garlic prawns on roast potato with pesto and rocket

Yes! That’s right – garlic prawns. Prawns on twochubbycubs’ blog! I still think they’re vile little things but see we’re trying to introduce some new foods into our diet because man cannot live on semen, reduced price yule logs and slimming world chips forever. Everyone’s laughing until Paul gets rickets. Plus we get asked so many times for seafood recipes and always come up blank save for a few token gestures so here we are: a proper prawn recipe.

Of course, before we get to the garlic prawns, some random thoughts. Firstly, thank you so much to all the kind, lovely folk who have sent us a Christmas card with kind words, rude words or just plain filth on the front cover: we absolutely love it. Honestly, I get so excited when I see our postman now, and not just because he fills out a pair of Royal Mail trousers with such panache. If you want to send us a card please do: our PO Box is: twochubbycubs, PO Box 217, Bedlington, NE63 3FA – I’m not kidding when I say it makes our day – thank you!

Secondly, there will definitely not be a post tomorrow because it’s our office Christmas party. I’m excited, but saying as I was one of the four who organised it, there’s a certain air of ‘phew, we made it’ to the whole affair. Who knew that organising shenanigans for 150 people could be so exhausting? Thankfully I work for a company with some flair and imagination so it’ll be a bit more than a few Tesco quiches and a glass of warm piss – party on!

I’m not exactly a social butterfly when it comes to work parties but I always make the Christmas one. There’s been some absolute corkers. Back in the heady days of a Labour government I used to work for a quango (long since shut down) doing a very important job – literally no-one else could use the photocopier. No, I was a secretary, but my boss was this amazingly posh woman with a filthy sense of humour and the rest of the team were equally as fun. It was a fantastic place to work – you’d turn up whenever you fancied in the morning, fanny about a bit with some papers and then fuck off home at around half past two. We spent more time outside dicking about at the smoking shelter than upstairs working and at one point the entire team hid in a meeting room for a surprise 70s buffet, emerging several hours later pissed on Babycham. In retrospect, it’s not difficult to see why the government shut ua down. Maha.

Anyway, the Christmas parties were immense – starting at 10am with drinks in the office, followed by a rude secret santa, followed by the entire department going out for ‘Christmas team lunch’ and staying out until 3am in the morning. Hilariously, we worked right next door to the HR team who were led by a manager who had never known joy. Her PA used to log what times we’d all rock into the office and send us prim notes which we’d all ignore and go smoke instead.  One especially messy Christmas party saw our Head Boss get so bladdered that we had to bundle her onto the last train back home into rural North Northumberland only for her to promptly fall asleep missing her stop. This then meant her husband had to chase the train to Edinburgh to pick her up, scattered as she was with her knickers around her ankles. That was after the point where I’d received a drunken lap-dance from her, I hasten to add. There were some exceptionally sore heads the next day.

Oh, and we got asked to leave a pub for failing to realise that every time we nipped out the back door for a smoke that we were setting off the fire alarms for the entire pub. Oops. We weren’t to know, surely. Also, at some point, someone set themselves on fire by accident. All every eventful. Oh and one more addendum to this little tale: I accidentally bought said boss a vibrator for the secret santa. In my defence I thought it was a little duck for the bath – turns out it was, but with an especially-shaped beak that vibrated. She loved it though and any embarassment was soon put to bed when the next person along opened a book of sex positions and a half-used jar of Vaseline. Seriously, that jar looked like the one in Kill Bill 2.

Ah, truly halcyon days. I love where I am now, don’t get me wrong, I do, but you never know what you’ve had until it’s taken away thanks to budget cuts!

Conversely, my worst Christmas party was at BT, where our team manager had promised to take us out for dinner and a piss-up if we met our sales targets. We worked our arses off for weeks pushing 1471 onto folks who didn’t need it and ‘accidentally’ putting people on Option 4 broadband (£7 commission!) knowing that they’d always be able to cancel it later. I know, that’s awful behaviour, but to be fair, I was pretty much permanently stoned during that job. You had to be, dealing with so many complaints. Hell, I went outside for a smoke during a quiet time and was approached by someone in another team selling speed to get through ‘the difficult calls’. I politely demurred, given my dicky ticker, but that should give you an insight to why people are often so peppy in a call centre. Smile when you dial…

Anyway, Christmas rocked around and we were told he was putting on a bus (which we had to chip in for) to take us to a country pub. He did, fair enough, but after charging us £10 a time for the bus and then putting no fucking money behind the bar for food and drink, well, that put a bit of a downer on things. We worked out later he’d actually made a profit on the coach, too, the oily-skinned fucker. We made the best of a bad day but most of us just buggered off home after an hour or so of strained conversation about sales targets. The manager clearly knew he’d upset us as we returned to find a selection box each on our desk. Most of the team left them on a point of principle – as did I – but I made sure to nip around and get all the Double Deckers out of them first.

Damn, I could murder a double-decker now, actually. But no joy. Instead let’s get this prawn recipe out of the way. I can’t claim credit for the idea – it’s actually from Hello Fresh (which we’re trialling – not for the blog but because we can’t be arsed to shop). We’ve adapted it for Slimming World though.

You know why I don’t like prawns? They have an unexpected texture. You bite into them and are met with a moment of resistance and then pffft, it almost bursts on the tongue. There’s a hint of seaside about them that I don’t care for, too, and when they are cooked they look like what I’d imagine a sphincter would look like if you took it out of the anus. Same as cockles are clearly belly-button knots. That’s a fact. However, as much as I don’t like prawns, I actually enjoyed this meal! You couldn’t write the script. Even Hoggle, normally so anti-seafood it hurts, agrees!

Somewhat unusually, this makes enough for two people. More of you? Scale up!

garlic prawns

to make garlic prawns on roast potato with pesto and rocket, you’re gonna need:

  • a strong stomach, to look at that god-awful things with their cruel bodies and mean textures
  • 150g of tiger prawns (deshelled, deshitted and beheaded) (why I haven’t been a cookbook deal escapes me)
  • one bag of rocket
  • one garlic clove
  • one medium box of cherry tomatoes
  • one large red onion
  • a few large potatoes
  • 2 tbsp reduced fat green pesto (3 syns)

to make garlic prawns on roast potato with pesto and rocket, you simply must:

  • make some tiny roasties – cut up your tatties, spritz them with some spray oil and hoy them in the oven for about twenty minutes or so until they’re all cooked nice and crisp – if you’ve got an Actifry, chuck them in there (especially as the new model is currently cheap on amazon, see?) – then set aside
  • get a pan, spritz with some oil or give it a slick of olive oil – so daring – and gently soften your onions – that’s not a euphemism for resting your tits on the cooker top mind, just so we’re clear
  • once they’re softened, chop the tomatoes in half and chuck them in together with the garlic which of course you’ll have minced using one of these fabulous graters I so often bang on about – see? Right here?
  • allow everything to soften for a moment or so then chuck in the prawns with a pinch of salt and black pepper, cooking them on medium until they are pink on the outside and opaque in the middle
  • serve by putting a few roasties in the middle of the plate, then some rocket, then the tomato, onions and prawns
  • drizzle over the pesto because why the fuck not, and enjoy!

This feels like such a frou-frou dinner and for that I apologise. I hope you enjoy it. Looking for more seafood ideas? Click the button below, along with the others. I’m going to bust out some of the lesser-posted badges for this!

seafoodsmallsnackssmall dessertsmalltastersmallnaughtyfooddrinkssmall

So pretty, like me. Oh and fair warning: Penny’s just been introduced in our great Lost rewatch. That’ll be the both of us sobbing into our raspberry gins when they have their tearful phonecalls all over again! I’ve got my fist balled in my mouth now watching it on Youtube. Sniff.

J

apple, mushroom and sage risotto

Paul’s had a difficult day dealing with 185 million emails and I’ve shouted myself hoarse at some twat in a BMW who seemed to think the 70mph limit was 40mph too fast and thus trundled along in front of me reading his phone, so it’s straight to the recipe (as promised). We love risottos here at Cubs Towers, and this unusual flavour combination couldn’t be more autumnal. Why the fuck have I started sounding like Mary Berry when describing my recipes? Good grief. RECIPE NOW. This makes enough for two big bowl fulls, and later, two big bowel fulls.

apple, mushroom and sage risotto

to make apple, mushroom and sage risotto you will need:

  • 4 bacon medallions
  • 2 shallot, sliced
  • 100g shittake mushrooms, chopped
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 125ml apple juice (about 3 syns)
  • 1 litre chicken stock (make by dissolving three chicken stock cubes in a litre of boiling water
  • ½ cooking apple (peeled, cored and chopped)
  • ⅛ tsp sage
  • cooked chicken breast (optional)

Here’s the thing. Technically, if you’re following Slimming World to the letter, you should syn your quarter of a cooking apple. However, that, to me, is nonsense. If I was saying you should put a pack of butter in and not syn it, that would be wrong, but a nice healthy apple – and a tiny bit of it at that? Nope! Always your decision to make though!

You could easily use the chicken and bacon from our new Musclefood box, which has lots of those, and others, inside – click here for that.

to make apple, mushroom and sage risotto you should:

  • heat a large frying pan over a high heat and add the bacon, cook until crispy and put aside on a plate. when cooled, chop it up into crispy bits
  • wipe out the pan and add a little oil, reduce the heat to medium-high
  • fry the shallot and mushroom for about 4 minutes, until softened and add the rice
  • stir well until the rice is coated
  • add the apple juice to the pan and cook until it’s mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes or so
  • add 1 ladle of chicken stock and stir frequently until it’s mostly absorbed
  • add the next ladle and stir again until absorbed
  • add the chopped apple to the pan along with another ladle of chicken stock until absorbed, and keep adding stock by the ladleful until it’s all absorbed
  • remove from the heat and stir in the sage
  • serve into bowls, top with the chicken, bacon and apple slices

Need more inspiration? Just click one of the buttons below!

 

poultrysmallporksmallpastasmall    onepot

Enjoy!

J

homovember recipe #1: slow cooker beef keema

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

slow cooker beef keema

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

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

to make slow cooker beef keema, you should:

Before we go, let me change your life:

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

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

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

beefsmalllambsmallfakeawayssmall    slowcookersmallonepot

Remember to share, folks.

J

droptober recipe #14: one-pot pork and rice

Very quick post tonight, folks – one-pot pork and rice, just another one pot meal that we had left over! James is cooking so unusually, you’ve got the other Cub coming on your screen. Lucky!

I’m dead excited today because they’re putting up the Christmas decorations in our town – I mean, they look shite but it’s a sure sign that Christmas is on it’s way and it’s my favourite time of year! I love it all and there is literally no limit to how much Quality Street I can eat. Seriously, I try to warn people but they don’t listen and then bitch on when it’s just fudge left in the tub.

We’ve promised ourselves this year to put up some lights on the outside of our house (I know, the pinnacle of class) because it’s something I have ALWAYS wanted to do. And, because I know that the super-bright LEDs you can now buy with super-epilepsy mode is sure to piss off Nos. 1-5 on our street. Christmas is always a lovely affair here at The Sticky Patch, we never skimp on our trees and despite our complete lack of design skill we actually do a pretty good job of it. It’s certainly a step-up from what it was like when we were younger, with the cheapest possible tree from the Freemans catalogue sitting in the corner of the room doing a fantastic impression of an impending bonfire with its three sets of lights wired into the same plug. Mother would be eggwashing some frozen sausage rolls in the kitchen with a light dusting of fag ash and my sister and I would be sent away with an Argos catalogue and a strict limit – we had to write down exactly what we wanted, price, page number and catalogue number and a running sub-total. If it weren’t in that catalogue you couldn’t get it. Magical times.

What you can get, however, is this simple recipe for one-pot pork and rice. Serves four optimistically, two realistically. Listen, it looks like shite, I know, but it tastes good, I promise!

one-pot pork and rice

to make one-pot pork and rice you will need:

to make one-pot pork and rice you should:

  • squeeze the meat out the sausage casing so you get about 4 ‘balls’ from each sausage and roll into a perfect ball
  • heat a large casserole dish over a medium-high heat, spray with oil (save your pans and get one of these) and cook the balls until they’re done, then remove from the pan and set aside
  • add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for a further five minutes, until softened
  • add the cumin, coriander and rice to the pan and stir well
  • pour in the vegetable stock and the chopped tomatoes and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan
  • simmer for ten minutes until the rice is done
  • gently stir the meatballs into the rice, and serve

 

if you’re looking for more tasty recipe ideas, just click the buttons below!

porksmallpastasmall sausagessmall   onepot

 

J

droptober recipe #13: spinach and feta stuffed meatloaf

Yeah yeah, spinach and feta stuffed meatloaf will follow, but see, I am FURIOUS. Well, maybe furious is over-selling it, I’m a bit peeved – we were doing so well with the old Droptober business and then oops, technical problems abound, and we missed a day. Ah well. If you’re out there sobbing into your fifth cheesecake of the day and barely able to breathe due to the Rolos stuffed up your nose, you can blame me. Or the good folks at WordPress. I’ll post two recipes tomorrow to make up for it, and, if that doesn’t cut the mustard, I’ll strip off and whip my back with a few Curly-Wurlys melted together. I’m like Jesus Christ but in elasticated Cotton Trader trousers.

I’m going to tell you a quick story about Paul which has been on my mind all day. I can’t recall mentioning it on the blog when it happened but see, he’s switched to a new employer and a new job and thus I feel we can get away with mentioning it without him getting into mischief. See, he used to work in a very serious area of social care and part of that meant attending very important, very serious meetings with doctors, the police, social workers, judges and lawyers all sat around a table. Due to the nature of what they were discussing it was mandatory for the meeting and everything that was said to be video-recorded, and this was done by several small cameras on the desk which would automatically pivot to whoever was talking. All terrifically serious and no jokes allowed.

Naturally, Paul managed to make an absolute tit of himself. See, he dropped his papers. That’s fine, but Paul spends about 96% of his working time tucking his shirt back into his trousers so no-one sees the top of his arse. He’d forgotten to do that, meaning he had to awkwardly crouch down to get his papers rather than mooning all the very ashen-faced folk around the table. And, because he was tense and trying to bend awkwardly, he let loose with a fart that didn’t so much echo around the room as fucking gallop around the table. That in itself wasn’t so bad, but the whole moment of crushing embarrassment was punctuated by the sudden and accusatory whirr of all the cameras immediately spinning and pointing at the cause of the sound. His cheeks weren’t red, they were slightly browned and smelling faintly of last night’s Mongolian beef.

At this point, had everyone collapsed into giggles and chortles (though, more likely spluttering and choking, with people flinging themselves at the glass windows in the hope of sweet escape), the tension would have been relieved, but no. No, everyone shuffled their papers, cleared their throats and cracked on, leaving Paul to burn away merrily with shame and anguish. His boss did ask on the drive back to the office whether ‘anyone had heard an unusual noise’, bless, but everyone knew it was him. I blame myself – the beef was two days out of date.

Luckily, I’ve never had to endure such acute embarrassment, though I’m prone to making a tit of myself, it’s always low-level stuff. For example, I can’t make small-talk with male cashiers without it sounding like I’m leading them on or being plain weird. There’s a young guy in our local Tesco who, bless his heart, could see both ends of a bus coming as it came round the corner. He’s absolutely not my type. It doesn’t stop me feeling I have to be ‘nice’ when he’s helping me in the self-scan – last time I was there I asked who did his tattooes as they ‘looked really nice’, which instantly gave the impression I’ve been leering lasciviously at this bloke. He went pink, I went red and he forgot all about the security check and pushed my trolley through. Perhaps that’s the key to shoplifting – as soon as you approach the Scan ‘n’ Shop bit just wink at the guy standing looking serious, paw at his arse and go ‘OOOOH CUT ME OFF A SLICE OF THAT’. Or, don’t.

I’m forever mis-spelling words in emails (signing off with kind retards, asking accunts to sort out expenses) to the point where I can’t send an email without triple-checking things now, which is unfortunate when someone needs an answer straight away and I have to check to make sure I haven’t slipped bumfucker into my ‘next steps’ paragraph. Oh, there was one time I managed to embarrass myself to the point where the air in my throat chokes me even now as I think about it – way back in high school my lovely form tutor sat us all down at the start of the year and told us she had some important news – her husband had hung himself over the summer holidays. Awful, of course, absolutely awful. But see, I just can’t handle solemn silences, I get so anxious and stressed that it manifests itself into giggles and tics. Of course, I laughed, and I swear to God, I’ve never apologised to anyone more in my life since that moment. I remember masking it as a coughing fit but that just made it worse.

I’m not a complete bastard, please don’t judge me. It’s 100% involuntary and since that moment I’ve gone out of my way to remove myself from situations where people tell me sad news. Hell, I’ve only been to three funerals in my life and even at my nana’s I almost burst out laughing because I imagined her hearing aid still whistling away in the coffin like a distant fax machine. My aunt and uncle died at the same time when I was a teenager and I was probably the only person in that church simultaneously crying and balling my fist into my mouth to stop the laughter – to be fair, they brought out the second coffin and set it down on a trestle table with very wobbly legs, giving me visions of the whole thing giving away and tumbling his corpse down the aisle. What can I say, I love a bit of slapstick.

Anyway, I can barely type because I’m cringing so much I’m getting neck-ache. Let’s deal with dinner, shall we? This makes enough for four and you’ll need a smallish loaf fin!

spinach and feta stuffed meatloaf

to make spinach and feta stuffed meatloaf, you’re going to need:

  • one 500g pack of turkey mince – normally 2% fat, so syn-free
  • 130g of reduced fat feta – two people’s worth of a HEA
  • one HEB breadbun – 60g
  • 25 of Tesco Ingredients sundried tomatoes – these are dried ones rather than done in oil – you simply hydrate them in water beforehand – or use sundried tomato puree, or leave it out, hey, listen, you don’t need me telling you what to do
  • that’s a fib, you totally do, should we agree a safeword?
  • two big red onions
  • four cloves of garlic
  • one or even two large bags of spinach, depends how much spinach you like – I like loads and you’ll note that when you boil down two large bags of spinach, it’ll wilt down to approximately the volume of a postage stamp
  • one large egg
  • one egg white from another large egg
  • pinches of salt, pepper, basil if you have it, oregano if you have it
  • any name-brand passata, let’s not be fussy

to make spinach and feta stuffed meatloaf, you should:

  • chop the onions nice and finely and gently cook them off in a pan with a few sprays of oil
  • remove the onions into a bowl
  • add the spinach into the pan and let it wilt right down
  • once wilted, take the spinach and squeeze every drop of water you can out of it

Here’s a top tip from us: use a potato ricer to squeeze the water of spinach in no time at all. Potato ricers also make amazing mash, but this is a brilliant use for it – you can buy one by clicking here – and they’re nice and cheap! 

  • add it back into the pan, just off the heat, add the minced garlic, crumbled feta, sundried tomato and the egg-white and stir to mix it all up with a load of black pepper
  • put that to one side and let’s start building the meatloaf – stick the oven onto 170 degrees
  • tip the turkey mince into the same bowl as the onions – add the breadcrumbs, egg, pepper, bit of salt, basil, oregano and then really go to town mixing it all up – don’t be shy, pound away at it, get it all mixed up
  • if it is still a bit wet, add more breadcrumbs, but remember to syn them – I didn’t need extra breadcrumbs though
  • pop a few sprays of oil into a loaf tin and then shape the mince along the bottom and up the sides, saving some on the side to make a lid
  • spoon the spinach and cheese mix into the middle and then form a top over the spinach to create a full seal
  • hoy it in the oven – after thirty minutes, add a glaze over the top of some passata, then cook for another forty minutes or so until the meat is cooked
  • turn it out, leave to cool, slice it after ten minutes and serve with your sides
  • done!

Feel free to swap the turkey mince for beef or pork mince! Right, if you want more ideas, click the buttons below and, look, we’ve got lots more meatloaf recipes:

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmallfakeawayssmallpastasmallvegetariansmall

Cheers!

J

droptober recipe #12: oompa poompa one-pot

Just a recipe post for oompa poompa one-pot tonight folks because your poor writer has hurt his arm – I say I, no, Paul decided that what I needed was for him to lie on my arm all night long. Paul’s a big guy and whilst I’ve got strong arms, it really bloody hurts. Don’t worry, I took the liberty of pulling out a couple of individual bum hairs of his to make up for the pain. Oh I’m a stinker. Plus, Bake-Off. I’ve got a nice article queued up for tomorrow so no need to shit the bed just yet.

I’m calling this oompa-poompa-one-pot because Christ almighty, you’ll be oompa-poomparing all night long. It involves sauerkraut, a sort of pickled cabbage, and although that might sound disgusting and you might shriek into your hands at the very thought, it actually adds a lovely note of flavour. Leave it out if you want – you’ll still be shouting ‘…HOLD ON MR BROWN, WE’RE SENDING HELP’ long into the night. This makes two big bowls of loveliness.

oompa poompa one pot

to make oompa poompa one-pot you will need:

  • 6 sausages (the sausages in our Big Meaty Package are perfect!) (3 syns)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, slices and halved
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 450g sauerkraut

to make oompa-poompa one-pot you should:

  • heat a large casserole dish over a medium-high heat, spray in some oil (use this – it’s cheaper and better than Frylight!) and cook the sausages until done – then remove from the pan, leave to cool a bit and slice into discs)
  • in the same pan, add a little more oil and then the onion, garlic and carrot and cook until softened
  • add the salt, pepper and oregano to the pan and give it a stir
  • next, add the stock, rice and chopped tomato to the pan and give another stir
  • cover and cook over a low heat until the liquid has evaporated and the rice is cooked – about 10-12 minutes or so
  • remove from the heat and stir in the sauerkraut, allowing it to heat through and bubble off some of the vinegar in it
  • serve and enjoy immediately!

Looking for more recipes? We give you more, don’t worry: click the buttons!

sausagessmall   slowcookersmallbbqsmallonepot

Thanks all!

J

droptober recipe #6: firecracker glazed chicken

Here for the firecracker glazed chicken? Good news: no messing about tonight because this is just a short, tiny post with some news! It’s Apprentice night and my turn to cook so no time to waffle on, though I have a cracking post lined up to come online in the next few days…a wee advert follows but only because it’s a bloody good meat deal – our best yet – but if you don’t want to hear about it, just click here to jump straight to the recipe! Everyone’s a winner.


14556672_1283508481683359_7137557361537259259_o

Before we get to the recipe, just a heads-up that – for two days only – we’ve reduced the prize of our freezer filler meatbox down to £40 instead of the already cheap-as-chips £50. That’s £40 for about 24 big chicken breasts, 5 x 400g servings of syn-free beef mince, 700g of bacon medallions (and it’s good bacon, mind, not the shite that withers away to bugger all) and 800g of beef chunks – and even better, the forty quid includes delivery. I posted this on Facebook this afternoon and people have been ordering it left-right-and-centre, so don’t delay – it’ll never be cheaper than this. Click here or on the image above (it’ll open in a new window) and make sure you use the code TCCFREEZER to bring it down to £40 with standard delivery. This is the meat we use in our recipes and it has never let us down!


Sorry, we’re not normally overt with the advertising but as it’s a one-off for Droptober, we thought why not? RIGHT. Firecracker chicken. This is a very simple chicken recipe and because we’re common slobs, we served it with chips. I know, we’ll be eating it off one of those awful felt-tipped portion plates soon. This makes four chicken breasts – up to you if you want to have two each. We both know the answer to that though, don’t we? That’s why we love you. This makes a lovely sticky chicken dinner!

firecracker glazed chicken

to make firecracker glazed chicken, you’ll need:

  • 120ml of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce (you can buy this in most big supermarkets, trust me – it’ll be where the ketchup is) (2 syns)
  • four chicken breasts – we used four from the deal above
  • 2 tablespoons of honey (5 syns)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (or use balsamic, hey, it’s cooking, you’re not developing a cure for polio)
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, but we like our food hot enough to tatter our ring on the way out)

This is what the bottle looks like – you can substitute out for other buffalo sauce, but check the syns!

franks-red-hot-sauce

to make firecracker glazed chicken, you should:

  • get that oven going at about 200 degrees
  • tumble the chicken breasts in a pinch of salt and pepper and a splash of Worcestershire sauce in a bowl
  • in a tiny pan, heat the buffalo sauce, honey, garlic and vinegar just gently to the boiling, then allow to simmer oh-so-carefree-like until it thickens up a bit
  • get your chicken breasts on a greaseproof tray and brush them all over with the sauce – get in every nook and cranny
  • cook for about 15 minutes or so – then take them out, baste them again, then put them back in the oven and cook for thirty minutes or so
  • make sure the chicken is cooked and, if you want to, grill it for a couple of minutes to get it sticky and serve with your sides
  • easy!

If you’re wanting even more chicken recipes, then treat yourself by clicking the buttons below! This would be nicer with some broccoli and rice but hey, sometimes you just need stodge, am I right?

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmallpastasmallvegetariansmall sausagessmall  seafoodsmallbreakfastsmall

Cheers! Gosh, that’s a lot of buttons, isn’t it?

J

droptober recipe #4: pork, bacon, ale and apple pie

Yes! Pork, bacon, ale and apple pie, I kid you not. You’d expect the mere mention of pies would have Mags’ Trex covered Bakelite phone ringing off its hooks but no – here at twochubbcubs, you CAN eat all the pies.

No post tonight though – it’s been a very long day, livened up by a bit of life-saving. Not sure if that’s over-egging the pudding (HOW MANI SYNS HUN) or not but for the first time in four years I got to use my first aid training for something other than a high-heel blister or a stapled finger. If you’re looking for a fun read, have a look at my recount of my day at St John’s Ambulance learning first aid by clicking here – though the box of faces will haunt you forever more. No, I had to step in to stop a colleague choking on her crisps. It was all very fortutious because I just happened to be downstairs filling up my bottle with sparkling water (gotta add sparkle somehow, eh) when I saw a pizza being hurled across a table and a colleague looking wide-eyed and fearful. I almost shit myself. It’s one thing sitting in a room full of factory workers being told what to do if someone pours industrial bleach up their nostril or sets their arse on fire, it’s another thing knowing you have to step in and do something. I remembered you’re supposed to do five sharp blows between their shoulderblades and so, with a hearty ‘THIS IS GOING TO HURT’ I went into action and thankfully, on the five blow, out popped the crisp. I’m not going to fib: I think I was more relieved that I didn’t have to do the Heimlich – I’d be the only person who’d need to stop after two er…thrusts (good god there’s no other way of saying it) for a sit down and a puff on an oxygen tank. My colleague is fine – I apologised profusely for the fact she’s probably got a huge hand mark on her back now but all was well. I went upstairs shaking like a shitting dog and I can assure you right now my catastrophic thinking went into overdrive: what if it hadn’t worked? What if my first aid skills were no match for a shrapnel of smoky bacon crisp? It was all I could do to have a giant cookie and a cup of tea and then back to drafting documents.

It made me think though: if you don’t know any first-aid, learn some. Seriously. St John’s Ambulance provide training online and there’s all manner of free videos on Youtube. Whilst I doubt what I’ve done could be classed as saving a life, you never know when you might need it. Here’s some resources:

If you need a handy guide to resuscitation, er, don’t use this one (but it made me laugh):

cpr-instructions-o2-check-to-see-if-blame-someone-the-3413574

Mahaha. Let’s get to the pork, bacon, ale and apple pie – this dish serves four when served with sides and has 20 syns, so I’m going to say 5 syns a portion and be done with it. If anyone has a problem with that, I invite you to kiss my teeth. It’s worth spending syns on something delicious and this was fantastic!

pork, bacon, ale and apple pie

pork, bacon, ale and apple pie

to make pork, bacon, ale and apple pie, you’ll need:

  • 100g of Jus-Rol light puff pastry to cover a decent size pastry dish – this is 16 syns so 4 syns per serving
  • one bottle of pale ale – we used Brewdog’s Dead Pony Club (330ml) which by my reckoning is about 3 syns
  • 1 level tablespoon of cornflour (1 syn)
  • 1 pack of bacon medallions (we used the fantastic bacon from any of our meat deals, but in particular the freezer filler – perfect if you want a job-lot of chicken, mince, beef chunks and bacon – click here for a look – it’ll open in a new window)
  • two large leeks
  • 500g of lean pork mince
  • two granny smith apples
  • 375g of chicken stock
  • a pinch of (preferably fresh) sage and thyme
  • three large garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper

to make pork, bacon, ale and apple pie, you should:

  • pick out a suitable dish for your pie
  • chop your bacon up into small pieces and cook in a decent non-stick pan for a few minutes until cooked but not crispy
  • add in the leeks – slice these super-fine using a knife or even better, one of these bad-boys (currently reduced in price and by god it’ll save you some work)
  • once the leeks have softened, add the pork mince and cook until all the pink has gone
  • if it is sticking, don’t worry, just add a drop or two of water
  • mince the garlic using your trusty microplane grater or whatever and add
  • chop up the thyme and sage and add this too
  • once everything has simmered nicely, add a tablespoon of cornflour – gently – and stir, to thicken it up
  • now add your pale ale, chicken stock, pinch of salt and pepper and your apples, which you will have peeled and cut into cubes
  • allow to gently simmer for a good half hour until it’s thickened down and lovely
  • preheat the oven to about 200 degrees or so
  • get your pastry and check that 100g will be enough to cover your pyrex dish – if not, roll it out a bit thinner
  • slop all your pie filling into the dish, top with the pastry, brush the top with a bit of beaten egg and salt and pepper, hoy in the oven until the top is lovely and brown
  • serve!

Easy! If you need any more ideas, click the buttons below, and remember to use those share buttons to give your friends the recipe!

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmallpastasmallvegetariansmall

Cheers all the best.

J

droptober recipe #3: cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake

Here for the cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake? It’s a few paragraphs below, but I beg your attention for a couple of minutes whilst I witter on. Let’s get the exciting news out of the way…

christmas tree week 3

Canny! I’m more surprised than anyone, trust me. We’re going slow and steady but after the week of naughtiness I had last week, I thought I’d put on for sure. Just shows: you should still go to class even when you can barely catch a breath because your mouth is so full of pie crust. If you want to take part in this challenge, there’s 100 syn free recipes and some colouring charts available all in one place right here! Remember to share.

Yes, last week then. See, I was sent up to Glasgow on a sort-of business trip to learn some new skills and socialise – both of which I’m terrible at. Had I been single I would have been up there so fast my shadow would have only appeared an hour later – Paul and I both love a Scotsman and between you and me (because who reads this, honestly) the biggest willy I’ve ever seen belonged to a Glaswegian. I didn’t know what to do with it – I’m surprised he didn’t pass out from lack of blood on the brain when he got an erection. It looked like a sausage casing stuffed with two cans of Carling Black Label. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or smash a bottle of champagne off the side of it. But those days are behind me (though I still whistle like a keyhole in a haunted castle) and so I didn’t have that to look forward to.

It also meant a whole week without Paul – I know. Before you’re all sick in your mouth (although, think of the weight-loss) please understand that we haven’t been apart for more than a week in the totality of our almost ten year relationship. I was fretting at the thought of being unable to sleep without the smell of death being blown across my nostrils at five-minute intervals. I shivered at the thought of being able to occupy more than 10% of the bed without Paul’s wandering hands, feet and knob poking and prodding me. There are nights I feel like a stress-ball. But hey, it had to be done, and it was with an aching heart and a threatening arsehole (we’d had easy peasy beef curry the night before, and whilst delicious, it was making a dramatic reappearance throughout the morning) that we schlepped off to pick up my hire car on Sunday.

I could see I was in for an easy time when I got to the desk and was assigned a car-rental-spokesperson who I wasn’t entirely convinced wasn’t dead. I’ve made more responsive omelettes. He didn’t look up from his keyboard once – perhaps he was trying to find the ‘wake the fuck up’ key but if so, he failed miserably. He didn’t check my insurance details, didn’t check my payment details, didn’t check my lyrics, nothing. I’d have had a more fruitful chat if I’d turned and had a discussion with the leaflet stand. I was going to ask him about fuel but I rather thought I’d need to fetch a defibrillator to just bring him back into some form of sentience, and well, my ankles were already hurting from having to concertina myself into Paul’s tiny Smart car. He did perk up when he remembered he could sell me an upgrade, and, remembering the Ford Boredom we’d been given last time, I asked him what he could offer me. First a Skoda – no. Then a Fiat 500 – no. Then his trump card (honestly, his eyes nearly opened with the shock) – he had an Audi. Did I want an Audi? I leaned over the desk and tried to explain that I’d be unable to take an Audi because a) I know how to use indicators and b) I’m not a middle-aged, impotent, prematurely-balding twat, but he’d pretty much already signed the card for me and was back to looking like he was trying to remember to breathe in and out. Resigned (and a fair few pounds lighter) I went to pick up my car.

Well, I’m not going to lie. It was lovely. I wanted to hate it, really I did, but it drove well and was comfortable for a long drive. I still wouldn’t buy one on sheer principle and I still think every single Audi driver – bar you and any of your charming family and friends, I’m sure – is a minge, but I can definitely see the appeal. I thought I’d do my best to be a decent Audi driver so I spent the first sixty miles or so driving gently and letting people out at junctions before a transformation took place and I was flooring it. You know how the Incredible Hulk turns green when he gets angry? I turned violet. In my defence I was stuck behind a little old dear doing 40mph on a single carriageway designed for 70mph and because I’m a nice guy deep down, I couldn’t flash my lights, but by god was I raging. I had to stop at the next services just to have a McFlurry and calm myself down.

I drove on, loving every second of having the car to myself for a long drive. I could sing along to my music without any protestation from Paul and there was no Alanis Fucking Morrisette to contend with, which was lucky as I don’t think my Budget Special Povvo Insurance would cover deliberately driving into the back of a petrol tanker. As I drove past Lockerbie the tyre pressure warning light came on. Horror! I pulled over, walked around the car kicking the tyres because I’d seen someone do it on the TV, then spent twenty minutes reading up on how to change a tyre. I have no clue. I know that I should have acquired this skill by now but really, I’m very much a pay-someone-else-to-do-it sort of guy (i.e. lazy). I didn’t want some oily-handed mechanic to come and tut at me on the hard shoulder whilst I tried to make crass jokes about helping him with his tight nuts or jacking up. I waited a bit and kicked the tyres again and they seemed hard enough, so on I went.

You may recall I’m somewhat of a catastrophic thinker – well, this meant that I couldn’t relax for the rest of the journey. That tiny light with the deflated tyre haunted me like the Telltale Heart, burning away at my retinas as I tried to think about anything else than my tyre exploding and sending me ricocheting into oncoming traffic. Imagine that – being found buckled into a shoebox cube of metal with the Audi rings imprinted on my forehead, with some coroner declaring me dead due to my lack of manliness. The last sixty or so miles into Glasgow were tenser than the last round of The Cube – I reckon there’s still a fingernail wedged into the steering wheel. However, after navigating my way down to the Clyde (via the road system, as opposed to plummeting off the A74 in a fading shriek of ABBA Gold) I arrived at the hotel, the not-especially-salubrious Garden Inn Hilton.

Alas, Paul just minced in from the kitchen to inform me dinner will be ready in ten minutes, so I’m going to plough straight on with tonight’s recipe and finish this story another time! This makes enough for four massive portions, so we’re going for comfort food here folks, not grace…

cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake

cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake

to make cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake you will need:

  • 6 bacon medallions, chopped

We use some of the bacon from our fantastic freezer filler deal – 24/26 chicken breasts, a load of bacon medallions, 5 big portions of extra lean beef mince and two portions of beef chunks – get yourself stocked up for Autumn by clicking here – it’ll open in a new window!

to make cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake you should:

  • heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a splash of oil
  • slice the onions into 0.5cm slices and add to the pan, coating well
  • leave to cook in the pan for half an hour, stirring only when the edges start to brown, scraping up any bits sticking to the pan
  • when the onions are nicely browned (after about 15-20 minutes) add the balsamic vinegar, stir well to coat and continue to cook until it has evaporated off
  • meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°c
  • fry the bacon in another frying pan over a medium-high heat until crispy
  • bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions, minus a minute or two so it’s still firm to bite into
  • in a large bowl, mix together the quark, creme fraiche, garlic powder and a little salt and pepper to taste
  • stir in the cooked bacon, chopped red pepper and half the grated cheese
  • stir in the drained pasta and caramelised onions and mix well to combine
  • slop out into a large baking dish and top with the remaining cheese – yes that’s right, we use words like slop out in our recipes – some might say gently transfer, but we’re not that kind of blog, fuck no
  • bake in the oven for 20 minutes, and finish off under the grill for 2 minutes until golden and the cheese is bubbling – we were terrible and crunched a stray packet of BBQ kettle chips that we had lying around over the top (six syns, so that’s 1.5 syns extra per person – you don’t need to do it but man, was it good)
  • serve!

Easy! Looking for more pasta recipes? One-pot? All sorts? Have some buttons and you know what to do!

fakeawayssmallpastasmallvegetariansmall sausagessmall  seafoodsmallbreakfastsmall

J

one pot chinese braised beef

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

peterborough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

advert - freezer-01

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

We went to a Toby Carvery for our breakfast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

one pot chinese braised beef

to make one pot chinese braised beef you will need:

to make one pot chinese braised beef you should:

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

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

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

beefsmallfakeawayssmallonepot

I’d love some comments and feedback!

J