roasted grapes and goats cheese stuffed sweet potatoes

Are you silently heaving into your gunt about the thought of these roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes? Listen, they’re delicious. Sweet, yes, of course, but they make for a lovely side dish. In America they make a weird casserole of sweet potato and marshmallows, and that’s a step too far, but we’re all about something different remember – if you always stick to the same dishes then what is life for? The recipe follows below, but first, through a bit of a haze of self-prescribed pain relief (more on that tomorrow), let us reflect for a moment.

You know who I never talk about on here? My sister. Yes, I do have one, but she’d take my face off if I revealed her to the world. But it’s her birthday and so I’ve been thinking about her today. She could not be more of my opposite, as a thin, pretty, tiny, blonde girl. When we stand together now for family photos it looks like Robbie Coltrane holding hands with Polly Pocket. But, in the rare spells where she wasn’t:

  • rifling through every conceivable hiding place in my room to find anything illicit;
  • stealing money from the massive whisky jar where my mother put her coppers;
  • setting things on fire;
  • throwing a video box-set off my mum’s head;
  • sending fake letters from the school in order to get money to nick off to London to see Madonna in concert;
  • covering each square inch of her carpet in detritus and Culture Club memorabilia;

she was actually quite darling.

Memories? I know that these posts always descend into some weird Catherine Cookson-esque writing where we scrabbled together potatoes from the field and all shared one shirt, but indulge me for a bit. We didn’t have a great lot growing up and the village where we spent our formative years was about as exciting as having a tooth pulled. Remember Horsley? The village of less than 200 where you could buy a kitchen from a kitchen outlet centre but a pint of milk was beyond the wit of man? Where the one time I added a bit of masking tape to our village sign to change it to HORSEEY it was deemed such an outrage that it made page two of the Hexham Courant? And don’t forget when I edited the Wikipedia page for the village, said Tosh Lines from The Bill was living in the woods and shouting at the clouds, only to make the Hexham Courant again and be described as an Internet Vandal? Pfft. Well, we weren’t exactly spoiled for thrills and excitement.

Memories then. I remember making a go-kart with her, but whereas other kids had lovely fancy things, we tied a plank of wood to our skateboard, upon which we sat either side and set away down the steepest bank away from the village, the road to Horsley Cottages. Problem was my sister weighed the same as a mouse’s fart and I was a ten-tonne-tessie, meaning we had to adjust it so there was about half an inch of wood for my sister to sit on and I was six foot away from the skateboard ploughing through the hedgerow, coming out looking like Carrie after a particularly nasty fight with a blackberry bush. By god though we’d pick up some speed, flying down that road in the care-free, danger-be-damned way of children, completely unable to brake. I remember rocketing around a corner only to find a Northumbrian Water lorry coming straight towards us on this single-lane road, requiring me to lean heavily to one side and pitch us into a stone wall. How my mum laughed as she picked gravel out of our face.

What else? We were certainly quite entrepreneurial. We had two businesses. In the summer we’d go around everyone’s gardens picking all of their soft fruit, then wander about selling it back to the neighbours. It was quite the racket – we’d steal gooseberries out of Nancy’s garden only to sell them to Elsie in exchange for the chance to nick her raspberries, then the raspberries would be traded for apples, then the apples would be stotted off the roof of the old lady we used to dislike tremendously because she’d stop us playing in the phone box. We weren’t exactly Jane and Michael Banks, you understand. Our fruit picking landed us enough for a sweet weekend in Largs, playing the bandits whilst my parents worked keenly on their smoking.

We also ran – with staff, mind you, made up of the other urchins and ruffians of the village (we were one step down from The Mandelbaum Gang) –  a proper little ‘odd jobs’ company. We would wash cars, weed gardens, mow the grass, and reap the rewards. I say rewards, all the old biddies were notoriously tight with their money, but hell there wasn’t much to spend the money on so we made do. We did spend two hours washing and waxing some bewhiskered old dolt’s car only for her to press 50p into my hand to share amongst four. Pfft. We returned in the dead of night and covered her car in mud. Yes, I know, we should have been taken in hand, but still. We also stuck a potato in the exhaust of the vicar which launched itself off with an almighty bang, causing a very unsaintly curseword to bellow from his lips. I dobbed him into Jesus next time I was forced to pray.

However, and this is awful, our most lucrative gig came in the form of Mr Tines. We were asked to clean his house – and mind you, we did, despite it being filthy – and keep him company. Not in any especially creepy fashion, I hasten to add, although we did once turn his stairlift off for twenty minutes because we thought he was coming to kerdiddle us. WE WERE KIDS I STRESS. He asked us to try and wallpaper his bathroom. We were thirteen and fourteen respectively. The whole place ended up looking like a tidal wave of Solvite has washed through. My parents had to come down and put it right, oops. But this guy used to give us lots of pound coins as payment and boy, did we think we were well off. Even more so when we discovered he inexplicably had a stack of easily 500 ‘Explorer’ tickets, which allowed you to travel anywhere within the North East. He never left the house and was more than happy to gift them to us, albeit we used to take five for every one offered, and collectively the village children went all over Northumberland – it was fantastic! They didn’t expire, either, meaning we had unlimited travel for a good two years.We’d tell our parents we were playing in the woods when we’d actually be in Carlisle or at Newcastle Airport. Me and my then beau, Big Lee, must have had awkward teenage sex within 200 yards of every station on the Metro line. I saw him the other day from afar, and he’s skeletal to the point where he looks like a haunted hair comb. Clearly I’ve spoiled him for all men. I wanted to rush over, sweep him into my arms and tell him ‘BUT LEE, WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE OUR SUMMER IN SHIREMOOR’ but well, the time has gone.

As an aside, Mr Tines also used to have the most amazing, random nonsense stuffed into his cupboards. Case in point: we found a tiny fitness trampoline in the coal bunker which was immedately deployed into the back yard. My sister jumped on, took one bounce and pitched herself smartly over the wall, into the road, onto her face. Oops.

Summers passed in a blur of bike rides, fighting and Dr Pepper. Can you imagine children who were so delighted by finding Dr Pepper? And secret smoking – I don’t think there was a piece of furniture in our house that didn’t have cigarettes secreted behind them. Our childhood house has long since been sold, but I do wonder what the new owners thought when they eventually got round to dusting the tops of the door-frames and five nine-year-old Lambert and Butlers came tumbling down. Let’s not forget the time she ran away from home in a squall of teenage fury: she, rather cleverly, didn’t run away at all, just hid in the false ceiling of our washhouse like she was Anne Frank. There was plenty of food and drink in there and who would think to look amongst the suitcases? She came down three days later and even my mother couldn’t hide the relief that she hadn’t hitchhiked to London to make a name for herself. She certainly did better than I did when I ran away – I left a carefully annotated map with a set of ‘directions’ on my bedside table and I think my parents picked me up three miles down the road, where I’d stopped because my ankles were swelling.

Happy times. As usual, I’ve painted a bleak picture of some dire childhood filled with impecuniosity and petty crime, which means I’ll get an angry text from my mother later (I get them for two reasons: if I use the Big C on the blog or if I make out like she was Fagin) – but actually, nothing could be further from the truth. My childhood was full of laughter and love, and my sister was responsible for at least a quarter of that.

That is, when she wasn’t turning her eyelids inside out and licking the undergunk to make me vomit.

Ah what a time to link to the recipe!

to make roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes you will need:

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 200g seedless black grapes
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 80g soft goats cheese (2x HeA)

Slimming World tell you you really ought to syn the grapes if you’re cooking them. If you think you should syn a handful of grapes because you’ve introduced them to some heat, then by all means do. 3 syns per 100g. But, if you choose this, you won’t impress our KERRUH:

to make roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes you should:

  • preheat the oven to 175°c
  • stab the potatoes with a fork and wrap tightly in tin foil
  • bake for between 45 minutes to an hour, until soft when you poke it
  • remove from the oven, cut a gash down the middle and allow to cool for a bit
  • meanwhile, whack the oven up to 230°c
  • spread the grapes out over a non-stick baking sheet and spray with a bit of oil (don’t let Frylight knacker your pans, get this instead!), roll them about a bit to help coat them a bit and them spread them out again
  • roast for about 25 minutes, or until they start to burst
  • remove from the oven and allow to cool
  • scoop out the flesh of the potatoes, taking care to keep the skin intact and place in a bowl
  • mash together the potato flesh, salt, pepper and most of the goats cheese, reserving some to dot on the top
  • spoon back into the potato skins
  • top with the roasted grapes
  • place back in the oven to warm through if needed

Click the buttons below to find more of our tasty recipes!

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J

ham, pease pudding, roasties and er…rumbledethumps

Yes, rumbledethumps. It sounds like a coy euphemism for getting nasty but actually, it’s a very pleasant side dish of cabbage and potatoes. If anything, having cabbage tends to exclude any possibility of having nookie-noo later thanks to all the resulting flatus. But give it a go!

Just a very quick recipe tonight thanks to Paul and his big fat arse. No, let me finish. See, for about four months now, our computer chair has been slowly breaking under our combined weight/bouncing/spinning/wanking. One of the arms snapped off a few weeks ago but that’s alright, as long as you hold yourself stiff (and god knows I’ve got plenty of experience keeping myself stiff in front of the Internet) you can still type. But about a fortnight ago the hydraulics started failing and we would end up sinking, ever so slowly, closer to the floor as we typed. That’s fine until you realise you’re typing with your eye-line just over the top of the keyboard and your neck sounds like a cement mixer.

Things came to a head last night when Paul leaned back in the chair to contemplate my offerings of Chinese or Indian when there was a tremendous crack and the entire back of the chair came away, sending him hilariously to the floor, rolling on his back like a stuck turtle. Paul falling over anything always cracks me up and I spent a good five minutes clutching the settee and laughing until my vision went blurry and I had to sit down. I think it’s because he makes a proper comedy fat-person noise when he tumbles – the sort of noise a bouncy castle would make if you drove a car into it. I’m a terrible husband, aren’t I?

So yes, picture me now, sat here, legs bowed under me, no back support, the gentle hiss of air escaping as I’m lowered further and further to the floor, and you’ll understand why I must hasten to the recipe! On we go…

rumbledethumps

To be honest, this meal is just a collection of nice things so although I’ll cover the other three bits, rumbledethumps is what I’ll focus on. It’s a lovely side of potato, cabbage, onion and cheese, and let’s be honest, everything is better when covered in cheese. Nearly everything. No-one like a brie lollipop, just sayin’

ham

Nothing more fancy than Waitrose’s Pulled Ham Hock (I think Paul did that yesterday when he fell out of his chair) pressed into a nice shape with a ring-press (think he did that too) (you can buy a mould here) and topped with a tablespoon of piccalilli. The ham is syn free and piccalilli is half a syn per tablesspoon but I never syn it because I’m a frightful slut.

pease pudding

We buy our pease pudding from a lovely local business called Pete’s Puddin’ – it comes in bog standard flavour, Newcastle Brown Ale flavour, Cheese and Pickle flavour and best of all for someone like me who would happily main-line the stuff straight into my veins, Marmite flavour. I bought the stuff because I was so taken with his puns (and also they were selling it in Sausology, another local business) and never looked back. It’s amazing – you can find buy it yourself here: http://www.petespuddin.com/ 

I know pease pudding isn’t for everyone but we bloody love it and the flavoured versions are almost guaranteed to give you the proper fanny gallops if you try them. I’m not recommending this product because we’re getting a kickback or money or half an hour with a rough-handed lorry driver in a pool of pease pudding, no, I’m recommending because it’s bloody delicious. Plus, it’s good to support a local industry, and you cannot get any more local than buying pease pudding from the market in the centre of Newcastle. Well, unless Denise Welch was stottin’ a stottie offa Cheryl Cuuurl’s heed next to you, haway man pet etc. No, you haven’t tuned into Vera.

Oh, and it’s syn free.

roasties

We often have these tiny roasties – if you’ve got an Actifry, and if not, why not, just cut your potatoes up nice and small, whack on some worcestershire sauce and two oxo cubes and set them away. If you don’t have an actifry, cut the potatoes up, make a thickish liquid with two oxo cubes and a splash of water, tumble the potatoes around in it and cook in the oven until scrummy-yummy. Scrummy-yummy? Yes, I vomited into my mouth on typing it too.

rumbledethumps

Best to use leftovers for this but let’s just say, for the sake of argument, you can’t be arsed and/or you’re too fat to leave leftovers. That’s us. This makes enough for four people as a side, so you know what, I’m going to use butter again! I’m using a few odds leftover from the rosti so hopefully you’ll have everything in. So you will need:

  • 750g of potato, peel them if you’re fancy – or use a mixture of potato and cubed turnip, chop into cubes
  • 500g of cabbage, any old cabbage will do, but we used savoy, sliced super thinly
  • 25g of reduced fat butter (7 syns)
  • two fat onions, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, sliced thinly
  • 120g of strong mature cheddar (4 x HEA)
  • a good handful of chopped chives
  • lots of black pepper and salt

If you’re wanting to make this quick, use a mandolin slicer to cut the onions and cabbage – it’ll be done in less than a minute. The one we use is here! Only a tenner, too!

To make rumbledethumps you should:

  • boil your potato or tatty and turnip mix for about twenty minutes until soft and then mash – don’t mash it too finely, just give it a quick going over – a knee-trembler, if you will
  • meanwhile, melt that delicious butter and gently cook the onions and cabbage, oh so slowly now, until everything is soft and cooked – takes about the same amount of time as the potatoes and don’t be shy of adding a drop of water if things start to stick
  • tip the butter, cabbage and onion into the mash mixture and stir like a bugger, adding two thirds of the cheese and a good few twists of salt and pepper
  • drop the lot into a wee oven dish and top with the rest of the cheese and some chives
  • cook for about fifteen minutes or so and then plop it onto your plates with everything else!

Eeee, what a handy way to use up spare veg. Cabbage and turnip are always in the bargain bins at tesco so help yourself!

Looking for more veg ideas? Meat ideas? Anything at all? Click the buttons!

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Enjoy!

J

teriyaki steak with autumn coleslaw

Teriyaki sauce with autumn coleslaw? No, I don’t know what makes it an autumn coleslaw, save for the fact you’ll be falling over yourself to make it again if you’re a fan of crunchy veg. It’s not supposed to be swimming in dressing,

Right, here’s the deal! We are really struggling to find time to write blog entries at the moment as we’ve both got something big on at work and I’m busy getting our second book together for release in December, which, as you can imagine, takes some doing. But see I always feel bad if we’re not putting on new recipes so for the next couple of weeks or so, we’re going to be posting the recipes that we’ve get saved up and, where I can, I’ll try and put some guff on first if I have the time! All I ask in return is a simple favour: please share our blogs, recipes, ideas wherever you can!

Time does make fools of us all though, doesn’t it? I call Paul the minute-man, not because he’s a two-pump chump but rather whenever I ask him to do something he’ll reply ‘I’ll do it in a minute’. I could run into the room, choking on a Hi-Fi bar, clutching at my throat and he’d still merely look at me with absent-minded disdain and finish his tea. Bah. So, let’s get on with the recipe, and I promise we’ll be back properly in a couple of weeks!

Can I just point out one little thing? If you’re looking for an Actifry, the newest model is £79 on Amazon – which is by far and away the cheapest I’ve ever seen it, with the bigger model actually being the same price as the smaller one. Click here to have a look. It’s probably the one gadget we use the most and it’ll not get cheaper than this. Yeah, you can get a Taffle ActiLie from Aldi for cheaper but at this price, it’s worth paying that bit more for the decent version.

Also, bit unfortunate, yes, but we’ve also got another Musclefood deal sorted with…er, Musclefood – we’ve had a lot of people asking for a more varied box, so we’ve sorted one out for £40! Here it is:

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You can find more of our MF deals on one page by clicking here – we’ve got a deal for everyone. Right, no more advert stuff!

teriyaki steak and autumn coleslaw

to make teriyaki steak with autumn coleslaw you will need:

  • 2 decent steaks (we used the steaks in the box above)
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey (2.5 syns)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 fennel bulb, halved and sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • bunch of coriander, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime

to make teriyaki steak with autumn coleslaw you should:

  • mix together the soy sauce, red wine vinegar and honey
  • lay the steaks out onto a plate and pour over the soy sauce marinade – turn the steaks over so they’re well coated
  • leave to marinade for fifteen minutes
  • meanwhile, make the coleslaw by mixing together the carrot, fennel, red onion, coriander and lime juice, and put into the fridge to chill
  • heat a large frying pan over a high heat, add a bit of spray oil and add the steaks, reserving the marinade – cook to your liking
  • when the steaks are cooked, remove from the pan and allowed to rest
  • pour the remaining marinade into the frying pan and cook until reduced and thickened to make the sauce – pour this over the steak
  • enjoy!

We did the chips in the picture in the Actifry – no oil, just worcestershire sauce and a crumbled oxo cube! Easy! Keeps it syn free, too.

More recipes? Yes:

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Cheers!

J

peanut broccoli salad

Here for the peanut broccoli salad? Scroll down to the picture and start running your fingers under the words on the screen. Today’s post isn’t going to be played for laughs because something is on my mind. The NHS. Yes, today we’re not going to so much as wander off the path as set camp in the forest. See, I was driving home listening to Professional Chode Jeremy Hunt gabbling away in that smug, shit-eating way of his about reaching a deal with the junior doctors. I can’t abide the man. You know when someone is described as making your skin crawl? He makes me turn inside out like a salt-covered slug with shyness issues. I’m unapologetic in my view. He represents the very worst – perhaps second only to George Osborne, a man so smug that he probably has a Fleshlight designed in the vision of his own face delivering bad news – of what is wrong with who is running the country. But that’s another rant for another time.

See, I love the NHS. I truly do. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had previous bouts of health anxiety and whilst that’s under control, it’s also meant I’ve had many trips to the doctors in my time. I’ve also got a dicky ticker to boot. Every single time I’ve been into hospital I’ve been treated with the utmost respect by all of the staff, who wear their smiles wide and work hard to bring reassurance and comfort to all. I was in there this morning for physiotherapy on my Klicker-Klacker neck. The doctor who I saw was wonderful, knew about my anxiety, took the time to explain what the problem was (and more importantly, what it wasn’t!) and even had the good grace not to recoil when I took my shirt off. I wasn’t rushed, I wasn’t made to feel like I was inconveniencing them, and I was told just to call up if things got worse. 

I hasten to clarify something – I’ve only been into hospital when I’ve actually had something wrong – I’m not a timewaster (though I’ll say this – don’t dismiss anyone with health anxiety as being a timewaster – take a moment to ponder what it must actually be like worrying and fretting that they’re dying). I’ve never had a single bad experience with the NHS, and it breaks my heart (just what I need) to see the systematic dismantling of it coming in via the back door.

And listen – I normally love things coming in via the back door. Of course there could be improvements, but what massive organisation can’t stand to lose a little fat? Plus if I have to sit through one more ‘GO YOU’ video in the waiting room where positive messages are beamed at me by someone more tooth than human I’ll cut myself. Least I’ll be in the right place. I’m going to hand over the typing to Paul, who can put our feelings in much better terms. Over to you, Fatty.

All we ever really hear about the NHS is that it’s awful, things are going wrong, mistakes are happening – I can only disagree with that entirely both with my own experiences and those I’ve seen of others (as a spectator and a cog in the machine itself). 

It’s pretty amazing to think of this giant institution being there in the background which we all take for granted. Can you imagine having to dole out some cash every time you wanted to see the doctor? I had a taste of it when we last went to Florida and suffered from a simple perforated eardrum. It cost nearly £500 for ten minutes with a mardy quack and a Tiny-Tears bottle of ear drops. £500! James started clutching his heart until I reminded him we’d need to mortgage the house to pay for the defibrillator. We paid it because I needed it – I was in agony and due to fly back, and fortunately had some travel insurance to cover it, but to imagine having that sort of thing drop into my lap on a normal day beggars belief and needless to say would mean I’d probably have to self-medicate with whinging and attention-seeking, and probably some Ben & Jerry’s too. 

This whole idea of the value of the NHS hit me today just as I was sorting out our diary – I’ve got a few medical appointments coming up with my GP and at the hospital (we’re at that age, you know) that are for things that are all down to my fatness, and James had a quick rub-down by the physio today for his wonky neck. I did a quick bit of googling about the subject and to have all of these things without the NHS (i.e. like in America) would have cost nearly £3,000. Isn’t that astonishing? I know there’s insurance and various schemes but overall, what a mess. 

Isn’t it great that all these services are offered for nowt, all because of our NHS. Now, I know – I annoy myself with these things – all this treatment is entirely my own fault and completely avoidable, and I am a little ashamed to have to be using up the resources of the NHS on me being too greedy, but on the other hand what a fantastic public service it is – to know that all of us, whoever we are, where we come from, what we do, can have the most fundamental thing – our continued survival – at our disposal. And, what a thing it is that we can be so lucky to have something so grand and wonderful that we take it for granted.

So I made myself a commitment today – to look-up to the NHS and champion it, and also defend it. James will be rolling his eyes at this (he hates it when I get political) (James edit: no I don’t, I just find it hard to get it up when you wear your Thatcher wig and flat shoes) so I’ll maybe soften it a bit – but we ALL need to defend it from those that want to take it away. It is OURS and we must keep it OURS and so we must all do what we can to cherish it, use it, and make sure it’s there for others in the future. So, from today, I’ll continue my weight loss journey so that I can get healthy but also reduce the strain on the NHS in the future – today it’s a fatty liver but if I keep on at the rate I am there will be all sorts of obesity-related conditions that come knocking at my creaky door (and knees – and I need them for….things…), and make sure I do all I can to protect and defend the NHS when I can. Not just in a rabble-rousing way but also to defend the very essence of the NHS and the culture that comes with it, because god knows we’ll miss it when it’s gone. 

Phew. All better. 

Let’s do the recipe, then. This salad more than filled us up as a main meal – we served two paprika chicken breasts with it, the recipe for which you can find here – but it would do as a side too. Plenty of speed and more importantly, plenty of taste. This makes enough for four people as a big side dish.

peanut broccoli salad

to make peanut broccoli salad, you’ll need:

  • 1 or 2 large broccoli, cut into florets (or use 600g tenderstem/purple sprouting broccoli like we did)
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter (8 syns)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • a drop of sesame oil (½ syn)

If you’re serving with chicken, use the Musclefood chicken. Not saying this to push the product because we get paid commission (although we do) – we forgot to defrost some chicken and had to buy a couple of breasts from the supermarket. They went in looking swell and tasty, they came out shrunken and dry as a dead dog’s dick. Musclefood’s chicken is tasty, doesn’t shrink and isn’t full of gristle that makes eating your dinner the equivalent of chewing on the ring of a condom. Click here to order our freezer filler which will get you loads of chicken!

And look – yes you use syns, but this dish works out as 11 syns for the lot. I’ve divided it into four at 3 syns each, so I’m actually being over-cautious there. Don’t sack it off because it uses syns, that’s what they are there for. 

Finally, the inspiration for this recipe came from gimmesomeoven – we’ve taken it and made it SW-friendly.

to make peanut broccoli salad, you should:

  • reheat the oven to 200°c
  • drain the chickpeas well and place on a single layer on a baking sheet and dribble Worcestershire sauce over them – give them a shake to get them coated
  • bake in the oven for about 30 minutes – you don’t want them at full teeth-shattering level but a bit of crunch is a good thing
  • meanwhile, in a bowl mix together the peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil, loosen with a tablespoon of hot water if it’s too thick, until you reach your desired consistency
  • bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the broccoli
  • cook for a minute or two, or longer if you like it softer (amateur)
  • drain and place in cold water
  • when ready to serve, drain the broccoli and in a large bowl mix together with the peanut sauce
  • serve and sprinkle over the roasted chickpeas

Enjoy!

J

slow cooker: colourful mash

Please stop prefixing all of your sentences with the word ‘well’, people. No, come on. It makes it sound like everyone has been holding their breath waiting for the revelation that you’ve put the cat out or spent the afternoon with your feet up having a cheeky glass of Bellabrusco. It’s not needed.

Only a quick post tonight because a) we have ironing to do and b) my ear hurts. Really hurts. Clearly this is my punishment for having a bag of Revels at the drive-in cinema yesterday, but it was either that or a hotdog served up with a side of phlegm from the hairy lass on the food-stall, so I think I made the right choice. The drive-in itself was really quite fun too – not least because I spend most of a cinema trip in some discomfort from holding in a fart, whereas in my own car I could trump to my heart’s content and the people either side of us could do nothing about it other than wind their windows up and gag into their airbag. Inside Out was a bit of a bust mind, but that could be more to do with the fact we were watching it from a distance through the pouring rain. I felt like a peeping tom. I’d still recommend the experience, though.

Tonight’s meal is mash done in a slow cooker. Whilst trying desperately to find a recipe that didn’t involve pulled this or shredded that, I discovered you could do mash in the slow cooker. Do you need to? I’m not sure. But it does look pretty.

colourful mash

Can I just say, you have no idea how much work goes into using mirrored bowls and not accidentally reflecting my knob into the pictures.

to make slow cooker colourful mash, you’ll need:

  • however many potatoes you normally use for your mash
  • one red pepper
  • one yellow pepper
  • bunch of spring onions
  • handful of jalapeños
  • 50ml of chicken stock – add more if you have ‘dry’ potatoes – just keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t boil dry
  • 30g of hard goats cheese (optional) (HEA)
  • splash of milk
  • salt and pepper

to make slow cooker colourful mash, you should:

  • chop up your potatoes into manageable chunks and drop into the slow cooker
  • chop up the peppers, onion and jalapeno into nice square chunks and place on the top
  • pour on the stock
  • cook on low for three hours
  • mash up in the pan – don’t aim for super-smooth, you want it looking like a bowl of GINO O GINO GINELLI TUTTI FRUTTI ICE CREAM ABBONDANZA 
  • grate in the cheese and add enough milk to loosen it
  • dunno, serve this with sausages or something, at least the kids will eat it

In fact, let me just leave this here:

Actually, it’s genuinely really good – comfort food! You could add bacon too, if you were feeling like a proper decadent slut.

J

balsamic roasted sprouts

For week four, we’re going to…Belgium! Well, sort of. I’ll come to that later…

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Admit it, you’ve missed us. I’ve got visions of people wailing and rocking, waiting for the update that just didn’t appear. Well, to be frank, I’m disappointed that there were no Princess Diana-esque walls of flowers created, or that no-one doused themselves in petrol and set themselves on fire on our front lawn. Honestly, people. No, the unglamourous truth was that we’ve both been a little under the weather – and I was out on the piss on Friday night – and needed yesterday to recover.

Now see here, I’m not a big drinker – I tend to be an all or nothing sort of guy, so if I start drinking, I’m on it until I’m bundled into a taxi / arrested for lewd behaviour / do a Winehouse and choke on my vomit. It was supposed to be a civilised night, actually, and it certainly started off that way, with champagne in Hotel Indigo. That civilised chatter lasted about fifteen minutes before talk about bumhole waxing, black fluff and ‘dripping’ got underway and then the night never really got the glamour back. Brilliant night though, even if my mate did end up telling some poor, haggard looking woman with eighties hair and a very cats-arse-mouth (she was tutting at our conversation and rolling her eyes) that she looked like Enya. Taxi!

I like to think I’m a pleasant enough drunk – I’m certainly not an angry drunk or – worse – the moaning, miserable sort – if anything I just become way too affectionate towards Paul. In the interest of full disclosure and to try and prove a point, here’s a screenshot of my texts to Paul on Friday. Bearing in mind I’m the type of person who will chew through his trousers with his own bumhole if someone so much as uses a LOL in a text message to me, I certainly let my standards slip after four bottles of champagne.

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God he puts up with a lot, doesn’t he? Look at those times though, I was clearly hammered pretty quickly. In my defence, if there is one, my phone has a smashed glass screen so it’s hard to type properly. Yeah, that’ll be it. I can’t remember anything from after Paul bundled me into the Micra, though he tells me:

  • I kept falling asleep / passing out on the twenty minute drive home, intermittently burping and slouching over onto his shoulder, meaning he had to keep jerking the car to the left at high speed to tilt me the other way;
  • I spent a lot of time telling no-one in particular to fuck off; and
  • when I got home, he opened the car door and I went tearing out like my arse was on fire because I was about to have a technicolour yawn, went headfirst straight into the side of the shed – and then was sick all over our front lawn.

Tell you what mind, I felt right as bloody rain on Saturday after Paul cooked me a low-syn breakfast. Weigh in tomorrow and I think I’ll have put on, but hopefully Paul will have lost. But remember what I always say – we’re aiming to lose weight slowly, so if it goes up or down, it doesn’t matter. I’m certainly in credit. We spent today walking Lester from the cat and dog shelter, but he was clearly Hooch from Turner and Hooch!

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Aw. OK, finally, tonight’s recipe. I’ll make a confession – we totally forgot to think of a European recipe this week, so this is a little last minute. It’s a snack idea using brussel sprouts, which to be fair were cultivated in Belgium. We may revisit this one but actually, the sprouts are delicious hot or cold as a snack!

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to make balsamic roasted sprouts you will need:

a tablespoon of olive oil, a bag of brussel sprouts, balsamic vinegar, salt

 

to make balsamic roasted sprouts you should:

top and tail a bag of sprouts (take outer leaves off, cut the stem off the bottom). Get a tablespoon of decent olive oil (6 syns) and a good few glugs of balsamic vinegar. Mix them well and put onto a baking tray and sprinkle with some salt. Into the oven on 180degrees for twenty minutes, give them a shake and then cook for another twenty. Serve hot or cold and keep the windows open, because your bumhole is going to be backfiring like an old car. This easily served us twice over, so the two syns in the picture above could actually be lower (I decided that a serving was 1/3 of a bag of sprouts). Enjoy!

I’M BACK, BITCHES.

J