If you think I’ve called this recipe sloppier cubs simply because between that and the word reacharound anyone googling it is going to get a filthy surprise, well, you’d be gosh-damn right, Susan. But this little trip down into the recipe archives is a hot take on our bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs recipe from 2017 and frankly, it’s one that we ought to have revisited a lot sooner BECAUSE THEY ARE BLOODY AMAZING. Seriously, if you like sloppy mince between your buns – and once you’ve finished sending me your number / nudes – you need to try this. But first…
What do you call your evening meal? Whether you’re an ASDA sort who calls it tea, a Marks and Spencer sort who calls it dinner, a Waitrose type who calls it supper or a Juice Newton who calls it Angel in the Morning, it hardly matters. We’ve got 100+ evening meal ideas in our new book which is bursting with colours and flavours and you just need it. You do! You really do. You can order it here
Oh I know, I’m never off!
I do want you to know – and I am not trying to guilt trip you, mind – that I am writing this blog in an unusual amount of pain, even for a hypochondriac like me. In a misguided effort to lose some weight before we go on holiday, I’ve been attending our local Elite classes again. For those that div-not-knaa, they’re high intensity fitness workouts where you get thrown about and shouted at for forty-five minutes three times a week. I’m making them sound awful when in reality, I bloody love doing them when I can actually motivate myself to get out of the car (currently at a 50/50 split on that success). Anyway, one of the recent classes involved a fitness test where you pair up with someone else and do as many reps of various exercises as you can in a minute. Paul is actually attending a different class so there’s no slacking off for me, which I feel is a sign of our crumbling marriage.
The problem is, I’m a dangerously competitive person in situations like this and as a result, as soon as I have to get as many things done in a minute, I have to really, really push myself, way past what I should ordinarily do. That’s fine if it is eating skittles or satisfying Lederväters in a dark room, but not when it comes to mountain-climbers and bicep curls. I ought to clarify, given my reputation, mountain-climbers is that exercise where you get on all fours and bring your legs up your chin, like you are running on all fours. That’s all well and good if you’re skinny and lithe but I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve kicked my own tits into my teeth. Plus I’m always a bit self-conscious doing that pose whilst someone behind me shouts ‘HURRY UP’ and ‘PUSH YOURSELF’ and ‘FEEL THE BURN’ because it takes all I can do not to shout ‘YES, DADDY, YEEEEES‘ back at them.
It was those exercises which have done me in though: I actually felt something twang in my right elbow at the end and since then, it hurts like absolute buggery to straighten my arm. Typing hurts. Ironing is a knacker. I may as well forget about my fantasy of being picked up by a rough lorry driver whilst out hitch-hiking. I’ve had to look at Paul with a pained face more than once and explain that I couldn’tpossibly do the hoovering because I’m clearly dying. See also: taking the dog for a walk, cleaning the glass in the shower, marital relations.
I’ve taken to walking around with my hand wedged into my coat pocket as a makeshift sling because it hurts to let the arm flap around too much. That was fine until yesterday afternoon when I had to go to a jewellers to get my ring finger measured and I strolled in looking like I had a shooter and was about to turn the place over. The look of panic on the poor lady’s face soon dissipated when I tried to explain I needed my ring measuring and burst out laughing when she cautioned that ‘as you warm up, your ring will expand’, which was a relief to all concerned.
Still, at least I got through the actual class without any major incident. The last time I did an actual bleep test was back in high school where I got put in detention for a week for telling my PE teacher to ‘fuck right off’ when he screamed at me to keep running. In my defence, he was absolutely one of those PE teachers who wanted to be in the police, failed because he got angry trying to spell his name without a prompt, and decided to buy a whistle and bully schoolchildren instead. I hated him and he hated me just because I didn’t treat football as something worth turning my face beetroot for. And listen, it’s not that I minded an authoritarian teacher – my favourite teacher of all was a tiny little bloke who once thew a football boot at me for talking – but this bloke was just a knob. Still, who’s laughing now.
So yes, please do keep me in your thoughts, because clearly I’m one moment away from death (or I’ll be better once I rub whatever knock-off Voltarol Paul brings me back from Tesco) – and if I do die, I ask for only modest floral tributes and minimal wailing at your windows to remember me by.
Now, let’s do the sloppier cubs, shall we? Well, you do it, my arm hurts.
At only 510 calories each, these sloppier cubs burgers will fill you right up!
Sloppier cubs, but with branding (siiiiiiiigh) – lovely
We only took two photos of the sloppier cubs burgers but when I typed burger into google photos, this popped up – look how wee he was!
If we're entirely honest, we haven't had to make a lot of changes to this recipe - just added a few bits and pieces in. But what you have here is a proper sloppy burger that'll make a right mess of your front, but that's just fine because it tastes so good. Plus: we've added more bacon into the recipe this time, and that's never a bad thing.
We've also cooked the cheese straight into the sauce because, and you'll need to trust me, it makes the dish absolutely perfect.
Calorie counts, like my level of current partners, are approximate.
four brioche buns - you can use normal buns if you want, but why would you
400g lean beef mince
teaspoon of garlic paste
1 large onion, diced
1 carton of passata
4 tbsp of that sweet, lurid yellow American mustard
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
8 rashers of bacon
125ml beef stock
100g of reduced fat extra mature cheese, grated
cook off your bacon, setting aside half for the burgers at the end and chopping the rest into small pieces
fry off your onion until golden, add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more, then add the beef mince and cook until browned and lovely
add the bacon, passata, stock, mustard and Worcestershire sauce, stir, and allow to simmer right down and thicken up
once nearly done, tip all that cheese in and stir through, and cook until gloopy
slice your buns, add the cooked bacon, then pour the mince on top
You could serve this with chips. But then you could just do a lot of things if you tried.
a tin of chopped tomatoes would be fine here, as long as you let everything break down and simmer
although we didn't add them, chopped gherkins would also be a bloody winner
Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, because see, there was this emperor, and he asks this shepherd's boy, "how many seconds in eternity?" and the shepherd's boy says, "there's this mountain of pure diamond. It takes an hour to climb it, and an hour to go around it! Every hundred years, a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on the diamond mountain. And when the entire mountain is chiselled away, the first second of eternity will have passed" You must think that's a hell of a long time, but I don't care, that bloody sparrow owes me a fiver and he's gonna be ages yet. Sick of this.
Cuisineburgers man, I literally just told you
Enjoy! Oh and we’ve done another video recipe! Remember to like and subscribe otherwise Paul cries his tears of hot gravy.
Let’s keep this strictly business this week shall we? The recipe is a reacharound of the Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese, it’s fabulous, it’s wonderful, it takes no time at all and tastes bloody good. I’ve hurt my shoulder trying to sneak a giant concrete garden ornament into the rubble bin at the tip so it hurts to type. In my defence I didn’t want to pay £2.50 because that seems like an outrageous amount to someone like me: the Queen blinks against the sudden light when I pull a fiver from my wallet. Plus I was giving it the Barry Big Bollocks lifting it out of my Golf like I was Geoff bloody Capes so if anything, it was my hubris that felled me in the end. But isn’t that always the case, eventually?
Luckily, we have the second part of the Paul story to entertain, so over to my slender counterpart. You can read part one here, so you can. Paul doesn’t believe in skimping on the detail, so do just scroll to the photos of the Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese if you’re in NO BLOODY MOOD for his nonsense and flimflam.
You know what would make my shoulder hurt a little less? Seeing some pre-orders on our amazing new book! 100 fast dinner recipes for all occasions! You can order it here
So really, the next five years or so carried on in the same sort of way. James would cook sometimes and he even taught me how to make a delicious risotto – still one of my favourites. Pretty early on we started going to Slimming World. James had a lot of success in his teen years following SW and knowing I was self-conscious about my weight (actually having access to food and not having to walk 10 miles a day meant the weight piled straight back on again…) we gave it a go. And that go lasted for a good 5-6 years. We tried a few different classes as we moved about but always returned to the same one because it was so super friendly and the consultant was a right laugh. No shade to Slimming World but we didn’t really enjoy the classes. It just wasn’t our cup of tea and our consultant did her best. We fell into the same pattern of turning up, getting weighed and then making an excuse to leave so really our fiver went on standing on a pair of scales, which of course we could do for free at home. A year or two after joining Slimming World though we started to try a bit more cooking, mostly for financial reasons (Papa John’s ain’t cheap) but also we knew that if we didn’t we’d just balloon more and more. Social Media was starting to become a thing so we joined a few of the Facebook groups and started making all the standard fare that used to be doing the rounds. You know the stuff. Curry Loaf. Quiche. Fanta Chicken. If it was about 10 pixels across and badly cropped we made it. We laugh about it now but that was the height of our abilities. And so, twochubbycubs was born! Initially it was more of a place for James’ writing but, for some reason we still can’t figure out, it really started to take off. Fuck knows why, because for the first couple of years the stuff we put out was absolute shite. But it did! And so along with that, out of necessity, we needed to be able to cook.
So, that brings us to the recent times. If you’ve been following us for a while you’ll know that a few years ago we appeared on ITV’s This Time Next Year. It was by chance that we spotted a post in our Facebook group where the production company were looking for people so on a whim we just did it. We knew that weight loss would need to be our thing – by that point we’d ballooned to nearly our biggest size, both well over twenty stone. The process was pretty quick, we had a few interviews and then got the news while we were on holiday in, er, Berwick, that we were going on! Of course we then spent the next month or so absolutely stuffing our faces like never before – thinking that we may as well take advantage before it’d all be taken away for us forever.
The challenge was to lose twenty stone between us, in a year. We got off to an okay start – doing the same things we’d always done – joined Slimming World, stayed for the class, stopped eating takeaways. And that was really it. The losses, as always at the start, were pretty massive but it wasn’t long before they levelled out and we started to become a bit despondent. But the truth is, we didn’t know what else to do. We knew that exercise would help us but we were too big at that point to do anything comfortably, and it was at the bottom of our list of priorities. We’d absorbed all the bad habits that slimming classes drum into us – like eating a giant plate of potatoes or pasta (with us, usually both) and thinking that because it was “Free” we would automatically lose weight. We were falling behind on our weight loss, massively, which became all too apparent when we were booked in for a DEXA scan and I was told that, halfway through our challenge, I was still 50% fat and off the centile charts. We were gussied up to do something about it but still a bit clueless, so we started restricting. We cut out the ten-a-day Muller Lights, switched to skimmed milk and stopped eating cheese. Naturally, all this meant was that we’d both binge on the sly because our meals at home just could not sustain us, and we’d taken out all the deliciousness and joy from eating. By chance, James stumbled across a local company that ran HIIT classes (I think it’s the same as Cross Fit, but without having to pay to licence it) that promised that if you lost 20lb in six weeks they’d give you your money back. He signed us both up immediately and told me, ON MY BIRTHDAY OF ALL DAYS (where I had already finely curated my birthday takeaway for the night) that we were going, and we were going to stick with it. I wish I could say that was the worst birthday I’ve ever had, but the birthday I spent with him in hospital having his willy-hat lopped off probably takes the title.
I won’t lie, I was absolutely dreading it. The thought of going to a warehouse in the middle of an industrial estate to EXERCISE. In my condition?! No. I raced through all the excuses but ‘er indoors was having none of it. We were going.
Fortunately, the first session wasn’t the fresh hell I was expecting. The place was clean, tidy and modern and the staff lovely. I actually recognised the trainer as being the bloke who used to always give me extra chips in canteen at work and never charged me for it (and still to this day I tell him it’s all his fault I got so fat). Because the classes were aimed at people losing weight (and it being just two weeks after Christmas it’s fair to say we were all in a pretty poor condition) they were, thankfully, quite easy to begin with. Lots of squats, wall sits and easing you into exercise, gently at first. Well, would you believe it – I bloody loved it. Well, when I was actually doing it I wanted to die and seriously considered faking having a heart attack so I could get out there (I’m not joking), as soon as we finished singing Freed From Desire (our groups theme song, for some reason….) I felt great! The weight was melting away, and each time I hit the 20lb target, usually landing a few pounds over.
The saving grace of this was that we enjoyed the exercise – and I’ll come back to this later – and if we hadn’t had found that, we would have failed in the first few days. Having the exercise we enjoyed and also importantly getting the results from it made the food a little less terrible. There was also the important fact that we were due to go on the telly in just a few months, where the lovely Davina was expecting her stage to creak a hell of a lot less. Those last six months we really, really went for it. We did the HIIT classes three times a week, and we went to the gym for the other four days for no fewer than three hours at a time. We (to borrow a phrase from the nineties) caned it, and we got the results. By the time we made it to the studio in the May time we hadn’t quite hit our target (I was short by 2.5 stone and James 1) but we felt and looked much better so we didn’t mind. If we had started our fitness part earlier we would have easily hit our target, and probably a lot more (we were still overweight, but only just). We made the promise on that sofa that there was no going back. We were never going to get fat ever again, and the changes we made were there to stay, and we were only just beginning, baby. We left there and went back to the hotel and ordered ourselves a celebratory Papa John’s that we’d been fantasising about for the last six months. So high on our success were we that we ordered a small pizza each and didn’t even finish it. The next day on the way home we went to a Little Chef and I had a yoghurt.
It didn’t last.
Two days after getting home from the studio, fresh in our H&M gear (that we could now fit into) we minced to Tesco to stock up on chicken ‘n’ broccoli, but outside they were handing out vouchers for some Kelly’s ice cream. We bought 4 tubs that day, just as a treat you understand, and it was a bargain after all it’d be silly not to….and ate all four that day. Delicious, mind.
Ever mindful we’d had six months of terrible food and an excruciating exercise regime we promised ourselves that we’d have the occasional treat but we’d stick to it. A few months before we had booked a dream holiday to Canada for six weeks – another thing to aim for, and we were determined we were going to be just as slim as we were for it as we had been on the telly. We signed back up for a six-week programme at Elite and got back on it. By the time Canada came along we were back at our telly weight.
Canada, of course, was awesome. Throughout the whole holiday we’d tell each other, “we’d never have done this if we were still fat!” (which caught more than one bearded Canadian bloke off-guard). And it’s true. Like I said up there, being fat impacts on every single part of your life, and we were realising now what things we would have avoided. Even simple things like not wanting to go up an observation tower because the lift was quite small and people would tut because you’d be taking up too much space. All sorts of daft stuff.
We did six weeks in Canada and, naturally, we did pile on the pounds when we were there. We started off well but by week two we were eating every treat, all the poutine, trying out all the different flavours of crisps… but we promised ourselves that when we got back we’d get back on it, and we’d shed it all. It was just a treat for ourselves anyway, and we were on holiday after all.
When we got back we did indeed get back on it. Back to Elite, back on the brown rice. We hit the 20lb target again and felt pleased, but without having the shadow of the TV programme hanging over us the motivation was gone. We stopped going to the gym as often and when we did we’d slack off. A few weeks later we went on holiday to Tokyo. Already by that point, which was only two months after being on the telly, I was all too aware that the weight was piling back on and I was “big” again. Granted I wasn’t as big as I had been, but was still big, and in somewhere like Japan that meant REALLY big. Naturally we had to try all the local delicacies, and the unusual restaurants we just had to visit, and the bars, and all the different KitKats (plus a melon soda which I swear has heroin in it) just made things worse. After Canada I started in a new job which was okay but was bullied terribly which only got worse after we came back from Japan. Comfort eating became a fast friend, as did all of the bad habits, and in less than a year I was only a few stone off where I had been at the start of the year.
Something that became ever apparent at this time is my absolute total lack of willpower. I have none. James attributes a lot of it down to being a “poor kid” and if something is there I have to have it before it’s gone. When I get an idea in my head that I want something, I have to have it, and nothing will bring me down. Trust me, I’ve tried everything. I started leaving my wallet at home so that I couldn’t buy stuff, but instead I’d just use the contactless on my phone. I uninstalled that but so I just switched to saving up odd bits of change. I would make up excuses to go to the supermarket for something and sit in my car stuffing my face, and load up on other stuff that I’d hide in my car so I always had a stash. A very destructive habit.
When the TV programme finally aired, I was pleased but also embarrassed and ashamed. I had people coming up to me congratulating me for what I’d achieved, but it was clear that I didn’t keep it up. We were back shopping for clothes at the garden centre and moping around. We did Elite a few more times but we didn’t stick to it. Once or twice we missed the 20lb target. We just couldn’t get back into it, no matter what we tried.
Alright Paul we get the bloody point about the bloody gammo, Christ. More from Rusty Bloodvessel next week. For now, we turn to the instant pot spaghetti bolognese which will delight and surprise you. Don’t have an Instant Pot? Then who the hell do you think you are? Don’t worry, we’ve done a normal method too. Oh, and Paul typed the recipe up, so if there’s errors, we can blame him.
Of course if you don’t cover your Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese in half a Ped-Egg’s worth of cheese then why bother
Overhead shot of Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese, ruining my camera with steam
Nevermind the Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese, you should have seen the word that appeared before OFF on the machine
650 calories I hear you cry for Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese and of course you're right that seems like a lot but does it really? For a massive bowl of pasta and wine and meat and the ease of cooking it all in one dish? Plus, to be fair, this probably serves six - we're just greedy fat pigs. If you have leftovers, you can turn that into another meal, see below the recipe for that!
All calories are approximate and worked out via the NHS calculator. So shut yer gob.
400g lean beef mince
40g diced chorizo
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
125ml red wine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
set the instant pot to saute and add a splash of oil
add the onion and cook for a few minutes until softened
add the garlic, stir and then add the mince and chorizo cook until browned
add the chopped tomatoes, passata, red wine, salt, pepper and oregano to the pan and give a good stir
break the spaghetti in half and add to the pan along with 850ml water - make sure the spaghetti is covered as much as possible (push it down with a wooden spoon if not)
cook under high pressure for ten minutes, then quick release
give a good stir and leave to cool for a few minutes - don't worry if it looks a bit watery, it'll soon thicken up
huge apologies to the entire nation of Italy for this one, which is probably illegal there. Still good though.
add whatever you like into this - bacon, mushrooms, spinach - whatever you have lying about, chuck it in
the wine won't get your kids pissed but if you'd still rather avoid it just add the same amount in extra water instead
Not got an Instant Pot? You can cook it pretty much as is on a hob, but add the spaghetti straight into the hob rather than doing it on its own - the spaghetti cooks in the sauce and it's just laaaahverley
twochubbycubs: Dinner Time is our new book and it's out in May and it's so good I could bubble - genuinely our best work yet - you can pre-order here!
of course if you like your meals fast and filling, book two will scratch that itch: order yours here!
perhaps you want to go back to where it all began - our first cookbook which is a joy untold: click here to order
our diet planner will keep you on track and there's twenty six recipes in there for good measure: here
we have an Instant Pot Pro because of course we do - you can find it here but other variants of the Instant Pot are cheaper still and they're all marvellous bits of kit
Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as Goomba has developed a love of eating things off the work surfaces and we're currently missing a teaspoon
Got leftover Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese? Crack three eggs into it, and bake it in the oven topped with cheese and tomato!
Leftover Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese can be baked with eggs into a loaf
Looks like a scabby knee but the leftover Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese tastes good baked like this
Gonna level with you, our SEO bollocks is saying I need to say Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese a few more times to get a green light. I personally think I’ve said Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese enough times but they are saying this Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese needs more Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese references. Pah! I’m too busy thinking about Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese to concern myself with matters like that.
Sausage and white wine risotto, if you don’t mind!
We’ve come to the end of our second bootcamp and can’t quite believe it. For two lads whose idea of exercise was a casual Sunday wank or rolling over in bed so our sleep apnea doesn’t suffocate us, I’d say we’ve done really rather well! I’ll talk about it more in due course but honestly, if you’re out there thinking you can’t exercise, get yourself moving! I mean…I haven’t died, yet…
Just a quick recipe tonight to keep you going – but this is delicious! You may know our approach to risottos – just chuck everything in and leave it to cook itself. Might not be 100% authentic but by god, it’ll leave you satisfied. Without further delay…
Sausages, booze, and stodge. This sausage and white wine risotto is THE perfect dinner idea that you've been waiting for! Robust, meaty and just a little bit fruity - just like us. Even though it's full of rich ingredients this is just one syn and a bit each and one of the tastiest things we've ever made!
We've adapted this and made it a bit skinnier from our 'spirit daddies', The Hairy Bikers. Their original recipe is in the brilliant 'Meat Feasts' book - you can get a copy at Amazon! Don't forget to check out their website for more tasty ideas.
4-6 sausages (see notes)
1 litre chicken stock
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
300g arborio rice
125ml white wine (5 syns)
60g parmesan, grated (2x HeA)
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
cook the sausages however you like them, and then slice and keep to one side
meanwhile, heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and spray in some oil
add the sliced onions and cook until starting to turn brown - remember to stir them about regularly
once the onions have started to lightly caramelise, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, herbs and rice and stir well
add the wine and give a good stir, and then pour in the stock and stir again, and then put the lid on the pan
cook for twenty minutes - no need to stir!
gently drag a wooden spoon through the rice - if it falls back in 'waves' it's at the right consistency - cook for a few minutes more if it's not
stir in the sausages slices and sprinkle over the parmesan
serve and sprinkle over the parsley
you can cook the sausages however you like - we used our Optigrill - but however you like it will do, just make sure they're cooked!
Slimming World tiramisu – that might fill you with horror at the thought of someone whisking an egg into a tub of Splenda and smiling wanly as they try to pretend they’re eating anything other than their own crashing disappointment, but don’t worry – you’re in good hands with us. That said, instead of a wordy post tonight, because we’re on the subject of awful desserts, I present to you our recipe for Slimming World doughnuts. Worth sticking with until the end, it explains our stance on desserts and Frankenfood ever so well…
Christ, that thumbnail. I look like Moby with dysentery. Trust me, it’s worth a watch. Let me know what you think! Let’s get straight to the Slimming World tiramisu. We know that desserts is the one thing we lack on here – well, that and modesty, so we’re working hard to put that right. This Slimming World tiramisu could be lightened by using jelly instead of sponge and sweetener instead of cocoa, but you know what else you could do to save syns? Keep your gob shut.
That’s Bowser, by the way. Or as we call him, Kittler.
Tiramisu, but done properly, like it ought to be. Yes, we've replaced a few of the heavier ingredients but with smart substitutes to make this a proper tasty dessert. It's OK, I dry-heaved at the use of the words proper tasty too. Let's get to it.
two nice glasses, like the ones shown, or stick it all in a pyrex dish. Hell, you could serve it from the cat's dinner-bowl for all we're going to judge
6 sponge fingers (you'll find them in any supermarket baking aisle) (6 syns)
25ml of strong black coffee (syn free) or if you're better than everyone else, use 25ml of Tia Maria or similar coffee liqueur (3.5 syns)
180g of ricotta (90g is a HEA)
one of those large pots of Muller Greek Style coffee latte yoghurt
50g of chopped hazelnuts (25g is a HEB)
1 tsp of cocoa powder (1 syn)
SO, as this makes two, this will either be just over 5.5 syns each if you use coffee liqueur or 3.5 syns if you use plain coffee. Also, you could adorn it with something other than hazelnuts - fruit maybe - to save your HEB! If so, knock another syn off.
take your glasses, put them on and read this bloody recipe
cut the sponge fingers up and layer them in the bottom of the glass
spoon over the coffee or the coffee liqueur and allow the sponge to soak it up with a big old slurp
mix the ricotta with enough of the yoghurt to get a nice thick mix - if you're feeling extravagant, add a pinch of coffee into the mix so you get wee pockets of coffeeness - yeah, coffeeness
spoon over the top and lightly shake until it is level
pour the hazelnuts into a bowl, top with cocoa and move them around until each one is coated - then pour over the top of the tiramisu
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.
Let’s get straight to it, then… syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne! This is makes enough for four large 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!
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
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!
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
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!
Coursesdinner, low syn
Mind we’ve got some bloody amazing, different pasta recipes – let me show you some syn-free suggestions!
Full English breakfast risotto – not a breakfast recipe, no, but rather a delicious risotto with all the lovely bits of a full English breakfast! Yes it’s indulgent, yes it’ll probably give you blue lips, but it’s so, so good: plus as with all our risottos, it pretty much cooks itself – no clarting about with adding ladles of stock! This is a rollover recipe – you can use the leftover sausages and bacon from yesterday’s recipe of super scrambled eggs to make into this beauty! I mean, I don’t recommend you have them both on the same day, but there’s nothing stopping you cooking off all the sausages and bacon and leaving half aside to make this.
Not a fan of congealed blood and fat and oats? Please: call yourself a blubber-merchant? Feel free to leave it out. If you do, it’s syn free. Top tip for this: once you’ve finished serving it up in that effortlessly stylish way of ours, pop the yolk so it runs through the risotto, mash the tomatoes in and crumble over that black pudding. It’s so, so good!
No chitter-chat tonight as we’re off to the gym. I know: who have we become? But after yesterday’s diatribe I need to stop bumping my lips for a bit.
This serves four, by the way – normal portions. If you’re a greedy sod like me, two massive bowls.
to make full english breakfast risotto you will need:
400g arborio rice
3 chicken stock cubes (dissolved in 1 litre of boiling water)
4 low fat sausages, cooked and sliced (see top tips below)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 bacon medallions, cooked and chopped
2 slices of Morrison’s black pudding (9 syns)
2 big handfuls of mushrooms
150g cherry tomatoes
top tips to make full english breakfast risotto:
we used the sausages and bacon from Musclefood which are both syn free! If you want to check out our special deals just click here! Of course, you can use other sausages – just remember to syn them
we used Morrison’s black pudding which is 4½ syns a slice – they vary a lot across brands though so do check yours
you can cook the bacon and sausages however you like them – we used our Optigrill but you could use an airfryer, a frying pan, a George Foreman grill or a normal grill – however you want! For best results cook the sausages halfway (they’ll cook fully later)
don’t like black pudding or mushrooms? Just leave them out! You can add or remove whatever you like – make it however you like it!
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 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 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…
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!
Right, let’s do this recipe eh? This serves 4 big portions!
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)
Here for the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake? WITH NO BLOODY QUARK? But of course you are, my love – the recipe awaits you at the bottom of this page. But before we get to the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, we have part one of our holiday entry for our Christmas trip to Sweden and Norway! Newcomers to the blog may not know this, but we’re also a ‘travel’ blog in that when we go away, we like to post the stories of what we get up to. Admittedly, this can lead to a long post, so to help you – if you’re here solely for the food, click the button below to go straight to it! I promise not to cry too much.
The rest of you settle back – this is a long one! And look, to celebrate, I’ve even tidied up the banners – I was sick of that awful messy looking banner template I had. This looks altogether more…Swedish, ja? Let’s go!
I’ve been looking forward to typing up this holiday entry ever since we came back – why? Simple: it was amazing! It’s not as though we did anything out of the ordinary or unique – just our usual pottering about in cities getting lost and having a good time – but there was just something terrific about the whole experience. Every day was a happy memory – I haven’t been able to say that about any holiday since we went on that coach trip. I jest, that was Hell in a 57-seater. But before you join us on our Scandinavian adventure, we need to dip back in time a bit further to a wet October afternoon, where you would have found me slumped over my keyboard at the end of a very, very long email exchange with the other half. Here’s how every single holiday of ours gets planned: I suggest somewhere, Paul sucks air in over his teeth and say ‘oooh’ with that look a roofer gives you when he’s going to need to take your tiles off, I suggest somewhere else, he grimaces like he’s shitting an acorn. He then suggests somewhere wildly expensive and extravagant and pouts when I point out he’s trying to live a Waitrose lifestyle on a shoplifted-from-Lidl budget. We both then give up and stop talking until one of us cracks and we’re friends again, holiday completely forgotten about. Hence, on this October afternoon, conscious of the fact we’d need to book somewhere before all the parents and (shudder) their snotty-nosed litter booked up all the fun places, I sent a plaintive little email asking if we dare broach ‘booking the big holiday’. Paul, to his credit, was very agreeable, but then we immediately started arguing about where to go.
So, I did something I would never normally do because it’s altogether too much effort: I acted unilaterally. Straight onto hotels.com to book four nights in Stockholm, flights to Oslo, four nights in Oslo, a train journey to Bergen, three nights in Bergen and then the flights back to London then to Newcastle. For good measure, I booked the train to take us up to Edinburgh Airport for our Stockholm flight and a hotel for the night before. I parcelled all the reservations in one big PDF and sent them to Paul, triumphant. His reply? ‘Ah good, sounds nice‘
It’s lucky he works twenty miles away and I’m so fat and lazy that I couldn’t be arsed to get in the car to go and tan his arse because damn, was my excitement punctured. He only won me around later by explaining he was in a meeting and actually he was very much looking forward to our lovely holiday and indeed I was the best husband in the world and no, he’d never sin again. I can’t say his agreement was purely because I was pulling on his balls like a farmer milking a cow at the time. Who can say…
To day one, then. Our journey begins as so many of them often do: a taxi ride to the train station by a man so Geordie and hardcore that he explained he’d recently suffered a heart attack at the wheel of his car, chalked it down to indigestion and carried on driving passengers around. It was only after a whole day of chest pains and breathlessness that he went to A&E. Great! I imagine he took my endless staring into his rear-view mirror as rapt attention to his mildly-racist stories but actually, I was just making sure his lips hadn’t turned blue and he wasn’t going to career us into a lamp-post. We made it safely to the station and I left him a generous tip. Well, something had to pay for the funeral buffet. We were due to take the 14.30 Virgin Train to Edinburgh, but, to add a frisson of excitement to the start of our holiday, they elected to jumble all the trains around and delay our train by a full hour. Super, but have no fear, we’re Rockafella Skanks – we had first class advance tickets and thus the utopia that is the first class lounge awaited us – what a treat!
No. You may know this yourself but the first class lounge at Newcastle is fitted out like the waiting room of an NHS dentist – all pastel colours on the wall, hotel biscuits and furniture that looks as though it’s blown in from a storm. It really is dreadful. We comforted ourselves with the fact we could eat as many biscuits as humanely possible and entertain ourselves with our phones, able as we were to take full advantage of the charging points. Only the charging points didn’t work, they had run out of biscuits and the toilet was blocked and overflowing. We’d have had more luxury fighting the rats on the train-tracks for some discarded Greggs and somewhere to shit. To compound my misery I spotted my old HR director from a previous job who I absolutely despised. She was to fun what I am to a chaste heterosexual lifestyle. She was very much one of those type of people who would click ‘skip straight to recipe’ on this blog and then email me to tell me she was allergic to food and how insensitive I was being by posting a recipe. She hated me especially because I burst out laughing when she fell over in the middle of the office, having stumbled into an open floor socket, falling down like one of those cooling towers you sometimes see getting blown up on the telly. I couldn’t help it: I have a nervous laugh, and anyway, she deserved it. She was Miss Trunchbull in a Jigsaw-outlet suit. We clashed many, many times – she upheld a complaint that I laughed too much, for example, and that I didn’t take the job seriously because I wore trainers to work. Pfft. I never said anything about her homage-to-Robert-Winston moustache.
I made sure to give her the sickliest, fakest, cheesiest smile I could muster up – a smile that said ‘Damn, I honestly thought you’d be dead by now, but here’s to the good times, you vile husk of a woman’ and walked past her, making sure she saw I still wore the trainers that used to irk her so. It did mean, however, that I couldn’t relax, because every time I stood up for a fresh coffee or a newspaper she would give me 100% pure stink-eye. So, all in all, a rubbish experience. Luckily, the train journey made up for it, though I wish they’d do away with the pretence of unlimited tea and coffee – we had one member of staff come around with the hot drinks, leave us a gin and gave us a sandwich, and that was it, no more, goodnight nurse. We’d polished off our ‘dinner’ by the time the train was whooshing past the house we’d left only 90 minutes before. No matter – we arrived in Edinburgh in the pissing rain, jumped straight into a taxi (why oh why oh why do people stand and wait for taxis these days? Just use bloody Lyft or Uber for goodness sake – embrace technology!) who whisked us straight to the hotel, but not before regaling us for forty minutes about why electric cars were the future. Forty minutes is a long time to nod politely: my poor neck sounded like popcorn by the end of it. Paul and I have an agreed arrangement: I deal with taxi drivers, he deals with the people who bring room service to our hotel room whilst I hide in the bathroom. It works very well indeed simply because I’m good at making small talk and he’s very believable as a fat bastard who has ordered enough food to feed two people. He’s seen many a hotel worker cast him a pitying look as they put down the laden trays of food in front of him.
Don’t worry, that bedspread soon looked as though someone had spilled Marmite everywhere
Our night at the Dakota was very pleasant indeed, even if the room service left a lot to be desired. It’s all a bit frou-frou – I like to see people buckle under the weight of my plate, not be able to frisbee it across the room because there’s a bit of cress and a hair of cheese on the plate. In fact, we were so unsatisfied by the volume of our food that we waited a discreet twenty minutes and ordered another round. Well, when you’re on holiday, these things don’t matter, though I could have done without the judgemental ‘oh, TWO rounds of room service, my mistake’ remark from the receptionist when we checked out. I don’t think she had warmed to me because, upon seeing that the reception was full of blokes all in black kilts, full Scottish regalia and beards you could lose a dog in, I remarked ‘but I didn’t order breakfast!‘ to her with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink leer. That’ll be us on the blacklist.
I won’t bore you with the 150 minutes we spent at Edinburgh Airport only to make two remarks:
can someone please persuade my husband that we absolutely do not need to be at the airport so far in advance of a flight, especially when the only thing we’re taking on board the aircraft is hand luggage and chewing gum – I swear that unless Paul’s at the airport the day before he’s an unbearable nervous wreck; and
massive thank you to the Scottish toilet cleaner who, having not realised I was sitting in the cubicle next to the one she’d just gone in to clean, exclaimed ‘now which fuckin’ dirty c*nt has gone and done that’ in a loud Scottish burr. Thank God I was sitting on the toilet at the time because I would have pissed myself outright – it was so loud and so disgusted that I almost wanted to climb on my toilet to peer over and take a look.
Now here’s a new thing: we weren’t flying easyJet! I know! I want some reassurance from you all though – am I the only one who likes to fly with an airline they’ve flown with before? I think I rationalise it in my mind that they didn’t crash before, so it must be safe. Nevertheless, the lure of a cheaper flight won me over and so it was that we boarded an SAS flight to Stockholm. Well: what a revelation! Lovely new plane, free tea and coffee, USB sockets in the back of the seats – even the bog didn’t smell like a foot and mouth crisis in an open sewer like they normally do. I was very impressed, and even more so when they landed us safely in Stockholm without ditching us into the North Sea. Don’t get me wrong, my heart will always be with the tangerine-trolleys of easyJet, but I might use SAS on the side like the plane-hopping slag that I am.
Before we continue, I want to give praise where it’s due: to Paul. We’ve flown twenty times this year and each time he lets me sit by the window because he knows I like to be able to look at the engine and the wing to make sure everything is OK. I mean, I know the captain has a fair idea, but I’m sure it’s a comfort to him (or her) to know that I’m keeping an eye on the flaps from the back. Story of my life, that. Anyway, I always offer to sit in the aisle but Paul always gives me the window seat and for that he gets a gold star, or a go on my brown star, whichever he prefers. It makes the flight better for me so I want to say a big thank you to my gorgeous and lovely Shitty McGee.
I love this woman’s face. It’s like she’s being asked to blow into a smeggy knob.
We landed on time and were ushered through immigration in a wonderful Swedish efficient manner. I was pleased to see that the lady looked the spit of Agnetha from ABBA – exactly as I expected. We sloshed our way to the train station, took the airport express straight into Stockholm Central and then made our way on foot to our base of operations for the next few days: the Hobo Hotel on Brunkebergstorg. I chose the hotel simply because of the name and the fact it looked so cool and hip on the website. I wanted to see how they’d deal with two fat blokes whose idea of high fashion is a Cotton Traders. To their absolute credit, the staff – though they all looked like they were part of a really shit/unknown yah-yah electrosynth band – were unfailingly lovely and helpful.
Our room – we could watch the office workers over the road. No doubt my fat hairy arse has appeared in their company newsletter.
Our room was gorgeous too – massive bed, good steamy shower, television with Discovery on it (thank heavens – Paul was almost at 24 full hours without watching a How It’s Made) and lots of neat little touches. For example, there was a water pistol – imagine Paul’s delight when he’d just settled down for his ‘Welcome to Stockholm’ crap and I opened the door and squirted him right in the ear. How we laughed as he almost wrenched the toilet away from the wall in sheer fright. Ah, we’d arrived.
All I wanted was one nice picture.
Now, I’ve done the classic twochubbycubs holiday report opening and spent 2000 words getting us to the hotel. I did it with Copenhagen, Paris, Geneva…at this point, it would be rude not to. But let’s close part one here and get to the recipe.
Remember, folks – if you enjoy our holiday entries, please do let us know. I know they’re a longer read but we like to make it interesting. Feedback always welcomed!
Gosh, I’m spent – and now I need to do a full recipe for the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake that you’re all actually here for! This makes a giant dish of pasta – easily enough for six – but it freezes well and tastes bloody amazing. Let’s go! This uses six HEAs but makes enough for six – so I count it as one HEA per portion as you’re using a sixth of each. Yes, we’re splitting HEAs, but hey, let’s live a little. This is a heavy, rich dish so you’ll not be eating loads in one go. YEAH RIGHT. You could knock down the HEAs by using Quark instead of Philadelphia, but it won’t be nearly as nice.
to make a cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, you’ll need:
500g of pasta – any type will do, I promise
two fat leeks (use onion if you prefer)
a pack of bacon medallions
optional: 200g button mushrooms, chopped
two cloves of garlic
120g of extra mature lighter cheese (3 x HEA)
220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2 x HEA)
250ml of semi-skimmed milk (1 x HEA)
any pasta will do, but we farfalle as it has a good surface area
add a tsp of wholegrain mustard to the sauce if you’re feeling decadent (1/2 syn, but really)
to make a cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, you should:
preheat your oven to 200 degrees
cook your pasta – boiling water, salty as Paul in the morning, remove when there’s still a bit of give in the pasta
thinly slice your leek and chop your bacon (and add the mushrooms, if using) and gently fry it off in a pan with a few squirts of oil from your sprayer – as they soften, add the minced garlic
meanwhile, make the sauce by tipping your Philadelphia and milk into a pan, put it on a low heat and gently whisk until it’s all mixed together – it’ll be quite runny – at this point, add 100g of the cheese and keep whisking – you’ll end up with a nice thick cheesy sauce – season it with plenty of salt and pepper
tip everything together in the pasta pan, give everything a bloody good mix, slop it into an ovenproof dish, top with the remainder of the cheese, some chopped spring onion or leek if you’re feeling fancy, and pop it in the oven for about thirty minutes until the cheese is golden and everything is delicious
serve with a side salad which you studiously ignore
Gorgeous! Of course, if you’re looking for more delicious pasta ideas, we’ve got you covered:
Black pudding bolognese: for when you’re not quite satisfied with the amount of killing done in the name of your meal. Well, we needed to counter the vegan recipe from yesterday didn’t we? I’m jesting, of course, but I’m taking the view that if you’re a meat-eater, you probably don’t mind a bit more ghoulishness. Anyway, this is a Thomasina Miers recipe I’ll have you know, and what that lady doesn’t know about cooking you could write on a flapping winnit.
Just the recipe post tonight because, due to a shitstorm of car alarms, alarmed cats and Paul’s fat ham arms hitting me every time he turned over, I had an abysmal night of sleep. When you’re still awake at 4am, desperately listening to Radio 4 trying to sleep, you know it’s going to be a rough day. So forgive my brevity, but know that I do it in the name of making sure you lot have a lovely new recipe to try. This makes enough for four generous bowlfuls. Christ, I hate that term. A generous bowl. Puts me in mind of a bowl that reassures you that no, you’re not fat, you’re pretty, honest, as your tears tumble over your dinner.
to make black pudding bolognese with cheesy mash, you’ll need:
500g of extra lean beef mince
one large clove of garlic
1 tsp of smoked paprika
pinch of cinnamon
100g of black pudding (10.5 syns – goodness!)
two tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp of red wine vinegar
3 sprigs of thyme if you have it, half a teaspoon of dried if you don’t
Avocado pesto pasta? Vegan friendly? What’s come over me? I feel like I’m one moustache-wax away from giving up my car, wearing altogether too much denim and living on millet. But I ought to explain: we received a lovely message from a vegan who loves our blog but struggles with the amount of meat. Listen, I hear you. We do have a good vegetarian section though and I encourage any veggies out there or indeed, anyone who doesn’t want to be straining on the toilet for twenty minutes at a pop, to have a look. Click the wee button!
Mind, normally I’d ignore requests for recipes because frankly, if I don’t enjoy eating it, it isn’t going on the blog. But I’m a sucker for a nice message as opposed to the usual how mani suns hon bollocks we tend to attract, so here we are. Just to complete the smug middle-class pretentiousness of it all, I found the recipe in the Guardian section. Whilst lounging in bed late on a Sunday morning, because I don’t have children pawing at me with dirty hands. I know, what a dreamboat!
Let’s do the recipe then – though first, please do take a moment to wish Paul a happy birthday. He’s a love!
Now this avocado pesto pasta is made without parmesan (good lord) and with avocado, which is, if you’re unfamiliar with Slimming World, THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD. It’s 14 syns for a whole avocado. Don’t worry though folks, a Kitkat Chunky is less syns, though doesn’t taste as good in guacamole. So here’s the thing: you can choose to syn it (and if you’re following Slimming World to the letter, you should) or you can accept that an avocado is a source of good fats, incredibly healthy for you and full of taste and flavour. Up to you…
to make avocado pesto pasta, you’ll need:
300g fine beans (sometimes called ‘French’ beans – buy the already-trimmed ones to save you faffing on)