mediterranean meatloaf – perfect for dinner or day-after leftovers

Here for the mediterranean meatloaf? I’d expect nothing less from someone like you, if I’m honest. The good news is the recipe is typed up and ready for you to start running your fingers under the words in just a few paragraphs from now, but first: flimflam.

Firstly, glad today’s terrorist attack in London didn’t go as planned, even if some people were unlucky enough to receive injuries, it could have been much worse and we should be thankful for it. We live in uncertain times but don’t let it stop you from doing anything, life’s too short to worry. That said, imagine my distress when Facebook didn’t activate their ‘Safety Check-in’ function, leading to me fretting all day that my housebound Aunt in Oban had been caught up in the drama. She was good enough to check herself in as ‘safe’ during Hurricane Harvey, she must have been beside herself today that she couldn’t keep up updated!

Next – we’ve seen IT. We actually went to see it last Saturday night and it was excellent. Genuinely creepy – a couple of times I was left breathless and it wasn’t just from having to climb the stairs back to our seats in the back row after I’d been for a piss. People hold up the original TV series in high regard and I think it’s undeserving, no I do, Tim Curry played it campy and the book is far away from that. This take on IT, although it misses out huge chunks of the book, was just marvellous. Give it a go, even if you’re not a horror fan.

I was, however, reminded of why I hate going to the cinema: other people. You know in TV shows about ‘being the last person on Earth’ the lead character always has a dreadful time without anyone to talk to or socialise with? That’s my idea of heaven, though perhaps with keeping Paul around to act as a safety-valve for my balls. I spend so long fretting about having people in front of me looking at their phones, beside me smelling of wee, BO or Joop or worse, behind me with breath that could strip paint that I’m already an anxious mess before the movie starts.

Plus people have become so inconsiderate, no? I know that makes me sound like an old fart but I don’t care – there were three mouthbreathers who, when not sat looking at their phones set to nuclear-detonation levels of brightness,  kept screaming theatrically and running down the cinema stairs as though they were terrified. It was incredibly distracting and the fact that they didn’t trip on the stairs, fall, break their necks and die is proof to me that there is no God. It was all I could do to tut into my popcorn and sigh like an asthmatic climbing stairs. And here, before you send me letters, I say that as an asthmatic. So don’t hold your breath for an apology, because if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to.

Whilst we’re picking the scab of bad manners to see what bleeds out, another small annoyance. I walk into work across our local town moor most days. It’s a charming way to start the day – it clears my head, not least because my brain needs all the space it can get to reassure me the fact I can see my thundering heartbeat lifting up my fingernails isn’t a bad thing. However, it’s fraught with peril – cows, cow shit, dogs running around, cyclists bursting past like lycra-clad missiles of smugness (some, not all, naturally) and people running with the inevitable ‘I’m about to cum’ face that so befalls the casual jogger.

It’s OK, I know there’s a parallel blog somewhere where someone is kvetching about trying to get past some stumbling fat oaf sliding around on the cow shite in his cheap shoes. That’s fine.

Anyway, each day when I get to the gate I hold it open for three or so cyclists (in a vain attempt to hide my heavy breathing and spluttered gasps) to cycle through so they don’t need to stop and get off their bikes. I probably get thanked oooh….50% of the time, with the others cycling through as though I have nothing better to do then to stand there holding the gate open like the gayest fence-post you’ve ever seen. I’ve started theatrically calling ‘NO NO, IT WAS MY PLEASURE, YOU BUMBLING CLIT’ but I doubt they hear it over the hum of their own self-importance. You must understand that this isn’t a critique of cyclists but rather the ill-mannered who don’t say thank you. The urge to hold the gate open only to clang it shut at the very last second did enter my brain, but on the basis that I’m not a psychopath, it drifted back out.

Let’s see what next week brings, eh? Anyway, shush James, this was supposed to be a quick opening entry before we served up the mediterranean summer meatloaf, so shall we do that now?

This serves SIX!

TWO SYN MEDITERRANEAN MEATLOAF

TWO SYN MEDITERRANEAN MEATLOAF

to make mediterranean meatloaf you will need:

for the meatloaf

for the glaze

  • 3 tbsp Hellman’s Tomato Ketchup Sweetened with Honey (1½ syns)
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard (1½ syns)
  • ¼ tsp hot chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

to make mediterranean meatloaf you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • in a large bowl mix together all of the meatloaf ingredients together by hand until well combined, and slop into a loaf tin
  • next, mix together all of the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and brush over the top of the meatloaf
  • bake in the oven for 45 minutes
  • let it rest for ten minutes (it helps to improve the flavour) then serve

 

These dinners are our favourite because they’re so easy! You know what else is easy? YOU. AND all of our other recipes – we’re nearly at 500! Click one of the buttons below to be magically transported to even more ideas!

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J

cheesy baked broccoli bombs – grand for a snack or a side

Cheesy baked broccoli bombs, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t be put off by the thought of broccoli, it’s good for you and these taste fabulous. We’ll get to the recipe in a moment, but may I make a suggestion? Cook these along with the Thai chicken balls from yesterday and have yourself a wee picnic – they keep well in the fridge and they’re great for a snack! In short: never neglect the balls.

A quick serious post tonight as tonight’s tea is almost ready but do you know what I’m bloody sick of reading? Anti Slimming World rhetoric from personal trainers, ‘diet planners’, nutritionists and other such guff. I’m not going to say that some of what they say doesn’t make sense, that there aren’t holes in the SW logic, of course there is, but what vexes me is the obvious cheap shots they take.

See, maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’m a fairly big believer in setting up your own business on its own merits instead of taking potshots at others. Calling the diet crap or the company evil or the plan nutritionally bankrupt is a nonsense and people always back it up with the same hoary old lines that get trotted out every time this comes up:

“They don’t teach you portion control”

They do. They tell you to eat until you’re satisfied, but not to eat until you’re bursting. Christmas Full, I believe my old consultant calls it. They can’t control what you do outside of the class, but then see, nor can any amount of personal trainers shouting into a camera on Youtube.

“You can have 10 Muller-lights but you can’t have an avocado”

Yeah, true. On paper that sounds silly, and it’s something I’ll gently mock every now and then, but it’s bollocks. Yeah you can have 10 Mullers and stay within your syns, but people don’t. Why on Earth would you, for goodness sake? You can have avocado too – they’re high in syns because it’s a low-fat diet and it doesn’t matter a hill of beans whether they’re good fats, bad fats, trans fats or Fats Domino, they’re still fats. Slimming World works for folks because it’s a very simple way of keeping an eye on what you’re taking in. Are there better diets out there for losing weight? Possibly. Could they teach more about nutrition? Maybe. But that’s like saying that a learner driver should have a go at driving a double-decker bus – too much, too soon.

“Syns teaches people that some foods are negative”

It doesn’t, though. For a start, the ‘syn’ thing is a contraction of synergy, one of those awful bloody buzzwords that did the rounds back when Mags was a feisty young lass worried about the Jerry’s stealing her hair lacquer. I’m kidding, MMB. But Slimming World’s big thing is that no food is off-limits. Rather than saying you can’t have chocolate or vodka or hot sex, they say you absolutely can, but keep it within a syn bracket – and that’s no different to personal trainers saying ‘treat yourself with almonds’ or other stuff. SW teaches pleasure in moderation, and there’s no harm in that.

“There’s too much reliance on processed or Frankenfood”

I can see where people are coming from on this, because when you look around at some of the slop that people are eating – pasta’n’sauces blitzed into a ‘sauce’, Mug Shitz, Fryshite, Mullers, burgers served between two jacket potatoes, your heart does sink a little. But that isn’t SW’s fault. A lot of members seem to want to aim as low as possible on their syns and so will resort to shite like this. But you don’t have to do it – SW are big on the old ‘make it from scratch’ mantra, even if they have brought out those ‘delicious’ SW ready meals. People aren’t encouraged to keep their syns down at zero – quite the opposite! But it’s the choice of the members to eat the ‘zero syns’ food rather than spending a little of their allowance and having gorgeous recipes.

It’s actually one of the biggest bugbears I have with this site – we can put a wonderful, tasty, nutritionally perfect meal up that uses six syns and I can guarantee it’ll get hardly any likes. Stick up a roulade made with a wheelbarrow of Splenda and jam made from cut-out photos of strawberries blended with water and we’ll need to hook up a new server. But what can you do?

Oh, and as an aside, it’s astonishing the amount of people I see banging on about how nutritionally bankrupt the diet is, but then they’re busy flogging vitamins and shakes and powders and all that shite. Practice what you preach, or shut the hell up.

“They make money from people failing”

This is the one that bugs me the most. People make out as though the whole class structure is set up so that it keeps people going back time after time, barely losing weight. Presumably that’s because you get rebounders who follow the diet, lose weight and then stop going – then boom, all the weight trickles back on and they’re back. But here’s the thing – do you think the personal trainers don’t do exactly the same thing? Are they going to provide their services for free when their client gets skinny and toned? SW allow you to go back to class for free whenever you’re at target, so there’s your incentive to try and keep the weight off.

There’s lots of things I’d change about Slimming World – the classes need a mix-up because spending an hour clapping does my nut in, I can’t bear all the cutesy-poo language that gets used, I think some things are synned when they don’t need to be – so here’s what we do. We tinker with it a bit, and accept that if our weight loss slows, it’s because we’re moving away from the diet. But since we’ve started this blog all of our meals have been amazing – we choose to spend our syns on the food we eat – just like the plan encourages – and we’ll never look back.

I have no horse in this race. We’re not sponsored by Slimming World, we pay our membership fees like everyone else, and god knows this blog takes the piss out of the silliness more than most out there. But I’ve seen the difference the classes make to people’s confidence, figures, minds and life with my own eyes. SW isn’t perfect but how about all those people knocking it and making sly digs about the members just turn their eyes and focus on building their own business on their own merits? Even with its flaws it brings comfort and fun to millions of people – and I don’t think they should be knocked for that.

We’re not ashamed to say we love Slimming World. When you follow it, for the most part, it works. It’s easy to knock and it’s fun to tease, but stop trying to run it into the bloody ground.

Right, broccoli bombs anyone?

cheesy baked broccoli bombs

cheesy baked broccoli bombs

The recipe makes enough for eight or so.

to make cheesy baked broccoli bombs you will need:

  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets
  • 80g reduced-fat cheddar (2x HeA)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 25g panko (BREADCRUMBS. THEY’RE BLOODY BREADCRUMBS. Make yer own breadcrumbs if panko is too fancy for you) (4.5 syns)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper

to make cheesy baked broccoli bombs you should:

These are great as a snack, and kids will love them too! Do you know what else they’ll love? Two Chubby Cub dinners everynight! Spoil ’em rotten with some of our grub by clicking the buttons below:

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Enjoy!

J

thai chicken dipping balls – excellent taster night idea

Thai chicken dipping balls. Every time I say the title, it sounds filthier than the last. Don’t care. Listen, we weren’t going to post tonight as dearest Paul decided to crash his car (he’s fine, my wallet isn’t) but Musclefood called us to give us another discount – but only for 24 hours. So for crying out loud, if you want some cheap meat, get it now. Hopefully you dear readers will forgive us an advert right off the bat but it’s rare we do it and it’s only because it’s a flash sale that we’re sticking it in. If you don’t want to even look, click here and it’ll go straight to the recipe! See? Considerate!


Right, details are as below – Musclefood are giving us a 15/20% discount on our three main packages – you can see below the various offers and the links are here – they’ll open in a new window:

We’ve got syn values and more details on our Musclefood page but remember, this is a flash sale that’ll end tomorrow night – so get it whilst its hot!

Right, shall we get straight to my balls? We’ve made these because they’re an easy alternative to the usual stuff trotted out at taster nights, but actually, they make for a bloody good snack too as they keep in the fridge! We’re the gift that keeps on giving, no?

chicken dipping balls

chicken dipping balls

to make Thai chicken dipping balls you will need:

to make Thai chicken dipping balls you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • put the chicken breasts into a food processor and blitz until they have a mince-like consistency (you can actually just use chicken mince if you prefer, but doing it this way with breasts makes for a nicer taste and texture)
  • next, combine all of the ingredients together in a big bowl
  • spray a large baking sheet with a little oil (don’t strip away the coating by using Frylight, use this instead and get the job done properly)
  • scoop out a tablespoon-sized ball of mixture and roll into a ball and place on the baking sheet, and then repeat
  • bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes
  • serve with whatever dipping sauce you like, we used sweet chilli!

Don’t dip your balls enough? Try your luck with us – and get making anything in the recipe lists below!

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J

creamy garlic mushroom pasta super speedy lunch

Creamy garlic mushroom pasta? On Slimming World? I know!

A proper quick post tonight, no flimflam! Not going to fib, this recipe is not my own, no no. We’ve adapted it from Jamie Oliver’s new book ‘5 Ingredients’, which you can buy from Amazon here. Big fans of Jamie Oliver, though I find myself having to watch his earlier shows on mute to avoid all that laddish banter he used to do. Got right on me ‘ampton make no mistake guv’nor apples ‘n’ pears saaaarf of the river and all that shite. Why doesn’t he age? Anyway, we recommend the book simply because we’ve had a flick through it and nearly all of the recipes use only a few ingredients and can easily be adapted to Slimming World. Of course, you could just wait and see what we post on here and save yourself a tenner. I feel safe saying that (you could say, given the recipe, it’s a question of morels…eh? Hello? Is this thing on?), it’s not as though he’s going to send his solicitors over to us over a few lost sales. I’ve certainly spent enough money working my way down his cocktail list in his restaurants to make up for it.

So, creamy garlic chicken pasta then – dead easy and you can adjust the garlic levels however you like it. If you’re one of those folks who like to smell like an old bin for days afterwards, chuck more in. Same with the mushrooms – I like the Tesco Finest Asian Selection, purely because one of the mushrooms looks like a little knob, but you can use any old shite. I’ve just noticed that my mushrooms come from South Korea so Christ, if you are planning on cooking this, I’d go buy the mushrooms now whilst you still can. If you wait a few more weeks, chances are they’ll be able to walk here on their own steam/radiation. This makes enough for two, with each person using a Healthy Extra A choice. Yeah, that’s right, and so what?

creamy garlic mushroom pasta

creamy garlic mushroom pasta

to make creamy garlic mushroom pasta, you’ll need:

  • about 200g of whatever mushrooms you want – as I said, I like the ‘weird’ mushrooms as they have lots of taste, but have whatever you want, I’m not yer mother
  • 2 cloves of garlic, or three, or four
  • 30g parmesan cheese (1 HEA)
  • 150g of pasta – you can use any kind, but I like to use Caserecce pasta (from Tesco, own brand, 50p) because it holds the sauce better
  • 110g of Philadelphia lightest (1 HEA)

to make creamy garlic mushroom pasta, you should:

  • get a pan of water up to the boil, make it as salty as a sailor’s cock, throw in the pasta and cook it until it’s soft on the tongue, then drain – keeping aside half a cup of the pasta water – then put the pasta to one side
  • whilst that’s hubbling and bubbling, slice up your mushrooms (don’t be Captain Prissypants about it – slice them any old how, lots of different sizes and shapes) and thinly slice your garlic cloves
  • throw them in a pan with a few squirts of olive oil and cook until golden and softened
  • tip the pasta into the pan along with the Philadelphia and the parmesan and give everything a good stir – adding some of that reserved water if things are looking a bit thick
  • season with salt and lots of black pepper and serve hot and juicy!

How easy was that? You know when people twist their gobs about not having time to cook? That takes ten minutes at best. Come on now. Want more recipes? But of course!

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J

pork fillet and cheesy mash gratin

Here for the pork fillet and cheesy mash gratin? Good choice, it’s a bloody marvel. But here’s the thing – I can’t buy a pork tenderloin without blushing like I’ve had my first kiss. There’s something attractive about a long length of pink meat, just saying. But I do wish Paul would exercise the same level of shame and control when it comes to shopping because god help him, our house is absolutely awash with things we don’t need. Yesterday’s purchase was a cracker. Not literally, I’d have swallowed that before Mags could shine the Fat-Symbol into the skies to summon the consultants. Let me explain. But first, if you’re getting yourself clammy because I’m not getting to the recipe, then please, don’t fret: I’ve added a twochubbycubs shortcut. Just click on dried up slag and you’ll be taken straight there!

Last night I thought I was going mad. We’d come home from our various activities, had our tea (posted below) and then Paul had to go into work and drop off some papers. Listen, it’s fine, I know that sounds like the classic ‘he’s having an affair’ line but it’s Paul, the laziest man alive – it takes all of his energy and willpower just to open his bumhole to fart. So imagine me sitting at our computer typing up a recipe, looking to all the world like Angela Lansbury with a shaved head and bigger tits, when I become aware of this very faint crackle. It sounded like when you put an electrical cable into a socket but it’s not quite in there. I turned down my Archers omnibus and set about trying to identify the mystery sound, thinking we were minutes away from the dishwasher bursting into flame or the walls of the house crashing down. To give you more of an idea, imagine a tiny Geiger counter clicking in a corridor, or a family of mice putting up shelves in the skirting board.

Well, I was bloody demented. I went from room to room, barely able to hear it but it being just loud enough to get right on my tits. Actually, speaking of tits, I did think it might be my sunburnt chest peeling and cracking like a dry ploughed field, but no, the rack was all in order, though perhaps a little red. I unplugged the TV, the computer, the router, the Nest, the fridge, the lot. You may remember that I have health anxiety? Well in that long drawn out HOUR I’d diagnosed myself with an inner ear infection, schizophrenia, vertigo and obviously, something had crawled in my ear and was making itself a nice home on my brain-stem – and listen, I grew up on cheap burgers and mystery mince, I know I’m long overdue CJD. You’ll doubtless see me stumbling around a sluice grate with a shitty arse in a decade’s time.

Anyway, in walks Paul, full of fat and good cheer, and when I inform him of my lapse into insanity, he leads me into the corner of the living room and points out his latest purchase – a bloody Woodwick candle which ‘crackles like a real fire’. Does it shite! It sounds like someone furiously tapping out a reply to an argument on a Blackberry in a locked toilet. I mean, of all the things you’d think to check for odd noises, a bloody candle is never going to be high on the list, is it? To top it off, he’d replaced the lovely Seychelles White Company candle with this abomination that smells of – wait for it now – Rhubarb and Radish. Why the fuck would anyone want a room that smells like Rhubarb and Radish? Who am I, Tatty Bogle? Haway man. I wouldn’t have minded so much if it was a lovely, subtle flavour – when I get frustrated, or irritated or… angry, I come up here and I just smell all my candles and it just…goes away – but it smells like the air-freshener in an unlicensed taxi.

Then, for good measure, it bloody crackles! Why? At what development meeting did they decide they needed to add volume to a candle? It’s like putting a handle on a cat or wallpaper that loudly announces when a bus goes past. It hisses and splutters and futters and spits but by god, it doesn’t crackle. As the cherry on the radish and rhubarb cake, to make it work, the wick is wooden and in the shape of a cross and as a result, it creates a ridiculously bouncy, jittery flame – so not only do you go slowly insane because of the noise but you’re also risking a bloody seizure having it lit. You’ll be glad to know that this £22 candle has been banished into the cupboard, only to be taken out if the world ends and we need illumination.

Maybe I’m just sensitive to noise – misophonic, don’t you know – or perhaps my ears are just on high alert from going to the cinema on Friday and it feeling like they’d decided to put a live showing of the movie on my fucking eardrum. More on that later. The noise I especially hate is when common people scrape their knives and forks across the plate whilst they scrabble to get the last crumb. Just stop it. It cuts through me like a chilli-covered cock.

Honestly though, I can tolerate listening to my cat tonguing two layers of skin of its own arsehole in the night as I lay awake, I can listen to Joe Pasquale on the radio, hell, I can sit through two hours of people explaining they’ve put on weight because they’re either bunged up with faeces or sloughing. I’m tough. But there’s one sound I can’t stand, and, I’m sorry, but I’m now going to leave you with something that will change your life forever. It’s a sound that, once heard, you’ll hear over and over, in adverts, unimaginative TV, news reports, video games and soon, your nightmares. You’ll wake sweating at the birth of a new day with this ringing in your ears and murder on your mind. It is, I think, the most singularly annoying sound you can imagine:

Tell me I’m wrong, I dare you. I mean christ, even the video thumbnail looks like Pennywise the dancing clown. Now it’s all you’ll hear. Listen out for it on the TV and remember, it was the twochubbycubs who wrecked your ears for other men.

Now, one final bit of admin before we get to the pork fillet recipe – we’ve added sharing buttons back onto each recipe and page! You’ll see them – they look like this:

You can now pin, facebook like, share, message, all sorts of tut – just click the buttons! It helps us to spread, like a dose of the clap.



to make pork fillet and cheesy mash gratin you will need:

  • 800g potatoes
  • 400g pork fillet (all visible fat removed)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh sage (it’s worth it, trust me)
  • 40g reduced-at cheddar cheese, grated (1x HeA)
  • 4 slices of prosciutto (2 syns)
  • 1 egg

Couple of gadgets to make your life easier here:

Also: don’t forget we’re running a competition to win a soupmaker this week! Click here to enter – it’ll open in a new window.

to make pork fillet and cheesy mash gratin you should:

  • preheat the grill to high
  • chop the potatoes into 3cm chunks (you don’t need to peel them) and chuck into a pan of boiling water, cook with the lid on for about 12 minutes or until they’re tender
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a high heat and add a little oil
  • sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the pork and add to the hot pan
  • sear on each side for a total of about 4 minutes, but turn it regularly
  • remove the pork from the pan and set aside
  • add the sage to the same pan and stir about for no more than ten seconds, then remove from the pan
  • drain the potatoes and mash well – a potato ricer does all the hard work for you and will leave your mash super-smooth!
  • add half of the cheese to the mash and crack in the egg and stir quickly until it’s mixed in
  • next, tip the mash into a large frying pan (or grill-safe dish) and push all the way to the edges
  • sprinkle over the rest of the cheese and plop the pork on top
  • cook under the grill for 15-20 minutes
  • remove from the heat and drop the prosciutto slices around the pork, it doesn’t need to look fancy, and then sprinkle over the sage leaves
  • pop under the grill for another two minutes or until the pork is fully cooked
  • eat!

How nice does that look?! We’ve got plenty more just waiting for you to try, all you have to do is click one of the buttons below to go straight to ’em!

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J

one-pot super simple beef stew

Right, quick recipe post for a super simple beef stew! Sometimes you need a plate of cat-food-esque stew to line your gunt and this is just the ticket. Plus, if you’re a haphazard fool like us in the kitchen, you can’t go too wrong with it – just need to cut everything up, hoy it all in a pan and allow to simmer, then thicken with gravy. Get it made!

Anyway, whilst I’ve got you here, we’re also running a competition this week to win a soupmaker! It’s not Paul, before you ask, but it’s a lovely Morphy Richards number. Click the image below and you’ll be taken straight to the competition entry page in a new window. Go for it – it’s an easy competition and all you have to do is find the queens’ Queen!

Right, straight to the recipe! See, I can do it occasionally…

super simple beef stew

super simple beef stew

to make one-pot super simple beef stew you will need:

  • 400g diced beef
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp flour (4 syns)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 litre water
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tsp gravy granules (4 syns)

Looking for a good deal on diced beef? Dead easy. A fair few of our exclusive Musclefood deals have diced beef included! Have a look – link will open in a new window!

to make one-pot super simple beef stew you should:

  • in a large pot, heat oil over a medium-high heat, add the beef and cook until browned
  • stir in everything else except for the gravy granules, cover with the lid and simmer for two hours
  • when finished, stir in the gravy granules until thick
  • serve

Love simple dinners? We’ve got loads more! Just click the buttons below:

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J

crispy chilli beef – well, sort of, because this is Slimming World after all

Crispy chilli beef! Yeah, kind of. Look you’re never going to replicate the chilli beef you get from the takeaway because they fry it in oil – like all delicious things – and obviously we can’t do that. But this is a good, tasty effort! Before we get to that, of course, Paul had the idea that he would like to bookend our Newcastle trip report with his views on the North East. I nearly died of shock – the poor sod never wants to write our posts – so who am I to complain? He’d love feedback and I hope his billet-doux leaves you satisfied and smiling. That said, if you’re not wanting to read, that’s fine – like I do for all the longer entries, I’m including a shortcut button for you. That’s right – this time just click on the GRUMPY NAG to go straight to the food.

I thought she’d never leave, you know? Someone should tell her about her moustache. You could use it to strain soup. Right, shall we get on?


part one | part two | part three | part four | part five | part six | part seven

It’s well-known on this blog that when James and I first met, we had a couple of dates and I, completely on a whim, moved straight to Newcastle to be with him. At that time I was living in the living hell that is commonly known as Portsmouth, renting a room in a mansion from a pair of sadomasochistic dungeon masters. I’m not even joking with that one, I’m actually surprised that story hasn’t made it into a blogpost yet.

The strangest thing for me though was that I never heard of anything coming out of Newcastle. No news, no excitement, nothing at all. All I knew of it was from Byker Grove and even then I was only giving it half my attention because there was no doubt a tin of Campbell’s meatballs in the microwave on the go for me. I knew it had Geordies (obviously) and some sort of past industrial history but that was it. Until that point, I made a promise (and my good friend Glenn reminds me of this often) that I would never live ‘in the North’. Don’t get me wrong – I’m probably the most common person you’ll ever meet and absolutely not a snob, but I just had this vision in my mind of unrelenting grey skies, rusting machinery everywhere and misery.

How pleasantly surprised I was then when I actually visited the place. It absolutely astounded me. For my first journey up we got the train; I remember getting off and seeing this little scale model of the city on a plinth just outside the entrance. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was lit up and everything. I thought maybe it’d been dropped by the planning department and should probably keep off it, but no – it was art. It was public art! Just something small and insignificant and probably ignored by most people who walked past it but I was genuinely speechless. This might all sound very over-the-top and dramatic but I promise it’s true. See, I grew up in a place called Peterborough which, except for a big ass cathedral, pretty much just exploded forth in the 60’s and 70’s into a New Town haemorrhage. It’s totally devoid of any sort of culture. Utilitarian. Dull. Brown. Ring roads. You get the idea. Portsmouth was even worse.

So we came out the Central Station and saw this little plinth. We walked down to the Quayside and there was more. There was a vampire rabbit over a door. An archway that lit up like Tetris bricks. Another arch that would sing to you in a weird Geordie accent as you went through. A statue of a bloke floating in the air. It was amazing. And the place was absolutely immaculate.

We arrived down onto the Quayside, I saw the Tyne Bridge for the first time, and just in the distance, nestled against the big curve was the Sage (which looks like me on my side). I was absolutely mesmerised. This place was gorgeous. It was modern, it was clean, it was NICE! I knew then that I immediately wanted to move here. It was a place that I’d actually want to leave the house for and explore, rather than to just go to the supermarket. We stopped at the Pitcher and Piano (which gives a cracking view out onto a tilting bridge!), I actually scribbled out my resignation letter on a sheet of notepaper I scrounged off the barman there and then and he kindly faxed it off for me. I’d forgotten all about that until now. I mean, look at us way back when…

I really want you to know how taken in I was with the instant beauty of ‘The North’ (James here: I’m fairly sure he’s talking about me, but don’t be blue)

Look how young we were! Aaaah.

I still get it now. When I visit Peterborough I’m sad to say that I’m appalled by it. It’s dirty, dull, dreary. It’s like going back behind the Iron Curtain. There’s no ‘life’ to it. The last time we visited we had to go to Milton Keynes to find something to do. That just ain’t the case in Newcastle. As you’ll read in our posts, I’ve lived here for ten years (James for 32) and we’ve STILL only scratched the surface of things to do here. We’ll never get bored.

Even though we don’t really live in Newcastle anymore (but we’re only up the road) you can ‘feel’ the atmosphere. Even in the ‘rough’ parts you get it – I tell my friends that live in Ashington all the time that there’s just an energy to it all, as wank as that sounds, but there is! There’s something in the air. The people are nicer up North too, not just politer, but nicer. Their default setting is to be cheerful and helpful rather than dour and suspicious. I love it.

Newcastle has everything you need – it’s got the beautiful town centre, an ugly bit of town centre (sometimes I do miss concrete), the seaside is only a few miles away, the nice seaside is only a few miles more, a big-ass Angel, rolling countryside that goes on forever, and an airport if you want some proper sun. What more do you need?

If I had to recommend somewhere to visit around here other than Newcastle (of course) would be the bit around South East Northumberland – you’ve got Northumberlandia, a giant woman made out of rubble, the fantastic mining history over in Ashington (the Woodhorn museum is fascinating), a gorgeous beach over at Blyth (not a 99 in sight! Just watch out for doggers) and some wonderful countryside-villagey stuff up near Alnwick including a brilliant bookshop in an old train station, a dramatic castle and a fancy garden. Vindolanda’s also nearby for some fancy learnin’, and if you want to see a dishy 20-something studmuffin dress up as a Roman soldier.

Oh, and did I mention the accent? It’s brilliant. Jokes are funnier coming out of a Geordie. It’s a scientific fact (probably).

Come. You won’t be disappointed.

 


Full disclosure – we’ve copied this one from Auntie but have made it a bit more SW friendly!

crispy chilli beef

crispy chilli beef

to make crispy chilli beef you will need:

  • 350g of minute steak, cut into thin slices (you can get some in our new ‘build your own’ Musclefood hamper!)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 2 tsp Chinese five-spice
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced (keep the green bits and the white bits separated)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (save the faff and get one of these)
  • thumb-sized bit of ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp Hellman’s Tomato Ketchup sweetened with Honey (1 syn) (normal tomato sauce will do, just add on another syn)
  • 250g wholewheat noodles, cooked according to the instructions

to make crispy chilli beef you should:

  • put the beef in a bowl and toss with the cornflour and five-spice
  • heat a wok or a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat and add a really good spray of oil (don’ let Frylight wreck your pans, use this instead)
  • add the beef and fry until nice and crisp
  • scoop out the beef and add in the peppers, half the chilli, the white bits of the spring onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about 3 minutes
  • in a small jug, mix togehter the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and tomato sauce along with 2tbsp water and pour over the veg
  • stir well and let it bubble for about 2 minutes
  • add the beef back to the pan, stir well and serve over the noodles, and sprinkle over the green bits of the spring onions

Finally managed to scratch that fakeaway itch? To be fair, the itch was probably just yer cystitis playing up. We’ve got plenty more to tickle your fancy – just press one of the buttons below to find out more!

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J

guilty pleasure mince and potato casserole

Right, come on – mince and potato casserole. If there’s one thing I’m learning is that we can put all manner of fancy recipes up but the things that you lot like always have lots of cheese and starch in them. And so what? Listen, sometimes what you need is just a plate full of stodge. Have an apple afterwards to keep Mags happy, but you know what, life is for living. Whilst this dish might hasten you to the grave that bit quicker, at least you’ll go stinking of cheddar.

Just a recipe post after yesterday’s lengthy, girthy entry – though I want to have a quick whinge about public displays of affection. I’m not some miserable, sexless oaf who can’t stand to see people happy but seriously, have a bromide smoothie and literally calm your tits. Newcastle is awash with students once more and the walk home takes me through Leazes Park, where I consider it a ‘good’ day if I’ve only managed to see one person being penetrated by another. I feel like I’m inadvertently dogging, walking past couples rolling around on the grass or bouncing on each other’s laps on the memorial benches. I get it, you’re in love, blah blah, but that love will fade and you’ll grow fat and tired and you’ll look back at that time you were being given a shocker* by the swan-pond by someone with dickies and a guitar with regret. Trust me.

Paul and I will often hold hands, safe in the knowledge that few people would dare say anything because, until one of us speaks, we look faintly butch and have a significant weight advantage on most decent folks. But that’s generally where it ends – I’m not going to be giving him a rusty trombone in the bus-stop just so people can SEE OUR LOVE. Which is what I think about 80% of PDA is – making sure everyone else is made to feel uncomfortable, or jealous, or put out that they don’t have love. It makes me squicky. It’s just not the way we do things here. You must understand, I’m about as far from being a prude as one can be without getting arrested, but even so.

Anyway, come now, let’s do the recipe. Mince and potato casserole: this makes four massive portions.

Oh and a shocker? Easy. Two in the beaver, one taking her fever. Cheers!

mince and potato casserole

mince and potato casserole

to make mince and potato casserole you will need:

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 4 large potatoes (there’s no need to peel them, but give them a good scrub)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and diced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (got one of these yet? why not?)
  • 160g reduced-fat cheddar cheese, grated (4x HeA)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tin Campbells condensed cream of chicken soup (14.5 syns)
  • 100ml skimmed milk (2 syns)
  • 1 tbsp fat free natural yoghurt

to make mince and potato casserole you should:

  • bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the potatoes – parboil for five minutes, and then drain and slice into pound-coin thick slices
  • meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°c and spray a 9″ by 13″ dish with a bit of oil
  • whisk together the soup, salt, pepper, garlic powder, milk and yoghurt and set aside
  • next, heat a little oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat
  • add the mince and cook until no pink meat remains
  • add the onion, garlic and green pepper and cook for a few more minutes and the peppers have softened
  • next, you’ll need to layer the ingredients in the pyrex dish in the following order:
    • one third of the potatoes;
    • half the mince;
    • one third of the soup;
    • one third of the cheese;
    • one third of the potatoes
    • rest of the mince;
    • one third of the soup;
    • one third of the cheese;
    • rest of the potatoes;
    • rest of the soup; and finally,
    • rest of the cheese.
  • cover with foil and bake in the oven for an hour
  • remove the foil and bake for a further thirty minutes
  • serve, and eat!

Not enough for you? Don’t worry – we’ve got tons of recipes for you – all for free! Just click one of the buttons below:

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Enjoy!

J

this is nacho normal salad

I’m so sorry, but I can never resist a pun. I just can’t. I’m just glad I’m not a doctor. or I’d spend my days trying to work a gag into telling someone they had six months to live. But why nacho salad? Wait and see. But I have some business to attend to first…tonight’s travel entry, wrapping up Newcastle as it does, is a long one, and if you just want the food, then I’ve created a wee shortcut. Just click the LEATHERY OLD BOOT to go straight to the food…

I’m so glad she’s gone. Did you see what she was wearing? Sweet jesus…


part one | part two | part three | part four | part five | part six

Last Newcastle post! I know, I bet you’re so furious you could punch a toilet-attendant for handing you a lollipop, but try and hold your shit together. When you were last with us I’d just kicked Paul’s arse at Kerplunk and Connect 4 and he was crying into his gin. To sober him up and to add a touch of local culture to the weekend, we decided to visit our local museum dedicated to the North East – the Discovery Museum. It’s quite an apt name, as you’ll discover new levels of disappointment as you look at broken exhibit after broken exhibit.

I’ll be there!

No, that’s mean, and I’m being glib. It’s a perfectly fine way to kill an hour or two, even if everything interactive was either out of order or in the hands of a child. I shan’t open that particular wound up again. For the most part it’s about local history, so you get plenty of bits about the Tyne, about the ship-building areas, kids being sent down the mine with only a 20-deck of Capstan Full Strength and phlegm sandwiches for dinner, that sort of thing. There’s a ‘god bless them, they tried’ science lab where you can turn on lights and move handles and press buttons. It’s terrifically exciting, never quite knowing when the next yawn is coming along. We did have fun in the shadow room, mind:

I used to do my studies in here back when I was in the nearby college and I was keen to see if the little café upstairs was still the same – you used to be able to get a jacket potato the size of a sea-swollen foot with beans for £2. But of course not. No, it’s gone down the panini route like most other museum places, where you can get a panini that you could have a full shave together with eight crisps and a token bit of salad that looks like something scraped off the inside of a hamster’s cheek. Haway, shall we not. I had a sweet chilli chicken panini, Paul had coronation chicken, and I think it tells you everything you need to know that we didn’t realise until after we’d finished them that we had choken down each other’s order. That’s how fresh and flavourful they were. Harumph!

There was, at the very least, one saving grace – an exhibition devoted to our local annual funfair, The Hoppings. It promised to recreate the experience of being there, which alarmed me a bit as I didn’t fancy being ripped off by someone who owned eight caravans and seven wives, nor did I want to see Paul get shanked for successfully winning a rigged hook-a-duck game, but we went in regardless. What fun! They had a great collection of old games and creaking fruit machines and we spent a good half an hour wasting our time in there. All of the machines had been gifted to the museum for a few weeks by a group dedicated to restoring them and there was a friendly fella in there talking about them. I love anyone with proper enthusiasm and even my eyes didn’t glaze over whilst he told us about his push-a-penny machine. I was captivated! Paul had to drag me out as he’d spotted the rain that had been plaguing us all day had momentarily stopped, so we dashed out to find somewhere new.

Naturally, the heavens opened the split second those automatic days slid open and we had to dash like the two fat, breathless sods that we are to the nearby station for shelter. Gone are the days we would have cheerfully Ubered that 300 metre dash, and I can’t wait to tell you why…in time…anyway.

Paul took a moment to lead the station in a singalong around the old Joanna…

As we sat and steamed in the Central Station – a beautiful 19th century listed building ruined somewhat by 21st century bastards and the occasional spiced-up zombie – our phones buzzed and Tripadvisor recommended a nearby bar as being ‘right up our street’. It was, quite literally, so we squelched over, only pausing briefly whilst a chap I used to work with bumped into me and I spent a good two minutes trying desperately to remember who he was. Not because he was awful, you understand, but because he’d lost lots of weight and I’ve got a memory like a sieve. Is there a more awkward feeling than someone recognising you like an old chum and you not having the faintest clue? I was hoping for Paul to explosively shit himself as a distraction but his balloon-knot remained tightly clenched. Boo-shucks to him. Anyway, by the time I’d realised who he was it was time to leave, and I left feeling a right rotten bastard. Still, we had a science-themed bar to cheer me up…

…except it didn’t. I’ve genuinely never been served by someone so disinterested and with a contemptuous attitude in Newcastle. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect people to start doing the fucking can-can when we walk in but at least look up from your phone, you prissy column of hair-gel and unmerited superiority. We ordered drinks – as the only two people in there – and were served with all the interest you might give to a scab on your knee. Admittedly we ordered cocktails but we were told (lies!) that these would be fun, science based cocktails served in beakers. We got some syrupy-sweet sour nonsense mixed with tonic and a shitty look. We took our seats at the table, played with the chalk lovingly left for us:

and left before the atmosphere overcame us and we pitched ourselves through the glass windows in despair. Science? He was certainly a fucking alchemist when it came to turning joy into despair.

Luckily, Paul’s nose led us straight to the next meal, hidden away under the arches of the nearby railway. We seem to have a bit of a thing for eating under the arches of a bridge – The Herb Garden is another restaurant which has been stuffed neatly somewhere it shouldn’t, namely under the East Coast Main Line. We ate here on a whim – it was late in the afternoon and Paul was so entranced by the giant pizza oven in the window that it was a done deal before I could finish my ‘but Paul, your thighs’ sentence. We were the only ones in, but that’s purely down to the time of day – normally it’s packed solid, much like we both were afterwards. We were seated and served by a lovely friendly waitress and our food arrived in no time at all. We barely had time to work out who had the difficult job of dusting the lighting down…

We ordered the antipasti selection for two (we wanted to order it for four, but kept our dignity) and it certainly passed muster – tasty cured meats, olives far beyond the usual slop from the supermarkets and decent bread. We tried to eat slowly but it was gone before we could blink: may I stress, we’re greedy.

Given they’re famous for good pizza, we elected for a (deep breath) spinach, egg, pecorino, garlic, mozzarella, olives and basil pizza (£10) and, in a vain attempt to mitigate that cheese, we ordered a flower power chicken salad to share (£12).

They came within ten minutes of ordering and believe me when I say they were as tasty as they look. The pizza – clearly fresh and made to order – was cooked perfectly, with a big gooey egg in the middle. The salad, usually always the bridesmaid to the main meal’s bride, was a revelation to the point where we’ve tried to recreate it at home for the blog and failed miserably. The mix of textures, flavours and looks made this a dish more than capable of standing on its own. I didn’t want to share!

There’s the usual array of sides and appetizers to chomp your way through together with an extensive specials board with each dish inviting us to come back and to hell with the diet. There’s a breakfast pizza called The Fannie Farmer – who wouldn’t want to push their face into that on a weekend morning? Me. That’s who. Never been one for eating sushi off the barbershop floor. We waddled out, content, and wandered down to the High Level bridge to read the graffiti.

Read the graffiti? Why yes, and here’s some choice cuts…

       I can’t see PETA using this as a tag-line.

Brilliant stuff. There was also the usual array of rusty padlocks that people seem intent on leaving everywhere there’s a bridge. Why? I know it’s a love thing but if you feel like your love is only worthy of a view of the Ovoline Lubricants factory and the hearty stench of piss, perhaps it’s time to look again at your relationship. Anyway, we were off to hunt for a rabbit.

Hidden in a corner of Dean Street is the Vampire Rabbit – an odd little curiosity perched high above a door. Why is it odd? Because it’s a menacing looking stone rabbit with bloodied fangs. Because of course. Newcastle’s full of little eccentricities like this and I love it. The best part? It was supposed to be a cute adornment on a fancy door, but one of the owners of the building decided to make it a little more macabre by painting the sandstone. That’s my town.

The final stop on our Holiday at Home was our pre-arranged appointment at Dog and Scone, Newcastle’s first puppy restaurant. Controversial yes, but once you’ve had a puppy pizza you’ll never look back. So much meat on those little legs! Oh I’m kidding, clearly, just before anyone accosts me outside of work and throws red paint all over my best Jacamo coat. Newcastle has had a couple of cat cafes for a while now – somewhere where you can go and stroke cats with a cup of tea. I blogged about one of them and can cheerfully recommend them as a lovely way to waste an hour. But how do you upstage cats? You can’t, to be clear, but someone has opened a puppy café as an attempt to do so. Same principle – have a cup of tea and coo at the gorgeous puppies that frolic about. What next? Perhaps they’ll open a horse café. Ah that wouldn’t work – there would be nowt on the menu, but hay.

So proud of that one.

We washed our hands, took our seats and spent a lovely hour watching the dogs gambol around, chasing each other and hopefully having fun. They did look tired though, and I’ll come back to that later. There was a pug there called Laughing which I fell in love with – there’s something about saggy-jowled, snuffling, wide-eyed bags of barely-breathing flesh that I like, as my marriage to Paul demonstrates. They wrapped the pug in a towel and he fell asleep in my arms which was just lovely. Paul was given a corgi called Coffee which kept raucously farting and then looking at its own anus as if in absolute shock that such a thing could happen. If we ever get a dog Paul wants a corgi but I think that’s ridiculous – if you’re going to get a dog, get a bloody dog, not some silly bugger that looks like a roided-up cat. Oh, there was one little bitch that we didn’t like and who wasn’t on the menu – some foppish waste of skin and spunk who, upon being told the place was shutting imminently, made a fuss about getting a fresh pot of Darjeeling and that really it isn’t any bother at all for the staff to wait around whilst he finished it because he was the customer. Never before have I wanted a dog to bite someone on the bollocks so much. We left at closing time, he was still there being a bellend.

  

It did get me thinking how much money is in just buying a few dogs and a catering box of teabags from Costco and setting up a dog café of my own. Two Chubby Pups. Wags ‘n’ Fags. Puffs and Ruffs? I mean, the list is endless even if your enthusiasm isn’t. We did agree that we didn’t enjoy the puppy café as much as the cat café and let me tell you why – cats can get up on high and hide when they don’t want to be touched or handled, whereas the puppies kept going to their bed only to be picked up again and I genuinely can’t say I’m alright with that. I stress that I have no doubt that they are looked after amazingly well, but if you’re having to wake up a sleeping dog just to parade him about for photos…it left a sore taste in our mouths. Plus about half a dog’s worth of hair. We made our way home and, as usual, were greeted on the path by both cats looking nonchalant. That changed once they realised we’d been petting other animals and it was straight back to indifference and shunning and passively-aggressively licking their arseholes in front of the telly so their paws blocked the sensor on the front. Pfft.

And that’s that! Our holiday in Newcastle, done. Paul’s got some thoughts he wants to share with you all – god help us – and they’ll come next, but let me say one thing – explore your own city! We had such a fun weekend being tourists in our own city, doing things that have passed us by or that we would never normally be arsed to do because they’re on our doorstep – but here’s the thing, unless you open the door, you’ll never see them. Newcastle is an amazing city full of wonderful people – some of us have unwebbed feet, you know –  and I implore you to give our city a go. Paul will touch on it, but we’re so much more than Brown Ale, men punching police horses and Sherrul Curl, thank God. You can get a cheap hotel right in the city centre if you’re willing to go down the Premier Inn route, and then the weekend will be as expensive or as cheap as you want to make it. We’re a big city that feels compact thanks to easy walking routes and a decent Metro system and if you’re feeling adventurous, you could even step out into Northumberland to try our amazing beaches, cracking local food and rolling hills. There’s a pretty famous wall to walk along, you know, and you might even bump into Vera as she solves her crimes in that wee little hat.

If you do, try and tell her that every single sentence doesn’t need to end in ‘pet’, ‘sweetheart’ and ‘love’ and that ‘Mordor’ isn’t a crime but rather where those little hobbits destroyed a ring.

We’d love your feedback guys!


Right, let’s do this not your nacho salad, shouldn’t I? Worth the syns, trust me! Makes enough for four bowls.

to make a nacho normal salad, you’ll need:

  • 400g of extra lean beef mince – 5% or less
  • one chopped romaine lettuce mixed with rocket
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • a cucumber cut into chunks
  • a mixture of gherkins, sliced olives (25g – 2 syns)
  • one onion
  • tin of black eyed beans
  • 160g of grated extra mature lighter cheese (4 x HEA)
  • one packet of doritos (30g – 7.5 syns)
  • one carton of passata (preferably with chilli)

You can buy loads, absolutely loads, of perfect mince in our Musclefood deals where, finally, you can choose what you want to make up your hamper! No more having to compromise! Do it your way.

to make a nacho normal salad, you should:

  • chop up all your veg (bar the onion) and crush up your nachos and keep to one side, like this

  • meanwhile, chop the onion, fry it off lightly in a bit of oil until softened (or Fryshite), then add the mince and cook it off until brown
  • meanwhile again, bubble off your passata to thicken it nicely into a sauce
  • put everything into one bowl (bar the sauce) and mix it all up – then add cheese, crushed doritos and a drizzle of sauce
  • done!

Want some more inspiration? Fine! You know what to do!

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J

perfect pork on a bed of caramelised asparagus, onion and lentils

Oh how fancy! Just a quick recipe-only post tonight because frankly, my feet hurt, my bum hurts and my finger hurts from typing so much. However, I couldn’t resist posting this stunning little recipe because I think it looks so pretty in the picture. It’s good timing to post a ‘posh’ meal because I (somewhat gently) got called a snob yesterday for badmouthing Benidorm and it made me think – I’m the least snobbish person I know, but then I only move in certain circles. When you’re as fat as me, those circles are called orbits, by the way. I don’t care how much someone earns or owns and I find the more they brag about those things, the less interesting they are as a person.

Anyway, the reason for me mentioning this is because I’m reminded of a story I heard somewhere and it tickles me every single time I think about it. He recounts a quiet Sunday at home with his family having Sunday lunch when they all become aware of quite the commotion happening across the street. A fire engine comes tearing into the street and firemen pile out and dash into a house. His dad, being nosy, wanders outside to have a look, where he’s met by the next door neighbour who was the type who would make the Queen look like a dole-scrounger.

“I wonder what’s going on”, says the neighbour, to which his dad replied “I don’t know – perhaps it’s a chip pan fire”.

The lady turned to him and looked straight down her nose:

“Chips?”, she spat, aghast.

“On a Sunday?”

Aaaah I love that so much. I grew up in a village with more than its fair share of people like that – people who thought because they had a barely-affordable mortgage and a car the size of a cargo train they were better than anyone else. Pfft!

Anyway this isn’t going to be a quick-post if I don’t get to the recipe so without a moment more of hesitation, let’s rattle off the perfect pork with caramelised onion…this recipe makes enough for two large portions. Which you love, because you’re a filthy bugger.

to make perfect pork on a bed of caramelised asparagus, onion and lentils, you’ll need:

  • two excellent pork loin chops, no fat – we bought ours from Tesco for £3.50 – we’re not fancy
  • 250g of asparagus
  • two large white onions
  • 250g of cooked puy lentils (we buy Merchant Gourmet ones from the shop – 2 syns for 250g)
  • 1 tablespoon of caster sugar (3 syns)

We used an Optigrill for our chops – only because it’s such a doddle to chuck the chop in and let it cook itself, but you absolutely don’t need to buy one for this recipe – a pan will do. You’ll even get those pretty sear marks if you move it to and fro a bit. If you do want an Optigrill, you can buy them on Amazon and read our review here.

to make perfect pork on a bed of caramelised asparagus, onion and lentils, you should:

  • read this whole recipe before you start, as you’ll have a couple of pans on the go at once
  • peel and finely slice the onion – put in a good non-stick pan with a splosh of oil or a few sprays of olive oil, sprinkle over the caster sugar and a pinch of salt, pop the lid on and shake that pan for all your worth – this gets a bit of oil on all of the onion
  • cook on a low to medium heat with the lid on until the onions are slightly golden and soft – it does take a while, but don’t rush it
  • meanwhile, peel your asparagus to remove the stringy skin and then snap it in two – if you bend it gently, it’ll snap at just the right place
  • just as your onions take on a bit of colour, time to cook your pork:
    • we cooked ours in the Optigrill: turned it on, chose the pork chop setting, waited until it was ready to cook, chucked the pork in with a brushing of worcestershire sauce, cooked it until the machine told us to stop, done!
    • haven’t got an Optigrill – don’t worry a jot, you can use a normal griddle pan, frying pan or cook it on a sunburned shoulder for all I care – whatever you do, apply heat until the meat is cooked – I mean, it’s that easy
  • about ten minutes before the pork is done, chuck the asparagus in with the onion – if things are a bit sticky, loosen it up with a wee bit of water
  • just before you’re about to serve, heat your lentils through and plate up

Done! Want more inspiration? Sure thing, cheesenips. You know what to do.

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