quick carbonara (sort of)

Going to rattle off a quick lunch for you today – it’s carbonara, but without the double cream and lovely cheese and egg – instead, using a bit of Quark and egg yolk to mix it through. Before I get to that, and I’ll need to be quick as I’ve got a Doctor Who appointment in fifteen minutes, I confess myself disappointed. See we’ve been furiously buying new books to populate our massive bookcase and I thought, you know, let’s have a trip down Memory Lane. It can’t all be Nigella Lawson and Bill Bryson books. So I nipped onto Amazon to buy the two books I used to love as a nipper – Martin’s Mice by Dick King Smith and My Best Fiend by Sheila Lavelle. Well, honestly. I appreciate I’m viewing them with the jaundiced eye of an adult, but they’re bobbins. I’d finished both books in the time it took to fill my bath. 

And that saddens me. Obviously there are things we experience as a child that we don’t want to feel again as an adult – getting your bottom wiped, or the gentle caress of a whispering vicar, but wouldn’t it have been nice to have at least enjoyed a book that used to bring me so much joy. It also means I’m stuck on new books to buy, because I can’t face having my heart broken again by some insipid story or turgid bit of fiction. Paul’s easy enough – he buys intellectual books full of big words and covers that look like they’d give chartered accountants an erection. To demonstrate, I looked at the last two books we bought from Amazon: I shelled out for a second-hand copy of Delia’s How To Be Frugal, Paul spent his hard-earned money on ‘Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain’, a book that frankly sounds so boring that I drifted off halfway through reading out the title and started thinking about cats. Put another way, we have two magazine subscriptions that get delivered here – one is Viz magazine, the other is Private Eye. Tsk. Snob. I have everything Stephen King has ever published, Paul has a book on tunnels. I suppose they say opposites attract.

Anyway enough of that – tonight’s recipe:

sorta carbonara

to make cheat’s carbonara, you will need:

  • 200g pasta (we used tagliatelle)
  • 6 bacon medallions chopped neatly (you can use up your bacon from our meat box deal with Musclefood – click here for that!)
  • three tablespoons of Quark
  • 30g parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons of fromage frais
  • bit of cheddar
  • two egg yolks

to make cheat’s carbonara, you should:

  • boil the pasta and cook the bacon off
  • mix together everything else
  • then mix EVERYTHING together

I know, simple, but still…!

J

bacon wrapped tenderloin with a balsamic and strawberry dressing

Just a quick post tonight as we’re busy sorting out Cubs Towers ahead of the Summer of Works. Exciting.

We had a glut of strawberries to use up, I wanted a salad, Paul wanted a roast dinner, so this was the happy compromise. You might wrinkle your nose at the thought of using strawberry but it pairs nicely with pork – think plum sauce with duck and you’ve got the right idea. We served it with roast potatoes which were PERFECT. In fact, let’s cover off how we did our roasties.

roast potatoes

you’ll be needing

  • enough potatoes to fill that echoing belly of yours, cut up into decent chunks
  • Frylight or oil – just a drop or two
  • a lamb Oxo cube
  • an Actifry (if you don’t have one, don’t shit the bed, you can do it in the oven and I’ll cover that in a second

then…

  • squirt the chopped potato with a spritz of spray or a drop of oil
  • chuck in the actifry
  • cook for twenty minutes
  • crumble a lamb Oxo cube on there and splash a good tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce on them
  • cook for another twenty minutes or until they look just right
  • serve!

The Actifry is possibly the best thing we’ve bought since joining Slimming World – not least because it does make genuinely proper tasty chips. You can get others like it but they’re not quite as good (the Airfryer, for example). It’s expensive, but we fry off our meatballs, sausages, chips and potatoes in it with little to no oil. If you’re on the fence about one, take it from us that you won’t regret the expense. You can buy it on Amazon by clicking here. Why not treat yourself?

Too tight for an actifry? Don’t worry. Just put them in the oven for 20 minutes, take them out, shake them, splash them and crumble that cube on the top, and cook again. The key is letting them sit for a few minutes before they cook for the second time.

I’ve seen a lot of people gobble on about those Oxo potatoes where you cook them half submerged in stock…well yes, but then you end up getting potatoes that look like athletes foot, all soft and crinkled and mushy. If that works for you, champion, but I’m not quite at the stage in my life where I need to gum my food. Try the above! 

Anyway, the main event:

sliced pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon

you’ll be needing this (this serves 4):

  • pork tenderloin – with fat removed, ours was around 1kg
  • eight slices of bacon with fat removed (if only it was that easy!)
  • 300g of strawberries, nicely ripe, sliced
  • 125ml of balsamic vinegar
  • three cloves of garlic
  • bag of rocket

and then, once you’ve finished being all hysterical, do this:

  • wrap the tenderloin in bacon – use cocktail sticks to secure if you want
  • put it into the oven on 200 degrees for 30 minutes, then take it out and turn it over and cook for another thirty minutes
  • meanwhile, finely chop (remember: buy a mini chopper, easier, and no stinkin’ fingers) the garlic and pop in a pan over a medium high heat with a drop of oil or a squirt of Frylight
  • cook for around two minutes until slightly golden
  • add the balsamic vinegar and half of the strawberries
  • bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for ten minutes – your kitchen will smell lovely at this point
  • once the second half of the pork is done, take it out, baste it with a few tablespoons of the balsamic strawberries and whack it under the grill for about two minutes to colour it
  • throw the other half of the sliced strawberries into the balsamic pan just so you get a nice difference in texture 
  • remove the pork, cut into thick slices, serve on the rocket with a drizzle of the balsamic and strawberry sauce
  • enjoy, you posh bastard.

Here, I was GOING to call it a reduction, because I suppose it is, but that’s just too wank, even for me!

ENJOY.

J

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

turkey meatballs with bacon

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

to make the sauce, you’ll need:

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

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

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

you’ll need to do this:

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

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

to make the spinach, you’ll need:

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

and then you:

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

to make the meatballs, you’ll need:

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

you’ll then need to:

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

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

to make the carrots, you’ll need:

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

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

and then you’ll need to do this:

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

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

 

 

 

 

rainbow bulgur wheat salad with bacon and feta

Very quick post tonight as I’m going to work (hooray) to do overtime (hooray) and we’ve still got all of our boring, humdrum Sunday chores to do – such as watching Judge Rinder, playing Trivial Pursuit and ignoring our ironing. Slight moment of excitement when a police van came tearing into the cul-de-sac before, displaying a flagrant disregard for the neighbourhood SLOW CHILDREN sign, which I’ve always thought was a very apt description of the snotty-faced little life-leeches that occasionally visit. Of course everyone was immediately up out of their armchair peering through their nets to see what the deal was. Tsk. So nosy. I of course had to take that moment to immediately nip into the back garden and try to listen in hang out the washing. I didn’t hear anything and no-one was arrested.

Upon my return, Paul pointed out that I’d dashed into the back garden in such a rate of knots that I was still wearing my Spongebob Squarepants onesie from ASDA, plus it was drizzling so not exactly outside drying weather – hardly the most subtle of moves. Ah well. I’m too fat to be subtle. Here’s today’s recipe – it tasted amazing considering it’s such a simple mix of ingredients. It would package up nicely for an office lunch so why not make double and take a few extra portions in throughout the week? Urgh I sound like Delia Smith or something. Don’t worry, I awkwardly shoehorn in a reference to ejaculate in the recipe, so we’re alright.

You could easily omit the bacon  from this salad recipe and go veggie. But I mean, we’re not animals here.

rainbow salad

you’ll be needing these:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, cut into small 1cm cubes
  • a couple of drops of olive oil
  • 3 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 250g of bulgur wheat (substitute couscous if you prefer)
  • Zest of one lime
  • 1 tin of red kidney beans
  • handful of chopped coriander, but feel free to leave this out if like me you think it tastes of soapy balls
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • a bunch of spring onions – cut up the green part as well as the white
  • 6 bacon medallions
  • 65g of reduced fat feta (cut into tiny cubes)

and you’ll need to do this:

  • preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius
  • in a bowl mix together the potato cubes, 2 tsp paprika, cumin seeds and salt with a drop of olive oil (or Frylight if you prefer) and toss (the potatoes) until the potatoes are evenly coated
  • spread the potato cubes out onto a foil-lined baking tray in one layer and bake for twenty minutes – turning halfway
  • meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over a medium heat
  • add a teaspoon of olive oil (or Frylight, if you prefer) and add the bulgur wheat
  • leave for a few minutes, stirring regularly until it starts to crackle just very slightly
  • add the lime zest and lime juice and 500ml water
  • bring to the boil and add a little salt to your taste
  • reduce the heat and cover the pan so the mixture simmers for about twenty minutes or until it’s cooked through
  • chuck your bacon medallions under the grill to cook, then slice into little strips
  • cut your feta into tiny cubes
  • drain the kidney beans and rinse well under running water, getting rid of all that gunky kidney-bean pre-cum you always get from tinned pulses
  • place the beans in a bowl and sprinkle with a teaspoon of paprika – mix until well coated
  • add the cooked sweet potato, sliced spring onions and bulgur wheat to the bowl and mix.
  • To put this all more succinctly: cook everything that needs to be cooked, prepare everything that needs to be chopped, mix in a bloody big bowl and you’re done.
  • We dressed this with a quick dressing made from natural yoghurt, minced garlic and lime juice – but actually, it stands on its own very easily.

J

dirty breakfast baps

I’m absolutely gutted, you know. I had a 3000 word (usual length only 1000, but it’s not the size of the post, it’s how many tears it brings to your eyes) post, I thought I’d clicked save, and nope. Disappeared. All those witticisms (it was the fourth part of our trip to Germany, which I forgot to finish) vanished into the digital ether, scattered to the wind like posts about Big Brother 5 and Connie Clickit. Bah! So, a quick improvised post about shoes.

I’m sure Paul would tell people that if I dropped a pound, it would land on the back of my neck as I bent down to pick it up. That’s unfair. I just hate spending money when I don’t need to, and my shoes illustrate this perfectly. I use the same Chelsea boots for everything – walking across the town moor, gardening, walking dogs, office wear, hammering in nails, scratching my back, smoothing icing – and they’ve finally given up the ghost, with the back heel actually falling off halfway through my trot into Newcastle last week, meaning I had to spend the day listing to one side like a badly loaded ferry. I was gutted – not just because I loved those shoes, but because it meant buying more, and that money could always be better spent on a nice bowl or a videogame. However, thriftiness saved the day, as I just took Paul’s old work shoes that we had wedged under our bed to stop the cats getting into the drawers. Obviously. Comfortable, didn’t smell like death like his shoes usually do – I was set for a good day. Until about 2pm when, obviously inspired by the break for freedom that my boots made, the entire sole of the shoe came away. Brilliant! Two years of Paul’s pitted keratolysis (and for fuck’s sake don’t google that – if you don’t know what it is, you’re better off) had clearly acted like an acid wash and ruined the fuckers, meaning I had to schlep around the office looking like Barry Tramp for the afternoon.

Anyway, if anyone reading this was PERHAPS STUCK FOR SOMETHING TO BUY ME FOR MY BIRTHDAY:

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Men’s Dr Martens’ Congress, Size 11. Cheers. Gosh they’re on ebay and EVERYTHING. And yes, that is the right size!

Anyway, whilst I’ve got you all here, Paul and I have been chatting and we have some news. We’re going to make a couple of small changes to the blog just to give it a bit of structure – we currently struggle to post every day just because of work commitments and other boring nonsense. So we’re committing to five posts a week, all five of which will have a new SW recipe. The aim is for 1 weigh-in post (Tuesday), 1 quick-post (which is usually just where I post a recipe but I always end up gabbing on anyway) and 3 regular posts where you get plenty of sassy writing and anecdotes. To be quite honest, I’ll more than likely end up posting every day anyway, but I might be posting shorter updates occasionally. Both Paul and I work full-time in front of computers, and sometimes the last thing I want to be doing when I come home is typing out my usual flimflam! Plus, it takes time to prepare the photos and type out the recipe. It’s gotten to a point where I feel bad if I have a night off from writing and that’s a trifle silly.

I tell you what isn’t silly, though…these!

LOOK AT MY DIRTY BREAKFAST BAPS!

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Syn-free breakfast! Using the SW syn-free sausages (alright if you hide them in a bun), bacon medallion, mushroom, well fried egg and grilled tomato. Healthy extra the bun, beans on the side, you’re laughing!

bacon cheeseburger pizza

I very nearly became a Slimming World consultant, you know.

I say very nearly, it was as near as most of my other fleeting fancies, but I made the effort to make contact, drop in my details, attempt to find out more. I had plenty of cold hard cash ready to be handed over gladly to Magic Margaret and her Synning Sisters but alas, despite chasing three times, I got one phone call which was rearranged and then totally ignored. Ah well. Part of me remains disappointed because I think I’ve got the sassy people skills to really get a group moving. But most of me thinks that my money (well, our money) is better off in my pocket and that’s that.

I’ve been going to Slimming World classes on and off for over ten years now, and they’ve never changed. Which is clearly a good thing, because the results speak for themselves and I’ve been lucky – I’ve never been to a bad class. Actually, tell a fib, yes I have – I had to sit through twenty minutes where the class gave advice to someone with piles – what best to eat for soft poo. Plus, if you get a boring consultant, the class drags something chronic, although I haven’t had one of those in a long, long time. I did have some great ideas – Paul stepping in as my Debbie McGee in a glittery bikini on the payment counter, a wheel of fortune to win something decent other than a banana that fell off the side of the ark and a Mugshot, interactive recipes…the works. But it wasn’t to be.

The reason I’m bumbling on about classes is because of our recent decision to move to a different class – it’s primarily so that we can stay to class as I feel we get a lot more out of it, not least because I get to blabber on about recipes and make smutty jokes. When we get weighed and go out the door, we almost lose a sense of responsibility – that although we are following the diet, we’re only paying lip service to it. So, we needed to find a class that works for us in terms of times, and although ironically we have managed to miss tonight’s because of a late finish at work, Tuesday evening will be our new weigh-in.

Finally, as an aside, I made a post in a FB SW group about people not being able to say please or thank you. It’s always the same – some blurry, off-brand yoghurt thrust too far to the lens on their phone with a comment like ‘HOW MANI SINS’ and it does my nut in. I’ll personally help anyone if I have the time, but I can’t bear bad manners. Thankfully, and somewhat reassuringly, most people have weighed in with complete agreement, with only the odd little dolt kicking up a stink at someone having the temerity to ask for manners. Well. The day I take criticism who has Inside Soap listed as a ‘favourite book’ on their facebook page is the day I shut my bollocks in a car-door. MANNERS MAKETH THE MAN.

Tell you what else maketh the man? Meat. And pizza. And cheeseburger. Well, look at this for goodness sake. You might as well jog on if you’re one of those people who won’t use syns on their dinner, despite THAT BEING EXACTLY what they are for…!

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so, to make bacon cheeseburger pizza:

This is six syns for a quarter, but it makes a big pizza, and served with chips will fill the hole nicely. Put it this way, if you were to have a big pizza from Dominos, you’d be racking up syns in the sixties and seventies. Treat this as a treat…

ingredients for the crust: 125g of strong white bread flour, a packet of yeast (7g), 75ml of lukewarm water and a pinch of salt

ingredients for the topping: use a HEA for each of you – so 65g of mozzarella is one HEA, and 40g of grated light cheddar is the other. You’ll also need lean mince (5% or under), gherkin slices and a few medallions of bacon. Hoy some chilli flakes on too.

recipe (which I’m going to split into bullet points from now on for this blog – step by step):

  • make the crust – put the flour into a mixing bowl or a stand mixer, add yeast on one side, salt on the other, water in the middle and knead it together using your hands (wash them first, I know where they’ve been) or a dough hook (infinitely easier). When you have a big lump, stop, cover the bowl in cling film and leave it to prove for an hour or so;
  • prepare the toppings – grate your cheese, fry off your mince in a tiny drop of oil and some onion powder, fry off your bacon and cut into strips, cut your gherkins, do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight;
  • stretch your dough, hoy some tomato puree over it, add cheese, add mince, gherkins, tomatoes if you want them, bit more cheese, bacon;
  • cook in the oven for twenty minutes and serve with chips.

Tasty!

cheese and bacon soufflé

Tonight is the only night this week where both Paul and I are in the house together for the evening, so I’m going to dash off this recipe and be on my way. See readers, even when I’m on a promise, I’ll give you something…

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I have to say – it came out the oven like a air-filled cloud, but I spent that long fannying around trying to take a picture that it went ‘foooooooooootpth’ and deflated. Still tasted fine.

to make cheese and bacon soufflé, you’ll need:

ingredients: drop of olive oil, 100g lean bacon cut into chunks, chopped chilli, eight spring onions diced very finely, six eggs (separated into yolk and white), 6tbsp of chives and dill, 100g parmesan cheese, 1/2tsp mustard powder, lots of salt and pepper – and serve with wedges and salad.

tip: to seperate the eggs, you’ll need to crack them into your hand, let the white fall through your fingers and hope that the two don’t mix. Get one of these little buggers. You crack the egg into a bowl, pop this little rubber man over the yolk, squeeze him and he’ll suck the yolk into himself and drop it wherever you want it. It’s absolutely amazing. No yolk. Haha.

to make cheese and bacon soufflé, you should:

recipe: let’s do this quickly. You’ll need four ramekins. Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Prepare a bain-marie by filling a roasting pan a third full and put it into the oven. Oil the ramekins gently. Fry off the onion, bacon and chilli in a pan until cooked through and dry – and pay it dry. Then hairdryer it. YOU WANT IT DRY. Set aside. Hoy the egg whites into a mixer (or use a hand mixer but you’ll be absolutely buggered) and whisk whisk whisk until they’re stiff. In the other bowl, beat the egg yolks, add the bacon and onion and three quarters of the cheese. Then – tip the whisked egg white into the yolks and fold it gently with a metal spoon – nice and gently, keep the air in, until fully incorporated. Spoon into ramekins almost to the top, add the rest of the cheese and then cook for twenty minutes. Serve with chips and salad.

extra-easy: 3.5 syns a serving. Serve with superfree salad and you’re laughing.

Right, off to prepare. Anyone seen an industrial oil drum of KY jelly lying around?

J

slow-cooked chicken, bacon and cheese

If there was one thing I took away from my trips to America, aside from the desire to use a mobility scooter (with built-in cup holder) to go any distance further than 400m and a propensity for being slightly brash but oh-so-sweet, it was a taste for ranch dressing. On our last trip, after three weeks of constant theme parks, our bodies were crying out for anything that wasn’t in burger form or didn’t leave grease all over our beards. Hard to find in Disney! I remember seeing all those giant folks walking around chewing on what looked like a burnt leg. I had to get one, despite reading they were emu legs – they’re not, they’re from male turkeys, fact fans – but even I couldn’t finish it, and I’m used to packing a lot of hot meat into my mouth – I’ve been doing it for years!

So yes, Paul and I finally found a place called Ruby Tuesday’s, with a giant, fresh salad bar…and they had this dressing – ranch – and I’d never tried it before, but honest to God if I’m ever (god forbid) terminally ill and in a hospice, I want Make a Wish to come along and order the doctors to do a blood/ranch transfusion. I can’t get enough of the bloody stuff but it’s so high in fat, being made with buttermilk or sour cream as it is, so usually it’s a no-no Nanette on SW. That said, as a weigh in treat, we’ve used in the recipe below and spent a few syns on it, and I fully recommend you do too – it was a delicious meal, and for crying out loud, it combines cheese, chicken, bacon and potatoes – what more do you want? Note our token attempt at making it healthy on the side there with our salad.

Oh! Before I do the recipe, just a quick comment – thank you all so much for your lovely comments, it really means a lot to us! You might not see them appear right away as I need to moderate out all the porn links and spam we get sent (honestly, I wish my exes would just GET OVER ME haha), but I’ll always get to you! I do fret about appearing rude.

Recipe then, without any further delay:

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to make slow-cooked chicken, bacon and cheese, you’ll need:

This is a slow cooker recipe – if you don’t have one, you could create a foil parcel and hoy it in the oven on very, very low for a while, but I don’t know the timings…

ingredients: potatoes – we used rainbow potatoes from Tesco, with a mix of different colours, cut up into thumb sized chunks (use your own measurements for the amount of potatoes you’d like, but we used 1.5kg and that made enough for four servings, two chicken breasts, six bacon medallions or rashers with the fat off, reduced fat cheese, ranch dressing (Newman’s Own), spring onions – and whatever you want on the side in your salad.

to make slow-cooked chicken, bacon and cheese, you should:

recipe: line your slow cooker with foil – you’re going to create a parcel of everything and cook it inside the parcel, so work that out. Actually, that’s a shite way of putting it, sorry! Cut up your chicken breast and bacon into chunks. Then it’s as simple as layering – potatoes, chicken, bacon, grated cheese, slices of spring onion, hoy it all together and add four tablespoons of ranch dressing. Cook on low for eight hours. Serve!

extra-easy: the syns come from the ranch dressing – Newman’s Own for 3 syns per level tablespoon. Now that’s LEVEL, not balanced on the spoon like dressing based Jenga. The cheese – you can have 40g of reduced fat cheese as HEA. I used 100g of cheese – again, split between four that’s nowhere near the HEA amount, so worry not!

Right – enjoy!

J

shaved sprout salad

Christ I wanted to give my recipe today a pretentious restaurant title and I think I’ve succeeded. For all those people, like me, who don’t like a fussy title, don’t worry, it’s essentially just cooked sweet potato, sundried tomatoes and bacon mixed with sliced brussel sprouts.

Before we get to the recipe, I need to make an announcement that I’m really a terrible grandson. I had plans to visit my nana today (she only lives 30 miles away and it’s a nice drive), but I didn’t get round to it because I got caught up gardening and playing on the Xbox. It will probably do my diet the world of good anyway, as whenever Paul and I go and visit we get the same questions…’would you like a bit of quiche / eight kitkats / mince pie / mince and potato pie / sandwich / lovely bit of tongue (steady) / a Ferrari Racket chocolate from ALDI etc…’ which, when met with polite refusal and cries of ‘but no, we’re on a diet’ results in a look like you’ve taken a shit on the carpet and woes of ‘It’ll never get eaten, it’s just me in this house’ and ‘a quarter inch thick layer of butter on your sandwich will do you no harm’. Honestly! And mind that’s even if she hears your refusal, she’s so tone deaf you could fell a tree in the living room behind her chair and she’d smile bemused at you and say EH.

My nana is amazing, mind, no doubt about that. She is totally accepting of the whole Paul and I being bummers situation, though she did once ask ‘which one was the woman’ which was slightly awkward, as I thought she meant which of us preferred an ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ – but she was actually meaning who did the ironing/cooking etc (remember she’s in her late eighties). Ha! So I’ll go visit her on Tuesday with my usual refrain of ‘I DIDN’T LIKE TO CHANCE LEAVING IT TOO LONG NANA, IN CASE I NEED TO GET MY FUNERAL SUIT DRY-CLEANED’. God, I love her to bits.

Anyway, enough about nana – my absence at her house through gardening was a nice link to me talking about the surfeit of brussel sprouts that we suddenly have thanks to my green-fingered neighbour. So, I got to thinking what I could do with them, and with Paul ‘being the woman’ (ie doing the ironing) (not my actual view I hasten to add), I decided on this fruity number.

Sprout salad

RIGHT, before we start with the details, let me say two things: if you’re not a fan of sprouts, please still give this a go. Sprouts in Britain seem to be served boiled within an inch of their life and will leave your whole house smelling like a condemned nursing home. This doesn’t need to be. Sliced very thinly and dressed well, they’re a crunchy, tasty wonder. Second – yes, this meal is synned – you could make it syn free by omitting the dressing but remember, you have the syns to use, and why not make your evening meal that bit nicer simply by making a dressing to go with the salad? Even then, four syns is still a very excessive estimate – I reckon it would come in at two syns if you omitted the cheese at the end. OK…

to make shaved sprout salad you will need: 

sprouts, an egg, bacon medallions (or bacon with fat cut off), sundried tomatoes (replace with fresh tomatoes grilled if you want to lower the syns), sweet potato, parmesan shavings. For the dressing, honey, olive oil and lemon juice.

to make shaved sprout salad you should:

right, the dressing first. 4 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tsp of honey (1 syn), 1 tbsp of olive oil (2 syns), some salt, some pepper. Put it in a jamjar and shake, shake, shake! Double up if you need two servings. Then, cube up the sweet potato (leave the skin on) into 1cm chunks, add a tiny bit of olive oil and shake them around to get them coated, add a bit of salt, roast in the oven until soft. Also, stick your bacon on the grill or at the top of the oven to cook. Meanwhile, get your sprouts and take off the outer leaves if they’re a bit muddy or torn. Then the tricky bit – slice the sprouts as thin as you can. You can use a knife, yes, but honestly, get a mandolin. They’re a tenner from Lakeland and you’ll use it for all sorts – coleslaw, sliced potatoes, fruit salad, sprouts. Order one here and never look back. But BE CAREFUL. The sprouts are small and the blade is sharp – just take your time. I used about 30 sprouts in all.

After you’ve shaved your sprouts, get your fingers in and lightly toss them off (haha) so they separate, but you don’t need to go crazy – different textures are what makes this a good salad. Slice your tomatoes and add them in. Add in your cubed sweet potato (cooked) and bacon (now sliced). Arrange on a plate nice and dainty like. Poach your egg (lots of ways to do this, but I go old-school – pan of simmering water, create a whirlpool, drop the egg in from a little glass, poach and serve). Fish it out with a slotted spoon, put on top of the salad, cut the yolk and you’re done. I’ve added a bit of parmesan because why not – hence the four syns.

extra-easy: definitely – this is a fantastic meal because it’s nearly all superfree food, bar the dressing. Sprouts, tomatoes and sweet potato make up the meal, with a bit of bacon and dressing and egg on top. Yes, you can omit the dressing or replace it with a vinaigrette if you want to save the syns – and omit the cheese. But come on, live a little! Heh.

top tips: normally I say you can add all sorts to this salad, but don’t – keep it nice and simple. It’s an excellent new way of trying sprouts and I guarantee you’ll never look back. I’d love to know what people think! But DO get a mandolin. It’ll save those pretty fingers of yours.

FINALLY, my fortnightly call – if you’re enjoying this blog, please tell people on facebook and share it far and wide. I love new readers, comments, fuss – anything at all! I’d be very grateful and I’ll dance at your wedding if you do.

J

simple spaghetti sauce

great song that, but not entirely descriptive of my garden, where the only thing that grows at the moment is a general feeling of disappointment and regret. However, we haven’t wasted the day, and spent most of the afternoon weeding and tidying up the back garden, which is, admittedly unusually, not a euphemism for anal sex.

Another simple recipe card this time:

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This is great for a quick lunch!

to make simple spaghetti sauce you will need: 

spaghetti, red peppers in a jar, bacon medallions, spring onions tomatoes, bit of parmesan, low low cheese spread, bit of mint, and yes, bloody fromage frais.

to make simple spagetti sauce you should:

 grill the bacon, cook the spaghetti, chop the tomatoes, peppers and onion. Add 114g (that’s two HEAs, because this serves two) of low low to 100g of fromage frais. Microwave the chopped tomatoes and peppers so they’re hot. Mix the whole kit and kaboodle together. Top with parmesan and a tiny bit of mint. Syn the parmesan if you must. I’m renegade so don’t bother…

extra-easy: yup – one third is superfree (tomatoes, peppers, onion) so you’re fine, though maybe have a tangerine or something afterwards.

top tips: buy the peppers in brine in a jar – they’re already grilled, syn-free and tasty. Much cheaper than buying sweet peppers fresh and they can be added to anything!