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.

Guadalest

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.

See?

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.

Squint.

Tasteful!

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.

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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J

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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J

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
  • meanwhile, 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 spagetti 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!

J

cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni

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

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

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

to make cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni you will need:

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

to make cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni you should:

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

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

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J

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!

swissthree

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!

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Have an amazing Christmas, all!

J

easy peasy spaghetti and meatballs

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

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

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to make easy peasy spaghetti and meatballs you will need:

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

to make easy peasy spaghetti and meatballs you should:

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

Looking for more recipes? More guff? You can find it all below!

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Enjoy!

J

droptober recipe #3: cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake

Here for the cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake? It’s a few paragraphs below, but I beg your attention for a couple of minutes whilst I witter on. Let’s get the exciting news out of the way…

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Canny! I’m more surprised than anyone, trust me. We’re going slow and steady but after the week of naughtiness I had last week, I thought I’d put on for sure. Just shows: you should still go to class even when you can barely catch a breath because your mouth is so full of pie crust. If you want to take part in this challenge, there’s 100 syn free recipes and some colouring charts available all in one place right here! Remember to share.

Yes, last week then. See, I was sent up to Glasgow on a sort-of business trip to learn some new skills and socialise – both of which I’m terrible at. Had I been single I would have been up there so fast my shadow would have only appeared an hour later – Paul and I both love a Scotsman and between you and me (because who reads this, honestly) the biggest willy I’ve ever seen belonged to a Glaswegian. I didn’t know what to do with it – I’m surprised he didn’t pass out from lack of blood on the brain when he got an erection. It looked like a sausage casing stuffed with two cans of Carling Black Label. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or smash a bottle of champagne off the side of it. But those days are behind me (though I still whistle like a keyhole in a haunted castle) and so I didn’t have that to look forward to.

It also meant a whole week without Paul – I know. Before you’re all sick in your mouth (although, think of the weight-loss) please understand that we haven’t been apart for more than a week in the totality of our almost ten year relationship. I was fretting at the thought of being unable to sleep without the smell of death being blown across my nostrils at five-minute intervals. I shivered at the thought of being able to occupy more than 10% of the bed without Paul’s wandering hands, feet and knob poking and prodding me. There are nights I feel like a stress-ball. But hey, it had to be done, and it was with an aching heart and a threatening arsehole (we’d had easy peasy beef curry the night before, and whilst delicious, it was making a dramatic reappearance throughout the morning) that we schlepped off to pick up my hire car on Sunday.

I could see I was in for an easy time when I got to the desk and was assigned a car-rental-spokesperson who I wasn’t entirely convinced wasn’t dead. I’ve made more responsive omelettes. He didn’t look up from his keyboard once – perhaps he was trying to find the ‘wake the fuck up’ key but if so, he failed miserably. He didn’t check my insurance details, didn’t check my payment details, didn’t check my lyrics, nothing. I’d have had a more fruitful chat if I’d turned and had a discussion with the leaflet stand. I was going to ask him about fuel but I rather thought I’d need to fetch a defibrillator to just bring him back into some form of sentience, and well, my ankles were already hurting from having to concertina myself into Paul’s tiny Smart car. He did perk up when he remembered he could sell me an upgrade, and, remembering the Ford Boredom we’d been given last time, I asked him what he could offer me. First a Skoda – no. Then a Fiat 500 – no. Then his trump card (honestly, his eyes nearly opened with the shock) – he had an Audi. Did I want an Audi? I leaned over the desk and tried to explain that I’d be unable to take an Audi because a) I know how to use indicators and b) I’m not a middle-aged, impotent, prematurely-balding twat, but he’d pretty much already signed the card for me and was back to looking like he was trying to remember to breathe in and out. Resigned (and a fair few pounds lighter) I went to pick up my car.

Well, I’m not going to lie. It was lovely. I wanted to hate it, really I did, but it drove well and was comfortable for a long drive. I still wouldn’t buy one on sheer principle and I still think every single Audi driver – bar you and any of your charming family and friends, I’m sure – is a minge, but I can definitely see the appeal. I thought I’d do my best to be a decent Audi driver so I spent the first sixty miles or so driving gently and letting people out at junctions before a transformation took place and I was flooring it. You know how the Incredible Hulk turns green when he gets angry? I turned violet. In my defence I was stuck behind a little old dear doing 40mph on a single carriageway designed for 70mph and because I’m a nice guy deep down, I couldn’t flash my lights, but by god was I raging. I had to stop at the next services just to have a McFlurry and calm myself down.

I drove on, loving every second of having the car to myself for a long drive. I could sing along to my music without any protestation from Paul and there was no Alanis Fucking Morrisette to contend with, which was lucky as I don’t think my Budget Special Povvo Insurance would cover deliberately driving into the back of a petrol tanker. As I drove past Lockerbie the tyre pressure warning light came on. Horror! I pulled over, walked around the car kicking the tyres because I’d seen someone do it on the TV, then spent twenty minutes reading up on how to change a tyre. I have no clue. I know that I should have acquired this skill by now but really, I’m very much a pay-someone-else-to-do-it sort of guy (i.e. lazy). I didn’t want some oily-handed mechanic to come and tut at me on the hard shoulder whilst I tried to make crass jokes about helping him with his tight nuts or jacking up. I waited a bit and kicked the tyres again and they seemed hard enough, so on I went.

You may recall I’m somewhat of a catastrophic thinker – well, this meant that I couldn’t relax for the rest of the journey. That tiny light with the deflated tyre haunted me like the Telltale Heart, burning away at my retinas as I tried to think about anything else than my tyre exploding and sending me ricocheting into oncoming traffic. Imagine that – being found buckled into a shoebox cube of metal with the Audi rings imprinted on my forehead, with some coroner declaring me dead due to my lack of manliness. The last sixty or so miles into Glasgow were tenser than the last round of The Cube – I reckon there’s still a fingernail wedged into the steering wheel. However, after navigating my way down to the Clyde (via the road system, as opposed to plummeting off the A74 in a fading shriek of ABBA Gold) I arrived at the hotel, the not-especially-salubrious Garden Inn Hilton.

Alas, Paul just minced in from the kitchen to inform me dinner will be ready in ten minutes, so I’m going to plough straight on with tonight’s recipe and finish this story another time! This makes enough for four massive portions, so we’re going for comfort food here folks, not grace…

cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake

cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake

to make cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake you will need:

  • 6 bacon medallions, chopped

We use some of the bacon from our fantastic freezer filler deal – 24/26 chicken breasts, a load of bacon medallions, 5 big portions of extra lean beef mince and two portions of beef chunks – get yourself stocked up for Autumn by clicking here – it’ll open in a new window!

to make cheesy caramelised onion and bacon pasta bake you should:

  • heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a splash of oil
  • slice the onions into 0.5cm slices and add to the pan, coating well
  • leave to cook in the pan for half an hour, stirring only when the edges start to brown, scraping up any bits sticking to the pan
  • when the onions are nicely browned (after about 15-20 minutes) add the balsamic vinegar, stir well to coat and continue to cook until it has evaporated off
  • meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°c
  • fry the bacon in another frying pan over a medium-high heat until crispy
  • bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions, minus a minute or two so it’s still firm to bite into
  • in a large bowl, mix together the quark, creme fraiche, garlic powder and a little salt and pepper to taste
  • stir in the cooked bacon, chopped red pepper and half the grated cheese
  • stir in the drained pasta and caramelised onions and mix well to combine
  • slop out into a large baking dish and top with the remaining cheese – yes that’s right, we use words like slop out in our recipes – some might say gently transfer, but we’re not that kind of blog, fuck no
  • bake in the oven for 20 minutes, and finish off under the grill for 2 minutes until golden and the cheese is bubbling – we were terrible and crunched a stray packet of BBQ kettle chips that we had lying around over the top (six syns, so that’s 1.5 syns extra per person – you don’t need to do it but man, was it good)
  • serve!

Easy! Looking for more pasta recipes? One-pot? All sorts? Have some buttons and you know what to do!

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J

one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne

Lasagne in one pot? But of course. To be fair, this one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne is not strictly a lasagne, rather more bolognese and soft pasta, but hey, it’s still easy to make and it all comes out the same colour in the end, right? Naturally, before we get to the recipe, I’m going to say words at you until your eyes glaze over and you stop nodding politely. It’s part two of our fabulous whirlwind tour of Peterborough, so let me bust out the banner once more…

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You can find part one by clicking here, but honestly, don’t bother. Actually do bother, I’ll get 0.0001p for each page-load, and if I earn enough money, I can pay someone to raze Peterborough to the ground so it never haunts my life again. Where were we…

Ah yes. The charming Norman Cross Premier Inn. After a night spent sweating, tossing and peeling our back fat away from each other with loud slurps, we woke bright and breezy. We decided that we’d take care of our ablutions and then see about getting some breakfast. Can I let you in on a mortifying secret? We chose not to get the Premier Inn breakfast that we normally do because it wasn’t an unlimited buffet. How greedy, I know. Technically it was unlimited in the sense that I could ask the waiter to bring me more bacon, more eggs, more sausages and a portable ECG monitor, but I’m always too shy.

We like our breakfast to spread far beyond what the eyes can see and frankly, if I’m not clutching my chest, hoisting my fat-arse out of my chair and walking to a tureen of beans with the barely-disguised disgusted whispers of the other occupants of the hotel, I’m not interested. We made do with a Twirl from the vending machines and that was that.

We stopped by reception to ask if we could change rooms. I explained that the room was too hot and that Paul’s genitals now looked like a trio of celebration balloons left tied to a fence for a week, and the receptionist promised that she would arrange a new room for us once we returned from our day out. The charmer from the day before was obviously off meeting with Big Men in New York. We decamped back to our sweatbox so Paul could slide the chocolate bolt across, giving me time to plan our day.

I logged onto tripadvisor to find something to do. When the third or fourth suggestion is a chain cinema, you know you’re in trouble. I searched High Wycombe and Lowestoft (sorry, I’m so proud of that laboured joke that it’s staying in) and there was absolutely bot-all to do that didn’t require an outrageous drive and the threat of growing old prematurely by osmosis due to close proximity of coach tours.

Eventually Paul’s voice piped up from the thunderbox to tell me Bletchley Park (home of the codebreakers during WW2) was about an hour away. Shamefully, my reaction was meh, but faced with the prospect of X-Factor repeats and turning into a prune in the hotel room, we agreed that Milton Keynes our best chance of happiness – something which I’m fairly sure has never, ever been said about Milton Keynes before. Before we yawned our way down the A1 we needed fuel, and thanks to the good folk at the Mace garage in Yaxley, even that turned into a right song and dance.

See, Paul got out, put the nozzle in and clicked the handle. The pump dispensed about 4p worth of fuel then shut off. The lady behind the counter looked grimly at him through the window and ignored his plight – he kept clicking, the fuel would dribble out enough fuel to get us approximately 4ft off the forecourt and then shut off. I’m sitting in the car effing and jeffing because I’d spotted an Esso literally over the road and Paul’s clicking away like he’s a farmer counting his sheep.

Eventually, the Queen of the Pumps spots something is awry and comes out. What followed was an excruciating exchange where she just didn’t accept it was her fuel pump that was broken. No, Paul hadn’t ‘put it in right’ (I find that easy to believe, given the years and years of ‘up a bit, down a bit, up a bit more, push forward – honestly, sometimes gay sex is like I’m guiding someone in Knightmare – SIDESTEP LEFT), then he ‘wasn’t clicking hard enough’. In a gesture that speaks volumes about his character, he decided against going all No Country For Old Men on her and smiled politely throughout. IT TOOK TEN MINUTES. I mean, God loves a trier, but we know how to use a bloody petrol pump for goodness sake, we’re not on the fucking Krypton Factor.

She went in and reset the pumps about a dozen times before asking whether we’d like to switch to another problem. Guessing that the second pump would probably require us to solve a cryptic crossword and a complex Sudoko we politely declined and went on our way over the road, where only a packet of Cadbury’s Snacks could calm our ire. I wouldn’t have minded so much but Paul actually went in and paid the £2.10 of fuel we eventually got. Bah.

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Driving in Milton Keynes is an adventure, isn’t it? Bill Bryson absolutely hated the place and whilst I thought it looked alright from the car, I had no desire to step out and trip the light fantastic myself. Things became tense when we realised the Sat-Nav, built into the car with no obvious way to turn her down, was having a complete shitfit over the amount of roundabouts. If the British government ever need to break a terrorist they need only to strap them into a Ford Fiesta and let them endure 20 minutes of ‘AT THE NEXT ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE SECOND LEFT AT THE NEXT ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE THIRD EXIT AT THE NEXT ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE THIRD ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE JUNCTION TAKE TAKE TAKE ROUNDABOUT ROUNDABOUT ROUNDABOUT’. I felt like I was being driven by Johnny 5 in the throes of a nervous breakdown.

We arrived at Bletchley Park with only mild tinnitus and discovered a small computer museum at the arse-end of the car-park. Being giant geeks we were very excited, and, being giant geeks, we waddled breathlessly to the entrance just as the volunteer flipped the open sign over and opened the door. Hooray! We immediately got stuck behind a visitor who thought he was God’s Gift to comedy, every line to the cashier was a ‘joke’ and bit of patter. It was just awful. I had a thought that it must be what it is like to be stuck behind me in Tesco but I quickly tucked that thought away into the same mind-folder where the ‘I bet that ingrown toenail goes septic and you lose your foot’ and ‘is your heart supposed to go boom-badum-boom-badum-BOOM-whoo when you climb stairs’.

The computer museum was a treat. It was a pleasure to be somewhere which wasn’t full of screaming children getting their arses smacked and stupid interactive displays that don’t work. No, this museum was decidedly (and fittingly) old school – full of amazing old computers and genuine pieces of history like the Tunny machines and Colossus, which were both instrumental in helping decipher secret messages during World War Two. We revelled at the old computers from times way past and then were horrified to find that computers we remembered from our youth were classed as ‘retro’. I’ve never felt so old. A lot of the old machines were switched on and I couldn’t resist typing

HELLO SORRI HUNS MI APP IS DOWN HOW MANI SUNS IN ALDI YOGURTS PLEASE XOXOXO

into an old ICL DRS6000. I know, I’m a stinker. We did want to sit and play on the old BBC computers (I’ve never finished Granny’s Garden and god-damnit, I still remember where the magic tree is) but there was a group of three lads in the room spraying spittle through their braces and chuckling loudly about frame-rates. Is there a word for intimidation mixed with pity? I bet there’s a German word. Regardless, we moved on and after a quick fanny about with a few knobs in the classroom (oh that takes me back) we were done. We left a lovely positive Tripadvisor report and made our way down to the actual Bletchley Park estate.

Now, something to annoy you, due to ongoing issues with the managements of both attractions, you pay twice – once to visit the Computing Museum (block H of the estate) and once more to visit the rest of the estate. Hmm. Naturally, because the estate had a few interactive boards and a video tour, the price for entry is £34.50 for the two of us. Bah. However, this too was a lovely few hours – we wandered around at our own pace, taking in the interesting stories and displays, and credit where it’s due, the attraction does an excellent job of celebrating the amazing work that folks like Alan Turing did. I confess to a little bit of museum-fatigue: there’s only so many times you can walk into a hut, look at a map on a table and nod appreciatively. It also gave us both pause to think that only 64 years ago being gay was cause enough to lock someone up for gross indecency. How far we’ve come, eh.

Tell you what – let’s pick the rest of our tale up tomorrow – we’re already at 1,500 words and I know how you all get when you’re hungry. Tonight’s one-pot recipe then is one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne and whilst it doesn’t look like much in the photo, it’s a very tasty wee dish to make during the week and take to lunch the next day. On we go…

to make one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne, you’ll need:

to make one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne, you should:

  • add a little oil to a large casserole pot and heat over a medium-high heat
  • add the mince and cook until browned
  • add the garlic and onions, stir and cook for another three minutes
  • add the passata, chopped tomatoes, stock, spinach, herbs and pasta and mix well
  • bring to the boil the reduce to a simmer and cover with the lid
  • cook for about 15 minutes until the pasta is al dente
  • add the mozzarella to the pan (tear into chunks if you’re using a ball) and stir through the mixture until melted
  • serve

Nice, right?

If you’re looking for more recipes with beef, pasta or seafood (why not), click the buttons below!

beefsmallpastasmall   seafoodsmall

Goodnight all.

J

one pot week: french onion risotto with grilled cheese

Of course you’ve stumbled onto our blog desperate for the french onion risotto with grilled cheese – well, you know we’ll get there eventually. But first, some chunter. We haven’t had a theme week in what seems like ages – and this week’s theme is ONE-POT-MEALS. We’ve even created a new icon for the recipe page, which we’ll update when we’re done.

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Although we’re generally quite good at keeping our meals simple, our recipes can leave your kitchen looking like someone’s crashed a small plane right through the window. We’ve got a cleaner so we’re not especially arsed but hey, we thought with this being the week of the kids going back to school, a lot of our readers might benefit from quick, no-mess dinners. Now, if you cook with all the grace and elan of someone having a cactus inserted into their anus, we can’t change that, and it might be that your kitchen still looks messy. But that’s your problem!

I can’t bear this time of year – I’ve had six weeks of being able to roll out of bed at 8.00am, have enough time for a good scratch of my balls and a morning poo, a warm shower and a hot coffee, then to make my merry way to work with no pressure or stress. Now the kids are back it means the roads are full of red-faced parents erratically driving cars the size of a combine harvester, swerving over the road as they simultaneously do their kid’s homework, feed them porridge and tan their backsides for being cheeky. Everywhere suddenly becomes super busy and I can’t even relax on Facebook as my feed is full of children in uniform standing in front of doorways showing off their uneven teeth and inappropriate-for-school-haircuts. Listen, I know you think your children are adorable and they undoubtedly are, but I’ll never find out why DENTISTS HATE THIS SOUTH SHIELDS WOMAN AND HER $20 TOOTH-WHITENING TRICK if all I can see is little Letitia and Amyl writ large and toothy on my iPad.


Caveat time: your children are fine. When I’m talking about annoying children, I obviously mean the offspring of everyone else.


One good thing that comes out of this return to school period, however, is the inevitable deluge of moon-faced parents doing a sad-face to camera in the local papers because the school sent home their little darlings for not observing the uniform rules. I’ve already seen one where the kid has hair like a pineapple and his mother is mooing about human rights, as though King John himself demanded a clause in the Magna Carta to cover dressing like an insufferable arse. I’m not a complete monster: I think sending kids home or putting them in isolation because they have grey trousers instead of black is ridiculous and often the sign of a power-mad tosser in charge, but when you’ve got teenagers walking around in skirts so short you can lip-read and boys with hair that looks as though it’s been cut underwater with a power-sander for a bet, you have to draw a line.

And that line should be 30cm off the ground in a light charcoal, thank you very much.

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Perhaps these parents are the same folk who think going shopping in pyjamas is the correct and adult thing to do. Let me tell you now: it isn’t. You sleep in those clothes. You sweat in those clothes. Knowing at least half of the readers of this blog, you probably scratch your minnie until your lips turn blue in that outfit. I don’t want that sweaty terry-towelling number brushing over my vine tomatoes, thank you. I’m not demanding a return to top-hat-and-tails or anything, just a modicum of common decency. The sight of someone accidentally flashing their growler at me whilst they bend down to pick up the Daily Sport is not a risk I should have to take. It’s bad enough I see so many tops of arses peeking out over jeans without belts – not because I find the arse an especially ugly thing (hell, I dare say I’ve seen enough of them from enough bewildering angles to draw you a topographic map of the average English anus) but because I yearn to drop a pencil down the crack – or, if they’re especially zaftig, a fire extinguisher.

Anyway, enough tittle-tattle. I’m clearly in for a rough few weeks getting to work so I might switch to walking in over the moor, which means you can expect several entries about dealing with cows and the general public. It’s OK, it’s common to feel tingly at the thought. Coming up in the next few days you can also expect a recount of our trip to Peterborough. Let me give you a sneak preview: it was grim.

To the recipe…it’s worth remembering that this method works for all of our risottos and it saves you having to ladle in stock. Who has time for that? You need to be polishing the front door to line the kids up against!

french onion risotto with grilled cheese

to make french onion risotto with grilled cheese, you’ll need:

  • five large white onions
  • a few squirts of spray oil – 1 syn at the very most, but divided between four, it’s barely a scratch
  • a good pinch of salt
  • a bit of thyme if you have it – fresh is always better but dried is fine too
  • 350g arborio rice (or look for paella rice)
  • worcestershire sauce
  • black pepper
  • three cloves of garlic, minced (use one of these if you like – it’ll also come in useful later for the parmesan, but a bog-standard grater will do the job too)
  • about 900ml chicken stock (swap for veggie if you’re that way inclined) (pervert)
  • a really small baguette – now 50g is 6.5 syns and will make enough for a couple per bowl, so let’s go ahead and syn that at 1.5 syns per serving
  • parmesan cheese – 30g is a HEA – this makes enough for four people, so if you want to use 120g overall in the dish, go right ahead! Though obviously not if you’re eating it all yourself. Do you get me?

Now, this makes a decent, fairly simple bowl of stodge. If you want to liven it up, chuck in some peas, chorizo (syn), chicken, bacon, leeks, anything you like. I like the simplicity of it, but see that’s because I’m a simple minded fool.

to make french onion risotto with grilled cheese, you should:

  • peel and slice your onions nice and thin – we used our gorgeous baby to do it in under a minute but you can also use a trusty old mandolin (cheap on Amazon right now) to do it just as quick – just watch your fingers
  • spray the bottom of your heavy duty pot with a few squirts of oil – be generous
  • put the sliced onion into the pot with a decent pinch of salt, shake it around
  • cover with a lid and leave to cook gently on the hob on a medium heat for about 50 minutes – every five minutes check and give them a stir – if they catch a little on the bottom, that’s fine, just loosen them off, if they go super dry just add a splash of water
  • once they’re golden and delicious, add your minced garlic and cook for another five minutes
  • in goes the rice – stir it once only to get each rice bit sticky and covered
  • add the stock, pepper, any extras you want, put the lid on and cook on medium heat for about 25 minutes, checking after twenty to make sure it hasn’t boiled dry – but don’t keep lifting the lid off every minute like you’re trying to catch the rice wanking
  • whilst that’s bubbling away, make the crostini – slice the baguette nice and thin – you only one two or three discs per person and arrange on a tray
  • finely grate your parmesan and sprinkle over the discs with a bit of black pepper – use the same mincer as you did for the garlic!
  • grill for a couple of minutes until golden
  • if you want, make little heaps of parmesan on the same tray – they’ll melt down and crisp up, giving you parmesan crisps, but stay within your HEA
  • once the dish is ready – i.e. the rice has absorbed the liquid and is nice and soft, grate in the remainder of your Parmesan and stir
  • serve immediately – in a nice bowl, lots of black pepper and the grilled crostini on the top

If you’re looking for more one-pot recipes, here’s four from our archives:

And, if you’re looking for more vegetarian, fakeaways or chicken recipes, just click on the links below!

vegetariansmallpoultrysmallfakeawayssmall

J

ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni

Genuinely just a quick post tonight before we get to the ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni, but first, can someone answer me one question?

Why do people write on their own walls? Hear me out. Chunkles and I were watching Britain’s Benefit Tenants yesterday, laughing at the poor inbetween handfuls of caviar and swigs of champagne. Not quite – we had been watching something on Channel 4, the remote fell out of reach and we couldn’t be arsed to switch over. It was illuminating. I’m not going to get into the whole ‘landlords are bad’ / ‘tenants are scum’ because obviously there’s good and bad on all sides, but it did make me think, not least whether there a direct correlation between neon pink walls and jet black teeth.

What troubles me is the state of some of the houses. Look, I can be as slobby as the next person, but unless you’re unwell, there’s very little reason for your house to be so unclean. You see the same old tropes – the writing of names on the wall (why? WHY? It’s not even graffiti on an outside wall, just shit scribbling and the inevitable weed leaf on the living room wall), dried up dog poo in the kitchen and, in the garden, a broken Fisher Price slide that someone stepped through back in 2005 and two dogs so inbred and vicious that they’re fighting their own feet.

Now, I know, I’ve always been lucky in that, so far, I’ve always been gainfully employed and in reasonable health, so until I moved into the house I own, I always paid my rent. I do wonder if I was a mug for doing so, though, given it seems to be a-ok for someone to rent a house, smash it up and then move on to be rehoused. It’s why we don’t buy our own property to rent out – I’d be fucking livid if someone decided it was an appropriate reaction to kick their foot through my internal walls. Oh and plus, if we were landlords, I know we’d be the type you see on Crimewatch rubbing our thighs and suggesting ‘we come to other arrangements’ if the tenant so much as called in to report a leaky tap.

Anyway, speaking of stuffing tubes, let’s get straight to the ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni recipe, shall we? We used to make a variation on this all the time back in our proper Slimming World days when we took it seriously (cough) but that involved cottage cheese and sweetener. God knows why. This is proper food! We took inspiration from a blog called flavourbender which won us over on name alone. This makes enough for four.

1.5 syn ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni

to make ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni, you’ll need:

  • 10 large canneloni tubes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced (mince mince mince, mince mince mince, shake your mincer…with this)
  • lots of salt and pepper
  • 270g of ricotta (90g is one HEA or six syns – this serves four – so if you want to syn it, it’s 4.5 syns per serving)
  • 150g of quark
  • 30g of parmesan (which is one HEA, or six syns – so again, between four, it’s 1.5 syns per serving)
  • one 400g packet of extra-lean beef mince (use one from our Musclefood deal – perfect size, perfect quality – click here to order)
  • one carrot
  • one stalk of celery
  • one large onion
  • one carton of passata

So, per serving, it’ll be either 1.5 syns or maximum of 6 syns per serving.

to make ricotta and spinach stuffed beefy cannelloni, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 190 degrees
  • chop your onion, carrot and celery nice and fine, and sweat them off in a squirt or two of oil in a decent non-stick pan
  • add the minced garlic
  • add the mince and brown it off
  • add the passata, a pinch of salt, and let them simmer away gently so it thickens up
  • put your canneloni tubes in boiling water for a few minutes just to soften them up, though we didn’t actually bother and although it was a bit chewy, we still enjoyed it
  • in a seperate pan, tip all the spinach in with a tiny drop of water and put a lid on it – let the spinach wilt right down, then drain, squeeze, squeeze again, squeeze like it’s the windpipe of that bitch/bastard you hate, then chop it nice and fine
  • mix the ricotta, yolks, parmesan and quark together with the chopped spinach and a good pinch of salt and pepper to make the filling for the tubes
  • get the dish you’re going to cook everything in the oven with and put a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom
  • push the ricotta mix into the tubes – you can either do this by using your fingers like the filthy slattern you are, or tip the ricotta mix into a sandwich bag, tie it up at the top and cut a corner off on the bottom – voila, instant icing bag – much easier
  • place each filled tube into the dish and then cover the lot with the remainder of the tomato sauce
  • add more cheese on top if you dare, I won’t tell if you won’t
  • cover with tin foil and cook in the oven for 20 or so minutes, then remove the foil, whack the heat up to 210, and cook for another 15 minutes or so until the cheese is golden and the pasta is soft

Serve! Pretty easy, right? Again, it’s one of those recipes that sounds like a lot of instructions but actually, is dead easy. If you want more beef or pasta ideas, click on the buttons below! You could make this veggie by leaving out the beef and adding more veg to the sauce, so I’ve whacked in the veggie recipes link too.

beefsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall

Cheers all.

J