lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes

I was just going to launch straight into the recipe for lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes but I can’t see through my tears. See, I’ve long clung to the belief that Prince Henry Charles Albert David, or Prince Harry if you prefer, or Gingerbollocks as I bet the Queen calls him, was going to have a last-second crisis of identity before he got married. In my mind, he was sure to have a look at the albeit beautiful Meghan (I would never say this to her face, but she’s a wonderful person and a gifted artist), realise that he prefers cock and slightly middle-class Geordie men, dash into his armoured Mercedes and drive to Newcastle (avoiding the Tyne Tunnel, of course) to declare his love and demand I sit on his throne.

However, it wasn’t to be. The closest I got to receiving a royal hand last night was my own Queen, Paul, slumping forward during the ‘exploratory’ part of the mission after one too many gins.

I like the Royals. Not so keen on what they stand for, and I balked at the sight of homeless people having their sleeping bags taken away from them just so folks born into the greatest luxury in the land wouldn’t have their wedding photos ruined, but I do enjoy a bit of pomp and ceremony. I always imagine Camilla would be the best on a night out – she’d be the one ordering shit mixed drinks and telling everyone to fuck off and glassing the bouncers by the end of the night. She’s got that look in her eye that says ‘I’ll give you a gobble behind the bins but don’t spaff on my tiara‘, I think.

Perhaps it’s because I was never a huge fan of Diana. I know: blasphemy. Actually, no – that’s unfair, I have no real strong feelings about Diana, but her death was certainly the beginning of this awful ‘who can be the most upset’ competition that occurs whenever someone faintly famous dies or something horrendous happens in the world. Grief should be a private, personal emotion, not an excuse to whip out your Minions-quote-template and best UP WITH THE ANGLES line just because Gemma Collins bruised a nail tripping on the slip-mats in Lidl.  I saw that sea of flowers pushed up against the walls of Buckingham Palace and all I could hope was that Liz had stocked up on Piriteze. All that pollen – I sympathise, if someone blows a dandelion clock in Sussex I’m laid up in bed for four weeks groaning and streaming snot from every hole I possess.

Anyway, look, this is all by the by. Harry didn’t come by in the end, and by all accounts it was a lovely, traditional wedding. I say traditional, it didn’t end with someone having too many Archers Aquas and vomiting in a plant-pot, so really, was it a wedding at all?

Oh! We did celebrate the Royal Wedding with a bit of light baking, see?

Fancy! I made ginger nuts (of course) by following our recipe here and rose-scented meringue bites by tweaking this exciting recipe made from chickpea pre-cum and I swear to God, that’s exactly what we used.

Oh and final point on the Royal Wedding – we were schlepping around Tesco yesterday buying BBQ bits and pieces when we overheard a very earnest, rah-de-rah mother saying to her chubby-checked wee child that ‘shall we dash home now so we can get a look at Meghan’s dress?’ to which the kid – a future in comedy awaits – completely deadpanned that she ‘really couldn’t care less‘. Good on you, child whose name will inevitability contain ‘Ella’.

OK, let’s do the recipe then. I was given a big bag of greek oregano by a friend from work and I need to tell you know, it smells amazing. The oregano, that is, not my friend, I couldn’t comment on his redolence. I did have to spend altogether more time than I anticipated smiling wanly at people spotting the bag of oregano on my desk and asking if it was drugs, ho-ho, slap my knees. I was that busy laughing hysterically that I barely had time for my 11am ket-bump in the bogs.

roast potatoes

roast potatoes

lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

How many times do you need a side for a BBQ and you find yourself opening a pack of coleslaw and crying because everything is so boring and you're sick of being fat and anyway, that miserable cow next door is already twitching her curtains and complaining about the smoke? Well, screw that, screw her and screw boring sides: our amazing lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes are a doddle to make, low in syn and taste bloody amazing.

Please: don't be tempted to skip the olive oil. It's worth it. You could use Frylight, yes, but why bother? Syns are there to be used for good food!

Ingredients

  • about 900g of new potatoes, scrubbed a bit but not peeled, cut into smallish chunks
  • two tablespoons of olive oil (see notes)
  • four garlic cloves, minced (see notes)
  • a couple of teaspoons of dried oregano
  • a few grinds of salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 150ml of beef stock (or veggie stock if you're veggie, duh)
  • 150ml of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano - optional, dried is fine, but use a little less

Instructions

  • get the oven up to about 200 degrees, and find a good non-stick roasting dish
  • pour the chopped potatoes in, together with the oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper (don't be shy), oregano and then pop the lid on and shake shake shake - really throw everything around to get it all coated
  • bake in the oven for about twenty minutes, take out, add the stock, shake and back into the oven it goes for about fifteen minutes
  • out it comes, add the lemon juice and again, shake it to buggery - then back into the oven for a good twenty minutes or so, until everything is cooked and most of the liquid has disappeared
  • top with fresh oregano and serve 

Use your common sense here - if it needs a bit longer, keep it in! But make sure it doesn't burn.

Notes

Courses sides, vegetarian

Cuisine BBQ

Yum!

Looking for more BBQ ideas? Then please, let us help you out:

Have a good weekend folks!

J

orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad: a fresh lunch idea

Here for the orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad? Then you’ve got exceptional taste, and you must be rewarded. If you’re in a hurry, scroll quickly to the video and watch the recipe, or read the words explaining how to make our delicious orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad. If you need a good light lunch, this is the one you’ll need. But first…

Paul has done some foolish things in his short time on the Earth. For example, he once pooed on the tracks of the East Coast Main Line just to see what would happen when a train went over it at full-clip. That also explains why we’re banned from Durham train station. Ay-oooo, I’ll be here all night, try the veal.

However, he’s excelled himself now. He’s signed us up to run a 5K at the end of the month to raise money for The Albert Kennedy Trust. I ought to explain: I get out of breath driving 5k, and that’s including a break to ogle/fellate the lorry drivers at Washington Services. The thought of running it makes my heart race all of its own, but that’s me and my hilarious tachycardia all over. I’ve been reassured that we will be fine and that actually, there is an air ambulance station only five minutes away from the run location. So I mean, that’s great: my lips might turn the colour of old liver and my brain will likely be starved of oxygen as all my blood pools in my cheap, not-suitable-for-running trainers, but hey, I get a ride in a helicopter.

Actually, that really IS a dealbreaker, I’ve always wanted to leap from a helicopter like Anneka Rice in Treasure Hunt. We’ll get Mags in as Wincey Willis, standing in front of a cardboard map pinning arrows of my location on with gay abandon, though we’d need to ask her to tone down her hairspray cloud to Bhopal levels lest Paul took an asthma attack.

Readers born in the late nineties might not get that reference. Ah well. I don’t understand how to use hashtags properly or why everyone is insistent on putting dog ears on their photos, so we’ll call it even. Seriously folks, why do you do that? Do you want conversation, or taken outside for a shite?

Anyway, I jest, of course. This fitness burst is actually a culmination of our efforts from New Year to increase our activity levels. I was tired of getting out of breath putting on my shoes. Paul was literally tired – he could barely sleep for fretting that I was going to choke on a landslide of my own neck-fat. I didn’t do much snore as drown through the night. So, naturally, we decided the sensible approach would be to go straight into a bootcamp (which wrecked us, but in a good way) and gym membership, and now here we are able to run for a mile without being blue-lighted into hospital and/or asked to leave because the resonance of our thighs slapping together is putting the structural integrity of the building at risk.

That mile thing is, well, a proper milestone – for months I’ve been telling myself that there’s simply no way I could run for that long without dying until, on Saturday, I told myself to give it a go. Armed with the reassurance that I had the emergency-stop clip attached to the waistband of my shorts (I think I managed to clip about half of my neatly-trimmed pubic hair too, just to add an extra frisson of excitement to possible failure) and a hurly-burly chap to my immediate right to give me mouth to mouth should I need it, away I went. And do you know, I did it without any drama, fanfare or worry – just plodded on through! So there’s hope yet.

Speaking of hope, that’s what we’re running the 5K for. The Albert Kennedy Trust provide support, help and sometimes accommodation for LGBT folks who are experiencing difficulties, especially those who have just come out and are facing adversity from their parents or guardians. I’ve told you the story of my ex who came out to his parents only to have his kind, patient, God-loving dad put a screwdriver to his throat and lock him away in the house until my mother went all Andy McNab (Mandy McTab, surely) and kidnapped him? Yeah: they help with folks in that sort of situation, and much worse. You can’t help your sexuality any more than you can change your eye-colour or the clip of your bumhole: why then should you live in fear over something you have no control over? Hmm?

If you would like to sponsor our run, then by all means do – look, I even made a dapper wee banner for you to click on (it’ll open in a new window) and anything at all would be absolutely amazing. But listen, if you’re sitting there on the bones of your arse with nothing but shrapnel and dreams in your purse, don’t fret for a second. We’re not shaking you down here: if you can and you want to, by all means donate and we’ll be delighted, but we won’t think anything less of anyone for not donating! There’s a million charities out there all equally as important to someone, I’m sure. Click to donate! One final thing: don’t worry, we’re not going to become jogging-wankers. I still think running is bloody awful. Why use your own locomotion when Uber is only a strained conversation away? We certainly won’t be doing fun-runs and sprinting along the town moor with that permanent ‘I’m about to cum through my own self-worth’ face on. And no to any sort of lycra, though that’s more for your benefit than mine: I look like a Shar Pei dog snuffling for truffles in a bin-liner when I wear any sort of figure-hugging outfit. No, that just won’t do.

Now that’s quite enough waffling on. I apologise that the drought of posts continues, but so does the drought of free-time we’re currently experiencing, so just bear with us. Today’s recipe for orzo, mint and tomato salad was borne from the need for a quick lunch to answer all the ‘what can I have for lunch’ posts we keep getting. This takes no time at all to make, uses only a few ingredients and keeps well in the fridge. To make up for the lack of recipes, we’ve done a video recipe for you – we’d love some feedback!

Let’s do the proper recipe now: orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad, just for you.
orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad

orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad

orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Looking for a lunch that you can keep in the fridge and it'll only get better? Then something like this orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad will hit the spot! Orzo is a type of pasta you can buy in most supermarkets - cheap, tasty and carries a sauce well.

Don't be tempted to use Quark: you're so much better than that. 

And yes, you could use cherry tomatoes and make this syn-free, but proper sun-dried tomatoes are tastier and will bring your dish up a treat! Give it a go!

Ingredients

  • 350g orzo
  • 25g chopped mint
  • 110g Philadelphia Lightest (one 1 x HEA)
  • 100g chopped sundried tomatoes (6 syns)
  • 150g spinach
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • boil your orzo for about eight minutes until soft
  • drain the orzo, keeping aside 100ml of the cooking water
  • pop the orzo back in the pan, pop the water back in and put it on a very low heat
  • add the mint, spinach and cream cheese together with a pinch of salt and pepper and allow the cheese to soften down and the spinach to wilt
  • stir and serve!

Notes

  • this makes enough for four decent sized portions and keeps well in the fridge
  • add peas, peppers, onion, anything you like - but we like to keep it simple
  • looking for a lunchbox - you can find us on xtube, or buy your own for your dinner right here - nice and cheap, on both counts

Courses lunch

Cuisine salad

Looking for more salad ideas, you healthy bugger? Fine:

And, loads more in our salad section!

Enjoy!

J

proper sausage rolls with a veggie alternative

Sausage rolls indeed!

Because putting a bit of mince in a wrap does not equal sausage rolls. Honestly, we weren’t going to bother with a sausage rolls recipe but having seen people passing off wraps stuffed with mince as sausage rolls, we felt we had to. Remember, Slimming World is about eating proper food, not pretend food, using your syns to eat something someone on a diet would eat, as opposed to pretend fake-food. The proof, as they say, is almost certainly in the pudding.

Although that pudding will probably be a smear of cinnamon and a photocopy of a chocolate bar wrapped in a Weight Watchers wrap and called a cinnamon swirl. Maybe on other sites.

Anyway, a quick word before we get to that recipe. Keen observers may have noticed that our recipe / blog output has slowed down a bit the last few weeks. There’s a reason for that but alas, I can’t go into it! We are trying to balance it back out, but at the moment we’re working during the day, coming home and going out to work on something else. But the end is in sight, and we have some cracking recipes coming up. So do bear with us, please! Remember, if you need inspiration, we have:

So there’s always something to read! Right, shall we do sausage rolls?

proper sausage rolls

sausage rolls

1 vote

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proper sausage rolls and a veggie version

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 16 sausage rolls

The recipe for the sausage rolls isn't much of a recipe at all, so we thought we'd bulk it out by including a veggie alternative that isn't just using vegetarian sausages, although you can do so. The veggie version is called pea pastizzi and comes from Sabrina Ghayour's FEASTS book that we keep banging on about! 

Ingredients

to make the meaty sausage rolls (makes ten)

  • 100g ready rolled light puff pastry (20 syns)
  • whatever six sausages you like - we use syn-free sausages from Musclefood, but you can use anything here
  • one red onion chopped
  • a pinch of garlic
  • pepper
  • an egg

to make the veggie pea alternatives (makes ten):

  • 100g ready rolled light puff pastry (20 syns)
  • two large fat garlic cloves
  • one large onion, chopped fine
  • 300g tin of marrowfat peas
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

for the meaty sausage rolls:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • squeeze the sausagemeat from the sausages and fry in the pan with the finely chopped onion and garlic - the little bit of fat will soften the onions, so no need to add oil
  • add a good twist of pepper
  • take your puff pastry, roll it out - I prefer to actually roll it out a little thinner than it usually is, but you know, up to you
  • cut into ten squares
  • spoon the cooked sausage meat into each square and fold over the sides into a nice roll shape
  • wash with beaten egg and into the oven they go for 20 minutes or so to cook nicely
  • if you want, cut them in half again when cooked for 1-syn taster night sausage rolls

Easy! Do you see what I mean though - it's an easy recipe! Cook off the sausagemeat, add into puff pastry and cook.

for the veggie pea alternatives:

  • soften the onions by cooking them off in a little oil, adding the garlic as they get nice and golden
  • add the peas, curry powder, pinch of pepper and a good dash of dalt
  • allow everything to cook for about five minutes and soften and mash gently
  • do as you did above - roll out your pastry, spoon in your mixture, fashion into rolls, egg-wash the top and whack them in the oven for twenty minutes or so

Notes

Courses taster night, samples, picnic

Looking for more taster night ideas?

Yum!

J

budget: creamy parsnip and apple soup

Creamy parsnip and apple soup – part of a new category of budget Slimming World recipes that we’re planning on doing. We’ve done a budget week before, you understand, but it became such a ballache having to work out a tenth of a stockcube that we stopped doing it – I know, I’m shameless. But at the time of writing ASDA are selling bags of parsnips for 20p, so you can make this entire pan of soup – which serves six – for less than £1.50. Freezes well, too.


Forgot to say: apologies everyone who received an empty email talking about a risotto – we haven’t published that yet and the email was sent in error – pressed the wrong button. Blame my sausage fingers, it’s why I’ve never mastered the keyboard or wettened an eager beaver. I’m a hamfisted slut! That’ll come online shortly, I’m sure.


Budget is a difficult topic to gauge, to be honest. What is cutting back to me might be eye-watering extravagance to you – what might be penny-pinching to everyone else might be essential to a few of you. Who knows. The reason we’ve decided to reboot this category is simple: I read an excellent article from Jack Monroe, author of cookingonabootstrap, entitled My Ready Meal is None Of Your Fucking Business. She tears apart the whole argument that people can eat ‘well’ on a few pounds a week far more eloquently than I ever could. So I won’t try, but I’ll give you the strongest push to have a read of her blog, especially if you’re struggling for money and need some cheap but decent food ideas. To think, somewhat ashamedly, that my only initial recollection of her was someone who used to vaguely vex me (because she looked like a teacher I disliked) on the Sainsbury’s adverts. Having read up, and realised that as well as everything else she does, she also managed to royally piss off the Daily Mail, well, fair play to her.

Paul and I are lucky – no dependents to fund, no mortgage to pay, plenty of that luscious pink pound to waste on Ritter chocolate and extravagant trips around Lidl. In theory. In reality, we’re both tighter than a photo finish – we hate spending money and will desperately try to avoid doing so unless it’s for a holiday. There’s a certain outdated stereotype that as gay blokes, we should be tripping the light fantastic in decadent clothes, but trust me when I say the most expensive thing in our wardrobe is the dehumidifier. All of our clothes come from the supermarket – I don’t think I’ve ever owned a shirt that hasn’t come from a multipack and poor Paul has been barrelling into work now in shirts that are almost six sizes too big for him. He fell over the other day in the wind and it took five minutes for him to float to the ground like a feather. I park 2.5 miles away from my work and walk in to save the £7 a day parking fee I’d otherwise occur. I like to tell people it’s because I’m trying to get fit but actually, it’s all about the money. The biggest muscle on my body is the thumb I use to keep my wallet shut. I’ve been trying to encourage Paul to allow us to be a ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’ sort of household but we had to stop when the entire house started stinking like Sugar Puffs mixed with tuna.

Both of us came from families that didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but neither of us is any worse off for it – I wasn’t one of those spoiled brats who looked enviously at other kids going to Florida for their holidays – I was more than happy piling into the back of my parents’ car for the eight hour drive to the top of Scotland, thank you very much. Even now I can’t relax in a car unless I’ve got a tent peg threatening to burst my eardrum as I drive along. We never stopped at a Little Chef or anywhere fun en route either, no no – it was warm egg sandwiches and sullen faces all the way. Paul didn’t even get to go on holiday bar a trip to Ireland at the height of the troubles and some trip to Spain at the height of teletext-bargains. I’ve just asked him for a ‘poor’ memory and his was going to school with a pair of Activ trainers from Whittlesea Market whilst everyone else had Diadora specials. Pfft. He won’t elaborate further but I bet his Adidas trousers were two-stripe, with the third stripe being formed from his mother’s cigarette ash. Tsk.

There’s two exceptions to our thrift that I can think of: we like expensive aftershave (Tom Ford) and decent shoes. I like to think when I leave a room that I leave a pleasing order and a wonderful footprint, even if I do look like I’ve come dressed for a bet. Cheap shoes are a false economy – Paul struggled the three miles into work one day in a pair of gardening shoes when the entire bottom of his shoe came away, leaving him limping home in the rain like he’d staggered away from an explosion. A good pair of boots will last you forever, but of course, getting the funds together to buy them in the first place…

Anyway, in my usual roundabout way, I want to apologise if our budget recipes aren’t budget enough for you – but please, do feel free to suggest some more to us! Without further delay, let’s crack on with the creamy parsnip and apple soup, shall we? It’s from the Hairy Bikers, you know. Nope, not the first time two hairy bikers have left us satisfied and smiling with a slight pain in our bellies, but here we are. Do enjoy!

parsnip and apple soup

parsnip and apple soup

creamy parsnip and apple soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 bowls

Remember: according to the folks at Slimming World, if you cook fruit, it becomes synned. We don't always agree with this blanket rule and in this case as we've used two apples between six people and haven't made it into an apple pie so we've chosen to not syn it. I know. Mags will put my lights out.

If you want to follow Slimming World's exact advice, this would be about 15 syns - 2.5 syns per bowl - or approximately 2x HeB choices split between six. How silly.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 600g parsnips, peeled and cut into wee chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 600g Bramley apples, peeled, quartered and cut into chunks
  • 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
  • 150ml milk (3 syns)

Instructions

  • spray a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a bit of oil
  • add the onions and parsnips to the pan and gently fry for about fifteen minutes
    • as an aside - if you want, take your parsnip peelings, spray them with a bit of oil, rub in some curry powder and roast them for a few minutes to crunch them up - you can use these to top the soup!
  • add the garlic and apples to the pan and cook for another couple of minutes
  • pour in the stock and bring to the boil
  • reduce to a simmer and cook for about twenty minutes - the parsnips should be soft
  • remove from the heat and blend until smooth
  • add in the milk and give a good stir - add plenty of salt and pepper
  • serve!

Notes

We’ve done some amazing soup recipes! Have a look:

Enjoy!

J

lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms

I’m not going to lie, it feels good to cast off the shackles of Chinese week – I love Chinese food but see, it’s like when you get a takeaway – you feel great for about thirty minutes, then you just want more, end up eating all the straggly bits leftover and then spend the rest of the night clutching your belly as it distends with wind. Just me? Anyway, we’re still away, and because you’ve had an awful lot of long blog posts lately, just a quick post tonight. One thing we always struggle with on Slimming World is a tasty side dish but we’ve found an answer from Greece – sautéed mushrooms! Give them a go – this makes enough for two large portions.

sautéed mushrooms

sautéed mushrooms

to make greek lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms you will need:

  • 450g chestnut or button mushrooms
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 5 peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp dried parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 60ml water

top tips for greek lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms:

  • peppercorns will give a stronger flavour, but if you don’t have any 10 twists of a pepper grinder will do the job
  • mince that garlic in seconds without faffing on with a garlic press – get a Microplane grater and you’ll use it every day!
  • give the pan a good coating of oil with a mister – this is what we use

to make greek lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms you should:

  • remove the stems from all of the mushrooms
  • slice the lemon in half and juice one half of the lemon, and keep aside
  • rub each mushroom against the flesh of the other lemon half
  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil and put over a medium heat
  • add the mushrooms, garlic, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaves and fry gently for 4-5 minutes
  • add the water and lemon juice to the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms are soft but not mushy
  • sprinkle over the dried parsley and serve

Hungry for more veggie options? We’ve got loads! Have a deeks at some of our favourites below:

Enjoy!

Indian spiced caramelised red onion houmous

Caramelised red onion houmous! Just a quickie today (ooh I say) but y’see, we’ve got shit to do. We’ve got a tasty recipe for an Indian spiced caramelised red onion houmous!  below which’ll tickle your tastebuds and maybe a bit more if you’re lucky. We’ve been busy little bees today cooking all sorts of recipes which will start to filter through over the next couple of days – and they’re all absolute corkers. Seriously, clear your diary and your fridge, send your husband away, pack the kids off somewhere – you won’t want to share them.

Isn’t it a pain though doing anything on a Sunday? All I wanted to do today was sleep until lunchtime and then pray that How Clean Is Your House was recommissioned during the night and their first task was my house. But of course it wasn’t to be so from 10am I just had James poking his head around the bedroom door every 9 minutes, whinging at me to get out of bed like some sort of mincing, squealing snooze button.

So once all the necessaries were done it was on to cooking. We’d already written a list of everything we needed and were sure we’d got them all but of course there’s always one pissing things that missing, meaning you’ve gotta swoosh out the door to go on the hunt for some obscure spice before everything closes. And then you’ve gotta deal with Sunday drivers clogging up every dual carriageway going at 30 miles an hour. It’s like the Gauntlet from Gladiators but instead of hunks in lycra you’ve got piss-stained Daewoo Matiz’s.

And there’s fuck all on telly.

But anyway, that feels better. Here’s a nice snack to help cool you down.

caramelised red onion houmous


caramelised red onion houmous

to make Indian spiced caramelised red onion houmous you will need:

  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (you can use the liquid to make our Peppermint Meringues!)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (or ½ tsp ground)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (or ¾ tsp ground coriander)
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (2½ syns)

top tips to make Indian spiced caramelised red onion houmous:

  • you can use ground cumin and coriander instead of seeds if you like, but you’ll get more flavour out of the seeds
  • we used a mandoline slicer to slice our onions and it does the job in seconds. Use the guard!
  • a NutriBullet does the job perfectly for nice, smooth houmous! Get yours here!

to make Indian spiced caramelised red onion houmous, you should:

  • spray a large frying pan with a bit of oil and plonk over a medium-high heat
  • add the sliced onion and cook until lightly browned – keep some aside to put on top later to make it look fancy
  • remove from the heat and set aside
  • add the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds into another pan and toast for a couple of minutes over a low heat, then grind into a powder using a pestle and mortar (if you’re using ground stuff you can leave this step)
  • then, chuck all the ingredients together into a food processor and blitz until smooth

Love houmous? So do we! Check out some of our other recipes below:

Enjoy!

P

super sticky mushrooms (or chicken) one-pot

A super quick fakeaway dinner of sticky mushrooms tonight because it’s boot camp in an hour or so and I need to go put on my industrial-strength Lanacane with a paint roller. Honestly, you could fry an egg on my thighs after boot-camp, which to be fair would go remarkably well with the scent of bacon that pervades. Cor, stinks in ‘ere, dunnit!

Anyway I’m terrifically excited. You know how last year was the year of mini holidays? This is the year of the beast, and we’ve finally agreed it with work, booked the flights and figured out how we’re going to look after the cats – we’ve decided to spend the next few months training them how to use the electric tin opener and leave them a slab of Whiskas. We’re going somewhere we’ve always wanted to go but never found the time: OH CANADAAAAAAA! Yes! It’s like Cub Heaven: it’s cool in temperature, hot in bearded-men stakes and full of beauty. If we happen to catch the eye of some bearish mountain daddy who wants to keep us both and take us logging, both literally and euphemistically you understand, then so be it.

You know the best bit? We’re turning left on the plane. That’s right, the pilots have read all my witty comments about having a go at the controls and said, you know what, he’s seen enough episodes of Air Crash Investigation, he knows what the flaps do, let’s give it a whirl. No, I’ve actually just come off the phone with an incredibly helpful agent who managed to get us into first class both ways (proper first class, mind) for pretty much the same price as premium economy. I was breathing that heavily with excitement that he patched me through to 111 thinking I was having chest pains. We’ve flown first before but not for 10 hours and not on the massive A380. I don’t doubt that I’ll make a tit of myself within ten minutes by blowing cheese pasty crumbs across the floor and breaking wind as they hand me my pyjamas but what can you do? I’m just upset that poor Cilla Black carked it because I would have loved to have pushed her out of her seat.

Now we’re not boasting or showing off here – we save up all year for our holiday and forgo all of life’s little pleasures to get there – we don’t smoke, don’t do drugs and only drink alcohol every other hour. We tried prostituting Paul but he just came back with a runny nose and an empty wallet. Anyway listen – it’s going to make for an absolutely blinding set of travel posts, so look forward to it!

Speaking of looking forward, I bet you’re just wishing I’d shut the hell up and get to the sticky mushrooms. Of course! This is a veggie recipe but you could very easily swap in some chicken or beef – but actually, the mushrooms work just fine on their own. Trust me! Plus if you’re in the mood for something quick and tasty, this will really hit the spot because you can make it in less time than it takes to cook the rice. You don’t need to serve it in quite such a froufrou fashion as me, either, but I remind you: I am homosexual.

sticky mushrooms

sticky mushrooms

to make super sticky mushrooms you’ll need:

  • two cloves of garlic, minced
  • 400g of mushrooms – now, get a good mix (the oriental selection in Tesco is absolutely perfect) of types and flavours and chop them up to a good uniform size – don’t just get boring plain mushrooms, you need the flavour
  • 4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (please, don’t use sweetener – you could, but it’ll ruin the taste of the dish) (3 syns) or swap for honey (1 tbsp – 2.5 syns)
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • serve with steamed rice, sliced radishes and chopped spring onions, or whatever veg and rice you want!

top tips:

  • if you want to use chicken, you may need to add about 50ml of stock – the mushrooms release a lot of water which is what creates the sticky sauce
  • keep the chicken chopped nice and small
  • mince your garlic with a little mincer and stop your fingers reeking
  • seriously don’t use sweetener – this’ll taste so much better with proper sugar!
  • this serves two

to make super sticky mushrooms you should:

  • get a good solid pan out of the cupboard and start cooking your rice – this dish only takes about fifteen minutes or so
  • spray with a Gina G of oil (ooh-aah just a little bit)
  • add your minced garlic and gently saute it until it smells laaahverley
  • add all the mushrooms and cook for a minute or two more
  • add everything else into the pan (bar the rice and spring onions and radishes, duh) and then leave to gently burble away on the hob for about ten minutes – add some stock if things start looking dry
  • once it’s dark and delicious, serve with your rice!

Now come on. Tell me that’s not easy – you add everything into one pan and gently heat until deliciousness ensues. Short of me coming around and feeding you, I can’t do anything more than that!

Want more fakeaways? Want more vegetarian recipes? Have no fear, we’ve got stories for years – click the buttons below!

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J – who is off to practice his ‘oh how cute, this is economy, is it?’ expression. I’m kidding. I’ll never change. I’m one shave away from being Rab C Nesbitt.

aubergine and tomato curry – absolutely gorgeous

You’re here for the aubergine and tomato curry of course, but first, I have some truly shocking news.

We’ve joined a bloody boot camp. A boot camp! Yes, like all the other New Year New Me fitness wankers. Weirdly, I feel I should explain our actions. We eat reasonably well but we simply don’t do enough exercise. We enjoy the gym, but I find I tend to stumble in my own drool on the treadmill as it faces the boxing class and well, if there’s a particularly brutish looking man getting battered around the ring, I find the emergency stop button being pressed by something other than my hands. Paul’s the same: enjoys the gym, but is very conscious that there’s a McDonalds, a KFC and a Dominos on the way home. It’s altogether too easy to think that you’ve worked up such a sweat punching the number for a Kitkat Chunky into the swimming pool vending machine that really you ought to have a treat. What can I say: I tried but I was weak and backsliding, and now the Devil has come home in the form of swollen ankles and breathlessness when I blink too much.

So: if crippling obesity doesn’t give me pause enough to do more exercise, what will? The lure of money – or rather, the fretting and angst that potentially losing money brings. I’m not going to name the company that I’m boot-camping with as I don’t want it to look like we’re pushing them – we’re not – but they offer a money back guarantee as long as you stick to the classes. If you don’t, you lose your money. All very fair and a great motivator for someone as tight-arsed as me – I’d climb Everest if I thought the guy in front of me had dropped a fiver out of his pocket when reaching for his oxygen tank. We’ve handed over a not insignificant amount of money and committed to six weeks of hell, all in the name of having slightly less fat on our arse when we roll into summer. Paul trembled at the thought of exercise, I sobbed at the thought of having to put my gym trainers back on.

We bit the bullet though and it was with a heavy heart and far heavier tits that we pulled into the car-park on an industrial estate at 9pm, something we never usually do unless we’ve pre-arranged a meeting with a lorry driver whose ‘wife just doesn’t understand him’ and ‘anyway it’s not gay if I don’t touch yours’. At least I think that’s what they say, my ears are usually muffled by thighs at that point. I had visions of walking in and everyone collectively gasping until someone rushed over and threw a blanket over us like one might do with a screeching budgie. I knew we’d attempt one exercise, find it all too much and then skulk out the emergency exit with our ears wringing. Typo deliberate, and I’m quite proud of that. But no: the crowd didn’t consist exclusively of people who looked like they’d been whittled from walnut, but rather an excellent mix of weights, sizes, ages, oxygen saturation levels and fitness. There were no shitty looks, no whispers, no redirections to a dark corner ‘for the best’. In fact, we were treated marvellously – we chuckled our way through the disclaimer (swollen ankles? I don’t know, they’re usually behind my ears out of sight, ho ho) and had our photos taken, front and profile like a mug-shot. Which is fitting, because my gym outfit was a crime to all things sartorial. I don’t care, I’m there to sweat and go blue, not pull. Judge me on my gasping, not my Lidl exercise socks.

Before we even had a chance to change our mind our class was ushered in and it began. What followed was dreadful in the best possible way – great fun, a good mix of exercises and excellent leadership – but you need to understand it’s hard to concentrate when you’re certain you’re about to shit out your own heart through over-exertion. I have genuinely never moved so much in my life: you could set me on fire and I’d still keep a slower pace than I did that night. We ran, we jumped, we threw a ball around, we did lunges and push-ups and press-ups and burpees and kicking and although we couldn’t do many, we bloody tried, and surprised ourselves with exactly how much we could do. There was no pressure: just firm encouragement, which was exactly what we needed. I could have done without the Now That’s What I Call Wrapping A Vauxhall Nova Around A Lamppost playing so loudly but if anything, it kept you moving if only to move away from the speaker.

The biggest revelation: we actually had fun. We both came out (surprise!) full of praise and looking forward to the next one. Who would have thought it?

But, by god, am I paying for it now – I can barely move. I’ve moved muscles that up until Monday night were still worried about the Millennium Bug. I’ve got aches in parts of my body that I didn’t know I had – who knew that the underside of a tit could ache so much? I feel like I’ve jumped out of a moving car. Yesterday wasn’t too bad but today I actually got stuck on the toilet for five minutes. Sat down no problem, sacrificed my dinner to the Sewer Gods without breaking a sweat, tidied up and made to leave only to find I couldn’t actually pull myself up. What to do? Spend the day with a cold nipsy in the vain hope someone would a) rescue me and b) not be repulsed enough by the fetid air that they would decide it was better to leave me to my fate? Unlikely. I had to hoist myself up using the towel rail like an old lady who had taken a tumble in the kitchen. Not just me though: I received a text from Paul this afternoon with the sorrowful phrase ‘I’m stuck on the stairs’ – like a cow, he had gone up the stairs no bother, but coming down meant bending his legs in such a way that was simply impossible. He had to shuffle down on his arse. Watching him walk across our lawn to the house was hilarious – he was walking so gingerly you’d think we’d stuck land-mines in the snowdrops.

Still: another session tonight at 9pm. If anyone wants to visit me in hospital afterwards, I’ll be in the Cramlington cardiothoracic department. You’ll be able to spot me by my cheap shoes and blue lips.

Right, let’s do the recipe for this aubergine and tomato curry, yes? That’s what you’ve come for, after all. It’s an aubergine and tomato curry from Meera Sodha’s Made in India book, adapted slightly for Slimming World. I can’t tell you enough how much I love this book – most of the recipes can be adapted if you’re feeling virtuous but they’re absolutely gorgeous exactly as they are. Plus, I’m yet to find a recipe in there that hasn’t been nice and easy to make. I genuinely recommend: you can buy it from Amazon right here!

aubergine and tomato curry

aubergine and tomato curry

to make an aubergine and tomato curry, you’ll need:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 4cm knob of ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp tomato pureé
  • 1 tsp sugar (1 syn)
  • 2 large aubergines, quartered and cut into half-cm slices

One gadget we swear by is a good Microplane grater – this’ll make mincing the garlic and ginger a breeze! No I know, I recommend them an awful lot, but it’s because it is worth having. You’ll use it a lot!

Yeah, we used one syn of sugar in the recipe. Divide between four and that’s quarter of a syn. I mean, really.

to make an aubergine and tomato curry, you should:

  • plonk a large frying pan over a medium heat and spray in a little oil (Frylight ruins non-stick coating, so use this instead!)
  • add the onion and cook until it’s turning a bit golden, which’ll take about 6-8 minutes
  • add the green chilli, ginger, and garlic and cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently
  • add the tomatoes to the pan and then stick the lid on
  • leave for about ten minutes for the tomatoes to soften
  • add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and tomato pureé to the an and mix well
  • when it’s looking a bit sloppy, add 150ml of warm water and then the aubergine slices
  • stir gently until the abuergine is nicely coated, the stick the lid back on again
  • cook for another 15-20 minutes over a medium-low heat – you’ll know it’s done when you can cut the aubergine with a wooden spoon
  • serve!

Enjoy? Why not click the vegetarian recipes I’ve provided below and live like a Queen?

Enjoy!

J

creamy cheesy green veg medley

This creamy green veg medley is just the ticket if you’re looking to up your vegetable intake without incurring massive amounts of syns. You could easily spin it out into a cauliflower cheese but actually, we like it all jumbled up.

No chatter tonight – I’m keeping to my word of posting a few recipes nice and succinctly, so here we go! Don’t bitch on at me afterwards though! Fair warning: all of these steamed vegetables will make you fart like an absolute trooper. But hey!

We served our vegetables with a massive fat pork chop spread with two tablespoons of reduced fat red pesto (3 syns). We used our OptiGrill (press the chops button, away it goes) but you could just as cheerfully throw it under the grill.

veg medley

veg medley

to make our creamy green veg medley, you’ll need:

  • a head of broccoli
  • a head of cauliflower
  • a handful of sprouts
  • a big fat leek
  • 110g of Philadelphia Lightest (1 x HEA)
  • 40g of light extra mature cheddar (1 x HEA)
  • optional: 25g of panko (dried breadcrumbs) – 4.5 syns

This makes enough for two people, hence the two healthy extras. Panko is dried breadcrumbs and you can buy it in most supermarkets, trust me – but feel free to use breadcrumbs from your healthy extra bun. I don’t care, I’m easy.

Slice your leeks with ease with a mandolin slicer. We ours a lot – it’s perfect for slicing onions, leeks, peppers, carrots – even cheese. It’s a tenner and you can have the job of veg prepping done in the time it takes one Enya song to play out. Who needs fingertips anyway?

to make our creamy green veg medley, you should:

  • to be honest, it feels almost insulting to do this – it’s that easy
  • chop up your broccoli and cauliflower into little bits
  • quarter your sprouts
  • thinly slice your leek
  • tip all of them into a big saucepan with a good splash of water and lightly steam them until they soften – you don’t want them denture-ready, just not crunchy
  • drain them off and pop them in an overproof dish – mix in the Philadelphia, pinch of salt and pepper, then the mature cheddar, keeping a bit for the top (and add breadcrumbs if using), then pop under the grill for about ten minutes until it’s done and crispy!

How easy is that? You could use any veg you like – spring greens, peas, turnip, all sorts!

Looking for more vegetarian ideas? Click the links, you saucy bugger!

Tell your veggie friends, won’t you? Their brittle wrists can’t stand up to typing ‘vegetarian recipes’ into google, you know.

J

goat cheese beefburger with baked cheesy courgette chips

Here for the goat cheese burger with courgette chips? Who could blame you – even I’ve got a semi-on just thinking about it. It’s lines like that which stop me getting a job in Good Housekeeping, isn’t it? Still, I’m doing better than the poor sod at Virgin Trains, but we’ll touch on that tomorrow. I didn’t know whether to post this as two separate recipes but hey, let’s live life on the edge today, and combine it as one. But first: shenanigans. Remember, scroll to the pictures of the food if you don’t want to read my waffle.

First day back at work today after about a billion weeks off. Does anyone else find it utterly infuriating having to work? You mustn’t get me wrong, I really do love my job and I work with some wonderful people (HR STATUS CHECKER: CLEAR) but by God it is such a battle not to steer my car straight into the central reservation every single morning at 8.20am. You know how some people are morning people who breeze out of bed at 5am with a cheery smile on their face and their day full of promise? Well they can piss off. The only time I ever get out of my bed that early is if I’ve shat in it.

What I can’t get my head around is where everyone else is going at that time in the morning. Logically, they’re all going to work just like me, or worse, dropping their crotchfruit off at school for a few hours, but emotionally, I feel like they’ve all climbed into their car just to get in my way. I try listening to music to gee me along and lift my spirits but my Spotify is broken and the recommended music keeps recommending Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Yes Sir I Can Boogie on repeat. I mean, what fresh hell is that? I’d sooner listen to a drill-bit sloughing through my ear-drum.

It doesn’t help that nobody else can drive as well as I can. Naturally, I’m a patient, caring driver who lets people in and merges in turn. My hands wave politely even if my lips drip with malice. Everyone else pushes in. Everyone else spends entirely too much time worrying my back bumper.  Everyone else does that annoying thing of slamming on the brakes if they see someone backing off their drive 312 miles away. Everyone else has garish cars and rubbish haircuts and annoying music and morning-coffee-breath and stupid bumper stickers and ugly children in the back seat. In an ideal world everyone would be forced to stay at home until I’ve arrived at work and only then could they push out onto the road, on the strict instruction that they have to be back at home and quietly watching Tipping Point by 4pm. That’ll teach ’em.

I take some consolation in the fact that I can look around in the luxurious forty minutes I spend stuck in traffic and see that everyone else has a face like a smacked arse too. Perhaps I’m not alone. Perhaps there are others – perhaps there is hope.

Anyway, as it happens, I was slightly more buoyant than normal this morning because I was wearing this fruity number to the office:

 

If that doesn’t leave you moister than an oyster, then I don’t know what will. It’s OK: I know I look silly. I look like John Goodman roleplaying as Jon Snow. Like a silverback gorilla caught in the process of mauling Brendan from Coach Trip. To be quite honest, it’s the type of coat I imagine our Fearless Leader might wear, pockets stuffed with half-smoked John Player Superkings and badly torn Bella coupons. My entrance into the office was well-received; me dropping it off poorly wrapped for return at the post office with a plaintive cry of ‘can I borrow some parcel tape’ less so.

As it happens, I only managed three hours at work before the darkness set in and I asked to take a half day’s holiday. This was granted and so it happens that I ended up at my parents. I can’t relax there: every proffered cup of tea is usually followed by eighty-seven questions about setting up iCloud, how does the Internet work and why my mum can’t connect the kettle up to the Wifi. I don’t think I’ve ever visited their house without having to reset at least four passwords. I’m painting them as technological luddites which is actually terribly unfair – my mother has just managed to keep her Tamagotchi alive for a three day streak and my dad has totally mastered Windows 98.

As a total aside, if you’ve ever wondered where I get my bawdy sense of humour from, it’s totally my parents. Whilst raiding through the cupboards in the utility room to see what would look better in my house, I spotted that my mother had scrawled ‘boobies’ on the calendar, accompanied with a 🙁 face. That was enough to set off my hypochondria/filial love/avarice and I demanded to know how long she had left and whether she’d arranged a will. Turns out it was just for a perfectly routine mammogram. Well, that was my mistake, calling it ‘routine’. You have to understand that my knowledge of boobs extends to twiddling Paul’s nipples like I’m trying to get the shipping forecast to bellow from his arse. She was very quick to put me right that it isn’t routine at all and that it actually bloody hurts having your boob squashed between two plates like someone plastering a ceiling. Then came the killer line:

“I wouldn’t mind, but after they’ve finished I could post my tits through a letterbox”

Ha. There’s an image that I could have certainly done without, although it did remind me to get the bacon out of the freezer when I got home.

The recipe then! We’re trying to cut our carbs down – no particular reason other than it makes us bloat like a beachbound whale – hence the lack of bun. If you’re dribbling and twitching at the thought of a bunless burger, just use your healthy extra B bun and shut up. For the love of God, don’t do what I’ve seen other people doing and sandwich your burger in between two halves of a jacket potato. If you think that is anything other than an abomination then I invite you to look at your life and think hard about who hurt you so badly.

to make goats cheese burger you will need:

  • 400g lean beef mince
  • 120g soft goats cheese (4x HeA)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • mixed salad leaves (whatever you like – we used rocket)
  • pinch of salt and pepper

to make goats cheese burger you should:

  • mix the mince together with the salt and pepper and divide into four
  • roll each ball into a burger shape – it doesn’t have to be anything fancy!
  • next, cook the burgers however you like. We used our OptiGrill so we could get them perfect and rare, but you can do it however you like – under a medium-high grill or in a frying pan, or on a George Foreman grill or whatever. They won’t take that long
  • whilst they’re cooking, add the onion to a small saucepan with just a wee bit of oil, and sauté over a medium-high heat until just starting to brown
  • add the red wine vinegar right at the end and give a good stir
  • serve the burger on top of the sliced onion, and top with a 30g slice of goats cheese (each)

to make courgette chips you will need

to make courgette chips you should:

  • line a baking sheet with baking paper and preheat the oven to 200°c
  • slice the ends off the courgette, and then slice lengthways
  • discard the seeded bit in the middle
  • slice again until you get 2-3″ long chips
  • mix together the flour, parmesan, onion granules and garlic salt and tip into a shallow dish
  • tip the egg into another dish
  • gently roll the chips in the flour mix, then the egg, and then the flour again (tip: it helps to hold them by the ends of the chip so you don’t rub off the coating) and spray with a fine mist of oil
  • place onto the baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes

That fruity looking sauce is some really nice Tomato and Basil Quark from Tesco mixed in with a splash of milk to loosen it a bit. It’s lovely!

Looking for more burger ideas? Don’t worry. We’ve got loads!

Enjoy!

J