syn-free sauce! I mean, honestly. Do you know how many times we set off our own work filters because our website is classed as pornography and now we’re adding slaggy into our opening sentence? Eee, you accidentally put a picture of yourself felching a plumber up instead of a Yorkshire pudding recipe and suddenly everyone’s a prude. Nevertheless, Sarah, our guest writer for tonight, is a big fan of alliteration, and I’m a bloke who just can’t say no. Now, the reason I’m handing over to her tonight is because she has just started her own blog and I’m all for promoting new writers, especially ones who swear like all the old ladies when someone shouts house at bingo. We were recently awarded blog of the month at foodies100.co.uk and one of the questions they asked us during our questionnaire was whether more diversity in blogging is a good thing. I said no, frankly, it should be limited purely to men with willies like a wrestler’s leg, but when they asked me to revise that answer I said that new voices were good as long as they had something interesting to say.

Thankfully, Sarah does. Which is lucky, as I would have been far too British and embarrassed to retract my offer had she been shite. I urge you to have a look at https://tryingtodoitall.com/ for a good, frank and coarse look at life with a family, beautiful cats and M.E. I’m sure you’ll all join me in bemoaning the fact her blog isn’t called itsallaboutmememe but hey, it takes years to be this deft with wordplay. Minge. Without a moment more of hesitation…

So the boys were right nice and said not only could I go on their Facebook page and promote my blog but do a guest blogger bit on theirs too. I was chuffed to the back teeth. I mean, I had no bastard idea what they meant but I felt a bit like I’d been handed the royal hand to kiss and I was not about do anything bar polish their rings (I’ll do ‘owt for attention) and get on with it. So I’m here and I can’t quite believe it but I’m going to style it out in the way only an amateur amongst professionals can – with arrogance and determination.

Those of you who know me, or have read my blog will know that I don’t like making life difficult for myself, there’s no point. I’ve not got the energy or the patience for complicated recipes and even if I did I’d only make it look like roadkill when I went to serve it. The pinch of unicorn pubes and dusting of fairy jizz would lose its magic in amongst the carnage on the plate, and I’d be left with a skip full of washing up and a bad attitude.

So it needs to be easy, pain free and also I NEED my food to work hard for me – I have M.E. see and I refuse to spend what little energy I have on cooking from scratch a million times a week. I know lots of you do but this recipe is one for the lazy bastards in town. Move over proactive bouncy crew with your lycra and Zumba moves, the sloth gang is in charge for a bit.

Sometimes I just want to bang something quick and easy together, or want something I can take out the freezer because I’m shit and haven’t planned my meals, basically I need something to shut out the packet of bourbons giving me the “hello sailor” eyes from the now bereft and sad looking snack cupboard. So the recipe, such as it is…

speed syn-free sauce

speed syn-free sauce

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sarah's slaggy speed syn-free sauce

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. All that foreplay and you’re giving me a fucking pasta sauce? Yes I am and actually you’ll pipe down because it’s not ONLY a pasta sauce, it’s a meatball sauce, a ketchup replacement, a sauce to bake your chicken in, it’s a pulled pork sauce and it makes you shit for mercy because it’s made entirely of speed veg. Oh and it tastes epic, not diet epic, but life is good and I have a yacht epic… basically it’s YOUR SAVIOUR. Slaggy speed syn-free sauce goes with ANYTHING.

Now to get the most amount of value from this sauce you’ll want to make loads of it. That way you’re going to the effort of cooking once and it’s paying dividends for ages – freeze what you don’t use in individual portions. You’ll thank me later. 

Ingredients

  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 yellow peppers
  • 2 orange peppers
  • 1 white onion
  • 6 peppadew hot peppers (the jarred ones)
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne (more if you like it hot, less if you have a toddler like mine…you could leave it out altogether to be fair)
  • ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (1 syn but negligible by the time you divvy it up)
  • a few sprays of oil

At this point Sarah recommends using Frylight, and for that, we'll actually apply to get her pain relief medication cancelled. Always use Frylight, people, there is really no excuse!

Instructions

  1. get yourself ready
  2. chop all that veg up - or buy pre-chopped if you're fancy
  3. coat your pan in a few sprays of oil
  4. chuck in your red, yellow, orange peppers and onions
  5. fry on a low heat until the onions start looking yellowy (think liver failure) and the peppers are a bit smooshie (if you find the pan is drying out add more oil or try a splash of water)
  6. add your chopped tomatoes, peppedaw peppers, garlic, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne and sugar; stir like you’ve just told your ex his girlfriend is a prize slapper and put a lid on it, smug style
  7. if you've lost your saucepan lids or don't want to bend down because you're mindful you won't be able to get up again without someone having to call for the fire brigade, just use a chopping board
  8. let it simmer away for about 25 mins, you need to be careful mind, if you’ve got an aggressive gas stove like mine it could burn if you don’t keep an eye on it, so don’t get distracted by a shiny thing and forget about it - keep stirring - like a good night alone, it's up to you to keep it wet
  9. when it looks like the pic (i.e. reduced, thick and chunky) get your blender or food processor geared up and show that chunky sauce who is boss - you want it to be a smooth as Grant Mitchell's giant heed.

Notes

You'll need two things for this:

  • a good quality saucepan - if you've got money pouring out of your arse, we recommend this set, but anything will do
  • a blender - nothing expensive needed, this wee £10 model will do the job just as well

Courses side

Cuisine Italian

Cubs here: if the recipe doesn’t taste good, don’t worry. Message Sarah to complain via her blog. Let’s face it, she’ll probably tire herself out switching her monitor on so you’ll be unlikely to get a reply. Oh I’m kidding, she probably has a special iPad. Have a look at her blog right here and she has a facebook page too, see?

www.facebook.com/tryingtodoitall.co.uk

Do you have something you want to say? If you can rattle off a few words, make it funny and give us a recipe, get in touch! Just leave a comment below and we’ll send you an email with details. Perhaps you feel as though you won’t be hilarious or interesting – don’t panic. I’ll just type in some gags and put a better photo. I’m like the gayest copy of Photoshop you’ll ever own.

Want more sauce recipes? That’s fine. We’ve got loads:

Get licking those fingers!

James and Sarah and Paul too

spicy dynamite baked beans – a syn-free breakfast!

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

Jump straight to the recipe!

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

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

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

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

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

Not arsed about Ken Dodd though. Something about him left me cold and nervous, in much the same way as my mother can’t abide Lionel Blair. I’ve seen that woman storm out of a room in a fury before when he cha-cha-chaed his way into Dictionary Corner on Countdown, looking to all the world like the result of incestuous fraternisation between Gail from Corrie and a runover E.T costume. I asked about at work to see if anyone else shares these irrational celebrity dislikes and the results were varied and illuminating: for one colleague Keira Knightley leaves her cold (“stupid lollipop head”), another flies into a blistering tirade at the mere mention of Gary Barlow. That I can understand: Gary is the colour taupe assuming a human form.

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

Still, must get on.

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

dynamite baked beans

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

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

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dynamite baked beans: spicy breakfast time!

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 2 servings

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

Courses breakfast, sides

Enjoy!

Want some more Slimming World vegetarian recipes?

J

lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms

I’m not going to lie, it feels good to cast off the shackles of Chinese week – I love Chinese food but see, it’s like when you get a takeaway – you feel great for about thirty minutes, then you just want more, end up eating all the straggly bits leftover and then spend the rest of the night clutching your belly as it distends with wind. Just me? Anyway, we’re still away, and because you’ve had an awful lot of long blog posts lately, just a quick post tonight. One thing we always struggle with on Slimming World is a tasty side dish but we’ve found an answer from Greece – sautéed mushrooms! Give them a go – this makes enough for two large portions.

sautéed mushrooms

sautéed mushrooms

to make greek lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms you will need:

  • 450g chestnut or button mushrooms
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 5 peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp dried parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 60ml water

top tips for greek lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms:

  • peppercorns will give a stronger flavour, but if you don’t have any 10 twists of a pepper grinder will do the job
  • mince that garlic in seconds without faffing on with a garlic press – get a Microplane grater and you’ll use it every day!
  • give the pan a good coating of oil with a mister – this is what we use

to make greek lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms you should:

  • remove the stems from all of the mushrooms
  • slice the lemon in half and juice one half of the lemon, and keep aside
  • rub each mushroom against the flesh of the other lemon half
  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil and put over a medium heat
  • add the mushrooms, garlic, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaves and fry gently for 4-5 minutes
  • add the water and lemon juice to the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms are soft but not mushy
  • sprinkle over the dried parsley and serve

Hungry for more veggie options? We’ve got loads! Have a deeks at some of our favourites below:

Enjoy!

salt and pepper chips (no MSG, no sweetener)

Salt and pepper chips! I’m amazed that we have never posted this as a recipe, but here we are. Now, here’s some sad news: James is poorly. Not poorly with man-flu or feeling a bit dicky (story of his life) but full on snot pouring from every orifice, voice like Madge Bishop shouting down an telephone line and a face the colour of the dead. The long dead. I’m having to type and listen to his gasping and wailing and snotting and it’s really quite something – it sounds like he’s suffocating animals in the bedroom. To be clear: he isn’t, just before anyone phones the RSPCA, though fat lot of good they ever do. To his credit, although he does like to moan on that he’s dying every time he cuts his toenails a bit too short, he’s rarely actually ill, so to see him sweating and dripping like he’s mid-exorcism is quite something. I must tend to him, so let’s get the recipe done!

This makes enough for a big portion to serve four people!

salt and pepper chips

salt and pepper chips

to make salt and pepper chips you will need:

  • 1 kg potatoes, cut into chips
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp sugar (1 syn)
  • 1 red and 1 green chilli pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce (or tamari)
  • 2 tsp five spice
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes

There’s a couple of recipes out there which call for you to add MSG. Why? Totally unnecessary – you don’t need to add a ‘flavour-booster’ to your dinner if you cook with proper ingredients. Don’t be suckered into buying ingredients you don’t need just to make a few quid of commission for other blogs.

top tips for making salt and pepper chips:

  • an airfryer will make this one so much easier – if you haven’t got one yet check out our special review page to help you pick the right one for you
  • for nice, even chips try getting a chipper!
  • don’t be tempted to skip the sugar in this one – it’s definitely worth it
  • this one is a taste explosion even though it’s so simple – there’s no MSG! if you prefer it less spicy you can leave out the chilli flakes
  • get your chips nice and golden with a decent oil sprayer – we use this one
  • if you’re after the crinkle cut look, use one of these bad-boys 

to make salt and pepper chips you should:

  • cook the chips – if you’re using an Airfryer this is easy – just spray over a bit of oil and turn the machine on!
  • don’t forget to add the worcestershire sauce when you make your chips
  • if you’re cooking in the oven, spray with a bit of oil and bake for 30 minutes on 240°c
  • meanwhile, slice the chilli peppers and dice the onions
  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium0high heat
  • add the chilli peppers and onions to the pan and fry until the onion is a golden colour
  • add the salt, five-spice, chilli flakes and sugar to the pan and give a good stir
  • add the cooked chips to the frying pan and stir to coat well
  • serve!

We’ve done some amazing chips recipes over the years – have a look!

P

Indian spiced caramelised red onion houmous

Caramelised red onion houmous! Just a quickie today (ooh I say) but y’see, we’ve got shit to do. We’ve got a tasty recipe for an Indian spiced caramelised red onion houmous!  below which’ll tickle your tastebuds and maybe a bit more if you’re lucky. We’ve been busy little bees today cooking all sorts of recipes which will start to filter through over the next couple of days – and they’re all absolute corkers. Seriously, clear your diary and your fridge, send your husband away, pack the kids off somewhere – you won’t want to share them.

Isn’t it a pain though doing anything on a Sunday? All I wanted to do today was sleep until lunchtime and then pray that How Clean Is Your House was recommissioned during the night and their first task was my house. But of course it wasn’t to be so from 10am I just had James poking his head around the bedroom door every 9 minutes, whinging at me to get out of bed like some sort of mincing, squealing snooze button.

So once all the necessaries were done it was on to cooking. We’d already written a list of everything we needed and were sure we’d got them all but of course there’s always one pissing things that missing, meaning you’ve gotta swoosh out the door to go on the hunt for some obscure spice before everything closes. And then you’ve gotta deal with Sunday drivers clogging up every dual carriageway going at 30 miles an hour. It’s like the Gauntlet from Gladiators but instead of hunks in lycra you’ve got piss-stained Daewoo Matiz’s.

And there’s fuck all on telly.

But anyway, that feels better. Here’s a nice snack to help cool you down.

caramelised red onion houmous


caramelised red onion houmous

to make Indian spiced caramelised red onion houmous you will need:

  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (you can use the liquid to make our Peppermint Meringues!)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (or ½ tsp ground)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (or ¾ tsp ground coriander)
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (2½ syns)

top tips to make Indian spiced caramelised red onion houmous:

  • you can use ground cumin and coriander instead of seeds if you like, but you’ll get more flavour out of the seeds
  • we used a mandoline slicer to slice our onions and it does the job in seconds. Use the guard!
  • a NutriBullet does the job perfectly for nice, smooth houmous! Get yours here!

to make Indian spiced caramelised red onion houmous, you should:

  • spray a large frying pan with a bit of oil and plonk over a medium-high heat
  • add the sliced onion and cook until lightly browned – keep some aside to put on top later to make it look fancy
  • remove from the heat and set aside
  • add the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds into another pan and toast for a couple of minutes over a low heat, then grind into a powder using a pestle and mortar (if you’re using ground stuff you can leave this step)
  • then, chuck all the ingredients together into a food processor and blitz until smooth

Love houmous? So do we! Check out some of our other recipes below:

Enjoy!

P

gallo pinto: a pan of tasty rice and beans

Rice and beans! Gosh, those words take me back. Absolutely no messing about tonight, straight to the recipe – I had plans to sit and type out the next part of our Stockholm adventures (one a week) but like all best laid plans, they were unravelled by the introduction of a wildcard third party, this time in the form of my parents. We received a phonecall at 2pm to inform us that they’d broken down (the car, not their personalities) in Blyth (for those that don’t know, Blyth is a verruca on the model’s foot that is the Northumbrian coast) and could we possibly get them a pack of batteries as they thought the immobiliser key was at fault. Meh, fair enough: should be easy, no? You’d think so, only they didn’t know the size of the battery. Or where to go. I rang Halfords who were about as much help as a glass hammer, Maplins who didn’t bother to answer and Homebase who put me on hold until time immemorial to ‘check the stock’. I don’t know if anyone is missing a pleasant-voiced nana in the North East area, but I assume she’s trapped somewhere in the back of Homebase under a load of decking. We schlepped around the shops – in the snow, no less – and managed to secure one of those cards of tiny batteries from B&M of all places. I hate B&M – it’s all a bit shellsuit, isn’t it – but at least they had what we needed.

A nice 15 mph crawl back to Blyth (stuck behind someone who was driving as though the lightly falling snow were greasy ball bearings) revealed the next part of the fun – none of the batteries were the right size. Oh good! Helpfully, neither parent had brought along their glasses meaning they couldn’t read the tiny make and model of the battery, but luckily Paul’s eager eyes spotted it. Off we went, once more, into the snow, car swerving merrily on the slick roads. If I asked you where to get a PX28A battery at 3pm on a Sunday – with only an hour to go until the shops shut – what would you do? We took a gamble on a mad dash to another Halfords a few miles away. Paul rang ahead to check and salvation lay within: they had six of what we needed. Driving altogether too quickly for safety and adding in an alarming drift around a roundabout, we arrived with minutes to spare. I sent Paul in for what should have been a quick purchase and out, but five minutes passed and still he hadn’t reappeared. A text came through from him to say he was “stuck behind some chavvy c*nt with liquorice teeth arguing about baby seats”. I went to investigate and he was spot on – one of those vile arrogant-without-a-good-reason bucket-boxed trollops giving it the Big I-Am because she’s got an bottom-end Audi on extensive finance and who thinks she’s Anita Roddick because she’s a green level Younique seller. She was doing that awful thing of repeating what she was complaining about over and over and louder and louder (with a foul mouth) without listening for a reply. To her absolute credit, the cashier managed to shut her down in the end and turned to serve us with broken eyes. We bought those batteries with two minutes left on the clock.

I don’t like to be cruel, but I do hope that Audi span into a river on the way home.

Anyway, a sharp drive back to Blyth was met with sarcastic replies about timekeeping from my parents and much shivering. The battery was hastily replaced, the key was turned…and the battery was flat. Repeated attempts to start the battery had left it as flat as a witch’s tit. We tried to jump start it using my car but a combination of me being a total fanny about anything mechanical and us all being unable to get to my engine meant we had to rope someone else in – and then it turned out that wasn’t the issue either. Finally: time for my parents to bite the bullet and phone a bloody breakdown service. We then had to sit all huddled in my car for an hour or so, which was fine, but the car park we were in is a notorious dogging spot and so it was altogether exceptionally awkward. To pour salt in the wound, we were dispatched to get a McDonalds for our nephew meaning my car now smells delicious and we had to watch all sorts of lovely food being chowed down by folks who don’t know they’re born. Bastards. Ah well. We got home at 7pm and whaddya know, the local newsagents just doesn’t sell the green beans nor veal that we needed for tonight’s tea.

I’m thinking about having them put in a home prematurely.

Anyway listen, let’s not procrastinate. I said I would get straight to the recipe and I failed you wildly. I apologise. Let’s do the rice and beans – to me, this makes more than enough for a proper meal (veggie too) but if you want to bulk it out, grill some chicken breasts with peri-peri sauce and feel like you’re in Nandos, only without having to pretend that the chicken and chips you’ve massively overpaid for isn’t a bit shit, actually. I hate Nandos: it’s a cesspit of first dates, crap chicken and folks who think they’re too good for KFC.

I’m sure this recipe is entirely inauthentic but I don’t care, it was tasty! Serves four-ish. I found the recipe on stripedspatula.com and adapted it only slightly to make it SW friendly – full credit to them!


rice and beans

to make gallo pinto (rice and beans) you’ll need:

  • one large red pepper
  • one large white onion
  • two cloves of garlic
  • a tin of black beans – you can find them in most major supermarkets, sometimes in the ‘World Foods’ bit, but if not, use kidney beans)
  • 8 tbsp of salsa (2 syns – the salsa we use is from ASDA and comes in a Hot and Spicy edition) (but most salsa kicks in about the 1/2 syn for a tbsp mark)
  • a good glug of worcestershire sauce (or tamari)
  • 200ml of beef or chicken stock (or veggie)
  • chopped coriander for the top
  • 400g of cooked rice – much better to use day-old leftover rice, but MAKE SURE THE DISH IS COOKED THROUGH GOOD AND HOT
  • if you can’t be arsed with leftover rice, cook some fresh and allow to cool.

top tips for gallo pinto (rice and beans):

to make gallo pinto (rice and beans) you should:

  • chop the onion and pepper up into little chunks and gently fry them off in a few squirts of oil (0.5 syns, but between four? Come on)
  • once they’re softened, add the garlic (minced: use one of these to save your smelly fingers!)
  • tip everything else in bar the coriander and give everything a stir and allow to bubble quickly for a few minutes until the stock has almost boiled off and the rice is steaming hot
  • top with the coriander and serve!

Easy peasy – and a great side dish! Want more random ideas? Click any of the buttons below to be whisked away on on adventure through time and eating!

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J

super sticky mushrooms (or chicken) one-pot

A super quick fakeaway dinner of sticky mushrooms tonight because it’s boot camp in an hour or so and I need to go put on my industrial-strength Lanacane with a paint roller. Honestly, you could fry an egg on my thighs after boot-camp, which to be fair would go remarkably well with the scent of bacon that pervades. Cor, stinks in ‘ere, dunnit!

Anyway I’m terrifically excited. You know how last year was the year of mini holidays? This is the year of the beast, and we’ve finally agreed it with work, booked the flights and figured out how we’re going to look after the cats – we’ve decided to spend the next few months training them how to use the electric tin opener and leave them a slab of Whiskas. We’re going somewhere we’ve always wanted to go but never found the time: OH CANADAAAAAAA! Yes! It’s like Cub Heaven: it’s cool in temperature, hot in bearded-men stakes and full of beauty. If we happen to catch the eye of some bearish mountain daddy who wants to keep us both and take us logging, both literally and euphemistically you understand, then so be it.

You know the best bit? We’re turning left on the plane. That’s right, the pilots have read all my witty comments about having a go at the controls and said, you know what, he’s seen enough episodes of Air Crash Investigation, he knows what the flaps do, let’s give it a whirl. No, I’ve actually just come off the phone with an incredibly helpful agent who managed to get us into first class both ways (proper first class, mind) for pretty much the same price as premium economy. I was breathing that heavily with excitement that he patched me through to 111 thinking I was having chest pains. We’ve flown first before but not for 10 hours and not on the massive A380. I don’t doubt that I’ll make a tit of myself within ten minutes by blowing cheese pasty crumbs across the floor and breaking wind as they hand me my pyjamas but what can you do? I’m just upset that poor Cilla Black carked it because I would have loved to have pushed her out of her seat.

Now we’re not boasting or showing off here – we save up all year for our holiday and forgo all of life’s little pleasures to get there – we don’t smoke, don’t do drugs and only drink alcohol every other hour. We tried prostituting Paul but he just came back with a runny nose and an empty wallet. Anyway listen – it’s going to make for an absolutely blinding set of travel posts, so look forward to it!

Speaking of looking forward, I bet you’re just wishing I’d shut the hell up and get to the sticky mushrooms. Of course! This is a veggie recipe but you could very easily swap in some chicken or beef – but actually, the mushrooms work just fine on their own. Trust me! Plus if you’re in the mood for something quick and tasty, this will really hit the spot because you can make it in less time than it takes to cook the rice. You don’t need to serve it in quite such a froufrou fashion as me, either, but I remind you: I am homosexual.

sticky mushrooms

sticky mushrooms

to make super sticky mushrooms you’ll need:

  • two cloves of garlic, minced
  • 400g of mushrooms – now, get a good mix (the oriental selection in Tesco is absolutely perfect) of types and flavours and chop them up to a good uniform size – don’t just get boring plain mushrooms, you need the flavour
  • 4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (please, don’t use sweetener – you could, but it’ll ruin the taste of the dish) (3 syns) or swap for honey (1 tbsp – 2.5 syns)
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • serve with steamed rice, sliced radishes and chopped spring onions, or whatever veg and rice you want!

top tips:

  • if you want to use chicken, you may need to add about 50ml of stock – the mushrooms release a lot of water which is what creates the sticky sauce
  • keep the chicken chopped nice and small
  • mince your garlic with a little mincer and stop your fingers reeking
  • seriously don’t use sweetener – this’ll taste so much better with proper sugar!
  • this serves two

to make super sticky mushrooms you should:

  • get a good solid pan out of the cupboard and start cooking your rice – this dish only takes about fifteen minutes or so
  • spray with a Gina G of oil (ooh-aah just a little bit)
  • add your minced garlic and gently saute it until it smells laaahverley
  • add all the mushrooms and cook for a minute or two more
  • add everything else into the pan (bar the rice and spring onions and radishes, duh) and then leave to gently burble away on the hob for about ten minutes – add some stock if things start looking dry
  • once it’s dark and delicious, serve with your rice!

Now come on. Tell me that’s not easy – you add everything into one pan and gently heat until deliciousness ensues. Short of me coming around and feeding you, I can’t do anything more than that!

Want more fakeaways? Want more vegetarian recipes? Have no fear, we’ve got stories for years – click the buttons below!

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J – who is off to practice his ‘oh how cute, this is economy, is it?’ expression. I’m kidding. I’ll never change. I’m one shave away from being Rab C Nesbitt.