meatball masala sauce – syn free and tasty!

Meatball masala! Why not? Plus, because we’re all about quick and punchy these days, the recipe is just below! But first…

I’m actually feeling particularly cross after having an argument with an idiot on Facebook about aspartame. We can all take a view on it, that’s fine, but she was adamant that she ‘never ingests any sort of chemical, only pure and natural’. I pointed out that water is a chemical and she got in a right old strop, pointing out that because she gets a headache from aspartame, it clearly means that it’s poison, not just that she’s sensitive to it. I cautiously mentioned that just because I’m allergic to pineapple doesn’t make the Man from Del fucking Monte a bioterrorist.

We agreed to disagree and so here I am, brain leaking from my ears. The problem is people get themselves so wound up in their misguided belief in some shitty product that they can’t possibly see reason or logic or common sense. There’s a post going around with some insoles for shoes that people ‘swear’ drain the fat out of your body as you wear them. How, at the end of a busy day, do they not take off their shoes, realise that these plastic insoles don’t look like buttered toast and then realise it’s a load of bloody twaddle? Where do they think the fat goes – decanted out of their shoelaces like a tiny petrol pump? There’s no helping some people. I genuinely think if I set up a facebook profile selling jars of ‘slimming air’ that has ‘been PROVEN BY SCIENCE’ to ‘help shift those pounds’ I’d get at least five people trying to sell it to me.

Anyway, enough chitter-chatter. Let’s get this meal done. Now this dinner doesn’t look amazing, and trust me when I say you could easily bulk it out with more veg and other nonsense, but it tastes mighty fine and served with decent rice, you’ll be cooking on gas.

to make meatball masala you will need:

  • 400g beef mince
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp turmeric

Our hampers have meatballs 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 pork, 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 meatball masala you should: –

  • in a bowl, mix together the beef mince, egg and chilli powder and form into twelve meatballs, then leave in the fridge to firm up
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, spray in a bit of oil (don’t ruin your pans with Frylight, get one of these instead) and add the sliced onions
  • cook the onions for about ten minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and golden
  • add the garlic, cumin, garam masala and turmeric
  • stir well, and cook for about a minute
  • add the carrot, celery and red pepper to the pan along with the tin of tomatoes
  • fill the tin with water, slosh about and pour into the pan
  • bring to the boil, cover, and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes
  • meanwhile, heat another pan over a medium-high heat and spray with oil
  • add the meatballs, stir frequently until they are completely cooked through (or, even better, use an Actifry and take out the paddle – it works perfectly)
  • when the masala sauce has finished cooking, use a stick blender (or an upright one if you have one) and blend until smooth
    add the meatballs to the sauce and serve

Easy peasy! Warning, you might get a hot ring! More ideas?

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J

rich and tasty guinness BBQ meatballs

Guinness BBQ meatballs – yes, Guinness. This is a nice, hearty, manly meal which is sure to put hairs on your chest, which at least will be a pleasant distraction from whatever sauce you’ve managed to slop down there. I love a Guinness, although ordering one in a pub round here normally means deafening tuts and COPD-esque sighs as people are delayed getting to their fizzy piss pint.

As an aside, before we get to the recipe, I want to hear from anyone out there who works for canal boat holiday sorts – we’re looking to get something booked in but goodness me, is it expensive. Some help appreciated!

Right, the recipe…

to make guinness bbq meatballs you will need:

for the meatballs

Now, this is where I’d traditionally link to our Musclefood deal which has lots of mince 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 pork, 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.

for the sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ tsp sriracha (or any hot chilli sauce will do)
  • 250ml guinness (4.5 syns)
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp honey (5 syns)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 80g tomato puree

to make guinness bbq meatballs you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • mix together all of the meatball ingredients until well combined
  • roll out the mixture into about 20 meatballs and place on the greaseproof paper
  • bake in the oven for about thirty minutes
  • meanwhile, mix together the cornflour with 2 tbsp water until dissolved and set aside
  • place a saucepan over a medium high heat and add a little oil
  • add the garlic cloves and stir for about thirty seconds
  • add the rest of the ingredients and the cornflour mixture into the pan and whisk to mix
  • bring to the boil, and keep whisking, then reduce the heat to a simmer
  • cook for another fifteen minutes, whisking regularly until the mixture has thickened and reduced
  • when the meatballs are cooked, remove from the paper and stir gently into the sauce to coat
  • serve

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J

kung pao chicken meatballs with dressed spaghetti

Hello! Here for the kung pao chicken meatballs? Well you’re in luck – there’s no time for a long ramble today as lots to do but you know, I think you deserve a treat. So we have the kung pao chicken meatballs recipe coming up in a moment but first, look at our tree!

tree

Isn’t that a beauty? But let me tell you: blood was almost shed. Let me paint you a picture. There’s me, in the bath, luxuriating / basking in a sea of Molton Brown bubbles and The Archers omnibus playing in the background. Paul was in the living room fussing about the tree like a make-up artist at a wedding. I could hear the occasional shout and strop but hey, the bath was lovely. After an hour or so a plaintive cry came from the living room for me to come and help – his tiny Nick-Nack legs didn’t quite afford him the height needed to pop our furry star on top of the tree. Fair enough – the tree is 7ft and Paul drives a Smart-car.

I clamber out, the bubbles caressing my every curve. It was exactly like the bit in Casino Royale when Daniel Craig emerges from the sea in his little blue knickers, only with far more heart disease and loud straining. I mince into the living room and exclaim at how pretty the tree is before immediately fretting as to whether our Dyson Digital can cope with the quarter-tonne of pine needles that already litter the floor. Completely nude, I lean into the tree to make the final adjustment, to adorn it with the shiny star of Christmas, and how was I rewarded?

With a fucking pine needle right down my hog’s eye. My beef bullet was speared by the cold fingers of Christmas present. I know that a lot of you ladies out there will have been through child birth but honestly, that would have been like ripping off a wet plaster compared to this. I don’t like to exaggerate but it was literally the worst pain in the world. There’s places that nothing should ever venture and a gentleman’s scrotum-totem is one of these. I since looked it up on the internet only to find it’s an actual fetish, with people putting all sorts of things down there. Internet: what is wrong with you?

Anyway, you’ll be relieved to know that he’s fine and still in working order. Phew, right? Let’s get straight to the meatballs, apropos of nothing. This makes enough for four and yeah, it looks like a bit of a ballache to make, but it’s worth it – something different to that boring old SW meatballs in the freezer! Plus you could make the balls and freeze for later.

kung pao chicken meatballs

to make kung pao chicken meatballs you will need:

for the spaghetti

  • 500g spaghetti (or noodles!)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 160ml soy sauce
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 75ml shoaxing rice wine (4 syns)
  • 2 tbsp red chilli paste
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (6 syns)

for the meatballs

  • 500g minced chicken (or turkey)
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 egg
  • 35g porridge oats (1x HeB)
  • 1 tbsp sriracha sauce (1/2 syn)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

You know when we say mince ginger or garlic? Use a microplane grater. It’ll stop your fingers smelling, as long as you stop picking your bum. But seriously, don’t fart about peeling ginger or garlic, just grate it as it is – it’ll be perfect. Click here for our recommended mincer! 

for the sauce

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (1/2 syn)
  • 1 tbsp red chilli paste
  • 1 tbsp honey (3 syns)

to make kung pao chicken meatballs you should:

bit of a fuck on this, but I promise it’s worth it.

  • firstly, preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • then, make the meatballs – spray a non-stick baking sheet with a little oil
  • mix together all of the meatball ingredients, roll into about twenty meatballs, plop onto the baking sheet and cook for twenty five minutes, and whilst that’s going on, do the other bits
  • next, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the spaghetti (or noodles) according to the instructions – try and time this so that the spaghetti will be finished at the same time as the meatballs
  • meanwhile, in a bowl whisk together all the other ingredients for the spaghetti, except for the garlic, and keep to one side
  • add a little oil to a large frying pan and heat over a medium-high heat
  • add the minced garlic and cook for about thirty seconds
  • pour in the reserved sauce, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for a few minutes, until slightly thickened
  • add the cooked and drained spaghetti (or noodles), toss well until nicely coated with the sauce
  • in another bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients
  • when the meatballs are cooked, toss them gently in the sauce
  • serve the spaghetti onto plates, and top with the meatballs
  • sprinkle over the spring onions
  • we added a few chopped peanuts as well for a bit of crunch (if you’re doing the same, remember to syn them)

Serve! The oats really bulk the balls out. Mahaha!

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Enjoy!

J

easy peasy spaghetti and meatballs

Just a quick recipe tonight for easy peasy spaghetti and meatballs as we’re on a date night – I’ve been to Waitrose and got some fancy food, Paul’s given his sausage a more extensive rinse then the usual ‘bit of Listerine and polish it on the face-towel’ and the cats have been shut away in the shed with the sound of fireworks to rock them gently to sleep (Christ I’m kidding, I really am – they’ve still got run of the house, I’m not daft).

Tonight’s recipe actually comes from The Hairy Bikers. One common thing we get in the comments is that people imagine us to be exactly like The Hairy Bikers. Pfft. The closest I’ve come to getting my leather-clad leg over a throbbing Harley was a good few years ago in London, and Paul’s wrists are too delicate for anything above a push-along lawnmower. So, without further ado…

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to make easy peasy spaghetti and meatballs you will need:

  • 400g beef mince
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tins of cherry tomatoes (or chopped tomatoes)
  • 400g spaghetti
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • pinch of salt and pepper

to make easy peasy spaghetti and meatballs you should:

  • in a bowl mix together the spring onions, mince, thyme and salt and pepper
  • divide the mixture into twenty and roll into balls
  • add a little oil to a large frying pan and cook the meatballs over a medium-high heat until browned all over – this will take about 10 minutes or so
  • meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the instructions
  • add a little oil to a saucepan and whack onto a medium-high heat
  • add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a minute or two
  • add the tomatoes to the saucepan, turn the heat to high and simmer for five minutes until the liquid has reduced, add a little salt and pepper if you like
  • drain the spaghetti and serve, top with the meatballs and spoon over the sauce

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Enjoy!

J

slimming world ikea meatballs and gravy

Not going to lie – these were bloody amazing! My favourite bit about going to IKEA, other than causing arguments amongst other couples and farting in cupboards, is getting a plate full of meatballs and chips. I don’t care that the meatballs are probably made from reindeer anus and chipboard, they taste delicious and I’d cheerfully bathe in the gravy. Even the addition of that shitty bit of parsley doesn’t ruin my meal like it normally does, now that I know it serves a purpose (the size of the parsley sprig is used to signify whether you have a large, medium or small portion of meatballs, so that the cashier doesn’t have to count how many meatballs you’ve got!). So Paul was tasked with doing a bit of research and we’ve managed to find a recipe and tailor it so it is possible on Slimming World. Nevermind a platinum Body Magic sticker, I frankly think we should be given an OBE each. Scroll down for the recipe, but if you want, stick around for a bit beforehand – I’ve got more to tell you about our trip to Corsica…

…when I last signed off, we were asleep with a puck of beef resting in our stomach. I reckon it’s still in there. We woke ridiculously early to give us enough time to walk the 27 miles to the Pod, only to have to walk back and get a code from reception before they’d open the gates. Nothing says ‘home comforts’ like a prison gate to get out of your hotel. The Pod remained amazing and we were in Terminal 5 in moments. I’ve never flown from Heathrow despite having done a fair bit of travelling, so it was all very new and exciting. Ah wait no, sorry, it was dull and tedious. I know airports are never the most exciting of places, but I get the impression that unless you were minted, the terminal wasn’t really for you. It’s still better than Newcastle Airport mind, but that’s more due to the fact Newcastle Airport consists of a couple of bars, a duty free shop and some toilets that haven’t been cleaned since the days of me being an early teenager and buying condoms from the machine on the wall because my then-f’buddy was too worried. Ha! Plus it’s invariably full of at least 2,000 pissed up Geordies who think they’re sophisticated because they’ve got a Stella Artois moustache at 4.30am in the morning. Oh honestly you know I’m right.

We decided on a light breakfast in The Pilot’s Lounge, so-called because I went up-a-height when I saw the price. The waitress – a smile wearing a tabard and sensible shoes – forgot to give me my pot of tea, my toast and my hash-brown. It’s alright though, I forgot to give her a tip, so that balances things. You know how I can’t go anywhere without immediately discovering a new enemy? I’d barely buttered Paul’s toast when I overheard an American chap behind me LOUDLY telling everyone south of Manchester how ‘TERRABUL’ the coffee was in England. Oh it was just ‘AWFUL’ (though he was strangling every vowel as he spoke). I couldn’t eat my breakfast because my teeth were grinding so hard diamonds were falling out of my nose. I’m a proper moaner, don’t get me wrong, but I’m awfully British about it – I’ll twist my face to Paul about something that has upset me, but I’ll wait six months and bring it up in the bath or something. He went on – it was all I could do not to hurl Paul’s tea in his oily face. Listen, I’ve been to America and I’ve had what passes for coffee there – it looks, smells and tastes like what I’ve bled out of my radiators. When he wasn’t moaning he was hacking away, coughing up phlegm like it was jet-fuel. No discreet coughs into a hanky for this chap, no, he preferred to let us listen to his chest echo and rattle. No wonder the coffee didn’t taste good, chum, it has to sink through eight yards of lungbutter to get to your stomach. Fucker. 

Having finished breakfast and realised to our absolute horror that there wasn’t so much as an arcade for me to throw a month’s wage into, we settled down for the two hours before our flight. Thankfully, I had my new phone, old phone and iPad to entertain me, so I just sat on one of the departure lounge chairs with them spread out in front of me like I was on the lowest budget version of 24 you could imagine. Paul ate a Toblerone. OF COURSE, though, the horsefucker from the restaurant was on our flight. Of course! So we had two hours of boredom punctuated by him mining for phlegm. Lovely. My sigh of relief when they opened the gate almost blew the Newcastle to London Cityjet service over. The good thing about flying British Airways is the allocated seating – I can’t bear the undignified scramble for seats you get with the likes of easyJet and Ryanair. I don’t understand it – it’s not as if the flight attendants are going to auction off the spare seats if you’re not jammed in the bloody doorway one minute after the gate opens. 

We promptly boarded the plane and, as expected, immediately brought the average age of the passengers on board down by around thirty years – everyone, to an absolute fault, was ancient. I wouldn’t have been surprised if British Airways had removed the back toilet and fitted an onboard crematorium. Normally I watch the safety demonstration like my life depends on it (boom boom) but I didn’t bother – it was clear from the amount of creaking hips and whistling hearing aids that if the engine had caught fire and we needed to evacuate post-haste, both Paul and I would perish in the flames whilst Elsie in 22A blocked the aisle putting her good teeth in and trying to get the inflatable slide to come out of the toilet door. We did have a chuckle when the exceptionally posh older chap sitting behind us dropped something on the floor and burst out with the loudest ‘FUCK’ I’ve ever heard. My ears were still rippling as we flew over Nice. I love it when posh folk swear with gusto. 

The pilot came on the radio (you’d think that would make it hard to grip) and announced that it would be a smooth flight all the way to Corsica and that it was gorgeous and sunny. Excellent! I like to hear the hairs on my leg crinkle when I get off the plane when I’m on holiday. Go hot or go home, or something like that. I don’t know the hip sayings, I’m in my thirties now. Oh fuck I’m old.

As usual when I fly, I spent the entire time on the runway thinking about how it would feel if my face was burned off when the fuel tank exploded or what sound the bones in my leg would make as they were concertinaed by the crumpling metal of a crashing 737, but as soon as we were airborne I was fine and only concerned with making sure I didn’t miss out on the onboard snack, which turned out to be a croissant I could have shaved with and a plastic cup of orange water. Delicious! I still ate every last crumb whilst moaning about it to Paul. Our flight attendant was charming but looked like Missy from Doctor Who, which was a little alarming, because I did expect her to wrest the controls from the pilot and ditch us into the sea. 

The flight itself was uneventful, bar for a tiny bout of turbulence as we flew over the bottom of France which shook a few pair of dentures loose, and we disembarked in Figari after only two hours. Figari Airport is absolutely tiny and only seems to appear once the plane is low enough for me to look for a four-leaf clover amongst the grass. It was in no time at all that we were off the plane and through what was ostensibly called security but actually amounted to nothing more than a very handsome Frenchman saying bonjour to me and oppressing his smirk at my bong-eyed passport photo. Paul held us up with his pressing need to have a poo as soon as we arrive anywhere new (I touched on this when I wrote about our visit to Germany – it’s like a nervous tic he has) and we were forced to wait behind M. Physema in the AVIS car hire queue.

The car hire process was unpleasant, not least because I had to listen to the guy in front churning his lungs for a good thirty minutes before we got anywhere. The unpleasant shrew behind the counter barked at me in what I’m not even sure was French, hurled a set of paperwork at me like I’d murdered her child and then spat in the general direction of a trillion parked cars and sent me on my way. I don’t think I managed one word other than a cheery bonjour which might have caused her ire. We trundled our suitcases down to the little garage only for someone else to shout inexplicably at us. At this point, we were a little deflated, and when someone finally drove a car around to us my spirits didn’t lift. It was a Peugeot 208. A new one, yes, but I’ve had farts with better acceleration. Plus, Paul and I are big guys and a tiny car doesn’t quite suit our ample frames – I’ve never had to pour myself into a car like a glob of wax in a lava-lamp. Nevermind. They clearly hadn’t cleaned the car either given there was someone’s chewed off fingernail sitting on the dash. I made a mental note to leave a skidmark on the back seat and cracked on.

We didn’t have the language skills to argue or beg a better car, plus I got the impression that had I gone back to the rental desk and complained, my face would have been taken off by the tongue of the angry pickled Nana Mouskouri lookalike behind the desk. So we set off, slowly. Oh so slowly. The road away from Figari airport takes you up a fairly steep hill and clearly I overstretched the car because it stalled on the first hill. Superb! Thankfully I was so distracted by trying to master driving this shitbox that I forgot all my worries about driving on the right, which was a relief given I’d built it up into being a terrifying experience in my mind.

Actually, a serious note. If you’re nervous about driving on the other side of the road, don’t be. It comes very naturally – the only thing of concern were the roundabouts, of which there are many, and the fact that absolutely no fucker indicates. Not one! Joining a roundabout becomes a terrifying guessing game of intentions and given the average Corsican drives like the interior of their car is on fire and they’ve got a mouthful of petrol, you really do just need to take your time.

Yes, the driving leaves a lot to be desired (or, another view, they all know the roads so well that they know where they can afford to take chances) – quite often on a mountain pass you’ll be faced with someone hurtling towards you in a little Renault, fag in one hand, phone in the other, steering the car with their blanket of chest hair, leaving you with the choice of a solid wall on one side of the road and nothing but air on the other. Best of all is the look of absolute astonishment that they’ve found someone coming towards them on the opposite side of the road. I’m not a religious man but there were more than a few times I just shut my eyes and prayed for the best. It’s not uncommon for someone to overtake you on a blind corner or on the crest of a hill and to blur alongside the car shouting something terrible. I finally discovered what it must feel like to have me driving up behind you effing and jeffing. What am I like. Our villa awaited, but my fingers are bleeding now, so I’ll stop for the night. Here’s the recipe!

IKEA meatballs

Note that we served this with mashed potatoes, rainbow carrots and tenderstem broccoli. We’re making a bit of an effort with our 1/3 speed rule and if we come up with a fancy recipe for anything like that, I’ll be sure to include it.

to make IKEA meatballs and gravy, you’ll need:

  • 500g turkey mince
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp each of oregano, paprika and rosemary
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp quark
  • 450ml stock (made with 2 beef stock cubes)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp of cornflour (4.5 syns)
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

Don’t sweat it too much regarding the herbs. Go for fresh, always better, but dried is fine! I’m going to call it 1 syn – you don’t use all of the gravy, but it’s up to you.

to make IKEA meatballs and gravy, you should:

  • sort out your sides – potatoes, broccoli, the gayest carrots in the world, whatever you like
  • in a bowl mix together the mince, half the nutmeg, rosemary, oregano, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and half the parsley then divide the mixture and roll to make about thirty meatballs
  • spray a large frying pan with a little Frylight and cook the meatballs until cooked through and browned – better to cook them nice and hot to get a brown crust – urgh, crust
  • transfer the meatballs to a plate to rest and let the meatballs pan cool a little…then…
  • add the quark and 2 tbsp of the stock
  • mix well until the quark is softened and melted
  • add the mustard powder, worcestershire sauce, the rest of the nutmeg and cornflour
  • mix well until you have a smooth, thick paste
  • add the rest of the stock and cook over a low heat, stirring continuously, until it thickens (you can gradually increase the heat if you wish to speed the process up, but be a kind and gentle lover and watch for signs of the mixture splitting)
  • transfer the meatballs to the pan to warm through
  • serve!

If you feel the need to have a hot-dog for dessert to complete the IKEA experience, I won’t judge.

Though, I’m always judging.

J

sweet and sour pork meatballs

James is busy trying to be all macho with his dad putting together our new utility room but there’s no manly way to hold a handheld Dyson or use a microfibre cloth. So tonight’s post comes from me (Paul). Sorry about that.

Blimey. What a day. I knew there was something the matter with us when we starting planning our day at IKEA. ON A BASTARD BANK HOLIDAY. IKEA is pure hell at the best of times – one of these places that makes you think you’re going to have a wonderful day bouncing about on sofa cushions and bean bags and being one big giggling family with a hot dog and an ice cream at the end, when the reality is actually you spending one floor staring intensely into the back of someone’s head because they’re walking far too slowly, and the second floor wanting to just die because you’re SICK OF THIS SHIT ALREADY. So, against our better judgement, that’s what we did today.

But with a difference.

After having the Ikea experience on multiple occasions for big projects (like the kitchen) we’ve eventually got this all down to a tee. So, down to the second, we had the whole day planned out that minimised any interaction with slow-walking, gormless members of the public, ordered a new living room set, refunded a dodgy kitchen door (that I accidentally drilled through – eeehwhatamilike) and threw in a breakfast for good measure. Well, you need that energy if you’re going to mutter ‘FUCKING MOVE’ under your breath every ten seconds.

We arrived on the dot, just as the revolving door started to move and slyly minced our way through all the shortcuts to get straight to the restaurant – the most important part of the day. Once James had wiped away his tears after noticing they’d gotten rid of the potato cake (NOOOOOOOOOOOO) we were straight to the BESTÅ stand to fuck around on some crappy little computer bunging cupboards on walls. If you’ve ever fancied having a sob into some KUNTÅ sidetable go ahead and try and plan your living room on their online planner. It’s what I imagine it’d be like to be Stephen Hawking on speed trying to describe the texture of Quark on that little Atari he’s got strapped to his chair. Stressful isn’t the word. You might as well etch your design it into your arm with a compass and present it the warehouse staff.

I’d fantasised about at least ten ways of dispatching multiple rough sorts on the way to the lighting section. I can never understand the mentality of people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to just stop in the middle of an aisle when there’s practically a stampede of guffawing Geordies rampaging towards you (not unlike that scene in the Lion King but with a lot more polyester and teenage pregnancies). I bet those people are also those that pull their trolley across in a supermarket like a barrier. I’m far too polite (cowardly) though to ever say anything. I just stare at them like I’m trying to burn through them with laser-beam eyes. James isn’t quite so composed and will just barge through shouting at people to ‘MOVE!’, like a hairy snow plough. He almost ran someone off the road simply for having the temerity of having a mauve car.

Fortunately though the whole day was a success, despite all the eejits and lack of an ice cream at the end and we got everything sorted. They even managed to refund us the drawer and door that I ballsed up without a receipt. God love ‘em. As a thank you I was sure to press the green smiley face button that measures people’s happiness as many times as I could. I’d like to think it made a difference.

One way we always make our IKEA experience a little more fun is to watch out for any couples that are eyeing up a particular piece of furniture. If either of them makes a muttering that they quite like it we’ll always come up behind them and then start slagging it off. ‘Oh that’s fucking gopping’, or, “Oh lord, I’ve never seen anything as tacky as THAT in my life’. They’ll soon walk off and have a tiff a little further on. Oh we’re such terrors.

But that’s enough yak. In the spirit all things IKEA we’ve managed to bring together a delicious meatball recipe that’ll cure any takeaway pangs you have… here’s our take on Sweet & Sour Pork Meatballs.

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to make our sweet and sour pork meatballs, you’ll need:

for the meatballs:

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • half a pineapple, cut into small chunks (0.25cm)

for the sweet and sour sauce:

  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minded
  • ½ large red pepper, sliced
  • ½ green pepper, sliced
  • 3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • half a pineapple, cut into chunks (halve again into two separate portions)
  • 115g tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey (5 syns)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

and this is how you make it:

  • preheat your oven to 180°c and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper
  • heat a small saucepan over a medium heat and add a little oil
  • add the minced garlic and spring onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened and slightly browned. set aside
  • in a large bowl mix together the mince, carrot, peppers, egg, basil, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, pineapple pieces and the spring onions
  • roll the mixture into even sized balls – squeezing out the liquid if you need to – don’t worry if it seems too wet (fnar), they’ll keep their shape if you squeeze enough liquid out (fnar)
  • place the meatballs onto the baking sheet and spray with a little Frylight
  • cook for about thirty minutes or until golden brown
  • whilst the meatballs are cooking you can make the fruity sauce
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a little oil
  • add the sliced red onion and garlic and stir frequently until the onion is slightly caramelised
  • add the peppers one of the pineapple portions and cook for a few minutes until softened
  • add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and keep cooking, stirring frequently
  • using a sieve, crush down the other half of the pineapple chunks portion into a jug to get the juice
  • add the cornflour to the pineapple juice and stir until dissolved
  • add the tomato paste, honey, cider vinegar, lemon juice and 120ml water to the jug and mix well
  • pour this mixture into the frying pan, bring to a boil and simmer for about ten minutes until the mixture thickens
  • serve the meatballs and pour the sauce over the top

Please don’t be put off by the long ingredient list – you’ll probably have a lot of it already in your cupboards and if not, go get some! It’ll all be dead cheap and useful to you for future recipes. Also, don’t be put off by the syn values – yes, this uses honey and cornflour but divided by four this only comes in at 1.5 syns, which is nothing compared to a takeaway. And, it’ll finally give you a reason to use that pineapple you keep buying and leaving to rot on your windowsill…

Technically, because you’re squeezing the juice out of a quarter of a pineapple you could syn it if you’re anal about such things. We didn’t because we take a more common sense approach to tweaking. You can if you wish – I reckon it’d be about half a syn’s worth (if that).

Smaklig måltid!

comfort food meatballs with onion gravy and mashed potatoes

Before we get started, can I just tell you something which made my piss rattle this morning – I was driving to work on a particularly bendy, twisty bit of road when some log-gobbler came hurtling towards me on the other side of the road, white BMW, naturally, easily doing 30mph more than she should have been – and she was PUTTING ON MASCARA. Mascara! At speed! I only noticed because she was doing that stupid jaw-on-her-tits mascara face that seems to be obligatory. I couldn’t believe it. The urge to turn my car around and ram it into the back of her shitwagon was immense. How dare she put people at risk on the roads just so she can walk around with big cow eyes? With any luck she’d crash into the River Blyth and impale her walnut brain on her Max Factor wand. Bah! I can’t begin to tell you how much it annoys me seeing people use their phones / do their make-up / complete a 1000 piece jigsaw whilst driving. It’s fine if you want to crash and die, but don’t take me with you just because you’re so keen to post ‘ROFL drivin on motoway mad tunes YOLO‘ on fucking facebook, you insipid tart.

Honestly. I was so angry I couldn’t finish my shave.

Anyway, it seems Paul may have been premature with his ‘but the bathroom isn’t leaking at all’ analysis, as the ‘tiny leak’ is clearly still growing. I’ve become fanatical about measuring the spread of this tiny leak – we’ve marked out the water stain on the chipboard in the hallway (we have carpet, but we pulled it up to view the leak, we’re not that common) and I find myself compelled to check it every time I go for a jimmy riddle I’m down on my haunches staring wildly at the floor. So doubtless that’ll need fixing, which is dreadful because it means having yet more workers in the house.

I can’t cope with other people in my house – I get annoyed when I see myself in the mirror, let alone burly men with rough-hewn hands fingering my coving. We’ve got someone coming to plaster all the ceilings in the house soon, finally getting rid of the fucking Artex that haunts our dream. You know how sometimes Artex can be applied delicately in gentle waves? Not ours. No, clearly the old biddy who lived here before had the Artex applied via a fucking fireman’s hose – I feel like a pea looking up at the top of an abandoned freezer. It’s awful.

We’ve also just had a man come round to see about painting the entire house – all the interiors, the doors, the skirting boards, plus the greenhouse, shed and massive fence that runs along the property. He immediately started asking questions about what type of paint I was wanting to use – I fear my non-macho answer of ‘a subtle white with a hint of colour’ has already set us off on a bad footing, because he looked at me witheringly and said ‘No, matt, gloss or satin’. Well I don’t bloody know, I’m very much a man who pays others to do anything taxing.

We’ve got someone coming to flush our radiators (not a euphemism) and another bloke coming to fit a new boiler, taking away the current boiler which I reckon was salvaged from Titanic. There’s a man coming to fit blinds and eventually there’ll be a scrap-man coming to take away various shite we’ve accumulated. The last scrap man spent ten minutes chewing my ear about not being able to work (pronounced wuuurk) because of a “bad back” whilst hoisting a fucking tumble-drier onto his flat-bed lorry like he was shotputting in the Olympics.

Finally, we’ve got carpet fitters coming to recarpet the entire house, which means the cats have a blank canvas to smear birds across and do secret pisses every now and then just to keep us on our toes. Or indeed, in amongst our toes. They’re generally very good cats who know to go outside, down the garden path and into next door’s garden where they can shit with gay abandon, but every now and then they’ll decide that really the only place worth anointing with half a litre of eye-watering cat piss is next to my shoes, or in a drawer, or, perhaps best of all, all over the top of the Sky-Box in a protest against hearing the Jeremy Kyle theme tune for the 655th time that week. We got rid of that cat in the end – she went to a better place. Under the wheels of my car. No no I jest, she’s up the road turning into a footrest with paws, remember?

So this means, for me at least, weeks of making awkward small talk and worrying that anything I say is going to look like I’m trying to seduce them in some kind of awkward Bangbus-esque scenario. Honestly, it’s something I probably shouldn’t worry about but I’ve seen too many jizzflicks to know this is how so many of them start. Plus I can’t make small talk so I stay away but then I worry about looking standoffish so I spend my time in such a state of anxious flux that I almost want to pay them just to go away. Urgh. So pray for me.

Tonight’s recipe is another meatball recipe, but I reckon this is the best beef meatball recipe yet – they come out soft, moist and packed full of flavour, and what more can you want from a meatball? Plus the thick, onion gravy is full of zip and the mash is…well, mash, but you get the drift. Serve with broccoli to keep it simple. I know you might not feel like meatballs, but listen, we’ve got air-conditioning in our house, we need this to keep from freezing. This meal serves a comfortable four people. It also makes your farts smell delicious.

beef meatballs slimming world

you’ll need all of this:

for the meatballs:

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 60g tomato puree
  • 3 level tsp wholegrain mustard (1.5 syns)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

for the gravy:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp gravy granules (1 syn)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree

for the mash:

  • 5 large potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 125ml skimmed milk (1.5 syns, or HexA)
  • 125g quark
  • an egg yolk (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

and you’ll need to do this:

  • preheat the oven to 190 degrees
  • mixing together all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl
  • shape the mixture into 30 evenly sized balls
  • do a little dance
  • place the meatballs onto a non-stick baking sheet (you can spray a little Frylight if you like, or stop being a loser and use some oil) and bake for about 20 minutes
  • meanwhile, add the potato chunks to boiling water and cook until tender (about 20 minutes)
  • make a little love
  • mash together with all of the other mash ingredients, or to however you like it
  • as those are cooking, prepare the gravy mixture
  • get down tonight (ah-ha)
  • in a large saucepan heat a little Frylight/oil over a medium-high heat and gently sweat the onion until it becomes translucent
  • in a jug or bowl, mix together the stock, worcestershire sauce, gravy granules, salt and tomato puree
  • add the gravy to the onions and stir until thickened
  • add the meatballs to the gravy, coating them evenly and serve on top of the mash
  • if you have delusions of grandeur, you can pop in a sprig of parsley and serve to the oohs and aahs of your adoring family

Enjoy! OH I’ll leave you with this.

cat die

J

meatball marinara sub with sweet potato croquettes

Ah croquettes! I haven’t seen that word since I was at school and enjoying all the fruits and deliciousness of school dinners. Of course back then it wasn’t fancy croquettes made with sweet potato and garlic breadcrumbs, they were made with ashen grey potato and rolled in radioactive-orange ‘bread’ crumbs. Wonderful!

I used to love school dinners and I hold no love for those who say they were awful. Perhaps they were, but at least you got your 100% of cigarette ash requirement with your turkey dinosaurs (I went to a posh school, they shaped their turkey arsehole-and-eyelids into stegosauruses instead of non-descript Twizzlers, see).

We did have the stereotypical mean old dinner lady, though – Connie (naturally we called her Ronnie to annoy her), and she ruled the hall with an iron fist. Actually, not quite true, she’d had polio as a youngster and didn’t so much have an iron fist as a few ball-bearings. That’s cruel but true. Perhaps that’s why she was always so bloody mean to the kids, to stop them being mean to her…different perspective when you’re an adult. We just used to push past her, risking serious moustache burns, and get in before all the smelly little kids claimed all the chocolate orange tart.

I do remember once going to get my wallet out of my blazer and a condom that I had gallantly/optimistically (sensibly given what I was up to with my ‘close friend’ at the time, well not literally at the time, I had my eyes on the battered sausage) went flying out of the back of my pocket and into the canteen of baked beans in front of me. I got a strong talking to for that, though again in retrospect they should have advised me against using flavoured condoms. It was grape flavour and lurid purple and my friend and I had to get them from the toilets at Newcastle Airport in case anyone saw us.

I feel I should point out that my school was next to the airport – we didn’t have a day-trip out just to buy battercatchers.

It must have been a fairly posh school looking back, because I definitely remember after the pudding being allowed to go back to the canteen and getting cheese and coffee. Admittedly it was a lump of cheddar and a cup of Mellow Birds Brown Mountain Water but still, cheese and coffee at 13. In sixth form we naturally progressed to cigars, brandy and shooting metal pellets at poor folk. Pfft. I actually left sixth form because they tried to make us wear a suit to school . FIGHT THE POWER. Totally worth it.

Anyway, we’re spending the day emptying the green bedroom and the blue bedroom in preparation for turning them into a games room and utility room respectively. You can tell two fat blokes live in this house for sure. So I thought I’d rattle off this blog post early and give you a chance to gaze upon…THIS BEAUTY.

meatball marinara

I know right? The two syns is actually for the sweet potato croquettes, so if you want, just have this with a salad or chips and make this syn-free. Salad or chips, it’s the curse of every fatty.

so you’ll be needing the following

for the croquettes

  • six sweet potatoes
  • one brown bread bun blitzed into breadcrumbs (6 syns, but you don’t use them all, so as this serves two, that’s two syns each)
  • 1tsp of chopped sage, fresh or dried

for the marinara sauce

  • two tins of chopped tomatoes, decent quality if you can get them – if not, add a pinch of sugar to take the acidity off the cheaper type
  • 6 garlic gloves, peeled and cut into very thin slices
  • pinch of crushed chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • nice sprig of fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried oregano

for the meatballs – take your pick from previous recipes:

We used turkey and bacon meatballs because we had a bag of them rattling around in the freezer from the other day. ECONOMICAL

make the sweet potato croquettes first

  • dice the sweet potatoes into thirds and put in the oven until the flesh is soft and the spirit is willing
  • scoop out the flesh, add your sage and a bit of salt, mix it well until it’s nice and blended
  • shape into cylinders around the size of 10 pound coins on top of each other, or a really disappointing one-night-stand
  • roll in the breadcrumbs
  • place on a non-stick tray and chuck them in the oven for maybe 20 seconds on 180 degrees, but keep an eye on them – you don’t want them to burn, after all, just dry out a little

Set your meatballs away whilst the potato is cooking – you can keep them to one side for later see

to make the marinara

  • tip the tomatoes into a large bowl and using the back of a spoon (or your fingers, as long as you haven’t been picking your bum) and crush any particularly large lumps of tomato
  • Frylight or lightly oil a pan and when the oil is warm, add the slivers of garlic
  • as soon as that garlic starts sizzling (but not burning) add the tomatoes, herb, chilli and salt with another half tin of water
  • if you’re using basil, place it on the top and let it wilt and drop down into the sauce
  • cook low and slow – you’ll need the sauce to thicken, so it’ll be on a medium heat uncovered, stirring occasionally
  • you want it really thick, so really be patient – add a bit of salt or more oregano if you think it needs it
  • once you’re happy with it, get rid of the basil

Then it’s really just a case of cutting open a breadbun (your HEB), layering your healthy extra of cheese on the bottom, placing the meatballs on top of the cheese and then adding the marinara. Serve with a few croquettes and a dollop of marinara sauce for dipping and I’m telling you now, you’ll have a BLOODY GOOD MEAL.

You’re welcome!

cheesy meatball skillet

I am gutted that, yet again, we’re sending a load of dross to Eurovision! Have you heard it?

It sounds like the type of ditty that would play out over a Buy as you View advert. I’m not one of these tubthumpers who claim we’ll never win Eurovision because if we sent a decent act, pumped a lot of amyl nitrates into the air and actually spent some money on publicity, we’d do well! Paul and I will still be watching it, eating our Austrian food (that’ll be our European tour country for that week) and screaming at the telly, but just once I’d like to see us succeed. Still, it’ll be a good night in front of the TV regardless.

We don’t watch a lot of TV – at least, not British TV. We used to be well into Coronation Street (rock and roll lifestyle) but that went dull, fast – and Eastenders is only decent when something big is happening, otherwise I end up trying to cut my wrists with the butter knife by the time it’s over. We’ll take in the odd documentary and we do love a good drama (for good drama, I’m talking about stuff like Lost over crap like Broadchurch – if you want to see Olivia Colman cry, watch a film called Tyrannosaurus, she’s brilliant in that). If you like reality TV but with decent production values, download a programme called The Amazing Race – UK TV doesn’t show it because we’d sooner watch tone-deaf bumholes singing on a talent show. Doctor Who is a guilty pleasure as is popcorn fodder like 24. What we DO enjoy is a good quiz show, not least because we like shouting at thick people on TV.

That said, I’d be shit on that new show, 1000 Heartbeats, where your heartbeat is monitored as you answer questions and your clock counts down faster the quicker your heart beats – I’d be so out of breath climbing the three steps up to the podium that I’d only have four seconds to answer fourteen general knowledge questions whilst getting shouted at by besuited Yorkshire lamp-post Vernon Kaye. I’d love to have a go in The Cube, but I know for an absolute fact that when they did that swooshy camera movement where it spins 360 degrees around The Cube in slow-motion, my arse-crack would be hanging out of my George boxer shorts and I’d be pulling that cum-face I usually pull when I’m concentrating – tongue half out, brow furrowed like a crinkle-cut crisp. I’ve mentioned before that Paul and I would adore the chance to go on Coach Trip, and indeed we auditioned successfully for the show, but then they took it off air for three years, perhaps hoping our clogged-up arteries would kill us off before we had a chance to get on the bus, call someone a jumped up shitbag and get asked to leave Lithuania in an armoured car.

I’d have been absolutely top at The Crystal Maze though. I say that from the comfort of my living room, admittedly, but I would have been a guaranteed two-crystal winner and that weekend canoeing in Middlesex could have been mine. Of course, no sooner was I old enough to apply, they took it off the bloody air. There’s been talk of bringing it back time and time again, including, horrifically, the idea of having Amanda Holden present in the Richard O’Brian role. Amanda Holden! A woman so pointless and personality-free that you could put a privet hedge with a crow stuck in it where she sat on Britain’s Got Talent and people would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. That’s what ruins TV – ‘celebrities’ famous for fuck all (in her case, having the dubious honour of turning down Les Dennis’ cock in favour of the unfunny one from Men Behaving Badly) taking part in shows and quizzes in lieu of decent folk from Ordinary World. Even if they somehow resist the urge to throw celebrities into the mix at every opportunity, they try and turn the ordinary folk into celebrities instead – like the gay couple from Gogglebox for example. Yep, they’re funny, but why are they in an advert with Kevin Bacon for bloody mobile phone services? Actually, why the hell is Kevin bloody Bacon in an advert for a mobile phone service? Kev, I’ve seen Footloose, you’re worth so much more!

Gosh, that was a bit of a rant. See that’s probably why they didn’t come back to us re: Coach Trip.

Anyway, it’s just a little post today because I want to spend the day with Paul as I’ve seemingly been at work since Tuesday morning. But, because we care, here’s a recipe for cheesy meatball skillet. A quick google shows that a skillet is pretty much the same as a shallow frying pan, but we’ve actually got a proper cast-iron skillet so we used that. Whatever you use, make sure it can go under the grill. Something like this would be perfect, plus you could use it for frittatas and other nonsense!

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This serves four.

We used the new Slimming World meatballs (syn-free) available at Iceland and do you know, they were actually pretty decent! Nothing like proper meatballs and I’ve got a syn-free recipe for those right here. Getting quite good at this cross-linking on my blog-posts!

Also, in my tomato sauce, I added 175ml of red wine (hence the syns) but that’s only because we had dregs left over in the fridge. You can easily leave this out, but it does add a nice note to the sauce.

to make cheesy meatball skillet, you’ll need:

ingredients: meatballs (either Iceland or home-made), two tins of tomatoes, one large red onion, garlic (powder or grated (especially if you use this fancy pants microplane grater), dash of worcestershire sauce, red wine (optional), big ball of reduced fat mozzarella (65g is one healthy extra which is more than enough, but because we’re decadent bitches, we’re using 130g – that’s fine for Paul and I as it is a healthy extra each, but if it’s just you, remember mozzarella is 5 syns for 50g if you’re synning any extra). You can decorate with chopped chives, if you’re feeling poncy.

to make cheesy meatball skillet, you should:

  • cook off your meatballs in the pan – if they’re homemade, great, as they’ll release oil that you can use in the next step, but if they’re not, just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t catch. Once they’ve cooked through, set aside
  • chop up your onion nice and fine and add that into the pan (with a tiny bit of oil if the meatballs haven’t released any) and gently soften – then add garlic, and cook a little longer
  • whack the heat up, throw in the red wine, let it deglaze the bottom of the pan and simmer off for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • add the meatballs, put it on a medium heat and let it bubble down for a bit until the sauce has thickened
  • cut the mozzarella into discs and scatter them carelessly all over the pan
  • whack it under the grill for five minutes or so until the cheese has melted, bubbling and looks ready
  • SERVE.

Have a think about what you want to serve this with – spaghetti is fine, but this would also go well with any old pasta you’ve got knocking about, or even slimming world chips and a salad. Enjoy!

J

meatballs in a cheese sauce served in noodle nests

Ah now look at that – we haven’t had a quickpost this week, so tonight is the night – just the recipe today as I’m out and about! Normal service will resume tomorrow. And anyway, don’t be greedy – I did a big blog page earlier today on the ‘my favourite things’ post. Gimme a break damn it! WE’RE BUT TWO LADS!

meatballs and cheese sauce

This is another ‘use it or lose it’ meal where most of the ingredients are leftovers and/or stuff we haven’t got round to cooking. We’re trying to minimise leftovers, see? GO GREEN. We always keep a bag of frozen meatballs (made ourselves) in the freezer, the noodles were leftover from last night’s meal (sweet and sour pork – that’s coming online tomorrow, oooh a peek behind the curtain!) and the veg was what was left rolling around in amongst the vodka at the bottom of the fridge.

to make meatballs in a cheese sauce served in noodle nests, you’ll need:

ingredients: for the meatballs – pork mince, salt, pepper, dried sage – squash all together with your hands, shape into small balls and chill until needed. For the cheese sauce – 250g quark, 110g lightest philadelphia (HEA for me) and 30g of parmesan (HEA for Paul) and mustard powder. For the nests, use any leftover spaghetti or noodles. You’ll also need an egg and any old bollocks you have left in the veg drawer.

tip: make double the amount of meatballs, then freeze half. To freeze, put them on a flat plate not touching each other, freeze them, then pick them off the plate and put into a bag. That way they’ll stay separate and easier to work with.

to make meatballs in a cheese sauce served in noodle nests, you should:

recipe: start by making the cheese sauce, which is as easy as adding the quark, philadelphia and cheese into a pan and heating it slowly until it all comes together. Allow to cool. Then, get your noodles/spaghetti, coat them in about half of the sauce and include a beaten egg, and mix quickly. Get a muffin tray, do the frylight/oil thing (whichever you prefer!) so they don’t stick, and get a handful of spaghetti and put it in each muffin slot. Shape them so there is an indent in the middle. Hoy them in the oven for about 25 minutes and take out when golden – I took mine out a trifle too soon. Whilst they’re cooking, cook off your meatballs. If you’ve got a decent non-stick pan, have the confidence to let them get a good crust on them – they’ll take about 10 minutes on a reasonably high heat to brown off. Top tip – near the end, throw in a good glug of worcestershire sauce if you want – on a high heat, it’ll deglaze the pan and give your balls a nicer colour. Yes. Then, it’s just assembly – work your noodle nest out, put a dab of cheese sauce in the indent, top with a meatball. Serve your veg on the side with any leftover meatballs and cheese sauce. DELICIOUS.

extra-easy – yes, and syn free – the veg on the side is superfree, naturally. Try it!

Goodnight.

J