beef chilli and bean pasta bake – canny winter food!

Beef chilli and bean pasta bake! We’ve done a fair few pasta bakes lately but see, they’re excellent winter meals because you can make a huge portion, freeze the leftovers and thoroughly enjoy them as a meal! It’s a holiday entry though, so if you’re here just for the recipe, click the button below and it’ll take you straight to the recipe. Move along, sugarboobs, there’s nothing for you here.

You absolutely made the right choice, let’s go!

click here for part one | click here for part two

You last left us just as we stumbled, blinking and frowning into the apricity of a Stockholm winter, having spent a merry hour groping around in the dark with a total stranger. I appreciate that’s pretty much the start of all of our holiday entries but you get the idea. What next? Over in the distance from the Museum for the Blind loomed the Kaknästornet, a 155 meter TV tower. We weren’t planning on visiting until we realised there was a restaurant on the 26th floor and given how windy it was, it was likely to be deserted. A quick tramp through the woods led us there and, after handing over a small fortune, we were dispatched to a rickety old lift that sounded like it clacked and clicked against every last bolt and screw in that shaft. Despite the whole tower swaying ominously it was absolutely worth the trip – the views were amazing. We sat and enjoyed a strong restorative coffee and a slab of cake the size of Paul’s arse and all was well with the world. I like being high up looking down – it makes me feel like a God, albeit one with lingonberry jam dripping on his chin.

Admittedly not the best photo, but it was swaying…


We should explain at this point that we had, for once in our lives, managed to plan ahead and purchase a Stockholm Pass, which afforded you entry into all sorts of attractions for a one-off fee. A quick google search revealed we were within walking distance of a bus-stop which would take us straight to the museum district which held, amongst other things, an Absolut Museum and even better, the friggin’ ABBA museum. Well now come on, some things are inevitable, and us two benders paying homage to the campest band ever, well, it was always going to happen. We wandered over to the bus-stop and took a seat, reassured that one of Stockholm’s incredibly reliable buses would be along within six minutes. The timetable and electronic board certainly confirmed this. So we waited. Waited some more. Then a bit longer. Thirty minutes passed and I made to leave only to spot Paul sitting there with that grim, sulky and determined look on his face that told me that because he had wasted half an hour waiting for this bus, he was going to damn well wait until one turned up. I know this face well: bottom lip pops out, eyebrows furrow like he’s solving a cryptic crossword – normally the only thing that can break the spell is if he hears me unwrapping a Crunchie bar, like an obese take on Pavlov’s dog.

Even the bus-stop suggested filth.

So we waited even longer until I snapped and ordered him to stand up and start moving. So much protestation but I’d be damned if I was going to spend another minute gazing at the minutiae of the Stockholm bus timetable and trying to work out whether överföra meant cancelled, transfer or that the typesetter had taken ill at the keys and slumped over the keyboard. After promising I’d rub his feet if he started moving we were finally off.

We were about twenty steps away from the stop when a bus sailed straight past us, depositing a pleasant mix of slush and schadenfreude across the bottom of our trousers. Paul was furious and only calmed down when we happened across The Museum of Science and Technology. Now we’re talking: buttons to press. It was great fun! Highlights included a stage where you could pose whilst virtual reality dinosaurs ran around you, the sight of which was beamed to the rest of the museum live. It took less than seven hot seconds before Paul was pretending to get bummed by a tyrannosaurus rex and was roundly tutted from the stage. Oh and let’s not forget the winter sports section where you could try all manner of sporty experiences in the comfort of a warm museum and a reassuring proximity to a defibrillator. I climbed a tiny little mountain before realising my own giant crevasse was on show.

It’s like a Lidl take on Cliffhanger

We both tried our hand at curling only to realise you need dexterity and grace rather than a considerable weight advantage – most folks glide on ice, we look like a landslide. My favourite part was an enclosed booth which offered you the chance to be commentators on an ice-hockey game playing out in front of you – we started off with good intentions, yelling and blaring, before it degenerated into ‘HAWAY TORVILL, YOU LAMPSHAPE-FACED SLAPPER’ and ‘SKATE FASTER, NANCY KERRIGAN: THIS TIME THERE’S NAILS IN THE BAT’.

Not exactly Match of the Day

All in good fun – the booth was soundproof from the inside so no harm no foul, and we took everyone’s icy stares as simply being that crisp Swedish attitude so common over there. That was until we realised I’d managed to shut my coat in the door, preventing it from fully closing, and allowing the museum full audible access to our rantings, shrieking and wailings. We left ashen-faced, but not before a quick go on the virtual toboggan – only a quick go because a four year old child appeared and start pressing the buttons.

Honestly, do folks not know how to behave in museums?

We tackled the big issues!

After the Science Museum I somehow managed to persuade Paul to keep walking (it’s easier in cold countries – because of the icy ground, you just need to shove him gently and let gravity do the rest) and we headed a couple of miles along the river to the Spritmuseum down on Djurgårdsvägen, having found out that the Abba museum was shut for the night. Bastards. The Spritmuseum is a museum dedicated to booze – how they make it, how they bottle it, what it does to the body and even better, with some free tasters. You understand why we were lured in, yes? I can’t pretend it was terrifically exciting, and I don’t think we took the ‘hangover simulator’ as seriously as the guides wanted as Paul promptly fell asleep on the sofa during the ‘a hard night out’ movie, but it passed the time. There’s something about museums abroad that the UK can’t seem to match – our museums are always full of tired exhibitions hidden behind glass cubes coated with fingerprints, smelly children barrelling around being noisy and loud and lots of ladies who have never known what it is to love yelling at people that THEY MUST NOT TOUCH and STAND WELL BACK and YOU CAN’T EAT THAT IN HERE. I swear I once had an argument with a curator who had a pop at me for eating outside food when I took a packet of Halls from my pocket. Pfft.

Found Paul!

Found my bedroom friend!

The museum itself took up only half an hour but afterwards we decamped into the bar and, in a fit of ‘but I don’t care that it cost more than the flights over’ excitement, I ordered a taster selection of the various spirits for us to try.

Pictured: Cyril Smith enjoying a drink

It’s hard to look butch in that shirt

Now listen: I’ve swallowed some disgusting things in my life. Top tip: pinch your nose and gulp, you’ll find it slips down that much easier. But these spirits absolutely defeated me – I felt like Anne Robinson back when she was necking her dressing room Chanel. I tried to sip them to ‘taste the flavour notes’ but it would have been nicer to chew open batteries. Paul was merrily necking them and so, in my haste to get past it, I threw the lot in my mouth, grimaced and swallowed. Worst 50 Swedish krona we spent that holiday. We should have left, but the very friendly bar staff noticed how quickly we had knocked it back and filled our glasses up again for free. Very generous indeed, but you have no idea how difficult it is to fake pleasure in swallowing what tastes like something they’d use to dissolve a London fatberg, especially when some blonde bombshell is looking at you both approvingly whilst you savour the flavour. I’ve never acted so hard in my life but after the second round – seeing stars – we had to pretend to urgently leave. We were absolutely bloody smashed.

We had an escape room booked for the evening and so, conscious of the fact we were both seeing double, we decided to make our way to the escape room via a nice long boat ride. Ah it was glorious – floating along in the ice-cold really freshened the mind and by the time we were pulling into the port, we were back in full ‘Rose and Jack’ voice.

Our Escape Room was hosted by Fox in a Box and they welcomed us with open arms, wincing only gently at the alcohol fumes pouring out of us. It was a very unusual location – underground with several rooms with different themes. You know we love an escape room and we have made a point of doing one on each holiday so far: this one was themed like a laboratory and the idea was that we had to stop a zombie apocalypse. Of course. Escape rooms are fun but it’s so hard to look serious whilst someone who couldn’t care less is telling you that there’s zombies just outside the door. She sealed us in. I started looking for clues when, as though he’d been holding it in since the TV tower, Paul let out a fart so loud and so elongated that I thought he’d found a trombone. You know how your ears ring after a large firework goes off? That was me. I might remind you that the rooms are linked to the reception so that they can hear if you get stuck, so they would have been treated as well. We were absolutely creased – we’re huge fan of toilet humour – but then it literally sank in. In a sealed room, with no air-conditioning or window, that fetid air wasn’t going anywhere. If anything, it seemed to get worse and worse, smelling like someone was burning tyres in a fire made of shit. It’s hard to concentrate on mixing colours and typing codes when your eyes are streaming and your nose is bleeding. The hour passed and we ‘saved the day’ with moments to spare. That’s all well and good, but when the lassie unlocked to lock the door and the air rushed out of the room, she was hit with the full force and set away with a coughing fit. I’ve never been so embarrassed and this happens a lot on our holidays: I’m left beetroot faced and Paul is standing there grinning like the cat that shat the bed.

Oh, at least the McDonalds had a compliment…

Cheers mate!

Seems like a good moment to get back to the recipe, doesn’t it?

REMEMBER FOLKS: we love feedback on the holiday entries! It makes my day! So please do leave a comment to gee us along!

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Right, let’s do this recipe eh? This serves 4 big portions!

beef chilli and bean pasta bake

beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you will need:

  • 400g lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 2 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp chilli powder (as hot or as mild as you like)
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 300g wholewheat pasta
  • 120g fat-free greek yoghurt (check the syns)
  • 220g Philadelphia lightest (2x hea)
  • 80g reduced fat extra mature cheese, grated (2x HeA)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten

top tips to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200ºc
  • cook the pasta according to the instructions, then drain
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, spray with a bit of oil and add the onions and celery
  • cook for a few minutes until starting to soften, then scoop out the pan and set aside
  • add the mince to the pan and cook until browned
  • add the onions and celery back into the pan and tip in the tomatoes, kidney beans, celery, tomato puree, chilli powder, garlic and beef stock
  • stir well, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes
  • next, mix together the yoghurt, Philadelphia, salt, pepper, cheese and eggs and set aside
  • mix the pasta and the mince mixture together and tip into a large dish
  • top with the cheese mixture, making sure that it’s even spread over the top
  • bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes – finish under the grill for a few minutes to get the top crispy

Who couldn’t love that?! Try our other pasta bakes!


syn free cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake

Here for the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake? WITH NO BLOODY QUARK? But of course you are, my love – the recipe awaits you at the bottom of this page. But before we get to the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, we have part one of our holiday entry for our Christmas trip to Sweden and Norway! Newcomers to the blog may not know this, but we’re also a ‘travel’ blog in that when we go away, we like to post the stories of what we get up to. Admittedly, this can lead to a long post, so to help you – if you’re here solely for the food, click the button below to go straight to it! I promise not to cry too much.

The rest of you settle back – this is a long one! And look, to celebrate, I’ve even tidied up the banners – I was sick of that awful messy looking banner template I had. This looks altogether more…Swedish, ja? Let’s go!

I’ve been looking forward to typing up this holiday entry ever since we came back – why? Simple: it was amazing! It’s not as though we did anything out of the ordinary or unique – just our usual pottering about in cities getting lost and having a good time – but there was just something terrific about the whole experience. Every day was a happy memory – I haven’t been able to say that about any holiday since we went on that coach trip. I jest, that was Hell in a 57-seater. But before you join us on our Scandinavian adventure, we need to dip back in time a bit further to a wet October afternoon, where you would have found me slumped over my keyboard at the end of a very, very long email exchange with the other half. Here’s how every single holiday of ours gets planned: I suggest somewhere, Paul sucks air in over his teeth and say ‘oooh’ with that look a roofer gives you when he’s going to need to take your tiles off, I suggest somewhere else, he grimaces like he’s shitting an acorn. He then suggests somewhere wildly expensive and extravagant and pouts when I point out he’s trying to live a Waitrose lifestyle on a shoplifted-from-Lidl budget. We both then give up and stop talking until one of us cracks and we’re friends again, holiday completely forgotten about. Hence, on this October afternoon, conscious of the fact we’d need to book somewhere before all the parents and (shudder) their snotty-nosed litter booked up all the fun places, I sent a plaintive little email asking if we dare broach ‘booking the big holiday’. Paul, to his credit, was very agreeable, but then we immediately started arguing about where to go.

So, I did something I would never normally do because it’s altogether too much effort: I acted unilaterally. Straight onto to book four nights in Stockholm, flights to Oslo, four nights in Oslo, a train journey to Bergen, three nights in Bergen and then the flights back to London then to Newcastle. For good measure, I booked the train to take us up to Edinburgh Airport for our Stockholm flight and a hotel for the night before. I parcelled all the reservations in one big PDF and sent them to Paul, triumphant. His reply? ‘Ah good, sounds nice

It’s lucky he works twenty miles away and I’m so fat and lazy that I couldn’t be arsed to get in the car to go and tan his arse because damn, was my excitement punctured. He only won me around later by explaining he was in a meeting and actually he was very much looking forward to our lovely holiday and indeed I was the best husband in the world and no, he’d never sin again. I can’t say his agreement was purely because I was pulling on his balls like a farmer milking a cow at the time. Who can say…

To day one, then. Our journey begins as so many of them often do: a taxi ride to the train station by a man so Geordie and hardcore that he explained he’d recently suffered a heart attack at the wheel of his car, chalked it down to indigestion and carried on driving passengers around. It was only after a whole day of chest pains and breathlessness that he went to A&E. Great! I imagine he took my endless staring into his rear-view mirror as rapt attention to his mildly-racist stories but actually, I was just making sure his lips hadn’t turned blue and he wasn’t going to career us into a lamp-post. We made it safely to the station and I left him a generous tip. Well, something had to pay for the funeral buffet. We were due to take the 14.30 Virgin Train to Edinburgh, but, to add a frisson of excitement to the start of our holiday, they elected to jumble all the trains around and delay our train by a full hour. Super, but have no fear, we’re Rockafella Skanks – we had first class advance tickets and thus the utopia that is the first class lounge awaited us – what a treat!

No. You may know this yourself but the first class lounge at Newcastle is fitted out like the waiting room of an NHS dentist – all pastel colours on the wall, hotel biscuits and furniture that looks as though it’s blown in from a storm. It really is dreadful. We comforted ourselves with the fact we could eat as many biscuits as humanely possible and entertain ourselves with our phones, able as we were to take full advantage of the charging points. Only the charging points didn’t work, they had run out of biscuits and the toilet was blocked and overflowing. We’d have had more luxury fighting the rats on the train-tracks for some discarded Greggs and somewhere to shit. To compound my misery I spotted my old HR director from a previous job who I absolutely despised. She was to fun what I am to a chaste heterosexual lifestyle. She was very much one of those type of people who would click ‘skip straight to recipe’ on this blog and then email me to tell me she was allergic to food and how insensitive I was being by posting a recipe. She hated me especially because I burst out laughing when she fell over in the middle of the office, having stumbled into an open floor socket, falling down like one of those cooling towers you sometimes see getting blown up on the telly. I couldn’t help it: I have a nervous laugh, and anyway, she deserved it. She was Miss Trunchbull in a Jigsaw-outlet suit. We clashed many, many times – she upheld a complaint that I laughed too much, for example, and that I didn’t take the job seriously because I wore trainers to work. Pfft. I never said anything about her homage-to-Robert-Winston moustache.

I made sure to give her the sickliest, fakest, cheesiest smile I could muster up – a smile that said ‘Damn, I honestly thought you’d be dead by now, but here’s to the good times, you vile husk of a woman’ and walked past her, making sure she saw I still wore the trainers that used to irk her so. It did mean, however, that I couldn’t relax, because every time I stood up for a fresh coffee or a newspaper she would give me 100% pure stink-eye. So, all in all, a rubbish experience. Luckily, the train journey made up for it, though I wish they’d do away with the pretence of unlimited tea and coffee – we had one member of staff come around with the hot drinks, leave us a gin and gave us a sandwich, and that was it, no more, goodnight nurse. We’d polished off our ‘dinner’ by the time the train was whooshing past the house we’d left only 90 minutes before. No matter – we arrived in Edinburgh in the pissing rain, jumped straight into a taxi (why oh why oh why do people stand and wait for taxis these days? Just use bloody Lyft or Uber for goodness sake – embrace technology!) who whisked us straight to the hotel, but not before regaling us for forty minutes about why electric cars were the future. Forty minutes is a long time to nod politely: my poor neck sounded like popcorn by the end of it. Paul and I have an agreed arrangement: I deal with taxi drivers, he deals with the people who bring room service to our hotel room whilst I hide in the bathroom. It works very well indeed simply because I’m good at making small talk and he’s very believable as a fat bastard who has ordered enough food to feed two people. He’s seen many a hotel worker cast him a pitying look as they put down the laden trays of food in front of him.

Don’t worry, that bedspread soon looked as though someone had spilled Marmite everywhere   

Our night at the Dakota was very pleasant indeed, even if the room service left a lot to be desired. It’s all a bit frou-frou – I like to see people buckle under the weight of my plate, not be able to frisbee it across the room because there’s a bit of cress and a hair of cheese on the plate. In fact, we were so unsatisfied by the volume of our food that we waited a discreet twenty minutes and ordered another round. Well, when you’re on holiday, these things don’t matter, though I could have done without the judgemental ‘oh, TWO rounds of room service, my mistake’ remark from the receptionist when we checked out. I don’t think she had warmed to me because, upon seeing that the reception was full of blokes all in black kilts, full Scottish regalia and beards you could lose a dog in, I remarked ‘but I didn’t order breakfast!‘ to her with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink leer. That’ll be us on the blacklist.

I won’t bore you with the 150 minutes we spent at Edinburgh Airport only to make two remarks:

  • can someone please persuade my husband that we absolutely do not need to be at the airport so far in advance of a flight, especially when the only thing we’re taking on board the aircraft is hand luggage and chewing gum – I swear that unless Paul’s at the airport the day before he’s an unbearable nervous wreck; and
  • massive thank you to the Scottish toilet cleaner who, having not realised I was sitting in the cubicle next to the one she’d just gone in to clean, exclaimed ‘now which fuckin’ dirty c*nt has gone and done that’ in a loud Scottish burr. Thank God I was sitting on the toilet at the time because I would have pissed myself outright – it was so loud and so disgusted that I almost wanted to climb on my toilet to peer over and take a look.

Now here’s a new thing: we weren’t flying easyJet! I know! I want some reassurance from you all though – am I the only one who likes to fly with an airline they’ve flown with before? I think I rationalise it in my mind that they didn’t crash before, so it must be safe. Nevertheless, the lure of a cheaper flight won me over and so it was that we boarded an SAS flight to Stockholm. Well: what a revelation! Lovely new plane, free tea and coffee, USB sockets in the back of the seats – even the bog didn’t smell like a foot and mouth crisis in an open sewer like they normally do. I was very impressed, and even more so when they landed us safely in Stockholm without ditching us into the North Sea. Don’t get me wrong, my heart will always be with the tangerine-trolleys of easyJet, but I might use SAS on the side like the plane-hopping slag that I am.


Before we continue, I want to give praise where it’s due: to Paul. We’ve flown twenty times this year and each time he lets me sit by the window because he knows I like to be able to look at the engine and the wing to make sure everything is OK. I mean, I know the captain has a fair idea, but I’m sure it’s a comfort to him (or her) to know that I’m keeping an eye on the flaps from the back. Story of my life, that. Anyway, I always offer to sit in the aisle but Paul always gives me the window seat and for that he gets a gold star, or a go on my brown star, whichever he prefers. It makes the flight better for me so I want to say a big thank you to my gorgeous and lovely Shitty McGee.

I love this woman’s face. It’s like she’s being asked to blow into a smeggy knob.

We landed on time and were ushered through immigration in a wonderful Swedish efficient manner. I was pleased to see that the lady looked the spit of Agnetha from ABBA – exactly as I expected. We sloshed our way to the train station, took the airport express straight into Stockholm Central and then made our way on foot to our base of operations for the next few days: the Hobo Hotel on Brunkebergstorg. I chose the hotel simply because of the name and the fact it looked so cool and hip on the website. I wanted to see how they’d deal with two fat blokes whose idea of high fashion is a Cotton Traders. To their absolute credit, the staff – though they all looked like they were part of a really shit/unknown yah-yah electrosynth band – were unfailingly lovely and helpful.

Our room – we could watch the office workers over the road. No doubt my fat hairy arse has appeared in their company newsletter.

Our room was gorgeous too – massive bed, good steamy shower, television with Discovery on it (thank heavens – Paul was almost at 24 full hours without watching a How It’s Made) and lots of neat little touches. For example, there was a water pistol – imagine Paul’s delight when he’d just settled down for his ‘Welcome to Stockholm’ crap and I opened the door and squirted him right in the ear. How we laughed as he almost wrenched the toilet away from the wall in sheer fright. Ah, we’d arrived.

All I wanted was one nice picture.

Now, I’ve done the classic twochubbycubs holiday report opening and spent 2000 words getting us to the hotel. I did it with Copenhagen, Paris, Geneva…at this point, it would be rude not to. But let’s close part one here and get to the recipe.

Remember, folks – if you enjoy our holiday entries, please do let us know. I know they’re a longer read but we like to make it interesting. Feedback always welcomed!

Gosh, I’m spent – and now I need to do a full recipe for the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake that you’re all actually here for! This makes a giant dish of pasta – easily enough for six – but it freezes well and tastes bloody amazing. Let’s go! This uses six HEAs but makes enough for six – so I count it as one HEA per portion as you’re using a sixth of each. Yes, we’re splitting HEAs, but hey, let’s live a little. This is a heavy, rich dish so you’ll not be eating loads in one go. YEAH RIGHT. You could knock down the HEAs by using Quark instead of Philadelphia, but it won’t be nearly as nice.

pasta bake

pasta bake

to make a cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, you’ll need:

  • 500g of pasta – any type will do, I promise
  • two fat leeks (use onion if you prefer)
  • a pack of bacon medallions
  • optional: 200g button mushrooms, chopped
  • two cloves of garlic
  • 120g of extra mature lighter cheese (3 x HEA)
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2 x HEA)
  • 250ml of semi-skimmed milk (1 x HEA)

top tips:

to make a cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, you should:

  • preheat your oven to 200 degrees
  • cook your pasta – boiling water, salty as Paul in the morning, remove when there’s still a bit of give in the pasta
  • thinly slice your leek and chop your bacon (and add the mushrooms, if using) and gently fry it off in a pan with a few squirts of oil from your sprayer – as they soften, add the minced garlic
  • meanwhile, make the sauce by tipping your Philadelphia and milk into a pan, put it on a low heat and gently whisk until it’s all mixed together – it’ll be quite runny – at this point, add 100g of the cheese and keep whisking – you’ll end up with a nice thick cheesy sauce – season it with plenty of salt and pepper
  • tip everything together in the pasta pan, give everything a bloody good mix, slop it into an ovenproof dish, top with the remainder of the cheese, some chopped spring onion or leek if you’re feeling fancy, and pop it in the oven for about thirty minutes until the cheese is golden and everything is delicious
  • serve with a side salad which you studiously ignore

Gorgeous! Of course, if you’re looking for more delicious pasta ideas, we’ve got you covered:



black pudding bolognese with cheesy mash

Black pudding bolognese: for when you’re not quite satisfied with the amount of killing done in the name of your meal. Well, we needed to counter the vegan recipe from yesterday didn’t we? I’m jesting, of course, but I’m taking the view that if you’re a meat-eater, you probably don’t mind a bit more ghoulishness. Anyway, this is a Thomasina Miers recipe I’ll have you know, and what that lady doesn’t know about cooking you could write on a flapping winnit.

Just the recipe post tonight because, due to a shitstorm of car alarms, alarmed cats and Paul’s fat ham arms hitting me every time he turned over, I had an abysmal night of sleep. When you’re still awake at 4am, desperately listening to Radio 4 trying to sleep, you know it’s going to be a rough day. So forgive my brevity, but know that I do it in the name of making sure you lot have a lovely new recipe to try. This makes enough for four generous bowlfuls. Christ, I hate that term. A generous bowl. Puts me in mind of a bowl that reassures you that no, you’re not fat, you’re pretty, honest, as your tears tumble over your dinner.

black pudding bolognese

black pudding bolognese

to make black pudding bolognese with cheesy mash, you’ll need:

  • 500g of extra lean beef mince
  • two onions
  • one large clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 100g of black pudding (10.5 syns – goodness!)
  • two tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of red wine vinegar
  • 3 sprigs of thyme if you have it, half a teaspoon of dried if you don’t
  • enough potatoes to make as much mash as you want
  • 40g of extra mature lighter cheddar

Looking for mince? It’s quicker than Waiting for Godot. We have four Musclefood deals to suit any budget, including making your own hamper – so you only get what you want!

to make black pudding bolognese with cheesy mash, you should:

  • chop your onions finely and sweat them off with a few sprays of oil until nice and sweaty
  • add your garlic (minced) and cook for a minute more
  • add your mince – rather like I often say to Paul, you want your meat browned
  • once your mince is cooked through, add the cinnamon and paprika and then crumble in the black pudding and stir
  • add the tomatoes, vinegar, thyme and vinegar and allow to simmer and mingle for as long as you like – a good hour on low is perfect
  • once you’re starving and chewing your fingernails to stumps, make your mash – boil the potatoes, put them through a ricer (you can pick up a ricer from Amazon for just over a tenner and it really will change your life), add a whole egg and 40g of extra mature lighter cheddar
  • serve with some parmesan if you’re feeling tasty!

Easy! If like me, you’ve got a little mince leftover, why not make one of these dishes?

Remember to share!


vegan-friendly avocado pesto pasta

Avocado pesto pasta? Vegan friendly? What’s come over me? I feel like I’m one moustache-wax away from giving up my car, wearing altogether too much denim and living on millet. But I ought to explain: we received a lovely message from a vegan who loves our blog but struggles with the amount of meat. Listen, I hear you. We do have a good vegetarian section though and I encourage any veggies out there or indeed, anyone who doesn’t want to be straining on the toilet for twenty minutes at a pop, to have a look. Click the wee button!


Mind, normally I’d ignore requests for recipes because frankly, if I don’t enjoy eating it, it isn’t going on the blog. But I’m a sucker for a nice message as opposed to the usual how mani suns hon bollocks we tend to attract, so here we are. Just to complete the smug middle-class pretentiousness of it all, I found the recipe in the Guardian section. Whilst lounging in bed late on a Sunday morning, because I don’t have children pawing at me with dirty hands. I know, what a dreamboat!

Let’s do the recipe then – though first, please do take a moment to wish Paul a happy birthday. He’s a love!

Now this avocado pesto pasta is made without parmesan (good lord) and with avocado, which is, if you’re unfamiliar with Slimming World, THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD. It’s 14 syns for a whole avocado. Don’t worry though folks, a Kitkat Chunky is less syns, though doesn’t taste as good in guacamole. So here’s the thing: you can choose to syn it (and if you’re following Slimming World to the letter, you should) or you can accept that an avocado is a source of good fats, incredibly healthy for you and full of taste and flavour. Up to you…

avocado pesto pasta

avocado pesto pasta

to make avocado pesto pasta, you’ll need:

  • 400g pasta
  • ¼ avocado
  • 300g fine beans (sometimes called ‘French’ beans – buy the already-trimmed ones to save you faffing on)
  • 75g basil leaves
  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt

Random link, but don’t forget we have three books out! Take us with you wherever you like!

to make avocado pesto pasta you should:

  • trim the ends off the beans if you need to
  • cook the pasta according to the instructions
  • meanwhile, bring another pan of water to the boil and cook the beans for 7-8 minutes with the lid on
  • add the broccoli to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes, then drain and set aside
  • next, plop the avocado, basil, garlic, lemon juice and salt into a food processor with about 60ml of water and blitz until smooth. you can add 1tbsp water at a time if you need to
  • drain the pasta and keep aside a mugful of the water
  • combine the pasta with the vegetables, the pesto and as much of the cooking water as you need (stir a little bit in at a time to make it creamy to your liking, you won’t need the whole lot)
  • serve!

Easy! Proper easy!


Hawaiian pizza pasta bake – no seriously, hear us out

Hawaiian pizza pasta if you please! I know what you’re thinking – years of my brain stem being nudged increasingly repeatedly from the front twice a day for ten minutes has left me addled. Well, you’re not wrong, but we’re actually making Hawaiian pizza pasta bake to celebrate the fact that Vera returns to the telly tonight. Don’t get the link? It’s simple: Hawaiian is how she tells people to enter a building in that “Geordie” “accent” of hers. “Hawaiian pet, there’s been a moorda

See? It’s that easy. If you’re wondering what that snapping noise was, it was sound of a tortuous analogy breaking in two.

Actually, speaking of pet, did anyone see that storm in the teacup with Virgin Trains in the middle of the week? Someone complaining was told to ‘go right ahead, honey‘ and when she mentioned it on their Twitter that actually, when complaining, it doesn’t do to be overfamiliar in return, the customer service guy replied with ‘would you prefer darling or sweetheart, next time?

I have to admit, I was absolutely howling. That’s exactly why I couldn’t work in social media, I’d be putting my foot in my mouth that much I’d need to tie my shoelaces with my uvula. Everyone is kicking off as though she’s Millie Tant in human form but reading beyond the typically salacious PC-GONE-MAD headline, she only complained that the train guard had called her honey in a voice dripping with sarcasm. As someone who was told loudly that WE MUST SERVE EVERYONE ELSE BEFORE YOU GET SECONDS when I asked for a sandwich on their train, I can sympathise.

It did make me think, though – I give absolutely everyone a nickname and I can’t help it. Paul is shittyarse, Shitty McGee or sugartits, my mum is Boot, dad is Greengrass, even my bosses are Chief and Guv’nor respectively. I wouldn’t think twice about sticking a love or a pet or a flower on the end of my hello or thank you in a shop. Sex doesn’t come into it, unless they’re giving me the keen-eye and I’ve got time. In fact, this habit teamed with my booming voice in shops probably doesn’t endear me to about half the people I come across, but meh, fuck it – no malice is meant – but I ought to apologise on behalf of almost every Geordie in existing who use this over-familiar terms of endearment like Southern folks use full-stops.


Right, to the recipe. Hawaiian pizza pasta bake! Just trust me. After all this time? Always. This makes four big portions. Cook it, freeze it, keep some extra! Lovely. If you’re after a carb hit, I just happen to have got what you need, just exactly what you need…

Hawaiian pizza pasta bake

Hawaiian pizza pasta bake

to make Hawaiian pizza pasta bake, you’ll need:

  • 250g pasta
  • 750ml passata
  • 4 slices of thick ham, chopped
  • 300g bacon medallions
  • 230g pineapple chunks (fresh is better, just buy a pre-cut pack in the supermarket if you can’t be arsed)
  • 140g reduced-fat mozzarella, diced or grated (2x HeA)
  • if you’re feeling extra sluttish, add 80g of extra mature lighter cheddar on top – I know, I’m pure filth

Get proper tasty bacon in our Musclefood deal! Make your own hamper so it’s full with only the stuff you love! Click here to find out more.

Top tip: use your microplane grater, the one I always recommend, to make your cheddar go that much further – nice and fine creates a proper crunchy top!

to make Hawaiian pizza pasta bake, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions
  • meanwhile cook the bacon under the grill, and then roughly chop
  • add the passata to a saucepan and heat gently
  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
  • add the chopped ham and pineapple and cook for a few minutes
  • add the passata, bacon, ham and pineapple to the drained pasta and stir well
  • stir through half of the mozzarella and tip into a large pyrex dish
  • sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes
  • finish under the grill for a few minutes to brown the cheese
  • serve!

Love pasta bakes? You’re not the only one! You’ll find more ideas below!

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creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle

Creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle! Right – no farting about because it’s a long entry tonight! So, if you can’t be arsed to read, just click here and it’ll whizz you straight to the recipe. No sarky comments this time!

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

I can’t quite believe we’re on part seven – I’m sorry if you’re not a fan of the holiday entries. When Paul first suggested Benidorm I thought the only thing I’d get from it was a urine infection and fleas, but clearly I had a much better holiday than I first expected! When you last left us we had deliberately gassed an old lady, I’d set my face on fire and we’d seen a Meat Loaf tribute act more Martin Mull than Marvin Lee. Think about it, that works. In this, our penultimate entry, we take a trip out.


After so many hours of being around braying English folk and all that that entails we decided we absolutely must try and get out of the town and go somewhere more…Spanish. A quick nose on Tripadvisor for places reachable by bus (we couldn’t hire a car because guess who had left the documents at home?) turned up Guadalest, a pretty village about forty minutes away. There was one bus there and one bus back – and this story isn’t going to go the way you might be expecting. We turned up at the bus stop nice and promptly in the morning, awaiting our carriage through the mountains. The bus turned up late, with an exasperated looking driver sat in front of what looked like 200 old folk squeezed behind him. If he had braked hard enough I reckon they would have all melded into one another, like that bit in Terminator 2 when the evil Terminator gets obliterated into pools of mercury, only to reform. Yeah, imagine that, only with the addition of 800 barely-sucked Murray Mints scattered about. We had more chance of getting on the Mayflower than we did this bus. Perhaps that’s for the best: long-time readers may recall the last time we went on a coach-trip, it didn’t go well. So we elected for a taxi which didn’t so much as drive us to the village as warp space and time to get us there before I’d even had a chance to say ‘how much, guv’nor’ in broken Spanish. We were going that fast it was like looking at a watercolour through the windscreen. However, once we stopped…

Not a SKOL ashtray in sight.

Just out of shot is a big old dam. You may remember I’m scared of dams. I know, I’m awfully brave.

Anyway, what treasures did Guadalest have clutched to her busom? Quite a lot, actually, although you wouldn’t spend the summer there. I reckon you’d die of boredom within two days. But for a day out, there was plenty. We ambled around the streets, buying trinkets from little shops, cooing at the pretty houses and desperately pleased that we had arrived before the Saga-louts, who were but a distant mumbling on the horizon. First on the tour was Museo de Microminiaturas, a charming wee museum which gave you the opportunity to gaze in wonder down a microscope lens at some stunning vista depicted on a grain of rice. The Spanish lady behind the counter laughed politely when I said I was experienced in finding tiny pleasures in the dark, but I could tell we’d never speak again. We walked around earnestly at first, oohing and aahing at a village carved into a flea, or a woman with her fanny out balanced on the head of a match, but I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult to remain enthralled by the eighth time you’ve rounded a corner only to see another row of magnifying glasses in front of you. The artist, Manuel Ussà, must have been a saucy bugger mind – I’ve never seen so many spread-eagled forms, even in miniature format. We didn’t want to look boorish by nicking out after five minutes so we stretched out our admiration for a good twenty minutes, before the deafening sound of dentures being sucked landed upon us and the elderly had arrived to serve as a distraction. We slipped out.


Something familiar about this…

After a few minutes more climbing the stairs of the town and gasping theatrically into our sleeves we happened across another museum, the Museo Micro-Gigante. This sounds more like my cup of tea, the big wind-socked size queen that I am. We hastened indoors, paid for our tickets and were ushered past the entrance curtain…into a room full of magnifying glasses. It was another museum of miniatures.

Why? What town needs two museums dedicated to the world of the microscopic? Are they rivals? Do they hate each other? Do you reckon it might boil over one day and one of the owners will nip into the other museum and throw a cup of boiling water over their exhibits, cooking the rice and bankrupting them? Who knows. We again feigned interest in teensy-tiny things, me drawing on my year long experience of dating someone with a penis like a cat’s nipple*, and wandered about. Once we were sure we weren’t being watched, we ran upstairs, took a picture with the giant horse (hence the Gigante part of the name) and ran straight back out.

Oh I say!


*You might think I’m harsh drawing attention to my ex’s tiny willy, but he was an absolute bellend. A horrid, mean bellend. You don’t need a big knob to make someone happy, but it sure helps act as a distraction when you’ve got a personality like a blown-out arsehole.

By this time Paul was hungry – it had been at least two hours since he’d doubled his weight – and so we set about finding somewhere for a bit of lunch. Guadalest isn’t quite awash with beautiful places to eat but we did manage to find a lovely little café in the main square – even if it did have plastic chairs that creaked ominously underarse. Paul ordered some peri-peri chicken and I went for the healthy choice of a chef’s salad. His looked delicious – good quality chicken, well spiced and grilled to perfection. Mine looked like the little polystyrene tub of salad you get with your Chinese takeaway that sits and sweats under your chow mein. I’d have gained more nutrition from eating the napkin. It really annoys me that people can’t make a decent salad – iceberg lettuce belongs in nothing at all, the tuna was tinned and sweaty and the tomatoes, well, if you can’t grow a decent tomato in sunny Spain then frankly, you don’t deserve to serve lunch to the public. What makes this all the more offensive to me were the two asparagus stalks that had been slapped on the top – grey, thin and slimy. It was like having Voldemort’s cock pressed on my salad.

Naturally when the owner came around we were full of compliments and good cheer and ‘oh we’ve never had better!’, despite the fact I’d tipped most of my salad into the carrier bag we were carrying our trinkets in. Even now my Guadalest fridge magnet smells of onions and disappointment. We left a tip regardless because we’re nice like that.



A trip around the castle followed, then more bric-a-brac shopping (shown above) (I’m sorry, I really am, but if you’re wondering which lout rearranged the lovely letter-tiles you use to make up your house name into ‘El Homo’, it was I) and then onto the final museum – the Museo de Saleros y Pimenteros. That’s the museum of salt and pepper shakers, for the uncultured amongst you. I mean, really. A museum dedicated to some poor sap who decided to start collecting salt and pepper shakers and wasn’t able to tell her friends to stop bloody giving them to her for Christmas. I’m underselling it – this pepper collection was not to be sneezed at.

Ah bugger off.

We went inside and spoke to a charming woman who seemed positively delighted to see us. I can’t imagine there’s many visitors, to be honest, but that’s a great shame because it was actually very, very interesting! Here me out, won’t you – there’s well over 20,000 pairs of shakers in here, in every conceivable forms. They’re separated out first into theme and then into colour and the whole effect is just great – a real treat for the eyes. There’s not much to read (how many words can be said about condiment containers?) but your eyes are drawn to all sorts of oddities – shakers shaped like Diana and Charles, two little penis-shaped shakers (you have to shake the salt for a good five minutes but then poof, you get a proper spurt of salt for your efforts) and my favourite, two big bears cuddling in the corner. There’s something heart-warming about collections like this – your first thought is why bother, but then the real question is – why not? Better than collecting bodies in a cellar.

My favourite picture of the holiday.


Closer still.

As we had the place to ourselves (I imagine we had just missed the morning rush which must surely have been like Black Friday at Brighthouse) we were able to devise a game where one of us would nip around the corner, take a picture of a random shaker and then task the other with finding it. It was all very Famous 5 until Paul bent down to snap a photo and broke wind with possibly the loudest fart I’ve ever heard him do. I’m surprised the curator didn’t rush in sure that the shelves had collapsed. Mortified – as they would have doubtless heard this in Catalonia never mind the entrance lobby – we made a dash for the exit, only to be stopped by the sweet-faced old lady owner who wanted to know what we thought. We didn’t want to give her short shrift but I was also conscious of the fact that there was a cloud of effluence billowing out from under the exit door and had she smelled it, it could have finished her off. So, I feigned being deaf. I know that’s dreadful but it works – I pointed out my ears and made some complicated hand gestures which I hoped at least looked like we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It worked, mind – she gave us a beatific smile as we left.

We ducked into a church to rest our ankles and have a look around. The statues were a little…unique.

Poutin’ for Jesus – we also put out a prayer that whatever cruel curse that gave Paul a tiny desktop fan of a right ear would soon be lifted.

Let’s hear it for Mary – she’s got one eye on your sins, the other eye on the other side of the room.

Ah yes, The Slutty Shepherd and his Doughnut Carrying Dog     

We slipped out when the nuns came in to strike us down.

It was almost time for the return bus back to Benidorm and, aware of the fact we could easily skittle a few old biddies out of the way to ensure a seat on the bus, we wandered over to the bus-stop. However: no such luck. All those dear folk on the outbound bus were dutifully waiting in one bluey-grey mass, waiting to board. I suppose what comes up a mountain must come down. We were stuck: no obvious place to call for a taxi, no payphones, even Google couldn’t assist. Bugger. We walked around bickering in that passive-aggressive ‘well I knew we should have gone to Portugal’ way of ours until Paul spotted two stations of relief – a public toilet (I was bursting) and a tourist information centre, which, against all odds, was open. We asked for a taxi and he sat us outside in the sun to wait.

Aware that the taxi was coming all the way from Benidorm and thus we were in for a long wait, I diverted myself to the public toilet to while away the time dropping off my dinner. I was met outside by the type of bloke you see in local newspapers pointing furiously at leaves in his garden whilst his wife considers her life-choices in the background. A tedious, boring fart. He saw me heading over and I swear his eyes lit up with eagerness at the sight of someone fresh to talk to. His opening line was: “I’VE just been in there and it ABSOLUTELY stinks”. I applauded him on a job well done and told him to try the Salt and Pepper Museum if he fancies the smell of a lingering shit. I went inside and crashed the lock across, making sure to keep my foot pressed against the door for good measure. It did smell, but hey, it’s a toilet, not the Tom Ford counter, and I’m not dabbing the toilet water behind my ears so let’s crack on. Ten minutes later I emerged (it was a slow mover up the charts) only to find he had waited for me outside. He picked up the conversation as though I’d merely blinked out of existence for a moment, rather than disappeared  a dump. “APPARENTLY IT’S THE DRAINAGE SYSTEM” he bellowed at me, as though I’d spent the last ten minutes in the lavatory staring mystified at the u-bend. I had no idea how to react, so I nodded politely and made to cross the car-park to the relative safety of Paul, who I could see chuckling away to himself.

Thankfully, the guy didn’t follow me, but did leave a final exclamation ringing around my ears that “IT’S BECAUSE we’re SO HIGH UP, SEE”. I waved him away. It begs a bigger question, however – he was still hanging around outside the toilet twenty minutes later when our taxi arrived. Either his wife had an awful lot of meat and was struggling in the ladies or he was absolutely mental. There was no suggestion that he was cottaging or being inappropriate, but what other explanation could there be? Even as our taxi pulled away he was staring at the toilet door with a concerned look. I like to think he’s there even now, yelling about poo and the standards of the toilet paper.

That was Guadalest. Now, onto the food.

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!

Double dip time!

to make creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle you will need:

Remember, you can leave out the booze if you like, but it adds a certain tang! Oh and this serves 2 – two very big-fatty portions!

to make creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle you should:

  • add a little oil to a large frying pan and heat over a medium-high heat
  • add the garlic and jalapeños and cook for a few minutes
  • add the chicken stock, tequila and lime juice, whack the heat up a little and cook until it’s reduced a bit glaze-like
  • remove from the pan and leave to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the philadelphia, quark and soy sauce – then keep aside
  • now is a good time to bring a big pan of water to the boil and cook the tagliatelle
  • in another pan (or under the grill if you prefer) add a little oil and add the chicken breasts
  • sprinkle over the salt and pepper and cook over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes each side or until cooked through
  • put the chicken on a plate and add the peppers and onion to the empty pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring every now and again
  • chop the chicken into 1″ cubes and add back into the pan with the onions and peppers
  • give a good stir, cook for a minute or two and then add the cheese sauce
  • mix well and add the drained pasta, and mix again
  • eat

Still not satisfied? Don’t worry – we’ve got tonnes of other recipes you can try. Just click one of the buttons below to find more!

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creamy garlic mushroom pasta super speedy lunch

Creamy garlic mushroom pasta? On Slimming World? I know!

A proper quick post tonight, no flimflam! Not going to fib, this recipe is not my own, no no. We’ve adapted it from Jamie Oliver’s new book ‘5 Ingredients’, which you can buy from Amazon here. Big fans of Jamie Oliver, though I find myself having to watch his earlier shows on mute to avoid all that laddish banter he used to do. Got right on me ‘ampton make no mistake guv’nor apples ‘n’ pears saaaarf of the river and all that shite. Why doesn’t he age? Anyway, we recommend the book simply because we’ve had a flick through it and nearly all of the recipes use only a few ingredients and can easily be adapted to Slimming World. Of course, you could just wait and see what we post on here and save yourself a tenner. I feel safe saying that (you could say, given the recipe, it’s a question of morels…eh? Hello? Is this thing on?), it’s not as though he’s going to send his solicitors over to us over a few lost sales. I’ve certainly spent enough money working my way down his cocktail list in his restaurants to make up for it.

So, creamy garlic chicken pasta then – dead easy and you can adjust the garlic levels however you like it. If you’re one of those folks who like to smell like an old bin for days afterwards, chuck more in. Same with the mushrooms – I like the Tesco Finest Asian Selection, purely because one of the mushrooms looks like a little knob, but you can use any old shite. I’ve just noticed that my mushrooms come from South Korea so Christ, if you are planning on cooking this, I’d go buy the mushrooms now whilst you still can. If you wait a few more weeks, chances are they’ll be able to walk here on their own steam/radiation. This makes enough for two, with each person using a Healthy Extra A choice. Yeah, that’s right, and so what?

creamy garlic mushroom pasta

creamy garlic mushroom pasta

to make creamy garlic mushroom pasta, you’ll need:

  • about 200g of whatever mushrooms you want – as I said, I like the ‘weird’ mushrooms as they have lots of taste, but have whatever you want, I’m not yer mother
  • 2 cloves of garlic, or three, or four
  • 30g parmesan cheese (1 HEA)
  • 150g of pasta – you can use any kind, but I like to use Caserecce pasta (from Tesco, own brand, 50p) because it holds the sauce better
  • 110g of Philadelphia lightest (1 HEA)

to make creamy garlic mushroom pasta, you should:

  • get a pan of water up to the boil, make it as salty as a sailor’s cock, throw in the pasta and cook it until it’s soft on the tongue, then drain – keeping aside half a cup of the pasta water – then put the pasta to one side
  • whilst that’s hubbling and bubbling, slice up your mushrooms (don’t be Captain Prissypants about it – slice them any old how, lots of different sizes and shapes) and thinly slice your garlic cloves
  • throw them in a pan with a few squirts of olive oil and cook until golden and softened
  • tip the pasta into the pan along with the Philadelphia and the parmesan and give everything a good stir – adding some of that reserved water if things are looking a bit thick
  • season with salt and lots of black pepper and serve hot and juicy!

How easy was that? You know when people twist their gobs about not having time to cook? That takes ten minutes at best. Come on now. Want more recipes? But of course!

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the best Slimming World carbonara bar none

You want a perfect Slimming World carbonara? Of course you do. You’re a person of excellent taste. But first…

Expecting Copenhagen, were you? Please. I’ve got something much better lined up this week – I’m interrupting the Copenhagen posts to slide in a few girthy entries straight from my home town, Newcastle.

Yes, we’re having a holiday in our own city. A huuurm away from huuurm, if you prefer. Let me explain why. At the start of the year we were trying to come up with ideas for different sorts of holidays and Paul had the bright idea of not going ‘away’ but instead, seeing our city through the eyes of a tourist. I thought that was magical – how often do we ignore what is on our doorstep in the pursuit to get away to foreign climes? Plus, any holiday where I can speak the language is always a plus, even if Paul struggles with the finer points of the Geordie tongue.

I’m resisting the urge to make a rim-job joke within the opening paragraphs, though fair warning that such resolve will crumble like a wet Rich Tea by the end of all of this.

The original plan was to stay at the worst rated hotel in Newcastle followed by the best – but we couldn’t do it. We’re not snobs, no no, but I do rather like having teeth and I think that this would preclude us entry into the lowest-ranked hotel. Have a look at the reviews and tell me I’m wrong. I draw the line in sleeping in someone else’s blood, especially when I haven’t caused it myself. The flipside of this was that we almost booked into Jesmond Dene House but sadly, they had no availability. We flipped a coin and decided on the Hotel du Vin, which was decent enough middle-ground and far away from the Quayside to rule out having to listen to chavs fighting in the Travelodge.

I’ll also say how timely this trip was – a couple of weeks ago we got a horrendously rude message from someone having a proper go at us for ‘showing off our holidays’ when ‘she couldn’t afford to even leave the house’. Honestly, this is unfair – we work bloody hard for our little holidays and you better believe we’re as tight as a camel’s arse in a sandstorm between them. But even so – you don’t need to go anywhere ‘far’ to have a holiday. Stay at home and make a weekend of going into town and doing all the tourist things and I guarantee your eyes will be opened. However, if you’re reading this seething because we have the temerity to write about our personal lives on our personal blog, tough titty!

The night before – actually, at roughly 11pm the night before – Paul told me that we had no clean clothes for the weekend as all our washing was hanging on the washing line outside in the pouring rain. Ah great. He then went to bed with a headache meaning I had to throw all our clothes in the wash and then arrange for the afternoon off the next day so I could come home and iron. Honestly, you’ve never known glamour like my life. I rushed home, rushed around ironing, rushed around cleaning, rushed around making sure we’ve packed the eight hundred chargers that come with us, and then, after a quick check to make sure I’d forgotten absolutely everything, I was away.

The Hotel du Vin is one of those hotels that is charming, comfortable and pleasant, but a little too try-hard. If you’ve ever stayed in the Malmaison – where they pour on the ‘sexy weekend away’ schtick with such vim that I’m surprised they don’t have someone installed in the lift to suck you off as you select your floor – you’ll know what I mean. Everything is ever-so-slightly tacky, both in sound and feel, and always puts me in mind of somewhere an ageing accountant would take his impressionable secretary for a steamy, 10-minute affair. Perhaps I overthink things. The Hotel du Vin dials the sluttishness back a bit and replaces it with ‘hey, we’re cool, we’re hip’, because nothing is cooler than a verruca-covered bath mat to stop you tumbling out of the shower and signing a damage waiver form for the car-park, and is slightly better for it.

The last time we stayed in a Hotel du Vin was the night before we got married. The good thing about being a gay couple is that there’s no angst about seeing each other the night before the wedding, which was great as it meant I could get one last bout of unbridled, unmarried sex in, though I did have to make it quick as Paul had only gone out for a few minutes to get some ice. I attempted to joke about this with the lady on reception as she checked me in but all my ‘jokes’ were met with the strained smile of someone for whom I was nothing more than a mere obstacle between her desk and her car. I enquired about an upgrade only to be told that such a thing was ‘inconceivable’ and that we really ought to get a move on. She showed me across the courtyard to my room and I settled in, for once able to enjoy a holiday hotel room without having to hear Paul talk me through his bowel movements as he ‘tests out the facilities’. Watching Tipping Point without my eyes watering like I’d been chopping onions filled with mustard gas was a revelation.

The room itself was pleasant enough save for the fact it faced out onto a courtyard full of braying hoorays all guffawing and spluttering about their latest stock conquests and other such flimflam. I’d spotted online that the hotel has a ‘cigar shack’ and it was sat there in the courtyard – it sounds like a lovely way to spend a couple of hours until you realise it’s a wicker ball full of people with blue-grey lips and orange-tinted fringes choking on their Lambert and Butlers. Between the braying and the sounds of people bringing up their hockle, the window had to remain firmly shut, which in turn meant the room was far too hot for comfort. Can’t knock any points off for this though, we’re perpetually too hot in hotel rooms – I like the bedroom chilled to the point where my balls freeze like clock-weights. Never managed to find that setting on a hotel air-conditioning unit and indeed, this one was no exception – it whirred and gasped but made barely any difference to the room temperature. It was quicker and more efficient to crunch a few Polos and breathe out.

Paul joined me moments before I Alex Mack-ed my way through the floor through heat exhaustion and, after a shower and a good, unashamed poo, off we went into the night. The beauty of Newcastle is that it’s quite a compact city – most places can be reached within a generous fifteen minute waddle, although I’d exercise caution if the thought of steep gradients leaves you pre-emptively clutching at your heart. Don’t let it put you off – you can jump onto the bright yellow electric buses that whirr about serving the Quayside, or an Uber from the hotel to the centre of town is about £4. You can use a local taxi firm if you desire, though I find that you have about a 1/5 chance of getting a load of spittle-flecked rhetoric about immigrants to go with your taxi ride. That said, I had a lovely taxi driver take me to the hotel who wanted to set up his own blog writing taxi stories – if you’re reading this, please do! You were funny and it made a pleasant change for me not to have to nod my way through a conversation about tits and football like I care, understand or could possibly relate.

Off we went – and we’ve got some bloody good blog entries coming up over the next few days to cover this…

Right, shall we do the perfect carbonara recipe? Yes. Why is it perfect? Because it’s not made with bloody Quark, bloody natural bloody yoghurt or some other random ingredient that adds nothing to the taste other than make the dish look as though it’s already been eaten. Remember we’re trying to move towards ‘proper’ food and this is a perfect example of that – syn-free and delicious and made properly. This makes enough for four normal portions or two big fat bowls of deliciousness. Remember to share!

to make perfect Slimming World carbonara you will need:

  • 350g spaghetti
  • 140g bacon medallions, diced
  • 60g parmesan, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (a microplane grater is the perfect tool for the garlic AND the parmesan in this one – if you haven’t got one yet you’re missing out)
  • 1 egg, plus 4 yolks

We used the medallions from our fabulous Musclefood deal in this and they were a corker – you can see all of our excellent deals, including a new pick ‘n’ mix one right here

to make perfect Slimming World carbonara you should:

  • cook the pasta according to the instructions, keeping aside a cup of cooking water and drain
  • at the same time, cook the bacon bits until they’re nice and crispy
  • add the garlic and cook for another minute, then remove from the heat
  • in a bowl, whisk to together the eggs with 50g of the parmesan to make a nice yellow thickish paste
  • pour the egg mix into the spaghetti (make sure the spaghetti is piping hot) and stir well, add a tablespoon of the cooking water to loosen it a bit, and add a bit more if you need to – the heat of the pasta will help to cook the sauce
  • add the bacon and give it another good toss to mix it in
  • serve, and sprinkle over the remaining parmesan

Still wanting to stuff your hole? Just click one of the buttons below to be transported to even more recipe ideas!

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Part two coming soon! Enjoy!


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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chilli beefy macaroni cheese

Now, before we get to the chilli beefy macaroni cheese, just a couple of opening thoughts before Christmas Day lands. A neighbour, albeit a distant one from the street next to ours, stopped me this morning as I was going to the car to find my wallet (in my “paint” splattered dressing gown, the shame) (at least I wasn’t wearing my Club World slippers that I nicked from BA mind). You know why he stopped me? Because he felt he had to tell me why we weren’t getting a Christmas card from him this year – because we hadn’t given him one last year. I’m glad he let me know, the evenings I’ve spent sighing dramatically into my pillow and turning my back towards the sun through the sheer anguish of not knowing. For fucks sake. I bet he’s been fizzing about it all year. I tried to hide my upset as he broke the news but I’m sure my face crumpling into my chest and my wailing as I shuffled back to the house gave the game away.

Along those lines, another big thank you for the Christmas cards which are still arriving – the fact that so many of you took the time to send a card with a wee note in it has warmed my heart and touched me in a way that hasn’t happened since I was in the school choir. It really has been lovely reading everyone’s stories and well wishes and I promise that we’ll continue on for a bit longer yet!

Finally, I just wanted to say to everyone: have an amazing Christmas. Eat, drink and be merry. You can slim in the New Year. Enjoy the day and remember, it’s the people around the tree rather than the gifts underneath that matter most of all. You’re all the best!

Of course, before we get to the chilli beefy macaroni cheese, we’ve got part three of our trip to Switzerland to discuss!


part one | part two

You know what I like best about that banner? I’m already planning the next banner for the next holiday and I’ve just had a do a search for an icon for diarrhoea. Hey, it’s non-stop glamour writing this blog, I don’t know how I don’t come each time the Mac start-up sound chimes.

When you last left us we were sleeping solidly in our warm, Geneva beds, ready for the day ahead. Rather than bore you with by-the-minute details of what we did, I’m just going to pick out the rough highlights and write about them instead. In the ‘missing gaps’ just assume we were either drinking tiny coffees or spending money, for that pretty much covers all bases.

We awoke then and decided to check Tripadvisor for ‘things to do in Geneva’. I’ll save you the effort of doing it yourself – there’s frightfully little. Clearly this was a city for business and not so much for pleasure – the first activity cited is Lake Geneva (the second is a small mountain outside the city), which, whilst undoubtedly beautiful, provides very little diversion on a cold, December morning. We could see the lake from our hotel room, anyway, if we squinted hard and the lady across the lane had taken in her bloomers from the washing line. I like lakes, I do, but we have such a bonny one nearby in the form of Kielder that perhaps I am spoilt. Nevertheless, we decided to walk down to the lake and then to totter about on our own steam, finding what interests us along the way.

There was, as is so often the case with empty days filled with no plans at all, plenty of things of interest. We walked along the lakeside around the many parks that litter the way, smiling cheerily at joggers as they ran past, pulling that odd cum-face that joggers do whilst they run. The parks were full of shuttered shops and stalls and buildings that looked welcoming from afar but firmly fermé when up close. My new walking shoes were busy turning the back of my feet into little more than hanging strips of skin so we found a nearby pharmacy to try and get a box of Compeed blister plasters – you know the ones that swell and then root right into the blister so when you take it off, you’ve got something gross to throw at your husband if he doesn’t make the tea? No? Just me?

Anyway, this box of plasters came with a price tag of over £14 and I was served by the most unsympathetic, rude bumhole I’ve met in a long time. For one, he didn’t look up from his Prendre une Pause (Oh non! C’est horrible! Mon mari serveur a des rapports sexuels avec ma soeur et mon Alsacien!) when we came in, nor when we approached the counter, nor when he scanned the item in. He could have put through a box of Lillets for all he knew. A brief, cursory glance at the till was followed by him spitting out the price and holding out his hand like I was going to high-five the twat. I would deposited my chewing gum in his hand and ran for it if my feet hadn’t resembled used Christmas crackers at this point. Instead, I paid with my contactless card, spun on my heel and left, saying ‘merci beaucoup, how do you say…chatte géante’ under my breath.

We spotted that the United Nations building was nearby and so hustled in that general direction. We were greeted by a couple of armed but very friendly men at the entrance who told us the museum was closed (but of course) and alas, we couldn’t come in even to take pictures of the flags. I tried to explain that, as a Geordie, I merely wanted to extend the pastry-flecked hand of solidarity to our Swiss brothers, but he was having none of it. He encouraged us to turn around and take some pictures of the giant broken chair that stands across the way, designed by the artist Daniel Berset to remind the politicians streaming in and out of the UN that land-mines were a very bad thing indeed (because one of the legs of the chair has been blown off, see? Give me an art degree right now!). I don’t know why they didn’t just put a picture of Princess Diana smiling wanly at them instead.

Paul attempted to pose in front of the chair for a photo but then realised we were selfishly in the way of the 12,000 Chinese tourists who were snapping at the chair from every single one of the 360 degrees available to us all. So much shrieking. The chair was quite something, admittedly, but it is difficult to be sombre and reflective when you’re being jostled and pushed by a high-pitched collection of cameras with limbs attached. We pressed on, electing to take the tram down into the centre of the city.

Oh, that’s something worth mentioning – all tourists to Geneva (and later, Bern) are given a free ticket to travel around on their public transportation system. It’s excellent, reliable and frequent and a perfect way to see the city. We’d paid lip-service to walking around and now it was time to let the train take the strain. Paul told me to sit next to him but I wanted to spread my legs a bit, only to immediately have a child plunked down in front of me who spent the rest of the journey staring at me with a slug of snot hanging out of his crusty nose, which he took great delight in sniffing back up his nose and letting it fall back out. I would have taken great delight in opening the window and flinging him into the Rhône but luckily, our stop came before I snapped. Brr.

At this point we both needed two things: some breakfast and a good poo. We wandered for a bit before finding somewhere with a board outside that promised a coffee and croissant for less than the owner’s mortgage payment. A miracle. However, once we’d sat down, I realised my mistake. Almond milk. Wan-faced, 90% there, slightly ethereal customers, shimmering in the half-light. Everyone talking with that affected, Pecksniffian air of the better-than-you set. We were in a…vegan cafe. We ordered a pastry and coffee and were curtly told to sit down. I wanted to cry out that my leather belt was actually pleather and all of my meat-box pushing on this blog was merely a front for Save The Soya Beans of Sudan or something but I didn’t get a chance. We ate our breakfast hurriedly, trying not to gag as the milk curdled on top of the coffee like the results of a particularly rumbustious sexually transmitted disease, paid up and left. I think I stepped on a beetle on the way out of the shop, leading to a plaintive cry from the owner. Either that or she had realised I’d accidentally spilled the sugar bowl on the floor.

I know, I’m a horror. Vegans, you know I’m joking, please don’t write to me. Save your strength, I don’t want your wrists shattering like a dropped piano from the weight of an HB pencil. We spotted that the Jet d’Eau, Geneva’s colossal landmark water fountain, was a twenty minute away. However, before we got to that, I had to go and relieve a high-pressure blockage of my own, and it was with a euphoric cry that I spotted one of those shiny automatic toilets near the Plainpalais tram stop. Phew! I’m a huge fan of these individual toilets because they’re always spotlessly clean and you can have a shite in the safe knowledge that you’re not going to have a man standing next to you wanking away whilst you strain.

I hurried in, assumed that the stupid thing had locked because there was no button to lock the door and sat down to say goodbye to yesterday, my jeans and boxers round my ankles. Sweet relief. No, sweet relief cut immediately short because no sooner had I opened the release valve than the door swooshed open, revealing me to Paul and the busy street like the worst episode of Blind Date you’ll have ever seen. I bellowed like a stabbed bull, jumped to my feet, tripped over my jeans and fell over hard, creating an impressively loud clang (imagine a church bell falling onto the top of a bus) and drawing even more attention to me. Thankfully my Scottish Widow cloak hid most of my shame but honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever gone from semi-nude to clothed and composed (and slightly pee-soaked) so quickly. I didn’t even get to finish my crap but actually, the shock of the stumble made everything tense and my urgent need to go had disappeared.

I exited that toilet coolly and confidently, meeting the gaze of anyone who had the temerity to look at me. Paul was doubled-over with laughter, the insensitive sod. I walked off, leaving him to breathlessly catch up with me a few minutes later, at which point he just promised that he hadn’t pressed the ‘open button’ on the door ‘to see what happened’. He was definitely lying – I’d have been more convinced if he’d ran up and told me he was turning straight – but I had to forgive him because, away from the staring eyes of the folk in the street, it was bloody hilarious.

We tottered down to the Jet D’Eau. What can I say about this? It is a giant fountain originally built to release the pressure from a hydroelectric plant – thank Christ it wasn’t a sewage processing facility, though I reckon my arse could do a fair impression after two bowls of “delicious” speed soup. Anyway, the Swiss thought this burst of water so delightful that they recreated it by the lakeside and indeed, it does look pretty spurting into the air. We walked up, took a few photos, I pretended like I was douching using the fountain and all of Geneva fell about laughing and slapping their knees. Honestly, how they laughed!

Now, I could go on, but let’s cut it short here and get to the recipe. It’s chilli beefy macaroni cheese – crunchy, spicy, cheesy – just bloody amazing. Yeah it’s a few more syns but fuck it. Spending your syns might scare you but remember – this is ooey-gooeyness that doesn’t skimp on flavour, AND it serves SIX! Plus, it’s Christmas for goodness sake. If that isn’t the time to let your gunt flap over your knees and fill yourself with calories then I don’t know when is.

chilli beefy macaroni cheese

to make chilli beefy macaroni cheese you will need:

  • 500g pasta (we used spirali because we’re decadent bitches)
  • 400g lean beef mince (you know, like the sort of stuff you might find in say, our fabulous Musclefood deal? See? Have a look!)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 240g reduced-fat cheddar cheese (6x HeA)
  • 200ml skimmed milk (4 syns)
  • 1½ tins of chopped tomatoes
  • handful of chopped jalapeños
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp olive oil (4 syns)
  • 1 tbsp flour (3½ syns)
  • 75g panko (10½ syns)

Right: final time this year. Treat yourself to a microplane grater. It’ll do for ginger, it’ll do for garlic, it’ll do for getting those callouses off those trotters of yours. The one we use is lovely and cheap – see?

to make chilli beefy macaroni cheese you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • heat a large pan over a medium high heat, add a slosh of oil and add the onions and garlic – cook until the onions have softened a bit
  • add the mince to the pan and cook until no pink meat remains
  • add the tomatoes, jalapeños, chili powder and chili flakes to the pan, stir and cook for another 4 minutes
  • scoop the meat out of the pan and into a bowl and set aside
  • quickly rinse out the pan, fill it with water, add some salt and bring to the boil
  • cook the pasta according to the instructions, reserving half a mug of pasta water for later
  • drain and set aside
  • put the same pan back on the hob, add the oil and flour and mix into a paste using a whisk, and slowly pour in the milk a bit at a time, until the mixture has thickened
  • chuck in the cheese, remove from the heat and stir until melted
  • add the mustard powder, oregano and black pepper and stir
  • mix the drained pasta into the cheese, using the reserved pasta water to loosen it if necessary
  • stir in the mince, mix well and tip into a big baking dish
  • sprinkle over the panko and bake in the oven for 15 minutes
  • serve!

Want more pasta, beef or just bloody amazing food? Here!


Have an amazing Christmas, all!