summer salad with fried feta and a tomato consommé

You wanted summer recipes, so here’s two: summer salad with fried feta and a tomato and nasturtium consommé. But first, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The searing hot, radioactive, giant ball of gassy matter that pumps out offensive levels of heat and that could kill us all. That’s right, my husband – he’s currently in bed, so I’m going to discuss the sun. For those in Scotland:

this is the sun – it’s the thing that turns you from that milky white colour to freshly butchered mince in 8 seconds.

I hate it. I’ve discussed at length the many things I hate about the great British summer but, because I’m a) tetchy and b) fat and c) sweaty, I’m going to moan about it again.

Insects

Literally everywhere you turn. Now I’m not daft, I know bees are important and without them we wouldn’t have pollination and food and existence and, perhaps more importantly, this gif of a bee giving a high-five:

but even so. Just once I’d like to spend more than eight minutes outside without something biting me, swarming at me, worrying me or just giving me shitty looks. I took this salad outside yesterday to take a decent photo in the light and I swear I’ve come back without at least one full layer of skin thanks to all the bites. I know I’m irresistible but I’d love to enjoy a meal outside without the both of us swearing and screaming like the table is on fire and we’re eating petrol sandwiches. The situation escalated surprisingly quickly when Paul knocked over a bottle of limoncello syrup – you can imagine how the wasps and bees reacted to that. Hopefully they’ve got smashed off their tits and are comatose in a hedge somewhere, the vespine equivalent of a teenager celebrating getting his fingers wet. I know of a friend who foolishly went camping in summer at Kielder Forest and was sent back to Newcastle by a roaming gang of midges. And we’re Geordies, you understand, we’re geet hard as ‘owt. Pfft.

Cars

Dogs die in hot cars. True, and you always get a satisfying story in the papers of some idiotic clot who dashed into a clinic to get her vag steamed only to leave poor Fido sizzling away on the parcel shelf, who then came out to find some hero has smashed all the windows in the car and called her a c*nt on national TV. I’d be tempted to let the dog out and do a big steaming shit all over her steering wheel, claiming the dog did it out of distress. But that’s not all – getting into my car at the moment is like trying to make yourself comfortable in an active volcano. I climbed in yesterday, peeling layers of skin off my hands as I did so, and found that the car was registering 34 degrees. 34! I turned the engine on expecting the car to blow up and leave me smeared across the street like fat jam. Paul’s car is even worse thanks to his asthmatic air-conditioning – I had to check whether he’d bought a new air-freshener yesterday but the smell of cooking bacon turned out to be the seatbelt clip sinking into my tit like a hot knife through butter.

Increased neighbour interaction

Most – though not all – of my neighbours are decent folks now, especially since they’ve had five years to come around to the fact that two gay men living on their street doesn’t mean we’re going to have all-night orgies and an amyl-nitrate fountain put in the front garden. About half of them actually stop to talk to us now, would you believe. That’s acceptable, but it means we also see the other half a lot more. Take this morning. I was awoken at 8am by the sound of my neighbour yanking and swearing at his shitty Lidl lawnmower to try and get it started. You need to understand that there’s only two reasons I ever want to be woken up on a Sunday before 11am: either I’m sleepshopping naked in ASDA and I’ve got my cock resting in the bananas or Paul has managed to convince the entire first team squad of the Newcastle Falcons that I’m their pre-game warm-up.

He eventually managed to get his £7.99 lawnmower going (and bearing in mind he’s one of these type of folks who’ll spend £35,000 on a car then never take it out of third gear) and I was left trying to dose whilst he whirred and spluttered and farted around his postage-stamp lawn. At 8am. On a Sunday. When he is fully retired and could do this at any time during the week. You can imagine my good humour, can’t you? I did a terribly British thing of getting up and slamming the window shut, but that in turn made the room boiling hot so I had to get up. Paul slept on. You know when they detonate those giant cooling towers and they crumble to the ground in a cloud of dust and excitement? You could stick Paul on a camp-bed right in the epicentre of the blast and he’d still only fart, turn over and start grizzling about his lumpy pillows. The fat bastard.

Go out and enjoy yourself  

Oh fuck off. I can enjoy the oppressive heat when I’m lying baking on a beach in Corsica, somewhere where I can dash into the sea to wipe away my sweaty boob rash and to peel my scrotum away from the sides of my ankle if it gets too much, but what can we do here? As I said, we can’t sit in the garden because we’re like cocaine for insects and we can’t go out in the car because it’s like driving a convection oven down the motorway, so what is left? Standing outside trying to surreptitiously peel clothing out of fat rolls and going ‘ooooh this is nice, bet it won’t last‘ like every other Brit? I don’t want to go outside. I want to stay inside where it is cold and air-conditioned and lovely and yeah I might get rickets but so fucking what, I’ll look bloody hilarious running for a bus. Beer gardens are full of boorish hooray-henries vaping and existing, public parks are awash with children screaming and laughing and even the cold, dark of the cinema is ruined by the kids being ‘on holiday’. Bah.

We need a decent plague and for him upstairs to turn the air-conditioning back on. By him upstairs I mean Paul, and, as we live in a bungalow, even that tortuous analogy doesn’t work. Let’s blame it on the heat.

Recipes then – summer salad with fried feta and a bonus recipe for a tomato consommé. I realised there was no point in sticking the tomato consommé on as an individual recipe because no bugger will make it, but hey, let’s roll the dice.

to make summer salad with fried feta you will need:

  • 250g reduced-fat feta cheese (4x HeA)
  • 2 tbsp plain flour (4 syns)
  • 4 tbsp panko (or any other type of breadcrumb, but panko works best) (4.5 syns)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • any sort of salad stuff you want to throw together
  • spray oil

Notes

You will need a fair few sprays of oil on this one – for each portion I’m going to say 10 sprays of a decent spray oil – so unusually, I’m counting the oil as an extra syn (5 sprays for 0.5 syns). It’s up to you, though. We use a spray oil dispenser from Amazon and top it up with decent quality olive oil – you can see the one we use right here (it’s dirt cheap). You could use Frylight but why would you – it’s shite. Plastic, nasty shite, plus it’ll mess your pans up. God knows why it is constantly recommended.

Those lovely looking pink onions? I’ve posted the recipe for them before right here (it’ll open in a new window) – they’re amazing. Soaked in vinegar, the sharpness melts away and they look amazing in a salad. Any time you have a red onion approaching the end of its life, follow this recipe!

Our salad consisted of a yellow pepper sliced and turned into matchsticks, moonblush tomatoes (made from our recipe here – we’re really using up the old favourites), a few black olives which I don’t syn so shoot me, peeled and sliced cucumber, rocket, sliced red onion and sliced pickled red onion. Make your salads interesting – it’ll serve you so much better – lots of flavour and textures.

to make summer salad with fried feta you should:

  • prepare the salad
  • cut the feta block into four equal pieces
  • dredge each block into the flour, then coat in the egg, and finally roll about in the breadcrumbs so it sticks (roll the feta, not yourself)
  • next, heat a small frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray some oil (save your pans and get yourself one of these)
  • whilst the feta is frying, gently spray a little more oil over the top so they brown when you flip them, which you’ll need to do do after about five minutes
  • when golden, serve on top of the salad so it’s just slightly soft in the middle

Delicious! Now onto the consommé – this is delicious but only if you’re a big tomato fan. I didn’t syn the drop of olive oil I used but up to you whether you include that! This is a clear(ish), pure tomato soup served cold. Very refreshing!

to make tomato and nasturtium consommé, you’ll need:

  • 2kg of tomatoes – red and ripe – soft is fine, we bought a giant box for a couple of quid from our local garden centre
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1/2tsp of tabasco
  • either a big handful of nasturtium flowers or, if you can’t get them (and you should bloody grow them because they’re amazing for you AND for the bees – they add pepperiness and you can eat both the flowers and the leaves), a big handful of basil
  • some decent salt flakes
  • a squirt of decent olive oil (optional)
  • a couple of pretty little tomatoes or nasturtiums and chopped chive

Notes:

This will serve four people a bloody big bowl of soup. It’s a faff timewise to make but worth it if you’re a fan of tomatoes and you want to try doing something different.

If you’re a vegetarian, remember to swap out the Worcestershire sauce for a veggie equivalent.

to make tomato and nasturtium consommé, you should:

  • chop the tomatoes into quarters, removing any particularly beefy stalks
  • tip the lot, together with the shallots, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and basil/nasturtium into a food processor and blitz it – you might need to do it in stages – season with salt and then blitz again – you do not want a smooth paste, you want it lumpy
  • now the tricky part – I found it so much easier to do this over the sink – put a large pan into the sink and then you’re going to want to take a large piece of muslin cloth and tip the tomato mixture in – tie the cloth up so the mixture can’t pour out of the sides and then find a way to suspend it over the pan so that the juices can drip through overnight (oh you flirt!) – I just tied my cloth to my tap which hangs over the sink
    • if you don’t have muslin cloth, use a very clean tea-towel – we’re not talking about the Congratulations Charles and Diana tea-towel that you wipe your minnie with when no-one is looking but a good fresh tea-towel – maybe use two – try not to get one that you’ve washed with fabric conditioner though eh, because the smell of Lenor is going to be off-putting
    • you can buy fine muslin cloth from amazon for a couple of quid – so much easier
  • the longer you leave it the better it will be, but DON’T SQUEEZE THE BAG otherwise your consommé will be cloudy (it’s natural for it to be a bit cloudy or yellow, but don’t make it worse)
  • in the morning, add a tiny dash of olive oil (1 tsp – 2 syns, up to you if you syn that tiny amount between 6) and gently simmer the liquid for about quarter of an hour – don’t boil it
  • season to taste with a bit of extra Tabasco sauce or salt if needed, then refrigerate until ready to serve
  • when serving, decorate with a few thin slices of the nice looking tomatoes or a couple of nasturtium flowers and chives and serve as cold as can be

Done! Enjoy! Want more veggie or lunch ideas? But of course you do. You know what to do by now!

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J

the perfect Slimming World Big Mac

Big Mac in a bowl? Big Mac tater tots? What happened to a plain old Big Mac stuffed firmly into your mush until the grayus runs down yer chin? Well, on Slimming World, that dirty Big Mac will cost you 25.5 syns and a threatening midnight call from Commandant Bramwell. Something needs to pay for her timeshare in Magaluf and the second-hand, nicotine-tainted Subaru Impreza (private reg: MMB 4EVA), let me tell you.

So, us being generous Cubs, decided to finish our American holiday entries with a Slimming World Big Mac which weighs in at an altogether less unseemly 6.5 syns. You could have four! But don’t, you greedy bugger. Before we get to the recipe, indulge me for another few minutes as I give you a happy ending to be proud of, as it’s part seven of our New York trip!

slimming world big mac

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

We decided that it was imperative we be at the airport in good time lest we be late and miss our flight – I mean, can you imagine being stranded in New York? I’d feel like little Kevin McAllister, only without the shenanigans and inappropriate touching. As such, rather than clart about with the trains, we hailed a taxi. Our taxi driver was colourful with his language, going to great lengths to tell us what’s wrong with most Brits (we don’t tip, we’re too hoity-toity, Paul’s too fat, that sort of thing) and speeding through the streets like he’d stole the car. When it came to paying the fare I made a gag about asking Paul if he had twenty cents so we could give the exact fare and I swear to God, I thought the driver was going to shoot my face through the back of my head. I don’t like to exaggerate but I’ve never seen such ire in a man’s eyes – and I’ve gone in dry on more than one occasion. Just saying.

Naturally, with Speedy McMoodytits at the wheel, we arrived at the airport thirty minutes before check-in even opened, meaning we had to sit around forlornly by the front doors with our suitcases. It’s about the only time I miss smoking, at airports – it gives you something to do between getting fingered by some terse security attendant and spending the rest of your ‘foreign money’ on expensive tat for work colleagues. Do you know, I don’t think I’ve successfully managed to pass through an airport without buying a giant Toblerone since I was eighteen and got my first job? There’s always sarky remarks about originality but hey, at least it wasn’t a giant bag of wax fruit sweets that every other fucker brings back from their holiday.

I remember the first time Paul and I flew long-haul together (to Orlando, the tales of which you can find in our honeymoon book, which I’ve told is attractively priced on Amazon and available at the touch of a button on the very device you’re reading this on now). We were committed smokers at that point and the thought of nine hours in the air filled us with terror and dread.  We spent almost an hour mainlining fags outside of Manchester Airport then, once we had landed, it was literally the only thing we could think of. Fuck Mickey Mouse I cried, we’ve got emphysema to nurture. Naturally, Paul had lost the lighter and we spent a tense fifteen minutes trying to buy matches before some kind soul wheezed to our aid. It’s embarrassing, looking back.

Anyway, without smoking to pass the minutes, we occupied ourselves by streamlining our hand luggage and eating the bags of sweets I’d bought for my parents. It’s what they would have wanted. Finally time moved forward just enough for us to be granted permission to check in. The guy behind the counter was another grumpy sort who spent more time than I thought was decent fannying about with my passport. I resisted the urge to touch his hands and say ‘I’m sorry, I’m married, but I can send a signed photo by Fedex’ but he looked as though he’d snap my fingers.

What followed was the longest three hours of my life. Is there a more surprisingly awful, boring airport than JFK? I assumed that, being an exit hub, it would be full of vibrant shops and classy eateries for the carefree tourist to spend their money in. Nope. We had a Starbucks and watched the planes for a bit. Then we had a McDonalds and watched the planes for a bit. I enjoyed twenty-five minutes of furiously looking at my iPad whilst it failed to connect to the public Wi-Fi. We both went for a shite just to pass the time but found ourselves unable to commit the dirty deed because yet again the toilets only had a metal postage stamp for a door. I hate making eye-contact with anyone, let alone when I’m trying to birth an otter. Bah!

After looking around the duty free shop for the fourth time (why? Perhaps we thought there was an undiscovered wing to explore just behind the Smirnoff stand? Or that they rotated the stock on an hourly basis?) we succumbed and bought some aftershave: Paul some cloying Issey Miyake stuff, me some classy Tom Ford. I’ve come a long way since spraying my Mum’s bottle of Mum under my boobs before PE, I can tell you.

Finally, it was time to board. As usual, four hundred people leapt up at once as though fearful the plane might accidentally nip away before they’d had a chance to fuss about with the safety cards and put their duty free in the overhead bins. We hung back – we’re too fat to move safely in crowds – one of us trips and we’re taking people out on the way down. When we eventually made it to the final beep-beep check of the tickets and passport, a very stern lady with ice-blonde hair and a face that had never seen sunlight told us to stand to one side.

They then took our passports and tickets away from us whilst people walked past tutting at us as though we were terrorists. I mean, fair enough I hadn’t shaved, but I wasn’t a complete disaster.  For almost five minutes we waited whilst they let other people past. My arsehole was nipping so much I was surprised the two kilos of coke stuck up there didn’t fall out. Paul remained calm – as usual – I could hurl a burning pan of hot oil into his ear and he’d still yawn and look impassive, though he might feel a bit sad that he wasn’t getting chips.

Finally, we were given new tickets and told we had been moved from our original seats. We’re not fussy so didn’t say much and rejoined the queue. It was only on boarding that we were told we’d been upgraded. Hooray! Premium Economy is the lowest class we’ll fly because we’re fat and snotty (just kidding: it really is just because we’re fat) so anything higher was always going to be great. A genuinely lovely end to a fantastic holiday.

Quick thoughts? It was great being able to lie down properly on an overnight flight, although I didn’t like not being right next to Paul – I find it hard to sleep unless some of his fat isn’t rolling over me and the sound of him choking on his own neck is lullabying me to the land of nod. Having my own ‘pod’ was a novelty though – I spent a good forty minutes pressing every switch, turning on every light, opening every little drawer (a drawer to put my shoes in: how clever!) and carefully secreting every freebie into my bag. It was only when the Captain announced that someone was draining the power from the engines that I stopped whirring my chair, charging my iPod and frying myself some chips.

slimming world big mac

BYEEEEEEE LOL MISSING U HUN

The stewardesses came around shortly after take-off and asked everyone if they would like anything to eat. Paul, much to my horror, said he was full and only wanted a vodka. I was foaming. Everyone knows you need to make the most of this type of situation, even if it makes you look like a grasping harlot. I ordered a gin and tonic and a full meal (despite having already had a three course meal in the airport – ah well, I had plenty of time to sleep it off).

Here’s the thing – this is why I can’t have nice things. I was served a wonderful array of dishes but to me, they were nothing special and the portion sizes were tiny. I appreciate this is just me being a big fat pig but it seems the more you pay for food, the less you get. Don’t get me wrong, I put it all away in record time and did a discreet celebratory burp into my pillow for good measure, but I don’t like being served a big white plate with a shaving of radish on it and a flea-bite of cheese. I could have breathed my dinner into my lungs. I did make Paul watch me eat a delicious chocolate melting pudding, though – I stared right in his eyes and smacked my lips. That’ll teach him.

The night flight passed smoothly, soothed as I was by the sounds of my fellow fliers sleeping soundly and farting long into the night. Paul woke up at one point thinking the landing gear was coming down until I explained it was merely the mechanics of my chair straining under my bulk.

I was disappointed by the toilets – I wasn’t expecting someone to come in and wipe my taint but really, it’s not very upper class to be standing in someone else’s piss whilst you slap on the Elemis eye-cream. I know that on Emirates’ A380 you can actually have a hot shower whilst you fly. I can’t conceive of something I’d rather do less at 38,000ft – I know that as soon as I undressed and climbed into the shower we’d hit extreme turbulence and I’d end up shooting out of the bathroom with suds in my hair and my cock a-flapping whilst everyone screamed around me. It’s what happens when I get changed at the gym, why should it be any different in the sky?

We landed in good time and, unusually, were through security in no time at all. We did the usual things – updated Facebook to show off our fancy flying, texted my mother to tell her that I hadn’t made an unscheduled stop into the sea and that she could cancel the hearse, then made our way through grey London for our Virgin train back home. As you’d expect with a train journey, it was entirely uneventful, and we were home in no time for a good sleep.

That’s that! New York – done. It’s somewhere we’ve always wanted to go and it was made all the sweeter by Paul not knowing about it in advance. Normally I can’t keep a secret for toffee but somehow I managed to pull off a full holiday without giving the game away. The people, for the most part, were friendly, and everything we visited was absolutely worth it. I can see why people go back – we’ve only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer.

We’d move there in a heartbeat save for the fact that a decent flat in a nice area is over a million quid and well, we don’t have that sort of money hidden down the sofa (feel free to buy more copies of this book though, it might pay for a lamp or something). I think my favourite day, of all of them, was walking around Central Park – nothing much happened but it was so beautiful and so New York.

We travelled with Virgin Trains (reasonable), British Airways (excellent) and stayed at the Wyndham New Yorker (lovely, but ask for a newer room – our room was a bit old-fashioned and stuffy. We liked it, but you might not).

Onto the next holiday…


Right! Yes. THIS MAKES FOUR! If you want fewer, just reduce the amount as you need to.

slimming world big mac

to make a Slimming World Big Mac, you’re going to need:

  • (this makes enough for four, mind you)
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 6 wholemeal rolls (use 4x as a HeB each, and then syn the remaining two at 12 syns to make the middle bun)
  • half an iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • sliced gherkins
  • 4 slices of reduced-fat processed cheese (12 syns)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced

for the special sauce

  • 4 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp reduced-fat thousand island dressing (1 syn)
  • 4 tsp chopped gherkins
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt

We used a proper bun for the pictures and don’t even care – if you’re using white buns with sesame seeds, you’re looking at about 12 syns, and even then it’s half the syn cost of a proper one. AND you can reduce the syns further still by swapping out the cheese for some of your proper HEA cheese, but if you’re going to do this, you’ve got to do it properly, see?

Two things we used to help with this recipe, neither of which are critical to the recipe but they do help: our Optigrill and our canny little burger maker (dirt cheap)!

to make a Slimming World Big Mac, you should:

  • bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and add the chopped onion – simmer for 30 seconds, then drain and set aside
  • next, mix together the sauce ingredients in a bowl, including 2 tbsp of diced onion, and set aside
  • add salt and pepper to the mince and then divide into 8 balls (just over 60g each) and flatten into burger shapes – they don’t need to be perfect, and remember, McDonalds burgers are normally thin!
  • if you’re using the OptiGrill: fire it up and select the ‘burger’ option – when the light goes blue simply whack the burgers on, close the lid and cook until the light is orange
  • otherwise – preheat the grill to high and cook the burgers until done – remembering to flip over
  • whilst they’re cooking, toast the buns
  • next – assemble the burger – you want it in this order:
    • bottom bun
    • tbsp special sauce
    • tbsp diced onion
    • chopped lettuce
    • slice of cheese
    • burger
    • bun half
    • tbsp special sauce
    • tbsp onion
    • lettuce
    • gherkins
    • burger
    • top bun
  • forget you’re on a diet
  • turn into poo

How nice is that? For the full McDonalds experience, try and eat your burger whilst eighteen kids off their tits on e-numbers and sugar run screaming around your ankles whilst neck-tattooed dads stare glumly at you with their dead, soulless eyes.

Big thanks to @TEFALUK and @Foodies100!

Fancy more to fill your pie hole? Just click one of the buttons below!

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J

grilled harissa chicken summer burgers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does it do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does it look?

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

Cleaning

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

Verdict

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

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

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

to make harissa chicken burgers you will need:

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

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

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

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

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

to make harissa chicken burgers you should:

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

Big thanks to @TEFALUK and @Foodies100!

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

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

J

proper dessert alert: the chubby cheesecake

Chubby cheesecake! Yes that’s right. I’ve been away and/or revising lately but here’s a cracking recipe to make up for it. It’s delicious and it’s made with decent ingredients and you’re not going to make it, taste it, hoy it in the bin and then drown yourself in eight full tubs of Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s ice-cream until your significant other finds you dead with a chocolate fish stuck up your nostril and marshmallow in your moustache. Yes, your moustache.

I’ve never considered SW desserts essential. They’re crude and unspeakably plain. You may remember we tried to make the ‘delicious’ half-syn roulade a couple of years ago, with the end result being something I wouldn’t use to wipe my cat’s arse with. There seems to be a fundamental belief that by stirring a sack of sweetener into a yoghurt you’ve suddenly created tiramisu that would make Jesus weep. It just doesn’t work.

Here’s the thing. You’re never going to get a diet dessert that doesn’t taste like arse unless it’s fruit. You’re going to have to spend some syns to get something halfway between ‘full diet’ and ‘full fat’. Fat-light, if you will. With this in mind, we took our favourite dessert – the cheesecake – and researched ways to make it lighter without using sweetener and tears. Cheesecake is normally made with buttery biscuits on the bottom. Delicious, buttery biscuits. The filling is usually full fat cream cheese and sugar. The end result is perfection. So how to cut that down? Bake it. A decent, stodgy, slightly wibbly-wobbly cheesecake with a crunchy bottom and lots of taste. Yep, it has syns, but not that many per portion – and we found that this actually serves well as a ‘breakfast’ cheesecake in the morning, so have a slice for breakfast.

Before we get to the recipe, though, why not have a quick gander at this flowchart to see if you’re ready?

Yes, it’s all so clear now! OK, let’s not fart about for a moment more. To the Chubby Cheesecake! We owe a debt of gratitude to rachelcooks.com for the original recipe which we’ve bastardised and made our own – hers is an excellent website if, like us, you’re looking for decent food as opposed to slop. We’re calling it chubby because, like Paul, it wobbles gently when you put your finger in it. This makes nine servings. Nine! 

to make a chubby cheesecake, you’ll need:

for the base

  • 160g of bog-standard oats (4 x HEB) (hence using this for breakfast!)
  • 25g of butter (gasp!) (9 syns)
  • 25g of sugar (brown makes it crunchy but white is fine) (5 syns) (nurse! NURSE!)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

for the filling

  • 600g of cottage cheese (fat free)
  • 200g of fat-free Greek style yoghurt (the thick stuff) (ooer missus) (slut)
  • two tablespoons of maple syrup (4 syns)
  • 3 large eggs
  • couple of drops of vanilla essence

for the swirly bit

  • tablespoon of honey (2 syns)
  • pinch more of cinnamon

BUT I DON’T LIKE COTTAGE CHEESE OMG I HATE YOU.

Shut up. You can’t taste it. It adds the creaminess without getting you blue-lighted to hospital with grey lips. You’ll barely be able to know it is there. But if you hate cottage cheese, you mustn’t feel like you need to leave us a comment telling us. We get that all the damn time. Substitute something else in. Quark. Extra-light Philadelphia. Cocaine. Whatever makes it worth for you.

You’re also going to need an eight-inch square deep cake tin. Something like this. Oh and a blender – we use our super-fancy Magimix but then we would. Have a look and tell me you wouldn’t want that in the kitchen. But listen, a bog-standard stick blender will do the job just as well.

Final point, if you make this with vanilla essence, it’ll be lovely. However, I’m not a fan of vanilla, so I used custard flavouring from Lakeland. It makes it taste like a dirty big egg custard. Feel free to mess with the flavours and make it exactly how you like. Christ, I’m going to have a nosebleed soon if I don’t get on with it.

to make a chubby cheesecake, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line the cake tin with non-stick baking paper
  • mix together all the base ingredients with the melted butter and press it right down into the bottom of the tin – really push it down
  • into the oven it goes for a good fifteen minutes – you don’t want the base to burn but you do want it to crunch up a bit (it’ll soften again with the topping on, so this is a good way to stop it getting too mushy – and actually, it tastes lovely mushy too)
  • whilst that is baking, hoy all the filling ingredients into a food processor or a bowl and blend the buggery out of it – you want it smooth, mixed and lovely. We use lovely big farm eggs so it goes a golden yellow
  • out comes the cake tin, pour the filling over the top
  • get yourself a little sandwich bag and pour the honey and cinnamon into a corner of it – mush it together with your hands and then cut off a tiny bit of the corner, allowing you to drizzle it all over the top of the cheesecake
  • I’m not artistic so I just allowed it to drop all over the place
  • into the oven for a good forty minutes – you want it to stop being jiggly in the middle
  • take it out and allow to cool completely before cutting it up into nine bars
  • enjoy!

If you want to serve it like us, heat some raspberries up, lightly break them up and pour over the top. The cheesecake is stodgy enough to take the tartness of the fruit. This keeps well in the fridge in a sealed container and yes, does lovely for a bit of breakfast!

Want more dessert ideas other than this chubby cheesecake? Why not? Click the buttons and live!

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J

garlic puy lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese

I know: garlic puy lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese – what a mouthful! Plus there’s lemon breadcrumbs as a topping too. We’re fancy here at twochubbycubs. It does make me sad, though – whenever I post a decent vegetarian recipe it’s like I’ve posted announcing myself as a dog-fiddler or something – tumbleweeds all round. I just feel like the vegetarian side of Slimming World is sorely lacking and it doesn’t need to be. I’m a huge meat-eater: not only literally, but euphemistically and sexually as well. However, swapping out one meat-packed meal for a veggie recipe saves a canny bit of money and is probably better for your shitpipe in the long run. Oh hey, what does a vegan zombie eat?

GGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS

I’ll be here all night.

I’ve been doing all sorts of behind the scenes stuff on the blog this weekend – all terribly boring – but I notice that I’ve never finished off posting our New York stories! We have a few hanging threads like this so the next few posts are going to be the remaining holiday posts from last year with the aim of getting everything nice and lined up for the holidays ahead! Does that make sense? Of course not. But just put a smile on and bear with me. We went to New York in February 2016.


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

One of the things you apparently must do when in Central Park is a trip on a horse-pulled carriage. A quick look on tripadvisor would tell you that it’s simply a quick way to have your wallet emptied by toothless crones running scams but hell, we like to live life on the edge and anyway, any activity that meant we were moving without having to use our feet was good enough for me because at this point in our holiday the bottom of my feet looked like something unpleasant that had been run over. Pouring blood out of your shoe isn’t a great look.

We wandered around a bit trying to catch the eye of one of the swarthy looking gentleman in charge of the horses but to no avail, meaning we eventually had to go up and ask for a romantic half hour trip. Well, Paul did, I didn’t want to be witness to seeing how much money had to change hands. No, I was busy watching the horse who, upon seeing me and Paul shuffling towards it, looked absolutely terrified by the thought of having to pull us two lardarses. I suppose it’s the equivalent of me nipping outside and pulling a bus with the hairs on my arse. We climbed aboard. The horse immediately filled his nappy which I think was possibly a protest, but it really did set the scene.

Luckily, our driver’s grasp on the English language didn’t extend further than telling us the price and shouting at his horse meaning we were free to enjoy ourselves without making painful small-talk but actually, the whole thing felt awful. He kept yelling at the horse, seemingly for going too slow, which felt rather cruel given the poor bugger was pulling the equivalent of a Skoda Octavia behind it, then when he wasn’t shouting at the horse he was bellowing incoherently into his mobile. Perhaps he had another horse on the line. Either way, between the dirty carriage, world’s angriest jockey and poor, frightened horse, it was awful. About as relaxing as trying to solve a Rubik’s cube whilst someone sets your trousers on fire.

After about ten minutes of this we motioned that we would like to disembark and cut our 45-minute trip short. Of course, he was furious, but hey, at least it gave him a chance to shout at us rather than the horse. I like to think that made us equal, my equine friend. He stuck his hand out for a tip after arguing with us for five minutes and I had to really resist the urge to give him a high-five and tell him to fuck off. It was a tempting thought but I didn’t fancy Paul having to scrape half of my face from the tarmac path afterwards. We bustled away and he shot off with the horse, shouting and ranting until he was nothing more than a speck on the horizon. Even now, when I shut my eyes, I can hear “estúpido caballo de mierda” over and over…

Well, that left us in rather a pickle. We’d planned a nice easy jaunt around Central Park, letting the mane take the strain (boom boom), but now we were in the middle of nowhere somewhere near the top of the park with the horrifying thought that we’d need to explore under our own locomotion. But, you know what, that’s exactly what we did – and it was terrific.

We spent a good few hours just walking slowly through the park – taking little side paths, exploring nooks and crannies, unusually, not dogging – it was lovely. We saw some lovely things:

This was my favourite. Not just because they’re fellow Back-Door-Deirdres, but what a sentiment to live a life by. How rare we stop to sit and enjoy the good times, instead we wait until it is too late and mourn them instead. Hohum. Hey, I’m absolutely itching to get a plaque made for a bench in our local park that says ‘JAMES AND PAUL’S BENCH: because doubtless you’ll need a rest, you big fat fucker’ – I can’t see the council signing off on it, though.

We also spotted what Paul’s mother would look like if she was a sheep:

yer yer ‘ere ‘ow do I get that fackin’ Flash player werkin’ I mean he don’t faaackin’ listen

Spotted Ed Sheeran! Actually that’s a fib, got no clue who it is. Just wanted a picture of a couple because every picture of Paul and I one of us is staring moonily at the camera and the other is squinting.

At one point we decided to cut out of the park to grab a coffee from Starbucks (don’t worry, there’s one every four buildings so you’re generally OK). We sat and read the papers and people-watched. I declared, as I always do on holiday no matter where we are, that we should really sell our house in England and move here. I could be a writer with a tiny balcony on which to type my stories and Paul could go and serve beer somewhere where his fatness would be appreciated and welcomed, like a leather fetish bar. We could tell fabulous tales of our metropolitan life, start a food blog, eschew Slimming World and all the pointless rules about not eating avocados…basically, live the dream. We’d get to 55 years old and, having made a pretty penny selling stories and blowjobs, we could jack it all in, mortgage our property and open a little cigar bar in the gay district and call it ‘Big Brown Butts’. We’d laugh uproariously and drink beer and develop a decent salt-and-pepper beard before one of us died from emphysema and the other was reduced to giving handjobs on the subway to make money. Oh my.

Paul immediately burst my bubble by waving the property section of the free paper in front of me where an apartment about the size of our bathroom cost more than our entire house. I might add: we own the most expensive house on our street – it’s no wonder all the other neighbours look furiously at us as we skip mortgage-free to our cars in the morning. That put paid to our dreams and, a little deflated (I mean come on, Big Brown Butts is an amazing name for a gay cigar bar, yes?), we made our way back to Central Park, giant waste-paper-bin-sized coffees in our hands.

As we re-entered the park we noticed a terrific fuss at one of the entrances and a lot of shrieking. Turns out it was a gay wedding and they were pulling up at the gate to have some pictures taken. Aww. We’ve come a long way, baby. The gay man in me (Paul, usually) felt a bit of pride that it was all so accepted and lovely, but then also, the gay man in me winced a little at their completely white suits. We’re talking Gareth Gates in the video for Unchained Melody, here, only without his Jordan-torn foreskin* dripping down his leg. Listen, that wouldn’t have been so bad (and I’m far from a dedicated follower of fashion in my ASDA shoes and Bet Lynch coat) but they’d overdone the fake-fan to an especially luminous degree. Their long white bodies topped with a bright orange face gave them the odd appearance of looking like cigarettes from a distance. Now, there’s an obvious joke there, but I’ll be the better man and not make it.

* Can anyone else remember that? Jordan claimed to have fucked him so hard that his tight foreskin ripped in two. How the fuck have I remembered that? No wonder the poor bugger had a stutter – it was probably fear of round two with that tangerine tart.

We stayed back for a bit whilst they fussed about posing before we both got bored and, realising that there was no way of getting past without interrupting their photo, we walked back up a bit to another entrance so that we could walk back down behind them. See, we can be considerate, especially when fellow chutney-ferrets are involved. We did rather think that once we got back to where they were they’d be finished and we could walk on by, but no, when we got there they were releasing doves. I wanted to stick about in case they wheeled out Elton bloody John (although, given his predilection for olive oil, they could have just slid him down the street) but the day was drawing to a close and we really had to get going. As a result, we should probably apologise to our orange friends who have a set of wedding photos with Paul and I bustling away behind them in our discount coats and me with Frappuccino froth in my ‘tache.

We wandered for ages more – just taking our time, enjoying the crisp, Winter air and the magic of being in Central Park when it was a bit snowy and cold, looking desperately around for the bird lady from Home Alone 2 (though on reflection that was fruitless, as she was at home in Peterborough dropping cigarette ash into Paul’s brother’s dinner) and just having a nice time together. It was all very romantic. Paul was clearly swept up in the romance as he allowed me to buy some food from a street vendor – I wish I hadn’t bothered. They were selling those giant doughy pretzels that I loved so much in Orlando – the ones where when you bite into them you’re rewarded with cheesy goodness and warmth. Pfft. I could have given myself a full body shave with this one it was that dry and tough. I almost went back and bought another so that I could fashion a pair of snow shoes out of them but didn’t want to hand over any more to the grasping charlatan behind the cart.

Mind, we did walk with some style.

Eventually, as dusk gave way to night, we found ourselves at the giant ice-rink. We had no intention of strapping blades to our already swollen, sore feet – that would just be ridiculous. Naturally, we ended up doing exactly that ten minutes later after a lot of ‘it would be silly not to’ and ‘I’m sure it’ll be fine’. It was, for me – I can ice-skate, despite it looking like a wardrobe is thundering around the rink – but Paul has all the co-ordination you’d expect from someone who is twice the weight he should be and has eyes that move entirely independently of each other. It was like that poor horse from earlier had strapped on a pair of blades. Like Bambi, but with something terrifying pressing on his brain stem. We couldn’t skate for long – our ankles were bending as though made from playdoh – but it was a good laugh. Paul did almost take some poor child’s fingertips off when he skated perilously close to her fallen body but luckily, all was well. We decided to stop before we injured someone irreversibly and, after spending about fifteen minutes trying to take off the skates without everyone hearing our rasping, heavy, exhausted breathing, we were back on our way.

Thankfully, without realising it, we’d walked almost to where we started and were able to get an Uber straight back to the hotel. I say straight back but the journey took almost fifty minutes thanks to traffic and tourists. Tchoh. Tourists. Our Uber driver, unusually, wasn’t a frightening ranting racist but instead a perfectly erudite young man who displayed excellent taste by telling us he wanted to move to Scotland and live on an island. We traded stories and the time flew by. We tipped generously, staggered to our room and put our heads down for a quick nap before going back out.

Nope, in what is becoming a running theme for our holidays, we knacker ourselves out so much during the day that we fall asleep early evening and sleep right through. I woke up at about 11 and tried to shake Paul awake so we could go out and get some scran in the city that never sleeps, but he just grumbled something uncouth at me, farted heartily, then went straight back to sleep. After a moment’s furious sulking, I did exactly the same.


Right, let’s get to the lentils! A veggie recipe, yes. But you know, it’s cheap to make and it tastes delicious. In fact, this was a triumph! I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS. It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction. This makes enough for two hearty bowls and I’ve adapted it from an Anna Jones recipe from her book A Modern Way To Cook, which you can pick up here. It’s the first vegetarian book I’ve bought with decent recipes in, so fair play.

garlic puy lentils

to make garlic lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese, you’ll need:

  • 250g of cooked puy lentils (we buy Merchant Gourmet ones from the shop – 2 syns for 250g)
  • five cloves of garlic
  • a few sprigs of thyme (if you don’t have fresh, don’t shit the bed, just use dried)
  • a veggie stock cube
  • 400g of decent cherry tomatoes – there’s some amazing cherry tomatoes out in the shops right now – don’t buy cheap and don’t put them in the bloody fridge, keep them in the sun
  • a teaspoon of lemon juice
  • a wholemeal bun (60g) (HEB)
  • 100ml of fat free cottage cheese
  • 2tbsp of horseradish – we use Colmans and it comes in at 1 syn per tbsp

Now, the original recipe calls for you to cook your own lentils in stock, with four cloves of garlic and a tomato, plus the thyme, until they’re soft. If you like, you can do that. But we’re all about express today.

to make garlic lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese, you should:

  • mix your horseradish into your cottage cheese and set aside
  • cut your tomatoes in half and squirt them with a spritz or two of olive oil – but don’t go mad, the tomato flavour is more than enough
  • take your cloves of garlic, don’t worry about peeling them, and put them on the same tray as the tomatoes
  • roast them in the oven for maybe 30 minutes
  • once they’re done, prepare your breadcrumbs – whizz the bun into crumbs and then, in a bowl, pour the lemon juice over the crumbs and shake them about – you want just a flavour of the juice, not to soak them, then pop them in the oven to crisp
  • peel your garlic cloves and mush them up
  • reheat your cooked lentils by pouring them into a pan, adding 2ooml of stock, the mushed garlic, a few sprigs of thyme, salt, pepper and then cook it right down – nice and quick
  • assemble on the plate – lentils, then tomatoes, then cottage cheese, then the crumbs!

Delicious! I know no-one will make this but hey, worth putting it out there! Want more veggie recipes? Click the buttons below!

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Enjoy!

J

fancy but quick fresh tuna niçoise salad

Summer is looming and your consultants will be frothing away with stuff like ‘if it swims, it slims’ (and yet they still refuse to put semen into the syns directory, I could be ingesting at least 20 syns a day!) – so in honour of that, here’s a nice fresh tuna niçoise salad. Nice and easy to make and you can take the extra in for lunch the next day. But first.

We’re in the slightest of pickles.

I’ve mentioned before that we have some excellent neighbours and a couple of well…how to say it, less pleasant ones. Nothing too offensive you understand, no-one’s smearing dog shit under my door handles or playing Now That’s What I Call Profound Hearing Loss at all hours of the day, thank God, although we do have one distant neighbour who seems to have been building a tiny brick wall for at least a year. A year! I’m so shite with DIY that I call our handyman over to change the lightbulbs in our bathroom but I reckon even I could get the hang of bricklaying if I had a bloody year to go at it.

Anyway, aside from one odd soul bellowing at us because we had the temerity of allowing dandelions to grow on our pristine lawn, they’ve all been very quiet recently, which is lovely. Until the sign arrived. Yes see, Paul thought it would be a gas to have a giant ‘VOTE LABOUR’ sign delivered for the front garden – a proper yellow and red affair, nice and prominent – in the vain hope that anyone driving onto our street at 2mph might be suddenly swayed by this spontaneous piece of politicking. It’s about as subtle as a kick in the fanny with a steel-capped shoe.

I agree with the sentiment – I’m Labour through and through – and so it was hastily erected. Well. We’ve had looks. We’ve had shaking heads. We’ve had so much tutting that I thought the cat was eating chewing gum. Nets have been twitching as we walk past and there’s been so many pained expressions it’s like living on Hernia Avenue. However, it stays – it’s important to make a stand on these things before it is too late, after all.

Things came to a head the other day, though. I spotted two of our neighbours standing in our garden peering over the fence. Confused as to what they might be doing in our garden (picking dandelions) I trotted out and enquired as to how I could help. Turns out they were speaking to our neighbours on the left and didn’t need my intervention. I resisted the urge to point out it was slightly presumptuous to let yourselves into someone’s garden to have a chat – clearly they thought I was at work. I was so frustrated I let myself into their house and helped myself to their pension books.

I was letting myself back into the house when the old chap caught up with me and plucked fitfully at my sleeve – you could tell he wanted to get something off his chest. I gave him a beatific smile and asked how I could help. He wants me to take down the sign. It blocks his view. Now, the ‘view’ that he is talking of is the side of my house, but nevertheless, I’m always one to show willing. He explained that he could see it every time he looked out of the window and it was causing him distress. I, politely as I could, suggested it ought to stay because it was our garden and really, from his angle, all he’d see is the edge of the sign 50m away from him – I haven’t exactly put a wind-farm up. We did the dance of being super polite with each other but then he played his trump card – he was having heart issues and could barely walk.

I resisted the urge to reassure him that Jeremy Corbyn would make sure that the NHS was well-funded and send him on his way, and instead, being a kind neighbour, I’ve relocated the sign into our back garden where at least he can’t see it. I feel like I’ve been played, though. I keep switching between being a good neighbour and leaving it where it is and being a bad neighbour and having something like this installed in the garden:

I don’t know why they don’t ask me to design the manifesto cover.

Anyway, I’ll let you know of any further developments. Let’s do the tuna niçoise salad, shall we? Before we do I should point out that this is a recipe straight from Joe Wicks’ Lean In 15. We’re not following his diet, but his book is absolutely full of easily adapted slimming recipes and we’re adapting a few for the blog. To think I only bought the book because I was so taken by the sight of him on TV. I’m not saying he’s good-looking, but I’d crawl on my belly through a mile of broken glass just to listen to him fart through a walkie-talkie. You can buy his book here and it is one I genuinely recommend.

This makes enough for two big bowls – scale up or down as appropriate.

fresh tuna niçoise salad

to make a fresh tuna niçoise salad, you’ll need:

  • two eggs
  • 150g of trimmed green beans
  • 2 x 300g tuna fillet steaks (or, if you want to save money, a tin of tuna each)
  • 60g of cooked puy lentils (we buy Merchant Gourmet ones from the shop – 2 syns for 250g) (half a syn – and then it’s between two, so really quarter of a syn per serving)
  • two big handfuls of spinach leaves
  • 25g of sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped up (1.5 syns, then divided up by two)
  • a little balsamic vinegar

By my reckoning, it’s a syn per serving. Easy. You may spot that rather than using balsamic vinegar in its usual form we’ve used balsamic vinegar pearls. Exactly the same only they burst on your tongue and are delicious. Naturally, Slimming World’s syns database doesn’t have them. They’ve on Amazon though, not too bad, and they add a nice dimension to dinner!

to make a fresh tuna niçoise salad, you should:

  • boil your eggs for about eight minutes then drop the green beans in with them and boil for another minute or so – you want the beans to have a bit of crunch and the eggs to be slightly softer boiled than pictured (I was distracted making this by our fit postman)
  • to cook the tuna, squirt a good non-stick frying pan or griddle with a few sprays of oil (coconut oil if you have it) and get it nice and hot and carefully place the tuna steaks to cook
  • if you like your tuna raw in the middle like I do (but again, I was distracted) then cook only for a minute each side – or cook it through for a couple of minutes if you prefer
  • take the tuna out, season with black pepper and a bit of salt
  • assemble your salad by mixing the green beans, tomatoes, spinach and balsamic in a bowl, stirring it all together, then plate up with the tuna – sliced thinly if you like – and the egg cut in half
  • enjoy!

Looking for more ideas? Click the buttons below!

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Have a great bank holiday all!

J

spicy szechuan beef, and the coach trip continues, god help us

Spicy szechuan beef? Delicious. Coach trip holidays? Awful. If you just want the recipe for spicy szechuan beef, scroll on down to the picture. If you want part two of our awful holiday story, then you’re in luck because look – part two, right away!

click here for part one, god-help-you

When you last left us we were just sliding off a sweaty bus like how corned beef slides straight out of the tin, with an oozing plop. My shirt had been ruined by the blood and brain matter leaking from my ears and Paul was about one sassy remark away from stabbing someone in the eye with a Snickers bar. I’ve never been happier to leave a bus – we could have been touring a fat rendering factory and I’d have skipped off that bus with less relief.

Cadbury World, then. You’d think that as two confirmed fat bastards we’d be walking around a chocolate factory with tented trousers and a quickening heartbeat, but it was crap. It was your typical British experience – far too expensive, far too many people, duff displays, every opportunity to shake some more money from your pockets gladly taken. Our bus arrived for the 1.30pm entrance in good time but we still had to wait for over an hour in a queue full of fractious children and beetroot-necked adults. I asked how long we’d have to wait but realised it looked unseemly pressing for quick entrance to a chocolate factory.

We decided to nip over to the gift shop – I’d heard such wonderful things about this place – that the chocolate was super-cheap, that they practically force-feed you chocolate and other sweets, that you get tugged off using a handful of Crunchies, but no, it was entirely meh. Don’t get me wrong, things were cheap, but I’ve got a Cadbury’s outlet within stroke distance of where I live and it’s cheaper there and I get to look disdainfully at all of the reprobates buying their court suits from the Burtons outlet. We bought a tiny Bertie Bassett doll and a painted plastic duck, handed over altogether too much money to a cashier who didn’t so much look bored as pig sick of her life, and rejoined the throng.

I should make it clear – one good thing – we didn’t have to troop around the factory with the rest of the coach trip. We successfully managed to distance ourselves, although not by the 300 or so miles I would have liked. We could still hear a lot of them quarrelling and snarling in the distance, like chavvy Langoliers.

The queue finally moved forward and we were given four chocolate bars each to be getting on with, with an extra one to apologise for a ‘closed exhibit’. More on that a bit later. I did ask whether we could have a bag only to be met with a look that would stop a clock. Apparently such a thing was beyond the wit of man unless I paid something silly for a fancy tote bag. I don’t want a tote bag, I don’t do yoga. We were left to stuff the chocolate into our pockets (along with the gifts we bought earlier) which meant, given we’d been superheated on the coach, everything immediately melted and made putting my hands in my pockets a terrifyingly shitty experience.

We wandered around the jungle bit which explained where the cocoa came from, we enjoyed the god-bless-them-they’re-trying acting parts and hell, we were both glad of a sit down in the little theatre. Again, though, because we were packed in there like level 999 tetris pieces, it was hard to relax. There’s a bit with big scary signs saying ‘people with heart, back or neck problems should stand up’ which got us both quivering with excitement and hypertension but it amounted to nothing more than the ‘pews’ shaking a bit and making our tits jiggle. You just know there’s hidden camera footage somewhere on xtube of this.

Then…that was it, really. There’s a whole section where you can see the factory and machinery which makes and packages the chocolate but er, it was all closed down. So you’re left squinting at some dusty machines trying to figure out if they splurted the yellow bits into creme eggs or packaged up the Love Hearts. It’s about as exciting as I’m making it sound. Both Paul and I are massive geeks when it comes to production lines and factories, we find them endlessly fascinating, which is lucky as our TV is seemingly permanently tuned to How It’s Made. Nuclear war could be declared and we’d be oblivious, though if you needed to know how they mix paint we’d be cooking on gas.

We kept walking in the vain hope we’d find something to do. There’s an outdoors bit with a big 4D cinema, which I’m sure would have been just amazing only there was a massive queue (gasp) and we needed to be back on the Boat of Charon by 4pm. So, that was that. We queued up to experience the Cadabra (a little too close to cadaver if you ask me, although that seems fitting given we were bored to death) ride where you sit on a little guided car and experience the thrills of 90s animatronics whirring by. It was like being at Disney, only not at all. We deliberately pulled the most miserable faces we could when the camera went off which at least gave us a chuckle when we bought our photo at the end of it (£10, which I was overjoyed to pay).

Now, here’s the thing. I’m kvetching about the cost of stuff here because it’s a blog post and we have to try and be faintly entertaining, and the moaning about money is part of our schtick. But we hide it very well when talking to staff or other people because christ, no-one likes a proper moaning minnie. The reason I mention this is because we ‘made a friend’ –  the very second we gave up and sat outside to wait for the bus, another traveller made a beeline for us with his face full of woe. He then spent the next five minutes moaning at us about what a waste of money the trip was, how ripped off he felt, how it was the worst thing he’s ever experienced in his life. You know when someone looks as though their face hasn’t seen a smile for a good few years? This was him. The type of guy to complain if you hung him with a new rope.

Oh and I just couldn’t be arsed. Let me put this in perspective – if he paid anything like us, the whole journey – bus travel, hotel stay, dinner, breakfast, a trip to Cadbury World and a trip to a safari park would have cost less than £80 for the whole weekend. The way he was going on you’d think the driver had co-signed him on a fucking mortgage and made him buy the bus. I feigned explosive diarrhoea and we left him to his sobs. I can’t abide it. I know I’m a negative nancy but by god I put a good fake face on when needed. The fact that we had to hide from him meant that we had to hide in the toilets for a good twenty minutes and then, when 4pm rocked around, we sprinted onto the bus before he had a chance to give us the old watery-eyed gaze.

The hour long trip to the hotel was as bad as the six hours that preceded it. Kids screaming, this time sugared off their tits. Parents arguing. The couple in front continuing to give me enough reason to contemplate running screaming to the front of the bus, grabbing the steering wheel and driving us straight into the Gas Street Basin. Thankfully, we pulled into our hotel before I completely lost control. There was more awed oohing that I can ever imagine has happened before as our eyes fell upon the Birmingham Airport Holiday Inn.

We all checked in, moving like cattle at the slaughterhouse. I asked about dinner, expecting a couple of hours window forus to drift downstairs and get something to eat, only to be told that all of the coach party would be eating in the same place – a meeting room away from the main restaurant at 6pm sharp. I retorted whether they expected us to wear an orange jumpsuit to complete the prison feel but it fell on uninterested ears. We slinked to our room – perfectly pleasant – and had a lie down until 6pm. We decided to brave it.

We lasted less than a minute. We opened the door to the meeting room, saw everyone sitting in rows like Hogwarts: The Borstal Years, was pushed out of the way by someone with more make-up than sense carrying four blue WKDs, then we turned on our heel and fucked off. No way was I going to top the day by listening to people smacking their lips and clacking their teeth as they snaffled from the trough.

Stuck with nothing to do and no change of clothes for a decent night on the town, we decided to spend the rest of the night in the room watching Eurovision on the tiny television, which was shite. We ordered room service: a burger, a pizza, some dips, a bottle of Coke and a bottle of house white wine. £75. I hadn’t realised that I was paying someone to press the fucking grapes. Our room grew steadily hotter thanks in no small part to the air-conditioner which couldn’t have blown the froth off a cappuccino and at 11, we called down for a fan. Nineteen years later a small fan was brought to the room.

Naturally, the fan had a fucking blade missing, meaning it was unbalanced and when turned on it clattered and scattered all over the table. It would have been quieter to build a wind turbine. I asked for another fan, another was brought – this one didn’t work. Didn’t switch on. I called down for a third fan and finally a working fan arrived. Pfft.

We spent the night tossing and turning in the sticky heat and, at around 4am, we both kicked off the duvet, sat upright in bed and decided we were going to go home. We would hire a car in the morning and drive back in air-conditioned comfort. Soothed by this thought, we fell into a fitful sleep.

In the morning we went down and told the driver that we had been called urgently back to work – he was really quite lovely – but even seeing the coach sent Paul into violent tremors. Once we knew that we were free the morning became all the more sweeter. We went for all-you-can-breakfast in the hotel restaurant which was very tasty and marred only slightly by the fact there was a bodybuilding competition on at the hotel and thus it was full of preening peacocking men strutting around in vests and mooing on about egg-white omelettes.

Paul and I enjoyed a bit of mischief when this very well-to-do fart sat down on the table next to us and started harrumphing about our giant stack of food. He was, but of course, a Daily Mail reader, so we sat and exaggerated our liberal viewpoints – going on about how wonderful immigration is, how terrific Corbyn will be as a leader, how they should fund the NHS until money pours from the drip stands – and he went more and more red in the face as we continued. Paul kicked me under the table when I started waxing lyrical about how fantastic Europe is lest it proved too much for the poor chap and he pitched forward angrily into his beans.

Full, we Ubered our way to Birmingham Airport, made our way to the Hertz exchange and picked up a Qashqai. The lovely lady (and I’m not being sarcastic, she was charm personified, especially when faced with our dour faces) wouldn’t let me haggle though, even when I worked in a ‘family death’ and ‘having to cut our holiday short’. Bah. We drove back in no rush, enjoying a good singalong, and realised that our holidays will only ever work when it’s just us vs the world.

Coach trip, done. Now let’s never talk about it again. Common decency prevents me mentioning the company we used but actually, they were the only part of the holiday that worked well, so fair play.


Right, shall we get to some spicy szechuan beef, then? A doddle to make, low in syns and you can add all sorts of other veg in. The recipe makes enough for four. Let’s do this.

to make spicy szechuan beef you will need:

  • 400g beef (steak, diced or strips will do you just fine)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 large carrot
  • 500g rice noodles
  • 3 spring onions, sliced

for the sauce

  • 1 tbsp sriracha (½ syn) (it’s hot sauce_)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • 2 tsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (2 syns)

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

to make spicy szechuan beef you should:

  • make sure the beef is sliced into thin strips – if you’re already using stir fry strips they’re fine as they are. diced beef will be best cut in half (it also makes it go further!)
  • place the beef in a large bowl
  • mix together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chilli flakes and cornflour in a bowl and pour over the beef – allow to marinade while you prepare the rest of the ingredients
  • thinly slice the red and green pepper and garlic (or just use the chopped stuff if you can’t be arsed) and pop into a bowl
  • peel and grate the carrot and place in the bowl with the peppers and garlic
  • next, mix together all of the sauce ingredients together in a jug
  • cook the noodles according to the instructions, drain and then rinse with cold water to stop them cooking – keep aside until you need them later
  • next, heat a large frying pan over a medium high head and add a little oil
  • add the beef and cook for a few minutes until only a little pink remains
  • add the peppers, garlic and carrots to the pan and cook for a few more minutes
  • add the sauce to the pan and cook until thickened slightly and everything is well coated
  • add the noodles to the pan and stir to mix (bit of a faff-on, mind – use a couple of forks to pull the noodles apart and get it well mixed)
  • serve and sprinkle over the spring onions

Done and done! Looking for more fakeaway recipes or stuff to do with your meat? Aren’t we all. Click the buttons!

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J

cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni

No time for shenanigans tonight, so it’s a cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni for you and an early night for me. An early night? Yes. I’m in desperate need of one. I don’t want to be crass but we had a takeaway last night and the twilit hours became an assault on all the senses. Twice I was woken by my own flatulence, then by Paul laughing at his own flatulence, then the cat gagging, then the vet’s ambulance arriving, then stomach pains, then being unable to breath due to the lack of oxygen in the room. I swear if our alarm clark had been faulty and started sparking we would have ended up in a Backdraft style situation. I didn’t get to sleep until way past 4am and Paul hasn’t been to sleep at all. Not going to lie, it made it difficult driving into work on the motorway, not least because everyone was so loud with their beeping as they rudely drove towards me. Tsk.

I will however take a moment to say THANK YOU to everyone who has bought the paperback and proper weighty versions of our books – I didn’t think anyone would want us in hard form but here we find ourselves, looking at the Amazon sales, seeing tonnes of you snapping the buggers up! Perhaps you’re planning on taking us on holiday, perhaps you want your husband to get jealous at the thought of you spending the night with two strapping men, who knows? Either way, thank you. You’ve paid for our next holiday! If anyone else wants to hold us firmly in your hands and demand satisfaction, you can buy all of our books here!

Right, dinner then. Nowt to this, very easy to make but lovely and tasty!

to make cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni you will need:

  • 350g rigatoni
  • 280g frozen spinach
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (this bad boy will make the job easier)
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 60ml red wine (2 syns) (we use Asda cooking wine to avoid opening the fancy stuff)
  • 1 medium courgette, sliced and then quartered
  • 180g ricotta (2x HeA)
  • 140g reduced fat mozzarella, torn up into small pieces (2x HeA)

to make cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • cook the rigatoni according to the instructions but still with a little bite to them, then drain
  • heat a little oil in a large frying pan and and add the spinach until it has defrosted and wilted, tip into a sieve and squeeze out as much water as you can and plop back into the pan
  • add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, wine and courgette to the pan, mix well and bring to a simmer
  • reduce the heat and then add the ricotta and a quarter of the mozarella, and give a good stir
  • spray a large baking dish (save your pans and ditch the Frylight, get this instead!) with oil and tip in the pasta and then the sauce, giving it a good stir to mix it up
  • top with the remaining mozzarella and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes
  • eat

Hungry for more? click one of the buttons below to get even more tasty recipes!

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J

strawberries and cream overnight oats

My word, just take a moment to look at those strawberries and cream overnight oats –  what a thing of beauty. Normally our food looks crap but I’m happy with how that picture turned out! Overnight oats seem to be making a bit of a resurgence amongst the slimming rabble online so I thought it’s about time we had a new one. This meant a trip to Lidl – normally I’d send Paul but see he went to bed ‘to rest his eyes’ at 2pm and he’s still in bed now! I should probably check he hasn’t choked to death on his own fat tongue but meh, Doctor Who is on shortly. So no, I went to Lidl myself, and that’s a very dangerous thing indeed.

Why? Because anyone who knows me will tell you I’m as tight as a nun’s gee but somethings comes over me at Lidl and I’m throwing the cash around like Barry Big Bollocks. Admittedly, this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans because you could probably buy the entire stock inventory of our local Lidl and pay the staff with the total of the coins in my car ashtray. It isn’t an ashtray but I can’t be arsed to google and find out what the compartment is called. You may remember I contemplated pissing in it once, though (don’t worry, that risky click will open in a new window).  But see I went into Lidl this afternoon to buy one box of strawberries and spent nearly fifty quid on absolute tat. This doesn’t happen to me in Aldi, possibly because I’m too stressed about approaching the checkout and having my shopping hurled off the back wall by a cashier with a forearm like a Russian shot-putter, but Lidl, every fucking time.

So what did I buy? I bought some strawberries, yes, very good. But I also bought two giant bars of Ritter chocolate. Some stuffed vine leaves. Some kirsch. A self-watering plant pot which has already broken from when I threw it in the boot. A ‘chips and dip’ bowl I wouldn’t even sell at a car boot sale. Some suncream – why? I live in Newcastle, the closest I get to a tan is walking past the heated cabinets in Greggs. A citronella candle with a wick so thick I feel like I’m part of the lighting of the beacons from Lord of the Rings. I bought a selection of real ale simply because the names amused me, even though I’m about as much into real ale as I am playing football and punching horses. There’s also a bag of crisps made from pasta which I’m sure will actually make Slimming World spontaneously combust as they battle to work out whether it is a tweak or not. I had to stop myself buying a set of telescopic hedge trimmers on the basis that a) all of our hedges are about 10ft and growing wildly b) I’m lazy and c) we have a gardener for that sort of thing. Not showing off, it’s just two hilariously obese blokes aren’t exactly cut out for hard graft in the garden (see Paul’s current status, above).

I did go too far, though. I bought my cats some Coshita, or whatever the Lidl cat food is. I’m not a snob, not in the slightest, but by Christ my cats are. I slopped this out of the sachet, gagging all the while (who knew that ash mixed with horse sphincter and mouse droppings could taste so nasty) and our cats wandered over to try it. I say try it, they didn’t even sniff it – just looked at the pile of food and then back at me with a look that said we’d never be friends again. I actually had to rush to our first aid box because I was so severely burnt by their coldness. They both turned and stropped straight out the cat flap and I haven’t seen them since. If I didn’t know that cats don’t have opposable thumbs I’d be willing to bet they were currently hitchhiking down the A1 to London in the hope of meeting a kinder owner who would feed them fresh chicken every day. I can’t understand their mentality – I’ve seen one cat chew up the brains, eyes and skull of a poor mouse only to then sick it back up and have the other cat have a bash at it. They’re certainly very picky considering they must spend at least 30% of their day rasping away at each other’s arsehole.

Pah. The list above isn’t even exhaustive, you know. I came back with three big bags and nothing to actually show for it. That’s why I send Paul – he knows that if he spends money on nonsense he’ll have to put up with me sitting around with a face like a collapsed mine kvetching at him for frittering money away.

Anyway, enough about me and my sexy temperament. Let’s do this recipe!

strawberries and cream

to make strawberries and cream overnight oats, you’ll need:

  • 40g of oats – any old oats will do, maybe not the wild oats that your male friend keeps asking you to try
  • as much syn free natural yoghurt as you want – or use a Mullerlight if you’re not feeling fancy
  • a couple of good handfuls of strawberries
  • lighter squirty cream (12.5g) (look, I just put a good squirt in there, I don’t care) (1.5 syns)

I suppose if you cook the strawberries you ought to syn them if you follow SW’s diet to the absolute letter. People will feverishly tell you, whilst covering your blouse with their yellow spittle, that it’s because ‘IT RELISUS THE SHERGARS‘ or other bumtwattery. It isn’t. The rule is there to stop you over-eating. It doesn’t apply in this case. If I was asking you to blend fifteen punnets of strawberries then yeah, you should syn it. But as I’m assuming that you not a fucking dormouse and thus could easily sit and eat five or six strawberries in one sitting – and therefore, as you’re not ingesting any extra calories then you normally would – I don’t think you need to syn it. However, if you’re one of these people who demand everyone follows it 100% or else they’re worse than Hitler, here’s a pro-tip: have yourself seventeen Muller-lights and a Hifi bar, do it your way, I’ll do it my way, and everyone can be happy! Tra-la-la.

to make strawberries and cream overnight oats, you should:

  • mix together your oats and yoghurt
  • chop up all of the strawberries into little chunks and mix half into the oaty mix
  • pop the rest into a cup and microwave for ten seconds, just to get the juices running, and then mash lightly with a fork
  • take your phone off the hook to stop the Slimming World Mafiosa ringing you up, slurring down the line about tweaaaaaaks
  • layer the jar like in the picture – half the jar with oats, then the layer of mushy strawberry, then the rest of the oats
  • put it in the fridge overnight
  • in the morning, top with your squirty cream and another strawberry
  • easy!

OH we got our jars from here!

Want more overnight oats recipes? We’ve made loads! Hell, there’s even a boozy version for all of you who shake your way through the day!

More breakfast ideas? More inspiration? Just click what you need!

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Enjoy!

J

corned beef nacho bites for taster nights

Very quick post for the corned beef nacho bites tonight as it is our local election and damn it, I want to be out there throwing eggs and shaking up the system. If you haven’t voted, get those wibbly-wobbly legs on the go and vote – doesn’t matter whether you’re voting to ruin the country or who wins The X-Factor – if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. I’m not one for political rioting and fighting the powers that be – that honour belongs to Paul who, if there’s an excuse to put on a tabard and his woolly hat and cause a ruckus, will gladly do so.

I remember a few years back when he used to work for our local council and they were led out on strike over pensions. I begged him to keep a low profile as being sent as a rabble-rouser at a time of redundancies and cuts was never a good idea. Hardly heard a peep from him all day until I was busy making lunch and I heard his voice bellowing from the living room. Oooh he’s back early, what fun, afternoon delight time – no.

No, there was my dear heart, giving it large about ‘GUURLD-PLATED PENSIONS’ live on BBC News at 1pm, live in front of the nation resplendent in his ASDA hoodie. I don’t know why he’s got such fat lips in the photo but we can assume it’s not from suckling on the tit of capitalism. Or something.

Oh, and he managed to throw himself in front of the Chief Executive’s car whilst calling her a scab for crossing the picket line. Here’s a picture of the car all parked up.

Ah at least he has morals. I’d give up workers’ rights and pension pots for the first hunky politician to make a bit of side-eye at me.

Recipe then! Look, we’ve tried to make these look appealing but you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. We thought these would be a nice thing to take along to a taster class (you would assemble them there, mind you, don’t fancy carrying these towers on the bus). Has to be a better option than a bunch of bloody grapes or a quiche with cat hair and fag ash in it. The whole recipe makes enough for 24 discs, so at about 8 syns for the lot, that’s three for a syn. Eeee, you couldn’t make it up!

to make corned beef nacho bites you will need:

  • 2 large potatoes, cut into half-a-centimetre slices
  • 250g lean corned beef, diced (3½ syns)
  • 160g reduced-fat cheddar, grated (4x HeA)
  • handful sliced jalapeños
  • 4 tbsp reduced-fat soured cream (4 syns)
  • half an onion, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

for the salsa

  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • half an onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Or just buy salsa and live like a queen!

to make corned beef nacho bites you should:

  • preheat the oven to 220°c
  • place the potato slices onto a lined baking sheet and spray with a bit of oil (don’t use Frylight – use this instead and get a proper mist!)  and sprinkle over the salt and pepper
  • bake the potatoes for about 20 minutes, then flip over and bake for another 15-20 minutes (keep an eye on them!)
  • meanwhile, mix the salsa ingredients together and set aside
  • when finished cooking, remove from the oven and place a little pile of grated cheese on top of each potato slice, followed by some corned beef cubes
  • whack under a hot grill until the cheese has just melted
  • add a dollop of sour cream and salsa, then chuck on the jalapeños and onion
  • serve!

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