recipe reacharound: one pot sausage and beans

If you have leftover sausage from our previous recipe for speedy sausage and leek skillet – and listen, we both know that you don’t – then you could chop them up and stick them into this one pot sausage and beans, one of our older classic recipes. This is a recipe reacharound, where we go back to check on the recipes of yore to make sure they’re still up to snuff and to re-photo them. It makes me cringe when I look back at what we used to consider acceptable as a photo – there’s one recipe which we’ve actually taken down because the food looks more like something a surgeon would pull from an infected wound than it does delicious food. But this one pot sausage and beans meal deserves some love and given there’s nothing more to it than frying off sausages and bubbling them in a pan with a few other ingredients, it’s a good place to start.

It’s funny looking back at that old recipe, though – it is one of our older holiday style blog entries from when we took a glamour-filled weekend away in Peterborough. Take a read here, it’ll open in a new tab. It’ll perhaps come as no surprise after reading that if I tell you I haven’t been back. Paul occasionally nips down to remind his fragrant, wonderful mother that he exists and indeed, spent a merry week there not so long ago. He had only been in town twenty minutes before he felt someone reaching into his pockets to try and grab his wallet. Thankfully being married to me and my miserliness has taught him to never let his wallet out of his sight and he was able to shoo away the literal cheeky beggar before he lost out. Being a sensible chap he went to tell a local policeman who looked disinterested and said ‘aye, it happens a lot round here’. Brilliantly reassuring.

You don’t get that sort of apathy from Vera mind, she’d have you down the station and shouting hmm pet in your face before you could even think about calling for a lawyer. It’s to my eternal chagrin that my mother has handed in her cuffs and is no longer a policewoman – 87% of any conversation I have with her is accusing her of being Vera, and that all ends now. Back to calling her Rainie Cross.

Anyway, we mustn’t dawdle – the point of these reacharounds are that they are meant to be snappy redos – so here we are: the one pot sausage and beans for your approval. We served ours on a jacket potato (calories not counted for that) but this does just as well on chips or even on its own, as a kind of super-thick soup. A quick word on the potatoes: if you choose ‘buttery’ potatoes (most supermarkets have them) you won’t need to slather them with butter after. We use Vivaldi potatoes from Sainsbury’s because we know not what we do, but there’s plenty of brands out there. Now, if you’re reading this and thinking what a ‘stupid cow’ I am for suggesting there’s such a thing as a buttery breed of potato I’ll say only this: you’re wrong. You’re so wrong! You don’t even know how wrong you are. But it’s OK, you’re pretty/hung (delete as appropriate).

Mind you, no home-baked potato ever tastes as good as those jacket potatoes that have been sitting in those potato ovens in staff canteens since the turn of the millennium. We used to have one back when I worked (using that term exceptionally lightly, my way into work involved going past a gay sauna and I often came in late – then turned up for work) at One North East and I swear I almost turned into a potato. Because I’m such a people person, and I once lent her my Mach 3 to sort her moustache out, the dinner lady used to save me the biggest potato and throw on a quantity of tuna mayonnaise that you could have comfortably rendered a house with. More than once I had to schedule a meeting with myself in one of the boardrooms just so I could have a doze after lunch. It’s little wonder the Tories shut us down, looking back. Anyway: recipe.

one pot sausage and beans

Served on top of a jacket potato, this one pot sausage and beans is proper filling.

one pot sausage and beans

I do like how the steam looks coming off the one pot sausage and beans here. There’s something hypnotic about it all.

one pot sausage and beans

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 massive dollops

We have changed a couple of things from the original recipe here, namely adding a carton of chopped tomatoes and some chickpeas and removing the Oxo cube, but honestly, something like this can be adapted any way you fancy. We just chucked whatever shite we had kicking around in the cupboard into it.

Paul's top tip for jacket potatoes is an oldie-but-goodie though: pierce all over, put in a massive bowl with a big drizzle of garlic oil and some sea salt, tumble about and then bake in the oven.

As usual, we have worked out the calories via the NHS calorie check and your result may differ - it really depends on the brands of sausages you use. Treat it as a rough estimate.

Ingredients

  • one tin of kidney beans in chilli sauce
  • one large white onion
  • one clove of garlic (minced)
  • four reduced fat sausages
  • one 200ml carton of chopped tomatoes
  • a good glug of worcestershire sauce
  • a little dollop of Marmite if the thought doesn't repel you
  • a tin of chickpeas

Instructions

  • stick your jacket potato in the oven if you're having one
  • about forty minutes before it comes out, fry off the onion in a little oil
  • cook your sausages whilst the onions are frying off, then slice them thinly
  • once the onions are softened, add your garlic and gently fry off for a minute
  • add your beans, chickpeas, glug of worcestershire sauce, Marmite if using and tomatoes
  • simmer for as long as you bloody well dare

Notes

Recipe

  • chuck in a tin of baked beans here instead of the chickpeas and tomatoes and it'll be lovely
  • fancy having your arse remind you that you need to be kinder to it - add a glug of chilli sauce

Books

  • our Fast & Filling cookbook has so many fabulous recipes in I can't even, but there's a tremendous chilli recipe in there if you like beans: order yours here! 
  • of course, twochubbycubs the cookbook is still a wonder in and of itself: click here to order
  • losing weight and flying right - try our planner: here

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 us whores must have our trinkets.

Courses sausages

Cuisine dinner time

I know right! All that for 260 calories! Want another potato topper? Don’t we all love. But coronation chicken done our way will warm your cockles! Click here to try that.

Goodbye forever!

J

recipe: super speedy sausage and leek skillet

Super speedy sausage and leek skillet time. Now, in the spirit of openness and honesty, I’m not entirely sure what a skillet is and should probably avoid using it, but let’s roll the dice. All I know is Paul made this for dinner the other day and it was bloody glorious, so here we are.

Before we start: if you’re just starting out on your diet and you want our book, it’s currently at time of writing £8 on Amazon or 99p on Kindle – that’s a steal! Click here to order that.

Speaking of Paul, it’s our anniversary tomorrow – twelve years of marriage. We’re not planning on getting gifts for one another because who needs that extra level of administration in their lives (plus Paul’s birthday is 8 January, and Valentines is the month after, so frankly that’s all my goodwill spent), however Google reliably informs me that the gifts for twelve years are silks and pearl. That’s easy then: I’ll blurt on his neck and dab it off after with a silk handkerchief. No wonder he looks so young!

Google also suggests that twelve years is almost 4400 days, which is just a bewildering amount of time, not least because Paul must have spent a good two thirds of them moaning at me for piddling on the bathroom floor, snoring too loudly or not observing the sanctity of our marriage. A stickler for the rules, always. But see I remember when I was young and six weeks felt like an eternity, or the weeks leading up to Christmas passing like cold treacle. You could throw a stone and hit the edge of what I considered my future. I could never imagine such a horror as being 25, let alone 36, and yet here I find myself, wincing at 95% of my Spotify Suggestions for being too ‘loud’ and making thankful ‘oooh‘ noises when we approach a particularly comfortable looking bench when out walking the dog.

You know when it hit home though? We were at our mates for New Years Eve and when the clock hit midnight and the big London firework display was kicking off, Paul turned to me and said ‘we should go next year’. Not sure why, if he wants loud explosions and pyrotechnical effects he only needs to step into our back yard, but he has said the same thing to me every year for twelve years now, save for the night I spent crying into the toilet whilst I tried desperately not to pebbledash the wall behind me thanks to some undercooked chicken. And every year we agree we will do it and then we put it off and at this point the only way I’ll see it is if they tip me into the Thames after my acid cremation. That’s what Paul and I have decided on by the way: rather than burning the body after death they dissolve you in acid and flush you down the toilet, though I imagine it’s a shade more glamorous than that. Makes sense: I lived through the foot and mouth crisis and I know what 1,100kg of beef smells like when it’s on fire. I’m doing you a favour.

This may read like I’ve got a touch of melancholy and I really haven’t – I’m actually quite content with my position in time – I can grow a salt and pepper beard and continue my slide into being a Daddy, for one. I own two pairs of slippers (padded for inside and waterproofs for outdoors) and smoke a pipe, so I’m halfway there already. But I have realised that time is hurtling by without a care for my procrastinations and I absolutely need to pull my socks up and course correct all the things I’ve been letting slide. This is as close to a ‘new year new me’ post that I parodied in the last entry but here we are. There’s a bit in Bridget Jones where she gives up smoking and shaves her legs in the bath and that’s where I am now, and if that just so happens to lead to me getting knobbed by Daniel Cleaver then that’s all the better. I always thought he was the better choice: Mark Darcy was such a wet weekend. Controversial but true.

To that end, after I’ve finished typing this up, I’m going to book a hotel for New Years Eve in London – if anything, the cost will give Paul and I something to moan about until we hit the thirteenth anniversary: the present for that is fur. That’s easy, he can fall asleep on my chest and spend the morning coughing up my chest hair.

Before we get to the recipe, I just wanted to set out how the blog is going to work going forward. Because this is now my full time job – Christ – I’m probably going to update it more than four times a year. As part of that, although most of the recipes will continue to be low calorie, we’ll also be posting other stuff that we’re cooking. For example, one of my (nineteen) resolutions of the year is to learn how to bake bread, because that is the rock and roll life I lead now, but I’ll be sticking those online as I go. I’m not going to promise that each recipe will come with the usual 2,000 words about absolutely nothing relevant, but it should mean that I get a chance to write more. In reality, I’ll probably update three times and then take up swimming. But, a boy can dream.

The super speedy sausage and leek skillet, then.

speedy sausage and leek skillet

As you can see – the speedy sausage and leek skillet doesn’t look like much, but it tastes good!

speedy sausage and leek skillet

The speedy sausage and leek skillet freezes surprisingly well, but don’t be adding the fried egg before you freeze it, obvs

super speedy sausage and leek skillet

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

One of those recipes which you can throw together without really thinking, which is always a plus in these workaday world. We have worked out the calories via Nutracheck and of course, they are a rough estimate: it all depends on what sausages you use, as some are more calorific than others. We've used Tesco reduced fat sausages for this but feel free to swap it out. This recipe is based on a Gousto recipe that we tried during the Christmas holiday and we've gussied it up a smidge to make it a bit more slimming. As is our way!

Ingredients

  • two medium leeks
  • four large eggs
  • 800g of potatoes - we use Vivaldi potatoes from Sainsbury's because we think we're better than you
  • 8 reduced fat sausages
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • a bunch of chives, finely sliced

Instructions

  • slice the leeks in half lengthways, then slice horizontally into little half-moons
  • dice the potatoes (skin on) into small cubes
  • place the diced potatoes into a large pan and cover with boiling water, sprinkle in a little salt and bring back to the boil over a high heat
  • cook for 10-15 minutes until tender, then drain
  • return the pan to the hob over a medium-high heat and spray with a little oil
  • add the leeks to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, until softened
  • meanwhile, score each of the sausages with a sharp knife and remove the skins (chuck the skins in the bin, or  give to a hungry dog)
  • add the sausage meat to the pan and stir regularly for 5-6 minutes, breaking them up with the spoon as you go
  • once the sausages are cooked, add the potatoes back to the pan and cook for another 6-8 minutes
  • stir through the mustard and then add half of the chives to the pan, stir again, and serve onto plates
  • put the pan back over a medium heat and add a little more oil
  • crack the eggs into the pan and cook or 2-3 minutes
  • serve the eggs over the hash and sprinkle over the remaining chives

Notes

Recipe

  • if you're buying fresh chives, make sure you stick the rest of the plant in a wee pot on the windowsill and water it from the bottom - don't let those bastards at Big Chive get you down
    • they really know their onions, after all
      • oh do one
  • if you're not arsed about the calories, swap the sausages for higher fat beasties and you'll be living the dream
  • doubly so if you add chopped chorizo in with the sausage meat, just saying

Books

  • our Fast & Filling cookbook has been out for a year now and still gets excellent reviews: order yours here! 
  • the original cookbook is also a delight and if you're wanting a good place to start, it's here: click here to order
  • and if you're on a diet, you can track your progress using our diet planner: here

Tools

  • the mandolin slicer that we always recommend is currently cheap on Amazon and absolutely worth a few quid - though please exercise caution with those fingertips of yours - you can buy it here

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 us whores must have our trinkets.

Courses dinner

Cuisine one-pot

Easy! If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial than the speedy sausage and leek skillet then can we recommend our one post sausage and boston beans served on top of a jacket potato? Because it’s fancy, just like you. Click the photo below to go straight there, though the updated recipe will be posted in a few days!

All our love etc

J&P

recipe reacharound: lovely loaded wedges

Well hello! Here for the lovely loaded wedges? But of course you are, you’re someone of excellent tastes, save for those cheap shoes and moustache. Praise be though, because this recipe is a reacharound – that is, we’ve taken a recipe from way back when on the blog, wiped its bum and gussied it up and, more importantly, worked out the calorie content. Because we’re that type of blog.

The original recipe – found here – is tasty enough but the photo does rather look like we cooked dinner on the elephant’s foot at Chernobyl. Long-time readers, you know what’s coming here, but won’t it be a delightful surprise for everyone else. A giant, molten, hazardous pile of hot slag, Paul is often found in the kitchen making this. Recycle a joke? Me? Never!

Reading that post from 2016, where I was twisting my gob about having to pay council tax…I didn’t know I was born, honestly. Our council tax (same property, mind you) has risen by a smart £350, and boy do we see the benefit of it. For example, we’ve now got more bins than we have things to put in them: one for glass, one for recycling, one for garden waste, one for Paul’s awful shirts – the list is endless. Well no, there’s only the general waste bin to include but for the sake of hyperbole, we’ll leave that out. Still, it does give us the joyful sight of the more senior neighbours all trying to out-do themselves to get their bin out first on collection day. I had to get up at 5am the other day to afford Goomba a chance to call his agent and there was one game old girl pulling her heaving bin to the kerb, dressed in her nighty. I let her get her bin into place and claim gold, then waved a cheery good morning, but she was too busy sitting on the pavement clutching her chest and shouting help. I told her I didn’t need any and left her to it.

But you know, I can take all of these annoyances if they just sped up collecting bulky waste. I’ve had two mattresses and an old armchair sat in our garage since April, and the earliest date they can send some burly blokes to hurl it into the back of a van is late September. I appreciate that logistically they have to send eight men tethered together in a human chain lest one of them falls into my mouth but even so. Even then we have to leave it outside all day which I don’t like the thought of: both of our mattresses look like sponges that God used to clean a combine harvester. They’re well used (mattresses shouldn’t squelch) to the point where we’ll probably be embroiled in a paternity test nine months later from random ladies walking past. Hell, if I drive to the tip at a modest speed with a screen showing some choice pornography in the rear view window, the mattresses will probably slosh their own way there.

I’d write a letter of complaint to my local MP but unless I put on a free buffet and some press photographers, there’s no chance of her turning up to assist. I will refrain from naming her – not least because if I say her name three times she may appear to tell me why schoolchildren should starve at lunchtime to build their spirit – but she’s as useless as balls on a dildo.

Anyway. Enough twisting. Let’s get to the lovely loaded wedges, shall we? They’re a thing of beauty, you’ll agree. Or so help me God.

lovely loaded wedges

Top your lovely loaded wedges with whatever you like. Or, top me, but we’ll need to discuss logistics first

lovely loaded wedges

It’s the same dish of lovely loaded wedges but turned a different way: magic!

lovely loaded wedges

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This serves four people a normal portion or, if you're like us and the thought of being hungry eight days from now is a terror, two. Adjust the ingredients accordingly.

And, look, this isn't anything especially fancy and can be customised to your heart's content. Add whatever toppings you like: fried onions work, as do jarred peppers, as does enough cheese to make sure you don't need to stock the pond for a week or two. You could even reduce the amount and serve it with hot-dogs, but then you could do a lot of things if you had the money.

Finally, we work all of our recipe calories out using Nutracheck - remember your calorie count may be different depending on what type of cheese you use and all that, so calorie count is a rough guide only!

Ingredients

  • 800g of Maris Piper potatoes cut into wedges
  • one beef stock cube
  • 100g of extra mature cheddar
  • two teaspoons of olive oil (use flavoured if you have it)
  • bunch of spring onions
  • one pack of bacon medallions (or normal bacon, but this is a rare occasion when you're fine without the fat)
  • 25ml of ranch dressing (we use Newman's Own) 
  • 25ml of hot sauce (we use Frank's Red Hot stuff)
  • chilli flakes

Instructions

  • pop your wedges into a bowl with the oil and the crumbled beef stock cube and tumble them around, making sure everything is coated, then:
    • cook for about twenty five minutes on 200 degrees until soft; or
    • whack them in the Actifry until they're golden
  • cook the bacon off under the grill and chop finely
  • chop the spring onion, green and white
  • once the wedges are done, arrange them on a tray if not done already, top with the sauce, cheese, dressing and chilli flakes
  • add more cheese, we both know you

Notes

Recipe

  • as mentioned, you can chuck anything on here
  • minced sausage fried off would be lovely

Books

Courses wedges

Cuisine twochubbycubs

And that’s your lot – I’ll thank you to stay out of my affairs.

Want something else to do with your potatoes? Try this potato salad below!

slimming world bbq

Goodbye forever!

J

recipe: pumpkin and bacon soup

Remember last week when I gave you a quick recipe for soup? Well! Here we go again – this time it’s for pumpkin and bacon soup. Big fan of soup here at Chubby Towers Adjacent and this series of soups is all about recipes where you can buy the stuff pre-chopped and hoy it all in a pan or soup-maker and crack on!

Now had we been one of those super organised blogs we would have had this soup up around the hallowe’en time so that people had spare pumpkin around, but we’re not. We’ve only just got round to updating Realplayer and we can’t wait to bring you some video recipes soon.

Mind, I used to love hallowe’en, even if trick or treating in my family meant putting on a barely cleaned bag that had blown in from the farm next door, hollowing out a turnip, sticking a candle in it and schlepping around the village knocking on locked doors. No wonder they didn’t answer: nothing says ‘trick or treat’ than a ‘ghost’ emblazoned with ICI Chemicals mincing down your path smelling like a carvery.

They didn’t bother dressing Paul up to go trick-or-treating either, though I presume when he rocked up on a doorstep with his fragrant mother by his side, they assumed it was just Fester and Grandmama from the Addams Family.  The realism!

Anyway, I said this would be a quick recipe, didn’t I? So we must crack on! To the pumpkin and bacon soup!

pumpkin and bacon soup

This spicy pumpkin and bacon soup is gorgeous, but if you have a sensitive nipsy, leave the spice out!

pumpkin and bacon soup

If you can’t find pumpkin, then swap it out for butternut squash! Right, let’s get this pumpkin and bacon soup on the go!

spicy pumpkin and bacon soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 bowls

Now then, this spicy pumpkin and bacon soup doesn't need to be spicy, you can always leave that bit out at the end if you so desire. As before, we made ours in a Tefal Easy Soup but you can just chuck it all in a pan and blend it after half an hour. You don't need anything fancy here! But they are good, mind.

Ingredients

  • 500g of finely chopped pumpkin
  • 100g of chopped white onion
  • 75g of chopped cooked bacon
  • 1tsp each of garlic and ginger paste
  • 500ml of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp of chilli flakes

Instructions

  • if using a pan, chuck everything in (save for some of the bacon) and simmer for about twenty minutes or until the pumpkin is soft
  • blend and top with chilli sauce and bacon bits

Of course, if you're using the Tefal Easy Soup - chuck it in, press the soup button, it'll blend when it's ready!

Notes

Recipe

  • as I mentioned, you can swap pumpkin for butternut squash, and I dare say it will be easier to peel
  • you can buy pre-chopped pumpkin and butternut squash in most supermarkets, you lazy cow

Books

  • LOVE THIS RECIPE? You should see some of the amazing recipes in our new cookbook - out December 31! 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 soup

Cuisine twochubbycubs

There you go! More soup recipes needed? Nee bother!

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

the best damn pulled pork we’ve ever done

Pulled pork: one of those things that happen to the best of us when we’re locked down and not much to do. Seriously, mine is about to drop off. However, I picked up a shoulder of pork in the reduced bit in Morrisons for £1.60 and, after leaving it sweating in my car for about six hours, realised I had to save it. So, pulled pork burgers it was. The benefit of this recipe is that you get enough pulled pork to make a thousand other things with – wraps, pasta bakes, I even stuck some in a cheese toastie the other day. We’ve used an Instant Pot to speed up the pulled pork but you can make it in a slow cooker just as easily.

Quick mention: our planner has now been finalised and is being printed – if you want a diet planner with tonnes of room to record your thoughts, plenty of us pointing at you, 26 recipes…all sorts – you can order it here (it’ll open in a new window), and I heartily promise you’ll love it!

However, before you get to the pulled pork recipe, there’s a hell of a long entry to read and/or scroll past. See, I’m very conscious that I haven’t been writing much (well, I have, but nothing I can share with you, yet) and, god love you all, you guys do seem to enjoy my scribbles. So, rather like the writers of Doctor Who at the moment, I’m scrambling through my old writings to see what I am yet to publish. I’m not so arrogant to think you’ll all be chomping at the bit to read, but if you have ten minutes, what follows is part two of our trip to Niagara Falls. Which is a tiny, tiny part of our massive book on our trip, bits of which I have scattered around on the laptop. I always enjoy writing the trip reports, so I hope you like them.

As an aside, I recently pulled together a load of clips from Canada for Paul so we can look back and shake our heads and be thankful I got over the gastroenteritis I was suffering from at the time. You can find the video here:

I know, we’ve never looked better. To the next chapter then!

Click here to read part one! It’ll open in a new window. Probably.

Niagara Falls, then. We decided to have a stroll along to see it from the side. There’s an option to ‘cross the rainbow bridge’ and see it from the American side, but why bother? Plus the phrase rainbow bridge makes my teeth itchy, because I’ve seen it used in conjunction with dogs dying on Facebook and it’s nearly always accompanied by a trite quote and a Minion. We stopped for a moment to get the biggest ice-cream I’ve ever seen in my life from a place called Sweet Jesus. It was bigger than my head, and I had to apply for planning permission for my fivehead. Paul fibbed and told them it was his birthday so they gave him an extra scoop and stuck a candle in the top.

I’m glad, for a fleeting ten minutes, we were able to provide everyone with the stereotypical sight of two morbidly obese blokes eating enough ice-cream to feed a Christmas orphanage. I went at that ice-cream like a sex-starved sailor going at a portside snatch. It’s a bad job when someone who had been poured over a mobility scooter like hot wax gives you a withering look at your excesses.

The Falls, then. Here’s a revelation. Like so many things in life, including 90% of my Grindr dick appointments, it doesn’t look as big in real- life as they’ve made it look in photos. Presumably because they’re not pressing so hard into their pube fat-pad that they’ve got diamonds forming in their thumb-print. Don’t get me wrong, the main falls (i.e. the one you’ll know, the Horseshoe Falls) is 800m across, it’s not exactly an emptying bath, but I dunno – I expected bigger. Story of my life.

Favourite fact? In 1901, a 63 year old schoolteacher named Annie Taylor climbed into a barrel and set away, only to be washed over the falls. Oops. They found her barrel a few hundred meters downstream and out she popped, exclaiming that “no one ought ever to do that again”. Talk about an action nana! My nana, at least before we returned her to the Earth in a cloud of smouldering winceyette, used to get out of breath spreading butter on her toast in the morning. Best part is, Adventurous Annie didn’t get paid for her exciting adventure. I’d have been furious and sulked in my barrel for at least three days.

Oh, and 90% of fish that get swept over survive AND have some cracking Instagram shots afterwards.

Speaking of Instagram shots, some random ones to punctuate the words:

The waterfall was pretty. I wish I could do it justice with words but frankly, it’s a lot of water sloshing over a giant crack, and I covered that with my bubble-bath tale. But, because I’m an uncultured queen, I gazed at it for about five minutes, wondered how it would feel to be swept over the edge and then was ready to move on. Once you’ve got a picture (and trust me, that’s an adventure, given the sheer amount of tourists standing in front of it doing wistful looks into the distance) you’re kinda done. Worth the trip to say you’ve done it, but well. We stayed for another ten minutes watching the lights change and then went to find a pub.

A bar called Spyce came to the rescue (although I did wince at the weird Y in the name – love, Jaymes) and we were soon settled right behind a live singer with a flight of beer that extended to the sky. It was tremendous – lots of locally brewed beers and ales all with puns in the title. That’s my dream, right there, and we were having a great time until the singer started with his Tracy Chapman covers. Paul was dilating with pleasure and me? Well, if you have been a long-term reader you’d realise I’d sooner have extensive pulsatile tinnitus than listening to that warbling hellcat and so, we nicked off to the arcades. She absolutely infuriates: two chords on her guitar and no hope in her voice.

After a long night of pissing away the beer and altogether too much in the arcades, we went to bed. Our bathroom still looked like a pre-go-kart game in Fun House, only we didn’t have a walking mullet offering us the chance to win a ruler with a calculator in it. Gutted.

We awoke the next day, surprisingly refreshed for two lads with a surprise 2am Grindr visit from the floor below. My beard looked as though someone had spilled PVA glue on the floor of a barbershop but you know, a hot shower and a quick apology prayer to God soon put that right. We decided to do a few tours and so, after a keen breakfast buffet, we went out to find the information desk. We found it after a fashion which necessitated me having a strop, taking up smoking and a brief interlude where I considered going home, and joined the queue of about six groups.

We were there FOR NEARLY A WHOLE FUCKING HOUR. I’ve never known such unbelievably slow service. I don’t know whether the cashier was physically getting up and driving each customer to the various lookout points but it would have been quicker to wait for the waterfall to erode to the point where we just fell in. Christ almighty. Grim British Resolve meant we couldn’t move but we were entertained at least by the little Chinese lady in front who, after fifteen minutes of flapping her arms about, was smartly stung by a wasp right on the end of her nose. The first aider in me wanted to step in and help but the selfish, mean bastard in me overruled that and was glad to take her place when she had to step out crying. Pfft: amateur hour.

We arrived at the front after stopping to celebrate our 12th and 13th wedding anniversary in the queue (the Chinese lady had returned at this point, and I like to think the tears in her eyes wasn’t just venom leaking out) and were busy being served when some chap started proper kicking off in the queue because he thought a gaggle of Chinese ladies had pushed in. They hadn’t, they’d just done the entirely sensible thing of going off whilst another member of the family stayed put). He was giving it great classy guns, shouting in their face in loud Australian whilst they look confused and scared. I shouted oi but kept my face to the ticket lady, which gave her such a start that she sped her way through dispensing the tickets and drawing on our map and sent us on our way. I’d have stepped in but a) I wanted my tickets. There’s no b) – I’m horrendous.

Our first tour necessitated a bus-trip up the road, which I was eternally grateful for as up until that point I’d barely had a chance to sit down and send my eighty thousand texts and Instagram shots. Paul has so many photos of me taking photos of myself in his phone that we’ve almost reached Inception levels of vanity. The tour wasn’t even of the falls themselves but rather a wee bit down the river where the waters boil and swirl in a narrow gorge, and you’re taken over this water in a charming little cable car that the attendant took great care to tell us was ‘ancient’ and ‘rickety’ but ‘had never had an accident’. Hmm. I’m fine with heights but thundering water scares the bejesus out of me – Paul was happy as larry but it was all I could do not to rainbow-yawn over the side. I definitely drowned in a previous life – I get the willies when you take the plug out of a bath and the tiny whirlpool appears, for goodness sake.

It was beautiful, to be fair, and we got some cracking photos, but boy was I glad to be off. We spotted an iHop over the road and, buoyed up by excellent memories of Disney-times past, we made our way in, only to be curtly told that they shut at half two. It was half one. I reassured them that an hour was probably more than enough time for us to choke some dry pancakes down and then immediately resolved to order something I knew would need to be cooked fresh. Bastards.

We were shown to our seats by a man whose face betrayed the fact he’d had to battle for every erection he’d ever had and who then proceeded to serve us with all the enthusiasm of a prostitute’s eighth blowjob of the day. I mistook his grave attitude and dour face for an attempt at deadpan humour, and was badly mistaken: he was just a miserable fucker. He took our order without a please or a thank you, looked like he was about to cry when I asked for a refill and Christ, when Paul asked for some ketchup, you’d think he’d asked to borrow the waiter’s shoes. I’ve never seen such a downcast expression and, may I remind you, I used to have summer holidays in Darlington.

Now, you might be reading this thinking he was having a bad day, perhaps he didn’t want to deal with two jolly Englishmen wanting sustenance, and that’s possibly true: but fake it, mate. I don’t need a half-hour rimjob when I come into a restaurant but a degree of civility and a look that doesn’t suggest I trod dog-shit into the carpet will suffice. Things came to a head when I very gently pointed out that my steak philly sandwich had clearly been served straight from Alexander Fleming’s lunchbox, given the amount of mould growing on it, and he took the baguette, rubbed it on his pinny to check I hadn’t just painted the mould on myself, and took it away without a word of an apology.

Well, fuck that for a game of soldiers. It’s not like I have high food standards: I just prefer my sandwiches to be cold and emotionless, not sentient and able to move of their own volition. We slapped ten dollars on the table to pay for our drinks and walked straight out. I imagine he’s probably still there, looking at our empty seats with those big watery eyes and wondering where it all went wrong. We jumped on the bus and made our way to the next tour, a walk behind the falls.

Of course, before we could do that, Paul let me know that he needed a waterfall of his very own: from his anus. Smooth bit of writing, that. We nipped into the gift shop so that he could strangle a brownie and I was left to mince around looking at the tat on show whilst he took care of business.

I love a gift shop, especially a naff one, and I can spend a lot of time fingering lumps of wood with Niagara on and the exact same shirts and jerseys we’d seen literally everywhere else but with Niagara stencilled across them in Lucinda Handwriting. I was cooing to myself and wondering just how they sell enough china replicas of waterfalls to make it worthwhile giving them their own stand when I heard the thunder of a pair of George trainers rushing towards me. Paul skidded to a halt with a face that said ‘deportation imminent’ before clutching my sleeve and pulling me out of the shop as though it was about to blow up.

I cast a stricken glance over my shoulder as we rushed for the exit only to see about twelve Orthodox Jewish women waving their arms and shouting at us. It was only once we’d hyper-minced to the relative safety of a Baskin Robbins stand that Paul, breathlessly, clued me in as to the cause of all the tumult. He’d seen the queue for the gents stretching well into the bank of ‘I wish my husband got me as wet as Niagara’ XXXXL shirts and decided to instead nip into the ‘accessible toilet’, which was open for all. Not the disabled toilet, mind you: the genderfluid shitter.

In he had dashed, unbuckling his kegs as he jostled towards the trap, only for the door to burst open in his face to reveal a woman crimping off a hot turd and, inexplicably, another eleven or so ladies all bent around her watching what she was doing. Mortified, Paul starts putting his cock away, they all start shrieking and screaming, and out he dashed with a bright red face and a turtle’s head poking out. I’ve never seen him move so fast, and this is a chap who appears like the Tardis if he so much as hears a Toblerone being snapped. We never found out why they were all in there, why they didn’t lock the door or whether the Shitting Lady felt better after dropping the kids off, and we’ll never know. One of life’s little mysteries. We took the opportunity to join our tour ‘Behind the Falls’.

Now, admittedly, I could have guessed from the name, but a tour ‘behind the waterfalls’ wasn’t exactly much to write home about. You can look at a waterfall from many interesting perspectives: from the air to appreciate the scope, from a boat to take in the noise, from the edge to gain a new found love of life. What isn’t interesting is viewing a waterfall from behind. Think about it: you’re led down a couple of dank tunnels only to experience the ‘fascinating’ sight of water thundering down in front of you in a window sized hole. I felt like a Toilet Duck on curry night. You could have held up a badly-tuned television for the same effect.

Inexplicably, hundreds of tourists were snapping pictures of this astonishing vista as though it was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and as a consequence, we couldn’t move because of all the mouth-breathers getting their photos just-so. It was awful, and I do not recommend. Half an hour we were down there and the only respite from the misery was me suffocating myself with the poncho, initially for a joke but then with a certain sincerity in my eyes as my lips turned blue. I took a picture and sent it to a friend who is well into suffocation play: fair took his breath away.

We hustled to the next tour – the famous one, mind, the Maid of the Mist. You know it: get on a boat with nine thousand other tourists, bob towards the bottom of the falls and get wet. I’m not doing it justice – it was fantastic and awe-inspiring and terrifying and wonderful – but again, it’s still just a waterfall. We’d seen this friggin’ waterfall from the air, from the side, from behind and now from the bottom. At this point I felt so close to the falls that I almost unlocked my private Growlr pics for him.

Oh: memory unlocked! When I was at school, a friend of mine appeared on 999: International when the boat he was on at the top of the falls broke down and started drifting towards the edge. That’s frightful luck, isn’t it? We all put it down to the fact his family and indeed, himself, were so astonishingly fat, and it led to all manner of ‘he’s fat, he’s round, he bounces on the ground’ songs for a good few months, until he kicked a window out on the school bus on the way home and ran away. Honestly, kids can be so cruel. Me especially. I was driving the bus, and this was only last year. His drifting boat was rescued by the hydroelectric workers just up the river, as it happens.

We docked up, and went for another beer. See, there’s a problem with Niagara: once you’ve got cooing at the waterfall out of the way, you’re stuck in a town that doesn’t have an awful lot going on for it. Cultured folk might drive on and visit one of the myriad beautiful villages nearby but well, we aren’t cultured, unless you count what’s growing on Paul’s taint. Which we ought to have looked at but hey, free Brie. So, to give all the people who buy Chat to sit on their coffee table something to do, they’ve built a strip of the most magnificent shite imaginable. It’s like Blackpool, only you don’t get given a cocktail of naloxone and Imperial Leather upon entry as a precautionary matter. Look it up: that joke works so much better than you imagine.

Here in Newcastle we have a seaside town called Whitley Bay. It’s just the ticket if you’re a stag party wanting to work on your STD catalogue and the beaches are terrific if you enjoy basking in a fetid mix of dimps and dog turds. To compensate for the lack of sunlight, vitamins and wholesome fun they tried many things: carnival rides which collapsed, arcades which take your money either through rigged machines or getting mugged by someone in a tracksuit with teeth installed by the council, summer festivals consisting of a stand selling knock-off Ella-with-Mumps dolls and tiny fried doughnuts – but nothing has ever worked. There’s always an air of gloom and poverty hanging over the place and hell, that’s Niagara for you, only with a giant overflowing bath in the middle.

Of course, we absolutely fucking loved it. There’s nothing more attractive to me than shite attractions with ridiculously high entrance prices: it’s why I married Paul, and gave away my soul. What follows in the next post will be a mince through some of Niagara’s premier entertainment choices. Strap in, give yourself a quick spray of your B&M David Beckham aftershave, and enjoy…once we come back. Which given my posting history, will be sometime in 2022.


To the pulled pork then. You can throw anything in with this, in all honesty, but we found this works well.

pulled pork

I mean just look at that. Perfect for Slimming World, given it’s only half a syn.

pulled pork

This stage is important – don’t be tempted to skip it.

pulled pork

We have our own mushroom ketchup courtesy of the good folks at Geo Watkins!

pulled pork

75 minutes in the Instant Pot and this Slimming World friendly pulled pork is yours!

pulled pork

That glass in the background – three parts lager, one part Fanta. Gorgeous!

amazing BBQ (ish) pulled pork

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 massive servings

This is a dead easy pulled pork recipe, which pretty much makes itself. The Instant Pot makes this a one pot, quick dinner but you can do it in the slow cooker if you prefer.

Ingredients

Again, use this as a rough guide, but there's really no exact science here. We used treacle because we like the taste, but you can swap it out for brown sugar. Up to you, but the syns are negligible when split between the easily eight portions this makes.

  • 1.5kg of pork shoulder, fat removed and cut into chunks about the size of your fist
    • well not your fists, a normal person's fists
  • two tablespoons of treacle (4 syns)
  • two teaspoons of salt
  • few good grinds of black pepper
  • one teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • one teaspoon of garlic powder
  • one teaspoon of onion powder
  • one teaspoon of ground mustard
  • a good pinch of chilli flakes (leave out if you don't want your arse troubled)
  • 300ml of chicken stock
  • 150ml passata
  • more than a fair few shakes of mushroom ketchup (we use Geo Watkins' ketchup here, but if you can't find it, add Worcestershire Sauce)

Speaking of Geo Watkins, they were excellent enough to send us a personalised bottle to try - we use it all the time, but shamefully, it hasn't come up in recent recipes! We do recommend it - it's like a more savoury Worcestershire sauce. Paul hates mushrooms but loves it!

Instructions

  • place your pork chunks into a massive bowl and tip over the dry ingredients
  • add the treacle - if you do it from a spoon, try and cover the pork all over as it slowly, slowly, slowly drips
  • get your fingers in - you want to rub the ingredients in as much as possible - I take five minutes or so here, and then have a cigarette after to calm down and feel ashamed of myself
  • then, depending on whether you're doing this in an Instant Pot or not...

Instant Pot

  • click 'Saute', add a fair glug of oil to the bottom and when hot, sear the chunks of pork on all sides - you'll probably need to do it in two batches
  • once done, add the trivet, then the stock, then the pork
  • seal the Instant Pot and set the pressure to high for 75 minutes
  • go play with your ha'penny and come back once it's done, letting it vent naturally 
  • once safe to do so, open the Instant Pot, drain the liquid (but keeping about 100ml aside), shred the pork with two forks, tip the passata and the leftover liquid back in
  • hit saute and let everything bubble away until the sauce has reduced right down - make sure you keep stirring
  • serve however you want - we put ours in burgers with a brioche bun, cheese, lettuce and pickled red onion - but we're fat

Slow cooker

  • as above, but you're gonna wanna add the passata right at the start, and leave it to burble away for eight hours
  • shred the meat and if there is still too much sauce, throw it all in a big pan and cook it right down

Notes

Courses pork

Cuisine dunno, whatever

Hope you all enjoyed! Want more pork ideas? Filthy cow. Try these!

Enjoy!

J

cheesy sprouts and bacon side-dish

Cheesy sprouts and bacon as a side-dish? I know, but it’s Christmas, and the little fart-balls deserve some love. Get it made! I appreciate that I’m the side-dish that you really want under your tree this Christmas, but I’m otherwise engaged.

Before we get to the cheesy sprouts and bacon, a gentle reminder that our cookbook comes out in two weeks, and frankly, if you haven’t ordered it, then what’s wrong with you? 100 slimming recipes to help you lose weight with the typical twochubbycubs humour splattered across it like a hedgerow edition of Razzle. You can pre-order it for £10 by clicking on the tasteful banner below, which will open in a new window!

chicken, chorizo and seafood paella

Now before we get to the cheesy sprouts and bacon I must warn you that there’s a long entry ahead from our latest holiday. Buckle up buckaroo, it’s a good one, but if you’re so inclined, you know what you need to do: click the banner to go straight to the recipe.

As ever: our holiday entries tend to be skewed a little more adult, so if you’re a sensitive soul, please, click the banner

I know, forgive us: we are on holiday an awful lot. But in our defence, we never made the mistake of fathering children and so we can fritter away our pound coins with literal gay abandon. Plus, the world is out there to be seen and there’s hardly any chance with my current lifestyle choices that I’ll be one of those older folks in leisurewear prancing around the Alps, so let’s take what we can before the rickets kick in. Continue reading

sausage colcannon bake: utterly delicious

Here for the sausage colcannon bake? Of course you are, and I’ll get to it, but I first I want to express my dismay. If you’re only here for the food, scroll down to the pictures!

A year or so ago I posted that I was going to try and ‘be nicer’, less quick to temper, warmer to strangers and generally, a more affable guy.

I finally got round to implementing that today and decided that from the moment I got up until the moment I went to bed, I’d be ‘good’. I let Paul get up and make my breakfast without intervening (I know, I’m a joy). That went well, and I was rewarded with scrambled eggs made from duck eggs as a result.

I then set off for work, giving the neighbour a cheery wave as I left the street. As usual, he stood there with his face that would make an onion cry and point-blank ignored me. He always does this, just because I once had the temerity to put up a Vote Labour sign and I don’t shit myself every morning when I read the latest tripe in the tabloids) (oh, and the cock-loving doesn’t endear me to him, either). Off to a good start! The short drive in took an hour because someone put their brake lights on in Cornwall and thus every car in existence had to immediately stop. Nevermind, we’ll get there eventually, there’s no rush!

Against better judgement, I flashed some painted harlequin in a financed-Audi out at a tricky junction. Normally, given they were driving an Audi and were therefore the worst people in the world (you know I’m right) I’d have sailed past sticking my fingers surreptitiously up on the side of my face, but no, be nice! Did I get a wave? A blink of acknowledgement? A smile? Did I balls. I did however enjoy a far more exciting drive as she wandered all over the road in front of me with her phone in her hand. It’s hard to remain focussed on being nice when you’re hoping for her tyres to blow-out and impale her on a broken street-light. But hey. Worse things happen in Rome.

Work passed in its usual way and you better believe my day was lightened when someone on the phone asked ‘to speak to someone who could actually be of some use’ despite them ringing the wrong number entirely and asking for the wrong person. Doesn’t matter, James: smile when you dial hun. A quick toilet break was full of deleting posts from our group from people who think the rules don’t apply to them and no, really, I want a facebook full of ‘how many syns in my shitty knock-off Muller yoghurt’. But hey! They know no better!

Luckily, I had the afternoon off – plenty of opportunities to smile at people and pay it forward. I decided to drive to Craster and do a nice five mile trek up to the ruined castle and then around in a loop. Lovely! I especially loved the last four miles of windy road which was only made better by being stuck behind a caravan – who needs a sea-view when you’ve got the Turbo-Sprinter Deluxe 1999 in puce weaving in front of you at a slow crawl, driven by two people who died last year. Clearly pulling over was beyond them, and why would they? Why, they have as much right to be on that road as anyone else.

I pulled into the car-park only to find all 80 of the parking spaces taken up by 60 cars, all parked rakishly over the lines to ensure no-one scratched their expensive, fancy motors. I sat and waited – big grin now – as an elderly couple doddled back to their car – at last, a free space. Nope: they opened up their wee tupperware boxes of sandwiches and sat chewing themselves to death. My grin, now rictus, would only have been dashed had they choked on a stray bit of egg salad. It’s always egg salad, presumably because it masks the smell of decomposition that occurs when you seal the aged in a red-hot Suzuki Swift.

Ticked off, I parked outside of one of the bays and minced into town – I say minced, I can barely walk at the moment as I spent an hour doing squats on Monday and now every step looks like I’ve shit myself. Nevertheless, I gamely struggled along the path, approached the gate to access the field where the walk started only for some old fart in altogether too much knitwear to shut it pretty much in my face despite watching me painfully hobble up to it. I don’t think it’s too much of an over-reaction to hope he’d do a Harold Bishop and tumble unnoticed into the sea, dashing his beetroot-nosed skull on the sharp rocks, then be swept out to sea unable to call for help because he’d been paralysed from the fall and only had a lifetime of regret and missed opportunity to comfort him as he gasped his last in the water. On I went.

A sheep gave me a shitty look. I stepped in a cow-pat. I got stuck behind a group of haw-haw-jolly-good ramblers braying on about their hiking boots for a good ten minutes, unable to slip past because I can’t walk at speed. The castle itself was fascinating and the man behind the counter had a lovely Scottish burr in his voice that almost made me pay another year’s membership to English Heritage, save for the fact I had to wait ten minutes whilst a coach party dithered and dathered at him about places to go in the area. I wanted to suggest the crematorium, but kept quiet. Be nice. When I was eventually served, all my positivity had disappeared, and paying £1.90 for a Diet Coke did little to help. I finished my walk in a gloom and made my way back to the car, only stopping to leap out of the way of a giant pristine white Range Rover (of course) driven by a gammon of a man who thundered down the road with his phone to his ear. Again.

I realised at that point that being nice was to have no reward for me, and bollocks, let’s get back to being mean-spirited and cruel. As I was leaving the car-park I spotted another pair of Saga-louts pulling in and driving around looking for a space. I handed them my pay-and-display ticket and trilled ‘it’s good for another few hours’. They looked positively delighted, and for a moment I felt guilty. See, in a fit of ill-temper, I’d deliberately given them the pay and display ticket from a different car-park from last week, and I know they’re shit-hot on parking control in Craster so that means they’ve doubtless got a ticket.

Ooops.

My drive back was far more pleasant as I spent most of it deciding how I’d ruin the Earth if I ever became an overlord. Let’s be honest: it’s so much more fun being an arsehole, yes? But if you see me out and about, give me a smile. Try and change my view on life. Make me hopeful that there’s something other than blackness out there.

Tell you what will cheer you up though: our sausage colcannon bake. You’ll love it, because it’s easy to make and tastes damn fine. Let’s do the recipe.

sausage colcannon bake

sausage colcannon bake

sausage colcannon bake

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Sausage colcannon bake - listen, it's sausage casserole topped with mashed tatties and kale. It's proper comfort food and listen, it's not going to make itself. It freezes well, serves four (MASSIVE portions, mind) and is easy to knock out. Get on it!

Ingredients

  • 6 medium-sized potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 80g kale
  • 1 egg
  • 8 sausages (see notes)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp plain flour (4 syns)
  • 3 beef stock cubes dissolved in 500ml boiling water
  • 125g sliced mushrooms
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 1tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 200ºc
  • put the potatoes in a large saucepan, fill with cold water until covered and bring to the boil
  • reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes, then drain
  • meanwhile, splash in a little bit of water to another pan and add the kale
  • cook over a high heat for 3 minutes until softened a bit
  • crack the egg into the potatoes and mash with the kale and add some salt and pepper to taste, and keep to one side
  • next, cook the sausages however you like (see notes)
  • spray a large frying pan with some oil and add the onions
  • fry over a medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and beginning to caramelise
  • add the flour and whisk with the onions for about a minute, then slowly add a little stock at a time, continually whisking, until you have a thickened gravy
  • add the sausages to the pan along with the mushrooms, peas, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaf and give a good stir
  • tip into a large dish and gently spoon the mash on top, spreading evenly across the top
  • bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes

Notes

  • we used the syn free sausages from our Muscle Food deal in this - you can use whichever sausages you like but remember to check the syns
  • you can leave the egg out of the mash if you like but it really does make it taste creamy - trust us! if you prefer to use milk or butter or whatever you can, just remember to syn it
  • we cooked the sausages in our Tefal Actifry (best to remove the paddle) and you can cook yours however you like, under the grill, in a frying pan, Optigrill, George Foreman, Airfryer... it's up to you!
  • not a fan of kale? swap it with whatever you like
  • use this oil sprayer instead of Fry Light if you don't want your pans to be ruined

Courses soul food

Cuisine comfort

See? Easy! Want some more comfort dishes? Why not have a review of some of the following:

I’m off to smile at people.

J

super cheesy ham and cheese scones

Ham and cheese scones. Nope. They’re not Slimming World friendly. But sometimes, you’ve got to let your gunt out, shake that Elnett-by-proxy out of your hair and live your life a little. Anyway, a little bit of what you fancy does you good, or at least it does until you’re left with an STD and Graeme from Jeremy Kyle is fussing about your nethers with a box of tissues. I’m feeling a bit soured towards the whole Slimming World thing at the moment anyway: any diet where people are making lemon meringue pies by scrapping a Muller yoghurt into a pastry made from PEASE PUDDING isn’t good.

To be fair, that’s not Slimming World’s fault such as it is people just trying to eat without spending syns, which is ridiculous but ground that we’ve covered so many times before that I earned my Body Magic Platinum badge (urgh) just from eye-rolling alone. You know, perhaps if they changed the name from something as negative as syns (short for synergy or some other such abbol) (abbol being short for absolute bollocks) people would be more inclined to ‘spend’ them instead of fretting about eating something perfectly normal.

Ah well. If I had to represent via the medium of cat how I feel looking at these recipes for Frankenfood, this is it:

I’ve never known a cat have such resting bitch face. For balance, here’s Bowser.

Don’t hate them because they’re beautiful. Shall we do cheese scones then?

cheese scones

super cheesy cheese scones - no, not Slimming World friendly

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 13 scones

Cheese scones, proper ones mind you, with no nonsense. These have more cheese in them than is entirely decent and you know, that's good because frankly, if you're not having mild chest pains spreading the butter, then are you even alive?

I use the recipe from theguardian because I'm a hippy-drippy middle-class sort. Feel free to swap the butter for Trex and the gentle touch for a bad attitude, if you're so inclined.

Oh and if you're wondering why a diet blog contains a recipe for cheese scones, it's simple: because we're a cooking blog, and we all have a naughty side. Though if your idea of being naughty is a cheese scone, we need to get you out more...

Ingredients

  • 450g of self-raising flour (70 syns)
  • 1 tsp of smoked salt (ordinary salt is fine)
  • 1 tbsp of English mustard powder
  • 100g of cold, from-the-fridge, salted butter (36 syns)
  • 250g extra strong mature cheese, plus a bit extra for the top (50 syns)
  • 180g of shredded ham hock (buy it from Tesco, it's cheap, or cut up some ham yourself)
  • 120ml of cold milk
  • 120ml of cold water
  • 1 egg, beaten up with a drop or two of milk

156 syns. Oops! 12 syns each.

Instructions

  • heat your oven to 220 degrees
  • sift your flour, salt and mustard powder into a big bowl
  • grate in the butter and rub with the tips of your finger until you have fine sand
  • grate in the cheese and add the ham, then stir to combine
  • mix in the milk and water until everything starts to bind together, but don't overwork it - it'll be a sticky dough to begin with but you'll get there
  • tip onto a floured surface and roll to about 2cm high
  • cut into circles of about 6cm across, reshaping as you need
  • pop on a good non-stick baking tray, brush with the egg and milk mix and top with lots more cheese
  • cook in the oven until golden on top - mine took about 16 minutes

Mine came out perfectly but scones are a bitch sometimes - if they don't come out looking great, who cares: strive for good taste, not good looks!

Notes

You don't need any expensive kit to bake. A big bowl, a grater and some scone cutters. Hell, you can use a pint glass if you want. But if you're looking for ideas:

Courses x-rated, scones

Cuisine naughty

I know, right? Want more naughty ideas? We don’t have many but the ones we have…

Ta

J

jerk pork and pineapple skewers: get them grilling!

Well look, if there’s two lads you can rely on to jerk your pork, it’s us! Jerk pork and pineapple skewers! Another skewer recipe but it’s glorious weather and this is the type of food you need to enjoy. Plus, if the weather lets you down, there’s nothing to stop you throwing these under the grill.

But before we get there, two things. First, look what appeared just as I sat down to type this:

We don’t live in some Dickensian workhouse, but we’re near an awful lot of fields full of mice and this is the end result. Rats and mice don’t bother me as a rule but you better believe that I simultaneously leapt and shat when this bugger scuttled out from behind my router. I thought it was a spider, though if it had been, this house would have been razed to the ground. No second chances.

The other thing to announce…

I'm allowed to be pretty damn chuffed with us!

A post shared by twochubbycubs (@twochubbycubs) on

We only went and bloody did it! The two fat blokes (How fat? When we fall down the stairs people think Eastenders is finishing! So fat our patronuses are cakes! So fat that you need a bus journey with two connections just to get on our good side! Ho ho! Fuck off) who never exercise upped their game and ran a bloody 5k! We weren’t even the last ones to finish – I had visions of being lapped over and over before someone came and asked us to leave as they wanted to get home and only had tent hire until 11pm.

As it happens, we ran a good 80% of it and power-minced the rest. All we’ve done is focus on running a bit more each time – no fancy trainers, no expensive regimes, just walk, run, go. You know what made it lovely though? So many people clapping and encouraging folk as they ran past. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting to be chased with pitchforks (though it was Alnwick) but even I was surprised how lovely it all was. Who knows what lies ahead, other than plantar fasciitis and jogging cum-faces? Maybe we’ll do the Great North Run?

Pfft, aye, no.

Oh and we crossed the finishing line holding hands (with me leading Paul, who remember, has tiny corgi legs as opposed to my long, gazelle pins), just to make you sick up in your mouth a little. Cubs who finish together, stay together. Certainly not the first time I’ve tugged a chubby bloke to a happy finish in the vicinity of a rugby pitch, either.

Shall we do the recipe then?

pork and pineapple skewers

pork and pineapple skewers

jerk pork and pineapple skewers

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 skewers

Easy! The key with BBQ food is that it is easy and quick to make - this really couldn't be easier, given it's rubbing a bit of meat, chopping fruit and grilling it! What's not to love?

Remember, Slimming World's official line is that you should syn your pineapple if you're following the diet to the letter. Our view, and mind it is our view and not an official one, is that this is bollocks. But follow your own path - if you need to syn the pineapple, 100g is 2 syns. We're also not including the 0.5 syn drop of sriracha - this made six fat skewers, and I'll be damned if I'm dividing 0.5 between 6.

Then again, we're living in an era where people are making lemon meringue pies using pease pudding, so all bets are off.

Not sure what sriracha is? It's just a hot, spicy sauce. Leave it off if you've got a delicate balloon-knot, and replace it with a few drops of Worcestershire sauce.

We nicked this from BBC Good Food. See, it's that easy to give credit to recipes when they've been Pinched. 😉

Ingredients

  • 400g pork fillets, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium pineapple
  • 2 tbsp jerk seasoning
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (1 syn)
  • zest and juice of 1 lime

Instructions

  • in a large bowl mix together the jerk seasoning, sriracha and lime zest and juice
  • tip in the pork chunks and mix well - really give that meat a good rub, and then leave to marinade for a bit (room temperature is best)
  • peel and core the pineapple, and cut into large chunks
  • skewer the pork and pineapple alternately until it's all used up
  • cook over the barbecue or under  a hot grill for about 7-10 minutes, turning regularly

Notes

  • can't find jerk seasoning? any kind of seasoning mix will do - just use whatever you have in
  • we always prefer using metal skewers as they're less faff - we use these ones
  • wooden ones will work fine too, just remember to soak them for thirty minutes so they don't catch fire
  • this should be enough for 6 medium (wooden) skewers' worth, or 4 big ones (no prizes for guessing which we went for)
  • the 'official' rules say you should really syn the pineapple as technically it's cooked, but really. It's up to you. We didn't bother. No hate mail please. 
  • to make quick work of the pineapple you should try one of these - it'll save you no end of hassle!
  • if you really can't be arsed though you can use the pre-prepared chunks, though they may be on the small side

Courses BBQ

Cuisine BBQ

Yum! Want more BBQ ideas? Remember we’ve done loads lately!

If you’re having a BBQ this weekend, get it done!

J