recipe: warming beef and chickpea loaded naans

Oh yoohoo! Come for the beef and chickpea loaded naans, stay for the writing and adverts! No, I jest, but listen, I’ve been through the archives and my drafts folder tidying up and I’ve come across a blog-post that I didn’t publish – and it just commands attention!

So, without a moment of pause and certainly before we get to the beef and chickpea loaded naans, let me take you back to February this year, when circumstance saw me in terrible pain. I know, hankies at the ready.


If this was a Youtube video, I’d be opening it with a dramatic sigh and dabbing fake tears from my eyes as some mournful music – let’s say a trap remix of Radiohead’s Creep – played in the background. I’d pick up the cat and blow my nose on its fur. Paul would come into shot, put his spammy hands on my shoulders and say ‘there there’ in that meaningless way people use to provide comfort, as though I was a horse startled by a van.

See, I’m poorly. Now I’m not one for exaggeration so I shan’t tell you that I’ve been at death’s door and really you ought to buy as many cookbooks as you possibly can to pay for my fancy funeral (unlikely to happen: I expect DEFRA will turn up at my corpse in bleach-soaked-shoes, set me on fire and set up a three mile hot-zone) but I can’t deny it isn’t tempting. See, more than a few days ago, I was driving home from a Marquis de Sade homage when I noticed what felt like a tiny mouth ulcer on my jawline. Naturally I spent the next hundred miles or so poking it enthusiastically with my tongue as though I was trying to rim a Rubik’s Cube to orgasm. By the time I got to Ferrybridge services, it was knacking to the point where I couldn’t have my customary Haribo, Burger King and Ukrainian lorry-driver combo. Gutted? I was foaming: as my cheek had swollen up so much I couldn’t spit properly.

I checked into a hotel to feel sorry for myself and the next day, drove home with a face quite literally like a smacked arse. I tried to brazen it out until the point where the swelling was so bad it was pushing on all my teeth and gums and making me look like Rocky Dennis chewing a toffee penny.  To put this in perspective – I do have a high pain threshold, tested regularly and thoroughly at what I’m convinced isn’t a BUPA hospital at all – but I was actually crying because it hurt that much. Paul insisted I call 111, though I think that was predominately to hear me trying to speak to the operator through a mush of cheek and spittle. The charming chappy at the end of the phone demurred at my insistence they send the air ambulance and instead sent me to the walk-in centre. We stumbled in at ten to midnight and I was seen within fifteen minutes by the friendliest, most Geordie nurse I’ve ever met. I had to resist the urge to ask her to adopt me, though admittedly that may have been my eyes falling upon the strong painkillers that was colouring my view.

She declared a salivary blockage – mmm – and told me to take antibiotics and suck lemon sherbets. Even through my significant dolor I tried to crack a joke and asked if I could have one of the Fruit Pastilles that I could see poking out of her handbag. She pushed said bag under the desk with thin lips indeed and we departed awkwardly. Paul drove me home – me pressing my cheek against the window of his Smart car and wailing all the while – and then tucked me up in bed and fussed the living hell out of me. What has then followed has been over a week of me eating soup, gazpacho and the softest of scrambled eggs, washing them down with as many sour sweets as possible and me watching Vera furiously as I pressed my face so hard against a hot water bottle that I’ve got ‘COMFORT RUBBER’ imprinted on my face. I mean, it kinda works. For the first few days I could barely talk or open my jaw – Paul offered to make me a curry until I snapped at him that he’d need to freeze it into a paper-thin slab and post it through my jaw like a court summons. To make things worse, no-one knows what it is. The doctor says go to the dentist, the dentist says go to the doctor. I’m tempted to go the vets as a wildcard and see what happens, though they’ll probably just melt me down for glue.

ANYWAY. The swelling has gone down leaving a lovely hard lump in my cheek which shows no signs of going away. The urge to poke at it with a pin is my main focus right now, and honestly, if I didn’t think I’d end up with some awful blood related side-effect that’s precisely what I’d be doing. It doesn’t hurt unless I really stretch my jaw open (so you can imagine how this is upsetting other key parts of my life) but it is bloody annoying. If anyone is reading this and has any hot ideas, do get in touch. Meanwhile, I’ll stumble ever onwards, only reminded of its presence by the occasional mishap – my barber put his full weight on my jaw before to trim my beard and I almost passed out. To be fair, he’s used to that, as soon as he gets close with his rough hands and a blade at my neck, all the blood rushes to one point. Ah Farzad, my love, I would be yours at the drop of a hat. Wish me luck, everyone.


You’re back with me in present time now. The lump went away but it took two weeks and I was sick of my life by the end of it. Also, seems like so long ago that you could go into a services and nosh off a lorry driver without having to worry about catching something that couldn’t be cured with a simple course of antibiotics and another stamp on your GUM clinic loyalty card. It’s the little things in life I miss most, I tell you.

beef and chickpea loaded naans

Look at those beef and chickpea loaded naans man!

beef and chickpea loaded naans

You don’t just need the topping for beef and chickpea loaded naans – stick it on a jacket tattie if you prefer!

beef and chickpea loaded naans

We sprinkle a bit of zahtar powder on our beef and chickpea loaded naans because we’re fancy. Black pepper will do the same.

curry beef and chickpea loaded naans

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 naans

I love the idea of a loaded naan, not least because my own nan shuffled off in her Aldi slippers far from loaded, much to my chagrin. We got very little in the way of inheritance but that's fine: I'd still swap everything I have for another chance to listen to her four same stories and her loud remonstrations whenever I used to mouth 'vacuum' at Paul from across the room. Ah, sweet times.

This recipe really is ridiculously easy - note that we haven't counted the syns for the naan breads though because it changes all the time. Check with your SW consultant for the best naan breads to have as your healthy extra!

As our exciting life in a hotel continues, we're still using Hello Fresh - not getting paid to promote them, mind, and making changes to their recipes to bring them in line with the blog. That said, because we've been asked, we tend to go for the low-calorie options or the rapid options if you were thinking about having a go. It works for us because we don't have a big kitchen to store ingredients and we're actually saving money because no food waste. If you do want to try it, you can use this link to get £20 off your first box, and we'll get £20 too.

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • one tin of chickpeas
  • one beef stock cube
  • two tsp of curry powder
  • salt and pepper
  • two tbsp of tomato puree
  • one clove of garlic minced
  • four mini naans
  • one iceberg lettuce
  • natural yoghurt to drizzle all over the top

Instructions

  • drain and rinse your chickpeas, keeping half in a bowl and mashing the rest with a fork
  • in a frying pan, fry off your beef mince until cooked through
  • add a pinch of salt and pepper as it cooks
  • reduce to a medium heat and then add the curry powder, tomato puree and garlic, stirring through for a moment or two
  • add 100ml of water along with the chickpeas - mashed and whole - and the stock cube
  • allow to burble away for a few minutes to thicken up
  • whilst that's happening, toast your naan breads and chop up your lettuce
  • when you're ready to serve, top the naan with lettuce, then the beef mix, then a drizzle of yoghurt on the top if you can be arsed

Notes

Recipe

  • if you don't want to use your healthy extra on naan breads, this mixture does very well indeed on a jacket potato
  • add peppers and onion to bulk it out, but honestly, the recipe sings with its simplicity

Books

  • you know what has over 100 recipes designed to help you lose weight - our new cookbook! More curries, burgers, exciting dinners and all that excitement - Preorder yours here! 
  • of course, our first cookbook was a treat too - click here to order
  • we even have a fabulous diet planner - you can order it here 

Tools

  • I was going to recommend a potato masher for the chickpeas but honestly, use the underside of a cup if you can't do it with a fork - save your money
  • give the pan a good coating of oil with a mister – this is what we use

Courses dinner

Cuisine who can say

How’s that for a perfect quick dinner? You want some more beef mince ideas? Naturally – try these:

JX

recipe: ginger beef noodles – and Paul’s got the ‘rona

Well, hello there: ginger beef noodles may sound like the nickname you may give an ex-lover but no, fear not, it’s just another delicious dish from us, the two fat blokes who occasionally trouble your inbox. If you want the recipe then scroll straight to the pictures, because as ever, we have a bit of admin and an update for you.

Firstly, have you pre-ordered our new cookbook yet? Because if you have, then we must insist you take part in our competition for a chance to win £250 towards your food shop this Christmas. Just send an email with a copy of your pre-order or what have you to fastandfilling@hodder.co.uk to be in with a chance of winning. Not ordered your copy yet? Preorder yours here! I know it’s an obvious thing to say but honestly, we’re even prouder of this book than our last! 100 more slimming recipes and our usual nonsense. Go!

So, how are we? Well. You know when people say it never rains but it pours? Turns out that it doesn’t just apply to your liberal touch with the gravy boat, young lady.

No, 2020 wasn’t quite done with us just yet. After being forced to spend three weeks apart due to various self-isolation dramas, we finally got back together. Hooray: back to catty asides and me staring disdainfully at Paul as he struggles to put his shoes on of a morning. We had decided to try for a weekend away because what greater joy is there than exploring a desolated high street in a different city before enjoying a meal surrounded by plexiglass? I ask you.

Only, of course, that didn’t happen. Paul got a notification to say he had been around someone who had tested positive for COVID and so off we went for tests. Paul’s came back positive. Mine came back negative. We’re living in a hotel at the moment and so the staff – who have been absolutely wonderful – squirreled me into a different hotel room right next door. That was eight days ago, and two waiting games begun:

  • Paul to see how bad his infection would be and to ride it out (10 days); and
  • me to see if I became symptomatic (14 days)

So, by way of update: Paul has been incredibly lethargic, a terrible sense of taste and gets out of breath easily, and then to contract COVID on top of that has been a shock. Jokes aside, he’s done absolutely fine – each day seems to have brought a new symptom, but he’s just getting on with it. Which doesn’t surprise me, he’s an incredibly stoic person when it comes to stuff like this. He’s not just my rock because he weighs a tonne and smells of sulphur, you know. Hopefully he’ll be on the mend soon, although it’s going to be a while before I go back into our shared room without fretting he’s accidentally left a thin sheen of spittle on everything. I’ve seen him eating: it’s inevitable.

For me, well: I have health anxiety and have been trying really hard to minimise my COVID risk, so I thought I’d spiral and go completely doolally, but actually, save for a minor wobble at the start, I’ve been fine! Worst part has been the self-isolation and not being able to go outside: I find myself pressing up against the hotel window and gazing longingly at the folks outside – which given I haven’t worn clothes for a good seven days now must look like an especially obese starfish pressed up against the walls of its tank.

I still don’t understand how I didn’t catch it from Wobbles McGee given I shared a bed with him for a full week and had many a car trip with him coughing and spluttering away, but I suppose there’s still time yet. Part of me thinks I may have already had it back in February, but who can say? Anyway: wish us both luck!

Now, let’s not keep you for a moment more: our next recipe is here – ginger beef noodles!

ginger beef noodles

It’s ginger beef noodles, but honestly, this works well with pork and lamb too.

ginger beef noodles

Only 1.5 syns for a massive portion of ginger beef noodles.

ginger beef noodles

Now that’s proper scran and make no mistake. Ginger beef noodles on the plate in twenty minutes!

2 votes

Print

ginger beef noodles

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This makes enough for two large servings, but it's an easy enough recipe to double up if you need to. Or stretch the ginger beef noodles out by adding more vegetables. You do you!

Hey guess what, yes, it's another Hello Fresh recipe. Don't worry, we aren't being sponsored or owt like that, we're just very satisfied customers using 'em during a difficult period, and hoping that if we praise them enough they won't bollock us for sharing their recipes. We've modified this slightly to make it lower in calories and a few of the ingredients to ones you're more likely to find in your local supermarket, but it tastes just as good. If you want in on the action, you can use this link to get £20 off your first box, and you slip £20 our way n'all. Win win, eh?

 

 

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 160g green beans
  • 2 peppers
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp of ginger paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce (3 syns)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 250g dried egg noodles
  • 1 bunch of coriander (optional)

Instructions

  • trim the green beans and chop into thirds (or rinse under lukewarm water to defrost if you're using frozen), then set aside
  • halve the peppers and discard the seeds and core, and slice into thin strips
  • zest and quarter the lime
  • roughly chop the coriander (if using)
  • fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil
  • meanwhile, spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
  • add the mince and cook until browned (about 6-8 minutes), then scoop out the pan into a large bowl and stir in the hoisin and oyster sauce and half of the soy sauce and set aside
  • when the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for 4 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water
  • return the frying pan to the heat and spray with a bit more oil
  • add the sliced peppers and runner beans to the pan and stir fry for a few minutes
  • add the ginger and garlic to the pan and cook for another minute
  • add the remaining soy sauce to the pan and stir
  • add the mince back to the pan along with the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously
  • remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime zest, juice of half the lime and half of the chopped coriander
  • serve into bowls and sprinkle over the remaining coriander and remaining wedges of lime

Notes

Recipe

  • frozen or tinned runner beans are absolutely fine in this, no need to get fancy
  • any colour peppers will do, it doesn't really matter
  • don't be put off by oyster sauce - it doesn't taste like you think it would, and gives a lovely, rich taste. Try it!
  • either light or dark soy sauce is fine in this, use whatever you have

Books

  • OUR BRAND NEW COOKBOOK IS COMING OUT SOON! You thought the last one was good? It was, but this sequel is even better - it'll be coming out just in time for the new year! Preorder yours here! 
  • our first slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 3000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedbacks

Tools

 

Courses noodles

Cuisine dunno, whatever, who even reads this bit?

Still absolutely Hank Marvin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Here’s more!

Enjoy!

J

sticky bacon meatballs with redcurrant and onion gravy

Afternoon all! Here for the sticky bacon meatballs? That’s fine, I can see from the spittle around your mouth that you’re ready for your dinner, but I must apologise: today’s blog entry is a long travel story and you might be here a while. Now, back in the day of the longer entries – when we were able to travel to new and exciting places – we used to provide you the courtesy of a button that would take you straight to the recipe so you could skip all those tricksy things like words. But I’m lazy and we have a lot of writing to get through before we get to the sticky bacon meatballs in their fancy redcurrant and onion gravy, so for this occasion, just scroll until you see the food. So, before we do the sticky bacon meatballs, here’s some words and all that.

OH! Actually: before I do that. If you’re not following us on Instagram or Facebook, make sure you dig us out – search for @twochubbycubs on Instagram or Facebook. We have some big news coming next week!

So: Paul and I haven’t had a break in months, and we were forever jetting away on budget airlines such as easyJet and NevaCrash and Ryanair, and it’s been awful not being able to do so. I’ve become so accustomed to ratching about Europe that I’ve started counting at least two of the airport security staff as fuckbuddies, given they’ve pawed at my genitals with their shovel-hands so often. They’re after my very own sticky bacon meatballs. However, coronavirus has put paid to random travelling and as much as I do live for danger sometimes, I don’t fancy heaving my lungs up through my mouth because of a short flight to Krakow. So, for now, Europe is out. We’re told by that walking blonde wheelie-bin in charge to holiday in the UK and to make the most of summer and that’s all well and good as long as you’re happy paying £18,050 for a weekend in Rhyl (rising to £20,000 if you stop for a service station sandwich on the way), but we’re not. What to do? In the end, my hands were tied by Paul coming home early and casually mentioning that he had the rest of the week off. With the terrifying thought of having to look at his haunted face staring at Judge Judy re-runs for a solid three days, I nipped onto Google, booked a couple of things, threw eighteen changes of clothes for me and the same selection of bus-driver shirts he always wears into a suitcase, and we were away.

First stop: a drive to Kanyu Escape rooms in York. Regular readers will know that I am not a gracious passenger and would therefore normally hire a car or take mine rather than let Captain Death and his Fisher Price car drive us anywhere, but my driving licence is with The Powers That Be because I was caught speeding. I know, I’m a horror. In my defence, I was too busy texting mates and trying not to drop my can of Monster to notice the speedometer shrieking. In my further defence, that’s a joke – I was just over the limit and hold my hands up about it: eight years I’ve been driving and that was my first genuine error. So it was that we had to take Paul’s Smart car and I could do no driving on this little break. I’ll say it now: it nearly killed me.

To give you an example of how fractious things get when Paul drives and I drive from the passenger seat – about a week or so before he was driving us to ASDA and I ever so politely asked him to slow it down a shade as light was beginning to warp around the bonnet. He took such umbrage that he did a full emergency stop (in a Smart car, that’s just opening the petrol cap and sticking your hand out of the window) and told me in no uncertain terms that if I criticised his driving ability one more time I’d be walking home. Me, full of spite and knowing there was a cruising ground about half a mile down the road, got out and started walking.

I was out for an hour before I had to text him to pick me up because I was cold – and he was equally as contrite because turns out I had his wallet and he didn’t have enough fuel to get home or money to pay for more. Don’t worry, we laugh about it now as it enters the ‘endlessly mentioned in heated arguments’ rota.

So yes: I’m not a good passenger. Paul isn’t a good driver, given he tends to drive like he’s stolen the car and will come out with reassuring little things like ‘I wish my eyes pointed in the same direction’ and ‘I should probably wear my glasses’ and ‘I don’t need to indicate on this roundabout’, and as such it’s always a heated combination. But I’ll say this: despite the weather being absolutely horrendous, he got us there with minutes to spare and only three of my fingernails embedded in the passenger door handle. A quick primer on escape rooms for those that don’t know: you’re locked in a sealed room and through the process of solving puzzles and riddles, have to escape. We’re huge fans and have been doing them for years, though it’s been a while (thanks COVID) since I did one with my husband. Kanyu Escape is in a curious location on the centre of a roundabout and I was alarmed/excited to see an ambulance on standby outside. I’m always ready for some gas, air and scenes of mild peril, after all.

The chap who met us was brilliant: slightly eccentric and very accommodating and we were in the room in no time. If you have concerns about doing escape rooms in this time of peril, don’t: the good rooms take your temperature on arrival, disinfect the room fully after you leave and make sure there’s sanitiser everywhere. I’m a slight hypochondriac and I felt absolutely safe at all the venues we ended up. The room was based on discovering a new source of electricity and was themed around an old secret laboratory and we absolutely loved it. Some escape rooms are franchises and can feel rather rote in what they offer: you can start undoing a lot of the familiar puzzles straight away. Not this one, he’d designed it himself and though it looked a tad rough and ready, it was terrific. All too often these rooms give you too much help or make the puzzles simple enough for everyone to do, but this one was taxing and we felt like we’d actually accomplished something at the end.

That said, those bank-vault locks where you have to spin the correct number, then spin another number, and then another, all the while making sure you turn the right amount and in the right direction? They can fuck right off. I have enough trouble trying to get my eyes to blink in unison, nevermind something as complicated as that. We lost a bit of time, but still escaped with moments to spare. We’ll be going back to do his other rooms, one of which is an outdoors escape room which I love the sound of. Though I confess, it will be a novelty to be tramping around in the woods and for me not to be pulling my knickers off. I do hope muscle memory doesn’t kick in.

Paul drove us down into Leeds entirely without incident and we stayed over at a Premier Inn next to a TGI Fridays, which as salubrious locations go is up there with having your dinner next to a GUM clinic. I don’t like TGI Fridays: we had a good meal there once and have forever been chasing that high since. I don’t get the appeal: it’s like someone did a trolley dash around Iceland, microwaved everything for one minute less than the instructions suggest and then serve it to you with a forced smile that suggests they’ve got a gun held to the back of their heads. That gun may be smothered in BBQ sauce though, because everything is at TGIs. Anyway, we weren’t going to eat there so it’s all irrelevant, I just wanted a dig. We checked in, with Paul reminded once again of my ability to talk to literally everyone I meet: I spent ten minutes chatting to the chap behind the counter whilst Paul danced in the doorway out of sight trying to communicate to me that he needed to get to the room immediately for a gentleman’s sit-down adventure. Classic. I spotted his anguished movements and wrapped up my conversation over a leisurely few more minutes, and Paul made it with moments to spare.

The room was comfortable as ever, though I was reminded of one thing: when you sleep with Paul you wake in a room entirely disorientated and unsure of where you are for a good few minutes until you realise he’s taken the duvet out out of the cover, polluted the air to such a degree that it’s almost edible and has star-fished his way across the bed. At home I’m used to such chicanery but throw in unfamiliar surroundings and it really can take a while before the fog clears.

Waking the next day refreshed and full of pep, we chose not to bother with the Premier Inn breakfast and instead wander into Leeds to pick breakfast up before our next escape room. A quick bagel with salad and a frank discussion on where things had all gone wrong in our breakfast choices and we were off to the next escape room – but first, spotted! It doesn’t happen an awful lot but you can always tell when someone recognises us because they look, try and work out whether we are the cubs off the Internet and whether they should say hello. Normally by the time they’ve decided to go for it, I’ve got my phone to my ear to pretend I’m on a call or I’ve pushed Paul in front of a bus to cause a distraction but I wasn’t quick enough this time. Mind, she was lovely, although because I’m mean I answered ‘are you the guys with the food blog‘ with ‘absolutely not‘ and pretended to walk on, before apologising profusely. I can’t resist it. We’d have people spotting us twice more that day and please, if you see us, do come say hello. You can delight in how incredibly socially awkward we are.

Now, look at the time. I’ve waffled on as is my way, and here we find ourselves 2000 words in and barely out of the door. So on that note, I’ll revisit this in the next entry. To the sticky bacon meatballs!

sticky bacon meatballs

Sticky bacon meatballs served with cheesy mash and broccoli.

sticky bacon meatballs

I mean, as sticky bacon meatballs go, they’re lovely!

sticky bacon meatballs with onion gravy

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Syn wise, these sticky bacon meatballs clock in at a shade over 2 syns per portion, but I can't be buggered with the quarter syns. The gravy is delicious and worth digging out the redcurrant jelly, but don't shit the bed if you can't find it.

Just a note on this recipe: whilst Chubby Towers is out of action and our kitchen is a no-no, we are using Hello Fresh for our meals and have been doing so for the last six weeks or so. We are not paid to promote them or anything like that, and we have taken this recipe and adjusted it slightly for Slimming World.

That said, honest review time (again, we aren't being paid to promote): we bloody love Hello Fresh. We haven't had a bad meal yet and the lack of food waste is brilliant for us. We only have a tiny kitchen to cook in at the moment and absolutely make do. They're not the cheapest, but we're fans. They do a 'Low Calorie' plan which is spot on if you're counting and we've found it works well with SW. But anyway, no matter what you're after we're sure you'll love it. If you use our referral link you'll get £20 off too! 

Ingredients

  • 900g potatoes
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 30g panko (5 syns) (optional but worth it)
  • 250g lean pork mince
  • 250g lean beef mince
  • 1 red onion
  • 60g reduced-fat cheddar, grated (use your healthy extra)
  • 120g bacon medallions
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 400g broccoli florets
  • 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly (see notes) (4 syns)

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • bring a large saucepan of water to the boil over a high heat, and add 1 tsp salt
  • dice the potatoes into 2cm chunks, and plop into the water. Bring back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes
  • halve any large broccoli florets and spread out onto a baking sheet, spraying with a little oil
  • roast the broccoli in the oven for 15-20 minutes
  • put the mixed herbs, panko and 2 tbsp of water into a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon
  • add the beef and the pork mince to the bowl and mix well 
  • divide and roll the mixture into twenty balls and set aside
  • place a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray with a little oil
  • add the meatballs to the pan and cook until browned all over, about 6-7 minutes, turning occasionally
  • meanwhile, halve and thinly slice the red onion, and dice the medallions into small pieces
  • gently remove the meatballs from the pan to a plate and set aside
  • add the onion and bacon to the same pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently
  • add the meatballs back onto the pan and pour over the vegetable stock
  • reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid, and cook for 7-8 minutes
  • meanwhile, drain the potatoes and mash with the grated cheese, and season with salt and pepper
  • once the meatballs have finished cooking, remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high again
  • gently stir in the jelly until the mixture is thickened and glossy
  • serve the broccoli and mash, and spoon over the meatballs and gravy

Notes

The dish

  • can't find/can't be arsed to find redcurrant jelly? We've used cranberry sauce instead and couldn't tell the difference, just use that! If you're really stuck just leave it out
  • consider the panko optional but it's definitely worth it. Lean mince can sometimes make meatballs dry. Panko helps to retain some moisture, but also add a 'crunchy' texture. You'll find panko in the 'world food' aisles of most supermarkets

The books

  • our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 3000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedback!

Tools

Courses dinner

Cuisine meatballs

And that’s that! Sticky bacon meatballs done. Want more recipes? Well now.

Enjoy!

J

cheesy gnocchi bake: recipe reacharound

Afternoon folks – keeping well? Here for the cheesy gnocchi bake? Of course you are, it’s a scorcher, but…

Apologies for the lack of posts, but as reasons go, as previously mentioned, we’ve got a killer reason. Now, because I know our readers consist of two types:

  • learned folks who will offer me sage advice which I’ll promptly ignore in favour of spending my days trying to perfect every voice from ‘One Day More’; and
  • nosey gossips who demand every morsel and detail and will be fumin hun if we don’t tell…

I shan’t go into detail. Maha. But that’s also the last time I’ll allude to it because frankly, Mr Shankley, I’m sick of talking about it.

Before we get to the blog, just a reminder that our diet planner is coming out very soon! If you liked the cookbook you’ll love the planner, and if you buy it and hate it, at least you can scrawl rude words on my cartoon face. There’s 26 recipes, six months of challenges and places to write stuff, and well, in short, it’s tremendous. You can order it here and it’ll even open in a fancy new window to stop you getting distracted.

As we press on with all the exciting things that need attending to, we’re going to revisit some of the older blog recipes and give them a gussy-up. Actually, I believe the term to use is glow-up, where something that was once a wreck to look at is transformed into something beautiful simply by shaking out their hair and taking their glasses off. I’ve tried doing exactly that, but if I shake my face, my lips don’t stop moving until three days later and people assume I’ve developed an essential tremor. Also, if you look back at our old blog entries, our recipe style was something else: a paragraph of guff with ingredients missing and measurements all awry. Oh, and let’s not forget that St Margaret of the Church Hall Massive does like to change the syns occasionally just to be tricksy.

We, because we’re filthy, will be calling these revisitations our ‘recipe reacharound’. Because who doesn’t look a reacharound? I wouldn’t know. I’m so rotund these days that it would take a relay team and a safety car to give me one of those. We aren’t planning on doing all the old recipes again because Christ, some of the combinations we used to come up both sicken and disgust me, but over the next year we might find ourselves revisiting a few. But just the old favourites, eh?

So, first in our reacharound is the saucy cheeseburger gnocchi bake from 2015. It’s an amazing dish – quick to make, easy to pad out and has enough cheese on it to drown a horse, though why you’d want to do that is anyone’s guess. When we published it Uptown Funk was at number one, no-one had heard of the coronaVIRUS and one of the biggest news items was that someone had taken a picture of the sun and it looked angry. I mean, as memorable days go, it’s not a winner. But looking back at the blog entry is hilariously sweet: I was gushing over the fact we had 1,000 followers. Seems incredible now we’re well over 500,000 but let me say, without a slip of sarcasm, that we’re still thankful for each and every one of you. If you have been reading since day one, I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment!

For some reason I thought the best lead-in for a recipe was to talk about my cat vomiting, which I’d probably steer away from now. But one thing remains a comfort: even half a decade ago, my cat was a stone-cold bitch. Don’t get me wrong, I love her and her permanently angry human face, but she exudes anger and vitriol like you wouldn’t believe. If she came through the cat flap covered in blood and waving a flick-knife around in her paws, I wouldn’t question her. I long worry for the day when I wake to find the corpse of my husband, his throat clawed open and her merciless eyes fixed on me from across the bedroom. She’d probably teach herself to speak human if only so she could silkily whisper in my ear that I’ve always been a fat disappointment to her as I died. The other cat is fine, by the way – he’s far more mellow, which I put down to the fact he spends 22 hours a day licking at his willy. I wish I could, but he’d probably scratch my face if I tried it.

Good news though: we longer have that carpet. Every cloud…

To the cheesy gnocchi bake then!

cheesy gnocchi bake

Honestly, how’s that pan of cheesy gnocchi bake for a sight for sore eyes?

cheesy gnocchi bake

You want the top of the cheesy gnocchi bake to crisp and bubble. Don’t be afraid to add more cheese, we won’t ever tell.

cheesy gnocchi bake

Cheesy gnocchi bake is one of those dishes that tastes amazing but looks shite plated up – cover with hot sauce, it hides all sins. Syns. Shush.

cheesy gnocchi bake

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 large servings

We previously used Quark for this recipe, and you can do so too if you're not a fan of flavour and fun in your meals. We swapped it out for Philadelphia Lightest which adds a much nicer creaminess but does add 10 syns - so if you are trying to make this lighter, drop it. If you wanted to take it a step further, you could swap the gnocchi for small boiled potatoes, but honestly.

This cheesy gnocchi bake - like all of our recipes - is very easy to customise. Good additions would be sweetcorn, peas or different, strong mushrooms. Quorn mince does work well if you're that way inclined.

Ingredients

  • 100g of button mushrooms, sliced finely
  • two large peppers (one red, one green, or use whatever you have) diced fine
  • one large onion, diced fine
  • one garlic clove, minced fine
  • 500g chilled gnocchi (we use ASDA gnocchi because we've let ourselves go, and that's 6 syns for 500g)
  • 500g of lean mince
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 250g of Philadelphia Lightest (swap for Quark if saving syns) (10 syns)
  • 160g of light grated mozzarella (4 x HEA)
  • teaspoon of dijon mustard and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • one beef stock cube

This serves four big portions and comes in at 4 syns each.

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • cook your gnocchi according to instructions, but if it's anything other than throwing them in boiling water, waiting for them to float and setting aside, you're doing it wrong
  • pop your onion and peppers into a heavy-bottomed pan (and one that can go in the oven and under the grill, mind you) with a little bit of oil and sweat it down until softened
  • add the garlic and mince and fry it off - you can this to be quite 'dry'
  • we crumble in a stock cube here but you can skip it if you're watching your salt intake
  • in a bowl, combine the Philadelphia, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper together
  • mix it into your beef and add the gnocchi
  • top with the grated cheese
  • pop into the oven for about fifteen minutes, then under the grill to crisp up for about another five minutes (keep an eye on it)
  • we serve in a bowl with a lake of hot sauce, but your experience may vary

Notes

Books

  • our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now - full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 2400 5* reviews - even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is launching soon and is utterly brilliant - you can order it here (it’ll open in a new window)

Food

  • we buy our flavoured oils from Yorkshire Drizzle and we used their chilli oil to cook off the mince and vegetables - you can take a look at their range here: it'll open in a new window
  • we have started using Musclefood again for meat - until we're happy that their quality is back to what it was, we will not be referring people there - but it's all under review. The mince we used here was superb however!

Tools

  • a decent sized frying pan that you can make this entire dish in will keep it as a one-pot dinner
  • we were asked where we got our silicone oven-mitts from that someone spotted in a video - they're from Amazon and are dirt cheap (£6) - you can buy them here and the good news is, once you've got your hot pan from the oven, you can grip your boob with the hot mitts and it feels lovely...so I'm told

Courses dinner

Cuisine easy dinner

I hope you all enjoy it! Please do let us know if you have cooked this by tagging us on Instagram or Twitter (@twochubbycubs for both) or via our Facebook channels. If there’s a particular recipe you want us to revisit, drop us a line!

Whilst we’re on a roll with one-pot dinners, you’ll find a lot to like here:

Enjoy!

J

a proper syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

slimming world lasagne

slimming world lasagne

1 vote

Print

proper slimming world deep dish lasagne

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

Courses dinner, low syn

Cuisine Italian

Perfection, right?

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

J

the posh burger: red wine beef and sticky onions

A posh burger? Yes: after our recent run of geet-common-as-owt fakeaways, we’re making the place all classy like by introducing a fakeaway burger you’d be proud to take home and show to your parents. I was proud to show Paul off when we first got together: he looked relatively normal, see. My exes beforehand had either been freakishly tall, hilariously fat, curiously-long-armed or particularly fat-lipped. It was nice to finally be dating someone who didn’t look like the reflection in a fun-house mirror.

But before we get to the burger, just a quick note. It came to our attention today that someone has been printing out our recipes, putting them in a file and selling it online to unsuspecting slimmers. Once we found out about it, down came the hammer and the problem was solved quickly, with a cheerful extra donation to our cat and dog shelter fund. Here’s the thing: we are decent, honest lads and we don’t mind helping anyone. If you want to print off one of our recipes to keep in your kitchen, you go right ahead.

(unlike Other food Blogs who tell you not to print off the recipes ‘because they get updated so often’ – but it’s actually because they don’t want to lose the ad revenue from you nipping back to check, just sayin’)

But don’t take the piss. We do this for free because we want everyone to have access to decent, proper food recipes with a side of laughs as an accompaniment. We own the literary works on our blog, including the heavily stylised writings of our recipes and as such, unauthorised copying (especially to make a profit) of our literary work and failure to identify us as the author infringe our copyright and moral rights. We will absolutely, 100% come after you for it if we find out you’re doing it, it’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got “good intentions” because “not everyone wants to read on a website” – I can’t ring up JK Rowling and tell her I’m going to stick the Harry Potter books on some bog-roll because people might want to wipe their shittoris on it, after all. Our recipes, content, images and style belong entirely to us. That wee (c) on our photos doesn’t just stand for (c)littyboomboom, you know.

Can’t be arsed to read all that? Let me sum it up:

  • planning on ripping off our work for profit – don’t, we’ll get you in the end;
  • fatty fatty jiggly boobs looking for recipes – you’ll find them all on here, free. You never have to pay to use us, and that’s doubly important if you’re a big brutish man

Done.

Right then, the burger!

to make a posh burger, you’ll need:

  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 3 large onions, sliced
  • 60ml balsamic vinegar
  • 4x wholemeal rolls (4x HeB)
  • 160g soft goats cheese (4x HeA)
  • 2 tbsp red cooking wine (1 syn)
  • salad leaves (lettuce, rocket, spinach – whatever you fancy)
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

top tips for a posh burger:

  • don’t like goats cheese? swap it for any cheese that you like – or leave it out entirely! It’s up to you!
  • slice the onions in double-quick time with one of these – just watch your fingers if you’re a clumsy twat
  • can’t be bothered with caramelising your own onions? use the premade stuff instead, a tablespoon of caramelised onion chutney will set you back 1 syn
  • red cooking wine doesn’t contain any alcohol and is a great, cheap way to get the same flavour, but you can use proper red wine if you want – just remember to syn it!
  • we used an Optigrill to cook our burger and it did the job brilliantly – just press the ‘Burger’ button. A George Foreman will also do the job, or you can cook this in a pan or under the grill
  • we won’t lie – we used a brioche bun because wholemeal rolls always look crap in photos. You shouldn’t!
  • as you know, we think Frylight is rank! We use this instead and it’s never let us down! This is great for misting the onions in this recipe
  • We used Musclefood’s excellent lean minced beef for this one – if you haven’t tried them yet you should! We’ve got some cracking deals suitable for any budget, and if you buy through us you help keep the site going!

to make a posh burger, you should:

  • spray a saucepan with oil and place over a medium heat
  • add the onions to the pan and spray over a little bit more oil
  • leave the onions to cook in the pan, stirring only when they start to go a bit brown, and make sure to scrape up any bits on the bottom
  • add the balsamic vinegar and wine and leave to cook until most of it has evaporated off – this won’t take that long – you’ll be left with tasty caramelised onions
  • let them cool for a bit, and then mix half of it into the mince along with the salt and pepper – save the other half for later on
  • divide the mixture into four balls and squash (or press) into burgers
  • cook the burgers to however you like them – in a pan, under the grill or in a fancy Optigrill like we did – whichever way you prefer!
  • meanwhile, start to assemble your burger
  • place the salad leaves on the bottom along with the sliced tomato, then add the burger, remaining caramelised onions and top with the goats cheese

Love nowt more than stuffing yourself full of meat? We hear you gurl. Check out some of our other recipes! We’ve also got a few veggie ones!

J

the DILF burger: beef with a salt and pepper crust

Yes: the DILF burger. We toyed with the idea of calling it the salt and pepper burger but that’s dull. So, to keep things filthy, we’re calling it the DILF burger. Choose your explanation:

  • “I spend lots of time on my knees praying” = the DILF stands for Dieting Is Lots of Fun
  • “I spend lots of time on my knees doing things that it’s not nice to talk about” = the DILF stands for Dad I‘d Like to Fu…

Yeah! You know, like Tim from Corrie, Jim Hopper from Stranger Things and the new Captain Birdseye – have you seen him?

He’s gone straight from Yewtree to You: Now.

Only doing a very quick post tonight as I have to spend the rest of the evening sobbing into my HMRC forms. I thought I had filed it months ago but er, turns out I had left it to check something and then totally forgot about it. Still, I can’t see it being a problem – it’s not like the lines at HMRC will be busy, eh? Wish me luck! Let’s get straight to the recipe!

the dilf burger

to make the DILF burger you will need:

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 4 bacon rashers
  • 70g peppercorns (we used a mixture of pink and black)
  • a good grind of salt
  • 250g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 25g Philadelphia Lightest (you can have 110g as a healthy extra, so up to you if you bother synning such a small amount divided by four)
  • 80g reduced fat cheddar cheese, cut into four slices (2x HeA)
  • 4 wholemeal buns (4x HeB)
  • 2 big handfuls of rocket (or any salad leaf you want)

top tips to make the DILF burger

 

  • a pestle and mortar for the pepper is best but if you haven’t got one or can’t be arsed you could use a grinder, or alternatively bash it with the end of a rolling pin
  • musclefood do some amazing deals on mince and bacon – have a look, you can build yer own hamper these days – fancy!
  • a good oil mister is perfect for this one – this is what we recommend
  • you can cook this in a frying pan, under the grill or with a fancy gadget – we used an Optigrill for ours and used the ‘Burger’ button for a perfect rare burger. A George Foreman grill will do the job too!
  • wholemeal rolls look really shit in a photo. We used a brioche for purely photographic purposes – if you use a brioche bun, syn them (ASDA’s are about eight syns)

to make the DILF burger you should

  • heat a saucepan over a high heat and spray in a little oil
  • add the mushrooms and onions and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently
  • remove from the heat and set aside
  • use a pestle and mortar (or a grinder) to grind the peppercorns and the salt to a coarse consistency and carefully pour onto a plate
  • next, tip the mince into a large bowl and knead for a little bit to help mix it up and easier to shape
  • divide the mince into four and form into burgers (see Top Tips above)
  • gently press each burger in the peppercorns until well coated – don’t forget the edges! if the mince is dry, give a quick spritz with some oil to help it stick
  • spray a large frying pan with oil and place on a high heat or use a grill (see Top Tips above) and cook the burgers to your liking, then remove to a plate
  • in the same pan, chuck in the bacon and cook until done
  • making sure the mushrooms and onions have cooled a bit, add the philly and give a good stir
  • split the rolls and add a quarter of the mushroom mix to each bun
  • top with a burger, slice of cheese, bacon, tomato and rocket
  • cram into gob and turn into poo

Don’t worry – that wet patch will soon dry up. But if you don’t want it to, check out our other burger recipes!

Gosh, that’s a lot!

J

beef chilli and bean pasta bake – canny winter food!

Beef chilli and bean pasta bake! We’ve done a fair few pasta bakes lately but see, they’re excellent winter meals because you can make a huge portion, freeze the leftovers and thoroughly enjoy them as a meal! It’s a holiday entry though, so if you’re here just for the recipe, click the button below and it’ll take you straight to the recipe. Move along, sugarboobs, there’s nothing for you here.

You absolutely made the right choice, let’s go!


click here for part one | click here for part two

You last left us just as we stumbled, blinking and frowning into the apricity of a Stockholm winter, having spent a merry hour groping around in the dark with a total stranger. I appreciate that’s pretty much the start of all of our holiday entries but you get the idea. What next? Over in the distance from the Museum for the Blind loomed the Kaknästornet, a 155 meter TV tower. We weren’t planning on visiting until we realised there was a restaurant on the 26th floor and given how windy it was, it was likely to be deserted. A quick tramp through the woods led us there and, after handing over a small fortune, we were dispatched to a rickety old lift that sounded like it clacked and clicked against every last bolt and screw in that shaft. Despite the whole tower swaying ominously it was absolutely worth the trip – the views were amazing. We sat and enjoyed a strong restorative coffee and a slab of cake the size of Paul’s arse and all was well with the world. I like being high up looking down – it makes me feel like a God, albeit one with lingonberry jam dripping on his chin.

Admittedly not the best photo, but it was swaying…

 

We should explain at this point that we had, for once in our lives, managed to plan ahead and purchase a Stockholm Pass, which afforded you entry into all sorts of attractions for a one-off fee. A quick google search revealed we were within walking distance of a bus-stop which would take us straight to the museum district which held, amongst other things, an Absolut Museum and even better, the friggin’ ABBA museum. Well now come on, some things are inevitable, and us two benders paying homage to the campest band ever, well, it was always going to happen. We wandered over to the bus-stop and took a seat, reassured that one of Stockholm’s incredibly reliable buses would be along within six minutes. The timetable and electronic board certainly confirmed this. So we waited. Waited some more. Then a bit longer. Thirty minutes passed and I made to leave only to spot Paul sitting there with that grim, sulky and determined look on his face that told me that because he had wasted half an hour waiting for this bus, he was going to damn well wait until one turned up. I know this face well: bottom lip pops out, eyebrows furrow like he’s solving a cryptic crossword – normally the only thing that can break the spell is if he hears me unwrapping a Crunchie bar, like an obese take on Pavlov’s dog.

Even the bus-stop suggested filth.

So we waited even longer until I snapped and ordered him to stand up and start moving. So much protestation but I’d be damned if I was going to spend another minute gazing at the minutiae of the Stockholm bus timetable and trying to work out whether överföra meant cancelled, transfer or that the typesetter had taken ill at the keys and slumped over the keyboard. After promising I’d rub his feet if he started moving we were finally off.

We were about twenty steps away from the stop when a bus sailed straight past us, depositing a pleasant mix of slush and schadenfreude across the bottom of our trousers. Paul was furious and only calmed down when we happened across The Museum of Science and Technology. Now we’re talking: buttons to press. It was great fun! Highlights included a stage where you could pose whilst virtual reality dinosaurs ran around you, the sight of which was beamed to the rest of the museum live. It took less than seven hot seconds before Paul was pretending to get bummed by a tyrannosaurus rex and was roundly tutted from the stage. Oh and let’s not forget the winter sports section where you could try all manner of sporty experiences in the comfort of a warm museum and a reassuring proximity to a defibrillator. I climbed a tiny little mountain before realising my own giant crevasse was on show.

It’s like a Lidl take on Cliffhanger

We both tried our hand at curling only to realise you need dexterity and grace rather than a considerable weight advantage – most folks glide on ice, we look like a landslide. My favourite part was an enclosed booth which offered you the chance to be commentators on an ice-hockey game playing out in front of you – we started off with good intentions, yelling and blaring, before it degenerated into ‘HAWAY TORVILL, YOU LAMPSHAPE-FACED SLAPPER’ and ‘SKATE FASTER, NANCY KERRIGAN: THIS TIME THERE’S NAILS IN THE BAT’.

Not exactly Match of the Day

All in good fun – the booth was soundproof from the inside so no harm no foul, and we took everyone’s icy stares as simply being that crisp Swedish attitude so common over there. That was until we realised I’d managed to shut my coat in the door, preventing it from fully closing, and allowing the museum full audible access to our rantings, shrieking and wailings. We left ashen-faced, but not before a quick go on the virtual toboggan – only a quick go because a four year old child appeared and start pressing the buttons.

Honestly, do folks not know how to behave in museums?

We tackled the big issues!

After the Science Museum I somehow managed to persuade Paul to keep walking (it’s easier in cold countries – because of the icy ground, you just need to shove him gently and let gravity do the rest) and we headed a couple of miles along the river to the Spritmuseum down on Djurgårdsvägen, having found out that the Abba museum was shut for the night. Bastards. The Spritmuseum is a museum dedicated to booze – how they make it, how they bottle it, what it does to the body and even better, with some free tasters. You understand why we were lured in, yes? I can’t pretend it was terrifically exciting, and I don’t think we took the ‘hangover simulator’ as seriously as the guides wanted as Paul promptly fell asleep on the sofa during the ‘a hard night out’ movie, but it passed the time. There’s something about museums abroad that the UK can’t seem to match – our museums are always full of tired exhibitions hidden behind glass cubes coated with fingerprints, smelly children barrelling around being noisy and loud and lots of ladies who have never known what it is to love yelling at people that THEY MUST NOT TOUCH and STAND WELL BACK and YOU CAN’T EAT THAT IN HERE. I swear I once had an argument with a curator who had a pop at me for eating outside food when I took a packet of Halls from my pocket. Pfft.

Found Paul!

Found my bedroom friend!

The museum itself took up only half an hour but afterwards we decamped into the bar and, in a fit of ‘but I don’t care that it cost more than the flights over’ excitement, I ordered a taster selection of the various spirits for us to try.

Pictured: Cyril Smith enjoying a drink

It’s hard to look butch in that shirt

Now listen: I’ve swallowed some disgusting things in my life. Top tip: pinch your nose and gulp, you’ll find it slips down that much easier. But these spirits absolutely defeated me – I felt like Anne Robinson back when she was necking her dressing room Chanel. I tried to sip them to ‘taste the flavour notes’ but it would have been nicer to chew open batteries. Paul was merrily necking them and so, in my haste to get past it, I threw the lot in my mouth, grimaced and swallowed. Worst 50 Swedish krona we spent that holiday. We should have left, but the very friendly bar staff noticed how quickly we had knocked it back and filled our glasses up again for free. Very generous indeed, but you have no idea how difficult it is to fake pleasure in swallowing what tastes like something they’d use to dissolve a London fatberg, especially when some blonde bombshell is looking at you both approvingly whilst you savour the flavour. I’ve never acted so hard in my life but after the second round – seeing stars – we had to pretend to urgently leave. We were absolutely bloody smashed.

We had an escape room booked for the evening and so, conscious of the fact we were both seeing double, we decided to make our way to the escape room via a nice long boat ride. Ah it was glorious – floating along in the ice-cold really freshened the mind and by the time we were pulling into the port, we were back in full ‘Rose and Jack’ voice.

Our Escape Room was hosted by Fox in a Box and they welcomed us with open arms, wincing only gently at the alcohol fumes pouring out of us. It was a very unusual location – underground with several rooms with different themes. You know we love an escape room and we have made a point of doing one on each holiday so far: this one was themed like a laboratory and the idea was that we had to stop a zombie apocalypse. Of course. Escape rooms are fun but it’s so hard to look serious whilst someone who couldn’t care less is telling you that there’s zombies just outside the door. She sealed us in. I started looking for clues when, as though he’d been holding it in since the TV tower, Paul let out a fart so loud and so elongated that I thought he’d found a trombone. You know how your ears ring after a large firework goes off? That was me. I might remind you that the rooms are linked to the reception so that they can hear if you get stuck, so they would have been treated as well. We were absolutely creased – we’re huge fan of toilet humour – but then it literally sank in. In a sealed room, with no air-conditioning or window, that fetid air wasn’t going anywhere. If anything, it seemed to get worse and worse, smelling like someone was burning tyres in a fire made of shit. It’s hard to concentrate on mixing colours and typing codes when your eyes are streaming and your nose is bleeding. The hour passed and we ‘saved the day’ with moments to spare. That’s all well and good, but when the lassie unlocked to lock the door and the air rushed out of the room, she was hit with the full force and set away with a coughing fit. I’ve never been so embarrassed and this happens a lot on our holidays: I’m left beetroot faced and Paul is standing there grinning like the cat that shat the bed.

Oh, at least the McDonalds had a compliment…

Cheers mate!

Seems like a good moment to get back to the recipe, doesn’t it?

REMEMBER FOLKS: we love feedback on the holiday entries! It makes my day! So please do leave a comment to gee us along!

previousArtboard 1


Right, let’s do this recipe eh? This serves 4 big portions!

beef chilli and bean pasta bake


beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you will need:

  • 400g lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 2 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp chilli powder (as hot or as mild as you like)
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 300g wholewheat pasta
  • 120g fat-free greek yoghurt (check the syns)
  • 220g Philadelphia lightest (2x hea)
  • 80g reduced fat extra mature cheese, grated (2x HeA)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten

top tips to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200ºc
  • cook the pasta according to the instructions, then drain
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, spray with a bit of oil and add the onions and celery
  • cook for a few minutes until starting to soften, then scoop out the pan and set aside
  • add the mince to the pan and cook until browned
  • add the onions and celery back into the pan and tip in the tomatoes, kidney beans, celery, tomato puree, chilli powder, garlic and beef stock
  • stir well, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes
  • next, mix together the yoghurt, Philadelphia, salt, pepper, cheese and eggs and set aside
  • mix the pasta and the mince mixture together and tip into a large dish
  • top with the cheese mixture, making sure that it’s even spread over the top
  • bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes – finish under the grill for a few minutes to get the top crispy

Who couldn’t love that?! Try our other pasta bakes!

J

warm and spicy shepherd’s pie – perfect warming food

Warm and spicy shepherd’s pie on the menu tonight. Two things: it really ought to be a cottage pie because we’re using beef mince and secondly, should it be shepherd’s or shepherds’ pie? Oh it confuses me, but at least you guys aren’t getting the blog delivered in text speak. So shush. For tonight’s story you’re coming back with us to Stockholm but listen, we’re not going to stay too long – it’s just I’ve had this ‘typed up’ in my head all day and I want to spurt it out. It’s only one memory – a two hour trip, in fact – but because it was great fun, here it is. As ever, if you’re here just for the food, click the button below to be whisked straight to it.

Do you know, even though I’ve included that button and made it super clear how to get to the recipe, I’ll still get emails from people saying luklushun were recipea plz. I think I could cheerfully nip over to their house, cook their meal and then press their faces into the gravy and they’d still look blank-eyed and slack-jawed, mouthing the words carent c it sorry over and over. But I digress. Enjoy my mini holiday entry, those of you with some dignity.

click here for part one

I’m actually going to cheat and jump forward to the next day – we spent most of the evening before just wandering around drinking before retiring for an early night, and as this isn’t an Ibsen play, I don’t think you need that level of blisteringly boring deal. So, power-mince through time with me ’til the next morning when, having applied for a small loan in order to buy a coffee and a pastry, we wandered out into the streets.

What joys awaited us then? Of course: a museum dedicated to what life is like if you’re a blind person. Admit it: that was your second guess. We had seen the Invisible Exhibition advertised in the inflight magazine on the flight over and despite the scant details, we knew we had to give it a go, and so it was that we were found heading towards the Osynlig Utställning at 10.30am in the morning.

Our journey on the bus was marred a little by having some chap stare at us the whole way – every time I looked up from cooing out the window at how pretty the city was I’d meet his fixed, cold gaze. This went on for a good twenty minutes and he didn’t return my smile or respond to my scowling. Even when I started doing that thing where you stick your middle finger up and slide it over your cheek in a subtle ‘fuck off’ fashion he didn’t stop staring. Very disconcerting, and, of course, when it came to our stop he jumped up and made his way smartly off the bus in front of us, though thankfully he disappeared in the opposite direction as went off to find a coffee that wouldn’t immediately bankrupt us.

That took altogether longer than expected: turns out there’s not a great amount of cafés open down at the docks on a Sunday morning, though we managed to finally locate a watery attempt at coffee by walking into a gym and standing looking at the receptionist for ten minutes whilst she dithered about with her paperclips as though we didn’t exist. Here, I know we’re fat and thus about as welcome in your fancy spa-gym as a verruca outbreak, but pay us some heed. Sulking but caffeinated, we made our way to the exhibition.

The premise then: experience life without sight. The first shock was the price of admission – they definitely saw us coming. Or rather, they didn’t. Actually the entrance fee was very reasonable – I just wanted to set up that laborious joke. We were the only ones there and had to stow our coats, watches and indeed, anything with a light, into a locker. I joked that ‘but I light up a room just by being there!’ but they must have been a deaf-mute because they didn’t immediately fall to the floor clutching their sides. The tour began with a kindly chap showing us how to use a Braille keyboard which, of course, I grasped straight away and typed out my name – it came out as Jimas, and rather than admit my error I just took that name and ran with it for the rest of the tour, feigning some vague Arabic origin story. Paul mastered it effortlessly, of course, but see he’s got a terribly boring first name which is hard to get wrong. If his name was a colour it would be the shade of piss-weak tea.

Our young host left us at this point and we sat at the table until a cry of ‘Jimas and Paul’ bellowed out from across the reception. Part two of our tour was ready: forty minutes being led around a pitch black room stumbling around various ‘scenarios’ to see how you would come without sight. Our guide arrived and OF COURSE it was the bloke from the bus who I thought had been staring wildly at me but had actually just been looking at me without seeing me. The relief I felt when he explained in his opening speech that he was totally blind was immense. He hadn’t seen me mouthing ‘fuck off’ to him for half the bus journey. Or had he? Was this a ruse? Was he going to trip me up in the darkness? Paranoid!

He led us in. What followed was a genuinely bizarre but, no pun intended, eye-opening experience – lots of different rooms to be led around in the blackness, guided only by his excellent instruction. Stuff like sniffing spice jars in the dark to season a meal (at first I thought he was giving me poppers – what can I say, when in a dark room…), operating the taps in a bathroom, putting on music. There was a room where we were encouraged to feel various statues to identify them – The Thinker by Rodin, Atlas holding up a globe and then, with much shrieking from Paul, he identified that he was in the throes of giving Michelangelo’s David a rusty trombone. Later rooms involved crossing a ‘busy street’, walking through a forest at night (♬ you gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith ♬) and sitting down in a café where you were able to order drinks and snacks from the guide. I was all for a glass of tap water and getting the hell out but, because Paul is hilariously obese, he ordered a tube of Pringles. He could not have ordered a noisier bloody snack if he tried. Have you ever had to sit in the pitch black, all senses bar your sight heightened, listening to your partner crunch his Pringles, smack his lips and make awkward small talk with a guide who was probably itching to get out? I have. I took to making ‘wanker’ signs at Paul and mouthing ‘c*nt’ at him whilst he chewed.

It occured to me as we left the ‘room’ that there’s bound to be an infra-red camera up in the eaves watching us in case of someone falling over or a fire breaking out, meaning that me being horrible to my other half in the dark will all be documented and put on the staff newsletter. However, as we left, Paul confessed that whenever the guide had been talking, Paul had been pulling faces and spreading his arse cheeks at me. Classic Jimas and Paul, right? Once we’d settled up the bill for the Pringles and said a thanks to the guide, we scuttled out.

Let me say this on a genuine note: it was great. No pun intended, it was eye-opening – so disorientating being in the dark but interesting in all of the different ways life can be made easier for blind folk. The guides were charming and the exhibition really well set out – if you’re ever in Stockholm, and in the mood for something entirely different, give it a go!

previousArtboard 1


Right, let’s do this recipe eh? We were looking for a more unusual, warming take on the shepherd’s pie and this recipe came through! You might be feeling a bit unsure about adding spice to such a classic but trust me when I tell you it’s bloody amazing. This makes enough for four massive portions – could very easily serve 6, but we’re fat and greedy. We didn’t get here by eating salad, after all!

shepherd's pie


shepherd's pie

to make a warm and spicy shepherd’s pie, you’ll need:

  • 800g potatoes, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 500g lean lamb mince (or beef)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 400ml lamb (or beef) stock
  • 1 tbsp gravy granules (2½ syns)
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • juice of half a lemon

top tips for making warm and spicy shepherd’s pie:

to make a warm and spicy shepherd’s pie, you should:

  • if you’re using an actifry, chuck the potatoes in with the turmeric and spray over a bit of oil and cook for about 10 minutes
  • if you’re using an oven, spray the potatoes with a bit of oil and toss in the turmeric
  • next, preheat the oven to 200°c
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray in a little oil
  • add the mince, onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently
  • add the garam masala, stock, peas and gravy granules and give a good stir
  • bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce to a simmer until the gravy has thickened (about 3-4 minutes)
  • tip the mixture into a large dish and top with the potatoes, then squeeze over the lemon juice
  • bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes
  • serve!

Tasty! Want more ideas for a good evening meal with mince? Then let the Mincing King sort you out!

Yum!

J

the dirty threesome burger with the twochubbycubs!

A dirty threesome burger? Bet that got your attention, you saucy minx! You know sometimes you see something on the Internet, you long for it, you lust for it – it pervades your thoughts, wears you down and ultimately you NEED IT. You HAVE to have it. So you just do it? Well, this burger is that thought process brought to life. It seems I was in an especially suggestible mood yesterday because I only saw a picture of this sexy monstrosity yesterday and there I am, not 24 hours later, toiling in the kitchen. So easily persuaded. It’s lucky my postman didn’t offer to take my package round the back this morning – I’d have put on a condom and reached for the Flora Buttery before he had a chance to take off his satchel.

So, because something like this needs no introduction, I won’t go on and on with my usual spiel. I did want to point out that we’ve developed a new page however:

Go ahead and click – it’ll open in a new tab so you won’t lose this page. We’re just pig sick of people buying a £3.99 rotating candle from Wilkos and saying they’ve got an Actifry and they’re shit because they can’t cook chips in it. It doesn’t help that the halogen oven markets itself as an airfryer when it’s bloody well not – it’s a lightbulb in Darth Vader drag. Anyway, click the link and let me know what you think.

So what is a dirty threesome burger? Easy! It’s for when you can’t decide what you want in your mouth and thus combines pizza, burger, bacon and chips in one unholy, terrifying, WONDERFUL alliance. Shall we begin? You might want to pop a towel down to catch the sloshing. This makes enough for two BEASTS.

dirty threesome burger

dirty threesome burger

dirty threesome burger

to make a dirty threesome burger, you’ll need:

  • 500g of extra lean beef mince
  • one chopped onion
  • a good pinch of salt and pepper
  • your healthy extra breadbun – or any bun you like, as long as you syn it (cough)
  • six thick rashers of bacon
  • a little carton of passata
  • whatever you want for your pizza topping: we used peppers and a bit of chopped chorizo – a tiny amount of 5g, which is about half a syn – but you know what, who is counting
  • potatoes for chips
  • tomato sauce (tbsp – which is what we used – is a syn)
  • 40g of lighter  mature cheddar for the burger (1 x HEA)
  • 40g of lighter red leicester for the top (1 x HEA)

Wondering about the two HEAs? Remember, this makes enough for two – so you get half of each – which is one healthy extra. Simple!

Also, you can get decent mince AND bacon (plus loads more!) in our fantastic Musclefood packs! Just click here to find out what deals we’ve got on!

This looks complicated but read the recipe first, it’s a genuine doddle.

to make a dirty threesome burger, you should:

  • first, turn your gold-framed photo of Mags away to face the wall, she doesn’t need to see this
  • cook your chips however you want them – but we have a definitive guide to cooking Slimming World chips right here, which will open in a new window – you’ll need a handful per burger
  • prepare your burger by taking 400g and keeping 100g of mince for later, then squash that mince with your hands – we don’t like to over-complicate things assuming you’ve got good beef – so just add good pinch of salt, a good pinch of pepper and perhaps some garlic powder – form into two rounds
  • grill your burger however you normally do it – we used our Optigrill for this recipe (heat up, press burger, go) and it worked a charm, but it can be done just as easy under the grill or on a George Foreman – no expensive kit needed with us, remember
  • once the burgers are almost done, stick your bacon on the grill to cook
  • whilst all that is sizzling away, chop up your onion, throw it in a pan with the leftover mince and cook it off with a little bit of passata – you don’t need much, just enough to make a small amount of basic bolognese – maybe add some garlic if you’re fancy – cook until really thick!
  • once that is thick, and the burgers and bacon are cooked, it’s time…
  • first, top your burgers with 20g of mature cheddar each – better to have a couple of slices rather than grated
  • next – cut your breadbun in half and then, using your fingers, push the top down so you create a well, pressing the bread down – imagine, of all things, you were making an ashtray out of clay – you don’t want to push through though
  • add the bolognese, grated red leicester and whatever pizza topping you want – then a bit more cheese
  • whack both the bolognese bun and the burger under the grill for two minutes to melt the cheese and then…
  • assemble! Bottom of the breadbun, chips, tomato sauce, burger with cheese on, bacon, then top with the top of the breadbun with the bolognese and cheese topping! Chips topped with burger topped with pizza.

I mean really. Listen, I don’t suggest you have one of these every night – clearly it’s an ‘excess’ meal, but goodness me what a fun treat!

Oh and if you liked our outrageous burger, DO SHARE using the buttons below, and even better, why not try our other burgers?

Phew!

J