speedy spring roll bowls – perfect for a quick lunch

Just a recipe post tonight for speedy spring roll bowls to get you through the dark days – a cabbage recipe to use up the rest of the cabbage from yesterday’s recipe! Please don’t be put off by cabbage – cooked correctly, it’s so much better than that boiled-to-mush slop you used to get at school.

Before we get to the recipe, though, we have a small treat for you. Our Christmas card! As you know, we aren’t bothering with printed cards this year, so this is just for you!

This Queen and her loyal companion wish you a marvellous Christmas indeed! A few people think we’ve been mean by posting Rolf Harris’ face onto hers, but alas, no, it’s just me with a white beard. I actually like how it looks!

This is an easy, speed-packed dish and takes hardly any time to cook – most of the time is chopping up the vegetables. Once that’s done, you’re good to go!

spring roll

to make speedy spring roll bowls you will need:

to make speedy spring roll bowls you should:

  • heat a little oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat
  • add the mince and the onion and cook until the mince is browned and the onion is translucent
  • add the cabbage and the carrots to the pan and cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally
  • in a bowl mix together the garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar and pour into the pan
  • stir well, and cook for another ten minutes, reducing the heat to medium, stirring often
  • serve, and sprinkle over the spring onions

Want more like this? All you’ve got to do is click the buttons below to find even more!

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J

PS: it’s Graham from Jeremy Kyle in the food picture, not Gary Glitter!

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

honey and rosemary chicken

Here for the honey and rosemary chicken? Then scroll down. I need to get something off my chest (aside from the eight stone of suffocating fat) and that’s a recount of our trip to Land’s End. I did say I’m going to do our tale of Cornwall a little differently and well, this day out needs a post all of its own. So here we go…

twochubbycubs go to Cornwall: Land’s End

You can’t go to Cornwall and not visit Land’s End – it’s like going to London and not seeing the Queen, or going to Southend and not getting roughly fingered under the pier by someone more hair gel than teeth. Oh I know, Southend is lovely and charming and really, what’s a severe physical assault when you’ve got the glitz of the Rendezvous casino and the chance to spot a Subaru doing doughnuts in a McDonalds car park? I digress. I imagined Lands End to be some quaint little village right on the tip of southern England, full of darling tea-shops and people laughing gaily.

Well, it fucking wasn’t.

Excuse my swearing, but I’ve genuinely never been more disappointed with a place in my life. And I’ve been to Hartlepool. On a bus. What should have been a fairly tasteful and certainly interesting place to visit was nothing more than a tacky, ill-designed, grasping tourist trap, comprising of poorly thought out exhibitions and miserable staff. We had chortled our way down the A30 on a brisk, drizzly English day – all roads in Cornwall seem to go via the A30, I reckon I could drive it blindfolded now – and our hearts were lifted as the Sat Nav, inexplicably tuned to the voice of Colonel Sanders, told us that the exhibition centre was only half a mile away. I should have clocked there and then – an exhibition centre? Why? Let us look at the cliffs, the signpost and perhaps have a cup of tea and a moan about our knees. Exhibitions aren’t needed – the beauty is exhibition itself. Nevermind. We indicated off into the almost empty car-park only to be waved down by someone who, a touch ironically, had a face like a wet weekend. He informed us that it was £5 for the privilege of parking our car into what looked like a plane crash site, all jagged and cratered. I try to crack a joke that ‘I’m not bringing a coach in’ but he wasn’t having any of that, so we paid up and did the very British thing of sitting in the car bitching on about it.

£5 though. Yes, it’s not a great amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but it’s grasping. Why a fiver? Am I going to tear up five pounds worth of tarmac primly parking my DS3? Was he going to bring it around for me when we left? There’s simply no need for it, especially out of season. Still twisting our faces, we stole a glance at the leaflet, which promised ‘something to do for every member of the family’. Hmph.

I just want you to know that at this point I had an absolutely killer joke lined up but the other half censored it because he said ‘think of the complaints’ – spoilsport. But see we do have limits.

Our first stop was to the giant tat shop, which was full of all the lovely things only people in their nineties buy for other people in their nineties that they don’t like – fudge that predates decimalisation, clothes you wouldn’t wear for a bet and all sorts of lead-based paperweights, pencils and cough sweets. I can’t imagine a single soul in their life has desired an ashtray showing people they once went to the absolute arse-end of the country they’re smoking in, but hell, here they were, and cheap at only half your dignity. We sniffed the scented candles with all their wank names: “Cornwall Wash”, “Grasping Bastards” and “Fuck Me, A Fiver?!” all leaving a sour taste in our mouths. The one item I quite fancied, a small slab of designer (!?) chocolate, caught my eye, until I realised it would be cheaper to buy Hotel Chocolat in Newcastle and have someone walk it down to the Cornwall cottage. We did end up parting with coins though – everywhere we go we always get some item of pure unadulterated tat for the games room – and so a lovingly, hand-painted snowglobe was bought, depicting what looks like Dachau in the midst of a wailing snowstorm, but is ostensibly a tiny representation of the visitor centre. Incidentally, Cornwall is the least likely place to get snow in the entire United Kingdom, so it only seemed appropriate that they’d have a huge display of snowglobes. Perhaps it was tiny fivers billowing about under the glass. Again, and there’s going to be a theme here, sorry, but we were served by someone who had all the personality and warmth of an unapologetic fart. She served us like we were inconveniencing her terribly, despite us and a gaggle of equally depressed looking Chinese tourists being the only people in her shop, and she slapped down our produce and money like they were on fire. I’ve never heard have a good day said with such venom. We pressed on.

They describe the opportunity to ‘feel like a giant by visiting our miniature village’. I love stuff like this, it’s such a British thing to do, but once we’d lumbered over there, it was shut for repairs. I looked carefully and didn’t see any 1/16th sized cement mixers going about their business or Subbuteo-sized men in hi-viz jackets standing around scratching their arse. Ah well, there’s other stuff to do, something for everyone remember? We looked at the leaflet and saw we could choose between an ‘Aardman exhibition’ (I’m sure I went to something along those lines in Berlin) or ‘Arthur’s Quest’. Well, nothing says welcome to Cornwall like nosing around claymation and oohing over a bloody animation studio based in er, Bristol. Right. We thought we’d give it a go, not least because it was indoors and it was getting a mite cold so close to the sea, but er, it was shut. Wahey – that fiver’s worth of parking seemed even more reasonable at this point. Being plucky, cheerful Geordies, we sucked up our disappointment and decided to try Arthur’s Quest, which was an interactive maze narrated by Brian Blessed. Even if it was appalling, the fact that Brian was going to be shouting orders at you would make it hilarious. The man has a gift – he could sit me down and tell me my spine was turning to dust and my penis was about to fall off and I’d still walk out of the surgery slapping my knees and guffawing. 

But, it was closed. Three for three of pure disappointment. That left buying a Cornish pasty at the little café but frankly, Paul was beginning to have chest pains through too much pastry so we sacked that off and decided to walk, slowly, to get a picture of the famous sign which points to various destinations around the world – New York 3147 miles, John O’Groats 874 miles, decent tourist attractions anywhere but here. Here’s another cherry on top of this bun of disappointment. You’re expected to pay £9.95 to get your photo taken by the sign and it’s actually chained off so  anyone with the temerity to think this is a bloody ripoff can’t just hop over and take a photo. There’s a passive-aggressive sign saying it’s someone’s family business and to respect that. The man in the little booth glared at us as we took a picture regardless. I would have cheerfully have paid a couple of quid or stuck a smaller note into a charity box but a tenner? For a photo? Haway. It’s possibly the most famous sign in Britain, let people take a photo with it and then they’ll go spend the rest of their money in the eateries and shops around (assuming they’re bloody open) and everyone is a winner! This outrageous nickle-and-diming, prevalent all throughout Cornwall, did my absolute nut in. It’s free to have a photo taken at the other end up at John O’Groats, and I can’t imagine you need to pay to park either. Anyway, I reassured Paul I’d photoshop the two of us seamlessly into the picture and I reckon I’ve done a cracking job:

nailedit

Seriously I should work for Vogue touching up their photos, you can barely tell.

You know when you think a place couldn’t get any worse? It managed it – the telescopes to look out to sea were more expense and only sought to bring the fog and mist closer to us. There was a wee lighthouse to look at but I could have had the same magnification effect by moving my glasses an inch down my nose. Paul was inexplicably wearing his sunglasses despite me referring to him as Homocop all day. There was a little bird hide to sit for a bit to see the kittiwakes, but naturally, that was closed too. That especially disappointed me because I was at least hoping for a magnificent shag at this point, given there was no-one around. Bah! We mooched on for a bit more and decided to try and salvage the hour by having a cup of tea in the First & Last House a bit up the hill. I presume that’s been renamed from ‘The Last Place in England’ because they were sick of hearing people saying they’d never drink there again if it were the last place in England. We asked for two cups of tea and were handed two paper cups of hot water with a teabag hanging in it. For not a kick-off-the-arse-of £4. Something which I reckon would cost at maximum 5p to make. Even the milk was in those awful little sealed cups you get on aeroplanes, that jettison their contents all over your trousers if you so much as blink at them. And, yes, the woman serving us was hostile and unpleasant and had a face like a grieving cod.

At this point we’d spent £16.70 for the opportunity to make our own tea, park in a crater and look at some ‘closed’ signs. I was spitting. I’m not a tight-arse when it comes to money, far from it, but there’s got to be a line. I’ll happily put money into a charity pot or buy a magazine or wince my way through an overpriced ice-cream but charging people to park up and then not telling them most of the exhibitions are closed, or to take a photo of a landmark? Ridiculous, and honestly, it’s very much a southern thing. That isn’t some parochial Geordie tubthumping either, but take for example our Angel of the North – you turn up to this massive piece of artwork, park for nowt, can walk all over it, climb on the bugger, hell someone even put a giant Newcastle shirt on it once, and it costs not a penny. There’s occasionally an ice-cream man there peddling 99s but that’s about it. If Anthony Gormley had had a fit of the vapours and plopped his pin in Newquay instead of Newcastle, you’d have the Angel boxed off from sight unless you paid a tenner, someone selling pasties the size and price of a small family car between her legs and an inexplicable (and inevitably closed) exhibition all about something local and relevant like ooh…geisha girls, for an extra forty quid. Bah.

I’ll say one good thing: the cliffs were pretty. But then so are the cliffs at the Ring of Kerry and I didn’t have my pockets patted down there either.

I’ve never driven away from a place so quickly and angrily as I did that afternoon. The sound of gravel and soil churning under my tyres was almost drowned out by the sound of my teeth gnashing. If I can take one comfort from all of this is that I managed to at least use £5 worth of toilet paper dropping off a tod of barely digested pasty in the netty before I went. Take that, you grasping bastards!

low syn honey and rosemary garlic with roasted vegetables

to make honey and rosemary chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts (look at the size of the chicken breast in that picture – it’s a Musclefood chicken breasts and they’re tasty and plump and pert, like a good breast should be. I’m told. You’ll get loads of them in our fantastic freezer filler box – take a look and see!)
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • ½ tsp garlic, chopped finely
  • any vegetables of your choice (we used 1 courgette, 2 peppers, 1 red onion, handful of asparagus spears, handful of black olives, basically any old shite you have tumbling around amongst the chocolate and the crisps)

to make honey and rosemary chicken you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees and chop your vegetables into large chunks or slices
  • spray with a little frylight (or some Fillipo Berio olive oil – that’s what we do, 7 sprays for half a syn) and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes. you won’t need to turn it – we sometimes add a sprinkle of salt or balsamic vinegar, especially when we’re using tomatoes)
  • meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the honey, lemon juice, rosemary and chopped garlic
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the chicken breasts 
  • cook for about 10 minutes, and flip over
  • after five minutes, pour the the honey mixture over the chicken and into the pan and cook for another five minutes
  • serve the chicken on top of the roasted vegetables

Easy! And yes, it might be a fraction more than 0.5 syns – perhaps a quarter of a syn more – but buggered if I’m going to shit the bed over a quarter of a syn.

J