slow cooker: beary beery barley beef stew

We’re having a quiet night tonight for two reasons – we’re both extremely tired due to us having different (but equally terrifying) nightmares last night that kept us awake – mine (Paul) involved a nuclear war, his had something about an old woman. I weren’t really listening. There’s nowt more boring than listening to someone else’s dreams.

Tonight’s recipe is naturally incredibly butch. I know it looks like something that fell out my arse, but trust me – this is truly delicious and just perfect for a cold night. If you have kiddiwinks and want to give them this, feel free to go ahead – the booze will boil off, and anyway, there’s not much tipple in here anyway so even the weakest lightweight won’t even have an eyelid flutter. This is also perfect for all the fans of slow cookers out there, which judging from our inbox asking for recipes must include nearly every one of you! 


to make beary beery barley beef stew you will need:

  • 400g lean stewing beef, cubed – Musclefood have come through for us – you can get BUY ONE GET ONE FREE on their beef chunks (already cheap and no fat) by clicking here, entering the code TCCHUNKS at the checkout
  • 1 onion (brown works best here but a red onion will still be okay)
  • 500g mixed root vegetables of your choice (we used carrots, parnips and a turnip)
  • ½ pint pale ale (we used Brew Dog’s Dead Pony Club, and very nice it was too) (about 4 syns)
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 750ml beef stock
  • bouquet garni

to make beary beery barley beef stew you should:

  • chop everything up into chunks – the root vegetables should be no bigger than the size of your thumb
  • pour everything together into the slow cooker and heat on low for 8-10 hours
  • that’s it!


slow cooker: stuffed mexican chilli and lime beef tortillas

Ah, I love you lot. We can post delicious dinners that we’ve laboured over for many an hour and ne’ry a mention of it anywhere, but post a KFC recipe and you go mad on social media! Still, not complaining – we’re exactly the same! We’re going to try and do a ‘takeaway’ recipe once a month going forward, if only so it gives us an excuse to go to McDonalds next. Like we need an excuse!

Right, slow cooker week it is. I have to confess, I’m not a huge fan of the slow cooker. It’s certainly convenient – I appreciate having the dinner cooked and ready for us by the time we get in the house. But CHRIST it makes everything in the house smell like a dinner lady’s fart for a good few weeks. Is that just us? I find myself flapping my coat on the back of my chair at work and someone across the office will ask who’s bought rabbit stew in. Plus, everyone seems to get oddly evangelical about them – the amount of women I’ve had in slimming classes clutch at my arm and say ‘oooooo but the meat it just falls off the bone lover’ or some regional variant is uncountable. I’m presuming that’s not a half-hearted attempt to get in my trousers.

I don’t need my food to feel like it’s pre-chewed – if I’m getting to that point, I’d sooner be put on a drip and fed that way, because then at least I could watch TV lying down. Every fatty’s dream. Also, you may remember I’m an anxious sort, and I find it difficult not to believe that the slow-cooker is going to overheat and set my kitchen on fire. I’d hate ‘cauliflower and lentil curry’ to be put down on the insurance form. On top of all of this, we made a recipe ahead of schedule last night only to sleep in way past the time we should have got up and found a meal so cooked and burnt that we had to throw out the slow cooker. Probably for the best – it was a Morphy Richards thing and was absolute bobbins.

If you don’t have a slow-cooker, get one. They’re only normally around £30 for a decent one and the model we’ve bought, from Amazon, is reduced from £36 to £23. Nice. You can click here for that. It goes red with the rest of the things in our kitchen – our stand mixer, our glass toaster, Paul’s face. We’ve also done quite a few slow cooker recipes before:

Tonight’s recipe is a bit of a spin on the spicy pork in sauce recipe above, which you could just as easily use. We wanted to do a recipe with meat cooked in fizzy pop because there seems to be so many people getting their growler damp at the thought of Diet Coke chicken at the moment, or curries made with Fanta. God knows why. The below recipe, based on the fact you get eight of those tortillas in a pack, easily makes enough for eight with a lot of beef left over which can be put into a salad the day after). So…

stuffed mexican chilli and lime beef tortillas

to make stuffed mexican chilli and lime beef tortillas, you’ll need:

  • 500ml of Sprite (now it’s up to you – you can use sugar free if you want, and lose seven syns off the whole dish, but the full sugar version is better for flavour – and this makes a LOT of beef so those few syns spread very thinly)
  • some of those Old El Paso stand and stuff tortillas – now, let me say this. These come in at 4 and half syns each, and when I saw them cradled in a hand on the packaging I thought they were a decent size. They’re not. They’re tiny. If you want to use them like we did, do, but you could just serve this on top of a bed of rice without the tortilla thing and again, save the syns. Plus, for reasons inexplicable, they remind me a bit of vaginas, so that’s that
  • tomato salsa (1/2 syn per tablespoon…to be honest, I don’t count it, I know I know)
  • two packets of Tesco savoury rice (4 syns for two packets) made up, or, make your own rice and save the syns!)
  • 1kg of rolled beef brisket (feel free to drop this down in weight, or use chunks) – we used the good guys at Musclefood again, and it cost us £7, which is nowt given how much it makes
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely cut
  • juice of two fat limes

to make stuffed mexican chilli and lime beef tortillas, you should:

  • put the beef, sliced garlic, Sprite, chilli powder and salt in the slow cooker
  • cover, and cook on low for eight hours, or as long as you like
  • shred the beef, mix with the juice from the limes
  • assemble your tortilla – bit of rice, lots of meat, squirt of juice, bit of salsa

Remember, you can drop the syns down to a syn per serving if you do away with the ‘boats’. I don’t think they’re needed! Up to you though. 

Off to iron into the small hours now. Booo.


bloody mary beef, discuss

Tonight’s recipe comes from a friend who recommended it to me with such gusto and fervency that I couldn’t refuse. She’s one of the three who hold the keys to my chains at work, so I couldn’t really say no – but as it happens, we had a chunk of beef the size of a Volkswagen Golf parked in our freezer that kept tumbling onto Paul’s toes whenever he reached for the frozen peas, so it was a decent opportunity to use that up. Right? It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe made suitable for Slimming World and it pretty much cooks itself overnight in a slow-cooker, so even you can do it. A lot of people don’t care for Jamie Oliver but I rather like the man – he’s got a good heart and seems to mean well. Fair enough, he might have a face not unlike an over-inflated tyre, but still. Nobody’s perfect.

I still feel rotten (worse!) – my head feels like someone has sucked out my brain and piped in a load of cotton wool. My joints ache and my jaw is throbbing, though that’s possibly from telling Paul over and over and over again how manky I’m feeling. So you’ll forgive me if I’m not here long. That said, I wanted to mention the most ridiculous argument I had last night with some absolute stream of arse-gravy who was trying to have a pop at me for explaining how to cook an omelette. Her ‘proposal’ was to find a zippable (?) sandwich bag, pour in four eggs, seal the bag, break the eggs up, open the bag, add all the toppings, seal it again, boil the bag in a pan full of water and then after a few minutes, out slides the “omelette’ like a bright orange poo full of undigested tomato. Apparently, this saves time.

For goodness sake. An omelette is one of the quickest meals you can make as long as you’re not so mentally deficient you don’t know how to crack an egg, and if that’s the case, you’d perhaps be better served colouring in and eating lead. Crack eggs into jug, beat the eggs, pour into pan, allow to stiffen, add toppings, fold over, finish under grill. If James Martin and some random bag of hormones from Hollyoaks can do it on Saturday Kitchen then so can anyone. I mentioned this and got “well we can’t all be fucking mastercheffs‘, followed by lots of huffing and unbecoming puffing and argument style which felt like I was getting sassed by Dizzee Rascal, which doesn’t quite suit a “full time mammy” from Surbiton. Ignoring the fact that she’d quite semi-literally over-egged the pudding with her ‘recipe’, I’d hardly call being able to make an omelette ‘highly-skilled’. I chose a decent deal in Subway this morning and saved £1.35, that doesn’t make me Lord bloody Sugar. Thank Christ, his earlobes terrify me. Why must we revel in ignorance? I exited the “conversation” when I realised she looked the double of H from Steps and I couldn’t write anything without shoehorning in a Steps reference. 

OK, I sneaked two in. I said it was a Tragedy that she was getting so upset, and that the conversation was Better Best Forgotten. What AM I like.

The recipe, then. You don’t need to use the vodka, but really, it evaporates off during cooking and anyway, it’s so few syns it’s not worth stressing about. Also, this makes so much (serves eight, easily) that you can save some of the meat and sauce and mix with spaghetti the day after for lunch.

bloody mary beef

so to make bloody mary beef, you’ll need:

  • 1kg beef – we used a roasting joint from Tesco
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped into chunks
  • 4 small red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 700g passata
  • 1x bouquet garni bag
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3cm piece of horseradish, finely grated OR 1 tbsp from a jar (1 syn)
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • few drops of Tabasco sauce
  • 3 tbsp vodka (6 syns, barely)
  • juice of half a lemon

so to make bloody mary beef, you should:

  • juice of half a lemon
  • instructions:
  • preheat the oven to 130 degrees celsius (gas mark 1/2)
  • heat a large casserole dish (we bought one of these a while back (click) and although expensive, we use it almost daily – well worth the money – also, reduced by £40!) on the hob over a medium heat and add a splash of oil
  • season the beef with salt and pepper and add to the hot pan and cook for about ten minutes, until it’s browned all over
  • add the chopped celery and onions to the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5-10 minutes until he veg has softened slightly
  • mix together the passata, horseradish, worcestershire and tabasco sauce, vodka and lemon juice in a jug with 250ml water, and pour into the pan. stir to mix
  • lob in the bouquet garni bag 
  • cut out some greaseproof paper to just larger than the casserole dish and place over the top, pushing the middle of the paper down onto the surface of the food – this helps create a better ‘seal’
  • cover with the lid and cook in the oven for five hours
  • when cooked, pull the beef apart with two forks and serve – in our case, we served with horseradish mash (make mash, add horseradish and boiled cabbage) and tenderstem broccoli



spicy pork in a citrus sauce

First, a question – does anyone else make the car dance around when they’re driving along and a particularly good song comes on. I almost crashed before coming back from Tesco making the back of the car boogie along to Funkytown. Honestly imagine that on my death certificate – cause of death ‘Lipps Inc’s infectious grasp of beats’. Mortifying.

Hey, we’ve been gardening today. Outside of our kitchen is a square of soil that nothing other than the rosemary beast seems to grow in – it’s exceptionally thick clay and well, I can’t be arsed to treat it. So, we dug everything out, buried these nice coloured plant pots, filled them with compost and have replanted the rosemary, bay, thyme and chives and added garlic, mint, parsley, oregano and sage. We’ve then covered the soil around the buckets with bark. It needs levelling out and the bricks pressure washed and the fence painted (that’s for the gardener to do) but it got dark and we got lazy, but it doesn’t look too bad!


Anyway, I forgot to mention yesterday that we actually went back for our weigh-in to our NEW group – Saturday morning. We did try a couple of others during the week but they’ve either been too big or don’t quite marry up with our availability. Problem is…it’s 8.30am in the morning! The plan is that it’ll encourage us to use up the remainder of the Saturday instead of languishing in bed until 1pm and then sitting naked until one of us ventures to the shop for breakfast.

So how did we do? Well, badly!

james – 2lb on; and

paul – 1lb on.

Fuck. Well actually no. It’s not suprising – I’ve been eating all sorts of crap at work given I’ve been working crazy hours (almost 90 hours overtime in two weeks) – I’m actually pretty chuffed it’s only 2lb! I’ve had Wagamamas, a Chinese, Dominos pizza, more chocolate than I know what to do with (and wait until you see tomorrow’s post). I’ve been eating healthy at home, and I can only presume that Paul has been comfort eating through the lack of my wobbly arse blowing around the house. Plus, without wanting to be crass, both of us had brown dogs scratching to be let out but hadn’t had time to free them, so there’s probably a good 1lb for the each of us right there. I do think the damage could have been so much worse if we’d been eating crap at home too.

However, we’re not going to be able to weigh in next week because…we’re going on holiday! Here’s the twist – we have absolutely no plans. We both finish work on Friday at 5pm and then we have ten days off. We could end up absolutely anywhere – the only thing that we’ve done is set a budget. We might turn up at the airport and jet off, we might hire a campervan, we might get a train into Europe, who knows? Given our maximum level of adventure is normally eating an after-eight mint at half seven, this is new grounds for us. OH and before anyone thinks of burgling our sweet little home, my cousin is staying here for the week to look after the cats. SO THERE.

So our next weigh in will be Saturday 5th – but with a week of holiday AND my birthday, it might be catastrophic. But after that, we’re doing our Nuclear Week (see the 7777 banner above) and we will still be posting recipes until we go away – and if you’re really good, I might even queue up some recipes to come on when we’re away!

Speaking of recipes, this was a beauty – pork carnitas made in the slow cooker. It’s pork cooked slowly in orange and lime juice, with a blend of spices and a little bit of stock. Tasty and although GASP you’ll need to count syns, you’re only using…1.5 SYNS. Call the motherfucking police!


to make spicy pork in a citrus sauce, you’ll need:

four pork chops with all fat removed and cut into little strips, two medium onions (diced), 4 garlic cloves (minced – how many times have I told you about these? Get one!), 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tbsp of chilli powder, 1tbsp of chipotle mix (we found ours in Tesco), 1tbsp of finely chopped oregano from your herb garden or dried from the cupboard like a pleb, 1 tsp of salt and one of pepper, 100ml of chicken stock, 4 tablespoons of lime juice (microwave your lime for 5 seconds and then squeeze, you’ll get shitloads more juice) and 250ml of Tropicana 50/50 orange juice (1 syn for 100ml – so 2.5 syns for this, which serves two).

NOTE: Batchelors Super Rice is now 2 syns a packet. Boo. But haway.

to make spicy pork in a citrus sauce, you should:

chuck everything into the slow cooker, stir, and whack on high for six hours or low for eight. Then, scoop the pork and onions out and shred the pork with a fork. Set the juice aside. Put the shredded pork back in the slow cooker on high for fifteen minutes just to dry out a smidge and put the juice into a pan and heat on a medium to high heat for that fifteen minutes to thicken the sauce. Combine the lot and serve with rice! We were lazy and used Batchelors Super Rice which is syn free.



croatian horse stew with gnocchi

For week five, we’re going to Croatia!


And be warned, today’s stew contains a stable ingredient. Literally, because I’m using horse. When Paul told me I’d be getting my lips around a black beauty, I thought my birthday had come early, but he merely meant this tasty horse-based stew from Croatia. Now listen – you can swap beef in if you’re a big fan of the whinnying little buggers, but I’m not, so into my belly it goes.

Speaking of horses, I’m handing over the reins tonight to my other half, who I’ve blackmailed into writing a blog post to give my fingers a rest. He’s out of beta, and releasing on time! Enjoy!

A bit of an unusual one for today – and not just for the choice of meat but because I (Paul!) am writing today’s post, instead of James!

I’m usually the ‘behind the scenes’, younger, more handsome (James edit: he’s not) half of Two Chubby Cubs – I tend to cook the meals whilst James works his magic on them fancy words in the posts. I don’t mind, I quite enjoy cooking (though I’m still very much an amateur) and I can never be arsed after a day typing at work to then do the same at home. And, it lets me catch up on my boring programmes that James whinges about (look, Korean war bunkers ARE interesting. I don’t care what everyone says) (James edit: they’re not).

I’ve had a bit of a backward route into cookery, it has to be said. At school I can remember making shortbread and rolls, and the rest of the time was spent gossiping and trying to stealthily hit the ‘Emergency Stop’ button for the electric ovens so we didn’t have to do anything (90%+ success rate, btw) and could go back to yakking. It’s only really been in the last few years that I’ve had a stab at anything other than the plastic film on a ready meal and bunging into the microwave.

I suppose I can blame my mother for that, mealtimes at home at their most exotic never ventured past a jar of Uncle Ben’s Sweet and Sour Sauce poured over a pack of slightly-frosty Kwik-Save Chicken Wings in a Pyrex dish. She did dally with switching to BBQ Sauce somewhere in the mid-90’s but realised the error of her ways and went back to the lesser of the two evils. The chicken was never pre-cooked and whilst I’m not sure if that mattered it always had a slight pink hue and a chewy texture that made you feel like you had a corner of a baby wipe in your mouth. To this day I still can’t eat chicken that has any bones. For the only time in my life I’m solely a breast man.

One thing I did like though was Mince ‘n’ Mash which I still love, though is essentially a pack of mince boiled in the water of tinned carrots and chopped tomato juice. I love it. James can only digest it if it has half a jar of Bisto poured in and half a pack of couscous so the actual meal itself is so diluted he can’t taste it. He just doesn’t appreciate a bit of povo-grub.

It was during my mid-teens that I learnt that too much of a good thing can actually start to get on your wick. Ma offered me once a ‘Freschetta’ pizza that was on offer at the local Spar – you remember it – the four cheese (and it was only ever the four-cheese one I was given. Pepperoni was 10p more) – where the crust rose in the oven. It was DELICIOUS. But, of course, once I said that it was like a red rag to a lazy bull. The very next day I counted and I swear this is all completely true) SIX of the bloody things piled on top of each other, a pile that never, ever seemed to go down no matter how hard I tried (and by God, did I try). To begin with I was in absolute heaven – I even managed to figure out the best way to eat it – use the crust to squeeze out the sauce from under the cheese and mop it up, so that it doesn’t spoil the true heaven that is frozen four-cheese gooiness on a frozen yeasty-floury slab. Lahhhvely. Soon though I started to miss actually going to the bog and the Freschetta love affair was over. “But you said you liked ‘em!”, she said, dodgy tab hanging off her bottom lip that she bought from some gypo at Whittlesey market. “I did! But after three weeks I could really do with some bloody vitamins!”. My protestations fell on deaf ears and I had to wait until the offer at Spar ended before I could once again actually have a crap and eat something else. A similar crisis of the bowel nearly erupted a few weeks later when a delivery of water-damaged Findus Crispy Pancakes filled up the freezer but I knew I had to act fast and feigned an allergic reaction to the breadcrumbs. I cried in relief when I saw those yellow fingers reach into a plastic bag and put that jar of “Uncle Den’s” (times were hard) into the cupboard and calm was restored.

That’s probably why I got so fat. Not that I was ever that skinny before the pizzas came along, heavens no, but I certainly didn’t learn how to eat anything remote healthy. Couple all of that along with some knock-off sweets (Twax, Bouncy, Sprinters…) and it was a recipe for juvenile diabetes and a future shopping for clothes in the ‘husky’ sections at out-of-town garden centres.

This sort of thing pretty much carried on into my late-teens and didn’t end even after I left home. I soon went off to University and my bad eating habits carried on there. This time, however, with even less cooking as I realised my mother’s ability to switch the oven past 180 degrees made her look like Raymond Blanc next to my paltry skills and inability to even know how to chop an onion. I also had to get by on a paltry budget – £400 a month was my bursary and a good £370 of that was earmarked for fags, Lambrini and the monthly mince along to the Dot Cotton club (a gem on an otherwise clap-riddled, drab East Anglian gay scene. RIP Dot!). I also had to buy all my shopping in one go (immediately after that payment went into my account) before I pissed it all up the wall at the on-site Burger King, so it almost entirely went on crisps, chocolate and Diet Coke (gotta watch that figure, after all!) and for some reason no end of sauces. I remember coming home with bags and bags but having nothing that I could throw together into a proper meal, but you could have an absolute fiesta if you came to Room 231 armed with a battalion of breadsticks. This carried on and on and on and eventually I reached the whopping weight of 28 stone. There’s a picture of me somewhere where I’m standing against a wall, but my head is miles away from the wall itself. It’s awful. A combination of bad food and bad habits meant that any sort of weight-loss was going to be impossible (not that I was even trying). I became responsible mostly too for preparing the meals at the place I worked (hospital) which meant easy access to an endless supply of biscuits and other tidbits. I once ate 12 individual cherry cheesecakes that were destined for the patients’ table in one shift (sorry about that) and I routinely had a pint of whole milk and a packet of chocolate bourbons stashed out the back to get me through the day. I was also drinking loads in the evenings which would have meant even more calories bunged on top of stolen NHS produce. No end was in sight, but, I was young and I didn’t really care and I never really felt that ‘fat’ so had no intention of stopping.

The rest of Paul’s story will come tomorrow! Don’t want to spoil you all, after all, it’s late and I want my hot chocolate. Tonight’s recipe:


To be fair, I think I’ve managed to bastardise two separate recipes here, but it stays fairly close to a Croatian staple – a stew from the Dalmatia area of Croatia. It’s normally served with gnocchi with parmesan, hence I’ve put them on above. It’s not the best picture, sorry.

A note on the horse. Horse is a very lean, very slimming meat and very good if you’re on a diet and don’t have any qualms about eating the poor buggers. I bought mine from but you can very easily swap it for beef, though try and get something nice and lean. I’ll say neigh more about it except to tell you it tasted like good lean meat!

The syns come from red wine (worked out at 2.5 syns per serving) and the gnocchi (1.5 syns). You could have it with mash and save the syns right there, and perhaps make a gravy with one of those red wine stock pots then I think it would be free. But honestly.

to make croatian horse stew with gnocchi, you’ll need:

ingredients: 750g of horse steak or beef with no fat, cut into chunks, two large red onions, rosemary, 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar, two cloves of garlic peeled, a drop or two of oil or if you must, Frylight, two carrots, a celeriac, a bay leaf, two cloves, salt, pepper and paprika. You’ll also need a beef stock cube and some water. Oh, and around 300ml of red wine. I know fuck all about wine, go for something decent but remember it’s going to just evaporate off so…

to make croatian horse stew with gnocchi, you should:

recipe: slice your onions (Remember, use a mandolin. Quick and easy, just like the author) and chuck them in a pan with a bit of oil and salt to saute down. Add your horse/beef and brown it off. Now, cut up your carrot and celeriac and chuck them in, just for a moment or two, and chuck the red wine after it, high heat, let it boil off a bit. Finally, put everything into the slow cooker with all the spices and bay and seasoning, put on low, and cook until you really want it. Cook gnocchi by hoying it into boiling water and when it floats, serve up with the stew. You can have 70g of light parmesan if you want, but you don’t need that much!

I actually did something a bit different – I cut the horse and onions up the night before and marinated them in the red wine overnight before the night they were slow-cooked. You could do this, but it’s not that necessary.


J, and for one night only (and well, tomorrow), P!

guinness pulled pork with colcannon rosti

For week three, we’re going to…the Republic of Ireland!


Listen, I shit you not, that was the third country on the list – we’re not just doing easy recipes! Luxembourg is next week. Goodness. Our recipe is perhaps a bit obvious but, no word of a lie, one of the nicest I’ve ever done on Slimming World – Guinness Pulled Pork with a colcannon rosti and minted peas. But before we get there…

I don’t know if anyone watches The Middle but there’s a character called Sue who is permanently happy – the very antithesis of me. She conducts an experiment where she smiled at people to see if a smile was as contagious as a yawn. It WASN’T. But, you know, we don’t smile enough, so I thought I’d do the same thing – smile at random people as I trundled around M&S before work this morning. Well, fuck me, that whole stereotype of Geordies being a friendly bunch couldn’t be further off the mark – at least first thing on a rainy Tuesday morning. At best, most people reacted like they’d seen their own bumhole and didn’t care for the colour, at worst I felt like I was at considerable risk of being stabbed in the beck. It doesn’t help that I don’t have a natural smile, one of those egregious, winning grins that can melt the stoniest of hearts and set gussets aflutter – it’s more a lopsided leer that looks like I’m simultaneously dropping off my yoghurt and trying not to fart. No wonder no-one smiled back save for one lady, and she had a better beard than I did.

But isn’t that a shame? I love it when people smile heartily at me or engage me in idle chit-chat. Put me in a room where I’m supposed to socialise and I’ll stand there like the world’s gayest hat-stand, all mute and agog. Stick me next to an old biddy in a bus-stop and I’ll be waxing lyrical in no time, revelling in her bawdy tales of bus delays and the minutiae of her family tree. I can chat away to the checkout assistant in a supermarket until the cows come home, are milked, that milk sold for negative value and put back in my trolley for me to go ‘OOOH the price of milk’ at the cashier. Interestingly, I’ve had it pointed out that my accent changes depending on who I talk to – I got out of a taxi the other day and it took me about five minutes to stop talking like Jimmy Nail shouting a warning across a quarry. I find that if I’m in a situation where I’m not sure how someone is going to take my sexuality (up the arse, generally), I’ll ‘man up’ the voice a bit – not that I sound like some lisping Monroe-esque harlequin you understand, but because I don’t want to be found with my face caved in on an abandoned industrial park. You never know.

The problem with doing this is that it then invites some pretty bleak persiflage between me as a passenger and them as a driver. The last taxi driver I encountered asked me what car I drove – when I answered with ‘White, DS3’ he immediately dismissed it as a pussy car and told me to get a decent motor to ‘attract the lasses’. Because, you know, his Skoda Octavia in syphilis yellow was clearly a clit-magnet. Nothing says sex machine like a beaded seat cover, poorly-masked body odour and Smooth FM playing over the speakers. Moron. Not the worst taxi driver I ever had mind – I once got the offer to ‘pay my fare’ an alternative way with the altogether more direct result of the taxi driver pulling over two hundred yards from my front door and getting his knob out – I wouldn’t have been as offended if there had been miles on the clock but he’d only driven me around the town moor – two miles at best. I’m surprised he’d had time to turn his indicators off. I politely declined – well, as politely as you can when someone offers to effectively pay you £4.40 for oral sex – and threw a fistful of coins at him. Plus, on a purely shallow note, it looked like he had half a smoked cigarette sticking out of his zip. I mean make it worth my while, honestly. It looked like the whistle on an aeroplane lifejacket.

How the hell did we get onto that from smiling at people? Course correction needed! Have a recipe! Guinness pulled pork with Colcannon rosti!


It’s going to be easy for me to break this down into the colcannon and the pork one at a time. For the peas, you want a tin of peas and a bit of mint sauce. If you can’t figure out how to make those work, then god help us all.

to make the Guinness pulled pork you will need: 

500ml bottle of guinness (9 syns), good hunk of pork (I use shoulder, but take the fat off it – normally enough to serve 6), one big red onion. Make a rub of 1tbsp paprika, 2tsp of salt, 1tsp of garlic powder and 1/2tsp of freshly cracked black pepper. Rub it all over the meat, slice the onion, put the onion into the slow cooker, followed by the Guinness, followed by the lid and cook for 10 hours on low. If, at the end of the cooking, you want to thicken the liquid a little, just sprinkle in an oxo cube and whack it on high for half an hour.

to make the colcannon rosti you will need:

 half a bag of spring greens, 800g of potatoes (peeled, cooked and mashed), bacon with the fat cut off, 200ml of milk (use some of your healthy extra allowance but remember this serves 4 so you’re not using much at all), tsp of wholegrain mustard (1/2 syn, but again…between four), bit of oil. Cook the mash, push it through a ricer so it’s nice and smooth. Don’t have a ricer? Get one here and thank me later.Leave aside to cool. Boil the spring greens in the milk with some mustard mixed in. Drain when cooked and chop finely. Cook off the bacon in little chunks. Add the potato, cabbage and bacon into one mixing bowl and season very well. Shape into discs and put into a dry NON-STICK frying pan. Cook on both sides for 5 minutes to get a good crust. Serve!

This isn’t authentic colcannon – there isn’t lots of cream and butter, the creamy taste is achieved by using a ricer, but a good amount of mashing by hand will do the same thing!

There we have it. Not very authentic but fucking tasty and reasonably easy to make. If you can’t be arsed making the rostis, just chuck the lot into a pyrex dish and cook in the oven for a bit!

Enjoy, enjoy.


beef bourguignon

For week two, we’re going to…FRANCE!


But before we get started, I come bearing good news. I’m sorry, that never normally happens, I’ve been under pressure, it’s that time of the month, I’m just keen etc. No, remember our bathroom problem where Paul and I were down to one tiny bulb in our bathroom, turning every trip to brush our teeth or wipe our bum into a perilous adventure fraught with tension that we’d be plunged into absolute darkness mid-pinch? Well worry no more! Our wonderful, marvellous and above all else hella-manly plumber/electrician has saved the day! But mind it took something else breaking before we called him in. Our extractor fan has clearly become so affronted and overworked trying to waft away the smell of so many rich Slimming World infused motions that it went into overdrive and refused to turn off – not even using the switch would stop it – we had to take out the fuse for the lights throughout the house before it finally shut off. Which wasn’t ideal. A plea was made to the chap who originally did our bathroom and he has been this morning and not only replaced the fan, he’s only gone and replaced all the lightbulbs! Best part is, I wasn’t even there when he did it so I didn’t need to feel all emasculated and embarrassed that we had let ourselves down so badly.

One thing I’m a smidge alarmed about is that we’ve gone from one 30w bulb in the bathroom to six 50w beauties – if I happen to find an interesting magazine article whilst I’m on the netty I’ll probably come out with a tan. It’ll make brushing my teeth like being on a mediocre game-show – I’ll just need Dale Winton mincing around behind me explaining my brushing technique to an imagined audience. Perhaps I’ve thought too much about this. Let’s move on.

It was only a short post yesterday as I was at the cinema seeing Kingsman: The Secret Service, with Phillipa who you may know from the poorly-spelled insults she occasionally leaves on the blog. Great film and heartily recommended – we laughed, we cried, she spilt her popcorn – the usual, and that was before we’d even sat down. Colin Firth plays an absolute blinder, really branching out from his upper-class-English-fop role that was all I associated him with. I admit to being distracted nearly all the way through by the girl in front of me and her shovel-faced boyfriend. She’d clearly come dressed for a bet but that’s by the by – it was her haircut which was distressing me. She’d tried to fashion it into a bun but instead ended up with this weird bowl, where, if I had been feeling bitchy enough, I could have easily have parked my 35-gallon-Diet Pepsi there to prove a point. It was upsetting purely because of my OCD – I hate things being messy. If I didn’t think I would have been either stabbed by a needle hidden in her hair or glassed by her dead-eyed lamp-post of a mate I would have reached over and tidied it up. To make things worse, the popcorn was disgusting – it tasted like they’d washed it alternately in Charlie Red and the North Sea. Didn’t stop either of us eating it though, though I had to stop once my lips started turning inside out like a slug. Luckily, Phillipa had her hunger satisfied by the ice-cream, pick and mix and salty popcorn and I wasn’t sent out to get a pig on a spit for afterwards. I do love going to the cinema and now that I can’t have my usual settee-cushion of popcorn and binbag of pick-and-mix, I don’t even need to fret about taking out a mortgage to cover it.

So: where are we on the Two Chubby Cubs European Tour, eh? Somewhere exotic, warm and unusual? No. We’re in France. I half-toyed with taking a picture of a crepe with a Gauloise stubbed out in the middle of it, but that’s not embracing our trip. It’s not like I don’t care for France, I’ve been many times and always enjoyed myself, but I once got ripped off outside the Eiffel Tower by a caricaturist and I’ve never quite forgiven the country for that. It wasn’t so much that I paid a ridiculous amount for the drawing, it was the fact that the drawing made me look like John Prescott examining his pores in a Christmas bauble. Nevertheless, here we go…


This apparently serves four, but I’m not convinced. Admittedly we’re greedy fuckers, but there was barely enough to have seconds! Maybe factor that in when you cook…

to make beef bourguignon you will need:

100g of bacon medallions cut into strips, 400g small shallots, 700g stewing beef with all fat removed (although I used proper scrag-end beef that I found in the back of the freezer – beef you can pumice your feet with), three garlic cloves sliced thin and chopped finely, 150ml of red wine, 425ml beef stock, tomato puree, fresh rosemary and fresh thyme (use your herb garden or use dried, I’m not judging), 1 bay leaf, 50ml of vegetable stock, bit of nutmeg. I cooked this overnight in a slow cooker but you could easily do this in a casserole pot. Cook low and slow. I chucked in a few whole shallots and some pepper too because I’m just that random.

to make beef bourguignon you should:

fry off the shallots and bacon until they start going brown – chuck in the beef and get a bit of a seal on the meat. Add everything else bar the swede. Bring to the boil, then either tip it into a slow cooker and cook low and slow for eight hours or in a casserole pot in the oven for two hours. Really, the longer you leave it cooking, the more the flavours will develop and, especially if you use cheap meat, the more tender the meat will become. Mmm. Remove the bayleaf and serve with swede mash – use my singing swede method for that.

extra-easy: yes, if you serve it with the swede mash. Superfree and all that shite. Delicious!

slow-cooked chicken, bacon and cheese

If there was one thing I took away from my trips to America, aside from the desire to use a mobility scooter (with built-in cup holder) to go any distance further than 400m and a propensity for being slightly brash but oh-so-sweet, it was a taste for ranch dressing. On our last trip, after three weeks of constant theme parks, our bodies were crying out for anything that wasn’t in burger form or didn’t leave grease all over our beards. Hard to find in Disney! I remember seeing all those giant folks walking around chewing on what looked like a burnt leg. I had to get one, despite reading they were emu legs – they’re not, they’re from male turkeys, fact fans – but even I couldn’t finish it, and I’m used to packing a lot of hot meat into my mouth – I’ve been doing it for years!

So yes, Paul and I finally found a place called Ruby Tuesday’s, with a giant, fresh salad bar…and they had this dressing – ranch – and I’d never tried it before, but honest to God if I’m ever (god forbid) terminally ill and in a hospice, I want Make a Wish to come along and order the doctors to do a blood/ranch transfusion. I can’t get enough of the bloody stuff but it’s so high in fat, being made with buttermilk or sour cream as it is, so usually it’s a no-no Nanette on SW. That said, as a weigh in treat, we’ve used in the recipe below and spent a few syns on it, and I fully recommend you do too – it was a delicious meal, and for crying out loud, it combines cheese, chicken, bacon and potatoes – what more do you want? Note our token attempt at making it healthy on the side there with our salad.

Oh! Before I do the recipe, just a quick comment – thank you all so much for your lovely comments, it really means a lot to us! You might not see them appear right away as I need to moderate out all the porn links and spam we get sent (honestly, I wish my exes would just GET OVER ME haha), but I’ll always get to you! I do fret about appearing rude.

Recipe then, without any further delay:


to make slow-cooked chicken, bacon and cheese, you’ll need:

This is a slow cooker recipe – if you don’t have one, you could create a foil parcel and hoy it in the oven on very, very low for a while, but I don’t know the timings…

ingredients: potatoes – we used rainbow potatoes from Tesco, with a mix of different colours, cut up into thumb sized chunks (use your own measurements for the amount of potatoes you’d like, but we used 1.5kg and that made enough for four servings, two chicken breasts, six bacon medallions or rashers with the fat off, reduced fat cheese, ranch dressing (Newman’s Own), spring onions – and whatever you want on the side in your salad.

to make slow-cooked chicken, bacon and cheese, you should:

recipe: line your slow cooker with foil – you’re going to create a parcel of everything and cook it inside the parcel, so work that out. Actually, that’s a shite way of putting it, sorry! Cut up your chicken breast and bacon into chunks. Then it’s as simple as layering – potatoes, chicken, bacon, grated cheese, slices of spring onion, hoy it all together and add four tablespoons of ranch dressing. Cook on low for eight hours. Serve!

extra-easy: the syns come from the ranch dressing – Newman’s Own for 3 syns per level tablespoon. Now that’s LEVEL, not balanced on the spoon like dressing based Jenga. The cheese – you can have 40g of reduced fat cheese as HEA. I used 100g of cheese – again, split between four that’s nowhere near the HEA amount, so worry not!

Right – enjoy!


flicked bean overnight chilli

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


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

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

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

to make flicked bean overnight chilli you should:

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

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

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


syn-free onion soup

I’m writing this from Edinburgh airport, as my arse chews through the Wetherspoons seat currently holding me up. We’re off to Berlin and Munich for a few days, which of course I’m very excited about, but I’m not a great flyer. Well no, once I’m in the air I feel committed and don’t worry, but the build up beforehand has my nerves all a-jitter. I don’t know how people do it day in day out. I’ve flown loads of times before but it never gets easier. The doctor has given me 10mg of bloody diazepam if things get a bit tough but haway, they used to give me 2mg when I was having panic attacks. I’m nervous but I don’t feel that I need to be bloody unconscious to spend two hours inhaling farts and Ebola. It’s only easyjet which will be novel for me as I haven’t flown economy for years – not out of any high delusions of grandeur but I always pay more for the bigger seats as I’d be mortified if I had to ask for one of those seatbelt extenders. I have visions of the stewardess having to lasso it around me like she was bringing down an errant horse.

So, because we are on holiday, the blog will be a bit quiet for a few days, and I’ll pick up in my return. Diet wise…well I’d like to say I was going to sensible but I want a currywurst and lots of German beer. Hopefully it will not do too much damage…

Here’s a recipe for onion soup if you need something to be cracking on with though!

to make syn-free onion soup:


Nice and easy…

The key here is using the mandolin to make short work of the onions, and choosing a good beer. The one I chose was something I had kicking around in the fridge and as this serves eight, the syns works out at around two syns. However, you could very easily leave the beer out and enjoy a Syn free soup! Follow the recipe for the rest. Delicious!