cheesy pea soup – yes, just like The Fast Show

Cheesy pea soup sounds revolting, and what better way to open a blog entry about food than with that line? I know, we’re awful, we took a month off to concentrate on a few things – most notably for me (it’s always me, James, who writes the blog) was half-heartedly walking away from a career in law, only to be tempted back in with the promise of working from home one day a week and condensing all my hours into one day in the office. Well, as someone who likes to sit at home and pick his bum, how could I refuse? It gives me a bit more time to write the cookbook and ogle at our gardener. Speaking of cookbook…

chicken, chorizo and seafood paella

It’s been a sad day near Chubby Towers with the passing of one of our neighbours. It’s inevitable, yes, when the average resident took their pension before the Boer War, but still, nobody likes to see a private ambulance trundling into the street early in the morning, do they? Especially when they park in my parking spot, but I didn’t think it was the time to cause a fuss. I’ll send a parking fine later with some white lilies. It did cause a slight moment of discomfiture when I realised I knew the name of the lady who had passed, but not her husband. The only time he’s ever talked to me was to ask me to remove my Vote Jeremy Corbyn sign, which to be fair to him I’d only put up to be mischievous given we live in a sea of Tory voters. You have no idea how much I want to put a pole up and hang a BEAR PRIDE flag up, if only so we get a few confused questions from the less enlightened. There’s one neighbour on the street who I hope to tempt over to the dark side and literally nailing my colours to the mast might just do it. Me going out in stretched hot-pants and wearing a permanently surprised look hasn’t done it yet.

Anyway. Not knowing the name only became an issue when it came to sending a Deepest Sympathy card. How do you address such a sensitive card when you don’t know the name of the recipient – it’s not like I can do my usual name-fudge and pop ‘soz she’s popped off, Chief‘ on the envelope, is it? In the end, after much agonising, I put ‘Sorry for your loss’ on the card (which seems incredibly disingenuous, as though the poor chap has mislaid his car keys or dropped a bank card down the drain) and signed it ‘Love James and Paul’, which I also immediately regretted because it looked piss-taking. Least I didn’t stick a xoxo on there. Sympathy and human emotion is just too much hard work. In retrospect, signing the card in glittery silver Sharpie probably wasn’t the most elegant move either, but look, it’s all I had to hand. I live in a very camp house.

I can’t imagine we’ll be invited to the funeral.

Which frankly, is a shame: I look splendid in black and I’m all for a wake buffet. Hell, we accidentally gatecrashed a wake in Oslo and only realised our error when we were shooed out by some hurly-burly bearded Norwegian whilst we filled our pockets from the koldtbord. Honestly, the grieving can be so touchy. Only been to three funerals in my time. My nana’s was a particular highlight: both Paul and I suffer from nervous laughter and even though I was genuinely distraught, the absurd sight of her coffin right in front of me whilst the entire church lurched through the eight-hundredth verse of All Things Bright And Beautiful really tickled me. Half of the congregation was made up of her equally elderly friends who were all on the last double-digit breaths of their life – I’m surprised we didn’t lose any. Plus, despite being 31 years old at the time, I still guffawed when the lavender crowd burst out in raptures about the purple headed mountain. Me too, loves. The vicar kept getting her name wrong too, which added an air of tension between the sobs – she didn’t even look like a Norman. I bit so much of my cheek that I can stay lying on my front when Paul wants a blowie.

It has got me thinking about what I want when I die. No fancy funeral, big coffin, lots of jewels – none of that. Nope, sell off all my chintz and bibelots, stuff me full of fireworks and pop a pipe cleaner somewhere indecent as a fuse and then push me out to sea. I want people to remember me how I lived – damp, colourful and usually on fire. No fake solemnity, no wailing, no dabbing daintily at your eyes whilst you remember times past. It’s an open invite to you all that, should you read in the paper of me dying in some tawdry fashion (it’s more inevitable than you can imagine), you can all come to the service. Just make sure you stop by Iceland first because fuck me, it’s going to have to be a good buffet.

What might not make it onto the buffet is this cheesy pea soup, which is a bloody shame because considering how quick it was to make, the fact it is syn free and actually tastes bloody good, it doesn’t deserve to be betrayed by the fact it looks like something Grotbags would cough into a handkerchief. Please, give it a go, and if you don’t like it I’ll take a personal responsibility for your loss. Hell, I might even send you a With Sympathies card. Written in silver Sharpie, natch. Snatch.

cheesy pea soup cheesy pea soup

cheesy pea soup - syn free, and tasty, I swear

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 big bowls

There's no way I can make that look appetising and for that, I'm sorry. Unless you like sink trap soup. But it's one of those meals that looks appalling but tastes nice, like moussaka, or Paul. Plus it's low in fat, like moussaka, or unlike Paul.

This does take no time at all to make however, uses only a few ingredients and is just the thing for those summer evenings when you have nothing in and the takeaway menu is just a shade out of reach.

Ingredients

  • one big old lettuce from the shops, or garden, if you please
  • 400g of frozen peas (I used petit pois - not for any culinary reason, but just because I couldn't be arsed to find the proper peas at the back of the freezer)
  • two large cucumbers
  • one large bunch of spring onions
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 80g of extra mature cheddar (two x HEA, but this serves four) (and listen, you can totally get away with adding 160g, I'm just being polite)

Instructions

  • slice your spring onions - including all the green stalk - and gently fry off in a little oil
  • cut the lettuce and cucumber up roughly - it's all getting blended so no need for neatness
  • once the spring onions are softened, add the stock, lettuce, peas and cucumber and boil for about 10 minutes until everything has softened but still stays green
  • carefully blend the soup with a hand blender
  • stir in the grated cheese until everything is thick and tasty
  • serve adorned with cress and cheerful wishes (and a lot of black pepper)

Notes

Courses soup

Cuisine syn-free

Enjoy that? Of course you did, you saucy bugger. Want more? Click.

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J

eggy bread cups – a syn free breakfast idea

Syn free eggy bread cups – possibly one of the easiest recipes we’ve ever done, but if you’re looking for a quick, healthy breakfast, fill your boobs. Not a typo.

So, here’s the deal folks. We need to knuckle down and focus on our fabulous cookbook, which is coming out in December.

Coming up with eighty-six jokes about willies per paragraph is taxing on the old fingers, I can promise you. But we can’t leave you without something to read of an evening, and as a result, I’ve decided to publish a chapter from the other book we’re writing, a memoir of our month in Canada last year. Our travel blogs, like your dear writer, always go down well.

Canada has been on my mind a lot lately, so it’s always nice to revisit it. Seems like a lifetime ago, but it’s only been nine months. Anyone got a contact for Bernard’s Watch? Anyway.

If you’re here for the eggy bread cups recipe, scroll right to the bottom and you’ll see it right there!

We landed at Toronto Airport in double-smart time and, after a restorative coffee and a mental note of all the airport shops available to us for the end of the holiday ‘get rid of the Canadian money because I’ll be buggered if it’s getting added to the drawer of mystery money at home’ dash, we made our way to the car rental place to pick up our motor for the brief trip to Niagara. I had asked for an exciting car, something with a bit of zip, something that an NHS dentist wouldn’t drive. They gave me a Nissan Qashqai that, if it were represented by a sound, it would be that little sigh you make when you bite into an apple and it’s soft. I mean, it’ll do, but. Toronto to Niagara is about a two hour drive if you drive like Paul, about an hour if you drive like me. By drive like me I mean furiously, with scant attention to road-signs, other users and the fact I was falling asleep at the wheel because I was so, so tired. Who would have thought that thirty days of travelling would catch up with me so suddenly?

Luckily, Canadian motorways are wide, many-laned and never particularly busy, so I was able to get some shut-eye for a good few miles before Paul’s screaming and wrenching at the steering wheel rudely brought me around. He can be a very selfish passenger. Oh, I should preface this by saying I asked him to drive but he couldn’t because he was tired. But we couldn’t play loud music because he had a headache. He also wouldn’t talk to me to keep me awake because he was sulking because I wouldn’t let him wear my sex-trophy hat. So actually, had we rolled the motor and shuffled into the afterlife, he’d have only had himself to blame.

After our brief sojourn onto the hard shoulder Paul made me stop for a coffee. I immediately poo-pooed this idea because the last thing I need when I’m trying to nod off is caffeine and instead made a swap for a Dairy Queen Dime Bar Blizzard. Listen, if you’re at a computer, look into flights to Toronto right now and get one of these into you. I’d cheerfully push the Scottish rugby team off my bumhole to have another bash at one of these. It’s worth losing a foot over, I promise you. It’s like they blended a whole bag of Dime bar miniatures with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and rubbed it across my prostate for a solid ten minutes. I’ve never had a dessert give me a full stonk-on.

Back in the car, absolutely smashed off my tits on the sugar, the rest of the drive flew by in a blur of metal and me screeching along to Cher. Paul laughed as his ears bled.

Our hotel was the Sheraton by the Falls. It’s called that because of the amount of old people I pushed over in my haste to get in (there was a much, much better joke there originally, but in this age of hysteria, I pulled it). Gosh no I’m kidding, it’s a wonderful hotel that overlooks the falls – if you’re fancy and pay for an upgrade you can gaze out of your window at the majesty of the falls. Which sounds just lovely and indeed it is, but it comes with a significant downside. Being so near so much thundering water means everything is ever so slightly damp. It’s like a hen-party with an aged male stripper. This in turn creates an overwhelming smell of foist in the room, which admittedly was alleviated a little once Paul and his toxic arse settled in. Something to consider if you’re planning on booking it: great views, deathly smell. twochubbycubs in a nutshell!

We farted about in the room for a bit – the usual, you know, Paul has a dump, I have a browse through the porn channels and lament that yet again, the Hilton have failed to cater for us delicate souls who can’t get off unless there’s stuff on there that would make a jury wince, then made to go out. I got as far as the bathroom before I realised – through a haze of Paul’s effluence – that the bath was one of those fancy doohickies with bubble jets and all sorts of fancy buttons to pulse your sphincter and make your boobs jiggle. I couldn’t let that go, so promptly set the taps away, adding just a drop of Molton Brown for that luxurious black pepper scent. Nipped out to give Paul some ‘we’ve been married twelve years, let’s get it out of the way’ disinterested attention, and came back to the bathroom to wipe the shame off my hands only to find the room absolutely awash with bubbles.

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Bubbles.

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It was fantastic. I climbed into that bath and entirely disappeared into a cloudscape of gently popping bubbles. I’ve never felt gayer. With my head just poking through the bubbles I looked like the campest meringue you’ve ever seen. I must have been cooing and oohing too loudly because Paul came in (maybe he thought I was finishing myself off? Cheers, Mr ‘And I’m Done’, for the concern) and shrieked. Nothing spoils a peaceful moment like one of Paul’s shrieks. He explained that we’d probably be charged for wrecking their plumbing and pointed to a tiny sign on the wall which implored folks not to use bubble bath with the jets turned on. Please. The sign was the size of a postage stamp: you’re talking to someone who needs all his focus to hit the bowl when he has a pap. The bubbles showed no sign of abating – possibly because I still had two of the jets focused on my cock – so I dried off and out we went, deciding to worry about that problem later in the night.

That’s enough for now. Part two coming soon! Let’s do the syn-free eggy bread cups!

eggy bread cups eggy bread cups

syn-free eggy bread cups

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 eggy cups

The cheek of us calling this a recipe, honestly. But sometimes, you just want something quick in the morning so you can spend all your time outside pushing a couple of weeds around so you can surreptitiously gawp at the one hot neighbour pushing his lawnmower around with his shirt off. No? Just me? OK, quick and easy so you can get back to your stories.

Ingredients

I'm making the recipe enough for two egg cups - enough for one person, I think you'll agree. Scale up accordingly.

  • two slices of whatever bread Slimming Would have decided is alright for you that week (your Healthy Extra B choice)
  • two large eggs
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • get a deep muffin tray and spritz it with some spray olive oil
  • cut the crusts off your bread and then cut each slice into two
  • layer the two halves into one of the muffin spaces and crack an egg into the middle
  • give a couple of grinds of salt and pepper
  • repeat as many times as you like and then cook in the oven for fifteen minutes (runny) or twenty (firm)

Notes

  • gussy these up by adding a sprinkling of cheese
  • I threw a load of cherry tomatoes into the muffin tray to let them roast whilst the eggs cooked
  • we're a huge fan of silicone in this house - you can just pop these right out once cooled - Amazon have a good selection but you don't need to spend very much
  • remember we have a cookbook coming!

Courses breakfast

Cuisine dunno, what am I, an atlas

I know, it’s a travesty but damn these eggy bread cups were good!

Want more breakfast ideas? I remain your loyal servant:

J

cajun steak dirty rice, and time to feel proud!

Here for the cajun steak dirty rice? Bless your soul. The recipe is down the bottom, but first, an apology for the time between posts. I’ve been either:

  • on the pop;
  • in a crisis;
  • in a crisis whilst on the pop;
  • on my knees;
  • on my knees, drunk, causing a crisis; or
  • at a Pride event, see above.

But I’m all sorted now. Of course, the other thing gobbling me up is this cookbook of ours. You know, we’ve got a cookbook coming out, with all our new recipes in it, plus a delicious spurt of sassiness. Click the banner to pre-order! And remember if all you’re here for is the cajun steak dirty rice, get scrolling!

Whoops. Posted this the other night, but hit the schedule button rather than publish. So pretend it’s Monday, won’t you?

*hic*

I wasn’t going to post tonight, but I sent Paul into our bedroom an hour ago to pick something up off the floor only to find him fifteen minutes face-down with his arse in the air. Now you might reasonably think, oh, James, your luck is in, but I must remind you of one salient fact: I’ve been married ten years. The only time Paul puts out these days is when he’s angling for a surprise holiday or wants a few minutes lying prostrate so he can finish his book. No, the poor guy is all tuckered out because we’ve been down in Birmingham (at this point, I’m considering getting a second job down there, given I’m like a yoyo between the two cities at present) for Pride and I made him drive all the way down on Saturday and all the way back today. I’d have driven, but it’s a Smart car, and honestly I’d sooner drive a hearse full of ashen-faced mourners to the wrong funeral than that orange little rustbucket. So we can forgive him his sins, for now, and I’ll continue on my high horse, thank you.

Pride came out of nowhere for us this year – we’d been invited down by a good mate and were umming and aahing (not least because I was hungover from Wednesday in Leeds) until we watched a particularly gruesome episode of Chernobyl and decided life’s too short, let’s go. Packed my best rainbow knickers (I really ought to wash them, but I’m waiting for the Daz Doorstep Challenge to make a return just so I can see Danny Baker blanch when I hand over my barely foldable keks), told Paul to book a hotel and tickets and away we went.

Paul doesn’t travel well with me on long journeys when I’m the passenger. It’s like having four personalities in the car:

  • the shrieking me who holds onto the door handles and winces every time we go around a corner like I’m on that rollercoaster from Final Destination 3;
  • the shrieking me who sings along to every last song (I choose the music) – Paul’s recently been told he’s going deaf and actually, I’m not entirely convinced that it isn’t a lifestyle choice he’s made;
  • the shrieking me who litters the bottom of his car with crisp packets, coke bottles, whatever I’ve found in my bag, whatever I’ve found in his glovebox (the man has a surprising amount of baby wipes stashed in his car – I’d be worried, but no-one’s going to approach a Smart car pulled up in a layby, let’s face it);
  • the shrieking me who reaches over and beeps his horn for him (not a euphemism, see earlier comment) because he’s altogether too polite and frankly a car journey for me isn’t complete until I’ve started bringing up lung from screaming at anyone who gets in the way.

So understand, the four hours it took us to get to Birmingham – well, I had a whale of a time, Paul less so. The important thing is I enjoyed myself.

We checked into a Premier Inn in the city centre and, after a moment or four hours to enjoy the glamour and to pack away the towels, we minced out to meet our friend, who you may recall from an earlier post. He was easy enough to spot, given he’s the epitome of our ideal man and well, we were semi-flaring within 100 yards. What followed was a terrific amount of drinking, diversions and some mild peril. It was a great night, though in a great example of him never being off, Paul ended up engaged in political debate with two drunk fellas who wouldn’t leave us alone. That’s what I’m told, I was experiencing an X-Files-esque lost period of time in the gents. We parted ways around 2ish and after a brief interlude (actually lasting forty minutes) where I sat and chatted with a homeless fella who offered to show me his leg ulcer, went to bed. Sunday was better still – back out and on it, this time joined by Andy’s long-suffering but lovely girlfriend, a good friend from Facebook, Paul II and his husband and two of Andy’s friends. Another great night! To share details would be lurid but there were some fabulous twists and turns and fun was had by all. The best kiss of the night wore lipstick.

But that’s not why I’m writing. I’ve touched on the importance of Pride many times over – including this fabulous article – and all those things stand. But what did strike me, as we wandered around, was how happy everyone was. Bar one overweening queen who looked my husband up and down and did the ‘yes, I know who you are’ gambit, there was not a blot of bother. We live in a country that is becoming increasingly fractured, and for the first time in my entire life I’m worried about where the rights for LGBT+ folks are going – you’ve got ministers supporting the banning of tolerance teaching in schools, an American president who sits proudly with the bigoted bastard in charge of Brazil and, more so, the far right given a voice that remains unchallenged. All this for something as immutable as eye colour or the size of your feet. It’s easy to sit on the outside looking in when you have the luxury of not being the one getting looked down on, but we need Pride more than ever. Yes, it’s overly commercial, yeah there’s something arguably cynical about HSBC and Argos changing their logo to a rainbow, but damn, it’s always a pleasure to see so many people having a good time without any second thoughts. Even nicer to see lots of families bringing their children along and showing them a world full of colour, and doubly more important when there’s protests outside from ‘caring parents’ who ‘don’t want their kids to see deviant behaviour’. Pfft. My mother was incredibly supportive of all my fabulousness growing up and I turned out perfect, right? Hello?

As an addendum, given with the miracle of time-travel (i.e. the advantage of forgetting to post for a week), we’ve also just returned from Northumberland Pride, which is like Birmingham Pride but done on a budget befitting a much smaller enterprise. Brum had Faithless, we had Lorraine Crosby (star of 1993’s hit single I Would Do Anything For Love, But I Won’t Do That) (that being trading on past glories) (I’m kidding, she’s great). Brum had a pub full of bears and an attitude full of sin, Northumberland Pride had a cake stand and some hashtags. But it was smashing, actually, partly because I got drunk and didn’t manage to make a fool of myself, partly because we both took full advantage of all the caterers. We even camped overnight, breaking Paul’s camping cherry and also his lower back. He’s such a diva, honestly. If you can’t get comfortable on a single deflating £14.99 airbed from Argos whilst yesterday’s sweat and spittle drips on your face, then you just aren’t trying.

Support your Prides, people. Go out and have an amazing time. If you’re worried about your husband not feeling comfortable with all that rampant homosexuality, don’t fret, I’ll look after him. We can add another S-fluid onto the tent of dreams.

Right, all that schmaltz aside, shall we get to the recipe in hand? Cajun steak dirty rice! Easy to make and will definitely get you some action if you serve it in your best lingerie. Apologies for the photos – we took them outside in the dark, so had to artificially lighten them.

cajun steak dirty rice cajun steak dirty rice cajun steak dirty rice

cajun steak dirty rice

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

An absolute classic, why? Because it's so damn good! Piece of piss too, and everyone loves it. An easy way to sneak some veg into your kids if they're that sort. A little bit of prep is needed but it's all worth it. This works great on its own or even as a side. Have it for breakfast for all I care. 

Ingredients

  • 200g long-grain rice
  • 400g steak
  • 4 bacon medallions, diced
  • ½ red, yellow and green pepper, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 6 mushrooms, diced
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 tsp cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce (optional)

Instructions

  • cook the rice according to the instructions, and set aside
  • spray a large frying pan with some oil over a medium-high heat and slap in your steak
  • cook the steak to your liking, remove from the pan onto a plate and leave to rest
  • wipe out the pan and add a little more oil and place back over the heat
  • add the bacon and onion and cook until the bacon is done
  • stir in the cajun seasoning along with the worcestershire sauce (if using)
  • dissolve the stock cube in 200ml of boiling water and keep aside
  • chuck the peppers, carrots and mushrooms along with the stock and give a good stir - cook until most of the liquid has evaporated 
  • once most of the liquid has evaporate throw in the rice and stir until well mixed and warmed through
  • dice the steak and stir into the mixture
  • serve and sprinkle over the spring onions

Notes

  • You don't need fancy or expensive steak for this, any will do
  • If you can't be arsed to cook rice just use the microwave pouches, cook in the microwave towards the end and stir into the pan with the vegetables - make sure you check the syns though
  • Stop ruining your pans with Fry Light! All it does is evaporate off and leave a sticky, gungy mess. Use one of these instead
  • No-one has time for dicing a carrot so do we what we did - use a julienne peeler, and then simply slice across to get easy, small diced bits
  • You can find cajun seasoning in most supermarket along with the herbs and spices, but to be honest any spice mix you have gathering dust will do. We've done this with piri-piri and fajita mixes and it comes out just as good! 
  • WE HAVE A BLOODY COOKBOOK COMING OUT REMEMBER! Yessss: click here for sexiness!
  • Any meat will do in this if you haven't got any steak - diced chicken and pork work especially well, or even sausages! Divvn't be shy, pet. 

Cuisine cajun

Want more random ideas? Click any of the buttons below to be whisked away on on adventure through time and eating!

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JX

chicken soup for the soul: instant pot or in a pan

Been away, haven’t we? Anyway shut up, nonsense to follow. If you’re here for the chicken soup for the soul, that’s fine, scroll down until you see Willem Dafoe’s cumface. Everyone else, sit back, push out and prepare yourself, because I’ve got a lot to say!

First, a cat update! We’ve been ringing the vets occasionally over the last two weeks to find out how the stray cat we tirelessly and selflessly passed over to another gay is getting on. Good news: they’ve cleaned up his eyes, wiped his bum and found him a new home where he’ll be fussed over and spoiled rotten. The cat’s also doing fine. I did have to affect a genuinely awful accent when I called the vets because I loosely know the woman on reception and couldn’t deal with a guilt trip about rehoming him. We would have – in a heartbeat – only our two cats would have killed him without blinking. They’re hard cats: I’ve seen Bowser fighting a dog before, and Sola sells passable quality gear from her radiator bed. We were reflecting over this and patting ourselves on the back for a job well done when Paul started up with his nonsense about getting a dog. I shut that right down because, although I bloody love dogs, it’s too much of a commitment. With cats you can go on holiday, say, to Canada for five weeks, and as long as you leave their water fountain on, a tin opener within reach and a slab of Whiskas, they’ll be reet. They don’t care. I could die in my sleep tonight and the only concern Sola would show is that she’d have no-one to show her dewy bumhole to first thing in the morning.

We had a proper together-for-twelve-years day out yesterday. We’re not quite at the stage where that involves going to the garden centre and fingering the heathers whilst wishing for each other’s death, thank heavens – besides Paul won’t let me go to the garden centre because it’s right next door to a notorious gay cruising ground and frankly if you’re going to add getting seagulled into your day, you’re better off setting aside a couple of hours. So no, we went to Durham for no other reason than I wanted to go to the fancy tobacconist there and Paul wanted to ogle a bear we know. His was the better suggestion because he was fine (he had every episode of Juliet Bravo on tape!) and the tobacconist had nothing I needed and an unhelpful attitude. Paul, fan of a creaking apophthegm, told me that we’d come all that way for nothing and I could put that in my pipe and smoke it. How we laughed as I practised filling out a form D8 on his back with a rusty compass. We had a couple of drinks in a pub that gave me 60p change from a tenner for two pints and therefore made an enemy for life, then wobbled our way into a Wetherspoons.

Mentioned where we were to a good friend (introducing Paul II) who immediately sent us drinks via the app: I say drinks – he got me a double chambord (excellent choice, because I love insulin chasers) and Paul a glass of milk and a smoothie (he was driving, and Paul II is nothing if not a keen observer of the laws of the land) with some biscuits and crisps. Paul II tried to have Paul I’s milk delivered in a saucer for catty reasons but sadly, Wetherspoons weren’t playing ball.

Let me tell you: Brewdog Punk IPA combined with chambord and banana smoothie is a struggle to keep down, even for me. That app is cracking for mischief and I very much look forward to throwing it open to a group of 80,000 in due course. My liver has already taken a kicking – it’ll look like a pickled walnut by the end. Wandered back to the car, popping out little Chewit-scented burps and chewed-it-scented farts all the way – happened across an argument between a couple across the road. Spent ten minutes ‘tying my shoelaces’ so we could earwig from afar and it was a gloriously tawdry tale of cheating, shouting, adding ‘man’ onto every other word ‘Darren man for fucks man it meant nowt man’ and crying. We had to stop gawping when she clocked me trying to get a surreptitious recording of her grief: I don’t fancy breathing my last in a mist of Exclamation and spittle.

Went for a late dinner in Newcastle and I made the fatal error of saying to Paul he could pick anywhere he fancied. He fancied Chiquitos. I mean Christ, Newcastle has some proper exciting places to eat and he chose the last-resort restaurant of a regional airport. I had forgettable nachos and a beef burrito that celebrated Christmas in 2017. Paul had some jalapeño poppers and a chicken quesadilla that tasted like sandwich spread folded into one of those trays cheap pizza comes on. I ordered myself a honey and rhubarb margarita which tasted like a Strepsil and Paul’s cuba libre was adorned with a piece of palm and three fruit flies. We aren’t ones for complaining because we’re not devoid of all joy but didn’t fancy the desserts, so paid via the wee app thingy so we didn’t have to tip and made a dash for the escape room we were booked in for.

We’re all about escape rooms at the minute and reckon this was probably our 60th room – we’re still terrible at them, but always escape amidst much yelling and fretting. You know who I feel sorry for? The operators watching us on CCTV – we’re competent enough to crack on ourselves but they’re treated to all manner of sinister sights, including my arse-crack pushed up against the CCTV whilst I clit about trying to find clues. You’ve never lived until you’ve seen a 34″ waist pair of Calvin Klein knickers stretched over a 38″ waist. The name band looks like Japanese. Paul is no better – because he has absolutely no arse at all his trousers spend all their time jostling around his knees, meaning his cock and balls tumbling around in his Tesco boxers appear with frightening regularity. We finished the room with nine whole minutes to go and that’s after spending ten minutes furiously arguing over a combination lock, which, for the record, I was absolutely right about. The argument ended when I used my foot to tip him over as he bent to pick up the lock, leaving him rolling on the floor like the gluttonous turtle he is. We celebrated by having our photo taken and then immediately deleted because we look like two hot-water storage tanks, and then, after a brief stop to add more shit to the bottom of my shoes by visiting a Hungry Horse pub for a Stella, we were off to the cinema.

And how’s this for bliss: a cinema to ourselves. I spend all my time whingeing at Paul to come along to see superhero movies and he always says no, because the spinning fights make him queasy and they’re all the same. Please. Yet, in a rare moment of complaisance he readily agreed to come along and see Aquaman yesterday – I can’t imagine why a JASON MOMOA led movie would catch his interest but he certainly seemed more keen than joining me for Spiderman, for example. Actually, Spiderman 3 remains a sticking point in our Paris-car-crash marriage: our first date* involved us seeing that at some pokey Portsmouth cinema. Paul enjoyed it at the time – though it was probably just because he was sat next to the fragrant beau-ideal that is I – but even since has hurled it back in my face as ‘me suggesting bad movies’ whenever I point out my flawless record for choosing films. That’s how I knew we were a couple for life, you know: he shared all of his Revels with me, and not just the shitty raisin ones. Something I forgot yesterday when I almost snapped his fingers as he tried to reach into my £8.96 bag of pick-and-mix to steal a cola-cube: you can fuck right off, mate, you chose ice cream and picked shit flavours so I wouldn’t want to try any. I’m as wise to his games as he thinks he is to mine.

*I’m going to call that our first date, because me noshing him off behind the Spinnaker seems less romantic (he’s the one night stand that never went away!)

Aquaman was absolutely class though. Proper popcorn movie: brilliant action scenes, Patrick Wilson chewing the scenery like me with a vegan sausage roll and a villain who looks like a giant cock blowing things up. Highlights: Australia’s nana Nicole Kidman in a full-on action scene braying the shit out of water meanies. Jason Momoa ensuring I’ll be seeing those eyes whenever I shut my eyes during a “quiet moment of reflection” (I suppose I fell in love with him – like you do!). Fucking Pitbull sampling Rains of Africa during the bit in the movie when they go to Africa. Willem Dafoe in a good-guy role for once instead of being the last-minute turncoat like he always is (Willem Dafriend?) although I argue he’s never acted better than when he was knocking Sandra Bullock about in Speed 2:

Scary how much he looks like Paul’s mother when she finds an unopened 20-deck of unfiltered Rothmans in her boob creases, there. Anyway, final added bonus of the night? Empty cinema means time for shenanigans and I gave Paul a ‘thanks-for-coming’ handjob during the quiet bit in the middle. He seemed pleased (I was just a shag – I knew that!) and we agreed to meet again for the sequel. Came home, and so to bed.

And that’s that! Suppose we’re a recipe blog and I should bang out this chicken soup recipe, eh? Now look here: you can’t make a chicken soup look attractive in photos, you can’t. So don’t judge.

Oh and if you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t shit the bed: you can make it in a pan too. Pleb.

chicken soup

chicken soup for the soul: instant pot or pan!

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 bowls

Yes that's right, just a bog-standard no frills instant pot chicken soup recipe, or use a pan if you're still mastering the basics. We'll cover both. This might look like a bowl of arse but damn it if it doesn't taste good!

This recipe comes from A Saucy Kitchen, and we've adapted it for SW. Take a look at her site though, there's all sorts of tasty shizz on there!

Ingredients

  • two large stalks of celery
  • three carrots of indecent size, sliced
  • one giant onion, sliced and diced
  • two big handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
  • two cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of rosemary
  • 1 cup of wild rice (we buy ours in Tesco) (but feel free to use white rice)
  • 3 big chicken breasts
  • 1200ml of good quality chicken stock (low sodium is better so you're not clutching your arm in fright later)
  • Now honestly, you can add anything into this soup veg wise - don't be frightened

Instructions

Instant Pot

  • press the sauté button, wait for it to heat up and then add a few sprays of olive oil - or if you're sensible, like us, a good glug, and don't count the syns because oil is good for you - add the onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook for three minutes until they're softened
  • add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute
  • add the chicken breasts (whole), stock and rice
  • seal the Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for five minutes (select Manual and then five minutes) and go pick your bum whilst it does its thing
  • let it depressurise unless you fancy putting a new parting in your hair with the roof tiles from your house
  • lift out the chicken and shred it on a chopping board and tip it all back in
  • let it sit for a few minutes to thicken nicely and then eat!

In a pan:

  • saute the veg
  • add the stock, rice, chicken and everything
  • cook until the chicken is cooked through
  • shred

I mean haway.

Courses soup

Cuisine dunno, something fancy

Want more Instant Pot recipes? No bother cock – fill yer boots:

Enjoy!

JX

syn free halloumi and vegetable biryani

Halloumi and vegetable biryani! If that doesn’t moisten your gusset, then you’re dead inside!

Now I’m not sure if this could be classed as a biryani, or even if I’m typing that right, so don’t shoot me – shoot Amelia, who provided this gorgeous recipe via our competition! Over to Amelia. Which, by the way, is possibly my favourite girl’s name ever. If she ends up jumping off a building in 1920’s New York I’ll be fizzing.

Our competition continues and today we have a guest writer and a guest recipe! Golden tickets for both, please. Before we get to the recipe, today’s story comes from Samantha. I’ll hand you over…whoosh…


My name is Sam and I am 46 years old. When I grew up I wanted to be a fighter pilot. Instead I became a teacher. Now I care for my dad with dementia. Most people see dementia as just forgetting things. It’s not – it’s heartbreaking and hilarious, sadly not in equal measure. For example, not many folk know that people with dementia can have no filter. None. So anyone who is different, be they too fat, too different, or have too many tattoos is a beacon of interest to people like my dad will comment – loudly!

I have nearly been smacked in the mouth in Maccies too many times to mention. He will also talk to his burger in a loving way. This also gathers people’s attention. Now, they might also have no inhibitions (the person with dementia, not the burger I hasten to add). Now we’re all smut loving filth mongers in the Cubs’ circle. But imagine it’s a kindly looking septuagenarian who’s being smutty, loudly…and probably in Maccies. Not as much fun then.

So, if ever you’re in Maccies (other fast food restaurants are available) and you see a tired looking 40 something trying to wrangle a seemingly lovely old man away from potential triggers, it’s probably me. Or any one of the millions like me who have had to learn the true face of dementia. Cut us a bit of slack. They don’t mean to be rude so when we apologise in a hushed aside. Just know, they can’t help it.

To lighten the mood, here’s an example of the more amusing side of dealing with dementia.

I took him to get his shopping – standard. On the way he suddenly started craning around in the seat to see something that we had passed. I didn’t pay much attention – usually it’s as he’s seen an attractive woman / a larger person / a person of colour / anything ‘different’ to him basically and if he starts, he doesn’t stop!
So I ignored him for about half a mile. He was still desperately trying to see behind him so I gave in and asked what he was looking at.

Me: What is it dad?
Dad: (still facing the rear windscreen) It’s a massive jet!
Me: Ok.
Dad: Wait! It’s 2! No 3…4!
Me:
Dad: NO wait! It’s 6, 7 – no there’s 9! There are 9 massive jets!
Me: (bearing in mind we live in the very far west of Cornwall – not many massive jets seen round these parts) Really dad? Which way are they going?
Dad: Hang on there’s two more, they’re going that way (pointing behind us)
Me: 11 massive jets.
Dad: Yes! you can still see them, pull over!
Me: :/
Dad: You have to pull over!
Me: (nowhere to pull over)
Dad: I think it’s Putin
Me:  Could it be? Is he right? 11 massive jets flying over west Cornwall. Oh god, husband and daughter at work, other daughter at home with grandson, youngest is at school, what do I do? Actually started feeling a bit twitchy. Dad still craning to watch all this going on.
Finally pulled over, it was chem trails. Not war after all. Didn’t even get to ASDA.


Well it made me laugh, anyway. Samantha – I’ll call her Sam, she’ll love that, we’re like best friends now I know her email address and rough location. I do wonder how she feels about all the blog entries where I slagged off Cornwall, though. Like this lovely trip to Lands End.

And now food! Look at this and tell me you don’t want it in your mouth.

halloumi and vegetable biryani

halloumi and vegetable biryani

halloumi and vegetable biryani

1 vote

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syn free halloumi and vegetable biryani

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Looking for a vegetarian meal that doesn't leave you crying into your weak, child-like wrists? Don't worry, Amelia has you covered. And it's syn free!

Ingredients

  • butternut squash - cut into slices
  • 1 courgette - cut into chunks
  • 1 onion - cut into chunks
  • curry powder - mixed with water to make a paste
  • a little spray oil
  • peas
  • flaked almonds - toasted (20g is a HEB)
  • coriander - chopped
  • pomegranate seeds
  • halloumi - cut into slices. This can be your HEA (35g) for the day - I use a lighter version and we eat the whole thing - oops!

Instructions

  • put slices of butternut in a roasting tin and spray with garlic oil or just normal oil and add a few garlic cloves and season with black pepper
  • roast in oven for about 45 mins
  • spray your wok with oil and add the courgette, once it’s got a bit to colour add the onion and get a bit of colour on that too
  • add the curry powder and give it a good mix and cook through, then add the rice and mix again
  • in a separate pan spray with oil and cook the halloumi
  • with a few minutes to go add the peas to the rice mixture and give it a good mix
  • serve with the butternut and halloumi on top and scatter with the coriander, pomegranate and almonds

Notes

  • if you don’t wasn’t to use your healthy eating A or don’t like halloumi you could use chicken instead doesn’t have to be a veggie dish
  • want more veggie recipes with a bit of taste and spice? I can't recommend this book enough!

Courses evening meal

Cuisine vegetarian

Yes! Want more vegetarian recipes? Of course you do:

Indeed.

J

melon basket of joy – perfect for Slimming World taster nights

The melon basket has arrived!

You know what it’s like, taster night rolls around and you get the usual eighty seven texts gently reminding you to bring something along. The dilemma is clear: do you nip over to the Co-op and get a bunch of grapes, do you make something super fancy knowing it’ll be ignored whilst everyone paws over the Weetabix and cat-litter cakes, or do you do as we always do and pretend you’re working / on holiday / on the game / in hospital getting your worn-out knees replaced? I know, but I can’t stand watching other people eat or other people judging me on my choices.

I’ve touched upon the fact I hate witnessing buffets at the best of times, but it reminded me of one sight I saw in Disney a few years ago. I say Disney, we were actually in a Sizzlers at the time, which for those not familiar with Sizzlers simply imagine a Little Chef stocked entirely with what they found behind the bins at Lidl. I’ve never known shigella (hi Paul!) be given as a topping choice on a salad before. Anyway, we were sat visibly blanching at the amount of flies on our breakfast when this absolute unit of a bloke stood up / was helped up. He rolled towards the buffet, loaded his plate to the point where he’d have struggled to get a sprig of cress on top, and then made to slow-shuffle back to his station. We were transfixed – by this time in our honeymoon we had exhausted all conversations and the realisation of spending eternity together was lying heavy in our thoughts so a distraction was welcome – and we watched as he conveyed his food pile back as though it was a newborn baby.

Then: a loud crack, a rumbling noise, a plaintive cry and the splatter of food hitting the deck. He’d loaded his plate so full and so high that it had snapped like the strut of an Italian motorway bridge. I’m sure it was months of sub-standard dishwashing that weakened the plate but the poor bastard looked utterly bereft, with a whole restuarant of folks immediately judging him. Which was rich, given they had one collective set of teeth between them, but nevertheless. I always remember his wee crumpled face – he looked like Dr Robotnik when you defeat him at the end of Sonic 2.

Oh and it’s Robotnik, not Eggman, you can fuck off with that nonsense.

I believe he was given a voucher for a free meal, and he won my respect for not picking the best of the dropped meal off the floor and eating it, which is what I would have done in our house. The three-second rule has been extended to three days here: I ate a wine gum the other day that I’m not entirely sure the cat didn’t bring in from outside on the back of her tail. Ah well.

Want more American nonsense? We put all of our honeymoon stories in a book, you know, and it’s as cheap as I am in my Primark knickers. You can download it here!

Anyway, that was a sidetrack and a half, wasn’t it? But that’s our blog all over – side-tracks and cheap ugly shoes. Let’s do the melon basket.

melon basket

melon basket

melon basket

taster night idea: the melon basket

Prep

Total

Yield 1 basket

I've got a bloody nerve calling this a recipe, haven't I? But listen, we're all about taking things easy here at Chubby Towers, and this is ridiculously easy to make but it looks damn good! Plus all the extra fruit can be turned into smoothies which of course you'll syn, rather than enjoying like a normal person. Right? Hello?

Ingredients

  • one large watermelon
  • one big pack of raspberries
  • one big pack of strawberries
  • one big big girl in a big big world (it's not a big big thing if you leave me)
  • one pack of pomegranate seeds
  • one lemon
  • chopped mint

Of course, you can use any fruit you like in here. Soft, hard, Barrymore.

Instructions

  • the trickiest bit is cutting the watermelon - cut a small disc off the bottom so it lies flat
  • then cut two 'almost' quarters from the top, leaving a strip down the middle - then cut through that so you make a handle
  • it's hard to explain but come on, look at the pictures and work it out - this isn't The Crystal Maze love, you have all the time in the world to figure it out - but you want to make sure you leave a thick enough handle to support the weight of the fruit
  • use a melon baller to scoop some melon balls out of the flesh you've cut away
  • scrape out the melon so you have a pleasing bowl
  • slice up the rest of the fruit into a bowl, add the melon balls, chopped mint and the juice of a lemon
  • tumble it gently to mix it up, then tip it into your basket and serve

Notes

Courses breakfast

Cuisine taster night

Easy as all outdoors. Want some more taster night ideas? Fine! Here you go!

Get them down you!

J

baked eggs in cheesy toast: syn-free and quick!

You’re doubtless here for the baked eggs in cheesy toast – it’s easily one of our quickest, easiest recipes – and it’s delightful. You could scroll straight to the recipe – look for the picture – but first, I have an important message. Perhaps you could humour me.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, you know. No, I know, it feels like it’s always some sort of week at the moment – I’m still eagerly awaiting the celebrations of ‘Comfortably Upholstered Northern Tubsters’ week, but until the day comes when I’m presented with a perspex sausage roll trophy by, oh I dunno, Gail Platt from Corrie, I’ll need to keep dreaming. But this is an important issue so I don’t begrudge writing about it.

Actually, speaking of Coronation Street, Aidan Connor’s suicide storyline really made me upset – it’s unbearable to think that people keep things bottled up to the point where they feel they can’t cope anymore – so, in the spirit of being open about our feelings, I turned to Paul and admitted that I would have given anything, simply anything, to fall asleep nestled comfortably between the wibbly-wobbly cheeks of Shayne Ward’s bottom. I’ve genuinely never known a man make a Zara funnel overcoat look so damn good. I was reading a news story about the actor where he expressed upset over the fact he’s been called fatty-boom-boom on Twitter and accused of having a dad body. How utterly ridiculous: a bit of a podge belly is perfectly natural as you get older, and I certainly wouldn’t hold his belly against him – I’d just balance it on top of my head in the usual fashion.

The storyline has done some amazing work highlighting that not everyone suffering with mental health problems is a shrieker and a wailer and your (lazy) stereotypical loon throwing their faeces around and punching at the clouds. It shows, rightly, that it can affect anyone, with no barriers, and that’s why it’s important to actually talk about it, get it out in the open, have an honest discussion about it.

I’ve gone on previously about my own mental health issue – health anxiety – and I won’t bore you with the details of it. I will say this, though: another year has passed and this year I’ve managed to beat a brain tumour (because of my tinnitus), mad cow disease (because my mother insisted on buying cheap mince for most of the eighties), Alzheimer’s disease (because I forgot where I parked, once, and that’s because I was driving Paul’s ‘car’ as opposed to my own), sepsis (cut myself handling compost) and breast cancer (another harmless lump in my boobs, most likely a Trebor Soft Mint). It’s exhausting being so healthy, I can assure you. Though that exhaustion is probably chronic fatigue syndrome. Bugger.

If you’re out there, and you’re suffering, there’s only two bits of advice I can offer you – and you’ll have heard them before, but I don’t care: maybe my words will be the ones that hit home, like a determined sperm: talk to someone and don’t give up. Now, choose wisely with the first bit of advice, I’m not suggesting you ring your taxi-rank and advise them that you’re seeing only blackness ahead – if they’re anything like my local taxi service, you’ll get twenty seconds of phlegm-soaked coughing and some racist dialogue in the background. No, choose a family friend, someone from work, a loved one, the cat or even a cushion. Vocalising your issues is cathartic, even if you’re talking to yourself. I’m forever talking to myself and find it reassuring – often those negative thoughts in your head are exposed for the nonsense they are once they float out of your gob. If you’re entertaining the ‘what if’ question (especially with your health), rephrase it as ‘what if it isn’t’ – do you really want to be wasting your life worrying about something that isn’t going to happen or, if it is, you can do bot-all about? For every spoken question you give yourself, provide two answers – the rational and irrational. Give yourself a fuller picture. And mind, if you choose to talk to someone rather than yourself, make sure you choose wisely. They’re few and far between, but there’s some folk out there who will gladly lend you an ear just so you don’t notice the knife they’re sticking in your back.

The don’t give up part, then. It’s such a trite thing to say, but you never know what’s coming around the corner. Well, Paul does, but that’s because he’s got boggle-eyes (I’m not saying he’s cross-eyed, but he does have to sit sideways to watch the television). Even if you aim for one day at a time, a day that doesn’t end with a trip in a black ambulance with me driving behind you trying to decide whether it’s appropriate to overtake is a good one.  At my lowest I thought I’d be doolally forever – and actually, perhaps I am because mental illness never leaves you – but you learn to cope, then you learn to stop caring, then you forget why you were ever stressed. Until you wake in the night convinced that you’re dying because although it COULD be trapped wind, that pain in your belly is almost certainly bowel cancer and this is it, I’m off to reunite with my nana after three months of shitting blood. Difference is, each time that anxiety-blip happens, you learn a bit more how to cope with your worries, and the time it takes to get over your anxiety decreases. In short, it gets easier. It does.

Chins up, folks. Remember, there’s fuck all to be ashamed about if you’re out there and you’re struggling: you’re a human being. Yes, even you, with that moustache. You wouldn’t feel embarrassed if you broke your toe, why should your emotions be any different? I read here that 1 in 6 folks experienced a symptom of a mental health condition last week. Perhaps you’re not so unusual, after all.

Oh and as an aside, if you’re one of those arseholes who pretend you’ve got OCD because you have to check the oven is switched off once in a blue moon, please, stop. Obsessive compulsive disorder is a genuinely devastating illness that manifests itself in much stronger ways than the occasional ‘but did I’ moment on the drive to work. It doesn’t make you sound interesting or kooky, it makes you sound like a proper Comfortably Upholstered Northern Tubster.

OK we’re done. No more lectures. But please, do talk. To the recipe, then!

baked eggs in cheesy toast

baked eggs in cheesy toast

2 votes

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baked eggs in cheesy toast

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield two slices

This super quick breakfast looks impressive but is actually a doddle to make on Slimming World - you can have two 'toasts' and it'll be syn free! Don't want to use your HEA as well as your HEB? We've got you - use slightly less cheese - 10g is only two syns. This recipe makes enough for one person to have two slices - just scale it up as you wish.

Remember my warning from the last time we used a Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll? Let me remind you...

But here's the thing. Gluten free food is expensive and it can be a proper pain in the arse to find if you are following a gluten-free diet. That's annoying when you want to cook with it, but what if gluten free was the only bread you could have and you had to do without because some div on Slimming World was too frightened about just having a breadbun? Before you pick it off the shelf, have a think.

Ingredients

  • one Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll (HEB)
  • two eggs
  • 30g of red leicester cheese (HEA) (or use less, and syn it at 10g for 2 syns)
  • chives, black pepper
  • optional: chilli sauce - yum! We use Flying Goose and syn it at 1 syn, but that's optional

Instructions

  • preheat the grill
  • cut your roll in half and drop it into a hot, dry frying pan, toasting off the bottom of each slice
  • remove your bread and, using the bottom of a glass, press a well into the bread and crack an egg in, like so

  • sprinkle your cheese and chives on top, then grill for a few minutes, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn - your egg should be solid, but the yolk nice and runny
  • serve - slather it with chilli sauce if you like your arse battered like us
  • enjoy!

Notes

  • not got chives? Don't panic - just use black pepper
  • if you were feeling decadent, you could always add chopped ham into your well
  • feel free to use a different bun - however, a ciabatta is good as it doesn't burn so quickly

Courses breakfast

Cuisine easy

There now! Looking for more breakfast ideas, you fabulous witch?

Enjoy!

J

sarah’s slaggy speed syn-free sauce – guest blog!

Sarah’s slaggy speed syn-free sauce! I mean, honestly. Do you know how many times we set off our own work filters because our website is classed as pornography and now we’re adding slaggy into our opening sentence? Eee, you accidentally put a picture of yourself felching a plumber up instead of a Yorkshire pudding recipe and suddenly everyone’s a prude. Nevertheless, Sarah, our guest writer for tonight, is a big fan of alliteration, and I’m a bloke who just can’t say no. Now, the reason I’m handing over to her tonight is because she has just started her own blog and I’m all for promoting new writers, especially ones who swear like all the old ladies when someone shouts house at bingo. We were recently awarded blog of the month at foodies100.co.uk and one of the questions they asked us during our questionnaire was whether more diversity in blogging is a good thing. I said no, frankly, it should be limited purely to men with willies like a wrestler’s leg, but when they asked me to revise that answer I said that new voices were good as long as they had something interesting to say.

Thankfully, Sarah does. Which is lucky, as I would have been far too British and embarrassed to retract my offer had she been shite. I urge you to have a look at https://tryingtodoitall.com/ for a good, frank and coarse look at life with a family, beautiful cats and M.E. I’m sure you’ll all join me in bemoaning the fact her blog isn’t called itsallaboutmememe but hey, it takes years to be this deft with wordplay. Minge. Without a moment more of hesitation…

So the boys were right nice and said not only could I go on their Facebook page and promote my blog but do a guest blogger bit on theirs too. I was chuffed to the back teeth. I mean, I had no bastard idea what they meant but I felt a bit like I’d been handed the royal hand to kiss and I was not about do anything bar polish their rings (I’ll do ‘owt for attention) and get on with it. So I’m here and I can’t quite believe it but I’m going to style it out in the way only an amateur amongst professionals can – with arrogance and determination.

Those of you who know me, or have read my blog will know that I don’t like making life difficult for myself, there’s no point. I’ve not got the energy or the patience for complicated recipes and even if I did I’d only make it look like roadkill when I went to serve it. The pinch of unicorn pubes and dusting of fairy jizz would lose its magic in amongst the carnage on the plate, and I’d be left with a skip full of washing up and a bad attitude.

So it needs to be easy, pain free and also I NEED my food to work hard for me – I have M.E. see and I refuse to spend what little energy I have on cooking from scratch a million times a week. I know lots of you do but this recipe is one for the lazy bastards in town. Move over proactive bouncy crew with your lycra and Zumba moves, the sloth gang is in charge for a bit.

Sometimes I just want to bang something quick and easy together, or want something I can take out the freezer because I’m shit and haven’t planned my meals, basically I need something to shut out the packet of bourbons giving me the “hello sailor” eyes from the now bereft and sad looking snack cupboard. So the recipe, such as it is…

speed syn-free sauce

speed syn-free sauce

2 votes

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sarah's slaggy speed syn-free sauce

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield lots and lots

Now, I know what you’re thinking. All that foreplay and you’re giving me a fucking pasta sauce? Yes I am and actually you’ll pipe down because it’s not ONLY a pasta sauce, it’s a meatball sauce, a ketchup replacement, a sauce to bake your chicken in, it’s a pulled pork sauce and it makes you shit for mercy because it’s made entirely of speed veg. Oh and it tastes epic, not diet epic, but life is good and I have a yacht epic… basically it’s YOUR SAVIOUR. Slaggy speed syn-free sauce goes with ANYTHING.

Now to get the most amount of value from this sauce you’ll want to make loads of it. That way you’re going to the effort of cooking once and it’s paying dividends for ages – freeze what you don’t use in individual portions. You’ll thank me later. 

Ingredients

  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 yellow peppers
  • 2 orange peppers
  • 1 white onion
  • 6 peppadew hot peppers (the jarred ones)
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne (more if you like it hot, less if you have a toddler like mine…you could leave it out altogether to be fair)
  • ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (1 syn but negligible by the time you divvy it up)
  • a few sprays of oil

At this point Sarah recommends using Frylight, and for that, we'll actually apply to get her pain relief medication cancelled. Always use Frylight, people, there is really no excuse!

Instructions

  1. get yourself ready
  2. chop all that veg up - or buy pre-chopped if you're fancy
  3. coat your pan in a few sprays of oil
  4. chuck in your red, yellow, orange peppers and onions
  5. fry on a low heat until the onions start looking yellowy (think liver failure) and the peppers are a bit smooshie (if you find the pan is drying out add more oil or try a splash of water)
  6. add your chopped tomatoes, peppedaw peppers, garlic, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne and sugar; stir like you’ve just told your ex his girlfriend is a prize slapper and put a lid on it, smug style
  7. if you've lost your saucepan lids or don't want to bend down because you're mindful you won't be able to get up again without someone having to call for the fire brigade, just use a chopping board
  8. let it simmer away for about 25 mins, you need to be careful mind, if you’ve got an aggressive gas stove like mine it could burn if you don’t keep an eye on it, so don’t get distracted by a shiny thing and forget about it - keep stirring - like a good night alone, it's up to you to keep it wet
  9. when it looks like the pic (i.e. reduced, thick and chunky) get your blender or food processor geared up and show that chunky sauce who is boss - you want it to be a smooth as Grant Mitchell's giant heed.

Notes

You'll need two things for this:

  • a good quality saucepan - if you've got money pouring out of your arse, we recommend this set, but anything will do
  • a blender - nothing expensive needed, this wee £10 model will do the job just as well

Courses side

Cuisine Italian

Cubs here: if the recipe doesn’t taste good, don’t worry. Message Sarah to complain via her blog. Let’s face it, she’ll probably tire herself out switching her monitor on so you’ll be unlikely to get a reply. Oh I’m kidding, she probably has a special iPad. Have a look at her blog right here and she has a facebook page too, see?

www.facebook.com/tryingtodoitall.co.uk

Do you have something you want to say? If you can rattle off a few words, make it funny and give us a recipe, get in touch! Just leave a comment below and we’ll send you an email with details. Perhaps you feel as though you won’t be hilarious or interesting – don’t panic. I’ll just type in some gags and put a better photo. I’m like the gayest copy of Photoshop you’ll ever own.

Want more sauce recipes? That’s fine. We’ve got loads:

Get licking those fingers!

James and Sarah and Paul too

chicken, leek and bacon quiche – syn-free and delicious!

‘ey up!

I think, if someone held a gun to my head and demanded I pick one meal to eat for the rest of my life, I’d go for quiche. You have no idea how much I love it – I grew up on my nana’s cooking and her idea of quiche was two eggs, bacon that was still oinking and more salt than the Dead Sea. It was delicious, not least because it took away the taste of her apple pie. I’m not sure if it was a result of growing up in the war (she fought a pivotal role in the Transvaal Rebellion) but she was never lavish with her ingredients – she remains the only woman I ever met who could turn a postage stamp sized bit of pastry into eight full fruit pies and a batch of sausage rolls. The apple pie didn’t so much have a filling of apple as a light dusting. I would love to be able to bake like that – absolutely no measurements, timings or fuss: just 100% pure instinct.

That leads me to my simple point that I want to make before getting straight to the recipe: don’t fall into the trap of following recipes slavishly – everything we post is merely a guideline. Don’t like an ingredient? Leave it out (though use common sense, you’ll struggle to make tomato ketchup if you use Weetabix and tears, for example) and put in something you actually want to eat. Recipe not looking quite right? Cook it for a bit longer. Use cheaper meat if you’re short on cash. Don’t stress about the little things – and never more so then in this chicken, leek and bacon quiche recipe, because you can chuck any old shite into a quiche and as long as you season it well, you’ll be laughing.

chicken, leek and bacon quiche

chicken, leek and bacon quiche

1 vote

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chicken, leek and bacon quiche

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 large wedges

This chicken, leek and bacon quiche is perfect for either using up all manner of leftovers from the fridge or specifically for a tasty, lovely lunch. You can add anything you like - add more cheese, some mushrooms, pepper, red onion...anything you like! Easy to make too.

Ingredients

  • two chicken breasts - grilled, poached or baked - cut into cubes or shredded
  • a few rashers of bacon
  • one large yellow pepper
  • one chilli pepper
  • one leek - get a big one, mind, you want it to leave you wincing every time you pick it up
  • lots of salt and pepper
  • 180g of ricotta (2 x HEA)
  • 40g of extra mature lighter cheddar (1 x HEA)
  • eight or so eggs (if you're using whole eggs) or 12 egg yolks (so much nicer!)
  • 30g of parmesan (1 x HEA)

NOTE: so this makes enough for eight wedges, but let's assume you'll eat two wedges. That's one HEA.

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan
  • cut your bacon into raggedy chunks
  • thinly slice your leeks - we used a mandolin slicer because it'll do it in no time at all
  • thinly slice your pepper and chilli
  • cook off the leeks, pepper, bacon and chilli together in a pan until the bacon is cooked and the leeks have softened
  • add the chicken
  • mix together the ricotta, cheddar and the eggs - now this is where you need to use your judgement - you may not need as many eggs if you have big eggs or less mixture - you want a good thick 'sauce' when it is all beaten together
    • I prefer to use egg yolks only because it makes a lovely rich quiche, but can work out pricey for eggs - if you go down this route, don't waste the egg yolk - make these peppermint meringues!
  • mix everything together in one bowl and add a good pinch of salt and pepper
  • slop it all into a good non-stick dish - I like to grate half the parmesan into the bottom of the dish before putting the mix in, then top the quiche with the rest of the cheese
  • cook in the oven for about 35 minutes, or longer if it is still wobbly
  • allow to cool and serve with salad!

Notes

  • we use a smart silicone dish for this chicken, leek and bacon quiche - this has never failed us once!
  • this freezes perfectly - cut it up, wrap the pieces in foil and take one out the night before for lunch
  • feel free to tip the mixture into several smaller tins to make individual quiches
  • you'll note that there's no wrap involved in this mixture - that's because we're not insane, see?

Courses snacks, evening meal

Cuisine British

You can’t beat a good quiche! Want some more quiche ideas? Of course!

Plus, we’ve updated our recipes page again, we’re now nearly at 600! Enjoy!

J

a proper syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne

A syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne? With my reputation?

Do you know, in all the time we’ve been doing this, we’ve never just done a straight-up plain lasagne? We’ve done a slow cooker lasagne (amazing), a chicken and pea lasagne (ignored) and a cheat’s lasagne. We’ve served it in a cup. We’ve made a Mexican version. But someone asked us the other day for a bog-standard version and could we hell as like find one – so here we are! Although classic us, we have tweaked it a little: we found a recipe that uses wraps in one of Davina McCall’s books and thought that we would give it a go instead of dried pasta sheets that either always go slimy or don’t cook enough. It works a bloody treat!

Just a recipe post tonight as I have lost my voice. You might assume that this doesn’t stop me from typing – and you would be right – but it does preclude me from summoning Paul every ten minutes to make me a cup of tea or to rub my feet, so it’s a no-no-Nanette for long posts. I’m not going to lie, I’m tired of feeling under the weather – feels like one of us has been ill for ages! Still doing boot camp though, which probably isn’t the best idea when you’ve got a chest infection and you’re eating reheated red lentil dahl for lunch. Last night I spent so long clamping my own arsehole shut and trying not to spray lung-croutons everywhere that I barely had time to do my squats. One of our exercises involves falling onto the floor, hoisting our legs in the air and staying there. It’s taken eight classes to stop me from automatically moaning and reaching about for the phantom bottle of poppers.

Anyway.

Let’s get straight to it, then… syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne! This is makes enough for four large servings.slimming world lasagne

slimming world lasagne

slimming world lasagne

proper slimming world deep dish lasagne

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This doesn't need to be served in a deep dish - just make it like a normal lasagne, if you don't mind - it serves four people and uses wraps in place of pasta. I know, I know, we're scum, but listen, it works really well. This is Davina McCall's recipe, and you don't argue with the Queen.

This serves four and uses your HEB and HEA .- but it's absolutely bloody worth it, and you get loads!

It might look like a lot of ingredients but honestly, this is quick to make! Also, top tip: if you're using a circular dish, before you start cooking stick it upside down onto a wrap and cut out around the dish the perfect shape - your wraps will now fit lovely and snug!

Ingredients

  • three Weight Watchers White low fat wraps (one wrap is a HEB - so as this serves four, you'll use just under your HEB allowance, but easier just to say you've used it)
  • 500g of 5% beef mince
  • two large red onions, chopped finely
  • one large pepper, chopped finely
  • two garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • two tins of chopped tomatoes
  • one large bag of spinach
  • one courgette, grated
  • 180g of ricotta cheese (2 x HEA)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2 x HEA)
  • teaspoon of wholegrain mustard (1/2 a syn - up to you if you want to syn an eighth of a bloody syn!)
  • cherry tomatoes to go on the top

Instructions

  • pop the oven on 180 degrees (fan)
  • start by making the mince layers for your lasagne - gently fry off the onion, pepper and garlic for a few minutes in a few sprays of oil
  • add the mince and beef stock cube and cook until browned
  • add the chopped tomatoes and oregano together with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • allow to simmer and bubble until it has reduced right down to a thick mince, which is also my name for Paul
  • start on the middle layer whilst the mince is cooking - first step, wash your spinach - don't dry it too vigourously
  • tip your spinach and grated courgette into a pan with just a tiny splash of water and wilt it down over a low heat (if you leave the lid on, the spinach will steam and wilt much quicker
  • once everything has wilted down, take the spinach over to the sink and squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can
  • seriously, keep squeezing - top tip is to put the spinach on a chopping board, put another chopping board over the top and squeeze the two together - get every last bit of moisture out!
  • finely chop the cooked spinach and tip back into your pan together with the ricotta and nutmeg - stir until the ricotta has softened and the spinach is mixed in, then set aside
  • layer your lasagne in the deep dish: half of the mince mixture, followed by a wrap, followed by the spinach and ricotta, then a wrap, then the rest of the mince, then another wrap
  • make the white sauce for the top by popping your philadelphia into a pan, add the mustard and soften it over a low heat - add a splash of milk if it is too thick, but it should be fine 
  • pour over the top, add halved cherry tomatoes and grate some extra cheese on top if you want more, though do syn it!
  • cook for a good forty minutes and then enjoy!

Notes

  • if you're looking for a place to get excellent low fat beef mince, try our Musclefood Freezer Filler: you get loads for the price together with excellent chicken and bacon! I mean, what's not to love? Click here to order
  • sort that garlic in seconds with one of these Microplane graters! It’s our most used kitchen gadget!
  • if you're struggling to find a deep dish, have a look in TK Maxx - we found ours in there. A deep cake tin will do exactly the same job, or throw it in a normal Pyrex dish - there's no need to spend a lot of money here!

Courses dinner, low syn

Cuisine Italian

Perfection, right?

Mind we’ve got some bloody amazing, different pasta recipes – let me show you some syn-free suggestions!

J