mixed bean salad – perfect for taster night!

Let’s not delay. Taster night is looming large and you need something quick to put together but classy enough to make it look as though you care what the Witch’s Council thinks of you. This is smashing, actually – get everything cut to the same size and you’re halfway there.

In the interests of keeping things super quick and easy, here’s the recipe!

mixed bean salad

mixed bean salad

mixed bean salad - perfect for taster nights!

Prep

Total

Yield 8 portions

Mixed bean salad. It isn't sexy, it isn't going to blow your socks off and christ, they aren't going to be talking about it for years to come. But sometimes you need a simple salad of undigestable beans to get those scales moving!

Ingredients

  • tin of butter beans
  • tin of kidney beans
  • tin of black eyed beans
  • small tin of sweetcorn
  • one cucumber - take the seeds out with a spoon and chop
  • one large red pepper - deseeded, chopped fine
  • one large onion - chopped fine
  • one pinch of dill, salt, pepper
  • one tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns)
  • juice of a lemon

Instructions

  • do you want to hazard a guess, Sherlock?
  • chop everything up the same size, rinse your beans (dirty bugger), add everything into a giant bowl, stir
  • this is perfect for sitting in the fridge for a couple of days or taking to a taster night

Notes

Courses salad

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Want more salad ideas? But of course you do, and we’re always happy to oblige you on that front, see.

Enjoy!

J

baked eggs in cheesy toast: syn-free and quick!

You’re doubtless here for the baked eggs in cheesy toast – it’s easily one of our quickest, easiest recipes – and it’s delightful. You could scroll straight to the recipe – look for the picture – but first, I have an important message. Perhaps you could humour me.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, you know. No, I know, it feels like it’s always some sort of week at the moment – I’m still eagerly awaiting the celebrations of ‘Comfortably Upholstered Northern Tubsters’ week, but until the day comes when I’m presented with a perspex sausage roll trophy by, oh I dunno, Gail Platt from Corrie, I’ll need to keep dreaming. But this is an important issue so I don’t begrudge writing about it.

Actually, speaking of Coronation Street, Aidan Connor’s suicide storyline really made me upset – it’s unbearable to think that people keep things bottled up to the point where they feel they can’t cope anymore – so, in the spirit of being open about our feelings, I turned to Paul and admitted that I would have given anything, simply anything, to fall asleep nestled comfortably between the wibbly-wobbly cheeks of Shayne Ward’s bottom. I’ve genuinely never known a man make a Zara funnel overcoat look so damn good. I was reading a news story about the actor where he expressed upset over the fact he’s been called fatty-boom-boom on Twitter and accused of having a dad body. How utterly ridiculous: a bit of a podge belly is perfectly natural as you get older, and I certainly wouldn’t hold his belly against him – I’d just balance it on top of my head in the usual fashion.

The storyline has done some amazing work highlighting that not everyone suffering with mental health problems is a shrieker and a wailer and your (lazy) stereotypical loon throwing their faeces around and punching at the clouds. It shows, rightly, that it can affect anyone, with no barriers, and that’s why it’s important to actually talk about it, get it out in the open, have an honest discussion about it.

I’ve gone on previously about my own mental health issue – health anxiety – and I won’t bore you with the details of it. I will say this, though: another year has passed and this year I’ve managed to beat a brain tumour (because of my tinnitus), mad cow disease (because my mother insisted on buying cheap mince for most of the eighties), Alzheimer’s disease (because I forgot where I parked, once, and that’s because I was driving Paul’s ‘car’ as opposed to my own), sepsis (cut myself handling compost) and breast cancer (another harmless lump in my boobs, most likely a Trebor Soft Mint). It’s exhausting being so healthy, I can assure you. Though that exhaustion is probably chronic fatigue syndrome. Bugger.

If you’re out there, and you’re suffering, there’s only two bits of advice I can offer you – and you’ll have heard them before, but I don’t care: maybe my words will be the ones that hit home, like a determined sperm: talk to someone and don’t give up. Now, choose wisely with the first bit of advice, I’m not suggesting you ring your taxi-rank and advise them that you’re seeing only blackness ahead – if they’re anything like my local taxi service, you’ll get twenty seconds of phlegm-soaked coughing and some racist dialogue in the background. No, choose a family friend, someone from work, a loved one, the cat or even a cushion. Vocalising your issues is cathartic, even if you’re talking to yourself. I’m forever talking to myself and find it reassuring – often those negative thoughts in your head are exposed for the nonsense they are once they float out of your gob. If you’re entertaining the ‘what if’ question (especially with your health), rephrase it as ‘what if it isn’t’ – do you really want to be wasting your life worrying about something that isn’t going to happen or, if it is, you can do bot-all about? For every spoken question you give yourself, provide two answers – the rational and irrational. Give yourself a fuller picture. And mind, if you choose to talk to someone rather than yourself, make sure you choose wisely. They’re few and far between, but there’s some folk out there who will gladly lend you an ear just so you don’t notice the knife they’re sticking in your back.

The don’t give up part, then. It’s such a trite thing to say, but you never know what’s coming around the corner. Well, Paul does, but that’s because he’s got boggle-eyes (I’m not saying he’s cross-eyed, but he does have to sit sideways to watch the television). Even if you aim for one day at a time, a day that doesn’t end with a trip in a black ambulance with me driving behind you trying to decide whether it’s appropriate to overtake is a good one.  At my lowest I thought I’d be doolally forever – and actually, perhaps I am because mental illness never leaves you – but you learn to cope, then you learn to stop caring, then you forget why you were ever stressed. Until you wake in the night convinced that you’re dying because although it COULD be trapped wind, that pain in your belly is almost certainly bowel cancer and this is it, I’m off to reunite with my nana after three months of shitting blood. Difference is, each time that anxiety-blip happens, you learn a bit more how to cope with your worries, and the time it takes to get over your anxiety decreases. In short, it gets easier. It does.

Chins up, folks. Remember, there’s fuck all to be ashamed about if you’re out there and you’re struggling: you’re a human being. Yes, even you, with that moustache. You wouldn’t feel embarrassed if you broke your toe, why should your emotions be any different? I read here that 1 in 6 folks experienced a symptom of a mental health condition last week. Perhaps you’re not so unusual, after all.

Oh and as an aside, if you’re one of those arseholes who pretend you’ve got OCD because you have to check the oven is switched off once in a blue moon, please, stop. Obsessive compulsive disorder is a genuinely devastating illness that manifests itself in much stronger ways than the occasional ‘but did I’ moment on the drive to work. It doesn’t make you sound interesting or kooky, it makes you sound like a proper Comfortably Upholstered Northern Tubster.

OK we’re done. No more lectures. But please, do talk. To the recipe, then!

baked eggs in cheesy toast

baked eggs in cheesy toast

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baked eggs in cheesy toast

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield two slices

This super quick breakfast looks impressive but is actually a doddle to make on Slimming World - you can have two 'toasts' and it'll be syn free! Don't want to use your HEA as well as your HEB? We've got you - use slightly less cheese - 10g is only two syns. This recipe makes enough for one person to have two slices - just scale it up as you wish.

Remember my warning from the last time we used a Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll? Let me remind you...

But here's the thing. Gluten free food is expensive and it can be a proper pain in the arse to find if you are following a gluten-free diet. That's annoying when you want to cook with it, but what if gluten free was the only bread you could have and you had to do without because some div on Slimming World was too frightened about just having a breadbun? Before you pick it off the shelf, have a think.

Ingredients

  • one Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll (HEB)
  • two eggs
  • 30g of red leicester cheese (HEA) (or use less, and syn it at 10g for 2 syns)
  • chives, black pepper
  • optional: chilli sauce - yum! We use Flying Goose and syn it at 1 syn, but that's optional

Instructions

  • preheat the grill
  • cut your roll in half and drop it into a hot, dry frying pan, toasting off the bottom of each slice
  • remove your bread and, using the bottom of a glass, press a well into the bread and crack an egg in, like so

  • sprinkle your cheese and chives on top, then grill for a few minutes, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn - your egg should be solid, but the yolk nice and runny
  • serve - slather it with chilli sauce if you like your arse battered like us
  • enjoy!

Notes

  • not got chives? Don't panic - just use black pepper
  • if you were feeling decadent, you could always add chopped ham into your well
  • feel free to use a different bun - however, a ciabatta is good as it doesn't burn so quickly

Courses breakfast

Cuisine easy

There now! Looking for more breakfast ideas, you fabulous witch?

Enjoy!

J

ham, cheese and egg pancakes: breakfast of champions

Ham, cheese and egg pancakes – well, it’s better than yet another overnight oats recipe, no? Bit of a preamble on this one so do just click here to go straight to the recipe!

Do you know who I can’t bear? Gavroche from Les Misérables. I jubilantly throw my box of Poppets in the air whenever that tatterdemalion shithead gets blasted in the stomach. Perhaps that makes me slightly psychopathic, celebrating the untimely end of a wee (albeit fictional) child, but there we have it. I’ve always been a Javert man, anyway.

I mention Gavroche as there was a kid in front of us at the swimming baths yesterday who was giving it such great funs with his loud, obnoxious shrieking that we elected to go for a spa day instead of a calorie burning frontcrawl. It’s half term: the children are off the roads but by God, they’re everywhere else, like lice on a dog.

It may surprise you that neither of us are born ‘spa boys’. The idea of people fussing about me with unctures and rubs holds zero appeal. However, we’re fortunate enough to live near a reasonable spa and, thanks to Groupon, entry was reasonably cheap. We did feel a bit out of place parking our muddy car in the sea of spotlessly white Range Rover Evoques (so-called, as they evoke feelings of ‘oh, what a smug looking c*nt’ whenever they swoosh past), and even more so traipsing in with our swim kit in an ASDA carrier bag. The lady on reception did blanch a little as we sashayed in. Pfft. I’m taking no judgement from someone who wouldn’t be able to register a look of surprise even if she dropped a pan of hot oil on her feet.

We’re realists – we weren’t going to inflict our naked, hairy bodies on someone whose on work experience certainly didn’t call for massaging our fat around like spreading butter on hot toast. Plus, I’m not one for being touched. I can take someone gripping my ears for stability and that’s about it. Although actually, I’ve heard masseuses prefer fat bodies as there’s more to work with, otherwise let’s face it, it’s like rubbing wax into a xylophone. I was having mild intestinal issues however, and didn’t fancy taking the risk of someone creating a biohazard by squeezing me like a tube of budget toothpaste. So, massages were off, and we decided to make use of the other facilities, which all involved some degree of sitting down and sweating. Couldn’t help but feel a bit ripped off, not least because I sit down and sweat just writing the blog.

Before that, a quick change. Luckily the place was quiet – not that I mind getting my knob out in front of folks, you understand, as a reasonably quick search on xtube will verify – and we were able to get changed in peace. Well – up until the point where it came to putting our stuff in the electronic lockers. We were just closing the door when a boiled beetroot in Jacamo shorts came barrelling over to shout at us / instruct us how to use the locker. It was a four digit pin, not the fucking Enigma machine, and I assured him we had it under control. He didn’t bugger off though, ‘supervising’ us as we locked our locker, leading to a slightly awkward moment where I had to shield the pin as though he was a street beggar after my money. Can’t be too careful. Satisfied that we had managed to satisfy Fermat’s last theorem / input four numbers into a locker, he lumbered off. We’d meet again.

Paul, keen to lose some weight through simple sweating, pushed us into the sauna. I hate saunas. I don’t see the appeal – I feel like a chicken breast in a sous vide machine, sweating and struggling to breathe through a dry heat of other people’s sweat and stink. Thankfully, unlike the other times I’ve used a sauna, there was no-one else in there – that’s great, because previous occasions have invariably had me sat oppostite an old dude sitting with his balls out. Have you ever seen what happens to a scrotum in extreme heat? Mine becomes so elastic that I can throw them over my shoulder and have them banging about like one of those old clackers toys from the eighties.

What’s good about a sauna, anyway? This particular one was turned up to over 90 degrees. To me, that’s approaching boiling point. I get uncomfortably hot when someone lights a church candle the next village over. I tried lying down but that made my back-hair sizzle. I tried sitting but was worried I’d cauterise my bumhole shut. Standing was no better – I just felt faint and knew that if I passed out, there’d be no way Paul could lift me out and I’d end up in there forever, cooking and desiccating until I ended up looking like Madge, Dame Edna’s assistant. I stayed in as long as I could but then had to dash out.

As I left the sauna our friendly neighbourhood beetroot appeared out of fat air and admonished me for not shutting the door quick enough, as though four seconds of the door being slightly ajar would reduce a room that was previously hotter than the surface of the sun down to the temperature of an Icelandic crevasse. I couldn’t tell if he was angry or just hot, though his skin had moved from rose to ruby coloured. For someone who had self-appointed himself as the King of the Spa, he certainly needed to fucking relax. I shut the door as quick as I could, leaving only four layers of skin crisping like bacon on the door handle. I thanked him. We’d meet again.

Paul slunk out of the sauna immediately after Al Murray had left, and we enjoyed a quick brisk shower before going for a sit in the aromatherapy room. I’m not going to lie: it was a novel experience to have the both of us in a heated room and for it not to smell like something has died behind a radiator, but there’s only so much pine scent you can inhale before you start getting light-headed and conscious of the fact you’re going to smell like an Air Wick for the next ten weeks. What is the aromatherapy room meant to do? I’m already Polo-shaped (I’m certainly mint with a hole), I don’t need to smell like one too. We left after about five minutes.

The last room was a steam room. To me, that’s just another sauna, but this time with steam. Woohoo! In we went, and there was Barry Big Bollocks spread-eagled, thankfully with his shorts on, steaming lightly. Now I could have cheerfully stayed in here save for the fact that the steam was clearly helping with his COPD, because no sooner had we sat down then he started coughing and hacking and clearing his throat as though he was drowning in phlegm. Nothing soothes the soul like steam and a fine miasma of the net result of forty straight years of chaining Lambert & Butlers. Every time our conversation halted he’d kick off again, clearly really getting in amongst his air-sacs for the full effect. He wasn’t so much clearing his throat as resurfacing the fucker. We left after about five minutes, speckled with blood and tar.

Only one thing left to do. The jacuzzi. I’m not a huge fan – let’s be frank, they’re nothing more than less portable hot-tubs – but hey, when you’ve spent twenty quid to get in, you have to get the use out of it. In we went. Now, yes, it was very pleasant, although they had positioned several jets in such a way that it was blowing my balls around rather a bit too dramatically in my swimming shorts. I had to move before my entire ball-sack floated to the surface and acted like a pool cover.

But even here I couldn’t relax. With my belly being pummelled from all directions, my fear of accidentally sharting and ruining the whole experience for everyone else was too much. Can you imagine how mortifying that would actually be? The more brazen amongst you might have been able to bluff it out by pretending you’d spilled a can of oxtail soup in the water but come on. I had to get out.

In all, we spent about 30 minutes at the spa and came out slightly pink and far less relaxed than when we went in. Best part for me was having Paul use the hairdryer in the changing rooms to dry my bum hair – such luxury! The receptionist asked if we had a nice time given it seemed as though we had hardly stayed. Naturally, we lied and said it was wonderful and we’d cheerfully come again, before spending the entire home bitching about everything. This is why we can’t have nice things, see. She did offer to see if someone was free to give us a pedicure but when I asked her if said person would be proficient in using a belt sander, she didn’t get the joke. We all mutually agreed that we ought to move on.

Sigh. Speaking of moving on, let’s do the recipe for ham, cheese and egg pancakes, eh?

I was going to call this recipe croque madame crêpes but Christ, I’ve seen how some of you lot spell two chubby cubs, I’m not going to start adding circumflexes into the mix. Without a moment of delay, let’s get to the recipe!

ham, cheese and egg pancakes

ham, cheese and egg pancakes

ham, cheese and egg pancakes

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 stuffed pancakes and two leftover!

Something new and tasty for breakfast for those days when you can't face spooning yet another load of dry as old nick overnight oats into your aching gob.

For the basic pancake batter, we're using the pancake advice from February, namely:

My recipe makes enough for six pancakes - four which will be filled with ham and cheese, and then two extra for gobbling. It's either that or having to mess about with smaller ingredients. Don't be tempted to fart about blending oats or any of that nonsense, there's simply no need. You're so much better have a couple of real pancakes and cracking on. Oh and if you find yourself reaching for a wrap instead of making a pancake, please, throw yourself into the sea.

Ingredients

TO MAKE THE PANCAKES

  • 50g plain flour (8 syns)
  • 150ml of skimmed milk (2 and a quarter syns, but really, 2 syns)
  • one egg

So that's ten syns for six pancakes. But I'll syn them at 1.5 syns because you can bugger off if you think I'm putting 1.66666666666666 syns per pancake.

FOR THE FILLING

  • four eggs
  • whatever ham you fancy
  • 60g extra grated mature cheese (2 x HEA)
  • chopped chives

So to be clear, you're having two filled pancakes each, and you'll have enough batter leftover for a third if you want to scoff that too!

Instructions

  • blend all the pancake ingredients together - add a pinch of...a pinch of...bleurgh...a good grinding of pepper, please
  • now, depending on your skill in the kitchen, you could fry the eggs in one pan and prepare the pancakes in another, but let's assume you've got the cooking skills of a turnip, and go step by step
  • fry your eggs off - don't cook them into full submission, you still want a bit of give on the yolk so it pops
  • pop your fried eggs on a plate on the side and start making your pancakes - a couple of sprays of olive oil, nice hot pan, tip a sixth of the batter in and quickly spread it around the pan
  • once the pancake has 'dried out' and coming away from the pan, flip it over - don't be frightened, you've got spare batter
  • once it is flipped, layer 15g of cheese in the middle, top with the ham and the fried egg
  • fold the sides of the pancake over like in the photo and cook for about thirty seconds to melt the cheese a bit
  • top with chives and eat!

Honestly, it sounds like a faff, but all this recipe is is a pancake stuffed with cheese and ham and egg - if you balls it up, it might not look great, but it'll taste absolutely fine.  Remember, aim for taste, not perfection!

Notes

  • we whisk up our batter in our Nutribullet - gets rid of any lumps, but honestly, a bowl and a fork will do the same job and get you some Body Magic. Don't buy one just for this - though they are very good!

Courses breakfast

Now come on, that was easy! But if you fancy something different for breakfast, why not try something new from our list?

Yum!

J

simple but perfect beef mince biryani

Beef mince biryani – I’m sure there’s a billion ways of doing this recipe and this is probably the common as muck version but hey, sometimes you just fancy something spicy. Our takeaway has stopped taking our calls since Paul used to stand by the letterbox on all fours whenever the hunky deliveryman, with his baleful brown eyes and arms that promised the world, came to the door. Think that’s bad? He once put ‘Will nosh for extra dough balls‘ on our Dominos order when he was drunk and then made me answer the door. Don’t get me wrong, it’s factually correct – if anything it’s a slight understatement – but still. I wouldn’t mind but I opened the door to a lovely wee lady who looked like Sandi Toksvig trying to solve a particularly tough crossword.

Anyway, as promised, we’re going to go straight into the recipe, no messing about. We all know foreplay is a waste of time anyway, surely? Hello? Is this thing on?

Just so you know, we served this with our perfect chicken korma recipe – you know why it’s perfect? Because we don’t stir a friggin’ Muller Light into it. Why? Because we’re not simple. For scooping we used Broghies – they’re one syn crackers that can be found in most Icelands around the country by now. If they’re not in yours, run into the shop, bundle whatever old lady is in your way into a chest freezer and demand that the manager stocks them immediately. They’re perfect for dips! And no: we’re not on commission.

We found this recipe at mytamarindkitchen and I 100% a look at their blog because the food is absolutely amazing. Tweaked this for Slimming World. Let’s go.

mince biryani

mince biryani

to make the perfect beef mince biryani, you’ll need:

  • five ripe tomatoes chopped up – can’t be arsed, use tinned tomatoes, but come on now
  • a teaspoon of coriander, cumin and chilli powder – now, if you don’t have spices, go to your world foods bit in your supermarket and buy them in bulk – so much cheaper – keep them sealed in a good tin though
  • I cheated here and used a garam masala grinder rather than making my own – was only a quid in Tesco – used about 10 good grinds
  • a bay leaf or two (don’t stress if you don’t have them)
  • one big fat onion, chopped nice and fine
  • 500g of extra lean beef mince – or use turkey mince for even lower calories (though it’ll not change the syn value)
  • 350g of basmati rise
  • half a tin of cooked green lentils
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • a good couple of handfuls of peas
  • 1 inch of ginger, minced
  • half a teaspoon of turmeric
  • 100ml of beef stock
  • one green chilli

optional extras for your mince biryani:

  • one lemon and one lime
  • a pinch of (shiver) saffron
  • chopped mint and coriander

top tips for your mince biryani:

  • we cook our rice in our Instant Pot – you absolutely don’t need one, you can cook rice just fine in a pan – but if you have a pressure cooker have a look into it – rice is a doddle! Instant Pots are quite hard to come by at the moment due to a stock shortage and, whilst we love ours, we’ve heard good things about the Pressure King Pro – only £70 on Amazon at the moment
  • if you’re mincing your garlic and ginger, use a microplane grater – you don’t need to peel the garlic or ginger and it’ll save your poor wee fingers
  • oh and whilst we’re on about ginger, buy a big knob of it and put it in the freezer when you’re done with it – it grates just fine frozen and it’ll save you buying it fresh every time
  • and listen, if even that’s too much for you, you can buy ginger and garlic paste in most major supermarkets now – in the same jar – for a quid or two – just use a tablespoon for half a syn!

to make the perfect beef mince biryani, you should:

  • soak your rice in cold water for a good half hour, and then cook it through until it is almost cooked(I like to add the turmeric to the rice as it cooks, to give it a yellow sheen) – you want a bit of bite left
  • heat your oven up to about 175 degrees and get a good heavy pan out of the cupboard – you’ll need one that has a lid and can go in the oven
  • spritz with a few sprays of oil, grind the masala into it and heat until it smells amazing
  • add the garlic and ginger and the chopped onion – cook the onions until they take on some colour, but don’t burn them
  • then add a pinch of salt, the chilli, cumin and coriander and cook off – add the stock here so it doesn’t catch and to to get all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan
  • add the tomatoes and fry until they’ve softened down – then add the mince and peas and cook until that’s cooked through and has absorbed most of the moisture in the pan
  • the easy bit now – layer the lentils over the top followed by the rice
  • optional: add chopped mint, slices of lemon and lime and if you’re super fancy, you could dissolve the saffron in hot water (about 25ml) and pour that one
  • cook in the oven for about twenty minutes with the lid on so it can steam
  • once you’re happy with it, clap your hands and eat your dinner!

There. I hope that leaves you satisfied and smiling!

What? You want more curry and spicy ideas? Of course you do. You love having a bumhole that looks like a shocked mouth. Here we go then:

Enjoy. Do let me know your thoughts, won’t you?

J

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!

TWO SYN MEDITERRANEAN MEATLOAF

TWO SYN MEDITERRANEAN MEATLOAF

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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J

one-pot super simple beef stew

Right, quick recipe post for a super simple beef stew! Sometimes you need a plate of cat-food-esque stew to line your gunt and this is just the ticket. Plus, if you’re a haphazard fool like us in the kitchen, you can’t go too wrong with it – just need to cut everything up, hoy it all in a pan and allow to simmer, then thicken with gravy. Get it made!

Anyway, whilst I’ve got you here, we’re also running a competition this week to win a soupmaker! It’s not Paul, before you ask, but it’s a lovely Morphy Richards number. Click the image below and you’ll be taken straight to the competition entry page in a new window. Go for it – it’s an easy competition and all you have to do is find the queens’ Queen!

Right, straight to the recipe! See, I can do it occasionally…

super simple beef stew

super simple beef stew

to make one-pot super simple beef stew you will need:

  • 400g diced beef
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp flour (4 syns)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 litre water
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tsp gravy granules (4 syns)

Looking for a good deal on diced beef? Dead easy. A fair few of our exclusive Musclefood deals have diced beef included! Have a look – link will open in a new window!

to make one-pot super simple beef stew you should:

  • in a large pot, heat oil over a medium-high heat, add the beef and cook until browned
  • stir in everything else except for the gravy granules, cover with the lid and simmer for two hours
  • when finished, stir in the gravy granules until thick
  • serve

Love simple dinners? We’ve got loads more! Just click the buttons below:

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J

caprese sausage stuffed pasta

It’s the return of the vag-pasta! Our caprese causage stuffed pasta makes good use of that weird shaped giant pasta!

Yeah that’s right, it’s a while since we used it and before I get anyone sending me frothy messages saying it’s not like a vagina, well, of course it’s not, but how many do you think I’ve seen in my life? Been there, done that, dry-heaved into my t-shirt. But see it’s what Paul calls this pasta so let’s just crack on with sausage caprese stuffed shells.

My goodness me. I opened the last post with a comment on the shitstorm surrounding this Porky Lights fiasco and here I see it has escalated into people appearing in the papers claiming they are devastated and had their diets ruined because the seven sausages they were eating for dinner might have had a slightly higher fat content than they expected. Listen, if you’re eating seven sausages in one sitting, you’ve got bigger fucking problems than a smidge more grease smacking on your lips. I work from home on a Friday so I was treated to even more hullabaloo from crinkle-faced mouthbreathers whingeing on. I think I’d rather be in the papers because I’ve been discovered wanking through a letterbox than holding up an over-done sausage the same shape as my downturned mouth and claiming my life was over. What happened to perspective?

OH and another bloody rant, if you don’t mind. If you drive and fiddle with your phone whilst you do so, then you’re an absolute and utter shit. A moron. A self-important, overly-entitled, preening cock. You’re a boil on society’s arsehole and everyone you come into contact with merely tolerates your presence. You’re about as liked as finding a hot streak of blood when you wipe your arse. If I saw you in the street I wouldn’t slap you, but it’s only because shit splatters.

The reason for my ire? Someone went into the back of me yesterday at a set of traffic lights (and I mean I’m used to having my crumple-zone pushed in from the rear, but at least buy a bloody drink first to grease the wheels) because he was BUSY PLAYING WITH HIS PHONE. I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry – the good thing about being tall and fat with a shaved head is that when you come hurtling out of a car with a face full of piss and vinegar the other person tends to back down pretty sharp, and I’m bloody mortified now that I reacted so aggressively. I didn’t hit him, but a proper red mist descended (probably an aneurysm brought on by the shunt) and I called him all sorts of very naughty words in an unexpectedly manly Geordie accent.

To the bloke’s credit he admitted straight away he was on his phone and apologised profusely and our insurance people are sorting everything out but FOR CRYING OUT LOUD just pull over. No-one is important enough to think they should be allowed to break the bloody rules and I genuinely hope that if someone is sitting out there reading this and thinking there’s no harm in using your phone that the next stop you make in your car is a dead-stop into a wall. It takes a bloody moment or two to pull over and deal with whatever you need to do and that way you don’t become a MASSIVE PULSATING DISEASED TWAT.

AAAAAARGH. Get me back to bloody France man! Speaking of which…

click here for part one 

Smooth segue, eh! I’m the Astroglide of blogging. You left us at the airport after we’d just passed through security. We found our bags and made for the train station. Paul asked me why I was walking slowly and I explained that I was just bracing myself for his inevitable ‘landed in a strange place, must have a crap’ moment. He astounded me by informing me, with all the subtle discretion of a football manager shouting instructions to his team from across a pitch, that he’d been for a ‘tom tit on the plane’. He’s learning, folks. I’d anticipated having to spend at least fifteen minutes loitering outside the gents whilst he strained and grunted but nope – we were straight onto the train, then the Metro, then a short mince to our hotel.

Now, wasn’t this grand? The Hotel Square in Paris – 22 rooms and featured in the Luxury Small Hotels guide to boot. I’m not sure how easy it is to get in that book – maybe it’s one of those scams where anyone can pay to look prestigious – but the hotel was gorgeous. Very clean, very modern. Big room with a bed big enough to roll around in and eat croissants. The only thing I wasn’t so keen on was the bathroom, given it was a very grand marble affair with mirrors surrounding the shower area. I’m not shy with my body but even I pale at the sight of reflections of my hairy arse coming at me from all sides of infinity. Paul came in to pick up a toothbrush whilst I was freshening up and it was like eight hundred of him had walked in going “how long you going to be, turns out there’s another train waiting at the station ready for dispatch“.

Here’s a photo so you can see what I mean. How embarrassing though I managed to get my face into the shot! Eeee I can’t get over it!

We had planned a very quiet first day and so it was that the only thing on the agenda was an Escape The Room. You know we love these: you’re locked in some weird room with a scary backstory and given sixty minutes to get out before disaster strikes. In London you’re locked into an abandoned cinema. In Iceland you’re put away in a jail cell on death row. They’ve opened one in Dewsbury where they take away your swimming costume and push you into the base of a divan bed with only a box of Tramadol for company. It’s all terrifically exciting. This one, however, was by far and away the best. We Ubered (I don’t know if that’s a verb or not, and I don’t care – it’s easier than saying ‘took an Uber’) over to the venue and after much confusion, found our way in.

We were met by the lovely Lucas who told us, in broken English far better than my pidgin French, what the situation was. We were to be stuck inside an out-of-control Paris Metro and we had to stop it before it crashed. Exciting! What really did make this fun was that the room was an actual Metro carriage and, whilst it clearly wasn’t going all end-of-Speed on us, it did rock side to side and brake and move. It was amazing! I like to think Paul and I have these things nailed now and we know what to look for but we were defeated at the very last step by the fact we were both recovering from head-colds – part of the clue revolves around sniffing bottles to identify smells to work out an exit code. We were supposed to smell cherries – all I could smell was Parisian soot and Vicks Sinex. Lucas had the good grace not to mention the fact that every time I had bent down to pick up a clue a good thirty percent of my arse was on show thanks to my inability to pack a belt, though doubtless we’ll be on some French version of You’ve Been Framed somewhere accompanied by bouncy accordion music.

Ashamed of the fact we had failed in our duties (but buoyed by the fact it was bloody good fun) we wandered the streets until we realised we were both hungry and that we really ought to eat. Well, you know Paris – you can’t move without happening across somewhere delightful full of lovely things to eat (I don’t think there was a single point in the holiday where I wasn’t either stuffing my face with pastry or brushing the crumbs off my coat) and it took no time at all to spot a little cafe down by the Seine which looked busy and promising. We bustled in, Paul ensuring that his coat dragged across as many tables as possible and me knocking into chairs and tables and ankles like a lost bull. One day, just once, we’ll enter a restaurant without it looking like we’re there to fake an insurance claim.

Our waiter (curt tones, face like a hundred miles of rough road, eyes that had never known joy) came over and barked at us to order. Our French is poor but we do try, but by god he gave us no leeway for error. Every fumble was tutted at – not necessarily in a rude way, just it was clear that he didn’t have time for our stumblings because he had to go back to watching emo arthouse movies and smoking. We ordered a starter consisting of various Corsican meats and cheeses – we had loved Corsica so and, given it cost a billion pounds to go there last time making it unlikely we’ll revisit, this was an easy way of reliving some memories.

The waiter had no sooner seemed to disappear through the doors into the kitchen when he immediately re-appeared holding aloft a platters of meats and breads. He set them down, adjusted them just so, took a moment to think what was missing and then blurted ‘le fromage’ and disappeared anew. A minute or two later he returned with the cheese board and goodness me, It was a challenge and a half. I like a strong cheese but even I was defeated by two of the monstrosities on this plate. I’m not exaggerating even for a moment when I tell you that I was entirely convinced one of these cheeses was actually alive. I had to leave it. Our waiter, his face full of French woe, asked if anything was wrong, to which I gave a British ho-ho and explained that I hadn’t realised I’d ordered the pickled smegma fresh off the chef’s helmet. Spread it on my bread? It was all I could do not to hurl it into the traffic outside. The only thing that stopped me was knowing Paris is on a critical terror alert and I’d end up banged up in Guantanamo Bay with bamboo being slid up my urethra.

Paul, having experimented with a somewhat French dish as a starter, decided that was quite enough of that nonsense and ordered an Italian burger. I was mortified. At least I made an effort, I had a croque Madame so French it was smoking a Gauloise when it was dropped in my lap. I’m not shy of trying new things – snails I have no problem with (who would have thought, me, a pro at swallowing unpleasant mouthfuls) and I wasn’t going to bother with frogs’ legs. I’ve had them before and it was like eating the meat from the used toothpicks at the end of a group dinner.

I made the right choice, lunch was lovely, and we lingered over coffee whilst we people watched the good folk of Paris and (quelle surprise) half of China flit about in that hurried way I’ll never understand. I find it incredible that all of these people have places to live and sleep and shag and eat and work and play and yet everything works like a well-oiled machine. I adore cities, I find them endlessly fascinating, and I could merrily sit and watch all day long. However, the waiter, possibly tired of watching us make a Gin Fizz last half a day, brought us l’addition with a cheery ‘you pay now’. I didn’t dare refuse, the sight of his ashen-face crumpling in on itself would haunt me forever more.

We decided to rough it and take the Parisian underground back to the hotel, only we had no sooner made it down the stairs when a large chap (imagine Shadow from Gladiator only with milk for eyes and a diseased foot) hurtled towards us asking us to donate. Donate to what? The Burns Unit that would need to tend to my eyes as the sight of his crispy foot sizzled against my retinas? We bid a hasty (as hasty as two fat blokes can) retreat back up the stairs and sent for an Uber.

As ever, our driver was lovely, he handed us a bottle of water, pointed out as we dashed through that we were in the tunnel where the Queen Fiat-Unoed poor Diana out of existence and offered us some sweets. He also had the kindest, more soulful eyes I’ve ever seen and he had the good grace not to notice me winking salaciously at him in his rear-view mirror. I begged Paul to let me put ‘Drove like a pro and melted my heart’ on the Uber review but alas, that was dashed. Muhammad, if you ever want to take either of us, or both of us, or a bit of one and some of the other, up a one-way street, do get in touch.

As we were knackered, we decided to have an early night and a few drinks in the room. I say a few drinks, it was rather impromptu – I went for an after sex decontamination shower only to hear the sound of Paul opening the minibar. Uh-oh. Worse, I barely had time to wash the Molton Brown out of my bumcrack before I heard the hiss of a bottle of fancy water being uncapped. I vaulted out of that shower like I was the winning horse at the Grand National and hurtled into the bedroom shouting EUROS ITS BLOODY FIFTEEN EUROS PAUL FIFTEEEEEEN like a man possessed. Paul explained he was thirsty but pfft, I’m Geordie. I didn’t speak to him for the rest of the holiday.

No, I jest. Once we had broken the seal of that minibar, the whole lot came out. We had a great night indeed, mini bottles of alcohol scattered everywhere, peanut crumbs in the bed, eye masks on, condoms blown up like water bombs in the bath. We sent down for another cheese board at 11pm to cap the night off and then away to bed with us.

When we woke the next morning, we were horrified. We tidied up until that room was sparkling like a new pin and stumbled out into the light. I wanted to throw myself over the desk of the charming lady on reception and wail je suis désolé! pardonne-moi je t’en supplie! in the hope she might take a dent off the minibar tab but all I could manage in reality was a gruff, Phil Mitchell-esque good morning and a couple of black peppercorn scented farts in the lift.

I’ll leave you to digest that image and get straight to the next recipe, eh?


caprese sausage stuffed pasta caprese sausage stuffed pasta

to make caprese sausage stuffed pasta you will need:

  • 6 sausages (we used the ones from our Musclefood deal – they’re just half a syn each AND they come with the added bonus of not being stockpiled by jibbering morons!)
  • ½tsp fennel seeds
  • 500g conchiglioni (you know the ones – the GIANT  pasta shells)
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • few handfuls of spinach
  • 4 tbsp chopped basil
  • 140g reduced fat mozzarella ball, chopped (2x HEA)
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • balsamic glaze (just reduce some balsamic vinegar in a pan, easy peasy)

If you’re using different sausages, remember to syn them however they are. Technically this dish comes in at just less than a syn each, actually, so hoy a bit extra cheese on. I’ll not tell Mags, though she’ll be too busy hammering nails into the Porky Light farmer’s tractors to give a toss.

to make caprese sausage stuffed pasta you should:

  • preheat the oven to 190ºc
  • spread half of one tin of chopped tomatoes across the bottom of a 9×13″ pyrex dish, or any, I don’t care
  • cook the giant shells according to the instructions, and then drain and set aside
  • meanwhile, slice the sausages as best you can (it doesn’t have to be neat) and then cut each slice into quarters
  • add some oil to a large frying pan and stick over a medium high heat
  • add the sausages and stir to cook until no pink meat remains – give them a chop up with the spatula to break it up, or gently press a masher over the top
  • add the rest of the chopped tomatoes, the spinach and half of the chopped basil and cook for about five minutes
  • remove the pan from the heat, and spoon in 1 tbsp the mixture into each of the shells and pop them into the pyrex dish
  • top with the mozzarella and sliced tomatoes and bake for twenty minutes
  • remove from the oven, top with the remaining basil and drizzle over the balsamic glaze

After some more grub? just click one of the buttons below to get even more ideas!

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J

droptober recipe #7: italian sausage and chicken risotto

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love our risottos, especially this Italian sausage and chicken risotto because it is simplicity itself! Italian sausage is usually sausage with fennel, so we’ve cheated a bit and used plain, syn free sausages and added fennel seeds. Yes, it’s that type of sassy thinking and cunning that got us where we are today. Bit of a long entry tonight but first, for the last time (well maybe tomorrow) an advert BEFORE IT RUNS OUT.


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LAST CHANCE. 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!


Don’t worry, I think the code expires tomorrow so the big advert won’t be on the next lot of posts!

Paul and I have been thinking about switching slimming world classes. Not because our current class has anything wrong with it, it’s absolutely the best one in the area, but we’ve been going off and on for almost seven years. It’s easy to fall into a rut and we’re not staying to class anymore, so perhaps a new face and a new bank of folks to look at with my eye glaze over whilst they chunter on about 1/2lb here and there is exactly what we need. As I was mulling over this decision in the car on the way home, I started thinking about my perfect Slimming World class and what I’d do if I was a consultant.

Incidentally, we get so, so many people telling us they’d come to our class if we became consultants, but we offered our services to Slimming World way back when we were just starting out and didn’t get a phone call in return. Which, frankly, was foolish – we’ve got plenty of disposable income and a very carefree approach to spending it. My house could have been more Hi-Fi bar than brick. But anyway. So here’s how my dream class would go if I was a consultant. If you’re a consultant, feel free to nick my ideas, but be sure to have a framed photo of us with a candle burning in front of it, like people do when someone’s died in a car-crash.

For a start, let’s not be tight with the venue. I’m sick of sitting on rock hard chairs in draughty church halls, getting piles and backache. Let’s have the class in the back of the local pub, so people can pay lip service to losing weight and then get straight on the beers, wine and crackling, like EVERYONE WHO GOES TO FAT-CLASS does. The heating would be on but sensible – I’ve noticed classes are either so hot that you lose two pounds in sweat just sitting in your chair shallow-breathing or so fucking cold that you can open your third box of Hi-Fi bars with your diamond-level nipple.

I’d serve proper coffee and proper tea. There’s no excuse for people to people to fork over £5 and then get hit with coffee so weak you can see the bottom of the cup through it, or tea that tastes like it was brewed up in 1957 and left to stand. Yes, it’s a bit more pricey, but let’s class the joint up. I’d ban sweetener though because I’d get tired of people mooing at me about SINZ PLZ.

It would be mandatory for everyone to have the right change or a countdown when it came to paying. Let’s be honest: we’ve all been in the queue, inwardly seething and wishing death on the poor bugger at the front of the queue fumbling around in the depths of their Michelle Cors handbag for 10p. Think of it like a bus: turn up, pay, bugger off to the seats. Weighing would be the same – it would be mandatory, punishable by death, to be ready to get on the scales. No holding up the queue whilst you take off your support knickers, bra, false-teeth, clit-ring, fanny-chandelier, built-up shoes and pleatherette belt. Get on, get weighed, ten seconds only of your fake surprise act or blustered explanations, then on your way to the naughty seats ready for class.

Now the most important bit: the chat. I have quite a booming voice when I want to so being heard wouldn’t be a problem. I’d want the class to be full of laughter, fun and chatter, but if you’re the rude arsehole who insists on chatting to your mate all the way through whilst people are shitting themselves from straining so hard to hear who is talking, Paul will nip outside and put your tyres down. We’d open with weight losses – but not the 56 minute long affair of ‘and Mary has lost ‘arf a pound how have you done that Mary’ (repeating the name a lot so it looks like you are invested in your members but haway, it’s on your little screen).

Here’s the cruel truth – this bit adds absolutely nowt unless it sparks a discussion about weight loss. The fact that Bob from Greggs has lost two pounds, his foot has turned less black and he’s lost eight pounds overall in eighteen years means very little to most people unless you know them. No, we’d beetle about the room, giving out the stickers because let’s be fair, everyone likes a sticker, congratulating people in groups (so all the 2lb losses would get named, then the 1lb losses, then the stayed the same) – much quicker and easier. Plus, you don’t have to wrap your hands in gauze afterwards to stop the bleeding from clapping so fucking much. We’re adults, not seals desperate for people to throw us a fish.

Then, 45 minutes or so of chat, decent recipe swapping and funny stories. Make it an hour where you’d actually want to contribute and make it more like conversation between friends, instead of 60 disparate chubbies all fretting and cringeing until the moment their name is called.  I’d want to hear people laughing more than hearing people sigh and yawn into their hands. More focus on eating – that’s one thing I find so confusing about the groups – there’s surprisingly little focus on good things to eat and ideas. I’d bring technology into it – have a decent sized TV in the background with recipes on it, changing every now and then. Naturally, being us, we’d slip the odd slide in of a giant bouncy cock for half a second, just long enough to think you’ve seen it before onto a risotto recipe. There’d be jokes and genuine admiration. Aaah.

Slimmer of the Week wouldn’t win a basket of fruit that’s pretty much already turned into wine, no, the winner would get to take part in my game. I’d get my dad to build a massive wheel-of-fortune stand-up wheel with different segments and prizes – a free week, a box of Hi Fi bars, a tiny sliver for a free countdown, another for a big cuddle from the fattest person in the room, even the odd penalty to add a bit of risk – they have to put the chairs back at the end of the class, or come back to mine and cook us a delicious tea. Paul could mince on in a glittery dress like Debbie McGee’s morbidly obese twin, we could make a proper spectacle of it. Much better than ‘here’s a bunch of black bananas, a sweet ‘n’ sour mugshot and some unidentified fruit with half a WHOOPS sticker on it.

Raffle would be for useful things that people can use to cook with – a decent pan, a set of scales, spoons. Every now and then we’d think fuck it and put a box of chocolates on there. Guarantee we’d have far more raffle tickets being bought then! As for contact during the week, none of the mushy stuff – texts saying ‘Yeah, the chocolate might taste nice, but do you not fancy seeing your fadge again’ or ‘Try the mushy pea curry: you’ll be shitting for England but you’re sure to get that shiny star’ or even just the plain old threatening ‘Elnetta-MB has your details now. She knows where you live. DON’T EAT A PIE’. My facebook group would be full of rude jokes and recipe challenges and yeah, you’d still get stickers and certificates, but you’d also get arbitrary stickers like ‘Can open a Mars bar without getting breathless’ and ‘managed to see the end of her toes’. Make it fun, make it entirely non-serious, make it good.

Aaaah a boy can dream, eh? I know the practicalities of money, time and corporate branding would put the kibosh on all of the above, but hell, we could give it a bloody good go before SW cracked the whip.

Right, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? This makes two big bowls of delicious tasty stodge.

italian sausage and chicken risotto

to make italian sausage and chicken risotto you will need:

to make italian sausage and chicken risotto you should:

  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a splash of oil
  • add the sausages to the pan and cook for five minutes until browned but not fully cooked
  • remove from the pan, leave to cool for a bit and then slice and keep to one side
  • add the fennel seeds to the pan and stir around the pan for about a minute
  • add the leeks to the pan and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until starting to brown
  • mix the tomato puree with 1 tbsp water and add to the pan, along with the apple juice, garlic and spice mix
  • cook for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes or so
  • add the rice and stir until well mixed and coated
  • add the chicken to the pan, lob in the sausages and stir again
  • add as much stock as you can to the pan – if you can’t get it all in just add what you can and keep topping it up
  • stir the mix every couple of minutes or so until the liquid has been absorbed, which’ll take about 20 minutes
  • serve!

There you have it – if you’ve ever fancied having an Italian stallion sit heavy in your stomach, you’ve just found one!

If you fancy other equally delicious dinners, just click on the buttons below to find more of our tasty ideas!

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J

tasty quinoa stuffed chicken

Here for the tasty quinoa stuffed chicken? Well aren’t we all. However, you’ll need to get past all my huffle-and-puffle first.

I was talking with a colleague yesterday about the hanky code. For those who don’t get the gay newsletter, the hanky code was/is a system used mainly by gay blokes back in the seventies and eighties to subtly clue in possible paramours (for those less classy: shags) as to their sexual predilections. A dark blue hanky in the right back pocket meant you preferred being the garage rather than the car. Grey meant you liked light bondage, black meant you liked extremely heavy BDSM and pain, like being made to sit through The X-Factor without having a mallet to repeatedly set about your skull with. Somewhat disconcertingly, the hanky for a chap who likes men who smokes cigars is described as ‘tan’, whereas the colour for someone who wants to act as a full toilet (i.e. someone who fancies a Hot Karl: don’t fucking google it) is ‘brown’. I genuinely don’t think I could tell you the difference between brown and tan, and imagine the horror of going back to someone’s house for a Montecristo and a chat about socio-economics only to be confronted with them squatting over you with a determined gurn on their face. YIKES.

And anyway, it wouldn’t work for me – I have trouble spotting Paul in a room, and he’s the size of a family tent. Trying to get me to differentiate colours, especially when blood is rushing to a head on my body that doesn’t contain my brain, is just asking for trouble.

It’s almost a shame that the hanky code has died off, I reckon it would be interesting if we all, quite literally, nailed our colours to the mast. We certainly live in a time where people are open and being gay is so much more accepted. It’s brilliant. I was driving home the other day past a school (this isn’t as Operation Yewtree as it might sound) and there was a young lad walking up the street, surrounded by girls, as flamboyant and camp as you like – more mince than even our fabulous Musclefood deal (BEST LINK EVER). No attempt to hide it – and why should he – and whilst he might have just be a colourful young straight lad, my gaydar pinged and I thought it marvellous. I reckon we’re about twenty years from it just not being a thing at all, I reckon.

I’ve certainly been lucky, having never experienced any kind of homophobia. There’s been jokes about my sphericalness and god knows I endured many a crack about my long black hair, but never the fact I’m a backdoor betty. Perhaps because I’ve always been hard to push over, who knows? I’ve never hidden Paul away – I’d need a fucking big piece of camouflage netting for one – and although I like playing the ‘partner’ game when I meet someone new (i.e. using non-gender specific terms of endearment when talking about Paul – my partner, Fats Waller, my bitch, slave), I’m always proud to say I’m a gay man.

I have my own feelings about the ever-increasing list of genders and sexualities which I won’t share here, only to say I genuinely struggle to understand some of the more far out terms and, personally, I think there’s a chance that identity problems won’t be taken as seriously when someone describes themselves as identifying as an otherkin or as a ze (someone who believes ‘he’ has negative connotations of gender, apparently). I get gender fluidity, I think (i.e. I think I understand it) but when someone describes as a non-cis pivotgender being, it just makes my head hurt. To be quite honest, it makes me feel old and confused. Perhaps that’s my own ignorance though. Hmm.

Anyway look, I’m not here to reflect on my life as a shirtlifter. I really just wanted to crack a joke about tan/brown hankies! Let’s get the recipe out!

This recipe makes more than enough to completely stuff 4 large chicken breasts, and we served it with broccoli and roast potatoes (chuck some baby potatoes into your Actify with some worcestershire sauce and allow to tumble around – it’s that easy!). Don’t have an Actifry? Then, foolish person, buy one now. Especially when they’re cheap on Amazon! We picked up the idea for the recipe via a lovely blog called Macheesmo – we’ve turned it Slimming World friendly and tweaked it, but full credit to the bloke and his beard for the inspiration! If there’s only the two of you, halve the ingredients. Dur.

tasty quinoa stuffed chicken

to make tasty quinoa stuffed chicken, you’re going to need:

  • 4 large chicken breasts – the breasts that come in our Musclefood bundle – where you get about 24/26 per package – are ideal. They’re juicy and not full of water like the supermarkets! Take a gander by clicking here.
  • 200g of quinoa, rinsed under cold water
  • a few big handfuls of spinach
  • 90g of feta (45g is your HEA, or syn it at 6 syns – but as this serves four, it’ll be three syns per breasts. You keeping up here, Vorderman?)
  • a few grinds of your pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • just a cautious wee nip of red chilli flakes
  • spray oil – not spray plastic, say no to Frylight!
  • 25g of dried sun-dried tomatoes – these are an easy way to add the taste of sun-dried tomatoes – they are dried tomatoes and can usually be found in Tesco – apparently they’re 2 syns for 25g which is bloody ridiculous as they are just dried tomatoes without the oil, so up to you if you want to count the syns – 0.5 per breast) (you can swap out for tomatoes in oil which are seemingly 1.5 syns per 25g). How does that work then eh? If they’re soaked in oil, they are less syns than tomatoes dried out and then rehydrated in water? What a load of absolute nonsense, piss and shite. I’m not synning it, but you can. Anyway…

and then to make tasty quinoa stuffed chicken, you should:

  • if you’re using dried tomatoes, rehydrate them by dropping them into boiling hot water and letting them steep
  • put the oven onto 180 degrees
  • cook your quinoa – follow the instructions on the pack – we use chicken stock instead of water, cook for twenty minutes with the lid on, then take off the heat and fluff with a fork
  • cook your spinach in a little pan, no need to add oil just a drop or two of water and let it wilt right down, adding the salt and chilli flakes to season
  • blend the spinach and tomatoes and feta – not to a fine paste, just a lumpy mix – and then stir into the quinoa along with the pepper
  • now the fun part – cut horizontally through each chicken breast but not all of the way through – you want to be able to open it up like a book
  • place each opened chicken breast onto cling film or a very clean tea-towel, cover with more cling film and then bash the bejesus out of it – actually no, just give it a good pounding until they are nice and evenly thick
  • spoon the quinoa stuffing into each chicken breast, fold over the top of the breast and then secure with cocktail sticks or skewers
  • take your pan that you used for spinach (or another one, I’m not keeping that much of an eye on you), squirt some oil in, get it nice and hot and carefully place each breast into the pan for a few minutes on either side – you’re searing the outside of it
  • once this is done, put them onto a tray and into the oven for about 20-25 minutes until they’re cooked through
  • serve with your sides

Don’t cry if the quinoa falls out a bit or it doesn’t look super attractive and tidy – I mean, I don’t look super attractive or tidy either, and I get plenty!

If you’re looking for more chicken recipes, why not click on the button below and be taken straight there?

poultrysmall

Until the next time,

J

chicken and chorizo risotto

Evening folks!

Paul and I are having a romantic night in, he’s cooking a lovely Indian tea and I’m scratching his feet with a matchbox. For now, please accept this recipe card as a treat, but be warned, chorizo and cheese does add a few syns to the dish. YOU CAN MAKE IT SYN FREE! But, you have 105 to use every week, spend it on something good. I’ll fill out the recipe in full tomorrow and add a snack idea for you all. Goodnight! (now done, see below!)

UPDATE

Paul and I have slept for a good, reasonable twelve hours and had a Slimming World fry-up breakfast (see here for a previous post about that), so I’m back and fighting fit. I promised you a full recipe breakdown for the risotto – and an easy way to make it syn free.

ingredients: one chicken breast (diced), chorizo (optional, I use 6 syns for 60g if I chose a particularly non-fatty chorizo, and then split that between two servings), shallots, arborio rice, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, peashoots, philapdelphia lightest (I’ve always synned 75g of the lightest as a healthy extra A, but even then, I hardly ever use that much and it’s split between two), peppers sliced.

recipe: get everything prepared – slice the onion, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes to roughly the same size and thickness. Dry fry gently in a good non-stick casserole pot (this is important, because you try to make this risotto in a ‘sticky’ pan it’ll burn) until everything is nice and soft. Add the chicken and chorizo and continue cooking on a medium heat until the chicken is cooked through. Once you’ve done this, add the 250g of arborio rice and coat the rice in the liquid. Stir just once, chuck in your 1l of stock and big handful of garden peas. ONE stir. Then pop the lid on the pan, keep it on a medium heat (we use 6, but we’ve got a fancy induction hob so just stick to medium) and leave for exactly 20 minutes. You can peek at it just to make sure the liquid hasn’t disappeared, but maybe just once or twice – every time you let the steam out, god kills a kitten. After 20 minutes, check the rice -it’s always spot on for me but individual hobs may vary, so let it simmer a little bit longer if there is still a lot of liquid and/or the rice is a bit crunchy. Spoon in a dollop of the soft cheese and serve it on a bed of pea-shoots. I use pea-shoots because it adds another layer of flavour, but rocket will do. Don’t be common and use lettuce though. Twist of pepper and a couple of shavings of Parmesan and you’re done.

extra-easy: yes – though I syn the recipe exactly how I do it at 4 syns, just to take on board the chorizo and cheese. You can make it syn free though – replace the chorizo with chopped bacon (with no fat), and use the cheese as your healthy extra. But I like the taste the chorizo imparts to the rice and chicken and chorizo go together so well! Plenty of superfree – fresh peas, pea shoots, peppers, mushrooms, shallots…

top tips: Paul, because he’s a pleb who was brought up on sweet and sour chicken from his local Rainbow mixed with fag ash and a general feeling of malaise, adds a big old dollop of wholegrain mustard and mixes it in, which completely overpowers any other flavour. He says that he can still enjoy it through the sound of me tutting and sucking air in through my teeth.

Enjoy it!

J