beef chilli and bean pasta bake – canny winter food!

Beef chilli and bean pasta bake! We’ve done a fair few pasta bakes lately but see, they’re excellent winter meals because you can make a huge portion, freeze the leftovers and thoroughly enjoy them as a meal! It’s a holiday entry though, so if you’re here just for the recipe, click the button below and it’ll take you straight to the recipe. Move along, sugarboobs, there’s nothing for you here.

You absolutely made the right choice, let’s go!

click here for part one | click here for part two

You last left us just as we stumbled, blinking and frowning into the apricity of a Stockholm winter, having spent a merry hour groping around in the dark with a total stranger. I appreciate that’s pretty much the start of all of our holiday entries but you get the idea. What next? Over in the distance from the Museum for the Blind loomed the Kaknästornet, a 155 meter TV tower. We weren’t planning on visiting until we realised there was a restaurant on the 26th floor and given how windy it was, it was likely to be deserted. A quick tramp through the woods led us there and, after handing over a small fortune, we were dispatched to a rickety old lift that sounded like it clacked and clicked against every last bolt and screw in that shaft. Despite the whole tower swaying ominously it was absolutely worth the trip – the views were amazing. We sat and enjoyed a strong restorative coffee and a slab of cake the size of Paul’s arse and all was well with the world. I like being high up looking down – it makes me feel like a God, albeit one with lingonberry jam dripping on his chin.

Admittedly not the best photo, but it was swaying…


We should explain at this point that we had, for once in our lives, managed to plan ahead and purchase a Stockholm Pass, which afforded you entry into all sorts of attractions for a one-off fee. A quick google search revealed we were within walking distance of a bus-stop which would take us straight to the museum district which held, amongst other things, an Absolut Museum and even better, the friggin’ ABBA museum. Well now come on, some things are inevitable, and us two benders paying homage to the campest band ever, well, it was always going to happen. We wandered over to the bus-stop and took a seat, reassured that one of Stockholm’s incredibly reliable buses would be along within six minutes. The timetable and electronic board certainly confirmed this. So we waited. Waited some more. Then a bit longer. Thirty minutes passed and I made to leave only to spot Paul sitting there with that grim, sulky and determined look on his face that told me that because he had wasted half an hour waiting for this bus, he was going to damn well wait until one turned up. I know this face well: bottom lip pops out, eyebrows furrow like he’s solving a cryptic crossword – normally the only thing that can break the spell is if he hears me unwrapping a Crunchie bar, like an obese take on Pavlov’s dog.

Even the bus-stop suggested filth.

So we waited even longer until I snapped and ordered him to stand up and start moving. So much protestation but I’d be damned if I was going to spend another minute gazing at the minutiae of the Stockholm bus timetable and trying to work out whether överföra meant cancelled, transfer or that the typesetter had taken ill at the keys and slumped over the keyboard. After promising I’d rub his feet if he started moving we were finally off.

We were about twenty steps away from the stop when a bus sailed straight past us, depositing a pleasant mix of slush and schadenfreude across the bottom of our trousers. Paul was furious and only calmed down when we happened across The Museum of Science and Technology. Now we’re talking: buttons to press. It was great fun! Highlights included a stage where you could pose whilst virtual reality dinosaurs ran around you, the sight of which was beamed to the rest of the museum live. It took less than seven hot seconds before Paul was pretending to get bummed by a tyrannosaurus rex and was roundly tutted from the stage. Oh and let’s not forget the winter sports section where you could try all manner of sporty experiences in the comfort of a warm museum and a reassuring proximity to a defibrillator. I climbed a tiny little mountain before realising my own giant crevasse was on show.

It’s like a Lidl take on Cliffhanger

We both tried our hand at curling only to realise you need dexterity and grace rather than a considerable weight advantage – most folks glide on ice, we look like a landslide. My favourite part was an enclosed booth which offered you the chance to be commentators on an ice-hockey game playing out in front of you – we started off with good intentions, yelling and blaring, before it degenerated into ‘HAWAY TORVILL, YOU LAMPSHAPE-FACED SLAPPER’ and ‘SKATE FASTER, NANCY KERRIGAN: THIS TIME THERE’S NAILS IN THE BAT’.

Not exactly Match of the Day

All in good fun – the booth was soundproof from the inside so no harm no foul, and we took everyone’s icy stares as simply being that crisp Swedish attitude so common over there. That was until we realised I’d managed to shut my coat in the door, preventing it from fully closing, and allowing the museum full audible access to our rantings, shrieking and wailings. We left ashen-faced, but not before a quick go on the virtual toboggan – only a quick go because a four year old child appeared and start pressing the buttons.

Honestly, do folks not know how to behave in museums?

We tackled the big issues!

After the Science Museum I somehow managed to persuade Paul to keep walking (it’s easier in cold countries – because of the icy ground, you just need to shove him gently and let gravity do the rest) and we headed a couple of miles along the river to the Spritmuseum down on Djurgårdsvägen, having found out that the Abba museum was shut for the night. Bastards. The Spritmuseum is a museum dedicated to booze – how they make it, how they bottle it, what it does to the body and even better, with some free tasters. You understand why we were lured in, yes? I can’t pretend it was terrifically exciting, and I don’t think we took the ‘hangover simulator’ as seriously as the guides wanted as Paul promptly fell asleep on the sofa during the ‘a hard night out’ movie, but it passed the time. There’s something about museums abroad that the UK can’t seem to match – our museums are always full of tired exhibitions hidden behind glass cubes coated with fingerprints, smelly children barrelling around being noisy and loud and lots of ladies who have never known what it is to love yelling at people that THEY MUST NOT TOUCH and STAND WELL BACK and YOU CAN’T EAT THAT IN HERE. I swear I once had an argument with a curator who had a pop at me for eating outside food when I took a packet of Halls from my pocket. Pfft.

Found Paul!

Found my bedroom friend!

The museum itself took up only half an hour but afterwards we decamped into the bar and, in a fit of ‘but I don’t care that it cost more than the flights over’ excitement, I ordered a taster selection of the various spirits for us to try.

Pictured: Cyril Smith enjoying a drink

It’s hard to look butch in that shirt

Now listen: I’ve swallowed some disgusting things in my life. Top tip: pinch your nose and gulp, you’ll find it slips down that much easier. But these spirits absolutely defeated me – I felt like Anne Robinson back when she was necking her dressing room Chanel. I tried to sip them to ‘taste the flavour notes’ but it would have been nicer to chew open batteries. Paul was merrily necking them and so, in my haste to get past it, I threw the lot in my mouth, grimaced and swallowed. Worst 50 Swedish krona we spent that holiday. We should have left, but the very friendly bar staff noticed how quickly we had knocked it back and filled our glasses up again for free. Very generous indeed, but you have no idea how difficult it is to fake pleasure in swallowing what tastes like something they’d use to dissolve a London fatberg, especially when some blonde bombshell is looking at you both approvingly whilst you savour the flavour. I’ve never acted so hard in my life but after the second round – seeing stars – we had to pretend to urgently leave. We were absolutely bloody smashed.

We had an escape room booked for the evening and so, conscious of the fact we were both seeing double, we decided to make our way to the escape room via a nice long boat ride. Ah it was glorious – floating along in the ice-cold really freshened the mind and by the time we were pulling into the port, we were back in full ‘Rose and Jack’ voice.

Our Escape Room was hosted by Fox in a Box and they welcomed us with open arms, wincing only gently at the alcohol fumes pouring out of us. It was a very unusual location – underground with several rooms with different themes. You know we love an escape room and we have made a point of doing one on each holiday so far: this one was themed like a laboratory and the idea was that we had to stop a zombie apocalypse. Of course. Escape rooms are fun but it’s so hard to look serious whilst someone who couldn’t care less is telling you that there’s zombies just outside the door. She sealed us in. I started looking for clues when, as though he’d been holding it in since the TV tower, Paul let out a fart so loud and so elongated that I thought he’d found a trombone. You know how your ears ring after a large firework goes off? That was me. I might remind you that the rooms are linked to the reception so that they can hear if you get stuck, so they would have been treated as well. We were absolutely creased – we’re huge fan of toilet humour – but then it literally sank in. In a sealed room, with no air-conditioning or window, that fetid air wasn’t going anywhere. If anything, it seemed to get worse and worse, smelling like someone was burning tyres in a fire made of shit. It’s hard to concentrate on mixing colours and typing codes when your eyes are streaming and your nose is bleeding. The hour passed and we ‘saved the day’ with moments to spare. That’s all well and good, but when the lassie unlocked to lock the door and the air rushed out of the room, she was hit with the full force and set away with a coughing fit. I’ve never been so embarrassed and this happens a lot on our holidays: I’m left beetroot faced and Paul is standing there grinning like the cat that shat the bed.

Oh, at least the McDonalds had a compliment…

Cheers mate!

Seems like a good moment to get back to the recipe, doesn’t it?

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Right, let’s do this recipe eh? This serves 4 big portions!

beef chilli and bean pasta bake

beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you will need:

  • 400g lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 2 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp chilli powder (as hot or as mild as you like)
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 300g wholewheat pasta
  • 120g fat-free greek yoghurt (check the syns)
  • 220g Philadelphia lightest (2x hea)
  • 80g reduced fat extra mature cheese, grated (2x HeA)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten

top tips to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200ºc
  • cook the pasta according to the instructions, then drain
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, spray with a bit of oil and add the onions and celery
  • cook for a few minutes until starting to soften, then scoop out the pan and set aside
  • add the mince to the pan and cook until browned
  • add the onions and celery back into the pan and tip in the tomatoes, kidney beans, celery, tomato puree, chilli powder, garlic and beef stock
  • stir well, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes
  • next, mix together the yoghurt, Philadelphia, salt, pepper, cheese and eggs and set aside
  • mix the pasta and the mince mixture together and tip into a large dish
  • top with the cheese mixture, making sure that it’s even spread over the top
  • bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes – finish under the grill for a few minutes to get the top crispy

Who couldn’t love that?! Try our other pasta bakes!


chicken dopiaza: syn-free, easy to make gorgeous curry

Your chicken dopiaza will follow in a moment. But first, I was listening to a very interesting podcast all about regret this morning on my way into work. It was particularly befitting, as I was regretting my choice to walk in, regretting my choice to wake up in the morning and especially regretting letting someone go in front of me at the gate to the town moor, as it then meant I had twenty minutes half-walking-half-hanging-back otherwise their lycra-clad lumpen arse was filling my field of vision. I don’t have many regrets – what’s the use? I’m not Doctor Who, can’t turn the clock back (trust me, if I could, I’d go back fifteen years and tell myself not to cut off all that fabulous hair I used to have, even if a good third was missing from setting it on fire lighting a cigarette from a gas hob), so why worry? But that said, because I’m in the mood to write tonight, let me tell you about just a few things in life that I do lament.

#1: meeting Paul

Eeee no, of course not, I’m joking. We fit together like the square and the l shaped in Tetris. I very much doubt there is another man with cracking tits out there who would cheerfully put up with my arse-of-death and histrionics every morning.

#2: spending three years of my life looking like the bastard offspring of The Scottish Widow and Bubble from Big Brother 2

Let me explain. I’ve always been an up-and-down-dieter: sometimes I’m fat, sometimes I’m thin, sometimes when we touch the honesty is too much. But, after losing a hefty amount of weight in my teenage years, I couldn’t overcome the acute embarrassment I had about my big fat wobbly body – despite being only 13 stone – and so I dressed for about three years solid in a giant black wool coat that a friend bought me (little did I know) from the ladies section of C&A. I adored that coat – long, swooshing and magnificent – I’d cut about the village I grew up in like the gayest spectre of death you’d ever seen. I was by no means a goth: I was too clumsy for eyeliner, too cheerful for Livejournal poetry. But what people mistook for vivacious fashion sense (dry cough) was actually masking the desire to hide my body away in the biggest cloak I could find. Looking back at photos I’m left mortified – in 99% of them I’m wearing 28″ waist jeans and a coat that you could comfortably cover a Renault Passat with in a cold frost. In short: I look like a twat. You know what compounds the look though? I found a black bucket hat in a hedge one day and loved it that much that I took it home, washed it and never took it off again. I honestly shiver when I see it now.

And yet you know, it’s funny: I couldn’t give a toss what people think of me now. I wear what I want, most of my holiday photographs have some form of nudity in it with either my fat arse or my rack on show, and you know what? I’m all the better for it.

#3: I wish I’d bothered learning to drive sooner

I grew up in a tiny village in the middle of Northumberland with one bus connection and a kitchen outlet store. It wasn’t exactly a den of homosexuality, though I did alright on that front due to the various ‘friends from school’ I had over. But still, whenever I drive home nowadays and see all those lorries parked up, all those fun little country lanes, all those crashes with van drivers where someone gets rear-ended or has their bumper pushed in from the back…well, it’s hard not to feel like I’ve missed a glorious opportunity. But see I moved out at 18 into the centre of Newcastle and the need to drive never really came up – now it’s my most favourite thing in the world. I’d cheerfully be a lorry driver if I thought my back was up to lifting suspect rolls of carpet into ditches, but no, that time has passed. I only learned to drive at the age of 27, though I fear I’ve subtracted eighteen years of my life due to damage to my heart from getting so wound up about other drivers since then. Life’s a balance.

#4: buying cheap batteries

I let Paul convince me that buying 64 AA batteries from IKEA would be a safe bet, simply because we go through them at such a rate of knots that people think we’re road-testers for Ann Summers – which is ridiculous, because all of our sex-toys are wired straight into the fuse-board. They’ll be fine, he said, slipping lurid packets of bright yellow into our trolley. Well they’re bloody well not. I seem to spend a good third of my day sliding the plates off the back of my keyboard, remotes, magic mouse, doorbell, ped-egg and Xbox controllers because the batteries inside couldn’t power a mouse’s kettle. It’s like they’re filled with mist. What makes it worse is that our Nest smoke alarm is battery-powered. It doesn’t just beep – oh no – it shrieks, in that cold robotic voice – THE BATTERIES ARE LOW. PLEASE REPLACE THE BATTERIES, which is just what you need to wrench you from sleep at 4am in the morning. Oh and if you ignore her she ups the ante considerably: she decided to warn us that there was smoke in the hallway the last time we were in Lidl, meaning us screaming back home in the Smart Car only to find it was just her malfunctioning. Internet of Things will change your life they say. Aye, they’re not wrong: I’ve developed generalised anxiety disorder every time I hear an electronic chirp. Twitter is hell.

#5: arguing with sucker-lipped thick idiots on Facebook about manners

I know I’ve mentioned this before but honestly, I can’t help myself. I’m in a group which asks people to say please and thank you when they request help from others. The fact that it even needs to be specified boils my piss as it is, but I’m always first to point out if someone’s being an ill-mannered dick. The amount of folks who think it’s appropriate to hold up some knock-off yoghurt and say SINS without so much as a kiss-my-arse is mind-boggling. I appreciate that we’re not in church but good manners costs fuck all. Put that on a tea-towel and wipe your fadge with it. So as you can expect, I end up in all sorts of arguments with people with faces dusted with Wotsit-powder and lips like a bee-stung arsehole who say stuff like WE ARE NOT KIDS (but you are! You always are! Just because you’ve got two babies and an Elizabeth Duke pay-as-you-go engagement ring doesn’t mean you’re not 17) and THIS IS WURST THAN SCHOOL (how would you know?) and then THE ADMIN R WORSER THAN HITLER. That’s the best one: you’re compared to a man responsible for the gassing of millions of folks simply because you’ve got the cheek to expect a please before helping out. And THAT’S my regret: that I bother arguing. Have you ever tried arguing with a thick/entitled person on the Internet? You’d get a more reasoned discussion by lifting up the cat’s tail and bellowing direct into her pouting vulva. All they do is respond with an attempt at insulting you (it’s hard to take offence when you can’t decipher their spelling) and then so many crappy emoticons that it’s like watching The Emoji Movie in a haunted hall of mirrors. You can’t make someone see sense – you can lead a horse to water, but you have to strongly resist the urge to push their head under until all you’re left with is a bloated cadaver, a neck tattoo of a badly-spelled take on the name of a Love Island contestant and a scum of Paul’s Boutique foundation floating on the water.

So yes: I regret trying to encourage people to use manners.

And you know, that’s about it. It really is. As I said, what’s the use in regret? It gets you nowhere, you can’t change what has happened and most of all, it tethers you to the past when you should be moving forward.

Speaking of moving forward, let’s do this chicken dopiaza recipe – if you’re here for a good curry recipe, a chicken dopiaza is absolutely perfect. Promise you that this is easy to make, tasty and very customisable! It’s quite a mellow dish but you can make it as spicy as your little ring will handle!

chicken dopiaza

chicken dopiaza

to make chicken dopiaza you will need:

  • 500g chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or chilli powder)
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 5 tomatoes, chopped

top tips for chicken dopiaza

to make chicken dopiaza you should:

  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray in some oil
  • sprinkle the cumin seeds into the pan and stir until they start to pop – which’ll take about 20-40 seconds
  • stir in the onion and cook until starting to turn brown
  • add all the spices, ginger and garlic and stir well – cook for another couple of minutes
  • use a stick blender to gently blend all the mixture together until smooth
  • put the pan back over the heat and add the chicken
  • bring the whole lot to a simmer and cook for about twenty minutes or so – slosh in some water if it starts to thicken too much
  • if you want, slice another onion and quick fry with a little oil in a pan – optional but tasty!

Are you a spicy bird? We’ve got loads of curry recipes!


warm and spicy shepherd’s pie – perfect warming food

Warm and spicy shepherd’s pie on the menu tonight. Two things: it really ought to be a cottage pie because we’re using beef mince and secondly, should it be shepherd’s or shepherds’ pie? Oh it confuses me, but at least you guys aren’t getting the blog delivered in text speak. So shush. For tonight’s story you’re coming back with us to Stockholm but listen, we’re not going to stay too long – it’s just I’ve had this ‘typed up’ in my head all day and I want to spurt it out. It’s only one memory – a two hour trip, in fact – but because it was great fun, here it is. As ever, if you’re here just for the food, click the button below to be whisked straight to it.

Do you know, even though I’ve included that button and made it super clear how to get to the recipe, I’ll still get emails from people saying luklushun were recipea plz. I think I could cheerfully nip over to their house, cook their meal and then press their faces into the gravy and they’d still look blank-eyed and slack-jawed, mouthing the words carent c it sorry over and over. But I digress. Enjoy my mini holiday entry, those of you with some dignity.

click here for part one

I’m actually going to cheat and jump forward to the next day – we spent most of the evening before just wandering around drinking before retiring for an early night, and as this isn’t an Ibsen play, I don’t think you need that level of blisteringly boring deal. So, power-mince through time with me ’til the next morning when, having applied for a small loan in order to buy a coffee and a pastry, we wandered out into the streets.

What joys awaited us then? Of course: a museum dedicated to what life is like if you’re a blind person. Admit it: that was your second guess. We had seen the Invisible Exhibition advertised in the inflight magazine on the flight over and despite the scant details, we knew we had to give it a go, and so it was that we were found heading towards the Osynlig Utställning at 10.30am in the morning.

Our journey on the bus was marred a little by having some chap stare at us the whole way – every time I looked up from cooing out the window at how pretty the city was I’d meet his fixed, cold gaze. This went on for a good twenty minutes and he didn’t return my smile or respond to my scowling. Even when I started doing that thing where you stick your middle finger up and slide it over your cheek in a subtle ‘fuck off’ fashion he didn’t stop staring. Very disconcerting, and, of course, when it came to our stop he jumped up and made his way smartly off the bus in front of us, though thankfully he disappeared in the opposite direction as went off to find a coffee that wouldn’t immediately bankrupt us.

That took altogether longer than expected: turns out there’s not a great amount of cafés open down at the docks on a Sunday morning, though we managed to finally locate a watery attempt at coffee by walking into a gym and standing looking at the receptionist for ten minutes whilst she dithered about with her paperclips as though we didn’t exist. Here, I know we’re fat and thus about as welcome in your fancy spa-gym as a verruca outbreak, but pay us some heed. Sulking but caffeinated, we made our way to the exhibition.

The premise then: experience life without sight. The first shock was the price of admission – they definitely saw us coming. Or rather, they didn’t. Actually the entrance fee was very reasonable – I just wanted to set up that laborious joke. We were the only ones there and had to stow our coats, watches and indeed, anything with a light, into a locker. I joked that ‘but I light up a room just by being there!’ but they must have been a deaf-mute because they didn’t immediately fall to the floor clutching their sides. The tour began with a kindly chap showing us how to use a Braille keyboard which, of course, I grasped straight away and typed out my name – it came out as Jimas, and rather than admit my error I just took that name and ran with it for the rest of the tour, feigning some vague Arabic origin story. Paul mastered it effortlessly, of course, but see he’s got a terribly boring first name which is hard to get wrong. If his name was a colour it would be the shade of piss-weak tea.

Our young host left us at this point and we sat at the table until a cry of ‘Jimas and Paul’ bellowed out from across the reception. Part two of our tour was ready: forty minutes being led around a pitch black room stumbling around various ‘scenarios’ to see how you would come without sight. Our guide arrived and OF COURSE it was the bloke from the bus who I thought had been staring wildly at me but had actually just been looking at me without seeing me. The relief I felt when he explained in his opening speech that he was totally blind was immense. He hadn’t seen me mouthing ‘fuck off’ to him for half the bus journey. Or had he? Was this a ruse? Was he going to trip me up in the darkness? Paranoid!

He led us in. What followed was a genuinely bizarre but, no pun intended, eye-opening experience – lots of different rooms to be led around in the blackness, guided only by his excellent instruction. Stuff like sniffing spice jars in the dark to season a meal (at first I thought he was giving me poppers – what can I say, when in a dark room…), operating the taps in a bathroom, putting on music. There was a room where we were encouraged to feel various statues to identify them – The Thinker by Rodin, Atlas holding up a globe and then, with much shrieking from Paul, he identified that he was in the throes of giving Michelangelo’s David a rusty trombone. Later rooms involved crossing a ‘busy street’, walking through a forest at night (♬ you gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith ♬) and sitting down in a café where you were able to order drinks and snacks from the guide. I was all for a glass of tap water and getting the hell out but, because Paul is hilariously obese, he ordered a tube of Pringles. He could not have ordered a noisier bloody snack if he tried. Have you ever had to sit in the pitch black, all senses bar your sight heightened, listening to your partner crunch his Pringles, smack his lips and make awkward small talk with a guide who was probably itching to get out? I have. I took to making ‘wanker’ signs at Paul and mouthing ‘c*nt’ at him whilst he chewed.

It occured to me as we left the ‘room’ that there’s bound to be an infra-red camera up in the eaves watching us in case of someone falling over or a fire breaking out, meaning that me being horrible to my other half in the dark will all be documented and put on the staff newsletter. However, as we left, Paul confessed that whenever the guide had been talking, Paul had been pulling faces and spreading his arse cheeks at me. Classic Jimas and Paul, right? Once we’d settled up the bill for the Pringles and said a thanks to the guide, we scuttled out.

Let me say this on a genuine note: it was great. No pun intended, it was eye-opening – so disorientating being in the dark but interesting in all of the different ways life can be made easier for blind folk. The guides were charming and the exhibition really well set out – if you’re ever in Stockholm, and in the mood for something entirely different, give it a go!

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Right, let’s do this recipe eh? We were looking for a more unusual, warming take on the shepherd’s pie and this recipe came through! You might be feeling a bit unsure about adding spice to such a classic but trust me when I tell you it’s bloody amazing. This makes enough for four massive portions – could very easily serve 6, but we’re fat and greedy. We didn’t get here by eating salad, after all!

shepherd's pie

shepherd's pie

to make a warm and spicy shepherd’s pie, you’ll need:

  • 800g potatoes, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 500g lean lamb mince (or beef)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 400ml lamb (or beef) stock
  • 1 tbsp gravy granules (2½ syns)
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • juice of half a lemon

top tips for making warm and spicy shepherd’s pie:

to make a warm and spicy shepherd’s pie, you should:

  • if you’re using an actifry, chuck the potatoes in with the turmeric and spray over a bit of oil and cook for about 10 minutes
  • if you’re using an oven, spray the potatoes with a bit of oil and toss in the turmeric
  • next, preheat the oven to 200°c
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray in a little oil
  • add the mince, onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently
  • add the garam masala, stock, peas and gravy granules and give a good stir
  • bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce to a simmer until the gravy has thickened (about 3-4 minutes)
  • tip the mixture into a large dish and top with the potatoes, then squeeze over the lemon juice
  • bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes
  • serve!

Tasty! Want more ideas for a good evening meal with mince? Then let the Mincing King sort you out!



Hawaiian pizza pasta bake – no seriously, hear us out

Hawaiian pizza pasta if you please! I know what you’re thinking – years of my brain stem being nudged increasingly repeatedly from the front twice a day for ten minutes has left me addled. Well, you’re not wrong, but we’re actually making Hawaiian pizza pasta bake to celebrate the fact that Vera returns to the telly tonight. Don’t get the link? It’s simple: Hawaiian is how she tells people to enter a building in that “Geordie” “accent” of hers. “Hawaiian pet, there’s been a moorda

See? It’s that easy. If you’re wondering what that snapping noise was, it was sound of a tortuous analogy breaking in two.

Actually, speaking of pet, did anyone see that storm in the teacup with Virgin Trains in the middle of the week? Someone complaining was told to ‘go right ahead, honey‘ and when she mentioned it on their Twitter that actually, when complaining, it doesn’t do to be overfamiliar in return, the customer service guy replied with ‘would you prefer darling or sweetheart, next time?

I have to admit, I was absolutely howling. That’s exactly why I couldn’t work in social media, I’d be putting my foot in my mouth that much I’d need to tie my shoelaces with my uvula. Everyone is kicking off as though she’s Millie Tant in human form but reading beyond the typically salacious PC-GONE-MAD headline, she only complained that the train guard had called her honey in a voice dripping with sarcasm. As someone who was told loudly that WE MUST SERVE EVERYONE ELSE BEFORE YOU GET SECONDS when I asked for a sandwich on their train, I can sympathise.

It did make me think, though – I give absolutely everyone a nickname and I can’t help it. Paul is shittyarse, Shitty McGee or sugartits, my mum is Boot, dad is Greengrass, even my bosses are Chief and Guv’nor respectively. I wouldn’t think twice about sticking a love or a pet or a flower on the end of my hello or thank you in a shop. Sex doesn’t come into it, unless they’re giving me the keen-eye and I’ve got time. In fact, this habit teamed with my booming voice in shops probably doesn’t endear me to about half the people I come across, but meh, fuck it – no malice is meant – but I ought to apologise on behalf of almost every Geordie in existing who use this over-familiar terms of endearment like Southern folks use full-stops.


Right, to the recipe. Hawaiian pizza pasta bake! Just trust me. After all this time? Always. This makes four big portions. Cook it, freeze it, keep some extra! Lovely. If you’re after a carb hit, I just happen to have got what you need, just exactly what you need…

Hawaiian pizza pasta bake

Hawaiian pizza pasta bake

to make Hawaiian pizza pasta bake, you’ll need:

  • 250g pasta
  • 750ml passata
  • 4 slices of thick ham, chopped
  • 300g bacon medallions
  • 230g pineapple chunks (fresh is better, just buy a pre-cut pack in the supermarket if you can’t be arsed)
  • 140g reduced-fat mozzarella, diced or grated (2x HeA)
  • if you’re feeling extra sluttish, add 80g of extra mature lighter cheddar on top – I know, I’m pure filth

Get proper tasty bacon in our Musclefood deal! Make your own hamper so it’s full with only the stuff you love! Click here to find out more.

Top tip: use your microplane grater, the one I always recommend, to make your cheddar go that much further – nice and fine creates a proper crunchy top!

to make Hawaiian pizza pasta bake, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions
  • meanwhile cook the bacon under the grill, and then roughly chop
  • add the passata to a saucepan and heat gently
  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
  • add the chopped ham and pineapple and cook for a few minutes
  • add the passata, bacon, ham and pineapple to the drained pasta and stir well
  • stir through half of the mozzarella and tip into a large pyrex dish
  • sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes
  • finish under the grill for a few minutes to brown the cheese
  • serve!

Love pasta bakes? You’re not the only one! You’ll find more ideas below!

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speedy spring roll bowls – perfect for a quick lunch

Just a recipe post tonight for speedy spring roll bowls to get you through the dark days – a cabbage recipe to use up the rest of the cabbage from yesterday’s recipe! Please don’t be put off by cabbage – cooked correctly, it’s so much better than that boiled-to-mush slop you used to get at school.

Before we get to the recipe, though, we have a small treat for you. Our Christmas card! As you know, we aren’t bothering with printed cards this year, so this is just for you!

This Queen and her loyal companion wish you a marvellous Christmas indeed! A few people think we’ve been mean by posting Rolf Harris’ face onto hers, but alas, no, it’s just me with a white beard. I actually like how it looks!

This is an easy, speed-packed dish and takes hardly any time to cook – most of the time is chopping up the vegetables. Once that’s done, you’re good to go!

spring roll

to make speedy spring roll bowls you will need:

to make speedy spring roll bowls you should:

  • heat a little oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat
  • add the mince and the onion and cook until the mince is browned and the onion is translucent
  • add the cabbage and the carrots to the pan and cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally
  • in a bowl mix together the garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar and pour into the pan
  • stir well, and cook for another ten minutes, reducing the heat to medium, stirring often
  • serve, and sprinkle over the spring onions

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PS: it’s Graham from Jeremy Kyle in the food picture, not Gary Glitter!

creamy chicken chipotle pasta with fancy veg

I’m so sick of seeing cajun bloody chicken that we’ve made a newish version: creamy chicken chipotle pasta. You might be thinking, oh, oh you fancy decadent bitches, but please: come for the recipes, stay for the flavour.

Fair warning: the next few paragraphs are proper ranty and if you’re delicate and/or pig ignorant, you’re best scrolling straight to the pictures.

Wondering where we’ve been? Taking a break from the Internet. Does anyone else need to do this every now and then? Do you get tired of wincing at the screen at the eighty-fifth permutation of the word ‘recipe’ you’ve seen that day? I know I do. I’m not one for picking people up on their spelling but I think there’s a Freudian element to the fact that so many of us fat fuckers seem to think the word recipe has a pie in it. When someone tells you to eat your words, it’s a turn of phrase, not a fucking serving suggestion.

Anyway, our tipping point came with the release of the Tesco Christmas advert. Have you seen it? It depicts all manner of family and friends coming together and enjoying a Christmas dinner. It’s about as offensive as a cup of weak tea left out in the sun, but by god, by the reaction it received you’d think it depicted Dr Who shitting in baby Jesus’ manger whilst Dawn French spits a Stormzy song over the top. But why? Because it featured a Muslim family. And see: that just won’t do.

Have a look now on Tesco’s Facebook page and you’ll see what I mean. In between all the Yummy Mummy bloggers with their so achingly obvious attempts at going viral with twee complaints about little Francesca you’ll spot the idiots. The beetroot-faced, barely literate bumholes, crashing their faces over the fact that CHRISMUS HAS NUFFIN TO DO WITH MOSLIMS and LERN HOUR KULTURES AND LANGWISHES and old faithful POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD. I’ll have to stop trying to spell like someone’s rearranged all the letters on my keyboard for a cruel bet, it makes my nose bleed.

These are the same shithead mouth-breathing sofa-cows that spend their entire life telling everyone else to integrate into our culture or fuck off home, as though home is some distant sand-blown wasteland as opposed to five streets away in a mortgaged semi, then they’re getting all indignant when they do join in. What do these people think Muslim folk do on 25 December, sit at home shaking their fists at the telly and frothing at the decadence of it all? Whenever I’ve had this conversation with Muslim friends they say the same thing – they get together, give presents and eat far too much food. Apparently that’s not right with SHEILA MAMOVFOUR TURNER from ‘ull (education: SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS, UNIVERSITY OF LIFE STILL LERNIN’) however, and they really ought to be banished. It’s pathetic reasoning, the equivalent of me turning all the lights off during Diwali and sitting in the cupboard pouting. I know Diwali is a Hindu festival, so shut up.

The worst part is the fact you can’t even tell the family in the advert are Muslim – you can make a guess that because they’re wearing headscarves they might be, but see, my nana wore a headscarf too, if only to keep her hearing aid from blowing down the street. She certainly didn’t pledge allegiance to Allah (it took her five minutes to lift herself off the settee, so getting on her knees five times a day was definitely off the cards). Plus she wasn’t one for exotic spices: her spice cupboard consisted of baking powder, pre-war Saxo and some whole cloves for sucking when her teeth hurt. But nevertheless, the viewers have made the assumption and got all up in arms, totally ignoring the Sikh family in turbans just a few frames later (presumably because when they typed ‘SEEK’ into google to start voicing their disgust, they just get adverts for private investigators).

That’s because this whole argument has bot-all to do with faith (amazingly how devout of a Christian people become in situations like this, ignoring the fact that the last time they were in a church it was to steal the lead off the windows) and it has nothing to do with political correctness but rather it’s just an excuse for people to be the vile, pathetic racists that they are. Even when they claim they’re not, a quick glance at their Facebook profile shows a endless piss-stream of shit memes, Britain First posts (why? Their leader looks like a potato straining to pass a bladder stone) and ‘proud of my country’. Yeah, you’re so fucking proud of your country that you’ve put the Union Jack upside down on your profile and the only time you fly the England flag is when we’re getting beaten at football and even then it’s a cheap Sports Direct affair with ENGERLAND emblazoned on it.

Try to take these folks on in reasoned discussion and you get three responses:

  • you don’t understand the bigger picture – as though they’re the enlightened ones because they’ve read a leaflet in a flat-roof pub telling them SHANIA LAW IS COMING BE REDDY;
  • you’re part of the problem – that one is a compliment – much rather be ‘part of a problem’ given I’m fairly sure a good chunk of these bellends would cheerfully be part of a Final Solution; or

That’s the best, isn’t it? Leftie used as an insult as though Hitler, Mussolini and Pinochet were as inoffensive as the first three people to go out on Bake-Off. Snowflake I don’t understand: apparently if you’re against intolerance and pro everyone just getting along, you’re a delicate wee snowflake. I like snowflakes: they’re pretty, cold and capable of being blown all over town, which sounds like me to a tee. Why use the snowflake? Why not use that muddy slush that accumulates behind your tyres after a wintry drive, flecked as it is with dog-shit and broken glass. That’s what those complaining are: shit snow. Shnow, if you prefer. Then finally, do-gooder – I mean, the clue is in the word pairing, yes? Damn your hide, going out and doing good. How dare you! Why would you want to make a positive difference to the world rather than sitting on Facebook spitting bile at folks you don’t know about an issue you barely understand in words you can hardly type.

But what annoys me most of all is the fact that Tesco can’t just turn around to these two-bit racist jizz-streaks and tell them to FUCK RIGHT OFF. Nevermind buying groceries, I’d give the entire board of directors unhurried anilingus if they were direct and brave enough to tell these feeble-minded bigots to stay away from the store and to buy their giant Black Friday Polaroid TVs and crates of shit watery lager from elsewhere. But they’re too afraid to do it, because imagine the backlash?

I’m not afraid, though, albeit I pale in comparison I’m sure. If you’re reading this blog, be aware you’re cooking the recipes and reading the words of a young gay man in a happy modern marriage with another bloke, who counts all sorts of nationalities and faiths as his friends, and who, gasp, has the cheek to give money to people in the street even if they are ‘just going to spend it on drugs’. I have at least two different types of lentils in the cupboard. I worked for Shelter where I helped lots of decent folks into houses rather than having them dying on the street. Meh, maybe I am a do-gooder leftie tit, but see, I’d sooner be a tit than an arsehole.

Sorry folks, but I needed to get that off my chest!

Anyway, yes, that’s why we’ve been quiet. You sicken yourself of vileness and had I not stepped away, I’m sure I’d have an ulcer by now. If you’re planning on sending me a snotty message, don’t bother! Everyone else, enjoy being happy with everyone else. Life’s too short for shite.

to make creamy chicken chipotle pasta you will need:

Haven’t got chipotle sauce? Can’t even say it without spraying spittle everywhere? Don’t worry yer tits, just use a hot sauce.

to make spicy chicken chipotle pasta you should:

  • bring a big pan of water to the boil
  • add the asparagus and boil for 2-3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water (use a colander)
  • add the pasta to the pan and cook until just al dente, then drain into the same bowl as the asparagus (but don’t rinse it!)
  • in a bowl, mix the chicken chunks with lemon juice, salt and pepper and keep aside
  • add a little oil to a large frying pan over a medium-high heat
  • add the peppers and onions and cook until it starts to go a bit translucent
  • add the garlic and cook for another minute
  • remove the vegetables from the pan and put into a bowl
  • add a bit more oil to the pan and add the chicken and knock the heat up a little bit
  • cook the chicken until it’s brown on all side
  • add the honey, stir and cook for another 5 seconds
  • add the peppers back to the pan, stir then turn off the heat
  • wait a few minutes for it to cool, then add the chipotle sauce, philadelphia and quark and stir well
  • add the pasta and asparagus to the pan, along with the frozen peas
  • give a good stir until it’s well mixed
  • eat!

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roast pork in a chard and chickpea stew

Roast pork you say? In a chard and chickpea stew? That’s either going to make your nipples tingle or leave you deflated, sad and having to finish yourself off with a plate of chips. We’re taking just the most wee of breaks from writing for the next few days, but because we have all sorts of recipes lined up, you’ll still get some recipes shoved in your box each day! You bloody love it. Don’t worry, you won’t need to wait along!

roast pork

roast pork

to make roast pork in a chard and chickpea stew you will need:

  • 400g pork fillet
  • 1 tbsp marmite (optional)
  • 1x 480g jar of roasted red peppers
  • 300g rainbow chard
  • 2 tins of chickpeas
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

to make roast pork in a chard and chickpea stew you should:

  • mix together 1 tbsp marmite with 1 tsp hot water and stir til it’s loosened a bit
  • heat a large, shallow pan on over a high heat and add a little oil
  • add the pork to the pan and brush over the marmite, cook for above 5-6 minutes, turning over halfway
  • meanwhile, drain the peppers and roughly chop into 1cm chunks
  • gather up the chard and slice thinly, not forgetting the stalks
  • next, remove the pan from the pan and put on a plate
  • add the fennel seeds, peppers and chard to the pan and stir fry for about 2 minutes
  • add the chickpeas to the pan along with the pre-cummy water, stir and bring to the boil
  • make a channel in the middle and add the pork back to the pan, making sure it’s touching the bottom
  • cover with a lid and simmer for about 12 minutes, turning the pork occasionally
  • remove from the heat and rest for about two minutes
  • slice the pork and serve

Before anyone has a shit-fit, yes, it’s another Jamie recipe, but does that not tell you how good his book his? We can find something in there every day! You can buy from Amazon here.

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pear prosciutto and gorgonzola rocket salad

Here for the pear prosciutto and gorgonzola rocket salad? You fancy bastard! It’s the short post tonight – but can I least offer up a few words of encouragement? Every now and then a meal is worth spending a few syns on. See in the picture below? There’s cheese and there’s fat on the ham but do you know, it’ll do you no harm. Have it, syn it and enjoy it. Life’s too short: remember our views on making gravy from mushy peas? Apply the same logic here! Of course, if you’re not a fan of cheese that smells like a bellend, pears that make your teeth itch or capers which serve no purpose, leave them out! To the recipe, then.

pear prosciutto and gorgonzola rocket salad

pear prosciutto and gorgonzola rocket salad

to make pear prosciutto and gorgonzola rocket salad you will need:

  • 200g mixed salad leaves
  • 200g rocket
  • 2 pears, peeled cored and sliced (or 6 quartered figs, or 2 white peaches, sliced)
  • 8 slices parma ham (4 syns)
  • 60g parmesan shavings (2x HeA)
  • 100g gorgonzola, cut into chunks (16 syns)
  • 500g tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • handful of basil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

to make pear prosciutto and gorgonzola rocket salad you should:

  • mix it all together
  • no really, that’s all there is to it

We’ve had a glut of good salads recently – partly because we’re trying to eat lighter meals but also because I’m sick of eating boring lunches. Make a little box of this up the day before and you’ll be looking forward to it all day. You could even team it with the tomato salad we posted the other day and have a right posh night of it!

Classy, eh? Fancy slumming it for a bit? Click one of the buttons below to go straight to some of our other recipes!

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sausage and apple bake


Sausage and apple bake, if you don’t mind. I was going to post part four of Copenhagen but I’ve had three hours sleep, my brain is made of cheese and my right eye is gunky. Clearly I’m two hours away from death so I’ll make this quick.

What doesn’t help my tiredness is that our house is currently the approximate temperature of a raging crematorium. I thought I could hear the Langoliers coming but it was actually the hair in my ears crisping. You see, because Paul’s been in all day and because it’s a ‘bit chilly’, the Nest gets pumped up to 30 degrees, the radiators are all blaring and he’s sitting there in his worst boxer shorts, ballsack hanging out like a crushed satsuma, sweating everywhere and making everything sticky.

It drives me up the bloody sweat-soaked wall – he’ll complain that he’s cold but he’ll be sitting there in less clothes than he clattered out of his mum’s fanny with. That analogy works as he’s from a rough part of Peterborough and probably came mincing out wearing knock-off Donnay jogging bottoms. I’ll kvetch on at him to turn the bloody heating off but it’s too late: I know this means the start of the ‘heating arguments’ season, where not one hour goes by where one of us isn’t tinkering with the thermostat or turning off the radiators. I hate having a ‘smart’ home – he can set the whole house to ‘inferno’ from the comfort of the shitter, and it just isn’t fair.

We don’t tend to argue much, mind, for a couple that’s been together for ten years and spend most evenings passively aggressively cutting our toenails into each other’s cup of tea. There’s no point – I like to think most couples reach the stage where they just accept the idiosyncrasies and foibles of the other without stopping to question it, preferring instead to release the tension by crying in the shower or bundling carpet-wrapped hitchhikers into ditches by the side of the road.

For example, there’s no point in asking Paul what he wants to dinner, because he never knows what he wants. He does however know exactly what he doesn’t want and that’s whatever meal you suggest. You wouldn’t believe the look of ennui that ripples over his face when I suggest ‘lasagne’ – he’ll normally reply with ‘I don’t know if I’m in the mood for that‘, taking care to really spit the last word out, as though I’ve suggested giving him a Cleveland Steamer.

We can’t play Scrabble, though. You’d think such a simple board game, with the clear rules of play and calming pastel colours on the double and triple score squares, would have a pleasingly somnifacient effect on us. Not so. I won’t embarrass PAUL by naming who it was but one of us became so angry with the other playing smart with two letter words that they threw the board, titles and racks over the balcony of our riverside flat many moons ago. Again, I won’t say who IT WAS, PAUL will not want it known.

For balance, I’ve asked him what silly things he thinks we argue about and do you know, he can only name two: my inability to close the living room windows before we go to bed and the fact that there is always a coat hanger on his side of the bed under the duvet when he gets in. See, I’m last out in the morning and invariably leave the coat hanger my shirt was hanging on somewhere on his half of the bed. I mean, as things that tick you off go, I’m not exactly leaving skidders on the bedsheets or have a whole secret family of little James out there, am I? Pfft.

Before I go, whilst I’m thinking about arguments, you may recall that I used to live with a charming lady called Mary way back before Paul entered my life/hole. She had her peculiar ways, such as leaving her thrush cream in the fridge and her soiled clotstoppers wedged down the back of the radiator in her bedroom, but one day I came home to find her boiling a cauldron full of tea-towers on the hob.

What followed was a blistering thirty minute shouting match where she screamed at me for not understanding why simply putting tea-towels in the washing machine like a normal human being wasn’t enough to ‘kill the germs’. I pointed out that it was more than sufficient and had the added advantage of not making our house smell like we were embalming roadkill and anyway, I paid the rent, so she should shut the hell up. The argument proceeded to rise in both pitch and fury before she picked up the pan of boiling water, complete with my nana’s best collection of ‘I’ve been to Runcorn’ tea-towels, and hurled it straight through our kitchen window. As a full stop, that works especially well.

She went to live with her mother after that and for three glorious months I had the house to myself. No arguments, no manic moments and all the space in the world to set out my coat-hangers of a morning. Bliss.

Right, shall we do the recipe for the sausage and apple bake? We’d be foolish not to, wouldn’t we, when we’ve come all this way?

I’m saying this sausage and apple bake serves two – big portions mind!

to make sausage and apple bake you will need:

This is another recipe we’ve adapted from Jamie Oliver’s new book ‘5 Ingredients’, which you can buy from Amazon here. We love it and aren’t ashamed!

to make sausage and apple bake you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • heat a large ovenproof frying pan over a medium high heat and add a little bit of oil
  • Peel and quarter the onions, and pull the petals apart into a large frying pan
  • next, core and quarter the apples and chuck them in the pan too, give a good stir
  • use a speed-peeler (want a decent one? get this!) to first peel the parsnips, and then to slice thin ribbons from them. it helps to turn the parsnip after each slice to get more out of it
  • stir in 1 tbsp red wine vinegar to the pan and then pile the parsnip slices on top
  • lay the sausages on top and spray with a little oil, as well as a bit of salt and pepper
  • bake in the oven for 30 minutes
  • remove from the oven, drizzle over the honey and then pop back in the oven for five minutes until golden

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mediterranean meatloaf – perfect for dinner or day-after leftovers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This serves SIX!



to make mediterranean meatloaf you will need:

for the meatloaf

for the glaze

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

to make mediterranean meatloaf you should:

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


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

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