half a syn black pepper steak stir fry

Here for the black pepper steak stir fry? Well hold your water.

Porky Light anyone? Mahaha. My facebook is awash – nay, alight – with posts about the fact that it looks like those delicious Slimming World half syn sausages called Porky Lights might be 4.5 syns as opposed to 0.5 syns. You know what? GOOD. It’ll serve all those folks right who went out to ASDA and bought pallets of the bloody things as though each sausage came with £100 and half an hour of cunnilingus from a man with three tongues. That isn’t forward planning, that isn’t taking advantage, it’s sheer bloody greed, and the way they paraded their hauls like it was something to be proud of just made my teeth itch. Of course there’s the odd reason to legitimately bulk-buy (perhaps you live far from a supermarket) but doing it just because you saw some other immoderate slattern stockpiling makes you an absolute arse. So yeah: boo bloody hoo. I just hope the next revelation is that Fibre One bars give folks a Tom Selleck moustache and tits like two fighting ferrets. I can’t stand bloody greed.

Anyway, hiiiiiiiiii. How the hell are you? You’ve literally never looked better. Have you been away? No? Well, given we have more holidays per Thomas Cook, we have been away on our second holiday of the year. Remember this?

Our first holiday was a few weeks ago but I didn’t take my iPad with me, so I’ve got long handwritten notes to type up. I know, I’m so old school. I feel like Angela Lansbury tip-tapping my way at the keyboard! So let’s pretend this holiday is the first one and the first holiday will be the second holiday, and so on. I know, I don’t understand it either. So: take a seat and enjoy the first entry of our holiday in gay Paris.

Well, it certainly fucking was when we minced off the plane, anyway…

Paris, then. Why Paris? Because, like Billie Piper, we want to. Actually, that’s a lie right from the off – when I first suggested a lovely romantic weekend in Paris Paul shot me down with protestations of how rude everyone is and how we’re simply not cultured enough to get by, as though my idea of sophistication is being fingered in a bus-shelter by the sea. Which is a cheek, because I know some lovely shelters with some beautiful views. Tsk. I talked him round by reminding him that there’s delicious pastry everywhere and good food is the law.

I’ve been to Paris several times over with mates and have done the usual suspects – Arc de Triumphe, Eiffel Tower, four million art galleries, being tutted at by all and sundry, and so we were keen to avoid going over old ground, though we’d revisit a couple of the classics because why not.

We drove up to Edinburgh Airport, stayed overnight in the Ibis Budget Hotel by the airport and took the early morning easyJet (7.00am) flight down to Charles de Gaulle. We stayed for three nights in a deluxe room at the 5* rated Hotel Square, a ten minute theatrical flounce from the Eiffel Tower and pretty much almost in the Seine.

The days before our trip were filled with weather angst, as the news became increasingly full of grim warnings of massive storms and the ridiculously hyperbolic weatherbomb. Weatherbomb for goodness sake. That sounds like a crap movie you’d get on the SyFy channel. The Daily Mail took a break from demonising the poor, gays, ethnic minorities and Jeremy Corbyn to froth at the gash about travel disruption, impassable roads and widespread mayhem.

Naturally I managed to work myself in such a tizzy that I was allowed to leave work early (they were probably sick of me standing looking mournfully out of the window like a sailor’s widow gazing at the sea) in the hope of being able to leave Newcastle before dark, imagining some frozen tundra we’d need to navigate like Nanook of the fucking North just to get to Edinburgh Airport, where we’d doubtless find planes dropping from the skies like snow.

Well. Does it surprise you to know that the most eventful incident to hit our travels was Paul spilling an entire bag of Poppets over the floor of my car? The roads were clear, the wind mild, snow nowhere to be seen. Dolly was literally a storm in a teacup and I was furious to be swept up in the hysteria.

We arrived at the Ibis Budget Hotel in good time after a brief but exhilariting accidental turn onto the Edinburgh Tramline – Paul had to wrest controls from my hand as I was too busy doing Alan Bradley jokes to realise what had happened. In my defence they really ought to make the big red light a bit bigger. I mean, honestly. We were checked in by a scarily efficient and pleasant chap who pressed the room card into my hand with slightly more touching that I’d expect and then we were off to the room, a vending machine Toblerone clutched in our sweaty hands.

It turned out that Paul, for reasons entirely unbeknownst to either of us, had booked us into a hotel room with a tiny main bed and a bunkbed over the top. I was terrified, not least because he hurled his not insignificant frame into it like one would leap from a burning building. I’ve made the joke about metal screaming before but honestly, it sounded like when the Titanic snapped.

The glamour!

Once we’d had holiday shenanigans (normal anal but you use Piz Buin rather than lube) Paul retired to the bed above. Well. That was it. No chance of a good  sleep when I have the sure and certain knowledge that at any second Paul’s ample gut would prove too much for the fixtures sending him, and the metal bed, cascading down onto my head.

As it happens, we did survive the night (obviously: imagine if this was part of my last will and testament), though by the time Paul climbed back down the screws of the bed had been pressed into diamonds. We tidied up, took as many small towels as we could fit under my coat and stole away into the clear, crisp morning. Storm Dolly my big, windswept arse.

For once we were experimenting with not turning up at the airport eight years before we were due to fly, and what a difference. There was no sitting around in a Wetherspoons smiling wanly at stag do knobheads, nor did we need eight toilet visits just to pass the time. I did get stopped at security for a pat-down by a big, burly, bearded Scottish brute. He rubbed my legs, my thighs, my arms and my shoulders. Once he was satisfied I wasn’t smuggling anything but a throbbing erection, he let me go. I promised to call but you know how holiday romances are. Paul, meanwhile, was struggling with our carry-on, the passports, my iPad, his belt and shoes and my giant coat. He’s a dear.

Due to Doris causing havoc the day before, our flight was full and we were encouraged to check our carry-on into the hood in exchange for speedy boarding, which we duly did. I like to think we have a nice gold star for being “helpful, polite” on our easyjet profile. It’ll be next to the cholesterol soaked heart for “fat bastards, ensure sitting next to skinny woman”. Speedy boarding was smashing though, I couldn’t believe the speed and efficiency that we descended fifteen steps and then stood packed into the boarding stairs for twenty minutes.

Nothing to say about our easyjet flight, you know how much we love them and this flight was no different. I’ve never met a member of easyjet staff who haven’t been wonderfully polite and helpful. As a bonus, I went for a wee mid flight only to stand next to the pilot – outside the loo I mean, he wasn’t letting me shake his drips off for him (this isn’t Emirates, you know). The guy looked about sixteen, I almost went over the tannoy to ask if someone had lost a child. I’ve never felt so old. He must have been a boy racer though because we landed in Paris twenty minutes ahead of schedule with a landing as smooth as the pilot’s face.

Our good spirits at successfully surviving another plane journey were soon dashed by the snaking queue at immigration. Almost four hundred people waiting to dash into France and put sticky fingers all over their shiny art and culture and what do they have? One very bored, very angry young man checking each passport individually. One person. One. A queue to enter a house fire would have moved quicker. After eighteen years we finally reached the front and the cheerless arse made a big point of looking at my passport photo, then at me, then back to my passport, then to my face again, then to a watercolour approximation that was being painted of me whilst I stood there, then back at my face. I tried to explain that since joining the queue I’d celebrated two birthdays and grown a ZZ-Top beard but that was hardly my fault, but my French failed me. Paul had a similar experience – I wanted to apologise for bringing such beauty to his world but the security guard had a gun and I like my lungs unperforated.


Now, that seems like a good enough place as any to leave it, I think. I’m prone to waffle for too long on our holiday entries so I’m trying to be a bit more concise. You’ll notice, of course, that I’ve spent 1,600 words and we’re not even through security yet. Ah well. Do you have somewhere you need to be? This black pepper steak stir fry makes enough for four, served with rice! Yum.

to make black pepper steak stir fry you will need:

  • 400g beef strips (beef chunks will do – just slice in half)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced

for the marinade

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (cider vinegar will do!)
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce

for the sauce

  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

for the stir fry

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Don’t like your fingers smelling like a shoe? Then mince your ginger and garlic using a fine microplane grater and live like a queen – remember you don’t need to peel your garlic or ginger when you’ve got one of these, and it’s so cheap too!

to make black pepper beef stir fry you should:

  • mix together the marinade ingredients, pour over the beef, mix and marinade in the fridge for fifteen minutes
  • meanwhile, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl
  • in another bowl, mix together the onion, yellow and green peppers
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat and add a few sprays of oil
  • add the beef and let it sear for 1 minute, then start to stir until both sides are browned but it’s still pink in the middle
  • reduce the heat to medium and transfer the beef to a plate – set aside
  • add a bit more oil to the pan and chuck in the onions and peppers and stir, cook for a couple of minutes
  • tip the vegetables onto a plate and set aside
  • add a bit more oil to the pan and add the ginger and garlic, give a quick stir and then add the sauce mixture and stir continuously, allow it to come to the boil and keep stirring to make sure there aren’t any lumps
  • add the beef and vegetables and give a good stir
  • serve – rice is good, noodles would work well too
  • sprinkle over the spring onions

Done! How easy was that eh? Remember you get beef strips in our Musclefood deal which you can use here – have a look, it’s a great set of deals and you get chicken and beef and sausages and oh my to go with it.

Looking for even more recipe ideas? Click the buttons – especially the Fakeaways button – below!

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Enjoy!

J

taster night tiny tropical towers – twochubbycubs

Taster night looming? Can’t face another quiche that tastes like a discarded shoe? Then this post of taster night tiny tropical towers is for you! But first…

In what world, in what grey, dystopian, horrendously bleak outlook, does a fucking breadbun rolled in sweetener and stuffed with a hotel breakfast portion of jam become a doughnut? Well? It’s no more a bloody doughnut than I am a red-blooded heterosexual who could confidently annotate a diagram of the vagina. It’s a friggin’ jam sandwich at best only with the added advantage of making your teeth retract so far into your body through the sweetness that you’ll be eating out of your own arsehole.

Gah! Christ, if there is one thing that really boils up my piss about this diet, it’s stuff like this. That isn’t healthy. It isn’t going to be a ‘sweet treat’, it isn’t going to ‘taste just like a doughnut’ and you really WILL be able to ‘taste the difference’. A proper doughnut tastes so good because it’s a) full of butter b) full of sugar c) full of flour d) fried in enough oil to make a Deepwater Horizon sequel and e) because you can actually feel your heart strain and protest as you eat it. A bloody breadbun with a period of seedless Hartleys isn’t going to do the same thing! I understand people are desperate to find recipes that allow them to eat how they used to eat but you’re already on one – Slimming World! Just use your syns, have a proper bit of what you fancy and jog the fuck on.

I should totally write the opening guff for Slimming World magazine, shouldn’t I? I’d be the first person in history whose asterisk key on his keyboard crumbled to dust through overuse.

Anyway, what a diversion. I wasn’t even going to post a recipe tonight because Paul’s had an awful day but to hell with him, I’ve put him to bed already and now I have an hour to myself. Don’t worry, I’l wake him up later with a Dominos delivery, so he’s really not doing too bad. To be fair, I’ve actually had the whole day to myself because I now work from home on a Friday – the excitement! No but it is exciting for me, not least because it is one less day that I have to spend screaming myself hoarse at some shovel-faced cacafuego in an Audi who inevitably cuts me up because he’s such a big deal. I love my job but the seventy minute commute (which takes twenty minutes during half-term) does my nut in. I’ve had to fit a roof-rack just to hold my fucking blood pressure, it’s that high.

I did have anxiety about whether I’d be able to focus on work, being by myself, but what a joy it’s been. Again, I love my job and I like the cut and thrust of working in a modern office, but there’s something to be said about doing the same work in your worst underwear whilst Jeremy Kyle plays quietly in the background. My writing desk looks out onto the street and I’ve been able to watch the comings and goings of various folk. Weirdly, for a cul-de-sac holding twenty or so houses, we’ve had two ambulance visits. We nearly had another visit when I strained my neck from being too nosy but I put one of those heat cushions on and we’re tickety-boo.

Another positive about working from home is that I was able to have visitors – today, a sparkie and a delivery man. Not in an Irina Palm way, you understand, but simple honest reasons – we need a quote for moving a light switch six inches along the wall and some new lighting for the food photos. Our previous electrician seems to have disappeared off the face of the Earth – there’s literally no record of him or his business anywhere on the Internet now and I’m beginning to think we had all of our lights installed by a particularly industrious ghost. Actually, I remember the last time he was here he did such a rotten fart climbing up the loft ladder that there’s no way he could have been fiction – we still get a whiff of burnt eggs every time I flick that loft light on. Anyway, the new chap came highly recommended, turned up on time and didn’t so much as flinch when he saw the awful Venture Photography special photo of me and Paul perched on the bookcase. It’s awful – a nasty studio photo with the cheesiest pose you can imagine because they made us tickle each other in front of the camera so we had natural smiles. Pfft. It doesn’t help that I’m dressed like an office worker from a 1980’s fire safety video and Paul’s sweating like a whore on Sunday under the studio lamps.

We only bought it out of courtesy for the poor lass who had tried to touch the photo up the best she could. We use it now to keep our nephew away from our drawer of sin.

The other chap was delivering a new kitchen gadget from Amazon – a pressure cooker. This is how easily I’m persuaded by advertising – I had seen a link to some pressure cooker recipes on Facebook and without even opening the page I’d ordered one from Amazon. I’m the worst. It’s the size of Sputnik II and has more buttons on it than a 7XL shirt. Of course, having a delivery means you have to be on high alert all day because you don’t want to miss it and have to fart about with redelivery, which in turn meant I was scared to leave my computer. Naturally, he didn’t turn up to 4.45pm, at which point I’d given up and gone for a shower. No sooner had I squirted a blob of Molton Brown on my boobs when I hear a knock at the door. He was lucky, I hadn’t started singing yet. I hurtle out, throw a dressing gown on and then promptly manage to wrest one of our internal doors clean off its hinges by virtue of my dressing gown cord snagging on the door handle, resulting in me bellowing ‘OH YOU FUCKING C*NT’ at the stricken door, which I’m sure the poor delivery bloke heard. As if the sight of me answering the door, beetroot-faced, barely holding my dressing gown together whilst dragging a door behind me wasn’t entertaining enough.

Still, pressure cooker, eh – recipes coming soon for that, I’m sure. But first, a new taster night idea, if you’re feeling generous and kind. If not, make them for yourself like we did and you get the added bonus of not being shouldered in the tit by someone desperate to scoop every last ‘JAM DOUGHNUT’ into their gob.

taster night tiny tropical towers

taster night tiny tropical towers

to make taster night tiny tropical towers you will need:

  • 8 small wholemeal buns (Sainsbury’s sell them – they’re really tiny!)
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 4 bacon medallions (or 4 rashers of bacon, all fat removed)
  • 2 fresh pineapple rings (watch the syns if using tinned)
  • 8 tsp of any sauce that tickles your fancy (we used our own syn-free tomato ketchup, recipe here, or you could syn the tiniest wee blob if you want)
  • 1 mini-gem lettuce, chopped
  • 160g reduced fat cheddar, cut into small squares
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

This makes 16 wee little towers – the bread on each is roughly 20g or so and 10g of cheese – a tiny portion of your HEA and HEB. You could have three for no syns!

Looking for good, decent, less than 5% mince? Then let Musclefood help you. We’ve got a banging deal – you’ll wonder if you can take all the meat but if you just relax, you’ll be fine. Have a look at our deals, don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window.

to make taster night tiny tropical towers, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 240 degrees celsius
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray in a little oil
  • pat dry the pineapple slices and place in the pan, and leave to caramelise for about 5-6 minutes
  • flip over and do again for the other side
  • when the pineapple is cooked, remove from the pan then cut into eighths
  • in the same pan, add the bacon and cook until crispy, and then remove and cut into quarters
  • meanwhile, in a large bowl mix together the minced beef, salt and pepper
  • divide the mince mixture into 16 and roll into small balls, and flatten into a mini burger shape
  • plop all of the burgers onto a wire rack over a baking tray and pop in the oven to cook for 3-4 minutes
  • turn over and cook for another 3 minutes
  • top the burgers with the cheese squares and cook for another minute until melted
  • remove from the oven
  • spread a little sauce over each of the bun halves, add a bit of lettuce, then top with a mini-burger, slice of bacon and a pineapple wedge
  • if you’re after our fancy moustache spikes, they’re from Tiger but also available on Amazon, see here

These are lovely cold so fine to take to class!

After more fakeaway recipes or taster night ideas? Then look no further, my friends. Look no further. Buttons will lead the way.

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J

big mac tater tots

I did something this morning that I’m ashamed of. Normally guilt and having a conscience are two conjectural instincts that I absolutely lack – I’ll cheerfully take the last Rolo from the tube even if you don’t love me, I’ll gaily laugh as I push children out of the way so I can play in the ballpark at IKEA and I’d have no compunction at all about aggressively smothering to death the masses of elderly folk who get between me and my Marks and Spencer’s beetroot wrap of a lunchtime. I’m kidding I’m kidding – I’d tumble them into the deep freezers instead, much more humane. But, nevertheless, I’m ashamed.

See, I had to get a bus. I know, I’m not proud. What have I become? It’s not like my last attempt at taking the bus was anything to write home about (so I wrote a big old blog entry instead, see?) so what possessed me to try again?

The bloody weather. Or, perhaps more precisely, all the bloody reports about the ‘thundersnow’ and ‘Arctic blasts’ and ‘dangerous weather’. It all sounded terribly exciting and cataclysmic and it was with baited breath that I threw back the curtains this morning only to be greeted with a lovely winter scene of snow and frost. Remembering last year’s morning of tramping into Newcastle on foot because I was stuck behind an entire city of dickheads unable to grasp that if you try to pull away in first gear on a slope on your summer tyres you’ll get nowhere fast, I chose to get the bus in.

Well fuck me, it hasn’t improved a jot. I boarded at 7.20am, expecting the bus to be quiet and full of slumbering worker-bees like me who would spend the short twenty minute journey bobbing their heads in half-sleep and drooling extravagantly on my shoulder. That would have been welcome; cosy almost. What actually happened was that the entire journey took exactly two hours and I was stuck between two very Greggnant folks – presumably man and wife – who talked across and over me for having the temerity to sit between them. Mind, at least I was warm – I felt like a strawberry in a giant trifle, only this trifle smelled of fags and foist. I made to open a window but was met with such a harsh, unforgiving stare from that I went back to staring right ahead with furious, twitching eyes. The two hours was punctuated by the boom-tissh-boom-tissh of shit music played through shit headphones into a shit man’s ears, what joy. The only melody that gets played in my car is when the indicators match-up with the the little ‘ding ding’ I get when the diesel is low. That and Radio 4, and I’m even going to knock that on the head if Helen Archer doesn’t stop giving into Rob. Tsk.

I can’t blame the bus driver – he did his best, but, despite the roads being clear of snow and ice, every person and his dog had decided to come for a drive early ‘just in case’. This meant absolute bumper-to-bumper gridlock. Of course, everyone starts beeping, as though everyone ahead of them is only sitting there because they’ve dozed off and will subsequently be able to miraculously drive through the traffic now they’ve been awoken by your beep signal like the fucking Manchurian Candidate. You see cars on the news pitched into ditches and crashed through living room walls as though we’re crossing the Arctic as opposed to doing 10mph pulling out of a cul-de-sac and I just DON’T BLOODY UNDERSTAND IT. It’s snow! Half an inch of frigging snow! Why can’t people cope? Why must we fall to our knees and cry and wail because the paths are a bit slippy for all of ten minutes and the gritter hasn’t been round? For fucks sake.

I don’t want to bring it back to other countries but take Iceland – when we visited it was -1,000,000 degrees (near enough) and yet everything ran like clockwork. Our coach hurtled along roads that were literally ice with all the gay abandon of a man who only sees four hours of daylight a day. Public transport turned up, people walked along well-gritted paths and everything looked lovely. Switzerland was exactly the same – cold enough to not only take your breath away but also to make a Mr Slushy with, but ne’ry a problem at all. And us? If we do eventually get to work we spend all day starting every conversation with ‘it isn’t going to lie’ or ‘it’ll be gone by lunchtime’.

Oh, and how true that is – I swear a friend of mine lit a cigarette at lunch and the flame from her lighter cleared the snow right across Newcastle, it was that much of a bloody non-event.

I do sympathise with the folks experiencing proper disastrous weather elsewhere in the UK, though. Best of luck to you all.

There was some good news today, though – The Crystal Maze is returning! Properly, mind, with a full set (so we don’t have to watch people pretending that the smoke detectors and building alarm panels are part of the Aztec zone) and with non-celebrities playing. I know it’s the dram of many to watch Bianca Gascoigne mouth-breathe her way around solving a basic word riddle in three minutes but that’s just not happening. Hooray! However: the new presenter is Richard Ayoade. I can’t put into words how desperately unfunny I find him. I can see why people like him, and I’m sure he’s a charming bloke in real-life, but I think I’d genuinely prefer to watch the zip of a body-bag being pulled across my face than witness his shenanigans. Bah.

However look, there’s a cracking recipe to be had underneath – big mac tater tots. It combines the various bits and bobs from SW favourite Big Mac in a Bowl (which, if you give it a couple of hours, becomes Big Mass in a Bowel) and mixes it with our most favourite recipe, the tater tots! Give it a go. It’s easy to make.

big mac tater tots big mac tater tots

to make big mac tater tots you will need:

for the special sauce:

  • 3 level tbsp extra-light mayo (3 syns)
  • 5 tbsp fat free fromage frais
  • 1 level tbsp of American style mustard (1½ syns)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2tsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp of garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp onion granules
  • pinch of smoked paprika

It’s worth noting that you can douse the entire recipe in hot sauce, although you should syn this. We get asked a lot what hot sauce is and which we use. It’s just a spicy red sauce you can buy in most big supermarkets, and it adds a lovely heat. To help, this is the sauce we use.

big mac tater tots

¡Válgame Dios!

to make big mac tater tots you should:

  • if you have an actifry this is great – chuck the potato in, add a bit of oil and cook until golden
  • if you don’t have an actifry, spread the potato cubes out onto a baking sheet and bake at 190°c until golden – turn them regularly!
  • preheat the oven to 230°c
  • meanwhile, over a medium-high heat sling the mince into the pan and cook until done, then remove from the heat
  • in a large bowl mix together the tater tots and the mince together and tip back into an oven-proof dish or pan
  • sprinkle over the grated cheese and pop in the oven for about five minutes, or until the cheese has melted
  • next, mix together the special sauce ingredients along with 5tbsp of water (add more if you need to)
  • when the cheese has melted, remove from the oven and sprinkle over the lettuce, onion, then tomatoes and then add the gherkins
  • splodge over the sauce
  • destroy it – turn it into poo!

Our Tater Tots recipes are by far our most popular! If you want to find out why, give them a go!

or if you want more fakeaway ideas, just click the button below! And while you’re at it why not explore our other recipes! they’re all waiting for you!

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Eee, canny.

J

homovember recipe #1: slow cooker beef keema

Slow cooker beef keema, yeah, that’s right, slow cooker beef keema. You want it. We have it. You’ll find the recipe under all the following nonsense. Meanwhile, we’ve dropped Droptober because well, busy. Let’s embrace Homovember.

Hallowe’en has been and gone, and hopefully the only fright you’ve experienced is the site of your own toes as your gunt shrinks ever inwards.

For the first time in ten years since Paul and I got together, we decided to embrace Hallowe’en instead of spending the evening sat behind the sofa with the lights off, watching Coronation Street on the iPad with the brightness and volume turned right down. No, in the spirit (oh h oho) of taking part, we stuck up some perfunctory bits of tat from Poundland (probably getting lead poisoning whilst doing so) and put a pumpkin outside, shockingly not with the word C*NT carved in it. We’re getting better at this being social lark.

We wanted trick-or-treaters to knock on the door and take our chocolate. Perhaps that’s too far – we certainly had chocolate, but Paul had eyes like a kicked dog when I told him they were for any guests. That didn’t stop me eating three Freddos and a Fudge when he went to the bog, though. We didn’t dress up because apparently my suggestion of answering the door as Fred and Rose West was a little too “near-the-knuckle”. I’m not sure what Paul’s problem is, I’ve got a pair of my nan’s Blanche Hunt glasses that would have looked resplendent on him.

Best of all, we ever went to the trouble of setting up a light system for the house – all of our outdoor lighting is controllable by colour and timers so we had the house flickering like a fire with occasional bursts of white light like a lightning bolt. It was all very brilliant and took an hour of tinkering with our router and swearing incoherently at the iPad to get it all set up.

So, what did we get, perched as we are on a lovely corner of a cul-de-sac full of expensive houses all ripe for trick or treaters? Absolutely zip. Bugger all. Sweet fanny adams.

Actually, that’s not entirely true, we did get two teenage girls (very rough – they looked like they were on their third pregnancy of the year but only their first toothbrush) who stuck their hands out and said ‘trick or treat’ – a quick glance revealed that they hadn’t bothered with any sort of costume bar eight inches of poorly-applied foundation. We asked for trick and they kissed their teeth at us and tramped away over our lawn.

There were several children in groups who visited the streets but avoided our house altogether. I admit to being distraught. It was all I could do to choke down every last bit of chocolate and sour jellies that was left in our fruit-bowl.

Of course, like all things, Hallowe’en was a lot different when I was young. Because money was tight, my costume was a bin-liner (because nothing says BOO like ‘NO HOT ASHES’ spread across my arse) and my pumpkin was a turnip. Have you ever tried to carve a turnip? It’s like cutting a diamond with a butter knife. It’s why I associate Hallowe’en with carpal tunnel syndrome. My sister wore a bed-sheet with some red paint on it. Back in modern time, Paul and I couldn’t use our black bedsheets because people would think we’d come dressed as an badly tuned TV channel.

Most of the people in our village were knocking on 90 and thus, no sweets, fucks or hearing were given, but we always hit the jackpot when we visited the only footballer in our village, who gave us all a tub of Quality Street each. It’s tantamount to my obesity that this remains one of the fondest memories I have of growing up in Backwater, Northumberland.

Back in the now, I did find it interesting that after all the gash-crashing and naval-gazing that’s been happening over the ‘terror clowns’ ‘epidemic’ recently that so many parents thought it would be wise to dress their children up as frightening beasts to terrorise the neighbours, mind you. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, after all.

I’d welcome a clown jumping out at me to give me a fright – I just don’t shock that way. They’d get an entirely non-plussed reaction and a shoulder-shrug. No, if you really want to scare me, dress up as my bank manager and tell me Paul’s spending on the First Direct card. You’d need to bring me around with salts. I’d love to have a flasher jump out of the bushes, too, if only so I could ask if he wanted me to blow it or smoke it. Nothing cuts a man down quicker than a jibe at his wee-willy-winky.

The idea of ghosts certainly don’t scare me because I don’t believe in such a thing. I think, once you die, that’s it, though I’ve already told Paul that if the afterlife does exist I’ll be haunting him relentlessly – whooing and booing every time he reaches for some consolation ice-cream or, worse, a new lover. I’ve told him to at least let the sheets cool first, though I don’t doubt he’ll be asking the funeral procession to pull into a layby on the A19 on the way to the crem to take care of a lorry driver.

You know why I don’t think ghosts exist? Simple. If you could bring comfort to the living by letting them know you’re in a better place, why wouldn’t you just do it? Why go through the rigmarole of knocking over vases or hooting in the night? Worse, why would you deliver your message through rancid vile grief-exploiters like Sally Morgan or other psychic mediums? I don’t know about you, but I’d want my comforting messages to be passed directly to the target rather than over the lips of some permatanned Liverpudlian on Living TV. I’d love to think my dear nana is giving us a sign – perhaps that whistling in my ears and high-pitched ringing isn’t tinnitus after all but rather the ghost of her 1980s NHS hearing aid coming over time and space? Doctor Eeee-No. Bless her.

Right, enough of this nonsense, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? It’s a bit of a cheap recipe in that, rather than using a delicate blend of spices measured out individually and carefully toasted, I went for a spice mix that had the name GEETA on it just so I could shout SANJAY across the aisles in Tesco. Plus, it’s 4 syns for the spice mix which split between four is only a syn. Obviously. Actually, we doubled this recipe up because we’ve bought a massive slow cooker to replace our small one and this made enough for eight big servings. The recipe below makes enough for four. The idea for the recipe came from a blog called Jam and Clotted Cream, found right here – I’ve spun it so it is more suitable for us chunkers.

One more thing. You could just chuck everything in the slow cooker at once, but browning the mince and softening the veg in a pan first makes it so much better. Don’t be lazy!

slow cooker beef keema

to make slow cooker beef keema, you’ll need:

  • two large red onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (yes! you know it by now: buy one of these to mince your garlic and ginger with!)
  • 1 tiny flaccid knob of ginger (see note above)
  • one green pepper, one red pepper and hell, why the fuck not, let’s throw in an orange pepper too – CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES COME ON
  • 500g minced beef (make it less than 5% or Mags will be round trick’or’treating) (don’t forget you get two whole kilos of syn free mince in our freezer box)
  • one packet of Geeta’s Tikka Paste (80g) (can buy these in most Tescos, but just swap for a different tikka paste if you want – check the syns though) (4 syns)
  • 400g of chopped tomatoes – now listen here, use whatever you want, but slightly more expensive tomatoes always taste nicer, trust me
  • 1 beef stock cube 
  • 200g of frozen peas (adjust if you want, but I love loads of peas)

to make slow cooker beef keema, you should:

Before we go, let me change your life:

Watch this video and you’ll never look back when it comes to chopping peppers. No more seeds splashed all over the counter, no more fannying about. Admittedly, if you chop your food like a complete div, this might not help you, but for anyone else…

  • finely chop your onions and peppers and sweat those bad-boys down in a pan – which makes sense, as you’d have a hell of a job sweating them down in a washing up bowl
  • once they’ve softened ever so, throw in the mince and cook it hard until there’s no pink, only brown – ‘no pink, only brown’ being the name of our fourth twochubbycubs book, incidentally)
  • add the minced garlic and ginger and stir
  • add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock cube and tikka mix, stir, then slop it all into your slow cooker and cook that for at least six hours on low
  • half an hour before you want to get eating, put all the peas in – you can put them in at the start but they’ll moosh right down
  • serve with rice and sides – we served ours with our onion rice from way back when

Bloody lovely. As someone common would say, ‘that’s right nice, that’. Here, was this not enough for you? Then get those glassy eyes cast over even more recipes by clicking on the big ole buttons below!

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Remember to share, folks.

J

one pot chinese braised beef

We’ve done many quick beef recipes before, but this one-pot Chinese braised beef really hits the spot. The G-Spot. Put down some plastic sheeting and let’s get cooking! Oh wait, no, no, we have to finish our Peterborough report, don’t we? It haunts me now like a Vietnam flashback. So many soiled mattresses. I’ll bust out the old graphic…

peterborough

…and kindly advise you that part one can be found here and part two can be found here. If you’re a fan of our travel tales and writing, you can find our previous trips to Corsica, Ireland, Iceland and Berlin, along with many other articles, in our big compendium book! It’s been a while since I mentioned it – you can find it on Amazon right here!

When you left us we were just finishing up Bletchley Park and steeling ourselves for the journey back to the hotel. Despite the sat-nav’s attempts to make our head explode scanner style by repeating roundabout over and over, it was a pleasant enough journey and we were back at the hotel in no time at all. True to their word, they had switched our rooms to an altogether more charming one (although Paul’s face was ashen when he realised it was up a flight of stairs, the poor lamb). They told us to nip back to the old room and pack our things, which we promptly did.

On our thigh-chaffing walk to the old room, Paul pushed me out of the way and hurtled ahead. Turns out that his ashen-face was more down to the immediate and pressing need to dispose of the World’s Shittiest Italian Meal from the day before. I, being a thoughtful chap, told him that he’d need to hold it in because the housekeepers would be waiting for us to leave so they could clean the room and there was no way I was adding ‘walking into a deathcloud of barely digested pancetta’ onto their list of reasons to hate life. So began the quickest debate you’ve ever seen, with Paul dancing back and forth on his feet and me being firm and telling him he had to hold it. I only relented when he said it was either the toilet of the old room or the hood on my hoodie in the corridor.

Well, you can’t argue with that. I stepped aside. There was a lot of noise and motion.

Of course, it smelt like someone had died, meaning we had to stay in the room for twenty minutes frantically wafting the curtains and flapping the duvet to try and get the stench to dissipate. I don’t want a mark on my Premier Inn record that states we leave the room smelling like someone has burnt a tyre full of human hair. Having done the best we could, with me liberally sprinkling Rive D’Ambre everywhere (and that stuff is £170 a bottle, just saying: we’re fat, it’s the only designer thing we can wear), we switched rooms.

Why is it, no matter what time of the day or night it is, you can turn E4 or More4 or 4Skin or 4goodnesssakepickaname on, there’s always a Come Dine with Me quintet to watch? At the very last there’s a Four in the Bed chain to work through. Having realised that there was absolutely bot-all-else to do on a Sunday in fair Peterborough, we settled down with vending machine snacks and a tiny cup of Barely Grey and made the best of it. Naturally, we fell asleep. Say what you want about Premier Inn, they do make a damn comfy bed. I should know, we’ve got one installed.

We woke up at 7, full of piss and vinegar for falling asleep and wasting our evening, only to realise that there was nowhere in Peterborough that caught our eye. Paul did suggest a visit to a floating boat which served Chinese food but then we bought realised we didn’t fancy stopping every ten minutes on the way home to revisit our dinner. Casting our net a little wider we eventually spotted somewhere that did take our fancy – Stilton, just over the roundabout. Lovely. I made to make a reservation at a lovely looking place that I can’t remember the name of (Bell Inn?) but Paul reminded me of something.

See, my lovely, confident husband frets something chronic about going to ‘nice places’ to eat. He has an inferiority complex – he absolutely shouldn’t, he’s wonderful, but he thinks he is going to make an arse of himself. I reassured him that he amazing in every way and so we made a reservation and set off.

Well, honestly. It was a gorgeous little pub and the menu sounded great. We were given a seat on a tiny table by the fire (not a criticism mind) and ordered our food. Paul was a little on edge but we got through the starters without any difficulties. The mains arrived and we got stuck in. Everything was going just so until Paul illustrated a particularly bold point with an expansive sweep of his arm, which pushed his pint of Pepsi off the table and down the wall. Nobody noticed, thankfully, despite the pool of Pepsi around my feet. Fair enough, everyone’s allowed one. I went to take a bite of my burger – one of those overly stuffed, towering piles of meat that are the style these days – only to have the cheese covered meat slide out and cascade down my pink shirt. Great! All equal.

Naturally, Paul had to one-up me. He’d ordered pork belly which came with a smashing bit of crackling which, try as he might, Paul couldn’t crack into small enough bits of eat. He couldn’t very well pick it up and eat it with his hands so he tried many different ways to get into it. No joy. I suggested using the knife as a chisel and to tap it from the top with his hands, like hammering a nail. I thought he’d be careful. Of course not. The ham-fisted dolt hit his knife so hard that it not only shot through the crackling but also cleaved his dinner plate in two. He very much won that round. We finished our meal, polished off a cheese-board, paid the bill and left a hearty tip before we were asked to leave. It was a gorgeous meal and a lovely place, mind.

We stopped at the hotel ‘bar’ for a gin and tonic – me resisting the urge to ask if he’d gone to press the juniper berries himself he was gone that long. We won £7 from the Itbox and made for bed, safe and snug in the knowledge that we’d be home in the morning.

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We woke at eight, peeling ourselves apart once more like two flip-flops in the sun due to the room being the temperature of lava. I walked around in the shower for ten minutes until I was wet enough to clean myself and then we made for the car. It was here we made a rash decision. You need to understand we were motivated purely by hunger at this point.

We went to a Toby Carvery for our breakfast.

I know, we’re monsters. I’d seen an advert somewhere and it seemed like a filthy proposition – and as I’ve mentioned before, we do love a buffet breakfast.

I barely need to tell you how awful it was. It was foul. I could talk about the fact we were having breakfast on an industrial estate. I could describe the food: baked beans cooked last November, bacon you could reupholster a settee with, sausages with less meat content than a butcher’s pencil, eggs that I’m still working through my teeth now. Hell, I could go on about the fact that they advertise the fact they have ‘special breakfast Yorkshire puddings’ (i.e. the Yorkshire puddings they didn’t sell in the roast dinner the day before that were so hard I could have used them to stop a runaway train) or the ‘cheese and potato hash’ (i.e. the roast potatoes that didn’t get used the day before with a bit of Primula added) or even the ‘special breakfast gravy’ which was yesterday’s gravy with some tomato ketchup in it. This gravy didn’t so much have a skin as a coat of fucking armour. I’ve never had to slice gravy before, I can tell you.

No, what put me off (after all that, shocking!) was the sheer, unadulterated, naked greed from the person sitting a couple of tables away. Everyone makes a pig of themselves at a buffet, yes, but this guy deserved a gold medal. Three plates of breakfast, each heaped like a mini cowpat of excess. He ate and he ate and he ate without barely drawing breath – which was in itself not such a bad thing because when he did breathe it sounded like someone hoovering up a pile of rubber gloves. When he did stop he burped, and it wasn’t a polite wee burp into a hand like decent folk, but a really resounding baaaarp like he was clearing out just another pocket to cram breakfast into. Bleurgh.

I must be clear: I adore a buffet, I’m capable of great amounts of eatings, but have a bit of fucking decorum. When your chin is more bacon fat than skin, stop. This is why we don’t do those all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets in town – you always get someone who treats it as though it’s their last meal and I’m sorry, it makes me feel queasy.

We drove home, ashamed of ourselves for the breakfast and full of regrets that we’d spent as much money as we did on an awful weekend. It was lovely meeting Paul’s brother and Paul’s dad and his partner, but those were the only high points in an otherwise dismal 72 hours. Paul chastised me constantly for driving at 90mph all the way home but in my defence, it was the fear of breaking down and the car having to be towed back to Peterborough that kept my foot firmly on the accelerator. Never again.

We nipped back home to pick up my car and then made our way back to the car rental. Paul, naturally, forgot to have the windows down on the drive over so when the rental guy bent down to check the interior of the car for cleanliness, he visibly paled. I’m surprised he didn’t charge us for making vegetable soup in the boot. Paul also helpfully forgot to un-sync his phone from the car’s entertainment system so when the guy started the car back up, it reconnected with Paul’s phone and started blasting the chorus from Big Girls Don’t Cry by Lolly. A fitting end.

Naturally, upon our return, the cats paid entirely no attention to us and carried on licking their bottoms. We did have a moment of hilarity when we realised we’d accidentally packed the little purple Premier Inn branded bed-runner into our suitcase. I confessed our accidental theft on Twitter and they kindly told us to keep it. I put it on the bed for ten minutes, Paul chortled, then we both realised exactly how many different accountants and salesmen must have wiped their cocks on it. We’ve packed it away in the cupboard for when his mother comes over.

And that’s that. I was disappointed but Paul even more so – he remembered growing up in a place with lots to do. Heraclitus wrote that ‘it is impossible to step into the same river twice‘, and no more so is that true then when you go ‘home’. Bah.

Right then, let’s do the recipe. This serves two fatties or three or four healthy appetites. The main dish cooks all in one pot and we just microwaved some noodles rather than cooking fresh because we’re super lazy. Remember to syn that. As usual, you can use frylight if you prefer for frying, but proper spray olive oil is 7 sprays for half a syn or something, and has the advantage of not tasting like a sweaty arse.

one pot chinese braised beef

to make one pot chinese braised beef you will need:

to make one pot chinese braised beef you should:

  • preheat the oven to 150°C
  • heat a casserole dish on the hob over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • fry the garlic, spring onions, ginger and chilli for about 1 minute
  • toss the beef in the flour and add to the pan, and stir until browned all over
  • add the five-spice and honey and stir until combined
  • add the rice wine vinegar to the pan, scraping up the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula
  • pour in the stock and the soy sauce, mix, cover with the lid and cook in the oven for an hour
  • pull the pak choi apart and place on top of the stew for the last fifteen minutes so it wilts down
  • serve!

We thought this was amazing, no kidding. It’s quite like our Mongolian beef but a lot more saucy.

If you want more beef or fakeaway recipes, hit the buttons below! Oh and we’ve finally added the one-pot section, so click that for more one-pot ideas! PHEW

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I’d love some comments and feedback!

J

quick sticky beef with kale

Quick sticky beef with kale is just below the guff. It’s on the gunt of this page, if you will.

A productive day today.

Firstly, thank you to all and everyone for the reassuring words in response to my last post about health anxiety. I’m just having a wobble, all will be well. Always darkest before the dawn and all that shite. I did see the doctor today who mentioned carpal tunnel syndrome and gave me a few exercises to try with my wrist. Now that sounds filthy, but I can assure you it’s all non-erotic and safe. I don’t pay for private healthcare, after all. He did ask what I thought may have caused it and I tried to explain that there is quite the collection of Audi drivers around where I work, and frankly, given the amount of wanker-signs I do in my mirror it’s not surprising my wrists sound like a cement mixer.

He told me not to worry about my fogginess and had a bit of a feel of my stomach. He had the good grace not to ask for the block and tackle be brought in. I hate taking my shirt off at the doctors (almost as much as I used to hate taking my underwear off in church) because, although my doctor is wonderful, kind and non-judgemental, I’m embarrassed that he has to see how much I’ve ruined my beautiful body by filling it with gravy and chips for a solid ten years. At least I get a brownie point when he asks if I smoke and I get to say only after sex, because then he remembers I’m married and therefore that means two cigarettes a year. I certainly can’t claim I’m tee-total anymore, given we’ve now got a giant bookshelf full of hard liquor.

Liquor? I barely knew her!

Paul dealt with the man who came to test our boiler. This is possibly the most terrifying thing for me – we’ve touched upon my hatred of having anyone in my house who isn’t delivering food and boiler men are no exception. See, to get into our loft (we’re a bungalow) you climb through a hatch in the ceiling via a strong metal ladder that comes down automatically. Yes, that is the most pointless sentence I’ve ever managed to write – you’re hardly going to trampoline into the fucker, are you? When Paul steps on this ladder, it doesn’t so much strain as shriek.

I’ve watched enough Air Crash Investigation to know what metal fatigue is and this ladder is absolutely fucking knackered. I try to ask Paul to make sure the ladder is locked before we have anyone climb up so it doesn’t snap down but he ignores me on the basis I’m being irrational. Of course I’m irrational – you’re talking to someone who diagnosed himself with a brain tumour because his ears were warm, for goodness sake. I have visions of some gruff type climbing the ladder only for it to plunge down on his hands and cleave his fingers right off. Paul always looks at me non-plussed as I try to demonstrate why this is a bad thing by thumping my palm on a piano or clumsily trying to pick up a pen with a balled fist. Jeez. As it happens, the guy went up the ladder like a rat up a drainpipe, banged around a bit, confirmed that our boiler wasn’t killing us and beat a hasty retreat.

He’s probably been warned by either the last guy who went up into the loft only to be confronted with a big old box of free condoms that well, we don’t have much use for, or the alarm guy who couldn’t help but notice the douching bulb that was unfortunately sat on top of the alarm box. Meh. I hope we’re not getting a reputation – although actually, I did put ‘If you’re quick, I might nosh you off 😉 Paul xxx’ on our Just-Eat order last night knowing that Paul would have to get the door when the delivery man came. That was my revenge for Paul writing ‘I <3 COCK’ on the back of my car and letting me drive it around for a week. Do you know, I wasn’t so angry with that as the fact I didn’t get one beep’n’leer from passing lorry drivers.

We also arranged for new cleaners, too. Which I know sounds terribly frou-frou but hey, got to spend the huge advertising spoils somehow. Our last cleaner was great at cleaning but ridiculously expensive (only because she came from Sunderland, so we had to pay danger money) and used to leave the TV tuned to MTV Clubland at full volume, which was a fright when we came home from a hard day’s graft. Nothing says …aaaand relax like some harpie more herpes than woman screaming ‘BUY CLUBLAAAAAND EIIIIIGHTY-SIIIIIX NAAAAAAAW’ over some sped-up Faithless.

We did manage to cause instant intrigue by telling them they must never enter our bedroom. I know, suspicious, but I don’t want anyone seeing our black sheets and thinking they’re a Jackson Pollock homage. I know they’ll have seen it all before but still. They start on Friday and seem like lovely people, so fingers crossed.

Finally, we fixed our cat. He’s been licking away at his knob all summer. I know what you’re thinking, we’d all do it if we were able, but I reckon he’d probably scratch your face if you tried. We had him checked to make sure he could urinate properly (he can, and evidenced the fact by having a long, luxurious piss on the vet’s table when she squeezed him) and all was fine. But still he persists. It seems I can’t go outside without seeing him sitting on the path in front of the neighbours licking away at himself with his bumhole on show. They must think our lifestyle is catching. One of our more distant neighbours on another street absolutely hates our cats – he’s taken to staring furiously at the cats whilst they pad about in our garden. I’m not sure who he thinks he is scaring, but honestly, even a cat wouldn’t be intimidated by a man who looks like he bought all of the clothes he’ll ever need in one trip to Woolworths in the seventies. He’s the same man who once came pounding on our door inviting us to look at the shit one of our cats had apparently done in his flower-bed – notably how large it was. I wasn’t sure if he was expecting us to stick a 1st prize rosette on it or something. We just let him go red in the face.

Anyway, turns out our cat is allergic to fleas. He doesn’t have fleas, which is lucky, but every time he fights with another cat who has been in contact with fleas it makes his skin itchy then he bites away at it, hence the sore bit around his knob. Our vet, a very jolly woman who looked like a farmer’s wife from a James Herriott novel, and had bigger hands than I did, manhandled poor Bowser this way and that and then gave him an injection. He already seems much happier. I was less happy when I was presented with the bill – £49! For one injection. I mean, he’s worth it, don’t get me wrong, but what the hell did she inject him with? Saffron via a diamond syringe? He’s fully insured but that’s too little to claim, meaning we’ll just need to soak it up. Things between us and the cat were tense on the car-ride home, with Paul barely slowing the Smart car down as we passed over the speed-bump into the street and the cat sulking all the way home.

It’s a relief to know that I might not be woken up by looking directly into Bowser’s balloon-knot tomorrow morning, though.

Right, let’s get this wrapped up. Great British Bake-Off is on soon and I need to prepare myself for an hour of looking furiously at things I’ll never have and idly wondering whether Mary Berry ever climbed our loft ladder.

Now, when Paul suggested beef with cumin, I got entirely the wrong end of the stick and that he’d finally lost his mind, Dahmer-style, but no, apparently I’m just being silly. Of course! However, the other name for this recipe is hunan beef, and that looks just a little bit too close to human beef. So either way we’re fucked. All you need to know is this is a simple, quick dish with lots of flavour and a decent way of getting kale into the diet. Of course, the best way to enjoy kale is to hurl it maniacally into a bin and then seal the bin in concrete lest any of that earthy, crinkly shite escapes, but in the meantime, here we are…

quick sticky beef with kale

to make quick sticky beef with kale you will need:

  • 400g stir-fry beef strips (or use diced beef and cut each cube in half) – you get beef strips (much tastier than queef strips) in our Musclefood deals, yes you do, which are just perfect – and plus you get tonnes of mince and chicken too – what’s not to enjoy about that – click here for that
  • 1 tbsp sherry (about 1 syn)
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 6 big handfuls of kale
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (2 syns)

Now I post this periodically, but just a reminder: if you buy ginger, buy a big knob and keep it in the freezer, grating it when you need it. It’ll keep quite happily in there and saves a lot of money on wasted knobs. And yes, I know, I know, but get one of these mincers for your garlic and ginger. Much easier. MUCH EASIER. And so cheap. You could make this serve 4 but listen, we didn’t get where we are eating little portions, so pull out your trough and make it serve two.

to make quick sticky beef with kale you should:

  • mix together the sherry, dark and light soy sauce, cornflour and 1 tbsp of warm water and pour over the beef – leave to marinade for about 20 minutes
  • in a large pan, heat some oil from your favourite spray dispenser over a high heat and add the garlic, ginger and chilli flakes and cook for about a minute
  • add the beef and cook for another three minutes or so
  • add the kale and cook for another few minutes, until it has all wilted – keep stirring!
  • add the cumin and stir well – cook for another minutes or two
  • turn off the heat, add the spring onions and sesame oil, stir and serve with rice

Easy. As. That.

Right, if you’re looking for more fakeaway recipes, beef recipes or, shit, why not, soup recipes, why don’t you just click on these buttons like a big man?

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Yeah that’s right.

J

ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni

Genuinely just a quick post tonight before we get to the ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni, but first, can someone answer me one question?

Why do people write on their own walls? Hear me out. Chunkles and I were watching Britain’s Benefit Tenants yesterday, laughing at the poor inbetween handfuls of caviar and swigs of champagne. Not quite – we had been watching something on Channel 4, the remote fell out of reach and we couldn’t be arsed to switch over. It was illuminating. I’m not going to get into the whole ‘landlords are bad’ / ‘tenants are scum’ because obviously there’s good and bad on all sides, but it did make me think, not least whether there a direct correlation between neon pink walls and jet black teeth.

What troubles me is the state of some of the houses. Look, I can be as slobby as the next person, but unless you’re unwell, there’s very little reason for your house to be so unclean. You see the same old tropes – the writing of names on the wall (why? WHY? It’s not even graffiti on an outside wall, just shit scribbling and the inevitable weed leaf on the living room wall), dried up dog poo in the kitchen and, in the garden, a broken Fisher Price slide that someone stepped through back in 2005 and two dogs so inbred and vicious that they’re fighting their own feet.

Now, I know, I’ve always been lucky in that, so far, I’ve always been gainfully employed and in reasonable health, so until I moved into the house I own, I always paid my rent. I do wonder if I was a mug for doing so, though, given it seems to be a-ok for someone to rent a house, smash it up and then move on to be rehoused. It’s why we don’t buy our own property to rent out – I’d be fucking livid if someone decided it was an appropriate reaction to kick their foot through my internal walls. Oh and plus, if we were landlords, I know we’d be the type you see on Crimewatch rubbing our thighs and suggesting ‘we come to other arrangements’ if the tenant so much as called in to report a leaky tap.

Anyway, speaking of stuffing tubes, let’s get straight to the ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni recipe, shall we? We used to make a variation on this all the time back in our proper Slimming World days when we took it seriously (cough) but that involved cottage cheese and sweetener. God knows why. This is proper food! We took inspiration from a blog called flavourbender which won us over on name alone. This makes enough for four.

1.5 syn ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni

to make ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni, you’ll need:

  • 10 large canneloni tubes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced (mince mince mince, mince mince mince, shake your mincer…with this)
  • lots of salt and pepper
  • 270g of ricotta (90g is one HEA or six syns – this serves four – so if you want to syn it, it’s 4.5 syns per serving)
  • 150g of quark
  • 30g of parmesan (which is one HEA, or six syns – so again, between four, it’s 1.5 syns per serving)
  • one 400g packet of extra-lean beef mince (use one from our Musclefood deal – perfect size, perfect quality – click here to order)
  • one carrot
  • one stalk of celery
  • one large onion
  • one carton of passata

So, per serving, it’ll be either 1.5 syns or maximum of 6 syns per serving.

to make ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 190 degrees
  • chop your onion, carrot and celery nice and fine, and sweat them off in a squirt or two of oil in a decent non-stick pan
  • add the minced garlic
  • add the mince and brown it off
  • add the passata, a pinch of salt, and let them simmer away gently so it thickens up
  • put your canneloni tubes in boiling water for a few minutes just to soften them up, though we didn’t actually bother and although it was a bit chewy, we still enjoyed it
  • in a seperate pan, tip all the spinach in with a tiny drop of water and put a lid on it – let the spinach wilt right down, then drain, squeeze, squeeze again, squeeze like it’s the windpipe of that bitch/bastard you hate, then chop it nice and fine
  • mix the ricotta, parmesan and quark together with the chopped spinach and a good pinch of salt and pepper to make the filling for the tubes
  • get the dish you’re going to cook everything in the oven with and put a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom
  • push the ricotta mix into the tubes – you can either do this by using your fingers like the filthy slattern you are, or tip the ricotta mix into a sandwich bag, tie it up at the top and cut a corner off on the bottom – voila, instant icing bag – much easier
  • place each filled tube into the dish and then cover the lot with the remainder of the tomato sauce
  • add more cheese on top if you dare, I won’t tell if you won’t
  • cover with tin foil and cook in the oven for 20 or so minutes, then remove the foil, whack the heat up to 210, and cook for another 15 minutes or so until the cheese is golden and the pasta is soft

Serve! Pretty easy, right? Again, it’s one of those recipes that sounds like a lot of instructions but actually, is dead easy. If you want more beef or pasta ideas, click on the buttons below! You could make this veggie by leaving out the beef and adding more veg to the sauce, so I’ve whacked in the veggie recipes link too.

beefsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall

Cheers all.

J

 

roast beef and mustard lentil salad

Now, before we get to the roast beef and mustard lentil salad, I want to discuss something. Serious faces please. Fingers on lips. Not those lips. Not those fingers. Good lord, contain yourself.

After yesterday’s post I received a comment about how tired someone was because of ‘all the advertising’ on our blog. Fair enough: everyone’s entitled to an opinion, of course, and you’ll note that I approved the comment where I could have just deleted it. It’s a discussion worth having, after all. It’s been on my mind a little.

Here’s the thing – take a look at other food blogs – you’ll see tonnes of little adverts all over the page. I could do the same thing and quadruple my blog income in a shot. But on our main page, I’ve got one little google advert at the top. It’s not spread all over the place, it doesn’t slow the page, it doesn’t detract from the content. It could, very easily, but we chose to have a clean blog which is easy to access over something buggy and full of ads. When we email out to subscribers we could send a snippet rather than the full blog meaning that you had to visit the page and thus, drive up our adsense – but we don’t do it, because it would be crap for you. That’s the reason there’s no pop-up whenever you load the page asking you to subscribe, that’s why we don’t send out spam, that’s why there’s no ‘read more’ button which loads more ads. It’s about making it good for the reader not the writer.

How most blogs make money is via affiliate marketing – if I recommend Musclefood, I get a very small commission. Same with Amazon. That’s why, when we do a recipe with mince in it, I’ll stick a link in to Musclefood and if a recipe calls for grated garlic, I’ll mention the mincer. I don’t mean Paul. But this is the thing: we do use Musclefood for meat and we do own the few gadgets and Amazon products that I mention. I’m not just shilling for the tiny bit of money it makes me, I recommend them because I believe in them. I’ve always been totally transparent about the advertising, too – I don’t hide it away. We mention our books occasionally because I’m bloody proud of the fact I have a book – of course I should be! But that’s about the extent of the adverts.

Our blog operates to a very simple template – 1,000 words or so of preamble and nonsense, one decent photograph of the food, a very simple no-fuss breakdown of the recipe and then a couple of links to other posts on the blog. It takes me about 90 minutes to type up the ‘story’ and to try and add the funny bits. Sit and type out 1,000 words, try to make it faintly funny, see how long it takes you. We spend a couple of hours over the weekend researching and planning the recipes. We have to buy new ingredients and unusual ingredients because we like to have different styles of recipes spread out over the year. Paul spends an hour or so cooking the meals, I spend a few minutes photographing, then typing. I then spend 20 minutes or so publishing the blog in our various mediums. That’s a lot of time for two blokes who work full-time in demanding jobs and who, let’s face it, are bone-bloody-idle.

And there’s the cost too – we had to buy a proper server for the blog to sit on – that costs a fair chunk every year. New ingredients cost money. Photography software costs money. As much we don’t struggle for money, I’d much rather spend that money putting my fat arse on a beach somewhere than talking about servers with some chap in Wisconsin.

So why do we do it? Because we fucking love it! We adore all the wonderful, lovely comments we receive. We love hearing from folks who have cooked one of our meals and been pleasantly surprised that slimming food could be so delicious. We eat so well because we’re constantly trying new things. We’ve met amazing folk in our groups, on our facebook page, via here. Everyone’s got a story and we love to hear them. I love to write, so this is a perfect outlet for my verbal diarrhoea – and we’ve got a very unique thing in that we’ve got a perfect diary of our last two years. Paul could barely cook before we started and now he’s confident in the kitchen. It’s great!

We’re not going to stop any time soon despite all the effort it takes. But the balance for that is that in the big blog posts, you might get a couple of text links to ingredients and a mention of Musclefood. It’s easy ignored and I think a decent exchange for the work we do. When we’ve got a Musclefood sale on, you’ll get a paragraph, but it’s always delineated from the post by blank lines. Skip over it. It’s easy to forget that we’ve already done over 350 recipes which are all indexed by syns – you couldn’t buy a cookbook with that many recipes in it, and we give it away for free. Always will be!

I hope that clears things up! I am sorry to moan, but there just something in the wanky, passive-aggressive comment that pushed a button.

To make things worse, here’s a salad! It’s syn free, full of taste and made up of only a few ingredients – it’s an excellent way to use up any roast beef you have kicking about, but you can also throw sliced beef in there for no syns. We’re talking proper roast beef though, not the processed stuff as that sometimes does have syns. Before I do, though, I’m obliged to mention – because it’s possibly the last day we’re running this, our current Musclefood deal. If you’re already frothing at the gash at the thought of ONE advert, just scroll on by.


Remember: our Musclefood deal is running with 10% off but ending soon. Canny deal – even if you don’t want it, share it with a friend!

FREEZER FILLER: 5kg (24/26) of big fat chicken breasts, 2kg (5 portions of 400g) less than 5% fat mince, 700g of bacon, 800g of extra lean diced beef and free standard delivery – use TCCFREEZER at checkout – £45 delivered!

BBQ BOX: 5kg (24/26) of big fat chicken breasts, two Irish rump steaks, 350g of bacon, 6 half-syn sausages, twelve giant half-syn meatballs, 400g diced turkeys, two juicy one syn burgers, two bbq chicken steaks, free delivery, season and 400g seasoned drumsticks (syn-free when skin removed) – use TCCSUMMER at checkout – £45 delivered!

Remember, you can choose the day you want it delivered and order well in advance – place an order now for a couple of weeks time and they’ll only take the payment once the meat is dispatched! Right, that’s enough of that. TO THE RECIPE.


roast beef and mustard lentil salad

to make a roast beef and mustard lentil salad, you’ll need:

  • lots of leftover roast beef
  • a can of green lentils
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • a wee bunch of spring onions
  • a lemon
  • a spoonful of wholegrain mustard (this might have syns from recollection – 1 syn – but shared between four)
  • a bag of bistro salad leaves – the ones that have the little strips of beetroot in that make your poo an alarming red – or use any other salad leaves

to make a roast beef and mustard lentil salad, you should:

  • nice and simple this one – chop your tomatoes into quarters, thinly slice your spring onions and put a nice bunch of salad leaves on your plate
  • empty your tinned lentils into a microwavable bowl and cook for about three minutes in enough water to cover them, then drain
  • stir the mustard through the lentils while they are warm and then allow to cool
  • time to assemble – leaves on the bottom, mix of beef, lentils, spring onions and tomatoes on the top
  • dress with the juice of a lemon and some of the zest – no oil needed, perhaps a pinch of salt!

You know, I wasn’t going to do this but hell. You can use one of these to grate the lemons – it creates a nice fine zest and then you can use it for every other recipe we do! You can even see the zest in the photo. HARRUMPH.

Anyway, enjoy!

If you’re looking for more beef recipes, you could do no better than having a look on the links below! I’ve also thrown in some vegetarian recipes because, although this isn’t a veggie recipe, there’s lots more salads in there!

beefsmallvegetariansmall

J

beef and bacon stroganoff – quick and easy comfort food!

Here for the beef and bacon stroganoff? Well of COURSE you are. It’s take take take with you! But, as usual, before we get to the recipe, a preamble…

James is running late, he rang me from inside the multi-storey car park shouting and bawling about the barrier being broken – I could barely hear him over the sound of his car, his rage and my Now That’s What I Call Soviet National Anthems CD. I made out the words ‘…’king sick of this cun…’ and ‘as much fucking use as a sandpaper tampon’ then he cut out. He’ll be home soon, but I thought I’d do a blog entry for once. Poor guy. Poor you lot.

This week I managed to find a major motivator to lose weight in somewhere that I least suspected – clothes. That’s right. Despite being two of the most uninterested people in fashion as well as being the most unfashionable people out there, it was trying to find a nice suit for a job interview that really hit home how much we need to lose weight.

I have more trouble than James on this front – despite him being a good few stone heavier than me he’s also got another half a foot, so his chub is much more easily spread out – he’s like a wardrobe – whereas I’m more like a chest of drawers. Or imagine sputnik balanced on a chubby pair of thighs. It’s a bloody nightmare to find anything that fits properly, if at all. It’s like trying to dress a car accident.

As we’ve previously touched upon, we’ve finally found somewhere that caters to our needs that doesn’t result in 100% polyester or finding them between rows of Pringles – except for a Jacamo run on payday we often finds ourselves strutting around a local garden centre and a franchise of Cotton Traders. I know, I know, we’re not on deaths door or enfeebled but the stuff fits. Well, it fits James – I have to make do with a chequered bit of cotton that sits over my belly but results in the breast pocket being underneath my tit, and the bottom of the shirt floating around near my knees, which if I don’t tuck in ends up billowing about like a curtain in a Celine Dion video.

So it all came to a head when I needed a nice suit for a job interview – there’s a few suits in our wardrobe but they’re all suspiciously high in acrylic (it came to a point a few weeks ago that we had to chuck a few out because every time we swished open the floor to ceiling wardrobe door, there’d be a smell of plastic burning and an alarming amount of smoke). Plus, naturally, they are all far too small (keep hold of them…we’ll fit into them eventually, we say…).

Seeing as though I actually wanted this job we decided to splurge out on a reasonably priced one. So, being fat fucks and the garden centre of no use we went online to Jacamo and ordered a few, in different sizes so I could try one or the other and make a choice but all to no avail. I just cannot look good in a suit. At all. It feels like the shoulder pads are jutting out like I’m the sexiest milkmaid ever and I have to swing my arms around like a wind turbine to stop the sleeves from flapping about. It’s an absolute mare.

And, naturally, because it was something nice, the cats immediately took a dislike and left me looking like Grizabella with just a quick vag-flash and an ankle rub. So that was no good. I did manage, however, to hang on to the waistcoat which didn’t do too much of a bad job. It did make me look as though I was presenting Big Break alongside Professional Shitrat Jim Davison, but hey, you can’t have it all.

Perhaps I do need to lose weight then. I would love to be able to get something without schlepping out to a place where I can also get barbecue tongs and a lavender plant. As convenient as it is.

OOH I hear the door. One moment please. CUT TO ADVERTS.


Remember: our Musclefood deal is running for only three more days! 10% off! Canny deal – even if you don’t want it, share it with a friend!

FREEZER FILLER: 5kg (24/26) of big fat chicken breasts, 2kg (5 portions of 400g) less than 5% fat mince, 700g of bacon, 800g of extra lean diced beef and free standard delivery – use TCCFREEZER at checkout – £45 delivered!

BBQ BOX: 5kg (24/26) of big fat chicken breasts, two Irish rump steaks, 350g of bacon, 6 half-syn sausages, twelve giant half-syn meatballs, 400g diced turkeys, two juicy one syn burgers, two bbq chicken steaks, free delivery, season and 400g seasoned drumsticks (syn-free when skin removed) – use TCCSUMMER at checkout – £45 delivered!

Remember, you can choose the day you want it delivered and order well in advance – place an order now for a couple of weeks time and they’ll only take the payment once the meat is dispatched! Right, that’s enough of that.


Eee yes! Anyway, flying in the face of all of the above, we’re having chippy tea tonight because we’ve had some good news. GASP. But listen, I’m not going to let you down with thoughts of James pushing a spam fritter around his face like a greasy sponge. So let’s get tonight’s recipe done. You can reduce the syns in this by making a proper white sauce but you know sometimes when you get home from work, you want to sit on the settee with your bollocks out doing fuck all? This is for one of those nights. It cooks itself pretty much. Plus, unless you’re super careful, all the white sauces on Slimming World end up looking like something scraped off the side of the bin at the GUM clinic, so, make this, use your syns and rock on. This makes enough for four, so the syns in the soup aren’t that much per serving!

beef and bacon stroganoff

to make beef and bacon stroganoff, you’ll need:

At 15 syns for the whole dish, I’ll call it 4 syns a serving. I know that’s not quite right but hey.

to make beef and bacon stroganoff, you should:

  • chop up your onions, the green pepper and the mushrooms nice and fine
  • sweat it off in a few squirts of spray oil (not Frylight, haway) with the minced garlic
  • add the mince and the chopped bacon and cook it off with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • add in the frozen peas
  • pour the condensed soup into a jug and add the milk – you want a nice thick sauce – you’re not going to have loads of it, but that’s the point
  • lower the heat, add the soup to the mix and simmer gently just to thicken it up – if you want more sauce, add more milk and then simmer it for longer
  • cook the noodles, drain, add the sauce, serve!

 

Easy! Sounds complicated but it’s really just chop, chop, cook, cook, mix. Even you can do that! Oh and we’ve done a couple of stroganoff recipes before, too:

OK, if you want more pasta recipes or beef recipes, go ahead and click on the buttons below.

beefsmallpastasmall

Enjoy!

P

homemade corned beef potato gratin

Homemade corned beef potato gratin? Homemade? Yes! Making your own corned beef is a lot easier than I imagined – not as easy as pulling your pork or stuffing your fish taco, but bear with me. If you’re a lazy arse, don’t worry, you can use tinned corned beef, but I wanted to see if I could make a very low syn version – and I succeeded. Of course! No theme for today’s blog post, so I’m just going to rattle off a few observations that don’t lend themselves to a full blog article.

Let’s begin with Naked Attraction on Channel 4. Ostensibly a dating show, it’s a crude little performance masquerading as a serious look at attraction. To put it succinctly, it’s an excuse for everyone to gawk at a few cocks for 60 minutes. Listen, it’s not like I’m averse to that, I love my daily intake of Vitamin D, but haway, on the telly? The only time I want to see an engorged prick when I turn the TV on is when Owen Smith hands in his resignation. Boom: biting political satire. The problem with this show is that there’s really no such thing as an attractive cock when it’s on the flop. If the guy isn’t packing heat, it ends up looking like one of those lugworm piles you see on the beach when the tide goes out. Like a walnut whip left in a slightly warm room. Similarly, if he’s a shower, it just looks like someone’s stuck a googly-eye on a length of intestine. A penis is a wonderful thing, regardless of whether it’s compact, coupe or stretch, and yes, it’s the motion not the meat, but please, erect only.

Damn, I actually should do a full article on the above. So many thoughts.

We had a trip out in the car yesterday to Seahouses, North Northumberland’s premier tat-shop hotspot. It was literally a trip in the car, because, after driving for what felt like eight hours behind some lovely old dear in a Fiat Euthanised doing about 6mph and throwing the brakes on every time the air over her chin-whiskers got a bit much. I reckon it would have been quicker for me to park up, jump into the North Sea and swim up the coast – I’d have done that but I didn’t want a human turd in my 99. By the time we had arrived in fair Seahouses, the car was actually running on the steam from my ears. When will people learn that it is just as dangerous to drive too bloody slow than it is to drive too fast? If I was PM, I’d make it legal to give these tiny, slow cars a gentle nudge into a layby or say, a combine harvester. I can’t imagine she was enjoying listening to Paul and I bewailing our way through We Don’t Need Another Hero that much.


You may not need another hero, but I bet you do need meat. We all do. We were approached by another company to try and shill their healthy seeds and flours and I said no, not my lot. They’re hungry. Here’s a wee deal:

advert - freezer-01


Seahouses was a bust. When I was young it was the go-to place for my parents to take me and my sister – it had the dual advantage that they could furnish us with a few quid and we’d look after ourselves in the arcades for a couple of hours whilst they sat outside and smoked. Sometimes they smoked inside for a change of scenery. It’s a perfect example of a town that should be so much more. For a start, it’s in an absolutely beautiful part of the country – fantastic beaches, amazing castles (Dunstanburgh, Bamburgh, Chillingham – all very different experiences and all marvellous), great food and the majesty of the North Sea.

I remember great places to eat, chips on the pier, rock-pooling, playing that shitty bingo above the arcades where you slid a plastic door over the numbers as they were called and won a packet of J-Cloths for a full house. Now there’s a Co-op, a litany of awful trying-to-be-upmarket gift shops, an expensive fish-and-chips place and a sense of general ennui. I took the jackpot out of a Deal or no Deal fruitie on the seafront and I genuinely thought I was going to get stabbed on the way out. I’d have had less eyes on me if I’d stripped naked and given Paul a rim-job over the Grace Darling commemorative buoy.

There used to be a brilliant arcade full of sit-on-rides and proper funfair type games – that’s gone – replaced by soulless, identikit apartment blocks that no doubt don’t have enough room to nudge-nudge-nudge your lemon in. Yeah, some rich la-de-dah has a sea-view and somewhere to put those awful inspirational-shite-on-a-piece-of-driftwood wall-art that you can see fading in every gift-shop within flying distance from a seaside town, but where’s my chance to win an asbestos-stuffed Sanic the Hodgeheg from a fixed claw machine? Eh?

I should have learned my lesson from the last time we visited – this time with Paul’s severely autistic brother. He disliked the place so much he got himself worked up into a sulk and wouldn’t get out of the car for love nor money. He had the right idea. We should follow his sage advice – my favourite story ever involves him asking his mother to buy that tea-tree and mint Original Source shampoo because ‘it makes my head feel like it’s sucking on a giant mint Polo’. I love that, he’s brilliant.

I’m perhaps doing the place a disservice for the sake of a tongue-in-cheek blog entry. It’s still worth a visit. Remember, I have rose-tinted (well, more nicotine-stained) glasses from childhood visits with school and family. As a returning adult, I see all that has disappeared and wince at what has replaced it. Perhaps it was the fact we arrived at 3pm on a Saturday (to be fair, we’d set off at 5pm on Tuesday but thanks to that auld cow in the Fiat…) but it was all very meh.

One glimmer of hope, though: ONE of the tat-shops remains. I think it’s called Farne Gift Shop but don’t rely on that, I saw the name through a red-mist of pure rage as I drove in. It hasn’t changed a jot – it was a relief to find that the giant pencil with ‘SEAHOUSES AND BAMBRUGH’ smeared down the side in lead paint was still tucked away on the shelf where I regrettably left it when I was 8. It’s literally a shop full of tat: tea-towels with a ‘HERE’S TO A HAPPY FUTURE’ message for Charles and Diana, jigsaw boxes devoid of all colour from being left in the sun for eighty-seven years, sticks of rock to prise your fillings up and tonnes of other nonsense. I loved it.

We had a moment of hilarity when Paul discovered something which he’d been referencing for years: a donkey which shits out cigarettes. Apparently his mother had one, along with a toilet ashtray which dispensed a little bit of sand to snuff out your fag – and I’d never believed such a thing existed. Well, here we had one – I wanted to buy one to really class up our living room but Paul pointed out that a) neither of us smoke and b) our furnishings aren’t being paid for in weekly installments. Spoil-sport.

To show that I’m not making it up, click here to view the donkey in it’s full ‘glory’. What I love about that listing is that it’s filed under ‘Cigar Accessories’, as though it’s a classy humidor or a tasteful engraved ashtray like the one that did Saskia in. I can’t imagine ever having a conversation where I’m offering someone a Colorado Maduro and when they gratefully accept, waving their hand away and saying ‘but wait, watch it emerge from a donkey’s arse!’. Actually, that’s a filthy lie. I totally can.

No, do give Seahouses a go. If you’ve never been, have a weekend away on our coast. It’s amazing. I’m planning a proper paean in the future to the wonderful world where I live, so keep an eye out for that, but in short, come see the castles, have a trip out on the boats to Holy Island, enjoy our beautiful beaches and have some cinder toffee. Just understand that if you get in front of me on the roads and your car has dust on all the numbers above 25 on the speedometer, you’ll get three minutes of me smiling at you politely before I drive into your boot and throttle you with my bare hands. I’ll do it, prison holds no fear for me.

Right, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? I’ll do it in two stages. If you want to make your own corned beef – and you should, mind, because it’s really bloody easy, follow the first bit. If you’re going to chicken out and buy tinned, buy decent quality or get the fuck out. Sadly, I didn’t take a picture of the prepared corned beef, but that’s because it looks like a bit of body that’s been trapped in a weir for two weeks. Now, I can’t claim any credit for this recipe – it comes from Manna and Spice – I’ve just tweaked it to make it Slimming World friendly. The process is simple – make a brine, cure the meat, cook the meat. Done!

to make your own homemade cured corned beef, you’ll need:

  • 275g of kosher salt (you can buy this in Tesco – if you use table salt, add a bit more – maybe increase it to 350g)
  • a decent cut of brisket beef – fat removed – we used 2.75kg which we had cut from a butcher in Newcastle’s Grainger Market – and it was lovely – but you can also get them from Musclefood by clicking here, albeit you’ll need to buy three to get the same weight – which is fine, because it all goes into one pot anyway)
  • 50g of sugar (10 syns – and it’s up to you whether to syn this, but understand this – the corned beef probably makes enough for 20 servings, the sugar goes into the brine and well, you’re not drinking the brine, are you? So, per serving, the syns are infinitesimal)
  • don’t use sweetener, for crying out loud: you’re making something special, not trying to pretend your options and egg omelette is a fucking chocolate cake taste extravaganza)
  • 150ml of cider vinegar
  • 5-6 bay leaves
  • 10-12 pods cardamom, lightly crushed in your pestle and mortar
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorn, lightly crushed
  • 2 tbsp allspice berries, lightly crushed
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp prague powder
  • 1 gallon warm water

Now: that’s a big long list. Don’t shit yerself if you haven’t got everything in – we were lucky, we had almost everything bar the juniper berries, but if you want to miss some out, don’t stress. One thing I’ll say though, take a look at your indoor markets wherever you live – there’s bound to be a spice merchant or similar where you can buy small quantities of the ingredients for pennies. It’s what we do!

ALSO, important: that prague powder on the list. I bet you’re wondering what the fuck that is. It’s a curing salt and it stops the meat going a bell-end grey. It’s what makes corned beef pink. You can buy it from Amazon right here for a fiver.


I can’t stress enough that if you change the weight of your meat, change the amount of prague powder accordingly. If you use less meat, use less powder!


to make your own homemade cured corned beef, you should:

  • make a brine by pouring the liquid into a nice big pan, adding the salt and the sugar, dissolving them over a low heat, add everything else bar the meat, warm through and then tip the meat into the brine
  • cover with a tight-fitting lid and leave somewhere cool for five days, but preferably ten – making sure the lid is airtight and that there’s enough liquid to completely cover the meat throughout the ten days
  • once you’re ready to cook, simply take the meat, give it a bit of a rinse under cool water to remove the brine and put into a slow cooker with enough hot water to cover maybe a third of it
  • cook on low for about eight hours
  • once it’s done, allow to cool completely and then slice against the grain of the meat into nice thick chunks

Done!

Now I’m not daft, I know most of you are going to read all that, think fuck that for a game of soldiers, and go open up a tin of Arseholes and Eyelids Special from Fray Bentos. Can’t blame you, but really, it takes no effort to cure your own once you have all the bits you need, and it tastes that much nicer, trust me. If you choose to use tinned corned beef for the recipe below, remember to syn it! Right. Aside from a tonne of sandwiches and whatnot, I decided to make the corned beef into a tasty gratin – essentially a fancy layering of various delicious things. Again, I’m not claiming the idea for this recipe either (though I’ve adapted it considerably to make it Slimming World friendly) – all credit goes to Kevin at KevinIsCooking. His photos look better than mine, but to be fair to me, I was too concerned with getting it into my big fat mouth to fart about taking pictures. Right, let’s do this. Oh! Before I DO start, look, this recipe uses a few syns. It’s worth it. I’m sure you could replicate it with a Muller Yoghurt strained through Mags’ hair and mixed with Splenda, but don’t bother.

homemade corned beef potato gratin

to make homemade corned beef potato gratin, you’ll need:

  • lots and lots of lovely sliced homemade corned beef (syn free) or tinned corned beef (synned, and what price dignity)
  • two or three large potatoes (preferably something wet – the extra special potatoes from ASDA are perfect for this recipe)
  • 500ml of semi skimmed milk (250ml is a HEA and this serves four – so two people’s HEA or 12 syns)
  • 2 tbsp of corn flour (2 syns)
  • four sliced shallots
  • a big bag of brussels sprouts
  • 30g of parmesan (a HEA, or 6 syns)
  • lots of salt and pepper

Right, so, if no-one uses a HEA, this is 4.5 syns per serving. If you decide to use a HEA for your milk or cheese, knock some syns off. Let’s go!

to make homemade corned beef potato gratin, you should:

  • put that oven up to 220 degrees and give a nice square casserole dish a bit of loving with some spray oil
  • now listen: the one thing that is going to make your job easier today is a mandolin slicer with a guard – get one, you’ll get perfectly uniform slices and, used correctly, you’ll not take off your fingertips – you can click here for one – stop being a cheapskate, especially now it’s on sale!
  • using the mandolin or a knife, slice the potatoes into 1/8th inch thick slices
  • do the same with the shallots
  • do the same with the sprouts
  • do the hokey-cokey and turn around
  • that’s what it’s all about
  • put the potato into a pan and cover with milk, simmer for eight minutes or so just to take the crunch out of the potatoes and then allow to cool
  • layer the potato into the casserole dish – not all of it mind, then add corned beef, then shallots, then the sprouts – then repeat with the rest of the ingredients until you’ve used it all up
  • whisk (quickly) the flour into the milk, add a pinch of salt and pepper and pour over the layers – add the parmesan on the top
  • bake for around fifty minutes until the top looks all crunchy and delicious
  • wait: don’t rush in, allow to cool and firm up – then serve with peas!

This isn’t a thick, creamy sauce – that’s because you’re a bad person and you’re on Slimming World and most thick sauces tend to split – but it is very, very tasty and filling. Don’t like sprouts? Why not, don’t you like farting for England and smelling like a discarded settee? Swap them out for peppers or cabbage or anything. Sweet potatoes could be used instead of normal potatoes, though simmer them for less time. If the top of your gratin is burning but the rest isn’t done, just cover it with foil and cook for a bit longer.

Done!

Christ, am I tired now. If you’re looking for more delicious beef recipes, click on the button below and get yourself ready for a hot beef injection.

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Enjoy. I’m off to wrap my fingers in gauze.

J