slow cooker lasagne

Do you know, I’m never comfortable typing lasagne. I dither for ages as to whether it’s lasagne or lasagna and whenever I type it into google my eyes glaze over through boredom and I give up. So, take your pick. 

Super quick post tonight as we’ve only just got back from returning the Smart Car. Paul loves it. I hate it with the passion of a thousand suns. Admittedly, it was surprisingly roomy (but not roomy enough for any backseat shenanigans…not least because it doesn’t have a backseat, unless you fancy singeing your arse cheeks on the engine and having the Mercedes logo branded above your nipsy) but it was so…I hate to use the word lame, I’m not in Mean Girls, but yes, lame. I’ve never heard a car wheeze before. Paul stepped on the accelerator and it ‘shot away’ from a junction like a stubborn poo round a u-bend – going, but just. It did give the neighbours something to look at however and turning around at the top of the street was great fun as it can seemingly turn on a penny, but no, no, we’re not getting one. Sorry Paul! I embarrassed him today by parking outside the Smart car dealership whilst he was inside handing back the keys and putting the Black Beauty theme on loud. 

Tonight’s recipe, then – slow cooker lasagne. This serves six and only uses one 400g portion of extra lean mince, the type that you can buy from our Musclefood deal by clicking here. Just saying! You can bulk this out as much as you like by adding carrots, courgette, peas – any old shite you happen to have floating around in the back of the freezer. Also, this can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the beef mince with Quorn or similar. But ew, right. I hope they’ve improved Quorn mince since the last time I tried it – it was like digesting loft insulation. This lasagne is pretty much the same method as a normal lasagne. The pasta cooks slowly and is so soft, it’s almost like another sauce. Sounds like I’m having a joke but honestly, it’s good. That’s why it is essential to make your mince sauce as tasty as possible, it carries the dish! 

We served ours with roast potatoes and some steamed broccoli. Oh how fancy. 

SLOW COOKER LASAGNE

Look at it bubbling away…

IMG_2348

Looking good! Right. So…

to make slow cooker lasagne, you’ll need:

  • 400g lean beef mince
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml passata
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 280g lasagne sheets (about 2/3rds of a box)
  • 340g fat-free cottage cheese
  • 250g quark
  • as much reduced fat mozzarella cut into chunks as you like – 65g is one person’s HEA, and this serves six
  • whatever speed food you have about

to make slow cooker lasagne, you should:

  • in a large frying pan heat a little oil/Frylight over a medium high heat, add the onions and sweat down
  • add the garlic and the mince and stir occasionally until no pink meat remains
  • add the chopped tomatoes, passata, tomato puree and any other speed veg you are using into the pan and stir well, cook for a few minutes
  • meanwhile, add all of the cheeses into a bowl and mix together
  • spoon a quarter of the meat mixture into the slow cooker, top with a few lasagne sheets (break them up if you need to) and then spread over the top a quarter of the cheese mixture – repeat this three more times to make layers
  • cook on a low heat for 5 hours with the lid on

This freezes well, you’ll be glad to know. We portioned some up, put it in the freezer and got them about again 15 minutes later to eat. That’s portion control for you!

J


Remember, if you’re a fan of our writing, we now have a book out! You can find that here!

mince and mash (not our porn names)

Sorry, been away – busy attending to a personal issue. All sorted. 

Fireworks night. Yak. I’m a right miserable sod, because I don’t enjoy fireworks night. It’s not that the colours don’t amaze me or the bangs excite me, it’s just I spend the whole time wincing and thinking ‘oooh but what could you have bought with that money?’. It’s the Geordie in me. Plus, everyone else’s fireworks displays are always a bit crap, aren’t they? They certainly are around here – the sky being full of Aldi bangers that pop apologetically 12ft off the ground with less bang and smoke than what my thighs make when I move quickly. We go to the Hexham display, and that’s alright, but I find it’s invariably full of children getting in the way and crying. Honestly, why people don’t just shut them away in a cupboard is beyond me. Perhaps that’s why I can’t have children (well, ethically I shouldn’t, but biologically I can – nothing wrong with my gentleman’s relish, thank you very much). Perhaps we’ve been spoilt – we’ve experienced the fireworks at Disney Orlando, where you experience such a visual and aural overload that you don’t even notice them dipping their hands in your pockets to make absolutely sure you have zero money left. It’s certainly the first and only time I’ve developed sunburn from a fireworks display.

Mind, not that I’d see much now – my eyesight is dreadful. Don’t get me wrong, I can still see Paul if he so much as ventures anywhere near my wallet, even when I’m at work and he’s at home* – but I’ve been finding that my eyes are just getting worse. Nothing exciting, don’t worry, I just use a computer a lot and I’ve been putting off going for an eye-test for ages. See, any kind of test is a minefield when you have health anxiety because an anxious person makes all kind of crazy medical leaps. Eyesight getting worse? That’s because there’s a tumour the size of a rugby ball pressing my eyes flat. Tickly cough? That’ll be polycystic ovaries. Since I’ve adopted a mantra of ‘only worry if it gets worse’, I’ve put off the eye-test for long enough. 

* funny fact for you. I have a lovely picture of Paul and I lying on a bed together when we first started ‘going out’ (oh how I hate that term, but see it’s more polite than putting ‘rutting like dying pigs’). We both look content. My eyes are fixed on the camera I’m holding in front of us. Paul’s eyes are very pointedly and determinedly staring at my wallet, just on show on the table. How I tease him about this even now – if he married me for the money then he’s really done quite poorly. 

Anyway, on Monday, I bit the bullet. I actually went for an eye-test. That might not seem like a lot, but you have to remember how much I hate eye-tests because I’ve had nothing but terrible experiences with them. Take my last one at Boots Opticians, where the whole test was done almost in silence save for the sound of the skin on my cheek blistering under the assault of the opthamologist’s stinky breath. I’m sorry, but if I had a job that routinely involved me getting so close to people that I could give them stubble burn, I’d make damn sure my breath didn’t smell like an sewage outlet. Hell, it’s one thing I’m genuinely paranoid about – I hate the thought of having the type of breath that makes people audibly wince when I yawn or ask me if I had enjoyed the faeces I’d clearly had for dinner. If I know I’m going to the dentist or for an eye-test I spend a good three days beforehand brushing my teeth, swishing mouthwash and sucking menthol mints until it gets to the point where I can’t have a glass of water without my breath freezing it solid like that shrill tart from Frozen.

I have to say though, for once, it was altogether very pleasant, with the good staff at The Big Opticians in Byker putting me at ease. Can’t recommend them enough, and not just because I told the lovely lady serving me all about the blog. I’ve come away with a new pair of Paul Smith that are slightly more rounder than normal (I asked what was suitable for a “fat face”, and such bluntness seems to have worked wonders) and I’m not half as poor as I thought I’d be. Excellent. I asked Paul what he thought and he said I looked like Dame Edna, then immediately backtracked and said they were lovely. That was lucky, because how I would have been chuckling over the divorce papers later on. So that’s my eyes sorted, now I just need to do my hair.

I’m at that difficult stage now where I have to either commit to shaving off all my hair or going for a haircut. And I hate haircuts. It amazes me that they can actually cut my hair given I retreat my head back below my shoulders like a shy tortoise. I can’t stand people touching me, I can’t stand small-talk and I have as much style as a troubling fart, so going to a hairdressers is just awful. I’d sooner get a colonic in the middle of Boots with a group of students grading the look of my bumhole. I get asked what I want ‘doing with my hair’ and I struggle to reply with anything other than ‘cut’. It doesn’t help that I always look great when they whip off the blanket and show me the back of my head, then I blink and my hair immediately looks like something someone’s used to shift a particularly difficult scuff mark off a strip of lino. But I do need to do something with it, given I’ve been told I look like Donald Trump. From a loved one, no less. I know someone who’s not getting anal for at least two weeks. I sometimes wish I had that slightly stereotypical gay trait of being able to look good in any old outfit, but honestly, the only thing that looks put-together and stylish in my wardrobe are the built-in shelves. 

Sigh. Ah well. Tonight’s recipe is a little different. I’m calling it Paul’s Very Special First Meal because it’s a slightly more refined version of the very first meal he ever cooked – mince and mash. Apparently it’s a delicacy where he’s from (Peterborough, not, as you might think, the Eastern Bloc) and his mum used to make it often, though hopefully his version contains less Benson and Hedges ash and more meat. When Paul originally made this for me, it consisted of mash made from potatoes (and not a jot more) served with cooked mince and onion. With nothing else. It looked like something you’d get served for misbehaving in a Turkish prison. Still, I married him, and he’s the one who does most of the cooking now, so it all balanced nicely. This is a dinner that can be infinitely customised – add any old veg you like. We use it to go through all the scabby tins of peas and carrots that we buy on a whim. 

Incidentally, if you were looking for a nickname for the two of us, and twochubbycubs doesn’t quite cut it, ‘Mince and Mash’ should do the trick.

mince and mash

to make mince and mash, you’ll need:

for the mince:

for the mash:

  • however many potatoes you usually use for your mash, but choose a good, buttery potato – or use sweet potato, or use carrots, or use a mixture, or even chuck in some broccoli with your mash – but don’t bloody skin the potatoes
  • a tiny dash of milk
  • lots and lots of pepper

and to make mince and mash, you should:

  • finely dice the onion and garlic and sweat it down in a couple of squirts of spray oil – proper stuff mind, not bloody Frylight (though I mean, use Frylight if you want, but why would you when you don’t need to?)
  • chuck in the mince and cook it quickly until your meat is browned
  • add in the chopped tomatoes, peas, carrots, green beans, cat, TV Times, anything at all – crumble in the stock cube, bit of Worcestershire sauce if you fancy, and leave to simmer away merrily while you make the mash
  • I say make, all you need to do is boil your veg and then mash it roughly, so you get nice chunks and bits of potato peel – you’re lining your stomach with it, not plastering a ceiling, so lumpy is good

Paul prefers his mince watery, I like mine thick enough to leave my spoon standing up straight. Paul also likes to eat this dish with a teaspoon for god-knows-why, although it really just means he spills it down his front and I can’t eat my dinner for tutting and clucking.

Listen, I know it looks like a proper rubbish dinner, but it’s delicious and warming. Having typed it up, I realise I’ve just made a shepherd’s pie, only with the two layers side to side. BLOODY PETERBOROUGH.

Before I go, good news. We’re going to be doing a slow-cooker week starting next Sunday (I think). So, if your slow-cooker is sitting at the back of the cupboard collecting dust, dig it out. If you’re a fan of your whole house smelling like someone’s been farting non-stop for eight solid hours, or you like your dinner almost pre-chewed, you’ll be in your element.

flicked bean overnight chilli

I find parking an inherently stressful experience. How I envy those who can smoothly glide into a bay like a well-oiled plop round a u-bend. I’m a very confident driver, and I’ll always have a go, but I’m always left wracked with anxiety that someone is either going to scratch my car or judge me remorselessly for being slightly bent – story of my life. Paul will sit and tut and do asthmatic sighs as I back out of the bay, move back in, reverse, slightly to the left, slightly to the right – but I like to be dead centre, damn it. I can reverse into a bay like an old pro but as soon as I’m in there, I’m fidgeting and fussing. If anyone has somewhere I can park in the centre of Newcastle for free or at least £5, and won’t put a picture of my car on those awful parking blogs, get in touch. Only a quick blog entry tonight because we didn’t get to sleep until 2am last night and I’m dead on my feet. So without further delay – tonight’s tea was flicked bean chilli with cauliflower rice.
cauliflower

to make flicked bean overnight chilli, you’ll need:

Firstly, I apologise for the awful colour filter. I use a bit of software called Layout and it creates awful auto-corrections on my images. Hence it looks like every other food picture that every tit with a beard and sperm-strangling skinny trousers might have.

ingredients: for the cauliflower rice – one big cauliflower and some frozen peas. For the flicked bean chilli, I just tipped two tins of barlotti beans, one tin of black eyed peas, one tin of baked beans, one tin of tomatoes, bunch of dried chilli, chopped garlic, kidney beans, two oxo cubes and half a cup of boiling water. For the meat, you could use mince (brown it off in a pan first) or, in this case, use Quorn mince – it’s perfect for EE:SP but will also boost the weight loss.

to make flicked bean overnight chilli you should:

recipe: this is what makes it so easy – chuck all the chilli bits into a slow cooker and leave it on overnight, where it’ll thicken and simmer nicely. For the cauliflower rice, just blitz the whole cauliflower in a food processor, chuck in some frozen peas – and then pop it in a frying pan without oil and cook it through. Near the end, I chuck an egg in just to bind it a little. Lots of salt and pepper. Tasty and very, very low in calories. Add a sprinkling of cheese from your HEA allowance if you like.

extra-easy: definitely, and I think it’s decent for an EE:SP day but don’t take me at my word. It’s certainly syn free and all those beans will really get your bum working!

Enjoy. So easy to make…in the meantime, I’m going to go to bed early. LIVING THE DREAM.

J

syn free spaghetti bolognese

I can’t be the only one who finds eye tests incredibly stressful experiences, can I? I spend an hour or so beforehand obsessively chewing gum and using mouthwash because I know someone is going to be right up in the face and I don’t want them laughing gaily in the Vision Express staffroom at my smelly breath and dry skin. I have a massive anxiety with people being too close to me so sitting there whilst someone leans over me tutting about my answers and adjusting my lenses is a major nono.

It all stems from my first eye test which I shamefully waited until I was 23 to have, after I spent the first two years of our relationship thinking Paul was actually Japanese. Well maybe it wasn’t that bad but I really was blind. I had a very old, lovely but very fat optician who spent about thirty minutes actually pressed up against my chair peering into my eyes with that little light of hers. If I moved my head up, I’d have gotten stubble rash from her chin, and if I had turned my face in either direction I’d have nuzzled right into her boobs. I’ve never had someone be that close to me and not buy me a drink first. She also, bless her, had clearly been eating poo or something beforehand because her breath was bleaching my hair every time she exhaled. Since that arduous half hour, I’ve really worried about eye tests ever since. But I look so much better in glasses so it’s a hard choice…

so to make syn free spaghetti bolognese:

slutspaghetti recipe

Easy recipe this! Follow the instructions above. To my mind, this is a syn free dinner and you could easily make enough for four and freeze two portions of the mince to have with a jacket potato!

The reason it is called sluts spaghetti escapes me, except I know it came from Nigella Lawson and she normally adds butter and marmite. Well, she knows her stuff, but I can’t get away with having such volumptious titties, so I skip the butter.

Hey, remember when she was done for coke addiction? I made a cake in tribute for the office. LOVE YOU NIGELLAAAAAA.

 

meatloaf cupcakes

Only a very quick update today as we’re rattling around visiting and shopping – but I wanted to share this little photo of the meal Paul made for lunch. He took leftover meatloaf (syn free) from heresquished it down into muffin tins and made an icing from mustard mash. I ignored the fact he’s made my piping nozzle smell of potatoes because it was just so hilarious!

meatloaf cupcakes

meatloaf cupcakes

The site traffic for this blog generally sits around 1000 visitors a day these days, which suits me – but yesterday it almost hit 3500 views when I posted the fudge recipe! Heh. I only need a couple more followers to reach 400 lucky buggers who get my words thrown at them once a day. Feel free to share, like, tell your friends, post online, put an advert in the newspaper. That’ll make me happy!