Slow cooker beef keema, yeah, that’s right, slow cooker beef keema. You want it. We have it. You’ll find the recipe under all the following nonsense. Meanwhile, we’ve dropped Droptober because well, busy. Let’s embrace Homovember.
Hallowe’en has been and gone, and hopefully the only fright you’ve experienced is the site of your own toes as your gunt shrinks ever inwards.
For the first time in ten years since Paul and I got together, we decided to embrace Hallowe’en instead of spending the evening sat behind the sofa with the lights off, watching Coronation Street on the iPad with the brightness and volume turned right down. No, in the spirit (oh h oho) of taking part, we stuck up some perfunctory bits of tat from Poundland (probably getting lead poisoning whilst doing so) and put a pumpkin outside, shockingly not with the word C*NT carved in it. We’re getting better at this being social lark.
We wanted trick-or-treaters to knock on the door and take our chocolate. Perhaps that’s too far – we certainly had chocolate, but Paul had eyes like a kicked dog when I told him they were for any guests. That didn’t stop me eating three Freddos and a Fudge when he went to the bog, though. We didn’t dress up because apparently my suggestion of answering the door as Fred and Rose West was a little too “near-the-knuckle”. I’m not sure what Paul’s problem is, I’ve got a pair of my nan’s Blanche Hunt glasses that would have looked resplendent on him.
Best of all, we ever went to the trouble of setting up a light system for the house – all of our outdoor lighting is controllable by colour and timers so we had the house flickering like a fire with occasional bursts of white light like a lightning bolt. It was all very brilliant and took an hour of tinkering with our router and swearing incoherently at the iPad to get it all set up.
So, what did we get, perched as we are on a lovely corner of a cul-de-sac full of expensive houses all ripe for trick or treaters? Absolutely zip. Bugger all. Sweet fanny adams.
Actually, that’s not entirely true, we did get two teenage girls (very rough – they looked like they were on their third pregnancy of the year but only their first toothbrush) who stuck their hands out and said ‘trick or treat’ – a quick glance revealed that they hadn’t bothered with any sort of costume bar eight inches of poorly-applied foundation. We asked for trick and they kissed their teeth at us and tramped away over our lawn.
There were several children in groups who visited the streets but avoided our house altogether. I admit to being distraught. It was all I could do to choke down every last bit of chocolate and sour jellies that was left in our fruit-bowl.
Of course, like all things, Hallowe’en was a lot different when I was young. Because money was tight, my costume was a bin-liner (because nothing says BOO like ‘NO HOT ASHES’ spread across my arse) and my pumpkin was a turnip. Have you ever tried to carve a turnip? It’s like cutting a diamond with a butter knife. It’s why I associate Hallowe’en with carpal tunnel syndrome. My sister wore a bed-sheet with some red paint on it. Back in modern time, Paul and I couldn’t use our black bedsheets because people would think we’d come dressed as an badly tuned TV channel.
Most of the people in our village were knocking on 90 and thus, no sweets, fucks or hearing were given, but we always hit the jackpot when we visited the only footballer in our village, who gave us all a tub of Quality Street each. It’s tantamount to my obesity that this remains one of the fondest memories I have of growing up in Backwater, Northumberland.
Back in the now, I did find it interesting that after all the gash-crashing and naval-gazing that’s been happening over the ‘terror clowns’ ‘epidemic’ recently that so many parents thought it would be wise to dress their children up as frightening beasts to terrorise the neighbours, mind you. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, after all.
I’d welcome a clown jumping out at me to give me a fright – I just don’t shock that way. They’d get an entirely non-plussed reaction and a shoulder-shrug. No, if you really want to scare me, dress up as my bank manager and tell me Paul’s spending on the First Direct card. You’d need to bring me around with salts. I’d love to have a flasher jump out of the bushes, too, if only so I could ask if he wanted me to blow it or smoke it. Nothing cuts a man down quicker than a jibe at his wee-willy-winky.
The idea of ghosts certainly don’t scare me because I don’t believe in such a thing. I think, once you die, that’s it, though I’ve already told Paul that if the afterlife does exist I’ll be haunting him relentlessly – whooing and booing every time he reaches for some consolation ice-cream or, worse, a new lover. I’ve told him to at least let the sheets cool first, though I don’t doubt he’ll be asking the funeral procession to pull into a layby on the A19 on the way to the crem to take care of a lorry driver.
You know why I don’t think ghosts exist? Simple. If you could bring comfort to the living by letting them know you’re in a better place, why wouldn’t you just do it? Why go through the rigmarole of knocking over vases or hooting in the night? Worse, why would you deliver your message through rancid vile grief-exploiters like Sally Morgan or other psychic mediums? I don’t know about you, but I’d want my comforting messages to be passed directly to the target rather than over the lips of some permatanned Liverpudlian on Living TV. I’d love to think my dear nana is giving us a sign – perhaps that whistling in my ears and high-pitched ringing isn’t tinnitus after all but rather the ghost of her 1980s NHS hearing aid coming over time and space? Doctor Eeee-No. Bless her.
Right, enough of this nonsense, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? It’s a bit of a cheap recipe in that, rather than using a delicate blend of spices measured out individually and carefully toasted, I went for a spice mix that had the name GEETA on it just so I could shout SANJAY across the aisles in Tesco. Plus, it’s 4 syns for the spice mix which split between four is only a syn. Obviously. Actually, we doubled this recipe up because we’ve bought a massive slow cooker to replace our small one and this made enough for eight big servings. The recipe below makes enough for four. The idea for the recipe came from a blog called Jam and Clotted Cream, found right here – I’ve spun it so it is more suitable for us chunkers.
One more thing. You could just chuck everything in the slow cooker at once, but browning the mince and softening the veg in a pan first makes it so much better. Don’t be lazy!
one packet of Geeta’s Tikka Paste (80g) (can buy these in most Tescos, but just swap for a different tikka paste if you want – check the syns though) (4 syns)
400g of chopped tomatoes – now listen here, use whatever you want, but slightly more expensive tomatoes always taste nicer, trust me
1 beef stock cube
200g of frozen peas (adjust if you want, but I love loads of peas)
to make slow cooker beef keema, you should:
Before we go, let me change your life:
Watch this video and you’ll never look back when it comes to chopping peppers. No more seeds splashed all over the counter, no more fannying about. Admittedly, if you chop your food like a complete div, this might not help you, but for anyone else…
finely chop your onions and peppers and sweat those bad-boys down in a pan – which makes sense, as you’d have a hell of a job sweating them down in a washing up bowl
once they’ve softened ever so, throw in the mince and cook it hard until there’s no pink, only brown – ‘no pink, only brown’ being the name of our fourth twochubbycubs book, incidentally)
add the minced garlic and ginger and stir
add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock cube and tikka mix, stir, then slop it all into your slow cooker and cook that for at least six hours on low
half an hour before you want to get eating, put all the peas in – you can put them in at the start but they’ll moosh right down
serve with rice and sides – we served ours with our onion rice from way back when
Bloody lovely. As someone common would say, ‘that’s right nice, that’. Here, was this not enough for you? Then get those glassy eyes cast over even more recipes by clicking on the big ole buttons below!
To be honest, I know the slow cooked pulled pork chilli boats look crap, but do you know what? I don’t care! We saw them on Pinterest (I know, it’s a miracle I saw anything between all the JuicePlus ads and knock-off Etsy bumph, but hey) and thought we’d give them a go. Lesson learned? Don’t try and copy anything from Pinterest. It never works for us. What looks cute, unusual and fluffy on Pinterest usually ends up looking like the end result of a family car backing over a cat. 🙁
It’s the same with this blog, to be fair. We do try and make our food look presentable but you have to remember, we spend a lot of time fannying about with the dishes this way and that way to try and get them to look half decent. That’s because we want to promote our food. You, on the other hand, shouldn’t fuss about – get down to the business of turning your hard work into poo, instead. It’s what you want.
Anyway, I wanted to give a quick guide to how we blog. This isn’t a funny post but it’s something that we get asked a lot about. I’ve seen a lot of people over the last couple of years start up food blogs and most of them stop after a while, and there’s a bloody good reason – it takes a lot of time! If you want to share your recipes then go for it. You can host on WordPress for free and it’s an excellent platform for your own blog – very easy to use! We take all of our photos with our iPad and touch them up slightly in Photoshop (normally to balance the colours – we have a very, very red kitchen). It’s worth taking the time to write properly but don’t stress too much about telling a story – there’s far, far too many blogs out there (possibly including my own) that, for example, when writing about a chilli will tell you about the time they went to the market to buy chillis, and how amazing chillis are, and how much they love chillis…if you’ve got a story, tell it, but if you’re just filling out the word count, don’t!
We do spend a lot of our time doing this – finding recipes to adapt to make them Slimming World friendly, writing out the posts, taking the pictures, researching the syn count, publicising the posts – each post takes about two hours to do, I reckon. If you’re committed, it’s a fun, worthwhile hobby, but jeez, when I think about all them hours…
If you’re looking to make money from a blog, unless you really, REALLY build up the readership, you’ll struggle. There’s plenty of ways to do it, but you’ll not make much to begin with unless you have a blog full of adverts and trick people into going there. That’s not good. Readership takes a while to build – we get on average about 25,000 views a day but for the first year we were hitting 500 and being glad of it. I remember how excited I was when we got up to 50 subscribers – now we’re not a kick of the arse off 10,000! That’s just insane to me.
If I could give only one bit of advice – do it with love. Now I know that’s going to make everyone’s teeth turn black from all the sugar but honestly, Paul loves cooking and I love writing so a food blog is the perfect outlet for that. If you’re the same, give it a go! If you don’t fancy writing full-time, don’t forget you can guest write for our blog if you want to see your name up in lights. Just drop us a line in the comments and we’ll contact you.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s get to the bloody pulled pork chilli boats.
to make slow cooked pulled pork chilli boats, you’ll need:
a good joint of pork, we used shoulder from Musclefood – it came with very little fat on (and we just cut it off) and an excellent price at £6.00 per kg – click here for that!
tin of tomatoes
tin of beans
tin of black eyed beans
a small carton of passata
1 tbsp chilli powder
a slow cooker
Old El Paso Stand and Stuff tacos (4.5 syns each)
one slice of Edam (the sliced Edam from Tesco – one slice is a HEA, or just use your syns for about 4 syns)
potato wedges for the side
to make slow cooked pulled pork chilli boats, you should:
put everything bar the taco, cheese and lettuce into the slow cooker and cook overnight on low – then shred the pork with two forks
stuff into a taco
make a cheese sail
put it on a bed of lettuce
serve with potato wedges and a feeling of what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-with-my-life
Meh! It made Paul laugh. The leftovers can be served with rice the next day and put into a sandwich. Hell, you could even put it on a pizza like this old recipe of ours. This chilli really is the bare bones – add as many vegetables like peppers or mushrooms as you want. Really, it was just an excuse to muck about with our food. Enjoy!
Do you know, I’m never comfortable typing lasagne. I dither for ages as to whether it’s lasagne or lasagna and whenever I type it into google my eyes glaze over through boredom and I give up. So, take your pick.
Super quick post tonight as we’ve only just got back from returning the Smart Car. Paul loves it. I hate it with the passion of a thousand suns. Admittedly, it was surprisingly roomy (but not roomy enough for any backseat shenanigans…not least because it doesn’t have a backseat, unless you fancy singeing your arse cheeks on the engine and having the Mercedes logo branded above your nipsy) but it was so…I hate to use the word lame, I’m not in Mean Girls, but yes, lame. I’ve never heard a car wheeze before. Paul stepped on the accelerator and it ‘shot away’ from a junction like a stubborn poo round a u-bend – going, but just. It did give the neighbours something to look at however and turning around at the top of the street was great fun as it can seemingly turn on a penny, but no, no, we’re not getting one. Sorry Paul! I embarrassed him today by parking outside the Smart car dealership whilst he was inside handing back the keys and putting the Black Beauty theme on loud.
Tonight’s recipe, then – slow cooker lasagne. This serves six and only uses one 400g portion of extra lean mince, the type that you can buy from our Musclefood deal by clicking here. Just saying! You can bulk this out as much as you like by adding carrots, courgette, peas – any old shite you happen to have floating around in the back of the freezer. Also, this can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the beef mince with Quorn or similar. But ew, right. I hope they’ve improved Quorn mince since the last time I tried it – it was like digesting loft insulation. This lasagne is pretty much the same method as a normal lasagne. The pasta cooks slowly and is so soft, it’s almost like another sauce. Sounds like I’m having a joke but honestly, it’s good. That’s why it is essential to make your mince sauce as tasty as possible, it carries the dish!
We served ours with roast potatoes and some steamed broccoli. Oh how fancy.
Look at it bubbling away…
Looking good! Right. So…
to make slow cooker lasagne, you’ll need:
400g lean beef mince
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
280g lasagne sheets (about 2/3rds of a box)
340g fat-free cottage cheese
as much reduced fat mozzarella cut into chunks as you like – 65g is one person’s HEA, and this serves six
whatever speed food you have about
to make slow cooker lasagne, you should:
in a large frying pan heat a little oil/Frylight over a medium high heat, add the onions and sweat down
add the garlic and the mince and stir occasionally until no pink meat remains
add the chopped tomatoes, passata, tomato puree and any other speed veg you are using into the pan and stir well, cook for a few minutes
meanwhile, add all of the cheeses into a bowl and mix together
spoon a quarter of the meat mixture into the slow cooker, top with a few lasagne sheets (break them up if you need to) and then spread over the top a quarter of the cheese mixture – repeat this three more times to make layers
cook on a low heat for 5 hours with the lid on
This freezes well, you’ll be glad to know. We portioned some up, put it in the freezer and got them about again 15 minutes later to eat. That’s portion control for you!
I can’t begin to tell you how sick I am of slow cooker week. Everything tastes the bloody same! I appreciate it’s convenient, I appreciate that it probably saves money, I understand that it saves time…but for goodness sake, I feel like I’m in a Wiltshire Farm Foods advert. And let me tell you, if that was the case, I’d give Ronnie bloody Corbett a smack on the chops because I find his hamster-like face upsetting and the fact that he’s hawking mush to old ladies for a vastly-overinflated price to be quite infuriating. Plus he’s got eyebrows like a seventies porn vagina. No, I like my food to have texture – most of the meals to come out of the slow cooker have less structural integrity than a passing fancy. I’ll rattle one more recipe for you tonight and then it’s back to business – proper bloody food that requires a working set of teeth to get through. As a rule, the only meals you’ll need a straw for going forward are the vodka-and-lemonades that Paul and I sometimes swap our dinner for.
Where have I been anyway? Who are you, my mother? I can tell you’re not because you’re not asking me to fix your iPad. No, the ear pain I mentioned last week became a cheery infection and knocked me for six. For four days it felt like I had been kicked in the head by a pissed off horse. It was all I could do to stay in bed demanding ice-cream and comfort from poor Paul, who had to take over all the duties within the house. Actually, he does them anyway, just this time with me being ill he wasn’t allowed to complain about it. The poor bugger. He’s a trooper though and I don’t give him his dues often enough. LOVE YOU DEAR.
So what’s been happening this week? I managed to get into a proper argument with some pallid-faced swamp donkey on facebook who tried to peddle her Juice Plus shite in my group. She private messaged me to tell me that the fact I’d deleted her snake-oil post told her that I hate women and people who try to make a go of themselves. Honestly – I could eat a tin of alphabet spaghetti and shit out a better argument than that. I don’t hate women (except Mylenne Klass…and I don’t hate her, she just makes my skin shiver) and I’m all for entrepreneurship, but as well you all know, I can’t bear the idea of vulnerable folk being duped into buying worthless, untested medicines on the scientific advice of a hairdresser from Worksop. What I can’t get my head around is the fact PEOPLE FALL FOR IT. Why?! I can understand folks who are seriously ill buying a pill in the vain hope of it helping, but spending hundreds of pounds just to shift a bit of weight? Bah! Are these the same people who buy laptops from a car boot sale and get them home to unwrap a cardboard box full of bricks? Or the people who get an unsolicited phone-call from Microsoft telling them they need to buy antivirus software at a cost of two bajillion pounds? Honestly. How do these people sleep at night? Penniless, I presume. Anyway, the argument rumbled on for ages, with Juice Plus curing her of depression, suicidal thoughts, liver disease, tennis elbow, easy living and fast cars (apparently it didn’t cure her of her verbal diarrhoea or dirty mouth), until I copied our chat in with the Juice Plus representatives and left it at that. I know nothing will come of it because Juice Plus is a dishonest pyramid scheme sold by numpties and dolts, but meh, made me feel better.
Now, my next piece is going to feel like an advert for Amazon Prime, and well, although I’m going to stick a link on the bottom, this isn’t really an advert at all. Just an observation. Paul and I are members of Amazon Prime, and have been for a very long while. I can’t remember the last time I paid for it because every time something is late, they stick an extra month on the membership. We’ve become accustomed to ordering something on a whim and having it turn up the next day, which is handy as it gives us no time for buyer’s remorse. Hence the cat tower. Hence the all-in-one breakfast sandwich maker. Hence the shit-you-not Teasmade. A bloody Teasmade, I ask you – I don’t even drink tea in the morning. I don’t get out of bed unless I’m having a palpitation just from smelling my morning coffee. Anyway, we got a little email the other day with the news that Amazon Prime Now has launched in Newcastle. What is it? You order something on Amazon, and it’s delivered within two hours for free.
Well fuck me. The only thing from turning Paul and I into perfect spheres with weak ankles is our inability to muster up the energy to drive to ASDA of an evening to buy ice-cream. Now it’s delivered by Amazon within enough time for Paul and I to have quick marriage-friendly nookie, make tea and watch Emmerdale. It’s too convenient. It’s not without flaws, though. You can only select from a range of groceries and flimflam via their App, which is proper hokey. I put ‘dip’ into the search box and it suggested some taramasalata, tzatziki and er, industrial strength cat-nip. One whole kilogram of the stuff. A kilo of cat-nip delivered within two hours! Unless you’re fighting a fucking tiger in your box-room, who the hell needs that? Nevertheless, we persevered and placed an order full of Slimming World friendly things – the usual Haagen Daaz, Goodfellas pizza and bags of Skittles. Look, we had to spend thirty quid, and I wasn’t going to spend it on bloody quinoa. I bet Mags is sucking on a Bensons and Hedges quite furiously with the thought but you know, I’ve got to let my (apparently Geography-teacher-esque) hair down.
What followed was a tense 80 minutes where we watched, in real-time, our order being picked from somewhere on an industrial estate in Gateshead – all terribly exciting. When the screen updated to show ‘MARK’ had picked up our order and was beetling up the A1 to our house, well, we were agog. It’s a bloody miracle, technology. We had it on the big TV in our living room like the shittest, cheapest version of 24 you can imagine. The whole process fell down at the end though, because the driver turned onto our street and spent five minutes trying to find our house. I’ll give you a clue, mate – it’s the only one that’s not attached to any others, plus we were flashing the lights from green to red whenever he backed his van out of sight. The groceries were all nicely chilled and the ice-cream was spot-on. It took eighty eight minutes from beginning to end, and that includes 5 minutes of the driver being unable to find the only house in the street to be named after a sexual consequence.
Would I recommend it? Yes. Amazon Prime is amazing, anyway, if you’re a big Amazon shopper. Yes it costs £79 a year but you get plenty of perks with it. Plus, you can always sign up for a trial and then cancel. But don’t forget to actually cancel. Otherwise you’ll be one of those turds who complain about getting money taken out of your bank account for something you’ve asked for. This two hour thing is dangerous for Paul and I though – we already dish out way too much of our monthly pink-pound disposable income to Amazon – I can’t help feeling that eventually I’m going to be paying them my wages direct and they’ll be sending a box van of goodies every month, probably branded Amazon Instant, with a picture of a smiling man sucking the pound coins from my pocket on the side. Ah well. If you did want to try it, you can do so here.
I still can’t believe it. I’m easily impressed, but jesus, Amazon stuff delivered within two hours for nowt. I remember ordering pornography online back when we first got the internet and actually taking time off from school just to sit by the letterbox for about two weeks in case my father accidentally opened my post and wondered who the hell had sent him RUGBY CUM BATH 2: SCRUM, BUM AND ORAL FUN on DVD. I might have made that title up but you get the drift. I feel I should hasten to say that my parents weren’t lax when it came to supervising my internet security…I was just better at it. Honestly, you parents out there who think the kids can’t access what they want on the internet, you’re so wrong.
Finally, Paul, being a sod and knowing I didn’t have the iPad with me on my commute into work on Friday, started streaming Enya’s new album through the car speakers. Yes, I could have turned it off, but then I have to listen to myself swearing at people and I shame myself, so I left it on. Jesus, how does she do it? It’s like she records one song and then changes the key, layers it on top of another song, and plays it backwards. She’s the aural equivalent of a malfunctioning self-checkout. An ex of mine used to be absolutely obsessed with her, almost to the point of being unable to come without me whispering LET THE ORINOCO FLOW in his ear as we made love. I say made love, he was a means to an end, so let’s not romanticise it too much. Anyway, I spent most evenings at the age of seventeen being forced to smile politely as he showed me the Irish tinker caterwauling her way through videos that looked like something even a gap-yah student would deem too pretentious. Christ it’s no wonder I’m so mentally fragile.
Let’s do the chicken coconut curry. I actually typed cocknut curry there. I can’t decide whether that actually might look better.
Please stop prefixing all of your sentences with the word ‘well’, people. No, come on. It makes it sound like everyone has been holding their breath waiting for the revelation that you’ve put the cat out or spent the afternoon with your feet up having a cheeky glass of Bellabrusco. It’s not needed.
Only a quick post tonight because a) we have ironing to do and b) my ear hurts. Really hurts. Clearly this is my punishment for having a bag of Revels at the drive-in cinema yesterday, but it was either that or a hotdog served up with a side of phlegm from the hairy lass on the food-stall, so I think I made the right choice. The drive-in itself was really quite fun too – not least because I spend most of a cinema trip in some discomfort from holding in a fart, whereas in my own car I could trump to my heart’s content and the people either side of us could do nothing about it other than wind their windows up and gag into their airbag. Inside Out was a bit of a bust mind, but that could be more to do with the fact we were watching it from a distance through the pouring rain. I felt like a peeping tom. I’d still recommend the experience, though.
Tonight’s meal is mash done in a slow cooker. Whilst trying desperately to find a recipe that didn’t involve pulled this or shredded that, I discovered you could do mash in the slow cooker. Do you need to? I’m not sure. But it does look pretty.
Can I just say, you have no idea how much work goes into using mirrored bowls and not accidentally reflecting my knob into the pictures.
to make slow cooker colourful mash, you’ll need:
however many potatoes you normally use for your mash
one red pepper
one yellow pepper
bunch of spring onions
handful of jalapeños
50ml of chicken or vegetable stock – add more if you have ‘dry’ potatoes – just keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t boil dry
30g of hard goats cheese (optional) (HEA)
splash of milk
salt and pepper
to make slow cooker colourful mash, you should:
chop up your potatoes into manageable chunks and drop into the slow cooker
chop up the peppers, onion and jalapeno into nice square chunks and place on the top
pour on the stock
cook on low for three hours
mash up in the pan – don’t aim for super-smooth, you want it looking like a bowl of GINO O GINO GINELLI TUTTI FRUTTI ICE CREAM ABBONDANZA
grate in the cheese and add enough milk to loosen it
dunno, serve this with sausages or something, at least the kids will eat it
In fact, let me just leave this here:
Actually, it’s genuinely really good – comfort food! You could add bacon too, if you were feeling like a proper decadent slut.
Have to be quick tonight, as we’re going out to a drive-in to watch Inside Out. I’m not going to lie, it’ll be unusual for Paul and I to be parked by the seafront at night without a lorry driver poking his knob through the passenger side window, but we’ll give it a go. I’m kidding, we don’t do that. We found a deal for said drive-in on LivingSocial and thought, well why not. We wanted to see Grease but apparently the good people in South Shields beat us to it, which is surprising as I genuinely didn’t think you could drive a car with webbed fingers.
My facebook woes continue – I’ve just been deleted from the Newcastle ‘Pick Up My Tat’ (swapping) page for pointing out that someone’s light-up, flashing, disco headboard is one of the tackiest things I’ve ever seen. Someone with a name that sounds like a company that manufactures t-shirts for a market stall (Demi-Marie?) kicked off, said I had no right ‘dissing her bed’ and blocked me. You can just imagine how devastated I am.
Seriously mind, who orders a bed with a flashing headboard? Humans do two things in bed – sleep and shag. Neither of those activities are helped by a bed that looks like the world’s shittest nightclub. Either you’re going to be kept awake by a bed that resembles the back of a lorry making a three-point-turn on a country lane or you’re going to be held off your vinegar strokes by a seizure.
Let’s quickly discuss that John Lewis advert, shall we? This one?
Yeah yeah. I’m sure your facebook walls have been awash with emoticons of crying faces and people posting statuses like ‘OMG!!!Q1 TEURS STREEMING DOWN MY ARSE SO SAD’ and the noise of thousands upon thousands of mooing cattle trying to outdo themselves with sentimental guff and tearful reactions. Well honestly. Have a Mars Bar and man the fuck up. I don’t understand the fuss and frothing over the various John Lewis adverts, truly I don’t, and I’m not just saying that to be wicked-cool. They’re pretty to look at, yes, but so is a rainbow, and that doesn’t mawkishly yank on my heartstrings like a coked up campanologist. This advert, featuring a dirty old bugger sitting on the moon lamenting his bail conditions and spying on a wee lass in her pyjamas…well, it doesn’t scream Christmas, does it? Aside from that bit where Alexis and Alexander sit down in their Farrow & Ball coated dining room for a split-second of sprout-eating before letting their child get back to hurling paper out of the window, it’s about as Christmassy as an Easter egg. And that bloody song – is there a piece of software that takes any decent piece of music and runs it through a filter so it sounds like the dying gasp of a sparrow? Pfft.
Mind, I’m a massive hypocrite, because I love the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert. I do! But there is a giant cat in it, so you know, I can be excused. I laugh at the sentiment though – I can tell you now that if we had a house fire, some of our neighbours wouldn’t be coming around with plates of food and beaming faces. No, we’d get them traipsing across our lawn moaning that there was ash blowing on their washing and could we please do something about the smoke because poor Colin’s asthmatic and he’s two puffs from running out of Ventolin.
Anyway, tonight’s recipes makes enough for eight. I know we said we’d try and stay away from pulled pork, but well, we had to do it once, and put into burgers…well, it’s amazing. Plus, if you have any meat left over, you can cook it down with pasta and tomatoes and make a very quick lunch. So there.
Come on, admit it. You want to push your face into that and shake it all about. Before anyone asks, the chips are from our perfect roasties recipe, found here.
We’re having a quiet night tonight for two reasons – we’re both extremely tired due to us having different (but equally terrifying) nightmares last night that kept us awake – mine (Paul) involved a nuclear war, his had something about an old woman. I weren’t really listening. There’s nowt more boring than listening to someone else’s dreams.
Tonight’s recipe is naturally incredibly butch. I know it looks like something that fell out my arse, but trust me – this is truly delicious and just perfect for a cold night. If you have kiddiwinks and want to give them this, feel free to go ahead – the booze will boil off, and anyway, there’s not much tipple in here anyway so even the weakest lightweight won’t even have an eyelid flutter. This is also perfect for all the fans of slow cookers out there, which judging from our inbox asking for recipes must include nearly every one of you!
to make beary beery barley beef stew you will need:
400g lean stewing beef, cubed – Musclefood have come through for us – you can get BUY ONE GET ONE FREE on their beef chunks (already cheap and no fat) by clicking here, entering the code TCCHUNKS at the checkout
1 onion (brown works best here but a red onion will still be okay)
500g mixed root vegetables of your choice (we used carrots, parnips and a turnip)
½ pint pale ale (we used Brew Dog’s Dead Pony Club, and very nice it was too) (about 4 syns)
100g pearl barley
750ml beef stock
to make beary beery barley beef stew you should:
chop everything up into chunks – the root vegetables should be no bigger than the size of your thumb
pour everything together into the slow cooker and heat on low for 8-10 hours
Ah, I love you lot. We can post delicious dinners that we’ve laboured over for many an hour and ne’ry a mention of it anywhere, but post a KFC recipe and you go mad on social media! Still, not complaining – we’re exactly the same! We’re going to try and do a ‘takeaway’ recipe once a month going forward, if only so it gives us an excuse to go to McDonalds next. Like we need an excuse!
Right, slow cooker week it is. I have to confess, I’m not a huge fan of the slow cooker. It’s certainly convenient – I appreciate having the dinner cooked and ready for us by the time we get in the house. But CHRIST it makes everything in the house smell like a dinner lady’s fart for a good few weeks. Is that just us? I find myself flapping my coat on the back of my chair at work and someone across the office will ask who’s bought rabbit stew in. Plus, everyone seems to get oddly evangelical about them – the amount of women I’ve had in slimming classes clutch at my arm and say ‘oooooo but the meat it just falls off the bone lover’ or some regional variant is uncountable. I’m presuming that’s not a half-hearted attempt to get in my trousers.
I don’t need my food to feel like it’s pre-chewed – if I’m getting to that point, I’d sooner be put on a drip and fed that way, because then at least I could watch TV lying down. Every fatty’s dream. Also, you may remember I’m an anxious sort, and I find it difficult not to believe that the slow-cooker is going to overheat and set my kitchen on fire. I’d hate ‘cauliflower and lentil curry’ to be put down on the insurance form. On top of all of this, we made a recipe ahead of schedule last night only to sleep in way past the time we should have got up and found a meal so cooked and burnt that we had to throw out the slow cooker. Probably for the best – it was a Morphy Richards thing and was absolute bobbins.
If you don’t have a slow-cooker, get one. They’re only normally around £30 for a decent one and the model we’ve bought, from Amazon, is reduced from £36 to £23. Nice. You can click here for that. It goes red with the rest of the things in our kitchen – our stand mixer, our glass toaster, Paul’s face. We’ve also done quite a few slow cooker recipes before:
Tonight’s recipe is a bit of a spin on the spicy pork in sauce recipe above, which you could just as easily use. We wanted to do a recipe with meat cooked in fizzy pop because there seems to be so many people getting their growler damp at the thought of Diet Coke chicken at the moment, or curries made with Fanta. God knows why. The below recipe, based on the fact you get eight of those tortillas in a pack, easily makes enough for eight with a lot of beef left over which can be put into a salad the day after). So…
to make stuffed mexican chilli and lime beef tortillas, you’ll need:
500ml of Sprite (now it’s up to you – you can use sugar free if you want, and lose seven syns off the whole dish, but the full sugar version is better for flavour – and this makes a LOT of beef so those few syns spread very thinly)
some of those Old El Paso stand and stuff tortillas – now, let me say this. These come in at 4 and half syns each, and when I saw them cradled in a hand on the packaging I thought they were a decent size. They’re not. They’re tiny. If you want to use them like we did, do, but you could just serve this on top of a bed of rice without the tortilla thing and again, save the syns. Plus, for reasons inexplicable, they remind me a bit of vaginas, so that’s that
tomato salsa (1/2 syn per tablespoon…to be honest, I don’t count it, I know I know)
two packets of Tesco savoury rice (4 syns for two packets) made up, or, make your own rice and save the syns!)
1kg of rolled beef brisket (feel free to drop this down in weight, or use chunks) – we used the good guys at Musclefood again, and it cost us £7, which is nowt given how much it makes
pinch of chilli powder
pinch of salt
4 cloves of garlic, finely cut
juice of two fat limes
to make stuffed mexican chilli and lime beef tortillas, you should:
put the beef, sliced garlic, Sprite, chilli powder and salt in the slow cooker
cover, and cook on low for eight hours, or as long as you like
shred the beef, mix with the juice from the limes
assemble your tortilla – bit of rice, lots of meat, squirt of juice, bit of salsa
Remember, you can drop the syns down to a syn per serving if you do away with the ‘boats’. I don’t think they’re needed! Up to you though.
See, told you we’d be going daily with the recipes! Tonight’s recipe is a red lentil dahl might not look incredibly appetitising but it’s the easiest thing in the world to make and full of low-fat, tasty goodness. Plus, without wanting to be crass (oh why not, I always am), it’ll really help things move along. So, if you’re having trouble down below, which is a very common side effect with the SW diet, this recipe will have you releasing an otter in no time at all.
to make red lentil dahl, you’ll need:
you’ll need a slow cooker for this recipe
500g of dried red lentils
4 garlic cloves, minced
a lump of fresh ginger about the size of half a thumb, minced
300g frozen spinach
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
1tbsp curry powder – choose from mild, hot, very hot or OH CHRIST MY RING
1tsp of mustard seeds (optional)
Pinch of salt and pepper
1000ml of chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you’re vegetarian – and don’t be tight and use the cheapest stock you can find, it’s a main ingredient here so splash out a little)
LOOK – one thing I always say to you is to buy yourself a microplane grater. You’ll never look back, you can mince garlic and ginger in no time at all. Yes, they’re a bit pricey if you compare it to a bog standard grater, but treat yourself. You’re only fat once. Click here to do the honours
to make red lentil dahl, you should:
once you’ve weighed out your lentils, give them a rinse in the sink to get the dust off them (that’s what I say to Paul when he’s ‘getting lucky’ in the morning…)
chuck absolutely everything into the slow cooker, set it to low and cook for 6-7 hours
keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too thick (something else I say to Paul when he’s ‘getting lucky’ in the morning…)
serve with curried vegetables, rice or whatever you like!
This does well as a side dish but we take it in for lunch sometimes on its own – like an extra-thick soup. Tasty!