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, yolks, 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.

beefsmall

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

J

beef in a black bean sauce

I bet you’re here for the beef in a black bean sauce, aren’t you? Well, before we get to the main event, let me tease you with some words. Thoughtplay, if you prefer. Nah, it’s not that posh. The bits in my blog before the recipes are the equivalent of a chav spitting on his fingers beforehand. Before I do, though…


Our Musclefood deal runs for another couple of days only – 10% off our already amazing value freezer box! It’s a delivered chilled box of wonder – with 24/26 big fat chicken breasts, 800g of extra lean beef chunks, 2kg of extra lean beef mince and lots and lots of bacon. It’s usually £50 – which is cheap when compared to what you’d pay in the shop – but we’ve knocked off 10% for ONE WEEK ONLY. This brings it down to £45 – the cheapest it has ever been. Remember you can choose the date of delivery and payment doesn’t come out until your chosen date, so you can order in advance. To order, just click this link, add to basket, add the code TCCFREEZER and choose standard delivery – £45! Easy! But this is for ONE WEEK ONLY.


Sorry, we’re not normally so heavy with the advert, but well, it only runs for a little bit longer, and you’ll be twisting your gob if you try and buy it and it’s full-price, so buy it now. Hell, you can use the beef chunks to make the recipe below!

We’ve been swimming. Good god I know. Normally we confine getting our tits out to times when we’re at least two large water masses away from the UK, but balls to that – literally buoyed up with goodwill from the gym, we thought we’d dip our toe in the water, not least before all the swimming pools in the United Kingdom get filled up with cement and turned into posh hat shops. Anyway, look at the state of us – at least you know we’re going to float with all the blubber.

I love the thought of swimming – I enjoy thinking about getting up early, getting myself a nice fresh towel, driving myself to the baths and doing a few luxurious lengths of the pool before laughing gaily in the changing rooms and talking of times past with some accountant with a verruca. It never happens though. It’s probably the early morning – we have four alarms in the morning and it’s only the fourth, an exceptionally loud chorus of Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl playing through every speaker in the house, that gets us up. There’s a lot to be said for having a fancy connected house sound-system but having that tangerine-faced little shit-tickler caterwauling throughout until you get to the iPad and turn him off isn’t one of them.

I did used to swim with my old flatmate, Mary, but she stopped going when she thought the chlorinated water was giving her cystitis. Not the regular parade of blokes you understand, but the mild waters of Hexham baths. She’d put on a coach over the weekend. I’ve always fancied having a pop at wild swimming, which, from what I understand from the Guardian, is where lots of people whose first name ends in a -reh or a -rah sound get together, show off their varicose veins, swim in a river and then stop for an elderflower press on the way home. That’s fine but my closest river is the Wansbeck and I don’t fancy swimming using someone else’s recently passed stool as earplugs. Plus, remember, I’m scared of dams and sluices and grates and weirs. I’d wind up having a panic attack in the water near a sewage pipe and end up with Michael Buerk narrating my dramatic rescue, with candid overhead shots of me being winched into the helicopter on a slab of tarpauline like the time that poor whale got stuck in the Thames. Fuck that.

Now, the last time we did venture into a swimming pool that we hadn’t rented all to ourselves was at David Lloyd, where the pool comes with a steam room that makes you smell like oranges. Which is great, given a lot of the ladies (and indeed most of the men) had the skin colour of a bottle of Tropicana as it was. We didn’t enjoy it because there were so many beady eyes watching us attempt to swim, so we sat in the jacuzzi farting just as hard as we could. If you’re going to be snooty with me, Madam, you can enjoy the smell of pizza stuffed meatloaf dispersed through so many jets of bubbles.

So anyway, it was at 8am on Saturday morning that found us pouring into Paul’s Smart car, destined for the salubrious wonderland that is Morpeth Riverside Leisure Centre. See, Morpeth is canny posh and we thought most of the residents would be too busy making soufflé or beating their help to be bearing witness to our attempts. The morning hadn’t started well – the swimming shorts that I had previously worn in Corsica had somehow shrunk in the wash (yes, that was it) meaning the netting inside pressed right up against my clockweights, giving them the impression of an overstuffed tangerine bag. Paul was fine, his elephant’s elbow were tucked away neatly. I cut out the netting, thinking at least I’d be able to use him like a rudder if the water was warm.

It wasn’t, by the way.

But I will say this – it was very enjoyable! Yes, you’ve got to get changed in front of everyone else, and yes, there’s always one man see-sawing a towel in his arse-crack like he’s rubbing out an error in an exam, and yes, everything jiggles, but once you’re in the water and swimming, it’s actually very pleasant. Burns about 500 calories an hour if you swim slowly, though let’s be realistic. Unless you’re committed, you’ll do one length and then fart about in the shallow end for an hour before it’s a reasonable time to get out and get a Mars bar from the vending machine. Paul likes me to go underwater and swim between his legs, but I’ve stopped doing that since he left a racing stripe on my freshly-shaved head. We will definitely be talking about going back.

In the meantime, if you fancy giving wild swimming a go, have a look here!

By the way, not going to make a fuss, but we lost 10lb between us this week 🙂

beef in a black bean sauce

This makes 4 VERY generous portions!

to make beef in a black bean sauce you will need:

  • 800g beef strips (two packs from our Musclefood deal!)
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1″ knob of fresh ginger, minced (for the garlic and ginger, use a mincer, you’ll have it done in a doddle – click here for ours!)
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 3 tbsp black beans, mashed up a little bit (this is optional – they’re a bugger to find!) (though we found ours in our local Chinese supermarket, fermented – tasty!)
  • 2 red chilli peppers, sliced thinly
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

for the marinade:

  • 1 tsp sesame oil (2 syns)
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

for the sauce

  • 160ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce

Don’t worry if you don’t have dark and light soy sauce just make do with one of the other!

to make beef in a black bean sauce you should:

  • firstly, mix together all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl
  • place the diced beef into a freezer bag or bowl, drizzle over the marinade, shake it up and marinade for at least 20 minutes but ideally overnight, though I know, you’ll be cooking it the very second the minute hand sweeps past thirty
  • when ready to cook, mix all of the sauce ingredients together and set aside
  • heat a large pan over a high heat and add a little oil or a few squirts of Frylight
  • lob in the beef and cook until browned
  • remove the beef from the pan, add a little bit more oil/Frylight and throw in the onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a few minutes
  • chuck in the red peppers and black beans (if using) and cook for a bit longer until the peppers have softened
  • next, add in the red chilli, rice vinegar and spring onions and return the beef to the pan
  • stir for a minute, add the sauce, cook for another thirty seconds and serve with rice!

You can actually cheerfully leave out the black beans, though they do add something to the dish. Try and use low salt soy sauce if you can. Enjoy!

For more fakeaway recipe ideas or beef ideas, click the icons below!

beefsmall  fakeawayssmall

J

best ever spaghetti bolognese

Yes! The best ever spaghetti bolognese! Well no, you can do so much better by adding things like bone marrow or bacon or delicious dates but I don’t want to be responsible for any weigh-in-ladies getting slapped around the chops, so this is the best you can do within a reasonable amount of syns. We have done a syn free version way back when which you can find here.

Anyway, we weren’t going to post today but see we were discussing in bed this morning our old crushes. Everyone has them – that one celebrity that makes you damp and uncomfortable in the minnie-moo area. Because Paul’s common, most of his were characters from Eastenders because seemingly that was all that was on in the smokehouse where he grew up. Mine are a little more cultured. Pffft. Without further delay:

Paul’s old crushes – then and now

IMG_2890

What can we take from this? Well, it certainly explains why he calls me Sonia during sex and makes me do a little turn on the trumpet to kick things off. It also demonstrates that, if you were lucky enough to have teenage Paul rub one out over the thought of you, you are blessed with immortality and NEVER AGE. Seriously, aside from the chap on the bottom who has upgraded his weirdly phallic beard into a decent sculpted affair and Sean from 5ive looking slightly more boss-eyed, no-one has changed!

Bonus mentions for: the fat Di Marco from Eastenders (who I couldn’t put into the pictures because there’s not a recent photo of him – luckily he hasn’t died. Well no, his acting career has. Bitch). Reese from Malcolm in the Middle.

James’ old crushes – then and now

IMG_2889

Mine are a little more obvious, no? I ummed and aahed over that picture of Tyrone there – just to be clear, the actor is two years older than me so I’m SURE he’s over age then. AND I WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE 16, SO GIVE ME A BREAK. Anyway Paul and I both agree he’s aged well and we were both aghast and stiff when that evil walking Afro was setting about his nethers with the hoover extension. Bears and BDSM, what can I say. Viktor Krum was quite possibly more a case of being in love with his red jacket and furry muff than anything to do with those strong, Slavic eyebrows and jaw. He does however seem to have aged into someone you’d see on the front page of a local paper being sentenced for ripping off old ladies for bogus roof repairs. Pity. Oh and Travis Fimmel – now there’s an interesting one. I just can’t think what attracted me about the top left picture as a young’un – I remember I used to pass a giant billboard for Calvin Klein’s Crave on the way to college and there’s just something that caught my eye. That kind of look is the antithesis of the type of man that Paul and I find attractive – which makes it all the more curious that he now looks like someone we’d both let sit on our face and pedal our ears. Eee, isn’t lust fun.

Bonus mentions: Rhino and Shadow from Gladiators. I swear they’re about 60% responsible for my homosexuality. Not because of their looks, as such, but rather their costumes. Good lord. Thank goodness we didn’t have 3D TV’s back in the day – we would have needed to move the settee back a good half a foot. I vaguely remember liking Toadfish from Neighbours but a quick look at google images reveals that this couldn’t have been true given he used to look like a tiny version of Penn from Penn and Teller – or, nineties fans, the Head of the Witches Council from Sabrina. I never had much time for the dreamboats like Harvey from Sabrina or Billy Kennedy from Neighbours. Too pretty. I used to enjoy Janice’s bit on the side in Coronation Street (Dennis?) – he’s a bit of a gay icon! Oh and Krycek from The X-Files. And Mulder! And poor Pendrell! I’d go on, but it’s too difficult to type with the keyboard constantly being nudged away from me. So let’s do the recipe!

I’m putting this recipe up so you have a reason to use up the rest of the wine you might have used for our previous recipe for dirty macaroni. But come on. We both know you drank it, you filthy lush.

best ever spaghetti bolognese

to make the best ever spaghetti bolognese you will need:

to make the best ever spaghetti bolognese you should:

  • bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions – although for fucks sake, it’s spaghetti – boil it, eat it – if you can’t manage that, perhaps it’s time to give Dignitas a call
  • meanwhile, heat a large pan over a high heat and add a little oil

Just jumping in for a second – we get asked a lot about what pans we use that are non-stick enough not to need loads of oil. Now, I know there’s loads out there made from ceramic or teflon or whatever, and they’re probably alright, but we bought some Le Creuset casserole dishes a few years ago and genuinely use the big casserole dish every single day – without anything sticking and (gasp) we clean it in the dishwasher. They are expensive – very expensive – but absolutely and utterly worth it. Buy cheap and buy twice, after all. Amazon currently have a discount – why not treat yourself?

  • add the mince and cook until browned
  • remove the mince from the pan using a slotted spoon into a bowl and set aside
  • in the same pan quickly cook the onions for 3-4  minutes
  • add the chopped garlic and cook for another 2 minutes
  • add the chicken stock to the pan to deglaze (i.e. get your wooden spoon and scrape all the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan) and stir the onions often until the stock has reduced by half
  • add the wine to the pan and do the same again
  • add the bay leaves to the pan and the passata, bring to the boil
  • reduce the heat slightly and cook until it has thickened slightly, which will take about 6 minutes or so. add salt and pepper to taste
  • remove the bay leaves, add the mince and the spaghetti to the pan and mix to combine
  • serve with lots of black pepper, parmesan from your HEA and some basil leaves

DELICIOUS.

If you’re looking for more pasta or beef recipes, click on the links below!

beefsmall pastasmall

Now I’m off to put my greengrocer’s tabard on for Paul.

J

stuffed onions and a revelation

You want a recipe for stuffed onions – listen, I understand – you can find it just below the next few paragraphs of gibberish. 

Firstly, welcome to all our new subscribers. Not sure what has happened but we seem to have gained over 800 subscribers in the space of a few weeks! Goodness. Just a quick bit of admin before we get started – we’re not Slimming World consultants, so everything we say shouldn’t be taken as gospel, but we have been following the plan for years and are confident our recipes stack up syn-wise. We’re obliged to tell you that we’re definitely not Slimming World Official though. Which is good, as it means I can say fuck. Thank fuck!

Secondly, I know, we’re terrible. We went away on another holiday. Because Berlin, Ireland, Corsica, Iceland and New York just weren’t enough. One of the benefits of homosexuality, see, pink disposable income and no money-draining children to look after. The extent of our responsibility is to make sure that we leave the cats plenty of food to be getting on with and leaving instructions with our lovely neighbours for the alarm code. To be fair, it has been a bit of a topsy-turvy couple of weeks and we needed a break. We decamped to glorious Cornwall for a few days in a lovely cottage with an outdoor bath, and you can be assured that I’ll rattle off a couple of entries of our thoughts on that in due course.

However, we must take a moment to stop with the gurning and sarcasm and be serious for a moment. You’re going to laugh because I’m sure long-term readers will have read sentiments like this several times over on this blog, but we’re recommitted. We had a run of ‘big events’ at the end of March – birthday, a death, a hen party, a work night out, which then followed by a holiday means a big gain. This can’t go on! We can’t keep losing weight for a few weeks and then hoying it all back on in a glut of naughty food and too much alcohol. You know when you see some ashen-faced chunker on This Morning being told that if they don’t lose weight, they’ll die / be unable to have kids / need someone to come in with a block-and-tackle to get them off the sofa before Gino D’Acampo comes on to do his bit on spaghetti? You see the moment of realisation hit them as if they’ve seen the runners putting the buffet table away.

Well, Paul and I have both had that moment of realisation. A simultaneous awakening. I picked up a sack of potatoes in Morrisons (my life isn’t always this cosmopolitan) and realised it weighed five stone. Realistically, I could probably stand to lose one and a half of these sacks. It’s no wonder I ache all the time carrying around all this extra fat – I have arthritis and I should give my joints a rest. I’m tired of getting out of what I thought was an empty bath only for half the bathwater that was dammed behind my back fat suddenly appear with a loud fart noise. I’m sick of worrying whenever I get on an aeroplane that:

  1. the seatbelt won’t fit;
  2. I’ll be sat next to someone who will tut and sigh when he sees me stumbling down the aisle; and
  3. if the plane crashes, I’ll pop the escape slide on the way down, although the resulting blast of air might put out the fire, so perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.

I’m genuinely sad that I have to buy my clothes from online piano-dressers Jacamo or, if I’m lucky, I might find a shirt hidden right at the back of the rail in Tesco that doesn’t make me look like a hot air balloon crash. As I reckon a lot of fat people do, I’m constantly worried that I’m sweaty or that I smell. Which is ridiculous. I wear Tom Ford, for goodness sake. I’m horrendously unfit too – I get out of breath when my mind wanders, let alone a long country walk. More importantly, if I carry on – and if I haven’t already – I’m going to wreck my body and die young. I don’t want to die young, I want to be an old man who shouts at children and releases silent farts on public transport. To be fair, I do both now, but I want to be able to pretend to be deaf to the cries of my fellow passengers.

I know Paul feels the same, and then some. See, whereas I have a decent height to carry off my weight, so at least don’t look like a sphere with a face drawn on it, Paul came up short in the lottery of legs and looks like a wee egg in Build-a-Bear shoes. My dad, always the joker, described Paul as a skip. That’s my dad’s humour (and where I get it from) but Paul will cheerfully agree that he is skip-like – certainly, you can put anything into him without resistance. That’s come in handy during our marriage. I’d love my husband if he became so fat that he collapsed in on himself and turned into a puddle of Crisp ‘n’ Dry and gristle, but as it stands, we’re racing each other to the grave. He’s been told he has a fatty liver – personally, I’d be surprised if his liver didn’t have a butter-top like a breakfast crumpet – and he’s also been recommended to try Orlistat, which immediately and secretly voids any ingested fat out of your anus. We’re refusing on the grounds that we’ve just bought a new car and sofa and the last thing we need is carrot-orange liquid fat seeping out of his underwear. We buy our briefs from Tesco, they’re hardly going to keep the floods back. 

We did have a discussion about continuing with Slimming World, though. Deep down, I do feel that the plan is a little too restrictive and yes, whilst it certainly gets results, there’s a lot of rebounding that goes on with the diet. I’ve seen many, many ‘success stories’ fill out and slip back over the years. I sometimes feel that if we simply followed the calories out being more than calories in rule, we’d probably lose and – whisper it – enjoy it more. I hate the fact that an avocado – a perfectly healthy, good for you snack – has more syns than a Kitkat. I dislike the fact that you’re actively encouraged to almost bathe in Muller Lights, despite them being absolutely loaded with sweetener and sugar – but a drop of honey is dreadful. Plus, it’s all a bit twee. I’m not a fan of the nuclear smiles and the edifying, cloying language used in the magazines and books, either. 

However, it’s what we know, and what we write about, so we’re going to really give it a go. Increase our speed foods. Keep a food diary. Exercise more. Stop being lazy. Stay to group and clap until our hands look like a prostitute’s labia majora. I’m not promising a post a day but hell, we’ve got several lined up, so stay tuned. I’ll even dust off the knobometer at some point, but not until we’re back to the weight we last left it at. 

Oh: we have Fitbit Charge HRs now – these measure our steps, heart-rate and sleep patterns. My Charge HR’s heartbeat monitor was going mad as I took it out of the box but that’ll be the shock of paying for the fucking thing. If you want to add us as friends, look for jaymes@twochubbycubs.com and paul@twochubbycubs.com and go from there. If you’re on the fence about Fitbits, get one. What’s the worst that’ll happen? It does look like the world’s chicest bail tag but hey. I’m just glad it got all the way around my wrist – I would have hated to have to email asking for an extension. You can pick one up from Amazon by clicking here – all the various options are set out clearly. Give it a go! When we figure it out, we’ll set up some twochubbycubs challenges and you can win a branded pinny or something.

Finally, thanks all for entering into the spirit of things and giving our Musclefood competition a go – I’ll be drawing out the lucky name tomorrow and sending an email to the winner in the next couple of days. If you’ve entered, keep your eyes open!

Let’s get to the food then, eh? Stuffed onions! No really. Hear me out.

stuffed onions

Don’t they look pretty? We served ours on a bed of couscous because we’re all frou-frou like that. Do you see what I did there? This makes enough mixture to fill six decent sized onions. We used large white onions from Morrisons – they’re an actual thing, not just a description – proper white onions. But you can do this with any large onion, though obviously if it’s a bog-standard onion it’ll be very oniony. Yes.

to make stuffed onions, you’ll need:

  • one 400g pack of extra-lean beef mince (like the ones you get in our fantastic freezer filling Musclefood deal that we’ve secured exclusively for you – click here for that!)
  • six large white onions
  • 125g of chopped onion, which you can take from the onions you cook with
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced using a fabulous mincer like this one from Amazon
  • pinch of cayenne
  • beef stock cube
  • 1 egg
  • one small wholemeal breadbun (HEB) turned into breadcrumbs
  • optional: chopped peppers, mushrooms, peas

and to make stuffed onions, you should:

  • turn the oven onto 190 degrees
  • to prepare each onion – cut the top and bottom off the onion so that it can sit ‘upright’, with the hole at the top being wide enough to get a tablespoon into – then slowly scoop out the centre of the onion using your spoon. It’s far easier than it sounds, though a messy job. You’ll get a couple of layers out and then you can actually squeeze the rest out, leaving a thick layer on the outside – cover the hole at the bottom with a bit of onion and there you go, onions you can stuff – I stood mine up in a Yorkshire pudding tray so they didn’t tumble over
  • to make the stuffing – fry off the onion and garlic gently until golden, adding the pepper, cayenne and salt as you go – I use a few squirts of Filipo Berio rather than Frylight, boo – up to you if you syn this half syn between four people. If you do, get out now, you’re not for this blog
  • add the mushrooms, peppers or peas if you’re using them
  • add the mince and cook until browned
  • crumble over the beef stock cube
  • whilst everything is hot, crack the egg into the mince and stir vigorously – you don’t want scrambled eggs
  • add the breadcrumbs
  • spoon into the onions, making them nice and packed, and cook for around thirty minutes until golden – keep an eye to make sure they don’t burn!

Enjoy. Serve with speed foods on the side, naturally.

We’re back!

J