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

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

mixed bean salad – perfect for taster night!

Let’s not delay. Taster night is looming large and you need something quick to put together but classy enough to make it look as though you care what the Witch’s Council thinks of you. This is smashing, actually – get everything cut to the same size and you’re halfway there.

In the interests of keeping things super quick and easy, here’s the recipe!

mixed bean salad

mixed bean salad

mixed bean salad - perfect for taster nights!

Prep

Total

Yield 8 portions

Mixed bean salad. It isn't sexy, it isn't going to blow your socks off and christ, they aren't going to be talking about it for years to come. But sometimes you need a simple salad of undigestable beans to get those scales moving!

Ingredients

  • tin of butter beans
  • tin of kidney beans
  • tin of black eyed beans
  • small tin of sweetcorn
  • one cucumber - take the seeds out with a spoon and chop
  • one large red pepper - deseeded, chopped fine
  • one large onion - chopped fine
  • one pinch of dill, salt, pepper
  • one tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns)
  • juice of a lemon

Instructions

  • do you want to hazard a guess, Sherlock?
  • chop everything up the same size, rinse your beans (dirty bugger), add everything into a giant bowl, stir
  • this is perfect for sitting in the fridge for a couple of days or taking to a taster night

Notes

Courses salad

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Want more salad ideas? But of course you do, and we’re always happy to oblige you on that front, see.

Enjoy!

J

red pesto pasta – the easiest dinner in the world, ever

OK so maybe not the easiest dinner in the world but red pesto pasta sure as hell beats ‘shit with sugar sandwiches’ that my mother, bless her blackened heart, used to threaten us with when we whinged on. Pfft, at least we would have got some fibre into our diet!

I’m pleased as punch writing this – I totally pulled at Pride on Saturday. Now you must know that Paul and I are terribly loyal to one another but we’re realists, there’s no harm in looking at the sweet-shop as long as you’re not unwrapping and swallowing. And, if you are, you enjoy your pic-n-mix together, see? But I asked some hurly-burly bear where he got his t-shirt (check me out, being social) and he responded with ‘oooooh, off yer bedroom floor love’.

I think, technically, that means we’re now betrothed and we’ll need to send Paul away with all of his clothing packed into a Lidl bag, walking out into the night back to Peterborough. Ah I jest. Listen, you can’t have James without Paul – it’s like French without Saunders, or Fred without Rose. It just doesn’t work.

Pride was great fun though, as it always is, though an entirely different beast to Northumberland Pride – lots more stalls, huge queues and lots more fetishwear. I dropped my wallet on the floor in front of the burger stand and had to be very cautious picking it up in case some leather-daddy took it upon himself to fist me like Winnie the Pooh reaching in for honey.

I love Pride events – so many happy people out to celebrate love. But by Christ, it makes you feel old.  remember being teenage and full of literal and metaphorical spunk, having a whale of a time and being myself without stressing about labels and identity and gender. Happy times. Now I spend a good half of the time at Pride wondering where I can get a nice sit down because my feet hurt. I actually found myself wincing when we went into the music tent, although in our defence they were playing S Club 3. You’ve heard of them, yes? S Club 7 with all the talent removed. So, S Club 7.

No that’s mean, Don’t Stop Moving is a belting tune. Much better when The Beautiful South covered it in a blues style, though:

The day passed in a blur of trying not to buy stuff because we’re cheap, trying not to eat stuff because we’re on a diet and dealing with the super-awkward situation of being recognised by lovely folks who said hello and then had to immediately witness us stumbling over our words and blushing furiously. Admittedly, it’s not like anyone is camping out on our lawn, but it does happen more often than you think and when it does, it throws me off. Don’t let it stop you, though, if you ever see us out and about do come over and say hello: if you’re a fan of awkward conversation and slightly too long stares, you’ll get your fill with us!

Oh, and we also rescued a dog.

Good heavens! Good boy!

A post shared by twochubbycubs (@twochubbycubs) on

Again, maybe it speaks to my age or my obesity, but all I could think of was how hot he must be under there. Not his naked lithe body, no, that doesn’t do anything for me, but I was sweating like a glassblower’s arse and all I had on, as you can see, was a cheap H&M sailor shirt and half a shaved gorilla. I think I have more hair draped over my right nipple than Paul does on his entire body. He must have been absolutely dripping under all that PVC, and to make things worse, I saw him locked in a car in ASDA car-park later. Dogs die in hot cars, you know.

What else to report? Very little, I’m afraid: our evenings have been given over to stuffing envelopes and licking stamps and trying to think of 800 creative ways to draw knobs on envelopes when we’re sending out our twochubbycubs badges. The good news is that our badges are flying out so get your orders in and keep us in gin.

Dunno what she means…

I messed up a little bit by addressing a badge to a lady but calling her DILF-MASTER GENERAL, though. See, what was I saying about gender insensitivities? Right, shall we get to the red pesto pasta? It’s almost a cheek to call it a recipe, because honestly it’s just mixing a few things together, but sometimes you want something plain filling your hole, but still tasty. This red pesto pasta is exactly that! So enjoy.

red pesto pasta

red pesto pasta

red pesto pasta

Cook

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Yield 4 servings

This recipe is ridiculously easy but doesn't 'alf pack a punch on the taste front. This should take you no more than 10 minutes and only uses one pan! What's not to love?! 

Ingredients

  • 500g linguine
  • 6 tbsp red chilli pesto (9 syns)
  • 90g ricotta (1x HeA)
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 30g parmesan (1x HeA)

Instructions

  • cook the pasta according to the instructions but stop just short of fully done - you want it to have a bit of bite to it
  • reserve half a mug of the pasta water
  • drain the pasta and return to the pan
  • lob in the pesto, ricotta, basil and parmesan and stir - dribble in a bit of the pasta water to loosen it if needed
  • serve!

Notes

  • we used linguine (it's like a flat spaghetti) but honestly, any pasta will do
  • if you can't find red chilli pesto just use normal red pesto and add half a teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • you could use quark or Philadelphia instead of the ricotta if you like - but where's the fun in that?
  • like our pan? It's Le Creuset - you can buy it here!
  • this will take up only half a Healthy Extra A choice per person but if you prefer to use your syns instead it's only 5 each
  • you can easily scale this recipe - just half or double it as needed - it'll still come out fine.

Courses lunch, dinner

Cuisine italian

How easy was that? Tell your friends.

Now if you want some more pasta lunch ideas, of course, we have loads, including:

Yum!

J

Slimming World halloumi burgers: veggie BBQ time

Halloumi burgers! Yes, we’re doing a vegetarian classic for our BBQ run. It’s surprisingly difficult to come up with anything particularly exciting when you’re not a vegetarian because well, we’re wedded to meat, but this is a great attempt. To give you an indication as to how good this actually was, we had it on Friday night and Sunday night in two seperate BBQs. Now the rumour that we only had the second BBQ to annoy the neighbour who sat by her window coughing and spluttering whilst we had the first is entirely false. I don’t know what her problem is, actually, she has a tank of oxygen connected to her nose anyway – how much bloody fresh air does she need? Honestly, some people just think of themselves.

Anyway, let’s make this quick. I’m sure the end of the world is due – coming home I happened across three things that never, ever happen and it must mean something:

  • someone smiled back at me – I try and smile nicely at people if they’re walking towards me. Not in a loony sort of way, but rather a ‘It’s OK, all my sexual advances are predicated by hours and hours of tortuous flirting, there will be no unexpected activity from me, so you can walk by safely’. I’m aware of my build and dazzling street presence and I fret enormously that as I clump towards a young female on a deserted path she might think I’m up to dickens. So I smile, and normally, people ignore me. However, today, someone – a handsome, stacked tradesman, no less – not only met my smile but gave me a good, cheery ‘afternoon’ as he slipped past and out of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I was hoping he’d tumble me into the hedges and make me feel like a natural woman, but no. Progress though!
  • then, as I was driving home, an Audi not only waited at a junction as I approached, but let me out with a cheery wave and an affectionate blink of his lights. I was so surprised I almost mounted the kerb and committed an atrocity. See I’m used to Audi drivers driving so far up my arse that it triggers my automatic ‘how long have we got until your wife is back mate’ conversation gambit, so one who was courteous and kind really knocked me for six; and
  • I came home to find Paul has managed to bring the bin in – I know! I had to sit down on the path with my smelling salts until the blood drained back into my face. Ten years we’ve been together and 9 years, 11 months and 3 weeks he has spent walking past the very same bin on bin day that he parks RIGHT BESIDE and then has to move out of the way just to walk up our path. It causes an fair frisson of tension between us on a Monday when I return only to find he’s seemingly missed the 140 litre bright blue beast that’s propped up against his Smart car. I asked him what triggered such a dramatic volte-face and his response was that he didn’t want to listen to me whingeing about it. See, he takes with one hand and gives with the other. That’s why I love him.

Must get on. End of the world to prep for. Let’s do the Slimming World halloumi burgers, eh? I mean, just look…

Dunno about you, but I’m at full-mast right now.

slimming world halloumi burgers

slimming world halloumi burgers

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Slimming World halloumi burgers with sweet chilli drizzle

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 burgers

A burger perfect for all of those who don't like their burgers salted with the tears of crying animals. Understandable. Unlike most veggie burgers, we haven't tried to make a burger from nothing, so instead use cheese - and blacken it so it tastes even better.

You can omit the sauce if you prefer, but it brings it all together. Feel free to buy a shop version if you're lazy. If you do, check the syns!

Ingredients

  • 180g reduced fat halloumi (4x HeA)
  • 4x wholemeal buns (4x HeB)
  • rocket leaves
  • coleslaw

for the sweet chilli drizzle

  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp honey (2.5 syns)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar with Stevia (3 syns)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (1 syn)

Instructions

  • add all the sweet chilli drizzle ingredients into a bowl along with 2 tbsp water and give a good stir
  • microwave for 1 minute, stirring halfway, and then leave to cool and thicken
  • meanwhile, cut the halloumi into 4 equal size slices - nice and thick
  • place the halloumi onto the barbecue and cook for 2-3 minutes each side
  • slice the rolls and add a spoon of coleslaw and a few rocket leaves
  • top with the halloumi slices and drizzle over the sauce

Looking for a coleslaw recipe? Remember we made an amazing one syn proper coleslaw just a few entries ago?

Click here for that recipe!

Notes

  • you can cook the halloumi in a hot frying pan if you prefer (or if you can't be arsed to get the barbecue going) - just cook for 3-4 minutes each side
  • a good sweet chilli sauce is worth the syns which is why we always make our own - but any sweet chilli sauce from the shops will do if you don't want to make it
  • if you really want a 'put the ceftriaxone on ice, Doc' experience, slather it in Crucials sauce, which I'm told is sold in places like B&M or, better because you don't have to look at so many sweetcorn teeth, you can buy it on Amazon!

Courses burger, BBQ

Well burger me, what a beauty! Want more burger ideas? Natch:

That’s enough to fill even your holes.

J

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

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lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes

Prep

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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

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orzo, mint and sundried tomato salad

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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, sundried tomatoes, 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

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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