cheesy bacon chicken goujons – my word, so good

Cheesy bacon chicken goujons. Cheese? Bacon? Chicken? I’ll prep the defibrillator for your stopped heart and Paul will fetch a mop for the slug trail you’re leaving. These are bloody lovely – normally we’d suggest dipping them into a ranch dip but frankly, as I don’t want to hasten your consultant to eternal slumber, let’s keep the syns low and serve with beans. We’ll get to the recipe in a moment, you understand, but first, nonsense. If you can’t be arsed to read, just click on the OVER-AGED RIPE STINKER below:

Thank god they’ve left. Someone had their make-up gun set to whore, am I right? Let us begin…hey, remember though, I love getting feedback on the holiday entries. I read them all!

click here for part one | click here for part two

We decided, given our somewhat alcohol-tinged gadabouting the previous night, that we would do the Very British Thing and have a day by the pool, only moving to eat, burn and bask. Normally we’re quite good at getting “out and about” when we go on holiday but you know what, sometimes all a boy wants to do is lie back, singe his titties and ogle the lifeguards. Actually, scratch that last bit – the lifeguards looked about 12 years old and would struggle pulling the plug out of an empty bath. I had no high hopes that if I suffered cardiac arrest from doing half a minute of gentle swimming that they’d be able to hoist my bloated corpse out of the jacuzzi area. I’d be left there for time evermore, bubbling away in the heated jets and turning into James soup.

So, on that alluring note, we decided (against our alcohol-souzed brains’ better judgments) to rise early and go downstairs for the buffet breakfast, which was thoughtfully included in our hotel booking. Good food soaks up booze, after all – but catastrophe. We got to the buffet floor only to find a queue of elderly people all sucking their teeth and murmuring. It was like a sequel to Cocoon, only with Spanish dubbing. By joining the queue we actually lowered the mean age of the queue by forty eight years. It was like being on the flight to Corsica all over again, where I was absolutely sure we’d accidentally boarded a pilgrimage to Dignitas. The queue shuffled as slowly as you can imagine it would (if you’ve ever tried doing your lunch shopping in Marks and Spencer when they’ve put the £10 meal deal on, you’ll catch my drift – that’s right, isn’t it Alan?) and when we eventually arrived at the front we were shouted at by some officious bloke on the desk who couldn’t understand my room number of 2002. He asked me to repeat it every which way possible – Paul was set to do some interpretative dance – before finally caving in and letting us through. Here, mate – I’m not that fucking enamoured with bright red overcooked Spanish sausages that look like diseased dogs’ dicks that I’m running a breakfast racket, alright?

Oh and you better believe that this repeated itself over and over throughout the holiday. Every morning the same problem, the same jobsworth man with a face full of woe, the same discussion. On the penultimate day I actually took a picture of the room number on our door as proof but Paul wouldn’t let me show it.

We sat down to breakfast. Actually, I sat down, Paul was dispatched to find coffee and orange juice. I can only presume he walked to Seville for the oranges because by the time he reappeared he’d grown a grey beard and a zimmer frame. Turns out he’d just picked them up by osmosis from being trapped in a crowd of the elderly at the omelette station. Coffee downed for fortitude we went for our food, promising each other that we would be healthy. Paul wandered off to the yoghurts and fruit station, I went straight for the gold – cooked breakfast. I know, Englishman aboard and all that shite, but I wanted something to line my stomach and a fucking Activia yoghurt and some sawmill muesli wasn’t going to cut it.

Now, do you know, this was actually a very good breakfast. I’ll refrain from listing all the delicious things they had, not least because I don’t want you getting a wide-on when I mention fried bread, fried bacon, fried eggs and fried milk (not even kidding). However, it was here that I met my holiday nemesis. I met me! I was reaching for the ladle for the beans when some fat fuckface actually pushed my arm out of the way to get there first. I followed his arm, slightly aghast, only to realise it was attached to the body of someone who was almost my double – same glasses, same shaved head, same beard, same build – honestly, if I ever needed a stunt double this would be my guy. I mean, it wasn’t a complete replica – his cheap trainers let him down and he was almost certainly wearing Lynx as opposed to my Tom Ford – but it was so close. He was 100% definitely on my bus too – I could tell by the way he was pursing his lips in a ‘yeah and what’ face at me.

In any other timeline, where Paul had blinked out of existence, it would have been at the very most ten minutes before we were having animalistic hot twin-sex over the hash-browns, but because he was rude, that was it, no chance. We made our way down the queue together, me behind tutting at his choice of fried egg over poached, me sighing theatrically when he put the mushrooms spoon in with the cubed potatoes, him huffing when I took the last bit of bacon. The tension was palpable. Also, he was one of those people who feel the need to tower their food at a buffet rather than eating like a normal person. I was hoping, praying even, that the sole of his Aldi trainers would come loose and send him crashing to the floor, but alas, God, you let me down again.

Now, it doesn’t end there. When I got back to our table and breathlessly (well, it was a long buffet) recounted my tale of meeting my double to Paul, he told me a similar story – he too had bumped into ‘me’ and then, to top it off, had then spotted him making his own way back to his table where he sat down with a ‘Paul’ – Mama Cass with a five o’clock shadow. Turns out we’d stumbled across an evil version of ourselves: just like when Sabrina the Teenage Witch met her evil twin Katrina. There’s a reference everyone will get! We christened them Jim and Saul and, much like the breakfast maître d’, they would haunt our holiday.

One thing we did notice: they were always miserable as sin. Every time we did spot them the bigger one had a face like he’d lost a fiver and found a pound and his long-suffering husband was trailing behind him like a condemned man. Paul and I have lots of faults, but we’re always bloody laughing.

With breakfast demolished and the chest pains subsided we returned for our room for Paul to ‘drop the kids off’. This took twenty five minutes, all time that I spent anxiously bouncing about on the balcony looking at all the sun-loungers disappearing under rolls of pink flesh. Have you seen videos on the tourists waiting for the bell so they can dash out and claim the sunbeds?

Actually, this is just over the road from where we were staying. I’d seen this video a week or two previous to the holiday and knew that we had no chance of a sun-lounger by the poolside. I kept trying to urge Paul to hurry up but ‘it was a slow mover up the charts’ apparently and we were in for the long-haul. So frustrating! By the time he had birthed, showered, dressed and suncreamed it was knocking onto 11am and yes, indeed, by the time we got down to the genuinely lovely pool there wasn’t a sun-lounger to be had. We wandered around ashen-faced before Paul let out a yell and made a dash as quick as a fat man with troublesome bowels dared – he’d spotted a couple leaving (possibly because we were blocking their sun) and their loungers were ours!

Anyway, here’s a video from our pool, together with our voices and faces and hairy shoulders. You poor sods.

What followed were a good few hours of relaxing, soaking up the sun and reading, mixed with a few little splashes in the pool. It was lovely, but I’ll be damned if I can make an interesting couple of paragraphs about it. So instead, let me touch on something else which I’ve mentioned before – don’t worry about your body when you’re on holiday! There were far too many ladies, bless, hiding their less than toned bodies behind giant towels or worse, sitting in a t-shirt sweating away. I know the feeling, I’ve done it myself – you’re worried that you’ll look awful when you step out in a bikini (OK I haven’t done that before) or go for a swim. Why though? Why giving a flying fuck what people around that pool think of you?

For a start, no-one is bloody looking anyway, and if they are it’s only to try and read the page of Take a Break that has been inked on your tit from lying out in the sun too long. Then there’s the small fact that, unless you are spectacularly unlucky, you’re never going to meet this same group of people ever again, unless you’re watching a Judge Rinder marathon. So for goodness sake, you spend so much money to get out there, let the wobbly bits, untanned streaks, saggy boobs and spaniel-ear-ballsacks hang loose. You’re a long time dead! The best looking people around that pool were the ones who walked with a bit of confidence, misguided or not. Schlepping around like a Babushka in your eighty-seven layers, face dripping with heat exhaustion, is never going to be a good look.

Now, let’s do the recipe and pick up this story next time. I can sense a lot of teeth gnashing going on. Least I hope it’s your teeth.

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


Cheesy bacon chicken goujons. I mean, you just WOULD.

cheesy bacon chicken goujons cheesy bacon chicken goujons

to make cheesy bacon chicken goujons you will need:

Oh god, look, just google panko. It’s a breadcrumb you can buy from most supermarkets. Or make your own. Technically this is 2.25 per serving, but if you’re going to shit the bed over quarter of a syn, why don’t you just go back to your ready-meals and crying into your Chat magazine?

to make cheesy bacon chicken goujons you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200ºC
  • lay a sheet of baking paper over a large baking sheet or tray
  • cook the bacon until it’s well done – we used our Optigrill which did the job perfectly but you can do yours however you like – make sure its really crisp!
  • put the bacon into a food processor (if you’re after a decent one you can’t beat a Magimix) and blitz until a quite coarse sand-like consistency
  • tip the bacon into the panko and add the cheese, and mix well – it’s not a bad idea to split the mixture into two bowls because as it starts to get a bit ‘claggy’ from the egg it won’t stick as well.
  • cut each chicken breast into 2/3 long slices
  • dip each goujon into the egg mix and roll in the panko until well coated
  • lay each goujon onto the baking sheet and spray with just a little oil (don’t go mad, it only needs a bit of a mist to help it brown off – this does the job perfectly!)
  • bake in the oven for 20 minutes (there’s no need to turn)

Enjoy! These really were lovely – good work.

Want more inspiration? What do we ever get from you? Psssh! Click the buttons below!

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J

golden turmeric chicken with beetroot and mint houmous

Tonight’s post of golden turmeric chicken with beetroot houmous will be a test to see whether I can stick to a simple, clean recipe without any chit-chat. Remember, we’re on a break! But you lot still need to be fed, after all…

OK a super quick diversion. Anyone else as sick as I am with hearing mouthbreathers chuntering on about the bloody Aldi slimming meals and how SW will doubtless ramp up the syns value of them in order to ‘protect their sales’? Way haway, they need to give their heads a wobble, stop trying to play Vera and shut the hell up. Here’s why the logic doesn’t stack up:

  • you can work out syn values on the calculator;
  • if they were that vindictive, they would do the same with Marks and Spencer’s half-syn sausages, wouldn’t they;
  • they wouldn’t allow Weight Watchers, their biggest rival both commercially and most likely physically, to have a wrap that qualifies as a healthy extra (and thank god right, because I wouldn’t get to see forty billion photos of wraps filled with dog food and passed off as a pasty, now would I);
  • they’re in the business of weight-loss, not managing massive conspiracies. Well no, that’s a fib, I’m not convinced our Fearless Leader didn’t stumble out of the Roswell wreckage with world domination in one hand and whatever the alien equivalent of car-boot Rothmans are.

Honestly, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and in this case that cigar tastes like disappointment and horse arseholes. Let’s just calm our tits.

And what better way to calm your tits than with a gorgeous turmeric chicken breast served with beetroot and mint houmous, minty couscous, garlic spinach and a roasted red pepper? Piece of piss to make, I assure you. This makes enough for two large plates.

turmeric chicken

turmeric chicken

to make golden turmeric chicken with beetroot houmous, you’ll need:

  • two chicken breasts – decent ones mind, not breasts that shrivel up to the size of a beansprout – we can help with that, because you get so many breasts in our Musclefood hamper that you’ll be as stiff as Hugh Hefner! Come take a look – it’ll open in a new window, so shush
  • tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns)
  • tsp of oregano
  • tsp of turmeric
  • one or two tablespoons of hot sauce (it’s just a spicy sauce, you can buy it from the supermarket, syns will be negligible)
  • 200g of plain couscous
  • a big bag of spinach
  • one garlic clove
  • a good handful of mint
  • a portion of our syn-free houmous, but blitz a pickled beetroot into it with a handful of mint
  • a roasted red pepper from a jar – you could do it yourself, but what’s the point?

to make golden turmeric chicken with beetroot houmous, you’ll need:

  • stick the chicken breasts in a bag with the olive oil, oregano, turmeric, salt and a bit of pepper – knock it about a bit and make sure everything is rubbed in – longer you leave it to marinade the better it’ll be
  • when you’re ready to eat, make up the houmous and set aside
  • to make the couscous, cook as instructed on the packet and then stir through chopped mint
  • to cook the spinach, throw it into a dry pan with just a splash of water on a medium heat and wilt it down, adding thinly sliced garlic it wilts down
  • to cook your chicken:
    • if using an Optigrill, keep the same setting as the onion and tomato and pop the chicken on, then close the lid and cook for as long as it takes for your chicken to cook through – but please make sure it’s cooked through – the skitters might be good for weight loss but think of your poor nipsy;
    • if using the grill, same as above – cook for a few minutes, remembering to turn, and make sure it’s cooked through
  • assemble on the plate!

Dead easy, and it looks proper posh so you might just get yer end away if you serve it up!

Want more ideas on what to do with your breasts other than press them up against glass windows? Click the buttons!

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J

chicken and mango salad – fresh and fancy

Chicken and mango salad? I know, I’m a basic bitch, but just you listen here – you can use the leftover mango in two recipes and this stays fresh for a good couple of days for lunches. So stop bumping your lips. But of course, before we get to the recipe, we have the small matter of a previous post to expand upon…

Let’s get back to the story in hand – you may remember part one of my surgery story was posted a couple of days ago. Let’s follow it up! Remember, this is a very adult post and if you’re sensitive to smutty words and naughty ideas, click the button below to go straight to the recipe. It’s that easy! Readers of my book – The Second Coming (available now in Kindle AND paperback, just saying – click here, it’ll open in a new window) will recognise this story from the start of the book. So, to go straight to the recipe before I get my cock out, click the exit button!

The last time you were with me I was getting put under. I think, I can’t actually remember. So here we go…

The next time I woke up I was in an entirely different ward with what looked like an entire roll of dressing around my knob and an uncomfortable amount of dried blood. My gasp of shock must have roused the nurses because they came over with a cheery hello and, after asking if I was OK, they wheeled me back to Paul. We embraced and he had a look for himself. I’ve never seen a face go grey so quickly. It’s a bad job when I’m the one who has had the operation and Paul’s the guy who ends up on oxygen. Pfft.

They told me to rest for a bit but that I’d be out of hospital that evening, once I’d had some toast and a piss. The glamour! The very last thing I wanted to do was urinate but I never say no to toast. I had hoped it might be like when you have your tonsils out and you get ice-cream, but no. Eventually, the moment came when I did need a slash and so it was, with steps more ginger than my first as a child, I hobbled to the loo.

I can’t begin to tell you how uncomfortable it was getting there, every brush of my gown tickling the end and setting my nerves on fire. Having eventually managed to get myself to the bathroom, I, so very delicately, flopped him out, bandages and dressing included, and started to urinate.

Well fuck me. You know if you squeeze the end of a hose-pipe the jet of water goes much further? That was me in this tiny hospital bathroom. The swelling at the end was acting like a firm grip and good lord – I aimed for the toilet but hit the wall behind it with so much force I’m surprised I didn’t bust straight through into the ladies and piss in some poor woman’s handbag. I couldn’t stop because it would hurt too much so I stumbled back, eventually managing to hit the toilet only when I was stood right at the other end of the room, pissing a good 10ft or so into the toilet. All I could think is what would happen if I had a wank – probably would have blinded myself.

The nurses, content that I wasn’t pissing blood, let me go. I did ask if I could take my foreskin home with me but they said no. That’s a shame. I could have fashioned a wallet with it, with the added benefit being if you rubbed it just right it would swell to fit your chequebook in.

We stumbled slowly, oh so slowly, to the car, and it was then I knew bringing the Micra – with its absolute lack of suspension or finesse – was a mistake. It was enough having my knob drag on my trousers but every speed bump felt like someone was kicking me in the balls. Paul did his best, bless him, but Christ did I not feel every square inch of that drive home.

After that, it took a good couple of weeks to heal. Some comical asides – for a good week or so I had to stand in the doorway to our bathroom and piss right across the room because the pressure didn’t calm down for so long. We had to sleep apart, as Paul has a tendency to get frisky in his sleep and the last thing I needed was a stitch catching on his teeth, and to top off the indignity, I had to sleep with a bloody salad bowl over my crotch to stop the duvet dragging on my knob until everything has healed.

Even now when I make a salad I wince.

But you know what the worst part was? Being told to try my best not to get an erection because doing so could pull the stitches out. Men get erections so easily – sometimes for no good reason at all. I could be washing the dishes and suddenly have to stand back with my back arched until it goes back on the flop. There’s no rhyme or reason to the whole business.  Luckily, the fact that my cock looked like it had been run over for a good week or so meant it generally behaved, but I was flicking through the TV one day, salad bowl placed over the area, when I absent-mindedly starting watching the rugby.

Big mistake (oh I’m a boaster!) – the pain! Christ almighty – and the bloody thing was being resilient, too, working right through that pain barrier. The things I had to think about in order for it to beat a retreat doesn’t bear thinking about now. Bleurgh.

Thankfully, it all healed very nicely. It looks great, even if I do say so myself – I’ve avoided that Neapolitan ice-cream look that sometimes happen with a late circumcision. It works well too, but you don’t need to know that, I’m sure. I’ll also add in a footnote – if there is anyone out there with a partner who needs the chop, tell him to go for it – despite my hyperbole above, it really wasn’t that bad. Uncomfortable yes, but I’ve had more painful craps. If he’s unsure about whether he needs it, just send him down to Cubs Towers and we’ll be more than pleased to take a good, hard look at it for him.

Gosh, I really feel like we know each other well now, don’t you?

Shall we do the chicken and mango salad then? This makes enough for two.

chicken and mango salad

to make a chicken and mango salad, you’ll need:

  • two big fat dirty chicken breasts, yeah you love it
  • 1 Nandos rub – you can get them in Tesco in 25g packets – we used the garlic one (3.5 syns) but you can season your chicken however you want
  • one romaine lettuce
  • one punnet of cress
  • one fresh mango
  • 4 tbsp hoisin dipping sauce (6 syns)
  • one spring onion

to make a chicken and mango salad, you should:

  • rub your breasts until every last inch is covered in tasty flavours
  • grill your chicken:
    • if you’re using the Tefal Optigrill, simply press the Manual button until the light is orange, and once preheated add the chicken and close the lid until cooked
    • if using a grill, heat to medium-high, place the chicken underneath and cook until done, not forgetting to turn it now and again
    • allow to cool and slice
  • meanwhile, assemble your plate as above, cubing your mango, picking your cress and washing your lettuce
  • to make the dipping sauce, thin the hoisin sauce with some mango juice and tiny chunks of mango
  • serve!

I think this is the last of our Jamie Oliver recipes from his new book ‘5 Ingredients’, which you can buy from Amazon here.

If you have leftover mango, you could use it for our ready steady go overnight oats or the coronation chicken jacket potato filler!

Want more inspiration? Click the buttons!

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J

thai chicken dipping balls – excellent taster night idea

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


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

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

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

chicken dipping balls

chicken dipping balls

to make Thai chicken dipping balls you will need:

to make Thai chicken dipping balls you should:

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

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

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J

proper cheesy crunchy chicken parmo

Chicken parmo! We’ve done something similar but really cracked it with this one. A parmo is a dish originating from Middlesbrough consisting of a chicken breast smothered in breadcrumbs and cheese sauce. Plus other things – knowing Middlesbrough there’s probably about 5g of Golden Virginia scattered over it – but this is a close approximation. Bloody tasty too. But first…

Sorry, sorry – you guessed it, we’ve been away again, and it’s not as though I can announce it on here before I go because we’d doubtless get some reprobate with teeth à l’orange nipping in to steal our silver and verbally abuse our Alexa. I mean honestly. Plus, I’m writing this against the odds because I have a cat sat in front of me blocking half the screen and severely burned shoulders from too much sun. Before I get angry letters, I know I know: normally I’m super careful, but the drink overtook me. You’ll find out more about that holiday later down the line but let’s rattle off the next part of the Newcastle entry without a moment more of hesitation. If you don’t want to hear our holiday shenanigans, click on the SOUR GRAPES to be taken straight to the recipe.

Otherwise…

Now when I last spoke to you we had been busy exploring the Victoria Tunnel and I had made a malicious, mean comment comparing this foisty cavern to Paul’s mother. I apologise for my humour:  it’s a bit stuck in the eighties, it rarely makes people laugh and god knows Paul’s sick of hearing it, but that’s Paul’s mother for you.

We emerged blinking into the sunlight and full of zim for the day ahead. But first: MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Paul had decided to wear a snappy new pair of ‘yes, I am part of a senior citizen tour group of Milton Keynes’ cargo shorts (in a very fetching chyme colour) and the two hours of walking and sweating had left his thighs looking like a child’s skinned knees. Whilst it explained why the tour guide had asked the group if someone was cooking bacon at the back, it also meant we couldn’t easily explore. Well, no, I could, but it meant having to listen to Paul’s plaintive mewing about the paaaaaaaain. Oh, the pain. We doubled back to the hotel, levered ourselves into the Smart car and cut a dash straight to Byker Morrisons.

You must understand that I avoid Morrisons at the best of times – something about their lurid yellow signage and cluttered font makes my nipples ache – but the one in Byker is especially bad. You’ve never seen so much red flesh pressed into mixed polyester. We took a moment to peruse the medicine aisle for something that would cool Paul’s thighs – my suggestion of a Muller yoghurt was ignored (BUT IT’S SYN FREE) – and after much stumbling around the haemmorhoid creams and the clotstoppers, he found some lanacaine. We nipped into the gents (you know a supermarket is classy when they have that lovely lighting that makes it impossible to find a vein to shoot up with) and smeared it on Paul’s thighs like butter on a cellulite crumpet. They say you can still hear his satisfied groan bouncing around the arches of Glasshouse Bridge.

The day was ours once more. We parked the car back at the hotel and decided to try and find The Kiln, a restaurant hidden up in the Ouseburn. After a few arresting detours via a gym, a scrapyard and this particularly great bit of graffiti:

we found it. Bearing in mind it was hot and we’d spent all morning traipsing through a tunnel, we were starving and ready for our thirst to be slaked and so the sight of lots of bottles of beer all lined-up ready was enough to bring on a stiffy. However, that sharp went away when we were faced with incredibly dismissive and half-hearted service – we stood at the (quiet) bar for a good couple of minutes before we were served, weren’t offered the food menu, weren’t told where we could sit, weren’t advised on anything other than “£11” when we ordered two beers. Here, we’re the least demanding customers you’ll ever have and because we get anxious about causing a fuss we tip extravangantly, but even we have limits, and being treated like an inconvenience is high up that list.

Also, £11 for two beers? Local yes, but haway hinny, it’s Newcastle, not St. Moritz – if I buckled my ears enough I’d be able to hear the sound of a live Jeremy Kyle show rattling in the Byker Wall. Nevermind…

We paid and, sensing that we couldn’t have been less welcome had I shat on the bar, we made our way outdoors, taking the only free seats (after moving the previous occupants dishes out of the way) next to a particularly loathsome set of students. Listen, I’ve made it my thing this year to stop judging folk, I am trying, I promise. But Jesus Christ Almighty. These weren’t decent students, fun students or you know, normal students, but rather the rah-rah-raaaah set. Some walking shitshower was loudly describing his poster project as ‘mere organic foreplay for the main thrust of the movie’ – Paul had to hold me back from drowning myself in the half inch of hipster-hops I had left. Someone else was going on and on about her periods in that inexcusable ‘look at me, saying something controversial so you have to look at me, but oh my god don’t look at me’ way. Here’s a thing, pet: no-one cares what sloughs out of you, no-one is impressed by your edginess, and your glasses look like you’ve rushed out of an eye-exam halfway through. Fuck off.

We supped up and left – I took my time though as I wanted to make sure I had a fart queued as I stood up. I left them to chew that over. In the interest of balance, the online reviews of the Kiln are exceptionally positive, so maybe we’d crashed a wake or something.

Luckily, the next two places were infinitely better. First, the Free Trade Inn. I love this place – it used to be our local when we lived on the Quayside and is just a great pub – dirt cheap, no fussiness, the occasional local who looks as though he’d punch your nose through the back of your head if you sneezed and blew the head off his pint from across the room – spectacular. Nothing better than a room full of malcontent and meanness, though I tend to switch to pints instead of campari when ordering. Up until recently they had adopted a pub cat called Craig David. You’ll notice a past tense there. Life’s cruel. It also have a terrific view, see?

We had a couple of gins and tonics there and stumbled down the stairs, a bit squiffy at this point, to The Tyne, a pub under the arches of the bridge above it. We were starving by now, so I sent Paul in with strict instructions to order something a) bountiful and b) healthy. He ordered us nachos for two that almost filled the table and the vietnamese loaded fries that we ripped off a week or so ago.

There was also some sort of citrus beer involved, and things start getting a little hazy at this point, like a badly-tuned TV. I heartily recommend both pubs though – The Tyne also a free jukebox which Paul had to hold me back from. I’ve had two bad experiences with free jukeboxes, would you believe:

  • my friend and I got into a proper physical (one-sided mind, I’m a gentleman) scrap with two busty lesbians in a gay bar when we ‘accidentally’ switched the machine off and on again when we couldn’t bear to hear sapphic-superanthem ‘Left Outside Alone’ by Anastasia for the eighth time in a row; and
  • different friend, similar situation, only this time I queued up Abba song after Abba song in a bar where the inhabitants had one full set of teeth between all twenty of them – it was very much a Meat Loaf, Foreigner and Whitesnake bar – not a drunken rendition of Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) sort of place. We escaped into the night, drowned out by shouting and Anni-Frid caterwauling her lips around Knowing Me, Knowing You.

Probably for the best that Paul kept me back.

 

We ended up sharing our outside table with a few other pleasant, decent young people with an adorable dog, though I could have done without them vaping away next to me as I ploughed my way through the nachos. Difficult trying to get the guacamole to chilli ratio just right in a cloud of custard-flavoured steam, I find.

Now, let’s leave it there – we’re already nearing 1500 words again and we need to get the recipe out!


Chicken parmo, then. Dead easy.



to make proper cheesy crunchy chicken parmo you will need:

I put this down as 1ish syns as well, I’m not synning that errant quarter. Up to you how you want to do it. And yes, I’m wheeling this out again:

WHASS PANKO PLZ HUN. I beg of you, if you have that question, click this mysterious link… Panko is not this:

to make proper cheesy crunchy chicken parma you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • spray the chicken breasts with a little oil and plop onto a baking sheet
  • cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, then remove
  • butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting through the side until nearly all the way through, then spread open like a book (they might be pink in the middle – that’s fine)
  • in a bowl, mix together the Philadelphia and garlic, and a good grind of both salt and pepper
  • spoon the mixture onto chicken breasts and spread about
  • in another bowl, mix together the panko and parmesan, and sprinkle evenly over each of the chicken breasts
  • return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden

Given it’s normally served with chips, red sauce and a fingering, we had to dial it back to make it more friendly for dieting, so we’ve served ours with a portion of our amazing roasties and some beans. Champion.

Gut still rumbling? Click one of the buttons below to get even more ideas!

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Cheers!

J

chicken cordon bleu burgers

Here for the chicken cordon bleu burgers, which are so-called because god-knows-why? I understand. Far too many Slimming World burger recipes out there that have all the texture of an old gym mat. This, however, does not, and you know why?  We use chicken breast minced up ourselves rather than that watery muck you get in the supermarket that they cheekily call turkey mince. But first, speaking of mincers, it’s part three of our trip around Newcastle. Don’t want to read it? Scroll down to the food pictures…

click here for part one | click here for part two

When Paul first invited me to explore a foisty, smelly, starved-of-oxygen tunnel that has welcomed thousands of men from the 1930s onwards and now exists cobwebbed, abandoned and occasionally leaking, my first thought was that he could have warned me his mother was visiting and the second was ‘Classic Peterborough’. However, once I’d finished dry-heaving into my eggs benedict and Paul had reassured me that we weren’t about to be visited by his Mother Inferior, I realised he meant the Victoria Tunnel. Thank the Lord. We dressed in suitable tunnel-exploring attire (i.e. my work shoes and a thin coat – we’re Geordies remember, we won’t put on a second layer until at least two layers of skin have died in the cold) and we were on our way – by happy coincidence the tour started a mere five minutes away from our hotel. Naturally, we were five minutes late.

What is the Victoria Tunnel then? It’ll cause no gasps at all if I tell you it’s a tunnel, because, well, it is – but it has an interesting history. It was originally built in the 19th century to transport coal from a coal mine at one end of Newcastle (Spital Tongues, which I’ve always thought was a glorious name because it sounds like one of the made-up diseases you’d get in Theme Hospital) (which was a far better game than Theme Park and I’ll kick the tits off anyone who disagrees) down to the Tyne, where waiting boats would take it away. I had desperately hoped that the tunnel was used to get rid of the after-effects of burning coal in a boiler because then I could have used the killer line ‘…not the first time filthy slag has been deposited on Newcastle’s Quayside’ but it wasn’t to be. When Hitler started getting a bit rumbustious in 1939 the tunnel was hastily converted into an air-raid shelter, capable of taking thousands of men at once at the drop of a hat. But aren’t we all?

After the war finished and victory was declared the tunnel was closed until 2008 when a load of lovely folks – most if not all in some form of knitwear, I imagine – applied for a grant from the lottery, carefully repaired the tunnel and opened it up to guided tours. It’s listed as the number one attraction for Newcastle on Tripadvisor and I find that absolutely charming: I think of the money that gets spent on massive multiplex cinemas or exciting galleries and then look at this wee little tunnel full of absolutely nothing and it seems to captivate everyone who enters. I reckon that’s down to the volunteers who run it, and so, I’ll pick up my story back at the beginning of the tour.

We were warmly welcomed by a chap whose name I’ve already forgotten (purely because these days it’s all I can do to remember to blink) who sat us down in the waiting area around a table seemingly filled with furious looking people. Admittedly we were late by a moment or two (we’d made up some time power-mincing down the bank) but each pair of eyes conveyed the strong message that if either of us collapsed with heart difficulties down in the tunnel, not a single soul would attempt resuscitation. A couple of the kids looked like those awful children who speak in elongated vowels and whose triple-barrelled surname would wreck every form they ever completed. With my beard smouldering from the sheer force of ill-will we were experiencing, we turned our attention to our tour guides who were explaining the health and safety rules – no smoking (sensible), no going off on your own (correct), no entombing folks you don’t like down there forever (Fenneeeeeer!) and no eating. Paul looked stricken – he had a packet of Polo Mints burning a hole in his pocket. I told him to keep schtum. The reason there’s no rats or spiders down in the tunnel is because there’s no food for them to feast on, something which caught me by surprise as I’ve never seen someone from Newcastle walk more than 300m without dropping Greggs crumbs around them like greasy dandruff. We set off.

The tour begins at their visitor centre out on Lime Street and involves a short walk around the Ouseburn Valley, taking in sights such as Seven Stories and the chimneys. I used to live down on Newcastle’s Quayside a decade ago and the gentrification of the Ouseburn Valley was in full swing – I like to think that the ruffians were so taken by my fetching Florence and Fred shirts and effortless style that they thought ‘we could do that’. The river Ouseburn runs down through the burn and trickles out into the Tyne. Way back when, the riparian businesses (long since gone) dotted around used to tip all manner of chemicals and literal shite into the river, where it would eventually flow out to sea to bother some far-off Scandinavian country. The glitz! It had previously been a pretty overgrown burn under the bridges with a couple of decent pubs about and any manner of drugs available. I’m told. Now it’s still a bit ramshackle, possibly by virtue of being in close proximity to the rougher parts of Byker (if Newcastle was a slender runner’s leg, Byker is its gravel-filled knee), but full of galleries and pubs and quirky (for quirky, read ‘mildly hipsterish’) places to eat.

That’s not me jogging, in case you’re wondering.

We don’t just have fancy bridges in Newcastle, y’knaa.

Your Majesty.

Newcastle Council spent £4.7m to install a set of gates at the end of the stream to, amongst other reasons, keep the water level high to make the place look more attractive. Naturally, this barrier worked for a few months, and then…didn’t. It remains permanently open now, allowing the water in the stream to disappear into the Tyne twice a day, which in turn leads to the attractive sight of a smelly, almost drained river-bed to enjoy as you walk to the entrance of the tunnel. I’ve done a bit of research into the barrage to see why it hasn’t been fixed and it turns out that it does still work, but they just keep it open otherwise silt builds up behind it and stinks the place out. Dammed if you do, dammed if you divvint.

I’m digressing again. Our companionable host talked us through an excellent potted history of the area and led us up to the entrance of the tunnel on Ouse Street. We were given a hard-hat and a torch and you need to believe me that I’ve never felt so butch. I was a hi-vis jacket away from drinking too much and striking the children. We both struggled with getting the hat on – Paul because he has silly sausage fingers and couldn’t get the strap to loosen and me because I have a colossal, elephantine head. You know that thing David Cameron has where his face looks as though he fell onto a high-pressure tyre-inflator? I have that, and subsequently every hat causes me difficulty. I finally managed to extend the strap far enough to balance the hat on my head (just) and into the tunnel we went.

The turtle couldn’t help us.

You’ll float too.

Can I just stress how unflattering the light is? Paul doesn’t normally look like he’s fashioned from Trex. I like the angry eyebrows my glasses shadow has given me though. Please send us a stamped addressed envelope if you want an A2 laminated version to practice your snail-trails on.

Now, I’ll say this. It’s very hard to make a tour of a tunnel interesting via the medium of text – we walked for about 90 minutes, stopping and starting to hear stories from our two tour guides. Historical tours have a tendency to be dry, I find, with too much focus on the ‘facts’ of the matter, but this one was smashing because it told you of the people involved and their stories. It makes all the difference. What paints the better picture: someone droning on about brick density or someone telling you how, when everyone was sheltered in the tunnel, an incendiary bomb hit one of the sugar tanks in a nearby factory and the resulting fire resulted in a load of caramel being made? Which was great for the rationed, starving kids – at least until the diseased rats started chewing on it. There was an especially ghoulish part towards the end where they told the tale of three chaps who were caught at one end of the tunnel whilst an out-of-control coal-wagon (itself almost the exact size of the tunnel) hurtled towards them from the other end. Our guides turned off the lights for thirty seconds so you were stood in absolute blackness contemplating how it would feel to hear the rumble of your own approaching, almost-guaranteed death.

I have to confess the dramatic moment was somewhat ruined for me by the sound of Paul crunching a Polo approximately 8mm from my ear. In the dark it sounded like a horse snacking on gravel and even though I couldn’t see them, the heat registering on my face told me we were the focal point of the group’s angry stares once more. Meh.

We walked up a steep slope (fear not, fellow fatties: the slope, though steep, is short and we managed it with hardly a problem, though the guy in front did have to put up with me shallow-breathing in his ear for the next ten minutes) to be told about further tunnels that lay ahead, sadly out-of-bounds, and how the toilets worked and illness spread. It was fantastic. We made to walk back out of the tunnel with Paul and I, usually the cow’s tail (always at the back), leading the way. Naturally, I banged my head on a particularly low part of the tunnel at the top of the slope, leading to the sight of my hard-hat bouncing merrily away into the darkness. It made such a cacophony of bangs and crashes that, for the third time that morning, the skin on my neck started crinkling from the ire of the crowd behind. It didn’t help that each ‘for goodness sake’ tut from behind sounded like someone firing a musket.

Thoroughly chagrined but pleasantly informed, we all made our way to the exit where, after tipping the guides and assuring everyone in the group that we’d never meet again, we all dispersed. I did plan on writing up the full day but, having spent 1700 words telling you how we went into a tunnel and back out again, I’ll not bore you further.

The Victoria Tunnel is open for guided tours only and tickets must be booked in advance. We took the two hour tour and the time flew by – the volunteers are incredibly knowledgeable and made the whole thing very interesting indeed. You can find more information by clicking here and I strongly encourage you to do so. Don’t be put off by the idea of a long walk, it’s not bad at all, though you may struggle if you’re claustrophobic, although one of the guides will whisk you straight back to the entrance if you start getting the heebie-jeebies. It thoroughly deserves its number one spot on Tripadvisor!

OK I know, gush much.


Let’s get straight to the food. This makes enough for four burgers, see.

Got a bit of a wide-on for our chips? Of course you have. They’re Actifry chips. Not Actifaux from Aldi, not the Airtower or the Hairdryer or whatever you’ve managed to hide in the pram dashing out of Wilkinsons, but a good old fashioned Actifry. Get decent potatoes, use a teaspoon of oil and a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce, and you’re sorted. Life’s too short for shit chips man, buy an Actifry whilst they’re cheap.

to make chicken cordon bleu burgers you will need:

  • 4 wholemeal buns (HeB), sliced (yes, we’ve used a brioche bun for the photo because, well let’s face it – they taste nicer. If you do the same, remember to syn it!)
  • 400g chicken breast (you can use chicken mince if you want, but chicken breast is better – the ones in our Musclefood deal are excellent!)
  • 12g panko (2 syns) (normal breadcrumbs will do)
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • good grind of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp seasoning of your choice (we used a steak seasoning mix, but use whatever you like – cajun, fajita, garlic – whatever you want!)
  • 4 slices of ham
  • 4 slices leerdammer light cheese (2x HeA, so half a HeA each)
  • 2 little gem lettuce

Oh god I can hear it now. I can. WHASS PANKO PLZ HUN. I beg of you, if you have that question, click this mysterious link… Panko is not this:

to make chicken cordon bleu burgers you should:

  • if you’re using chicken breast (which you should, because it tastes better!) chuck it into a food processor and pulse until it has a mince-ish consistency. This won’t take much doing – be careful not to over do it
  • mix together the chicken, panko, paprika, salt, pepper and seasoning into a bowl and mix well
  • divide the mixture into four and squash into burger shapes
  • next – cook the burgers. we used our Tefal Optigrill for this and it worked a treat but you can do them under the grill too
    • for the Optigrill, press the ‘Burger’ button, wait for it to heat up and cook until the light is Red
    • otherwise, preheat the grill to medium-high and cook the burgers until they’re done, turning halfway through
  • add the lettuce to the bun, and top with the burger, then the cheese and then the ham

If you can’t get enough of our recipes, just click the buttons below to find even more!

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J

buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches

Buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches. If sandwiches were gay, this one would be a powertop with a vein-cane like a draught excluder. And we’re off! BUT FIRST.

If I see one more gay pride rainbow or business logo turning rainbow-coloured, I’m going to scream. Or theatrically flounce, at the very least.

Hear me out before you start lighting the pitchforks and assembling the L.G.B.T.Q.A.I.S.P.T.S.D.R.O.F.L.B.B.C.R.A.D.I.O.O.N.E unicorns to put my windows through. I have no problem with gay pride, hell, I’ve done my bit for the gay community simply by being born and fabulous. No, it’s the fucking comments that get left by other people that do my nut in.

OMG WHEN CAN WE HAVE A STRAIGHT PRIDE PARADE‘ being the main one, although there’s normally a few more spelling mistakes and flecks of spittle involved. They are, almost to a point, middle-aged men or women who think they’re being original and edgy asking the same question that gets asked every single time there’s any reference to Gay Pride.

It’s such a pointless, doltish comment to make, and it’s nearly always followed up by someone you know pronounces England with three syllables saying ‘it is PC gone mad‘ or ‘BECAUSE THE WHIRLED IS HETROPHOBIC‘. It isn’t heterophobic at all – anyone can come along and support, wave a flag, have a good time. But see there’s a key difference – everyone is welcome whereas us gays, and all the various iterations that involves these days, are still excluded or prejudiced against in certain ways, both big and small.

For example, we have to really think about where we go on holiday. I’d love to go to Russia, but when you see videos of young lads being kicked, beaten and punched for being gay uploaded onto Youtube and the swill of comments underneath in support, it puts you off. Brazil sounds like a fun place to visit, but less so if you’re a transperson – then you’re running the risk of being beaten to death in the fucking street surrounded by people who won’t help you simply because you’re not some shitty version of normal. Least you’re safe in our progressive country where Pride isn’t needed – well, unless you’re getting an Uber (thrown out for being gay), or perhaps you fancy a stay in a B&B but oh wait you can’t because you’re bummers and the owners are good tolerant Christians. Need a drink to settle your nerves? Fine – but don’t go out with your lesbian friends otherwise you’ll be jumped by a gang of fifteen men who’ll knock your teeth out. That was three months ago, by the way.

Hell, I’ve told you before about my ex, haven’t I? He spent two months building up the courage to come out to his parents because he was so imbued with happiness at being in his first gay relationship and wanted to be open about it. They responded by ramming a screwdriver against his throat, telling him he was ‘wrong’ and then locking him away in his house. Imagine how fucked up that would make you feel – all because you love someone of the same gender. I know of at least two other similar stories in my circle, and I’d hazard a guess that if you asked most queer folk they’d have a similar ‘cheery’ story. Do you think there are many young teenage straight lads out there who agonise for months – years even – about telling their dad they love a girl? Do you reckon the streets are awash with straight people holding hands and being told by perfect strangers that they’re sick, immoral, nasty or perverted? Nope.

That’s why Pride is needed: the more something is celebrated, the more something is held up as a perfectly acceptable way of living life, the less of an issue it becomes. Your ‘straight pride’ is every fucking day that you go through without some judgement being cast on how you live your life.

I’m amazingly lucky – I have fantastic parents who have been nothing but supportive right from the get-go and as a result, I’ve always felt comfortable talking to them about anything. You don’t understand what a difference that makes – imagine being unable to talk to your parents about who you love or what you’re confused about. Imagine what it must feel like to know they think of you as a disappointment or less of a person just because of a biological setting no more able to change than your eye-colour or your skin tone. Paul has the same, sort-of – his dad was marvellous about it and his mum made retching noises and ignored him for a few weeks, but she’s alright now, even if I might as well not exist for all the interest she shows in our life. I remember a few weeks after I came out to my mother (she may have been drunk, it was just after I got in from school) telling me that if I needed lubricant or condoms I ought to tell her and she’d buy some and leave it outside my bedroom, like I was ordering the express breakfast in a Travelodge. I didn’t have the heart to tell her at that point that me and my ‘good friend’ who would stay over for weeks at a time were already merrily boffing away and we would go through condoms like an Amsterdam hooker.

Anyway, it’s not all bad. Paul and I were discussing only the other day how far things have come for us (usually the wall behind the bed, thank God for wipe-clean Dulux Endurance paint, that’s all I can say) and how easier it is for us to be gay. Not many people bat an eyelid when I introduce him as my husband, although there’s always a few startled gasps that so much beauty shouldn’t be in one room together lest we collapse in on ourselves like a rainbow-black-hole. There’s the option to tick civil partnered on every form and most places will refer to him as my husband rather than ‘my friend’. Even my nana, back when she wasn’t ash, embraced us as a couple, only stopping occasionally to ask who was the woman. The answer of course being Paul, because he does the dishes, makes the dinner and iron the clothes, if he doesn’t want two black eyes and his pin money taken away.

Enjoy Pride, folks. But more importantly, enjoy your life, however you choose to live it, and don’t stop to give a second thought to a single person who thinks any less of you based on who you love. They’re the ones who’ll end up alone. Frightened, alone and looking back at a life filled with hatred and bile and realising they’ve wasted it, and the only thing waiting for them is blackness and fear.

I saw on a t-shirt the very thing I’m trying to say but encapsulated in only two sentences, rather than the usual 1,000 word burble you get from me.

Gay Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn’t a straight pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one.

Oooh, get her.

Right, now, I was going to do a rainbow recipe, but I can’t be arsed. You’ve had a ranty polemic instead, be happy. No, instead, I’m going to introduce you to one hell of a dirty treat – amazing buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches – yes, you’ll need a syn, but then what do you expect from two sinful gays?

buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches

This makes four sandwiches! FOUR! Scale back if you need to. We used our Optigrill for this recipe and it worked a charm, but it can be done just as easy under the grill or on a George Foreman. No expensive kit needed. Though, it makes it easier. If you’ve bought an Optigrill on our recommendation, have a look at our other recipes:

to make buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches you will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 8 slices bacon medallions
  • 8 slices wholemeal bread (this’ll be your Healthy Extra B choice)
  • 135ml Frank’s Hot Buffalo Sauce (1.5 syns)
  • 50g Philadelphia Lightest (2 syns)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 80g reduced-fat red Leicester cheese, grated (2x HeA choices, so half an A choice each)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • salt
  • pepper

If you’re looking for a decent place to buy chicken and bacon, you can build them into your own slimming hamper at Musclefood! Come take a look at our hampers or build your own. No longer do you need to suffer with breasts that turn into prawns once all the water has leaked out and bacon with less meat than a sparrow’s knee!

to make buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches you should:

  • we used the Optigrill for this recipe and it was champion but you can use just a normal grill or a George Foreman and it’ll still be as good. first, cook the chicken:
    • on the Optigrill, press the Chicken button, wait for it to heat up, slap the chicken on and wait til it’s done, then set aside
    • otherwise, heat the grill to medium-high and cook the chicken until done, then set aside
  • next, cook the bacon – same deal as before:
    • on the Optigrill, press the Bacon button, wait for it to heat up and chuck on the rashers – it’s that easy. You want them to be quite crispy
    • otherwise, put the bacon under the grill and cook until crispy
  • pour the Frank’s into a large bowl and microwave for thirty seconds
  • stir in the grated cheese and philly, it should melt a bit but if not don’t worry about it
  • next, shred the chicken breasts by pulling apart with two forks, it doesn’t need to be perfect, just get it ripped up
  • add the chicken, sliced spring onions, salt and pepper to the bowl and mix in well
  • dip the slices of bread into the egg and ensure it’s well coated and gloopy
  • top four slices of the eggy bread with the cheesy-chicken mixture, topping with two slices of bacon and then the other slices
  • next, finish off the sandwiches:
    • press the Manual button on the Optigrill and select Red, when it’s heated add the sandwiches to the plates and close the lid until nicely cooked and the cheese is melting out the sides – about 2-3 minutes
    • otherwise, heat a large frying pan over a high heat and cook the sandwiches one-by-one for about three minutes per side, flipping halfway through
  • inhale it

Come on, get this made. Get it made and enjoy it like life! Want more ideas? Click the buttons below!

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J

grilled chicken tikka wraps – great for lunch

Yes, grilled chicken tikka wraps – great for lunch indeed, or rather, great for saying you’ll make a few extra for lunch only for you to eat them all over the course of the evening and then spending your time sobbing down a Pringles tube and lamenting your obesity. No? Just me then. Scroll down if you’re just here for the food!

Hey, we’re back. Like that super gonorrhoea going around, we’re back and here to stay. Never before has the prefix super been attached to something less worthy. Super gonorrhoea comes across as the worst comic book hero ever. Spiderman can shoot webs, Batman gets a voice like Madge Bishop gargling gravel, what would Super Gonorrhoea’s ability be? You can’t save the world with a burning pain when urinating and cottage cheese in your knickers.

WHAT AN OPENING PARAGRAPH – please, companies wanting to do sponsored posts, get in touch.

Where have we been, anyway? Well Paul has been busy nurturing his big fat belly and dashing here, there and everywhere with work – well, as much as a morbidly obese man with ankles made from wet sponge cake can dash. No, it’s been me who has been missing in action as, for the first time in about ten years, I’ve had to put my head down for reasons not connection to playing a tune on the pink-skin trumpet. I’ve had to revise. For a proper exam, not just a ‘omg which Spice Girl are you’ quiz in my sister’s More magazine.

Turns out that I really, really struggle to revise. I forced myself, but by god was it difficult. I’m too easily distracted – just look at my writing style on here and you’ll see how my brain works, floating from one abstract nonsense to another. You know those type of people who can spend hours sitting at their desk writing studious wee notes and highlighting everything primly in a smart set of colours? Yeah, that’s not me.

I tried recording myself speaking my notes aloud and asking myself questions, giving time for real-time James to answer back, but it all got super weird. Driving into work having a conversation with yourself like the world’s most boring interview is awful. The last person I want to argue with about licence documentation is myself. Especially when I sound so ridiculously posh on recordings (I’m not posh in the slightest, I just have a nice voice).

Things came to a head anyway when the MP3s of me asking myself questions imported across into Spotify and then appeared in my most recent songs playlist. Nothing concerning there until you’re halfway through a good session of testing out the emergency exit with Paul only to have SONOS to start playing ‘2.3: the benefits of international registration’ at full volume. Paul, with his hearing muffled by being face down in a pillow, probably thought I’d invited Nigel Havers around for a threesome.

I deleted my MP3s after that, it just felt tainted.

No, instead, I spent the last two weeks ignoring the little flashcards I’d typed up and instead holed myself up in one of the conference rooms at work, frantically scribbling on the wall of whiteboards there like I was Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. I took a gamble that the exam would be based on the stuff in the many, many Powerpoints we’d been given rather than the notes we’d been given and so, it was simply a case of memorising every last word of the slides and checking the notes for comprehension. I’ve found that I work best by creating mnemomics and I was especially proud of creating MINGEGAS for a set of legal terms and GRINCHBLOW for another. I had to rewrite the order of a set of countries though: BRA(zil)N(igeria)CH(ina) is fair enough, but writing CH(ina) IN(dia) K(enya) felt far less appropriate.

I spent the night before holed up in a very swanky hotel in London frantically revising and even more frantically trying to scrub clean the white sheets on my bed which I’d managed to slew a bottle of black ink across. I ordered pho via Deliveroo, not least because I wanted to try tofu and it came up as an option, and it was disgusting. I’ve never scraped something into a bin with such venom. The hotel itself was fine save for the fact they’d wedged the toilet inbetween the side of the shower cubicle and the sink, creating the slightly awkward issue of barely being able to fit in the gap to have a plop. And, without being gross, exam anxiety always makes me more regular than normal.

I always get major exam anxiety – not so much about not knowing anything, but rather, I’m always frightened I’m going to make a tit of myself somehow. I remember in my first GCSE English exam chewing the end of my pencil (not a euphemism) and biting off the little metal ferrule that holds the rubber in place, causing an almighty coughing fit, which ended only when one of the invigilators took a break from playing with her testicles and slapped me on the back. The rest of the exam was spent trying to suppress the tickly cough caused by my poor savaged throat. But hey, at Least it didd’unt affect my Engerlish skillz, babes. ROFL.

Since then I spend more time fretting about having a fit (coughing, sneezing or shitting) that I end up lugging around a box of tissues, a Sinex inhaler, two bottles of water and 24 blackcurrant Strepsils to numb my throat in case of emergency. It’s the same bag I take when Paul and I go for our midnight drive around the lorry park, weirdly enough. I spent more time getting my exam accoutrements out of my murse than I do actually writing the answers.

So, on the day of the exam, I turned up to the venue two hours early, panicking as I was that we were warned this was a one-shot only exam and if we were late, that was it, goodnight nurse. I took myself down to the little restaurant downstairs and thankfully realised that I wasn’t the only one who had arrived before the exam papers. I took a seat amongst the sea of ashen faces and got out my file. I had a minor panic when it turned out that everyone else at the table had reams upon reams of notes and I just had my wee Powerpoints to glance through, though. I took the view that if I didn’t know it by now it was too late and drifted back upstairs to wait anxiously at the door of the very fancy hall where the exam was being held. At least I looked keen, that would surely be worth an extra point or two?

As it happens, it all went well. Really well. Unless I’ve totally ballsed up somehow, I reckon it’s a pass, and the relief is so palpable I could shit, assuming I’d fit on the toilet. After the exam I had a few hours before my train home so I took myself to St. James’ Park to sit under the trees and let the stress melt away. Best part? Being able to chuck the giant lever arch file away that has clung to my side like a boil these last few weeks. Honestly, I’ve never scraped something into a bin with such venom since that pho.

And now we’re done, and the recipes will resume once more, and let me tell you know, we’ve got some absolute corkers coming up. Get ready to get moist! Moist like the chicken in these chicken tikka (tell me what’s wrong) wraps! LET’S GET THIS DONE. This makes enough for 4 big wraps, so you get two halves for one syn! CANNY.


to make grilled chicken tikka wraps you will need:

  • 4x BFree Multigrain Wraps (4x HeB)
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips (
  • 2 tbsp Patak’s Tikka Spice paste (4 syns)
  • 5 tbsp fat-free natural yogurt
  • ¼ of a large cucumber (you know what you can do with the rest, you saucy bugger)
  • 2 tsp mint sauce
  • 4 handfuls of rocket (or any salad leaves)
  • 1 pouch Tesco Everyday Value Golden Vegetable Rice (you can use any brand, but this one is free – others will vary up to about 3 syns so check!)
  • 2 large onions, sliced

We were kindly sent a Tefal Optigrill to try out and it worked well for this recipe – no messing about with tinfoil under a grill and it could be chucked in the dishwasher afterwards! We really do love it, and I promise we’re not just saying that because they gave us one for nowt!

All of our hampers have massive amounts of chicken in – but actually, here’s a switch: you can now choose what you want to go in your hamper – so if you’re not a fan of chicken, say (unlike me), hoy some more beef in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

to make chicken tikka wraps you should:

  • mix together the Tikka paste with 1 tbsp of the natural yogurt, and then stir into the chicken to coat completely – longer you can leave it, the better, but we just marinated for an hour or so
  • whilst the chicken marinades, add the onion to a large frying pan with few squirts oil and a good pinch of salt, and cook over a low heat with the lid on – stir every now and again until well caramelised and when it starts to stick, stir a bit more often – they won’t go golden, but when they’re sticky and gloopy they’re done
  • whilst that’s cooking, make the raita by peeling and dicing the cucumber and stirring into the natural yoghurt and mint sauce – keep in the fridge until you need it
  • make up the rice according to the packet instructions (leave out the oil, even if it says to use it)
  • next, get to business – if you’re using the Tefal Optigrill, simply press the Manual button until the light is orange, and once preheated add the chicken and close the lid until cooked
  • if using the grill, heat to medium-high, place the chicken underneath and cook until done, not forgetting to turn it now and again
  • grab your wraps and spread over as much raita as you like, followed by a sprinkling of rocket leaves, a couple of spoons of rice, caramelised onion and finally the chicken – this doesn’t need to be exact, just stuff them with as much as you want!
  • roll into a wrap shape, cut in half and enjoy

Oh! If you’re struggling with rolling wraps, it’s dead easy.

Nicking that video from Tesco. Don’t even care.

Yeah! How do you like them apples? Wanting more to stuff your gob? Just click one of the buttons below to be magically transported to more tasty recipes!

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grilled harissa chicken summer burgers

Harissa chicken burgers with grilled vegetables you say? Yes, I can understand why you might be moist at the thought. They certainly look delicious. But first, a shock announcement!

  • I’m a closeted heterosexual – Paul is a marriage of convenience and I pick up ladies on the side using the name Jason Dickthrust;
  • I’m becoming a Vida Devina coffee seller – ah wait no, I didn’t fail my BTEC in hairdressing;
  • we’re going to be doing the odd sponsored post.

No I know! You might be crashing your lips at the thought of us selling out and I’m sure I can hear someone crying out that I’ve got the integrity of a milk dildo at the very thought, but here’s the thing. We don’t saturate with adverts, we don’t spam. We’re only ever going to do sponsored adverts on one condition: we can be brutally honest and it doesn’t change the writing style of the blog. So don’t worry, please. We’ll always give an alternative to the product (see recipe below) and if we’re recommending it, it’s because we actually use it, not just because we’ve been given money to say it. The only man who can put his hand up my bottom and make me speak is my doctor when he checks my prostate. Which was weird, because I’d only gone in to see about my ingrown toenail.

Plus, I mean look – I work all night and I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay. Ain’t that sad? And STILL there never seems to be a single penny left for me. I’d go on the game but I hate owing money.

Anyway, in the spirit of twochubbycubs and being open and honest, whenever we do a sponsored post (which I promise will be the rarity rather than the norm) we’re going to post this subtle banner to keep you informed, much like the tiny ‘P’ symbol that appears on Corrie to show you might see Sawfee Webster using a Nationwide cash-machine:

No I know, it’s barely noticeable. It was going to be Paul rolling around on a sea of pound coins like Scrooge McDuck but his fat would suck the coins up and he’d be paying out for weeks after like a faulty fruit machine.

So what are we peddling? The Optigrill. It’s like a George Foreman grill, but more pleasant to look at and far more efficient at even cooking. Our current George Foreman is currently stuck in what we call our Gadget Graveyard – the forgotten cupboard under the breakfast bar that we’re both too fat and lazy to get to. I mean, it involves moving the trolley and meh, too much effort. Currently in there is the George Foreman, the egg cuber (I’m sorry), a billion and one cake-tins, the electric can opener which did more damage to my wrist than any can before it, two Actifrys (not because they’re broken, but just because wanted the newer model, so shallow) and possibly a cat. The George Foreman went in there for two reasons:

  • I absolutely bloody hated cleaning the thing – it would sit there greasy and in the way, fouling the air – and I’ve got Paul to do that, I don’t need anything else; and
  • I was sick of eating meat that was scorching hot and dry on the outside whilst wet and raw in the middle. I like consistency in my dinner, not a Bushtucker Trial.

Luckily, both those problems were solved by the Optigrill, and we’ll get to that.

What does it do?

Put simply, it’s a grill. You put your meat in it and it cooks it. Big deal you might say, I can do that and I’m only sixty pounds an hour, no kissing. But see this is more than a grill. This clever grill measures the thickness of your meat (ah it’s like being a teenager all over again) and adjusts the timings to compensate. The front of the grill is adorned with various settings for burgers, chicken, bacon, sausage, red meat or fish,

Let’s take steak as an example (and you’ll see our steak recipe later down the line). Say you fancy a well done steak – simply take your steak and leave my house for not eating properly. I’m very much of the vein that all you need to do for a good steak is wipe the cow’s arse and throw the steak for a moment or two on the grill. I want my steak to moo.

But no, if you want rare, you simply press the button for red meat, wait for it to preheat, and once it is up to temperature, throw on your meat and pop the lid down. The grill then measures the steak and adjusts the time it takes to get to rare – you’ll hear it sizzling away and once the big LED light is yellow, take out your steak. Want it medium? Wait until the light is orange. Want it well done? Wait for red.

It’s all terrifically simple. It can cook from frozen – simply press the frozen food button and then the meat you want and off you go.

It also cooks vegetables and other stuff – there’s a nice manual mode that is easy enough to use. In short, if you can grill it, this will do it and leave satisfying marks on the food.

Here’s what we’re going to do. For the next few recipes, we’ll be using the Optigrill, and we’ll tell you how it cooks various things, rather than give you a blanket ‘omg it’s proper lush’ tut. But a few other points.

How does it look?

Stylish. If you’re a fan of brushed steel, coloured lights and sexy hinges, you’re going to be thrilled. It doesn’t take up a massive amount of space on the worktop and it doesn’t look like a cosmonaut’s helmet, unlike some other gadgets. It’s got some heft to it – it’s not so heavy that you can’t lift it without a few lines of protein but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart the second you ask it to grill anything other than a sprig of parsley. That’s reassuring, because the Optigrill is an expensive product and you’re going to want it to last.

Cleaning

It really couldn’t be easier. We left it out on the side and our cleaner cheerfully dealt with it. No I’m kidding, we did it ourselves. Like big boys. Anyway our cleaner is still in intensive care from cleaning our bedroom for the first time and being overcome by the miasma of Slimming World farts that greeted her. All the grease and fat dripped into the sturdy drip-tray under the machine leaving only the plates to clean and – THIS IS A REVELATION – these detach and can be popped in the dishwasher. No more scrubbing away with a sponge and your own tears.

Verdict

Here’s the thing. Do you need an Optigrill? No. If you’ve got a grill, you can make do. It’s fancy, it makes life easier, and it has shiny buttons which appeal to the magpie in me. But if you’re in the mood for a new gadget, this does fit the bill. If you’re thinking about getting a worktop grill and you can afford a bit more, buy it. We’ve used it for a week (and you’ll see the various recipes coming up with the results) and found it useful. £120 useful? Yes, if you have the disposable income, less so if you’re watching the pennies. It absolutely does what it says so fair play to Tefal for that and we be keeping it out on the worktop for a little while yet.

You can have a look for yourself by clicking here, where it’s currently reduced in price.

Right, shall we get to the recipe? It’s a wonder! Grilled harissa chicken summer burgers. Oh yes! Harissa paste can be found in most supermarkets and is a blend of chillis and other fragrant spices – it’s not too hot, but feel free to swap it out for a gentle rub. Said that before. Hell, lemon and garlic marinade would work just as well!

to make harissa chicken burgers you will need:

  • 2 large chicken breasts (the ones from our Musclefood deal are perfect!)
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste (2 syns)
  • handful of rocket leaves
  • 1 large red onion
  • 50g reduced-fat mozarella (4 syns)
  • one large beef tomato
  • 1 tbsp red pepper houmous (see note below)
  • 2 wholemeal rolls (2x HeB)

Things to note: we used a brioche bun for our burger because frankly, we deserved a treat. To make this Slimming World friendly, make sure you use a HEB bun. I don’t want Mags coming round forcing you to grill your fingers as penance.

We also chose to syn the mozzarella rather than HEA it. You can have 70g as a HEA but see, 50g is enough for two, and I couldn’t be arsed to work out percentages of HEA. Have yourself a glass of milk and calm down.

The chicken is from our Musclefood bundles – we like them because the chicken doesn’t look like a prawn once it’s cooked, unlike those supermarket breasts! Plus we’ve always got a good deal on them.

Finally, we didn’t syn the houmous – we used our own recipe  and added roasted peppers into the mix, but if you can’t be bothered with that, 1 tablespoon of red pepper houmous from Tesco is 1.5 syns.

to make harissa chicken burgers you should:

  • cut the chicken into chunks and rub the harissa paste all over – leave to marinade as long as you can
  • slice the tomatoes, mozzarella and onion into thick slices
  • time to sort your onion and tomato: slice both into big, thick slices – about a centimetre thick – and squirt with a bit of oil then:
    • if using an Optigrill, press the manual mode twice to get it to preheat to a medium heat, and then put the thick slices of onion and tomato to grill and cook on both sides for about 7 minutes – you want them softened and charred
    • if you’re using a normal grill – bit of oil, put them on a tray under the grill for a few minutes, but remember to turn them at least once so it’s nice and uniform
  • next, cook the chicken:
    • if using an Optigrill, keep the same setting as the onion and tomato and pop the chicken on, then close the lid and cook for as long as it takes for your chicken to cook through – we cut ours into tiny chunks so we were done in five minutes, but please make sure it’s cooked through – the skitters might be good for weight loss but think of your poor nipsy;
    • if using the grill, same as above – cook for a few minutes, remembering to turn things, and make sure it’s cooked through
  • whilst that’s cooking, assemble the bun by slicing and spreading houmous along the bottom half, then topping with rocket and the mozzarella slice, followed by the tomato and onion (with maybe a pinch of salt)
  • when the chicken is cooked, remove from the plates (or pan or whatever) and spoon on top of the burgers
  • quickly toast off the top half of the buns by putting them straight into the Optigrill or under the grill
  • enjoy!

Big thanks to @TEFALUK and @Foodies100!

Craving more? Of course you are, you dirty girl. Just click on one of the large, throbbing buttons below to get even more ideas to stuff your hole!

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Phwoar, that was a long one! Listen, if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further – can you let us know what you think about this style of sponsored post? I’m hoping you agree that it isn’t all gushing and cloying and we’ve kept our writing style, but I do want feedback! Enjoy!

J

chicken and mushroom one-pot paella

I’m saying our chicken and mushroom one-pot paella is a paella even though it doesn’t have seafood in because for goodness sake, seafood ruins everything and I don’t care who knows it. Next part of our New York entry for you today, with the finish line in sight…then how about a few new entries that aren’t holiday related? We did receive a snotty comment that someone comes here to read the recipes, not the holidays of two gay men – pfft. People shouldn’t forget – this is a personal blog and the food is a mere afterthought. If you don’t like sodomy and sass with your slimming slop, then bugger off to 💓 💓 Cutezy Mom & Her Moonlight Children 💓 💓 or some other asinine shite and don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out. Eeee what a thing to say. Let’s go travelling! Remember I love feedback on our travel entries!

click here for part one | click here for part two | click here for part three | click here for part four | click here for part five

At SOME point during this holiday we visited the Empire State Building – but can I balls remember what day it was. As a result, I’m just going to squeeze it in right here, on the last day we were there.

We woke with a start at around 6am – it’s true, you know, New York is truly the city that never sleeps. We know this because there was a mad person shouting obscenities down on the streets below. Nothing rouses me from slumber quicker than someone with spittle on his lips shouting about the coming apocalypse and the risen Jesus. It was the last day so we showered glumly, packed our things sadly and exchanged blowjobs with a downturned mouth. It’s difficult to be enthusiastic on the last day. We left our luggage with the charming staff in the lobby and made our way out.

Well, it was certainly bright. Turned out that the city had received a fair dumping of snow overnight and the streets were white and pretty. I fretted momentarily that we would be trapped in New York (oh no, imagine my devastation) but found that this thought was giving me far too much joy for so early in the morning. We could see the Empire State Building way off in the distance so decided to head there, walking the three miles or so slowly to prevent any accidental slips or falls. We were in the most litigious country in the world, after all. We stopped for a quick breakfast in a tiny corner deli – I had a sandwich the size of a church draught excluder, Paul had a slice of cheesecake. Of course!

The Empire State Building was astonishing, though. The lady dishing out the tickets warned us that we would be unable to see anything much due to the heavy cloud but we waved her worries aside – we at least had to tick it off the list. I’m so glad we did. It’s an absolutely gorgeous building, both inside and out, done out as it is in the fabulous art-deco style of the time. We had the tourist part of the building to ourselves, most likely due to the early morning and the winter weather, and we were able to wander about and take our time.

Proof that we enjoyed the tour was the fact we took on board two facts about the Empire State Building: two separate people have attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the observation deck only to be blown back into the building on the way down. I’d certainly feel like I was born again in that situation: imagine expecting to be a thin red jam on the pavement only to find yourself safe and sound with only ruffled hair to account for your troubles. Along similar lines, the world record for the longest survived elevator fall took place here, when rescuers saving poor Betty Lou Oliver from a plane hitting the building managed to miss the fact that the elevator carriage she was riding in had weakened considerably. Just as they reached for her the cables holding the lift snapped and she, and the lift, fell 79 stories.  She survived with serious injuries but fuck me ragged, I had my heart in my mouth on the Tower of Terror ride at Disneyworld, I can’t imagine doing that for 79 floors! Blimey.

The kiosk lady was right, by the way – we couldn’t see very much. But the feeling of standing on the 102nd floor in the middle of a snowstorm was incredible. I felt like I was in a chewing gum advert. However, a minute standing outside had sent my bollocks retreating somewhere behind my lungs so we sharp made our way back in and into the gift shop, where we bought all manner of tat and nonsense.

See, brisk.

Knowing our flight wasn’t until the evening we decided to spend the rest of the day just walking about to see where we ended up. Oddly enough, after much random mincing and stopping for coffee, we found ourselves down on Pier 86 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a museum devoted to well, air, sea and space. We had time to kill and ankles like jelly, so why not? They have a decommissioned aircraft carrier to nose about, and well, I haven’t had a chance to visit an old wreck full of seamen since the last time I visited Paul’s mother. Ouch.

As seems to be the way with attractions in New York, there was a bewildering array of entrance tickets to be had – some with simulations included, some with access to the space shuttle, some with a frisky handjob by a passing sailor. We chose the standard admission and were immediately told to decide which simulator we fancied. We elected to have a trip on the exciting G-Force Encounter, half-thinking it might be one of those centrifuge things where they spin you around and you’re left with the arresting sight of your own double chin snaking its merry way up over your eyes.

Well, it certainly wasn’t that. We were ‘boarded’ by an indifferent Kenan and Kel and told to strap ourselves in. Sounds exciting! Well, let me tell you this: I’ve felt more G-Force getting out of my computer chair when the takeaway man knocks on the door. The perils of war-time flight were bought to life via the medium of Windows 95’s very best graphics. The simulator creaked this way and that and there was an awful lot of hissing – we probably broke a hydraulics pipe somewhere – but that was it. Thrill ride? I had more excitement reading the opening hours.

That was the only downside, though. The rest of the exhibition was great. We spent a good hour or so wandering around the aircraft carrier, getting a taste of what it must be like spending all that time locked away with nothing but other men to keep you company. We both signed up for the US Navy as we left.

Not just content with letting us explore the poop deck, the museum also had all manner of aeroplanes and helicopters to look at. I have to confess: this struggled to hold my attention. I mean, they looked great and all, but a plane sitting on the ground is still a plane sitting on the ground, you know? We did spot that they had a Concorde parked down by the water so we bustled over to it. I’ve been in Concorde before, though not for a flight (sadly) and the bloody thing is tiny. You’re fair jammed in with the rich and famous and I imagine it’s like crossing the ocean in a cigar tube. Of course, you get no sense of this lack of space as you’re not allowed to board the Concorde at the Intrepid, which is a pretty poor show.

I do wish they’d bring back Concorde, however. Imagine flying from London to New York in three and a half hours, as opposed to double that with BA’s current fleet. I’d barely have enough time for the blood around my swollen ankles to clot before we landed. Paul’s dad has been on Concorde, and, having met Paul’s mother, I can absolutely understand the need for supersonic flight. That’s two jibes in one article, I am awful.

Next on the list was a trip into a submarine – one which was hilariously named ‘Growler’.

This meant that Paul had to endure about twenty minutes of me saying ‘I’ve never seen a Growler this big’ and ‘do you reckon I’ll be able to fit in the Growler, it looks tight’ and ‘I hope the Growler doesn’t smell of fish and damp from being underwater’. I only stopped when blood started trickling from his ears. We joined an orderly queue of prim, exceptionally thin people who were all shepherded aboard before us. This meant that we were now at the front of the queue with people behind us which immediately gave me the heebie-jeebies. Why? Because what if we didn’t fit through the absolutely tiny doors onboard?

Look at them!

There were warning signs everywhere. All I could imagine is my arse acting like a giant plug and everyone behind being slowly starved of oxygen. As it happens it was an incredibly tight fit but I managed fine – it was actually Paul, with his tiny coffee-table legs, that struggled, given you had to lift your legs really quite high to climb through. At one point I nearly cried ‘abandon ship’ and made for the exit but it all came good in the end. I bet though – in fact, I absolutely guarantee – that our denim-clad arses are on at least eight Japanese iCloud accounts as we speak.

To be fair, my rack has indeed been a welcome sight for many seamen.

We wrapped up our visit with a trip around their space centre, which held the space shuttle Enterprise and lots of bright and interesting information boards. I’ve been to NASA in Orlando so seeing the shuttle wasn’t so amazing, but I’ll say this: when you see it up close you realise exactly how much fun it must be being in space. Honestly, I’d never get tired of shooting various liquids around in zero gravity – after twenty-four hours the live feed to the inside of my space-shuttle would look like a badly tuned TV channel.

I tried to buy a helmet from the gift shop but yet again, my elephantine head defeated me.

See? Look at my sad face.

Seeing that we’d need to get a move on and head back to the hotel, we wandered up the streets, retracing our steps from the morning. We were side-tracked for another hour or so by a stop at a beer bar (The House of Brews, firmly recommended) where we managed to put away several pints of various beers together with a plate of nachos that was positively indecent. I love American nachos – they do it properly, with loads of chilli, cheese, sauces and spice. What do we get? A microwaved packet of Doritos with a Cheesestring melted over the top. Bah. We spotted a dartboard and, perhaps fuelled by that rare beast testosterone, had ourselves a little tournament. Naturally, I won, but then I’ve always been accomplished at finishing myself off with a double-top.

So manly, even if it looks like I’m wanking off a tiny pint of Guinness.

We made it back to our hotel, had a very strong coffee to stop our eyes swimming, and picked up our luggage. With a heavy, cheese-stuffed heart, we were bidding goodbye to New York.

Nah, I’m good thanks…


Did you enjoy that? If not, tough titty, but the end is in sight – one more entry to go and then we’re back on track. Actually that’s a fib, we’ve got Copenhagen coming down the line. And London. Oh god it never ends! But before we get to all of that, let’s do the recipe. This is adapted from Macheeshmo’s website so full credit to him, but we’ve taken out the seafood because that shit is nasty. This made enough for four big portions!

to make chicken and mushroom one-pot paella, you’ll need:

  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 150g shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 100g button mushrooms (or whatever type you like), chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (get one of these!)
  • 300g paella rice
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 litre chicken stock (dissolve two chicken stock cubes in a litre of boiling water)
  • pinch of salt and pepper

All of our hampers have massive amounts of chicken in – but actually, here’s a switch: you can now choose what you want to go in your hamper – so if you’re not a fan of chicken, say (unlike me), hoy some more beef in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

to make chicken and mushroom one-pot paella, you should:

  • prepare the onion, chicken and mushroom and place into bowls – it makes it much easier!
  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • in a large ovenproof casserole pot, add a little oil over a high heat
  • add the chicken in two batches until seared in each side (this will take about five minutes)
  • remove the chicken the pan into a large bowl and set aside
  • add the mushrooms and cook for another few minutes, then add the onions, chopped garlic and some salt and pepper
  • tip the mushrooms and onion in with the chicken
  • add a little more oil to the now-empty pan, and then add the paella rice and spread out well int he bottom of the pan
  • add the chicken stock and give a good stir, and then add the tomatoes, chilli powder and paprika
  • stir in the chicken, mushrooms and onions and give another good stir, then bring the lot to a simmer
  • place the pot in the oven uncovered for about 40 minutes
  • serve!

Canny right?

Hungry for more? You know what to do:

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Enjoy!

J