Just a super quick post to mention that we have started doing video recipes – we plan to do a new video from either the book recipes or the blog recipes every week, but no promises! We get a lot of people who mention that they aren’t very good cooks and are nervous about trying new things. We want to show you that our recipes are an absolute doddle to make and require very little in the way of complicated cooking or mystery ingredients.
We aren’t flashy and we’re just filming in our kitchen using an iPhone so there’s no high production values but hell, that’s us in a nutshell!
We have typed out the captions for those that need them or may find it easier to use them – and the full ingredient lists can be found in our cookbooks, though if you watch the video you can pretty much guess what goes where.
It would really mean a lot if you would subscribe to our channel and like our videos – it’s quite difficult gaining momentum on Youtube these days so anything is helpful! And finally, if you have any feedback on things we could do better or stuff you want to see, please do let us know!
To the recipes then!
Mongolian Beef (from book one)
We had to do it really. You don’t need to stick to beef – people have tried mushrooms, chicken, pork, all sorts. What you will note from our recipe is that there’s no sweetener in there – because why would there be? Use proper ingredients!
Balsamic chicken (from book two)
The only tip I’ll give you for this recipe is to use the best tomatoes you possibly can – a good mixture of colours and flavours will stand you in very good stead!
A nice trickle of pre-orders at the moment ahead of launch of our new cookbook in May – having seen the final drafts and signed off on all the recipes a few days ago, we can promise you it is absolutely glorious. Very us. You can order it here – thank you!
Today’s retrorecipe is something slightly different. I’ve realised that there’s a lot of sport to be had from looking at old recipes and mocking the fact that they put everything in jelly or use the word ‘puff’ far more than could ever be considered decent, but there’s actually a lot of very good recipes out there which have fallen out of favour that simply need rescuing and brought up to date. Plus there’s the small matter of us wasting food by cooking stuff only for Paul to shove it away and pronounce that he isn’t eating it, like he’s Newcastle’s answer to Violet Beauregarde. That’s my drag name right there incidentally: Violent Noregarde.
This coconut chicken is an absolute doddle to make and comes from Betty Crocker’s ‘Buffets’, which promises menus, recipes and planning tips for easy and successful home entertaining. Now my first confession: for years I have imagined Betty Crocker as some homely nana bustling around in her American kitchen, keeping an apple pie cooling on the window and swatting at her sticky-fingered grandchildren with a broom. Kind of like my nana but she doesn’t have Fifteen-to-One playing at a volume that brings the roof tiles clattering off when someone buzzes in. However, a quick bit of googling to see what she looks like reveals the whole thing to be a sham: she’s a made-up figurehead representing a massive conglomerate who just so happens to look like my husband in a nice dress. I confess myself seriously disappointed and to make matters worse, it turns out there was never an Aunt Bessie, despite all the cloying marketing and ‘just like my nana used to make’ advertising. Which, to loop around, wouldn’t be true anyway: my nana used to make Yorkshire puddings that you could climb inside and enjoy a hot bath of gravy – I’ve never had an Aunt Bessie Yorkshire pudding that wasn’t as flat as a witch’s tit.
I’m just amazed it’s taken me thirty-six years to realise the scale of corruption in the home baking world, I truly am. I know a lie takes the elevator whilst the truth takes the stairs but even so: madness.
Second confession: this book is absolutely glorious. A relic of its time absolutely (make sure there is one ashtray per every two guests is an especially timeless tip, with presumably a few tanks of oxygen kept to one side for after) and very much a ‘whilst your husband goes and works, you stay home at occupy yourself with doilies’ tome, but still glorious. By way of example, there’s four pages, including diagrams, detailing how best to set up your buffet to promote good flow. There’s a map if you’re having a circular buffet, those who fancy a three-sided buffet are literally catered for and, best of all, a double-line buffet plan. Not to be sniffed at.
We can’t very well talk about buffets if we don’t mention the one buffet that I absolutely do not miss: the taster nights. I know we have talked about this a lot over the years but good lord if we didn’t see the worst of humanity (maybe overegging the pudding a bit) at those events. Long time stalwarts will know it’s where everyone attending Slimming World is encouraged to bring a snack to place on the decorating table and everyone titters and chortles their way through eating watery quiche and plucking dog hair from their teeth. The type of meeting where you’re looking to see if those are sesame seeds on the prawn toast or nits. We were lucky – our class was on the outskirts of the posh part of Newcastle (Edinburgh) and so it was fairly civilised but I always remember a couple of weeks we spent attending a class in a flat-roof social club whilst on holiday. I’m not saying it was rough but when we got up to eat we took our chairs with us in case the scrap man swiped them. I’ve never seen, either before or since, such fervent desire for a Tupperware box of golden vegetable rice that had been sweating in someone’s handbag for the best part of eight hours. Possibly the only buffet I’ve attended where everyone brought their own knives without knowing the event was catered.
Thankfully, Betty Crocker’s buffets are a far more decadent affair – you can tell Betty has a bit of money because ‘she’ also recommends having one member of staff (hired or otherwise) per six guests to dispense drinks and to replenish snacks. Maybe this is where Fanny Cradock’s Sarah moonlights at night, when she’s not busy being scolded/scalded by Fanny during the day. You won’t need any staff to assist with this coconut chicken because it’s luckily very easy to make – handy, it’ll give you time to rearrange your ashtrays just so. Perhaps the best bit of the book is how bewilderingly comprehensive it is: she has thought of every buffet situation you can imagine. They start off obvious: ‘A Mother’s Day Buffet‘ opens the book, though if I served my mother a gooseberry tart and a ‘summer’ cocktail for Mother’s Day I’d be likely to get it thrown back in my face. My mother’s idea of a cocktail is putting her usual six Jack Daniels shots into a mist of diet coke and sticking a cigarette in it for decoration.
We then travel the world a little: ‘A Hungarian Style Dinner‘ gives us an apple strudel and some buttered noodles, a ‘Scandinavian Coffee Party‘ suggests ‘jam sandwiches and cookies’ which sounds delightful and even Ireland gets a mention with ‘An Irish Dinner‘, a stunning festivity consisting of Irish coffee and bread. You rather get the sense that ‘Betty’ is phoning it in at this point but fret not, she pulls it out of the bag for the ending. If you have ever agonised at night what to serve at an ‘Out of Town Guest Buffet‘ (usually clumsily-administered poppers in my case, and if they were halfway decent, I’d make them some toast after) then the answer is here: a marinated cauliflower and broccoli salad set in aspic BECAUSE OF BLOODY COURSE IT IS. We end on my personal favourite: a ‘Soup and Sandwich Late Supper‘ (presumably for the times you don’t want to wake Iris and instead microwave your own soup) where Betty suggests that when you get home of an evening stinking of shame and sambucca, you should set about making scotch shortbread and creamy split pea soup. I mean goodness me, it’s all I can do not to void myself into the wash-basket after three sniffs of the barman’s cloth – where does Betty get her stamina from?
All the above sarcasm aside, it really is a terrific book that I will be taking more than a few recipes from. Given we only let people into our homes if they’re punching a hole in something (walls, ceilings, my bumcheeks) we tend not to have many buffets but with this handy guide, perhaps that’ll change. Shall we do the coconut chicken then? No, we must.
We served our coconut chicken with a traditional puck of Uncle Ben’s (ANOTHER LIE) rice and some chilli sauce
You can use any chutney for this coconut chicken – anything you want
So desiccated coconut - aside from being one of those ingredients I actively avoid because I can't spell it (desiccated I mean, I can manage coconut) - is one of those things I say I don't like until I actually eat it and realise it's like eating a Bounty bar. If you're not a fan of coconut however then you're shit out of luck here and I suggest you leave right now, before you fall any deeper.
You'll forgive me if I don't make any obvious jokes about chutney stuffing in this recipe, because that would be childish and immoral.
I apologise for the somewhat uninspired photography - I was in a rush because as I was serving up, Goomba was staring at me with his big sad eyes like he was Link's nana from Windwaker and that only means one thing - he needed to be let out. It was very much a plate up, photo and go affair otherwise we'd have another kitchen disaster to handle.
We used fig chutney from Tesco here because it was the first chutney Paul spotted on the shelf, but you can - and perhaps should - use a red onion chutney or similar.
Finally, as ever, all calories are approximate and worked out via the NHS app. Your experience may differ. If that's the case, sorry.
four large chicken breasts
chutney of your choosing - we used Tesco Finest Fig & Balsamic chutney here because we are fancy bitches
two large eggs
100g of desiccated coconut
salt and pepper
We served ours with microwave rice and some chilli sauce because we were in a rush, see. You will also need some cocktail sticks and preferably a big rolling pin. What can I say: size-queen for life, me.
bring to mind someone who you absolutely hate: the type of person who if you accidentally ran them over, you'd reverse back over them to make sure the job was done
whilst you're thinking of them, take a knife and cut your chicken breasts in half horizontally - through the breast so it can open like a book
place onto some greaseproof paper and cover with more greaseproof paper
still got your enemy in your head - excellent - take your rolling pin and bash the absolute buggery out of those chicken breasts, imagining it is the skull of your nemesis, flattening them so they're easy to roll
hiding your 'excitement', remove the greaseproof paper, smear a good tablespoon of chutney in the middle of each breast, ignoring the fact it now looks a bit like a beskiddered gusset
carefully roll the breasts up in a nice spiral and secure them with cocktail sticks
they can sit in the fridge for a bit until needed
once you're ready to cook, carefully dip them in beaten egg (seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper) and then roll in the desiccated coconut
cook - you can bake in the oven but we put ours in our Instant Vortex Airfryer (cocktail sticks removed) for twenty minutes, until the chicken was cooked through
serve with rice
please make sure the chicken is cooked through before serving - at a minimum you want an internal temperature of at least 75 degrees celsius to be safe - see our notes under tools
twochubbycubs: Dinner Time is our new book and it's out in May and has over one hundred meal ideas for every single evening event you can imagine - you can pre-order here!
our second book, glorious in its rainbow spine, is perfect for every other meal occasion: order yours 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 Goomba is going to the groomers next week and if he's anything like his Dad, will tip the groomer generously in the hope of being roughly tumbled about in the back room by the lad clipping his hair
I feel I must apologise right from the get go with this recipe reacharound for Instant Pot (don’t worry, non-pressure-cooker method also included) lemon and garlic chicken stew: if there are far more spelling errors and lapses in grammar than you might expect, then blame Paul. Our Mac keyboard, after years of fighting bravely against splashes, spurts and sploshes, has given up the ghost. Well not entirely, but the enter key has stuck down and is refusing to budge. Paul, in the absence of me clucking around and making recommendations, ordered a new keyboard which ‘is just as good’. It isn’t. It’s like he’s bought it from Fisher Price. The keys are tiny and rounded and just terrible. This may work when you have the deft twiglet fingers of Paul Anderson, but I don’t so much type on a keyboard as fist it into submission. It’s left me typing like my Nana sending her first email and to top it off, the keys don’t squelch like the old one did. It was like typing on a sauna sponge towards the end.
It serves me right for leaving him unattended, of course. But needs must: I go away for a few days every month to stay with friends in Liverpool which gives Paul a chance to enjoy an unadulterated bathroom floor / marital bed, which he does so enjoy. He pays lip service to our eternal love by sending messages to say he misses me terribly but we both know he has the time of his life without me, even if most evenings seem to end with him sobbing into a rough effigy of me made from my back hair and dipped in beef dripping.
One of the best things about these little trips away is that I get to have a good long drive, and all the fun that entails. I’ve said it before, and been loudly and angrily reminded at least nine times a week since, that I enjoy driving. That’s not a lie. But see I also very much enjoy willies, yet if I were to have sausage every night I might switch to a fish supper. Too much of a good thing can be tiresome, but luckily the 180 miles or so to Liverpool is just the right amount of road to cover off all my favourite driving moments.
I should open by saying that I am, these days, a very considerate driver, or at least I do try my very best to be. For a few years after passing my test I drove everywhere as though I’d just stolen the car but nowadays I’ve come to the realisation that you’ll get where you need to be far less stressed and with fewer cyclists to peel off the bonnet if you just stick to the rules of the road. The same seemingly doesn’t apply to other drivers however, and there’s two patches of the A1 where this becomes a problem. For a local example, just outside of Durham there’s a four mile patch of roadworks where switching lanes is forbidden and there’s a strict 50mph limit.
That doesn’t stop seemingly every single regional sales director in the North East getting into their company-owned BMW or Audi (and listen I know that’s a lazy stereotype, but tell me I’m wrong) and appearing two inches from my back bumper, waving their arms around dramatically as though they’ve just opened the glove box to find a box of wasps swarming out. Given I’m generally behind another car and therefore there’s nowhere immediately apparent for them to dash into, I find it bewildering, and it’s honestly all I can do to remember not to take my foot off the accelerator and let the car slow down just a shade. This seems to excite them even further and obviously must be discouraged. And hey, I’m not averse to having an angry man rammed up behind me, but I do ask that they buy me a drink first. I mean I don’t but I’m trying to sound classy.
180 miles, according to Google, should take around three and a half hours: but it never does, and I’m never quite sure why. Four hours can pass and I’ll be no further than Darlington, looking bewildered at Waze to see if I’ve somehow routed myself through Aberdeen via a selection of farm tracks. I blame service stations: they’re like the sirens of the motorway to me. For those interested, you’re looking at stopping at Durham, Barton Park, Wetherby and Birch Services if you’re wanting a cup of tea without the chance of diphtheria to keep it spicy. Barton Park is a good one because no-one ever uses it, presumably put off by the fact the owners have set the prices of fuel as though they roleplaying in a Mad Max movie. I digress.
I love it all me. The chance to get indignant with the ladies in WH Smith when I buy a can of Monster and a Freddo and have to hand over my car keys in part-exchange with a promise to settle the remainder after. The truckers all wandering around in filthy hi-vis gear looking like they’d punch you through a wall if you dilly-dallied for a moment at the Greggs counter. The opportunity to peruse the absolute tat they inexplicably sell alongside the fags and chocolate: a light-up beanie hat, a book about equine diseases, a DVD boxset of walks around Kromer. Hell, I even like a quick toilet stop (any excuse to stretch my legs) (up past my ears) because there’s always a degree of joviality and hur-de-hur whilst waiting in the queue to do some 3-D printing. Plus, I refuse to smoke in my car so if anything, I treat the rare bursts of driving as a break from smoking rather than the other way around. Explains why I’m always gasping for air by the time I’m circling J22 on the M62.
Still, if I get bored on the way down, whoever is in charge upstairs (or more realistically, no-one) will throw some dramatic weather at me for the drive. I could leave my house in the middle of a heatwave and inexplicably end up peering owlishly through a snow-covered windscreen by no later than two hours in. It’s as inevitable as day following night: I don’t think I’ve had a single journey westward where I haven’t thought of calling Paul to finally tell him the PIN on our bank cards just in case I lose control of the car and tumble away into the fields. I mean, it would give me the opportunity to press the big red SOS button that sits behind the interior lights – I’ve been itching to do it but I’m petrified that it’ll automatically call the emergency services and they’ll dispatch an air ambulance out to me, only to find me perfectly alive and furiously trying to light a cigarette in the helicopter’s downdraft. Though to be fair, knowing my car, it’ll probably just start playing ABBA Gold.
That’s the other thing I enjoy: the chance to listen to my music and have a right good singalong as I do. If I have Paul with me he’s always tutting and clawing melodramatically at his ears with forks whilst I effortlessly segue between Steps, Billie Eilish, Muse, some Swedish Eurovision entry and Chapter 42 of Red Dragon narrated by Alan Sklar on Audible. When I’m by myself I get to go full me and I can’t deny it is amazing. Many a time I’ve been caterwauling away as I leave a car park to the bemused faces of coaches full of people clapping and wondering whether I’ve got a fox shredding through my back tyres. The world is a stage! By the time I arrive at any destination I’ve got a voice like I’ve been gargling glass but it’s worth it.
There’s a whole another entry to be written about the other things I do in the car to entertain but I shall save that for a couple of weeks from now, because LORDY this is a long one. For the record, it took me a modest five hours twenty-eight minutes to get home today, and that’s not bad going at all.
To the recipe for the lemon and garlic chicken stew then. This is a rare reacharound where we haven’t had to change too much for the recipe – indeed, all we have done is up the onion content to make the sauce a bit more ‘stew-like’, but this is a genuinely delightful dinner that must be recognised.
Only 370 calories for this lemon and garlic chicken stew with rice too!
Definitely use chicken thighs for this – cheaper, and it flavours the lemon and garlic chicken stew perfectly
Five photos and this was the best one: Paul loves his lemon and garlic chicken stew
Now look, if you don't have a pressure cooker you mustn't fret because this is easy enough to make in the oven, and we've catered for your failures in the recipe bit. But if you do have an Instant Pot at home, this is the perfect recipe for it: you chuck it all in and let the machine do the hard work. And if you're the nervous sort who pales in terror at the idea of a pressure cooker fret not: we are going to do a guide to them shortly. We were gifted our newest Instant Pot by the company, but you'll see from previous entries that we have been long-term devotees. Let's do this.
750g of chicken thighs
two onions, chopped finely
5 cloves of garlic, minced
185ml chicken stock
1tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp paprika
juice from one lemon
4 tsp cornflour
white rice - we used about 100g each
select saute, add a bit of oil and chuck in the onions, cook for about 5-10 minutes or so until they start to brown
add everything else to the pot save for the cornflour and give everything a reet good stir
put the lid on, make sure the vent is set to ‘sealing’ and press the high pressure and select fifteen minutes
when finished, release the pressure (it's perfectly safe)
cook the rice however you want it
scoop a cupful of liquid out and stir the cornflour in, making sure there's no lumps
remove the chicken using tongs and add the cornflour mixture into the rest of the liquid, stirring until the sauce is thickened
serve the chicken on top of the rice with the sauce poured over
No pressure cooker
saute the onions in a casserole dish, then add everything (plus another 50ml of stock) bar the cornflour and cook on low for about two hours in the oven
once the chicken is cooked, add the cornflour and allow the sauce to thicken
just one note - don't be tempted with chicken breasts - you want thighs. If you're fussy, you can buy the boneless and skinless thighs in all supermarkets now
we've done some terrific things with chicken in our second cookbook which you will love: order yours here!
we honestly can't fault the Instant Pot - we use the Instant Pot Pro because it does everything we need and doesn't look like Sputnik - you can find it here but other variants of the Instant Pot are cheaper still
get yourself a good set of silicone-ended tongs, they'll steer you well and they are perfect for cheekily grabbing your partner's nipple during frolics and fun times - we use these
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 my mother is demanding a decent care home when she hits ninety. She won't be getting one, but the fuel to get my car down to the river to push her in ain't cheap.
Here for the super quick chicken and spinach curry and can’t wait until we give you the ingredients so you can look at them and order a takeaway instead? Well I’ll need you to calm your tits, Susan, because there’s the little matter of some blog nonsense to get your laughing gear around first.
As neither Paul or I have any current life outside of looking after our dog, we shall of course go straight to Goomba news. He’s fine: 13 weeks old now, got teeth that could open a tin of corned beef without breaking a sweat and fully capable of scenting a room with the rich smell of shite with the tiniest farts you can imagine. It’s a bad job when I have to ball Paul’s streaked knickers into my mouth and huff just to let my vision clear.
We’ve been able to take him walking for twenty minutes a couple of times a day, which is just the right amount of time for him to pretend he doesn’t need to offload some freight, fuss about on the field and then send a fax right outside the neighbour’s front door when we’re twenty feet away from the house. It took a solid two weeks of training to get him to that point, but we nailed it. And I’ll say this: I still can’t get past the way that he eyeballs us as he does it. I’ve since learned it is because he feels at his most vulnerable when he’s dropping the property value and is looking to me for reassurance. He’s out of luck: I’m usually bent over dry-heaving into my elbow, but this behaviour does go some way to explaining Paul’s need to leave the door open and announce his efforts (“oooh, I don’t half feel lighter, ooooh, when did we have Cheerios, oooh, call the plumber”) when he goes.
I’m sorry, you don’t come to our food blog to read about our dog’s bowel movements, do you? So forgive me for that, although it will doubtless initiate eighty-seven private messages telling me how awful I am for letting the dog poop on grass or not brushing his ears or not rigging up an oxygen tent in the spare room lest his lungs pack in from climbing over the doorstep. Honestly, and I say this with a touch of hyperbole admittedly, I’ve never known an activity elicit such feedback as owning a dog. I could announce tomorrow that I’ve been smacking Paul about and nursing a merry hard drug addiction to less controversy and ire. Which is silly: I’m no good with needles and the thought of making my own dinner leaves me aghast.
It’s not a complaint, though, as people mean well, but it just leaves me paralysed with choice and options. I’m indecisive at the best of times – or am I? – and you must understand that any decision I eventually make is normally backed up by eighteen months of feverish googling and pained expressions as I discover a counterpoint opinion to something I’d finally accepted. But, I know such advice is given with good intent and therefore I can take no real issue with it, even if I do now have four different harnesses for Goomba because each previous one has been debunked to the point you’d think I was strapping him into a brazen bull when I took him out. Honestly, between this and Paul’s tendency to buy fifteen new toys for the dog every time he goes out – he has that poor-kid-to-comfortable-adult character trait where he can’t leave a shop with both arms the same length – we’re about two weeks from declaring bankruptcy.
One cheery update is that we have found an excellent doggy day care centre where Goomba can socialise with other dogs a couple of afternoons a week. Even cuter is the fact that he doesn’t get to go into the big dogs school yet but rather ‘Little Legs’ club because he’s so wee. I had to chaperone Paul on the first day just in case they assumed he was joining as well. I can see now why parents get so anxious and fretful about their children going to school for the first time: would Goomba fit in, would he be bullied, how many tabs do I need to stick behind his ear so they think he’s cool – all the usual presentiments that come with new experiences.
We needn’t have worried. At the induction he was placed with a tiny pug who immediately chased him about the garden for a few minutes until Goomba realised that she wasn’t a threat. Indeed, he did such a volte-face regarding his opinion on this pug that he set about chasing her and then, somewhat embarrassingly, mounted her. There’s something a touch unseemly about discussing payment plans with a trainer whilst your dog is jabbing his lipstick into thin air with a lurid leer immediately over her shoulder. Goomba isn’t a big dog by any means but sexual intercourse between a Springer Spaniel and a Pug is going to be the equivalent of trying to park a bus in a tissue box.
He’s since been back a few times and is absolutely loving it, which is a relief, as it does free up some of my day-time for occasionally remembering to work and to attend to my chores. Thursday was an especially productive day: I had a builder round to look at the side of our house (still covered in paint and varnish from the shed fire) and we mutually agreed that it hadn’t magically disappeared in the five months since someone last came round to look at it. A dishwasher repair man then managed to fix the leak in our dishwasher and Paul and I had a giddy forty minutes of clean plates before realising it was still pissing lemon-scented detergent all over the kitchen floor. I called Goomba in from the kitchen and momentarily thought he’d developed rabies.
Looking sharp, though.
But most exciting of all was the surprise appearance of a group of tree surgeons that I had clean forgotten I’d arranged who had come to remove a couple of dead trees from our garden. Well of course they’re from the garden, they’re not likely to be growing in our utility room now are they. The tree at the back was in danger of falling over and crushing that which I hold most dear – my car – so that was an easy decision, but the tree at the front goes some way to masking us from the gaze of some of our less cheerful neighbours. Though, to be fair, it’s perhaps not that startling that the tree is dying given one of those aforementioned neighbours spends so long staring daggers at us that I’m surprised she hasn’t burned straight through it like Homelander.
Thusly I did get to spend a merry hour watching very talented blokes cutting the tree down and feeding it into the chipper, although they did nix my request to have a go at it myself. Probably wise: I’m an inherently clumsy person and I’d have only ended up tumbling in face-first after tripping over my own shadow. They did such a terrific job and, even better, left without taking payment – the ideal situation. I did agonise for a few moments before calling them back and pressing a bundle of notes into his hands like a nana giving pocket money. The garden seems a lot lighter now, which is handy as it matches my wallet.
And that’s us for now. Before I get to the quick chicken and spinach curry recipe, just a quick word of apology. With us having to look after Goomba so much and get him settled him, we’re very conscious that we haven’t been quite as active about replying to messages and comments as we normally are. If you have contacted us, or tagged us in a story, or made our recipes – we thank you, and apologise for not replying. Happily, we’re back on an even keel now and that ship should right itself shortly. Thank you for persevering with us, I know we’re awful.
Oh – a double apology! My phone is taking absolutely gash photos at the moment. Looking to get it fixed, but yeah, bear with.
The chicken and spinach curry tastes a lot better than it looks, I swear
Now you get to see the chicken and spinach curry from a different angle, I do spoil you.
So, a quick chicken and spinach curry - we've done a great number of these over the years but this one is enlivened with some mango chutney and the fact it takes no time at all to cook. I'm sure it would be made all the better by a long, slow simmer but if you're already tearing about like your arse is on fire, rest assured it's all done in around twenty five minutes.
Calorie wise this comes in at (roughly) a modest 665 calories per person (with rice) and the recipe serves four. Freezes well too. We work out calories using Nutracheck's app which is terrific, but please read the notes about that.
This is a Hello Fresh recipe which we have tweaked to make more slimming friendly. Normally we would stick in a referral link here but I can't in all good conscience: we're having serious issues with the quality of Hello Fresh at the moment, with lots of the vegetables turning up already past their best and items missing from each bag. If that improves, we will recommend them once more because lord knows they are convenient, but for now, hold off if you're considering it.
300g basmati rice
2 onions, finely diced
2 garlic cloves
1 green chilli
500g diced chicken thighs
4 tbsp korma curry paste (we use Patak)
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 chicken stock cube
200g baby spinach
2 tbsp mango chutney
1 bunch coriander
bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with ¼ tsp salt
when boiling, add the rice and cook for 12 minutes, then drain in a sieve and return to the pan with the lid on until ready to serve
meanwhile, finely dice the onion and peel and grate the garlic
halve the chilli lengthways, deseed and finely chop
spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
add the diced chicken and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until golden
add the onion and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until softened
add the korma paste, garlic, tomato puree and half of the green chilli to the pan, stir and cook for one minute
add the passata, 200ml water and crumble in the stock cube, and simmer until thickened (about 6-8 minutes)
meanwhile, roughly chop the coriander (stalks and all) - unless you're the sensible sort like me, where you'll scrape it immediately in the bin)
add the spinach to the pan a handful at a time and cook until wilted, about 1-2 minutes
simmer until everything has reduced slightly, which will take about 3-4 minutes
add the mango chutney and half of the coriander to the pan and stir well
stir the remaining coriander into the rice and serve along with the curry, and sprinkle over the remaining chilli
rice: if you follow our advice to the letter, you'll have perfect rice - but remember rice is a fickle thing indeed - if you measure out enough for four people you'll get enough for nine hundred, or you'll take a look at the end of the boil and see that there's only three grains of rice in there and they're all sticking their fingers up at you
feel free to use chicken breast but thighs are so much tastier and worth the insignificant extra calories
up the amount of spinach as high as you want too - we love spinach here and could cheerfully double or triple the amount
not sure on syns for this - it won't be high, I think the only thing to syn would be the mango chutney and the chicken thighs, so I'd hazard a guess around 4
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we are getting a few comments that calories that people have worked out on Nutracheck are slightly different to our total and wondering why - the reason is simple - we may use different brands to you. For example, there's a 60 calorie difference between Tesco and Waitrose chicken thighs, presumably because that extra smugness of the Waitrose chicken adds extra
to that end, make sure you're adding your recipe as you go along if you use Nutracheck, although if you're happy with the rough estimate, more power to you
I think that’s us done for the day, but if you were needing a different curry idea, may I suggest clicking the image below to be taken to another delicious dish?
I hope by now that you trust us enough to take a gamble on a recipe if we recommend it: this chicken and rhubarb stew demands this of you. Most people use rhubarb for tarts or crumbles, but if those tarts fancy a savoury dish, what can you offer? Try this chicken dish. The astringent nature of the rhubarb is tempered by being cooked low and slow with some honey and chicken and the end result is something approaching a hot and sour sauce. Please, read the recipe and try it: rhubarb is everywhere at the moment and it’s always nice to try something new. But before we get to the chicken and rhubarb stew, we do, but of course, have a blog post to slog through. If you’re itching to get straight to the chicken and rhubarb stew, then just scroll to the recipe photos (and get some Canesten on that itch, you utter jezebel).
Mind, we didn’t have a choice when it came to cooking with rhubarb: we don’t grow it, but our neighbours have an allotment and by all accounts, they’re over-run with the stuff. So much so that I was sitting on our settee a couple of nights ago when the letterbox clattered and a long pink stalk came poking through. Our neighbour was posting his spare rhubarb, which was very thoughtful, but it didn’t half remind me of the time when we used to have a ‘special access door’ installed for our gentlemen visitors. Glory days indeed! We lost that contraption in the house fire – it was either save that or save the cats and although a box of matches fell out from under Sola’s tail as she hurtled out, I feel I made the right choice. Probably for the best, the black hallway carpet was starting to look like a badly-tuned television channel towards the end.
Anyway, I’m not here to talk about our lickerish indiscretions of old: I’m here to make an official twochubbycubsannouncement. We were going to take an advert out in The Times but this seemed like an easier route: we’d be lost amongst the ridiculous birth and marriage announcements. I did once see a Rafferty Rocket in there, mind you, though you’ll never convince me that isn’t the name of a sex toy you’d order from wish.com.
See, an announcement is always going to be one of four things, isn’t it:
Paul has finally tired of being slagged off something rotten on here, pulled his size three socks up and set off to storm out the front door*, hoping to get there within two days with his tiny bandy legs
we’re releasing a third book full of more amazing recipes, wit and comedy
we’re having a baby
we’re getting a new pet
* Actually, to be fair to him, I’m the ‘storm out and slam the front door’ one in the marriage. The last time I did this I slammed the door so hard it cracked the wall all around the front door. Worse, we have a novelty emergency money box affixed to the wall next to the door which looks like one of those ‘in an emergency, smash here’ boxes where they keep the fire hammer on trains. As the door clattered this fell off the wall, sending a lovely cascade of pound coins showering to the kitchen floor. It’s difficult to maintain a surly face when it feels as though the house itself celebrated your departure by cashing out like a jackpot spin in Las Vegas. Anyway. Where were we? Ah yes, why those four scenarios are just silly.
Paul knows where his bread is buttered, and given his immoderation towards calorie intake, that’s more than likely a full loaf of Toastie Thick hidden in his rucksack which is hanging in the hall: he’ll never leave. He lives for my bi-annual compliment, that boy
can you imagine us doing such a thing – don’t you think you’ve had enough? Mind, never say never…
there’s more chance of me eschewing cock for good than ever entertaining the idea of having a bawling poo-machine littering our slightly-singed carpet, thank you
So, that really just leaves number four, doesn’t it? Well, in that case…
Meet Goomba, our incoming Springer Spaniel puppy!
See, long-time readers of the blog (and occasional readers of the books, where I swore blind we would never get a dog) will know we have wanted a dog for ages. Well, no, Paul has wanted a dog since time immemorial – the only pets he was allowed growing up were the more resilient dickies in his unwashed hair – and I’ve always been the sensible one saying no because we work full-time away from home.
But now, with the relative success of the books and the fact that coronavirus has meant working from home for me, we’re in a position to finally give a dog the life it deserves. We’ve spent the last few months applying to take in a rescue dog, getting our hopes raised and dashed over and over by charities that never got back to us or decided, for whatever reason, we weren’t suitable. That’s their prerogative of course, and far better they are choosy with rehoming because the last thing any rescue dog needs is more upheaval, but even so it has been an incredibly demoralising process. I think a stumbling block was trying to find a dog that was accustomed to living with cats: doubly so when you consider that 50% of our feline contingent spends her days plotting ever more horrible ways to kill us. It says a lot that I could empty Sola’s cat carrier one day and remain entirely unsurprised to find a gun in there. The only reason she hasn’t killed us in our sleep is surely because she can’t reach the cupboard to get her cat food out herself. The second she learns how to operate the portable stepladders we have in the garage, we’re fucked.
So, mainly because I could see how much Paul wanted a dog, I set about finding a puppy and, in an especially serendipitous moment of canine oestrus excitement, a good friend’s bitch gave birth to eight puppies at just the right moment I was looking. I don’t mean I was actually looking when she gave birth – I imagine it would look like pushing a guinea pig through a loose pack of ham – but I was ever so excited. I arranged everything and, would you believe, managed to keep the entire process secret until the moment we drove up to pick our dog from the litter. That really is something, you know: I’m as appalling at keeping secrets as Paul is efficient at unveiling them. I’m probably the only husband to sit down ashen-faced and confess to an extra-marital indiscretion before the blood has even pooled in my nethers. He was terribly excited, and this isn’t a man who excites easily: he could win £100,000 on a scratchcard and still complain he’s got silver fingernails. But it was genuinely lovely to see his enthusiasm.
Picking was difficult because of course all puppies are tremendous and wonderful, but we spotted one particular puppy who had taken one look at us and decided to reverse himself under the sofa. After a little reassurance and a quick piss on the floor, Paul was ready, and he chose the shy puppy that had hidden away. And, readers, honestly: take one look at his gorgeous wee face, with that smudge marking on his nose, and tell me Paul made the wrong choice? We already had the name picked out – all of our pets have Nintendo related names (Luma, Sola, Bowser) and Goomba was the perfect fit for this one. I mean I wanted to call him Keith, but Paul said no, the poor sport. Dogs with human names will never not be hilarious to me.
So, that’s our news. I think you’ll agree it was a corker. Goomba joins us late in July, and if you think we’re going to be one of those couples who talk about their dog all the time: you’re right. I’m even thinking of going all in and changing the email subscription title to pupdates. Yeah, you like that, don’t you? Ahem.
Shall we get to the business of chicken and rhubarb stew then? Let me say one thing before we get to it: taking a picture of chicken and rhubarb stew and making it look at all sexy and tasty is an impossibility. It’s a brown slurry. But readers, you just need to believe.
There, a chicken and rhubarb stew: it won’t win any awards, but it’s damn tasty!
Served with rice, this chicken and rhubarb stew is way under 500 calories: it doesn’t take Vera to work that one out. Pet.
This chicken and rhubarb stew uses rhubarb to make an almost sweet and sour sauce, and it's beautiful for it. Even if you're not a fan of rhubarb I implore you to try it: if you like plum sauce for example, this will be a winner. This is a recipe you'll need to taste as you go along, adding honey if it needs to be a bit sweeter.
This chicken and rhubarb stew came from a blog called whereismyspoon - I encourage you to go take a look, although reading it on a mobile is a chore due to the video adverts. I know we all have to do what we have to do to get through life, but please, bloggers: video adverts which you can't get rid of - especially ones with music - can get in the sea. That aside, there's some delicious recipes on there. We've tweaked this slightly to our tastes.
This comes in at 280 calories per serving and makes enough for four. Serve it with a decent portion of rice and it'll still be under 500 calories too. Syn wise? Probably quite low, but Slimming World syn honey don't they? Even so, I doubt it's more than two syns a pop. Calorie counts are approximate, using Nutracheck.
eight boneless and skinless chicken thighs (don't use breast, you want the slightly gamier taste of thighs here)
400g peeled, chopped rhubarb
two large white onions
two teaspoons of garlic paste
one teaspoon of turmeric
one tablespoon of black pepper
one tin of chopped tomatoes
750ml of chicken stock
five tablespoons of honey
four tablespoons of lime juice
Salt to taste. But not too much, you.
you'll need a good casserole dish - see notes
fry the chicken thighs on both sides for a few minutes on a high heat until golden brown, then remove
lower the heat a little and then, in the oil used for the chicken, add the chopped white onion and allow to soften and go slightly golden, before adding the pepper, garlic paste and turmeric
give everything a stir and cook for a minute more
add the rhubarb and tomatoes, give everything a good stir
add the stock, honey and lime juice, stir
add the chicken back to the pan
bring to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer
allow to bubble away gently for as long as you can - we cooked ours for ninety minutes, only occasionally deigning to stir the contents every now and then
do taste as you go along - add more lime if it's a bit too sweet and more honey if it's a bit too sour - rhubarb is a tricky thing, but don't forget it'll mellow as it cooks
serve with rice to applause and declarations of love
this freezes really, really well, so feel free to double up the amounts and batch cook
this would absolutely work in a pressure cooker - follow the steps until simmering, and then cook on high for about 15 minutes then release
please don't be tempted to use chicken breasts, I can't stress that enough people
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gonna talk to you about casserole dishes - we have had the same Le Creuset pot now for nine years and use it weekly, and it has never failed us: I can feel confident recommending to you that if you have the spare cash, it's an investment worth making - Amazon often have them on sale here
if you're using fresh limes, top tip - roll them under the palm of your hand for a little bit, and then pop in the microwave for five seconds - you'll get so much more juice out of them. Failing that, use one of these even if it does look a little like a tool a doctor would be struck off for using on you
Oh! Bonus tip. Don't chuck your shredded lime out once you've got the juice from it - pop it in a dish with some water covering it, then microwave for about three minutes. CAREFULLY remove the dish when done. But the steam will loosen all the dirt on your microwave, making it easy to wipe clean. Eee, I'm like Kim Woodburn, aren't I?
Cuisinechicken and other stuff I dunno what to put here I never do get off my back jeez
Looking for something a bit more traditional to use up your rhubarb? Try this – click the image to go straight to the recipe!
Goodness, we used to take some bloody low-res photos back in the day, didn’t we?
Crunchy munchy wraps. Listen, cut me some slack, I can’t think of a better name (and if I’m entirely honest, I’m sure I’ve used that name before somewhere and it’s bugging me enough to make my forehead furrows appear but not enough for me to get off my fat arse and check) and avocado smash wraps makes us sound like dicks. Regular readers will know that we’re fans of the avocado here – despite Slimming World’s nonsense approach – but even I’m sick of seeing it on menus now). Mind, it’s not as bad as people pretending a portobello mushroom is a sound swap for a burger bun or, worse, sliced cauliflower is a substitute for a steak. In what world is that acceptable? I’d sooner eat the stuffing out of my writing chair, and I know how toxic my south-mouth can be.
Perhaps I’m just feeling a bit curmudgeonly because of the heat, though. Perhaps I ought to do some deep breathing and calm down. But see, summer means that when I breathe deeply, I’m rewarded with lungfuls of flower ejaculate that immediately sets about clagging up my nostrils and making my eyes itchy. I also burn ridiculously easily so, although I do currently have a nice golden tan (almost like I’ve been standing next to a wood fire), I know that if I misjudge it my skin will rebel, turn shiny pink and send me scuttling inside to hide in the shadows again. At least with wind and rain you know where you are – pop a coat on if it’s wet, extra layer if it’s cold: not like I can just take my tits off to go outside when it’s sweltering. I genuinely hate summer. Remember in the Teletubbies when they’d wake up and the sun would come out to play, with a creepy baby in the middle gurgling away? That’s my life, only the sun is a drunken Nicki French shouting obscenities at me and calling me fat. Raging, hun.
And I think, if I may, that because I always have the low level irritant of being:
too hot to function without a shiny patina forming on my forehead; and
achingly conscious of the fact that now I’m always in a t-shirt, every time I sit down it’ll ride up and show my arse-crack to the world
that every other little annoyance that may have once glanced over me really hits home.
Even polite gestures are vexing me. We’re still in Chubby Towers Adjacent and there honestly hasn’t been another guest in this hotel who hasn’t been a delight to talk to. One thing I’ve come to realise is that people who smoke are far more interesting than their counterparts (aye, but you non-smokers always have the edge when it comes to blowing up party balloons) given some of the wonderful conversations I’ve been having outside with all and sundry whilst we work on our COPD. Everyone has a story to tell and I’m proper enjoying listening. Didn’t know I could! But what this does mean is that there’s many a time when they’ll do something lovely like holding the lift door open, meaning I have to then waddle-jog over and politely refuse because of the one-household-rule. This then creates that awkward ten seconds where you’re waiting for the lift door to shut so they disappear and you can press the button, and doesn’t that ten seconds feel like a lifetime, having to alternately stare at your shoes, smile wanly at them and going ‘oh ho ho, I’ll get the next one’. Yes, here at this hotel, I cosplay as Santa.
Linked to my mention of hayfever earlier, whilst we’re here, can we have a permanent abeyance on people saying ‘bless you’ after each sneeze? Once is fine – I mean, I can do without it full-stop because I’m fairly confident my sniffles is pollen related and not the fucking plague – but you do you. This wouldn’t ordinarily be so bad save for the fact that when I get going, I’ll sneeze a good six or seven times, which then leads to the person invariably clicking on that they’re going to be there a while and thus ought to go full ham. Bless you! BLESS YOU! BLESS YOU HAHA. BLESS YOU. OOOH DO YOU RECKON YOU COULD DO A FEW MORE BLESS YOU. BLESS YOU. OOOH ONEMOREANDYOU’LLORGASMBLESS YOOOU.
I know you mean well but I’ve had that schtick all my life. Next time it happens I’m going to pull an almighty cum-face and pop a mayonnaise sachet in my pocket. Just one bless you and be gone, thot.
Anyway, that’s quite enough misery. We’ve got something wonderful in the form of these wraps – they’re just something we threw together a few weeks ago for tea to use up all the shite in our cupboard. As ever with our recipes and doubly so with these wraps – fill them with whatever you like. And that’s that. To the crunchy munchy wraps.
Stuff the crunchy munchy wraps how you like. Stuff them with lettuce, herbs, onion, or stuff them up your arse. Either or.
This makes enough for four wraps, or eight halves. Obviously. Lovely and summery these.
Up to you if you syn avocado - Slimming World syn it as something ridiculous and if you're following the plan, you ought to do the same. However, if you're like us, you won't syn it at all and then these are syn free...
one large avocado (14 syns) (hmmm)
a big packet of wafer thin turkey
a selection of small peppers chopped into strips
one small can of chickpeas, drained
pinch of curry powder
juice of one lime
a tablespoon or two of yoghurt
whatever wraps you're allowed
mash the avocado with a good pinch of salt and the lime juice
mash your chickpeas with the yoghurt and curry powder
layer your wrap - chickpeas on the bottom, peppers, wafer thin turkey and then avocado
wrap up and eat
swap out the turkey for ham and add cheese
we tend not to toast our wraps because we're too fat to wait to eat, but these done in a griddle pan would be superb
roll these up and wrap in tin foil - they're good for lunch if made in the morning
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Howdo! Told you we’d be back with a bang, and this cheesy chicken kiev is something to behold. Might look a bit like a diseased foof but hey. We’ve been having a chitter-chatter amongst our various holidays about whether or not we should be aiming for low-syn / no-syn dinners in light of the blossoming success of the book and blog and you know what, nope: we are going to continue exactly as we are! Our food has always been about spending a few points / syns / calories and enjoying it – so here we go! A chicken kiev recipe and a load of sass!
First, a bit of admin!
Our cookbook continues to soar and sell and we couldn’t be happier – remember you can pick it up in most major supermarkets and bookshops and there’s always Amazon if you get stuck – if you have been so kind as to buy it, please consider leaving us a review on Amazon – we want to get to 2,000! You don’t need to have bought it on Amazon to review it either!
Next, we’re down in Southampton filming something secret at the end of the month and there’s two book signings lined up – please do come along and get your book signed, we promise to be filthy!
Right – before we get to the recipe, a long holiday entry to endure! If you’re in a rush for the chicken kiev, click the banner and be whisked straight there!
Gosh, it’s been a while since I typed out a holiday entry (and I’m more than aware that I have Hamburg to finish, ssh) but in the spirit of efficiency, I’m going to barrel this one nice and fresh. I’m actually typing a good chunk of this out on the aeroplane home, trying desperately not to incur the wrath of the poor bloke sat between us who has been trying to complete a level on his motorbike game for the last hour or so. Oh Bohuslav, love, if you’re reading this over my shoulder, let me have a stab. Like so many of my men, you’re pulling out a fraction early. Anyway, let’s start with the detail.
See, Paul and I have been together almost thirteen years now, and Valentine’s Day is always a bloody nightmare – it falls six weeks after Christmas and four weeks after Paul’s birthday, and trying to come up with something unique and special is an absolute pain in the arse. Paul, however, has been ‘good’ (for good, read ‘endlessly forgiving of my indiscretions and nonsense’) to me this last year, and I wanted to get him something decent. It was only after finishing Sky Atlantic’s recent Chernobyl docudrama that I remembered he had always wanted to visit Chernobyl and so, after a cursory moment of trying to find a cheap deal, I had us booked onto a package with travelcenter.uk which included flights, hotel and a twelve hour tour for a very reasonable £360 or so. I presented him with the detail and he was over-the-moon – I was seeing his face light up in a way that no amount of low-level radiation could ever do. He explained that Chernobyl had always been on his bucket list and wasn’t I a brilliant husband for arranging it. Naturally, I accepted this high praise with full modesty and grace and elected not to tell him I’d only really booked it because I wanted my back doors smashed in by any of the number of muscly Adidas-clad sentient frowns that appeared on google when doing my research into the Ukraine. He didn’t need to know that bit.
With his Valentines present sorted, I eagerly awaited mine. I got nowt. Not even a card. I smiled through the tears, increasingly used as I am to the disparity of effort.
Now, let’s discuss the elephant in the room, and I don’t (for once) mean my bouncy beloved. We’ve been asked two questions on our social media channels which demand an answer, namely why would we choose to visit a country not exactly known for its gay rights and then, why visit Chernobyl? The first is a tricky one – we don’t normally go places where we aren’t welcome – and the Ukraine political situation is genuinely horrifying to us as gay men – but unlike countries like Jamaica (where we’d love to go, but would never be welcome), there’s only one Chernobyl – and to get there, unfortunately, you do need to go via Kiev. We choose our holidays sensitively but our hand was forced on this one, and I’ll circle back to this point a little later. As to why visit Chernobyl? Far easier. I married a massively polluting, noxious pile of slag – when do you ever get a chance to visit its twin? To the holiday, then.
Normally I spend ages waffling on about our trip to the airport, but this time, I’ll keep it short. As we weren’t flying to Magaluf, Bristol or Ibiza, we couldn’t fly from Newcastle, and so our journey necessitated flights from Manchester and a car journey. I was still ‘tired and emotional’ from a week of excess before so it was up to Paul – in his new black Smart car, no less – to drive us to Manchester. The arse-end of Storm Ciara made it an arresting car ride, with Paul barely needing to touch the accelerator, instead allowing us to be blown all the way there. Wouldn’t be the first time. I was a quiet, considerate passenger, keeping my shrieking and fitful crashing of phantom passenger-side brake pedals to a minimum. I’ll say this, though: Mancurians – you’re lovely, but you absolutely can’t drive. Here’s a clue: when you’re changing lanes, try flicking the indicators on. I appreciate it’ll mean you looking up from your Love Island repeats on ITV Player, but go on, give it a go. Four separate times I came within a whisker of cheating on Paul simply by virtue of having the Smart rammed so far into the back of someone’s car that I could have whispered ‘it only hurts for a bit’ into the driver’s ear. Arses.
We arrived at the fabulously appointed (cough) Holiday Inn Express at around 11pm and Paul immediately set about shaving his head with the clippers he had brought from home. Halfway through I hear the bzz-bzz-bzzz of a set of dying clippers and a plaintive mew from the bathroom. He had cut about a third of his hair before the clippers had run out of juice. That’s fine, get the charger, but wait no – Paul had left the charger at home on account that the clippers ‘looked fully charged’. I silkily enquired as to when he had acquired the impressive ability to ascertain electrical charge of an object just by glancing at it, and what this meant for the Terminator franchise going forward, but was met with a volley of indignant ranting. Faced with the horrific thought of cutting about the Ukraine with someone who’s head looked like a wet egg rolled disinterestedly in pubic hair, I leant him my Mach 3 and gave him a skinhead. To be fair, he looked pretty fit with it, but it then meant I couldn’t sort my own hair out – something that wouldn’t have been so critical if I hadn’t still been sporting a mohawk that my best mate had clumsily cut into my hair in an act of alcohol-soaked mischief. I can make a mohawk work when everything else on my face is neat and tidy, but for the remainder of the holiday I looked like I’d stumbled early out of rehab. Ah well.
We woke bright and wheezy the next morning and made our way to the airport, way ahead of schedule. For once, it was the right decision – the security halls at Manchester Airport were absolutely rammed thanks to couples disappearing off for romantic breaks. You couldn’t move for people making moony faces at their beloved or kissing in that ‘look everyone, we have sex’ way that is for everyone else’s benefit. My boots, coat and suitcase all raised alarms and I was selected for a grope, so can’t complain, though I was hoping (as it was Valentines) he might have given me his number after effectively giving me a handy in the search for illicit substances. As it was, no idea why my boots and suitcase set off the alarms – presumably fashion related – but my coat contained four separate lighters. I tried to style it out by saying I was a one-man-tribute to Cirque du Soleil but he was having none of it.
Flight was with Ryanair and I can’t fault it – Paul had forgotten his headphones and was looking to me to keep him entertained, and I genuinely hope he liked the sight of me face-down in Star Trek: Picard for the journey. He cheered himself up by ordering a coffee and setting away with the task of spilling the tubes of milk all over his legs, and then dozed on my shoulder. Can’t recall any particularly exciting turbulence.
Unusually for Ryanair, they landed us at an airport in the same country as our destination, although things were complicated by the lack of a metro straight to the city centre. I’d read about tourist taxi scams on the flight over and, now officially part of The Real Hustle team, I spent a good ten minutes handwaving and no-no-noing at all the offers of taxis that came over. Normally I’m not so fussy but these cars looked as though they’d been parked outside the reactor when it went kaboom, and I’m sorry, but I do like living. Luckily, Uber has made it to the Ukraine, and a driver was promptly dispatched.
And, oh my word. Fit? This bloke, with his name like an explosion at the Boggle factory, was stunning. Bright blue eyes that had seen, caused and relished in death, black hair I’d be picking from my teeth for weeks after. He spoke no English – and quite right too – and we all squeezed into his Honda Menace in a thick sea of sexual tension. He kept looking in his rear-view mirror, presumably to work out why my mouth was hanging open and spittle was pooling on my moobs, and it was all I could do not to reach over, open Paul’s door and tumble him out, then beg a long life with a man who would never show me intimacy. By the time we arrived at the hotel I’d learned the Ukranian for ‘I’m on PrEP mate, it’s fine’ and started arranging the tablecloths for our wedding, but he simply gave us a curt nod and was on his way, ready to break more hearts. Sigh. I blame Paul.
Our hotel – ‘Tourist Hotel Complex’ – looked fairly swish from the outside and we were checked in with lovely smiles and warm wishes. We had chosen a twin room in a fit of worry and panic and so were given a room on the ninth floor. My god. It was…basic. I’m not one for fancy hotel rooms, given we mainly just spend our time in there sleeping off booze or entertaining the locals, but this looked like a hostel you’d see a messy murder taking part in. No, that’s mean – imagine your nana’s spare room that she keeps for best. Lots of rickety pine, magic-eye wallpaper and fussy bits. The bathroom was tiny with the lavatory tucked neatly into a corner in such a way that to have a tom-tit meant folding your legs up like an accordian. You may remember, I’m 6ft 2″ tall and not that far off wide.
Worse though – the shower. The one thing I really do need is a powerful shower to blast away the snail-trails and harsh living, but this, this was dire. I had enough time between the drops of water hitting me to dry off and cut my toenails. I’ve never had a shower where I’ve had to move to stay wet. To add insult to injury, there was about two minutes of tepid water before it started sputtering and went cold. I was foaming, but mainly because there wasn’t enough water to get rid of the body-wash nestled in my chest hair. Harrumph.
Now, this is getting a trifle long, and for that I apologise. We will revisit this next week! But now, time for a chicken kiev! I know that is an incredibly obvious first choice for a Ukraine recipe but I can’t see that we’ve done one before – so let’s try and make a decent slimming chicken kiev! Let’s go!
Look, we're fat, we can't be arsed trying to make it look pretty. It's a baked chicken breast, we're not miracle workers. You can serve it with chips, salad or glitter from your bum. Up to you. The recipe makes enough for two kievs.
two large chicken breasts
50g of Philadelphia Garlic and Herb (4 syns)
25g of golden breadcrumbs (4.5 syns)
if you like it super garlicky, add a teaspoon of garlic paste (syn free)
I mean, can you take a guess here, poppet?
preheat the oven to 200 degrees and get yourself a good non-stick tray
cut a big fancy gash in the side of your chicken and stuff it with half of the Philadelphia (you're making two, remember) and smidge a bit of garlic in there if you're using it
fold the gash lips over themselves a bit
beat the egg and dip the chicken in
roll it around in the breadcrumbs
bake in the oven until cooked through
you COULD save syns and calories by using your own breadcrumbs from your healthy extra, but don't, just don't - this is as close to a proper kiev as you can get
you COULD also use Quark and garlic but for goodness sake, get a grip
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Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Enjoy! More chicken recipes? Have a look at our huge chicken index right here!
Hiyaaaaaa! Urgh, stop. Before we get to the super-quick chicken kebab wraps, I’ve got a tale to spin to you. It involves Germany, and it’s a holiday post. If you’re here for the recipe, click the heart below and it’ll dash you straight there. Otherwise, settle in – it’s a long one, but you can take it. Meanwhile, cookbook coming along lovely, thank you: we’re now locked in and ready to go! You can pre-order it here.
Goodness, it’s been a while since I rattled out a holiday post – not because we haven’t been gallivanting, mind you, I’m always working on my suntanned wattle – but it’s been an age since I could sit and type something other than recipes. This holiday post takes us all to Hamburg and is unusual in that I’m combining two separate trips into one. The first time we went was back in April courtesy of srprs.me (more on that later) and I booked the second one in one of my atypical ‘go fuck yourself’ huffs. Some people spend days poring over brochures and cooing at hotels.com before they pick their next adventure – with me, you just need to wait until someone cuts me up on a roundabout or I stub my toe on the settee and I’m straight onto easyjet.com filling in my API with rage-a-tremble fingers.
This trip was our fourth with srprs.me – a simple concept where you pay a travel agent a discreet sum of money and they book you a holiday somewhere exciting and wonderful. You don’t find out until you’re at the airport, where you scratch off a scratchcard, enter a code on their website and find out your gate number and destination. It’s all terrifically exciting and indeed, we videoed our last reveal in the hope of sharing it with you all. However, the 4am start and general rattiness of me being at Newcastle Airport betrayed us and when our destination of Malaga was revealed, I announced ‘for fucks sake, fucking MALAGA’ and promptly knocked my coffee over with that touch of the dramatic I know you all love. In my defence, I was confusing it with some super-rough beach resort that I vaguely remembered seeing on those 90s reality shows like Fingerblasts Uncovered where walking flesh-envelopes of fake-tan spilled Blue WKD into their nethers and gurned to camera.
It was actually a superb place, since I mention it. But no, this trip was to Hamburg, and quite honestly, I knew nothing about the place other than it was in Germany and sounded delicious. A quick google reveals some interesting details: it has one of the largest seaports in the world (I shan’t make an awash with seamen joke), the most bridges of any global city and, every three months, hosts the Hamburger Dom.
Coincidentally, on my second trip, so did I.
It was the trip to the airport on the second trip that bears discussion, so we’ll start there and from now on, I’m just going to flit between the two without further clarification. Our flight was 6.45pm from Manchester Airport and, after a fitful morning, we set away at 12 noon, planning on stopping for lunch somewhere fancy en-route. Six hours to travel 180 miles of motorway – even in a Smart car laden with two fat blokes – surely no problem?
So you’d think. But every single citizen of the United Kingdom had clearly decided to go out for a leisurely crash of their cars at precisely 12.01 and what should have been a simple, uncomplicated jaunt became a nailbiting exercise in clock-watching, screaming myself hoarse at the backs of lorries and listening to Paul’s music. It was the last part that almost finished me off – I’d promised not to say one word about his music in exchange for him doing the long drive (I was tired from having my hair cut) and my god, in all honesty, wrenching the steering wheel from him and swerving us under an Iceland articulated lorry has never been so tempting. So much sad guitar chords and female warbling. The only thing that stopped me was the indignity of being cut out of the wreckage of a Smart car whilst chewing my way through a Sara Lee gateaux that had wedged itself up my arse.
The gates closed promptly at 6.15pm and I’ve seen enough sweaty-jowled businessmen being shouted at on Airline to know easyjet are merciless with their deadlines. For years I’ve watched that programme taking sweet satisfaction from families being denied their holidays or some person missing out on a liver transplant because they’d parked too far away to make check-in, but now I was at risk of missing out, I was manic. We threw our keys at the meet and greet parking people, apologising profusely at 200mph for being in a rush, and sprinted through fast-track security and the departures lounge.
I say sprinted. I don’t sprint. I’ve got good long legs that allow me to move with purpose and my general size and my face all-a-tittylip means people will get out of my face with minimal need for cursing under my breath and punching old folks to the ground. Paul, on the other hand, moves with all the urgency of a man selecting a slice of toast for a weekend breakfast, and I grew ever more furious with him as he delicately tip-toed around folks and ‘ever-so-sorry’ allowed people to get in front. Things came crashing to a head as he slipped over on an incline and fell fat on his face with an almighty moo.
I am, I admit, a terrible person. An awful husband, a cruel lover and a heartless soul. I burst out laughing. My weakness, if you ever need to make me laugh, are random jerky movements and people falling over and hurting themselves. Others watch stand-up, I watch You’ve Been Framed with a smirk and a semi. We didn’t have time to spare so he picked himself up, looked at me with a face that made it clear I’d have to spend twenty minutes later making pained expressions of fake remorse, and off we went. We made it to the gate with one whole minute to spare, according to his now heavily-scuffed smart-watch.
Thank god we made it though, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the subsequent twenty-five minutes of standing at the gate peering at our plane and wondering why we couldn’t get on. That was never explained, though it did give me plenty of time to smile coquettishly and have a mutual eye-wank with a lovely German bear a couple of steps down the queue. Ah, German men. There’s something so alluring about an accent that sounds like they’re coughing up gravel even when they’re “whispering sweet nothings” into the back of your neck.
Our flights were uneventful – prompt, comfortable and with minimal fuss – though my trip was made all the more comfortable by the four gins I downed, ignoring the fact that the bill came to more than I’d paid for our flight ticket. We’re on holiday, such extravagance is to be encouraged. Clearly easyJet has its knockers – she served me the drinks – but damn I love them. We landed, breezed through security in that almost effortless manner we currently enjoy thanks to being part of a fantastic union of shared responsibilities and agreed border processes – what absolute melt would begrudge that – and then we managed about four hundred meters before we sat down and had a sandwich.
See, there’s another reason why we love Germany. So. Many. Sandwiches. I know they all come from the same processing plant and have probably sat there so long you could escape from prison using the bread as a file, but I care not: they’re delicious. It’s like living in a sandwich buffet and I’m all for it. My choice was a sandwich with so much smoked cheese and ham in it that I had to call for special assistance just to lift my fat-ass back out of the seat. My apologies, I should really call him by his first name, Paul.
Paul’s sandwich had an entire section of Lidl pressed into it:
The German public transport system is another joy, once you get around the fact the map looks like a Michael Bay action thriller where some sap has to cut just the right wire to defuse a bomb. I’m sure it’s easy to follow and indeed, after forty minutes sweating, crying and deciphering the beast we managed, we were on our way, but jeez does it make you realise how shit our system is. We’ve got two lines on our Metro system in Newcastle and trains that still have George Stephenson in the cab. But mustn’t grumble: you pay £5.20 to be told by a pleasant soothing voice that the trains are delayed and you can expect to arrive three stops short by the summer equinox.
The hotel that srprs.me had chosen was a delight – the Hotel Jufa, down on the docks. Ostensibly a ‘maritime’ hotel, though the lack of filthy-handed sailors was a disappointment, it was full of ships to play on and curious little tchotchkes alluding to the port. That’s all well and good, but I’m not Alex Polizzi (there was a PUUUUBE, DAAAARLING) (hi Adam) and there’s no need to review the hotel here save to tell you the three most important facts:
the breakfast buffet was plentiful, varied and everything fabulous about a German breakfast;
the room had decent air-conditioning and none of those silly double mattresses which are two normal mattresses zipped together – very important when you’re our combined weight and turning over in your sleep means both beds careering to either end of the room; and
it had a homophobic shower. Seriously, hoteliers, sort your shit out so I can sort mine. Mind, I made the most of it…
Hotel done, we’ll switch to the various activities we took part in – no chronological order, mind you, this isn’t Sherlock.
The Saw Escape Room by EscapeDiem
You know how much we love escape rooms, yes? It had been a while since Original Flavour Paul and I had done one and well, what extra level of tension could having all the instructions in German add?
Turns out, a lot. But: what a fantastic room. Based on the Saw movies, you start off in the bathroom from the movies – filthy toilet (and yep, you need to put your hand in) and all. Clever tricks abound – heat sensitive paints, heartbeat locks, false rooms…all marvellous. Then the twist halfway through: you had to go inside the walls. There was a tiny vent to crawl through – now I’m not claustrophobic so I was generally fine with that – but then you had to loop back over yourself and climb up. They’d built a multi-level maze in the walls in the almost pitch black.
Scary, but doable, yes? Well think of me for a second – I was lodged in a wall, barely able to move, with Paul – all many, many stone of him – perched right above me with only a thin sheet of plywood holding him up. It wasn’t Jigsaw or being stuck I was scared of but rather being reduced to atom-wide jam by the weight of the clumsiest fucker alive crashing down on me. It actually felt like a Saw movie, especially when I slashed Paul’s throat for getting the combination wrong at the end. Lolz – caught up in the moment wasn’t I! We escaped the room with a couple of minutes to go and our already strained marriage in tatters.
A museum devoted to life in miniature: sounds deadly dull, but it was bloody brilliant. Tonnes and tonnes of teensy-tiny recreations of cities with working trains and tiny interactive models: we loved it. Me for the sheer mechanics and level of detail, Paul because he actually felt like a normal sized human for once. I galloped through like Glumdalclitch’s daddy, Paul went tip-toeing through the roses, letting himself into the matchbox-sized houses and taking a breath on a bench made from four cocktail sticks and a pin.
He’s not even that short, you know, but it makes a change from the fat jokes. Poor Paul, I love him really.
It was fun though: I’m all for an exhibit where there’s buttons to press and this place was awash with them. For example, you pressed a button and a tiny version of a concert started playing, complete with miniature lighting rigs and hundreds of wee humans bobbing to the beat. There was a scale version of Hamburg Airport with planes taking off (disappearing neatly behind a curtain of cloud) (cotton wool) and if you pressed the button and waited, a UFO would touch down. I mean, haway! If that was the UK, each exhibition would have an out of order sign and the only buttons you could press would be on the chip-and-pin machine as you paid your £44 entrance fee.
Actually, the UK was represented with a tiny version of London, replete with lots of top-hat wearing guards and a ding-donging Big Ben. Newcastle wasn’t featured, which was a shame, because I’d have loved to have pressed a button and seen Gemma-Marie, Marie-Marie and Lisa-Marie rolling around pulling each other’s hair in a puddle of their own foamy piss. As I said, the attention to detail was really quite terrific.
Now, honestly, we’re almost at 2000 words. Let’s cut it short there and come back another day.
You came for the quick and easy chicken kebab wraps, didn’t you? Who could blame you? We’ve seen loads of hot-takes on our recipe for chicken doner kebabs, but this is the easiest one yet. Inspiration came from quite genuinely the best fast food we’ve ever had, pushed down into our gullets at 4am on a crisp Hamburg morning. Because I was drunk and a walking horn at this point, it was a case of finding anywhere that was open, dispensed food and was staffed by sultry looking men with a kebab shaver. Wasn’t hard to come across one, though we did have to pretend it was raita when a customer came in. This is something that takes no time to throw together – you could probably make a marinade yourself with lots of ingredients but honestly, pick one of these sauces up for 60p and hoy it in the cupboard for when you just can’t be arsed.
We've done wraps so many times over, and make no apology for it. If you're controlled and sensible you can keep a load of wraps in the freezer and defrost as needed - then chuck any old shite in there. The sweet raita is what makes this dish though - don't be afraid to get it made. This makes loads - freeze any leftover meat! Enjoy our chicken kebab wraps!
For the wraps:
whatever wraps SW have decreed syn-free as your healthy extra
five chicken thighs
one packet of Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli & Garlic Stir Fry Sauce (10 syns)
one small red onion
one small white cabbage
half a cucumber (if you're looking for something to do with the other half, pop it up your blurter)
For the sweet raita:
250g fat free greek yoghurt
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp mint sauce
pinch of salt
dice up your chicken thighs into very small chunks - doesn't need to be uniform, but go nice and small
marinate the chopped thighs in the sauce and leave as long as you like
when it's time to eat, tip the marinated chicken into a hot pan and cook it quickly - keep stirring so it doesn't stick, but you want the sauce to get nice and sticky
whilst that's cooking, shred your cabbage, thinly slice the onion and chop your cucumber
make your wraps by adding a slick of raita to the wrap, add your meat, chopped veg and wrap away!
speed this up by using shop-bought raita
this makes enough for four big wraps with plenty of chicken left over - you can freeze the chicken once cooked
we served ours in a folded up naan bread, but we don't count our syns with bread
if you have some time, pop the sliced onion and cabbage in a bowl with some vinegar for twenty minutes - it'll soften the cabbage and take the sting from the onion - just rinse everything off before you serve
Chicken taco wraps! Remember we’re old school here at twochubbycubs. We use wraps for making wraps as opposed to making apple pies and panty liners with them. But if you want the recipe for chicken taco wraps, you’ll need to hold onto your nonny for a second because, as usual, nonsense follows! Scroll down to the food photos if you’re not quite ready for me to spice up your life with my shenanigans.
First, a gentle reminder. We have a cookbook coming out – 100 recipes of slimming classics (but none of the use sweetener, use fry-light shite) that’ll help you see your bajingo again when you’re naked. They won’t let us use that as a strapline. It’s coming along terrifically and we promise it’ll scratch the itch you have. Which saves you buying natural yoghurt, which be fair, you’d only eat anyway. Click to pre-order and say you’ll be there at launch day!
Happy Father’s Day, everyone! Usually I’d write a post about my dad but he’s terribly shy and stoic and wouldn’t enjoy the fuss, and this isn’t a love thing, so I’ll just say that he’s an amazing dad who never once rolls his eyes when his 34 year old son rings him because he needs a washer changing or a shelf putting up. By the same token, our mutually respectful relationship means I don’t judge him too vociferously for not turning the keypad noises off on his phone or watching him stab at the iPad like a chicken hunting corn. He’s always been there for me, providing me with a haunting visage of the looks I can expect when I hit sixty. Thank God my deleterious lifestyle choices will shuffle me into the Earth by 54 at best.
Anyway, how have you all been? Well? I’m asking as though I’ll read the replies when you all holler. It’s been terrifically busy at Chubby Towers – the disadvantage of writing a cookbook is that we’re having to cook so many new recipes and write them up that I’ve barely had time for my nine hour daytime naps and ‘let’s have another round of The Office, seasons 2-7’. It’s a chore being us. But we’ve managed to fit a few exciting things in, one of which was a trip to see the Spice Girls.
Well, one of us. Spice Girls is to Paul what water is to a rabid dog, so he bailed out after eight months of me geeing him along and instead, Paul II replaced him. There was no chance he wouldn’t do it – Spice Girls is to Paul II what water is to a chip pan fire, if I may torture that analogy for a second more. A hotel was secured, a train driver was cautioned that he would be dragging especially heavy cargo and I managed to accidentally leave work early by 28 minutes, so all was well. I say that, the plan was for me to come home, pick up my stuff and be straight out, but I got collared by one of the (very few) sweet neighbours on our street who asked me to nip her back passage and take a look at her abelia bush.
Frankly, it was the best offer I’d had all day and I needed practice at making the elderly happy, so off I went. She kept me there for thirty minutes despite my ‘must get on’ and ‘time goes by’ schtick but honestly, she was so lovely and a proper nana that I didn’t want to go. I did point out that it was nearly the weekend, love, but she didn’t pick up on it – I was wasting my time. I’ve been hankering for a substitute nana since mine was Endgamed and she could be the one. Although she didn’t have a television operating at Chernobyl-disaster levels of volume so I’m not sure. Once I managed to get away I quickly shaved my noggin and off I went.
The trip to the Stadium of Light was an ordeal and a half, not least because as someone with (albeit the faintest possible trace) Newcastle United running through my veins (thanks to my parents), it feels wrong. This was compounded by the Metro carriage being full of loud, shrieking Geordies wearing lip-readable skirts singing all the wrong words to every Spice Girls song they could imagine. Paul II is quick to anger and I could see the rage building in his yellow eyes and, as for me, I would have been glad of a tunnel so I could pop my head out of the window and shave away my ears at 60mph on the brickwork. It was a long journey, though livened up by Paul II’s surprise that the North East has a) fields and b) horses. Well aye: we always need somewhere to knock together a Catherine Cookson adaptation at a moment’s notice if Robson Green’s gas bill needs paying.
After a slow walk of life to the stadium (Paul II has weak knees, I have thick thighs) where we were accompanied by a lass telling us she had shaved her whisker biscuit for a Nelly concert, we found our seats. I’d picked spectacular seats for sure, even if they were high enough in the stands to require oxygen. Well, ticketmaster did – we were sat down above the entrance with an unobstructed view and even better, nothing in front of us bar a precipitous drop and a view of everyone’s dandruff as they wandered in. I was dispatched to find alcohol because once Paul II has sat down it’s a four man job to get him up again and I’m delighted to report that I politely asked them to move over and only managed to stand on eight feet on the way. I’m told she’ll walk again but her dancing career is fucked. That’ll be the last time, lover.
The concert was terrific, mind you. Absolutely mint. People had been making pointed comments at me for a couple of weeks about sound quality but come on, for four ladies in their seventies they did an absolutely cracking job. All the classics with a load of album tracks in the middle which I sang along to despite not knowing the words or the key. But when does that ever stop this boy with song in his heart? You have to sing if you can’t dance! I admit to my Emotional Response Unit faltering a shade when Viva Forever kicked in and everyone was singing. I may have got wet eyes, much like Paul II when Let Love lead The Way came on and everyone picked up Posh’s bits. I was schooled by Paul II who knows every single word to every single Spice Girls song and who also sang along, which must have been a treat for everyone around us to have two giant gay bears bellowing and screaming like cows in a Foot and Mouth fire.
Oh! Something kinda funny happened though – events were livened up still further by a fight breaking out a few rows behind us between a few lasses who all had the look of ladies who know where the best local dogfights are held. The video is worth a watch, if only to see the chunky mama in green fall down between the concrete of the row and the seats in front like the thick blue line in Tetris. She was escorted out by all manner of chaps in hi-vis (when they came sprinting up the stairs next to me I thought one of my wishes had come true and instinctively started pushing out) (though I wouldn’t be the first person to leave that stadium suckered to their chair like a Garfield toy on the window of a Vauxhall Zafira; the dancers were very handsome indeed) and that was that. Fancy fighting at a Spice Girls concert though. Listen, girls – who do you think you are? We’re all sore Posh was too busy clipping out her ingrown toenail to turn up, but keep your shit together – the lady is a vamp, remember, and she has David Beckham to enjoy.
Any sense of excitement and joy was immediately tempered by the queue for the Metro though. In an astonishing bit of not-like-me, I’d forgotten that 50,000 people would be trying to get home. Naturally, as we had taken our leisurely time leaving (stopping for a piss in the gents only to be confronted by what looked like the Saturday night divas from the bingo hall all sitting in the urinal) (thankfully, though only just, sitting not a typo) we were position number 49,890 in the queue. We contemplated trying to wave down the Spice Bus but it didn’t happen, so we pooled our resources and found the most expensive Uber trip ever back to town and told him to take me home. Traffic was bumper to bumper and I was bursting for a piss – I had tears in my eyes at the end that had nothing to do with the optimistic Magic Tree hanging on the dash. Taxi driver was a treat though – complimented my glittery bear shirt and everything. Right back at ya, driver!
Paul II also stayed for the day after and we filled it with food and escape rooms. I’m saying absolutely nowt about our performance in the second escape room because honestly, it’s not worth my life. Ah balls to it – I wanna be honest. We escaped with ten seconds to spare, and in our defence the very last action of the room involved an actual sprint to the exit. We were doomed from the start, not least when Paul II had to get down with me to retrieve all the balls I’d spilled on the floor. But we performed admirably, with absolutely no mistakes made.
And that was that! Spice Girls concert done with my mate and a great couple of days away from looking at a computer screen with bile in my eyes. When the Spice Girls come back for their eighty-seventh reunion tour, be sure to see them if you wanna have some fun. They’ll never give up on the good times, it wasn’t certainly wasn’t too much and there is no denying – they were so much better than I hoped!
To be honest, calling this a recipe is a bit cheeky - but you know sometimes you just want a quick dinner? This is one of those meals. Grill the chicken however you like it - add some spice, if you prefer, but I like it naked. This is meant to show you how quickly you can make something up!
4 wholemeal wraps (use your HEB)
2 chicken breasts
8 tbsp salsa (4 syns)
4 tbsp guacamole (6 syns)
180g reduced fat mozzarella (use your HEA)
chopped iceberg lettuce
This makes enough for four wraps, one each, 2.5 syns! But I appreciate it's hard to stop with wraps, so don't be surprised if two become one!
cook the chicken however you like - we grilled ours in an Optigrill
lay out the wraps and dollop 2 tbsp of salsa mix and guacamole onto each one and spread out (like you're topping a pizza)
sprinkle over the chopped lettuce and diced chicken and top with the grated mozzarella
Chicken, chorizo and seafood paella, if you don’t mind? Firstly, let me kick off proceedings by announcing this is a sponsored post. That is, the good folks at Tefal have sent us another Actifry to test out and have compensated us generously for farting about in Adobe Premiere for an hour or two. Usual rules apply though: if we don’t like the product, or it doesn’t work, or it sets Paul’s training bra on fire, we’ll always tell you. Five years we’ve been doing this dance, you know, and I know all the steps by now. But first, a reminder!
When Tefal approached us to ask us to take part in their Spin Class activities, my first thought was that it meant exercise and frankly, I’d rather set my eyes on fire. Thankfully, once they’d explained and cleared the Zippo fluid from my eyeballs, we realised it was their new promotion to show the new Actifry Genius XL off, with all the fancy features you’d expect from a product called Genius. The Spin Class is a clever pun on the spinning of the actifry paddle, see. It’s all very clever. And the paella…well, I’ll come to that a bit later (and if you don’t have an Actifry, don’t fret, we’ve covered you too!), but first, nonsense.
I’m not saying I’m anti-exercise, I’m really not, but it’s altogether too much effort at the moment. We’re back at Elite, and bloody loving it, but good lord I genuinely thought I was going to die last Wednesday. It was forty five minutes of squats, thrusts, push-ups, jumping jacks and lying on my front with my bumcheeks in the air gasping for breath. And listen, I’ve been there many times before, but usually it’s pitch black – this wasn’t my scene. You’re reading the words of someone whose lips go blue buttoning his shirt up of a morning. Paul, who normally wouldn’t notice if I came into the kitchen with my arse where my face should be, turned to me with concern etched across his face and asked whether I needed an ambulance. He was wrong: I needed a hearse.
I blame my PE teachers at school. For the last two years of high school me and a gaggle of the other fat, camp and lazy kids used to refuse to take part and eventually, the teacher realised we weren’t going to take him seriously and so let us sit on the gym mats spectating. That got knocked on the head a few months in when we made a proper event of it and brought a picnic and a CD player. I wasn’t an especially camp teenager, but it’s hard to look butch when you’re bringing crisps out of a wicker basket whilst Vogue plays. I was good at three sports: basketball (because I was tall and excellent at dribbling – still am!), cross-country running (in that I could run 400m out of sight, and then share all the fags I’d nicked from my mother’s nuclear-war stockpile) and rugby. Rugby was great – being fairly fast yet superbly chubby meant I was hard to knock over and it became possibly the only sport I could have enjoyed playing more. However, I spent too long looking moonily at the other players that it never went anywhere. A couple of my friends play for the Newcastle Ravens and have invited me to take part, but I’m fairly confident that it would make things uncomfortable if I’m used as the table for the half-time oranges. Or worse. Ah well.
I asked Paul what exercise he enjoys and he replied ‘resting his ears from your nonsense’, which seems unnecessarily catty.
The Actifry, then. Tefal will kick off if we don’t tell you a little bit about what it can do. Firstly, it looks a little less like the Daft Punk era models of old, which is lovely. But it’s an absolute beast: 1.7kg capacity, which they tell us is enough for five portions of food, or a snack for Paul. You know how they work, yes? Add a tiny bit of oil, switch it on and the heat and the moving paddle turns and cooks your food with very little fat involved, bar the two chunkers operating it. Unlike the earlier models, this machine allows you to change the temperature (so low and slow for things like a chilli, nice and hot for crispy chips) and set the time it cooks for, which is handy for when, like me, you’re catching up on your stories and really want to see how this Chernobyl story plays out without burning your dinner. There’s also pre-set cooking options which takes the mystery out of pressing buttons AND there’s a handy app which showcases 300+ recipes, of which you may even see a couple of ours lumped in there. I have to confess, not usually a fan of tie-in apps, but this one is actually decent – not too much clucking about and presents the recipes in an attractive, step-by-step fashion. Might nick it.
I’ll say this though. We’ve been using our Actifry for years, mainly for chips because: obesity, but it’s genuinely our favourite kitchen gadget we own. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, with minimal fuss. It doesn’t leave your kitchen stinking of fat and it’s easy to keep clean, given all but the base can go in the dishwasher. It’s like the antithesis of Paul. There’s plenty of cheaper alternatives out there but – and mind this is rare because we’re usually all about not needing to spend money to eat well – this is worth spending your money on, even if you get a smaller or older model. Buy cheap, buy twice, and plus I’ve seen the clip of some of the models you can get in B&M and it looks like someone’s parked a coke-ravaged R2D2 on your worktop. Nobody wants that, now do they?
It’s OK, we know he’s fit too. The Papa Bear to your Chubby Cubs. Imagine my distress and agony at having to clip and trim all that video footage of him working out on my 27″ screen. I had to push my chair back at one point. Now the text recipe – and look, if you don’t have an Actifry, don’t fret, we’ll give you a non-Actifry route to cook too! Because we’re canny.
Paella in an Actifry? That's not chips! I know right - but this is tasty. If you're not a fan of seafood, leave it out, and you've got a tasty chicken and chorizo paella. Don't leave out the chorizo though - it's 3 syns per serving, but the oil from the chorizo makes everything that bit more tasty!
200g of paella rice
800ml of water
500g chicken breast (diced)
200g cooked prawns
200g shelled mussels
100g chorizo (12 syns), sliced
two sweet onions, sliced finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large red pepper
1 chicken stock cube
1/2 tsp each of curry powder, turmeric and smoked paprika
pinch of salt and pepper
boil the rice in the water and stock for about five minutes, then set it aside
select 40 minutes and 220 degrees on the Actifry
tip everything in, shut the lid, go sit and pick your feet for forty minutes whilst it does all the hard work
On the hob route
in one pan, boil the rice in the water and stock for about five minutes, then set it aside
whilst that's cooking, gently fry off the onion and pepper for about five minutes
add the garlic and the spices and keep gently frying until everything is sweated down
add the chicken and cook for a further couple of minutes
tip the rice, stock and water into the onion pan, add everything else and pop the lid on, cooking and bubbling for forty minutes - make sure the chicken is cooked through, whatever you do!