recipe: double gazpacho (we promise it’s good)

You know what breaks my wee little heart? Knowing that this double gazpacho is delicious but also knowing that not one soul will give it a try because, in the inimitable words of my husband: ‘does it not need to go in the microwave, it’s soup’. I get it, but I’m going to need you to trust me on this, especially given it’s a low-calorie delight. The double gazpacho that is, not my husband. He’s about as far away from low calorie as I am being able to wrestle an elephant to the floor with slippery hands. Still, we persevere, and should any of you grow some hairs on your chest and fancy giving this a go, do let me know. It combines a nice tomato soup with a cooling cucumber soup – and no cooking! But before we get to the double gazpacho, a little update because, as you may have guessed, we haven’t died.

Though we have been ill – Paul is currently knocked sideways with his COVID booster, which means I’m having to run around after him which in turn means I’m the real victim here. Curiously his main symptom is a dull pain in both of his substantial arsecheeks, which he is confident has nothing to do with the fact he sat on his arse all day yesterday moaning about his pains. I can’t complain too much however, he looked after me for two weeks whilst I coughed my way through a chest infection. That wasn’t much fun. Don’t fret, it wasn’t COVID, but just a recurring infection which antibiotics and steroids kept putting a dent in and not quite finishing off. Still, it managed something which puberty, heavy smoking and deep-throating never did – lowered the pitch of my voice. I’ve never sounded so butch: I called the dog in from the garden and I swear I heard at least three sets of knickers drop damply to the floor. That’s perhaps the only plus point in what was a grim few days – I hadn’t realised how much I enjoyed breathing without sounding like I’m starting a tractor engine in the middle of my chest. And who knew that the simple act of bending over to pick up Goomba’s latest spoiling of the Ambassador could be made that more exciting by having my lips turn grey? Every day an adventure.

Usually when I’m ill I become an absolute crepehanger with my health anxiety and every cough becomes an opportunity to diagnose myself with something just awful. Mental health takes a nosedive and Paul gets helicoptered in as my Rational Voice (no love, that’s not blood in your phlegm, it’s a Skittle) and it all becomes very fraught. Well, I had a private week or so of that but then decided enough was enough and instead, just embraced the fact it really is just a chest infection and I’d get better. Doctors know more than my google search, after all. But that does mark a considerable shift in my health anxiety, something which another good friend pointed out the other day and something which I haven’t really considered lately. I’ve plopped out several entries on health anxiety over the years and so I shan’t go back into it now save to say, if you’re suffering with it, take comfort in the fact that I have it under control to the degree that I didn’t blue-light myself down to our local hospital for self-demanded tests. I joke, but there was a time I was sliding in and out of an MRI machine more often than I was my husband. Things get better, and we’ve always got Goomba to cry into.

Mind, that said: things they don’t warn you about when you take on the responsibility of looking after a dog: having to trim the hair growing around his lipstick which has matted together with wee. It looked like a lemon-dipped niknak was attached to his undercarriage and I couldn’t bear to look at it anymore, not least because he was leaving my jeans look acid-washed when he jumped up at me in the morning. You’ve never known anxiety until you’ve had to wait until your last coughing spasm has finished and he’s asleep enough not to bark at you for approaching his nethers with a pair of kitchen scissors. I have to tell you, I’ve done a cracking job – thinking of giving him a mohawk around his nipsy and a racing stripe – I think you’ll agree that’ll look pretty sharp.

Similarly, Goomba has now moved to the stage where anything more than a weak breeze makes him excitable and out pops his knob. I’ve had dogs before and so know what to expect but even I got a start the first time I spotted it lolling about like a melted fun-size Wham bar. When I announced this on Facebook (always an error) I was regaled with grim stories of it getting stuck and needing manual assistance to go back in. One lady suggested putting sugar on it as though it was a push-pop. Fuck that, he’ll be at the vets for anything like that. We’ve got excellent pet insurance anyway, so he’ll probably get a happy finish thrown in.

And, completing this grim Goomba ternary of news, we’re also learning that Springer Spaniels will eat absolutely everything they can get their noses into. We’ve lost a remote control, an Xbox controller, a plate (he didn’t eat that, he just carried it outside and left it in the garden as some sort of critique on our kitchenware) and my personal favourite – almost an entire party bag of Flaming Hot Wotsits. That backfired, literally, on him though – he was left with a flaming hot wotsit of his very own and spent a good portion of the evening outside in the garden spraying what looked like weaponised Tango out of his jail-purse. He sat on the grass after and I swear steam came up.

Aside from all of that, he’s in rude health and bringing joy to our lives every day.

In other news: I’ve handed my notice in at my actual job in order to pursue twochubbycubs full-time, which is simultaneously giving me the fear and excitement. I’ve worked in my current job in law for over ten years and can genuinely say I thoroughly enjoy it, but now is the time to take a gamble and become the thing I’ve wanted to be for years now: single. I jest, I’ve always wanted to be an author and now that twochubbycubs is doing alright, it’s time to roll the dice. That’s good news for you lot, as it means I’ll have the time to write blog posts and do some cooking and finally get round to all the little chores that I just couldn’t possibly find the time to do in the 144 free hours I have a week. I will be sad indeed when I finally hand in my photocopier pass and comfortable ergonomic chair but, here’s to new things in the future and all that.

And finally, we’ve got some cracking blog material coming up – I had a charming couple of days in Blackpool (thrills AND spills) a couple of weeks ago and Paul and I just spent a terrific weekend in Hamburg which I’m sure I can eke 6,000 words out of the flight over. We’re also heading back to Copenhagen in December to revisit the bits we couldn’t do last time as we were both classed as shipping hazards.

You know what deserves to get out and about again, though? Your soup bowl. So why not do exactly that and get this bloody double gazpacho made.

double gazpacho

Not hosting a dinner party where you’re hoping to get your box punched in by a hot neighbour? Then you don’t need to make the double gazpacho look so fancy

double gazpacho

Have a good read of the notes for this double gazpacho, there’s lots you can do here!

double gazpacho (cucumber and tomato soup)

Prep

Cook

Total

This takes moments to make, and there's plenty of notes in the recipe to consider. Key thing with this is to taste as you go - especially the tomato sauce, it needs a good glug of salt.

This recipe is one of Antonio Carluccio's classics and we adore it. His book - Vegetables - is absolutely worth a pick up if you're trying to cut down your meat intake. But please, I've been trying to do that for years, yet man-love finds a way.

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

Ingredients

  • two large cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
  • two tablespoons of finely chopped fresh dill (see notes)
  • three tablespoons of double cream
  • one carton of chopped tomatoes with basil (390g)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves with a few more to scatter on the top because you're filth
  • one little white onion, roughly chopped
  • one tablespoon of decent olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • blitz the cucumber, dill and a good pinch of salt and pepper until smooth
  • mix in the cream and then pop it in the fridge to cool
  • blitz the tomatoes with the basil, onion, olive oil, salt and pepper until smooth
  • pour the cucumber soup into a dish first and then carefully pour the tomato soup into the middle
  • decorate with basil and more oil if you're that way inclined

Notes

Recipe

  • we've used store-bought chopped tomatoes here for nothing other than speed - if you have the time, you'll find it so much nicer if you use some good-quality cherry tomatoes for the tomato part of this soup
  • and listen, you: don't be keeping your tomatoes in the fridge, get them in a bowl on the windowsill, they should never be cold
  • swap out the chopped tomatoes and basil for chopped tomatoes and chilli, and if you fancy, add a chopped red chilli in with the tomatoes - at least the cucumber will soothe your leather-doughnut as it comes out
  • worth buying fresh herbs for this - repot the dill into an old can and water from the top to keep it going - basil should be placed on a saucer and watered from the bottom - it'll keep going for ages

Books

  • our second book has been out for months now and it still gets excellent reviews - if you're after some new idea, this is the book for you - plus it's funny: order yours here! 
  • that's not to say book one is anything other than a ceaseless delight - 100 slimming recipes that doesn't feel like a diet: click here to order
  • and if you're on a diet, you can track your progress using our diet planner: here

Tools

Courses soup, lunch

Cuisine Italian

Beautiful! Honestly, if you’re put off by the idea of cold soup, you mustn’t: give it a go. It’s dirty cheap to make too! Whilst we’re on a roll with the veggie soups, why not try this beetroot and tomato soup? Click the picture to be taken to the recipe!

Stay safe!

J&P

recipe: cheesy eggy crumpets

Listen I’m going to level with you: I have spent upwards of eighty-seven seconds trying to come up with a more alluring name than ‘cheesy eggy crumpets’ because frankly, that sounds like something you’d go to the doctor and get a cream prescribed for. And I should know, I’m at the doctors that much of late that they’ve given me a loyalty card. I’m one visit away from a free colonoscopy and I can’t wait. But, in my defence, the title of the recipe conveys exactly what these are and whilst I could doubtless gussy things up with a sexy adjective or two, I’m not about that life. If you like eggy-bread and you’re not a total trypophobic fanny like me, then these crumpets will make for a good breakfast. Or indeed, brunch: it’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it’s a damn good meal!

But, as is our way, we couldn’t possibly get straight to the recipe for these cheesy eggy crumpets because I’ve got something to say. See, I’ve been gallivanting: once I realised that the dog was small enough to shut into a kitchen drawer and quiet enough so as to not wake the neighbours with his howling, freedom was once more mine. As someone who gets itchy feet if his car hasn’t clocked 1000 miles in a week, it’s been a tense few weeks. I had a couple of days holiday to use up with work and, as my dear husband was toiling at work himself, I trotted off to visit Manchester with my mate. For the ease of your reading, I shall henceforth refer to him as Paul: for that is his name. Imagine a dystopian Humpty Dumpty fell into an extruder and you’re most of the way there with the visual.

Ever fearful of driving in strange cities, I set off for Manchester eight days before I was due and made it to the city centre Premier Inn with four hours to spare. Unusually for me, I navigated almost entirely without incident and therefore have nothing to report. I did have to leave my car in one of those car-parks which almost guarantees you’ll return to your car to find four skid-marks where you had previously parked, though I can cheerfully tell you the only skidmark actually came the next day when I went to pay. Premier Inn were courteous enough to give me a room overlooking a gushing canal lock which did wonders for my other phobia of water and machinery, but I was won over by the fact it had a fancy coffee machine to play with. I do love a nespresso – a thimble full of bitterly strong coffee and the chance to flood the serving tray – I enjoyed both. I watched The Chase, picked my bum and then went to find my mate.

Usually, if it was me and my husband, you’d be treated to a 2,000 word recap of the lift down to the reception and another 6,000 words, delivered eight months later, on the time Paul tied his shoelaces. But, forever ringing the changes, I’m going to keep the minutia to myself and tell you the standout points.

The Escape Van

Long-time readers will know that we bloody love escape rooms and so when I found an escape room that comes to you, it had to be done. The premise is simple: a converted Transit van parks near to your accommodation, you get locked inside and you have sixty minutes to escape. I clearly misread the instructions given I turned up with my own cable-ties and bag of sweets but nevertheless, the games-Master was marvellous in the face of our shrieking. Of course, me being me, I pointed out that when the van door was pulled open, the logo of THE ESCAPE VAN became ‘APE VAN’ and fell into fits of giggles. He did mention that others had brought this to his attention but most went for the cleaner option. He shut us in and we spent a merry time solving clues and figuring out how to escape. It was a bloody clever use of space with some very efficient puzzles, although of course all of the fun tactile ones I got to enjoy watching being solved from the sidelines: I’m forever the deuteragonist in my own story, me. We solved the room with many minutes to spare after a true Flowers for Algernon moment by Paul and, despite the host’s warning that we must be careful when we escaped as we were parked in traffic, we hurtled out without a care in the world. Seven people died in the resulting pile-up but we were winners and that’s the most important thing. We took a picture – me holding a giant D, which seemed appropriate – and went on our way. I thoroughly recommend it if you’re looking for something different in Manchester – you can book it here

Drinking

We went for drinks (the first time in ages for me) and apparently it went well. I wouldn’t know.

TSP1992: Man to Man: Another Night of Rubbish on the Telly – Random Thoughts

I do know that I had a mouthful of chicken tikka wrap (not a euphemism) at 2.30am to counter the eight ciders and other alcohol sloshing around in my stomach and then had to stand swaying in front of the hotel room toilet for a few moments on the verge of throwing up. Clearly, the wrap was off. Luckily a couple of Renés and I was right as rain.

Escape Reality – Auron

Next day, after breakfasting handsomely (as you’d expect) we farted about a bit and then waddled off to our next escape room. This one came with a twist: they’d built two identical escape rooms and, assuming the other team of strangers was up for it, you could choose to ‘race’ the other team to see who would get out first. As an extra deliciousness, each time you solved a puzzle in your room, a light would go on in their room, which ramped up the pressure. As two competitive people – though I’d say I’m the most competitive of course – we were desperate to go up against another team. However, the family that had arrived the same time as us were new to escape rooms. Of course, being gallant and kind, we immediately lied and said we had barely done two escape rooms ourselves, lulling the poor sods into a false sense of security. They agreed and the race was on.

Well. We had seven lights on by the time one of theirs flickered to life (and even that went unlit again, as though they’d reconsidered solving the puzzle and decided to leave it for later). We absolutely rinsed the game, finishing in twenty eight minutes flat: our fastest ever completion (and to be fair, it does usually take me a while, though I’m getting quicker as the cold nights set in). We’d done so well we’ve ended up on their leaderboard in a photograph that looks like a promo shot for Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away. Part of me feels terrible for our perfidiousness, yes, but again, we had fun. Rumour has it that the family are still there, crushed by their own defeat, scratching at the door to be let out. Bit like Goomba. You can try your luck here.

Bowling at The Dog Bowl

Before leaving for Liverpool we went for a quick game of bowling at The Dog Bowl and I’m pleased to say that despite neither of us being able to bowl or indeed move in a fashion that doesn’t suggest we need an ambulance calling, we both did very well. It was a draw – probably technically he won on points, I won on style. I love people watching at places like this and seeing the competitive bowlers taking it super seriously – all thin-lipped and furrowed brows and tiny macho fist-pumps. Pfft. I’m just thankful when I topple over a pin without knocking someone out in the process. We ordered a pizza on their fancy app without realising we would need to wait for the wheat to be harvested so they could, in turn, set about making the pizza dough. It still wasn’t a terrible pizza when it arrived nine years later and you know, if they had used more than three matches to cook it, it could have been magical. The staff were lovely, mind you.

As we were leaving we spotted a Dance Dance Revolution machine in the corner and it just had to be done. It’ll come as no surprise when I tell you that I simply can’t dance. At all. I move in such a way that those nearby gasp and look to my feet to ensure I haven’t stepped onto some exposed wiring. And yet, here’s the thing: I would absolutely, utterly, totally love to learn. Paul (mine) can’t think of anything worse than guiding me gracefully around on the dancefloor (presumably the time we had to move a double settee into our spare bedroom put him off such endeavours for life) so it’ll remain a longing that is never quenched. But, God loves a trier, and despite Paul (friend) being equally as rotund and flatfooted as me, we gamely give the machine a spin. Three tracks later his ankle had gone, I was hyperventilating into my chins and Metrolink had to take their evening service off. I wish I could say we’d chosen some complex track which would trouble even the best dancer, but I remain unconvinced that we had even moved away from the ‘Insert Token’ screen.

Cluefinders – The Tomb (Liverpool)

Thankfully, I had a chance to rest my ankles and my eyes immediately after as I drove us to Liverpool, where we picked up Paul’s husband Martin. Imagine (again) a dystopian Humpty Dumpty shrunk to the size of the tittle on a handwritten ‘i’ and you’re most of the way there with those visuals too. With him popped safely into the glove box I drove us down to our final escape room: The Tomb by Cluefinders. We’ve previously done their other two rooms and they were absolutely magnificent: really bloody clever and surprising rooms with inventive puzzles. This room was no different and possibly my favourite: mild spoilers ahead though, so skip to the next paragraph if you’re planning on doing it yourself. There’s a moment in this room which requires you to get on your hands and knees (imagine my discomfort) and crawl somewhere else. That’s fine if you’re a slender young thing, but not when you’re either: morbidly obese and wearing jeans designed for catwalk models who eat twice a year (me), nearly always taller than the room you’re standing in and boasting knees with the structural integrity of aerated water (Paul), or old enough to be around when they first built the pyramids and therefore in a position to be distracted by anachronisms (Martin). That said, we did make an excellent team and once we’d finished shouting, being shouted at or swearing at each other via a volume you might use if you were trying to alert a passing helicopter to your presence on a deserted island, we made it out of the room with minutes to spare.

But what makes this room even better – and indeed the other two rooms we’ve done here – was the staff. Dannie was our host (and I hope I have the spelling right, though I can’t stand in judgement here: love James, Jaymes, Jamie, Jay, Jimbolina, Jfonzmes, Keith) and she was that perfect mix of knowledgeable, funny and genuinely interested in what we had to say. To her credit she managed to mask the crippling anxiety she must have been feeling when we all squeezed onto the Chesterfield sofa in the waiting room, our faces looking as they do like the three stages of an off-the-books medical trial. Lots of escape rooms are franchise models and there’s nothing wrong with that – I’m yet to experience a bad host – but these more individual places need as much support as they can get, especially when the rooms are as top-tier as these ones. If you’re in Liverpool I urge you to give them a go – they’re down on the docks and, if you follow the diversions currently in place around the roadworks, it should only take you eighty-seven weeks to get there.

Oh, and final note: all of the escape rooms were incredibly hot on COVID precautions, with plenty of sanitiser kicking about and the wearing of masks. Paul sneezed in one of the rooms and we had to beg the host not to have him taken around the back and shot like Old Yeller.

You can check out their rooms and make a booking here – tell them I sent you. You won’t get a discount but you can ask them to dish the gossip on how terrific I smell in real life.

And that’s that! That was my trip away and it was very good fun. And with my typical lack of care towards keeping things punchy, we’re up over the 2,000 word mark again. I’m sorry! Let me placate you by sharing the recipe for cheesy eggy crumpets without a moment more of delay.

cheesy eggy crumpets

Top your cheesy eggy crumpets with whatever: here I used gigantic beans and bacon

cheesy eggy crumpets

That’s how good they look unadorned, these cheesy eggy crumpets of mine!

cheesy eggy crumpets

This is what I mean in the recipe when I say leave the cheesy eggy crumpets to soak!

cheesy eggy crumpets

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 crumpets

Well hi! Look: I'm going to base the calorie count on two crumpets - it's then up to you to top it with whatever you like. In this case, I did a couple of rashers of back bacon on the grill before I did the crumpets so there's a bit of bacon fat mixed in, but if you're all about the clean lifestyle, do things separately. This recipe makes enough for two people to have two crumpets each. Obvs.

Don't forget to check the notes on this one - I've got some ideas!

Ingredients

  • four sourdough crumpets 
  • two large eggs 
  • 100g of jalapeno Philadelphia
  • salt and pepper
  • chilli flakes if you want your ring troubled

We work all of our recipe calories out using Nutracheck - remember your calorie count may be different depending on what type of cheese / crumpet you use and all that, so calorie count is a rough guide only! We work this out as 395 calories for two crumpets.

Instructions

  • I mean...guess?
  • beat the eggs with a good pinch of salt and pepper, the Philly and some chilli flakes if you're using
  • pack the crumpets into a small dish and pour the egg over - longer you leave them to sit (flipping every now and then) the more they'll absorb
  • when it comes to cooking, I cooked ours in a George Foreman grill until crunchy - the same effect can be done in a frying pan or under the grill
  • serve with whatever you want - they're perfectly fine on their own mind!

Notes

Recipe

  • use whatever soft cheese you want - I just went spicy
  • if you want to make this even dirtier, grate extra mature cheddar into the egg wash too or sprinkle it on top when you grill

Books

  • book two of ours has so many amazing recipes you'll need to hoy a towel down - it's slimming food but tastes so damn fine: order yours here! 
  • book one remains a joy to behold too, and a bit cheaper: click here to order
  • if you need help tracking your weight loss well we have just the thing - our diet planner: here

Tools

Courses breakfast

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Looking for something more substantial for breakfast? Have a go at our summer breakfast hash – click the picture to go straight there!

summer breakfast hash

Stay safe, all

JX

Oh, let’s just pre-empt it:

James Anderson would like to make clear that at no time is he left to only do tedious puzzles in escape rooms. Indeed, he is apparently known for dashing straight to the ‘exciting’ puzzles and treating the boring things like reading information, finding keys or working as a team as a mere afterthought in the endless, glittery excitement that make up his waking moments. Although the author disputes these claims, he is happy to clarify matters in the interest of honesty, truth and preventing a telling-off that ends with him being called a stupid cow or a variant thereof.

Oh and for good bloody measure:

James Anderson would like to remind those readers who are sitting there with a Wotsit-stained finger waiting to call the RSPCA once Homes under the Hammer has finished that he of course did not leave Goomba alone in the cupboard at any time. He pushed the two cats in there with him for company.

recipe: curried banana soup

Curried banana soup I hear you cry – though I’d ask you to keep the noise down because Goomba has just been out for a tom-tit and he’s very volatile. One loud noise and his training will be set back two weeks and he’ll be back to pooing on the utility room floor with a glint in his eye that just screams ‘you wanna dance, bitch’. For a dog of ten weeks he’s got an awful lot of attitude and a very efficient bum, I can tell you. But hear me out on the curried banana: as long as you use good madras powder (the type that may suggest putting a roll of Andrex in the fridge for after), the sweetness of the banana and the cream cut with it to make a very flavourful, surprising dinner. If the thought of it still turns your stomach, then at least this is only the smallest of blog entries to work through with pursed lips. We are, after all, a food blog.

But of course I am going to talk about the dog for a moment more, given I’ve now become a dog-sitting shut-in (and there’s an assemblage of syllables you don’t want to mix up) and therefore have nothing else to talk about. We’re almost at the end of the week following his second jab and are very much looking forward to going out, though I am braced for the onslaught of people coming over and fussing him and giving me their sage advice on how to raise him. You have to understand that although I am a fairly social being at the best of times, when someone ambushes me first thing in the morning when my eyes are still stuck together and I’m dry-heaving my way through picking up his droppings, my responses will be quite curt.

One lady, who I have never met before in my entire life and who looked as though her ears were still ringing from the Big Bang, came to our gate the other morning to tell us that Goomba must be muzzled outside (in our own garden, no less) and that we mustn’t be afraid to beat him in order to establish dominance. I laughed in her face, but thought better than to mention that such a strategy hasn’t worked in the fifteen years I’ve been with Paul and that he still leaves empty milk bottles on top of the bin instead of inside it. I understand that everyone has an opinion and they’re welcome to it but she wouldn’t have enjoyed it if I’d knocked on her door and suggested a couple of ways she could make her moustache frame her face better.

That said, if anyone has some tips on how to get cats used to a new dog, I’d welcome them. Bowser isn’t arsed, he just hisses and sends the dog packing, but Sola is a different beast entirely. She’s already a very skittish cat – she won’t allow you to pick her up under any circumstances and the closest you’ll get to affection is her showing off her anus as you take a bath – and seems to be quite put out. We’re fussing her the best we can (telling her we hate the dog really, leaving Mein Kampf playing on Audible as she sleeps) but she is spending most of her time in her box atop the kitchen cabinets. Lots of online guides say she will come round in her own time and it’ll just take one swipe at his nose for her to draw a line. That’s fine, but they haven’t met Sola – she won’t use her claws, but instead a shiv she’s whittled from a toothbrush. Tough times ahead.

Anyway, I said this would be a quick and easy entry (my favourite) so let us not linger amongst the dogchatter and get straight to the curried banana soup. First thing I want to say is: it’s really hard to make a white bowl filled with yellow gloop to look exciting in a photo. The book we adapted this from suggested serving with sweet potato crisps and indeed, I went to Lidl especially, but I ate them on the drive home. Once a chubby cub, always a chubby cub. You’ll note that this recipe uses butter and single cream and still comes in under 300 calories.

curried banana soup

Curried banana soup: tasty, I promise

curried banana soup

I had to turn up the brightness to try and salvage the photo, hence this curried banana soup looking almost radioactive

curried banana soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

So if you trust us enough to try this curried banana soup, please note a couple of things: we use butter and single cream in this recipe, and it still comes in under 300 calories for a lunch. If you're on Slimming World, you'll need to swap your butter for olive oil (though if you use Frylight, I'll do time) and you could maybe swap the single cream for some Philadelphia. I dunno anymore. Frankly, you're better off synning the ingredients, but we've been saying that for years and do you listen? Do you bugger!

We worked this out at around 295 calories per serving.

Ingredients

  • 50g butter
  • one teaspoon of garlic paste
  • one large white onion, chopped
  • one heaped tablespoon of madras powder
  • 120g of basmati rice
  • 1200ml of chicken stock
  • 250g of single cream
  • two decent sized (ripe) bananas
  • squirt of lime juice

Instructions

  • gently fry the onion in the butter until the onion is golden and soft
  • stir in the garlic paste and cook for a minute more
  • add the curry powder and stir
  • add the rice and chicken stock and cook for around twenty minutes on a simmer, until the rice is cooked through
  • add the cream and bananas and blend the absolute dickens out of it using a hand-blender, but do be careful you don't burn yourself
  • serve with a squirt of lime juice and those crisps you bought and ate in the car

Notes

Recipe

  • the banana needs to be ripe - you want those bananas that you're saving for the banana bread that you'll never make
  • we're using garlic paste because it's handy but you could just mince a clove of garlic if you don't have the paste - but then again, you could do a lot of things if you just believed
  • this very well may be a soup that you have right there and now - it'll certainly get 'gloopy' if you leave it to sit, but if that happens, just eat it through gently and you'll be cooking on gas

Books

  • our second book sold like absolute hot-cakes, which is no surprise when you look at how much we all love a cake - it gets excellent reviews and you can do no better, trust me: order yours here! 
  • a plea: if you have bought any of our books, please do take a moment to leave a review on Amazon, we will love you forever and it helps us out so much
  • the first book is a bit cheaper and still an incredible bible if you're looking to lose weight with delicious recipes: click here to order
  • our planner will help you on your way - loads of space to keep track of your weight loss and lovely pictures of us to be getting on with: here

Tools

Courses soup

Cuisine like I said, soup

Whilst we are on the topic of soups that look like hot-arse but taste good, here’s another soup for you to try: spinach, pea and ham thick soup! Click it to go straight there, and you can find all of our other soup recipes here.

Enjoy!

J

recipe: posh frittata with asparagus and smoked cheese

Posh frittata today, and only a quick post mind you, but I did think it was important to try and post a recipe once and a while on this recipe blog of ours. If you’re waiting for the next part of my NC500 story, know that it is coming as soon as I’ve managed to remember where I went and why I spent so much time swearing at things. I’m not kidding: I keep a little electronic notepad on my phone of anything I can think of to write about and one day it seems I forgot to update it bar one succinct entry: ‘fucking motorhomes’. Now, I don’t think I briefly took up mechanophilia on my travels (real thing, look it up) (in Incognito mode: ask your partner how) but hey, Paul was away and my little Golf does have a cute little rear, so who knows? But yes, that’s coming, I promise, but today is all about the posh frittata. You may realise that we do post a lot of quiche recipes here but as readers of the books will know, you can blame my mother and her eighty-seven chickens for that. I’ve got eggs coming out of my arse, and they have to go somewhere.

Speaking of books, may I make a small plea? Amazon reviews really make a difference for us – if you’ve bought the books and would like to leave a review, we’d love you forever. We have some book news coming soon! But in the meantime, here’s a banner to take you straight there

Paul and I have been ratching about the UK a bit of late – I feel it only fair that he is afforded the chance to look at his phone in a different location once and a while – and it feels weird. I’m still not used to seeing large groups of people without thinking they’re all going to be tumbled into a mass grave a few weeks later like the foot-and-mouth cattle. It’s been fifteen months since the start of the first lockdown (I think, my memory of the time is a little hazy) and, all things being well, we’ll be dancing out properly on 21 June. But it all seems so unlikely and alien that it is hard to get excited about it. Plus let’s be fair, the current Government will probably allow us out for an hour, decide that’s quite-enough-of-that-young-lady and then send us back into the cellar for another year or two to stare at our shoes and draw eyes on oranges for company.

That said, I don’t see why anyone is concerned: you’d think coronavirus was over the way so many people are going on. Masks seem to have become an optional part of shopping again* with people wandering around coughing and sneezing with gay abandon. I can take that though: people were gross before coronavirus, this isn’t new. But those idiots, of which I know thousands of words have already been committed to, who walk around with a mask over their chin instead of their mouth and nose do my head in. It’s such a pointless anti-effort that I can only assume they’ve read that coronavirus bursts from their blackheads and they’re saving us all from that.

*you must understand, I have zero interest in you telling me why masks are useless, or why I’m a sheep. That said, if someone can tell me why the word sheep doesn’t seem correct when referring to a single sheep all of a sudden, that would be tremendous: I’ve just spent five minutes trying to remember what the single form is before deciding I’m clearly having a stroke.

I was in Sainsbury’s the other day and a charming wee woman was standing in front of the cherry tomatoes, agonising over the choice of three different varieties as though she was choosing which child to send to the mines. Naturally, as a calm and patient soul, I stood two metres away waiting for her to get her shit together and finally pick, before I noticed she was pulling her mask down over her chin, picking up each punnet of tomatoes and sticking her nose right in to sniff them. She repeated this a fair few times, making sure to catch the dew of the tomatoes on her nose-hair and moustache each time, before my theatrical sighs and foot-tapping clearly spurred her into action and she wandered off. Of course, as a terribly British person I didn’t say a word to her face and instead penned a snotty anonymous tweet about it, then hastened into her spot to check for myself that Sainsbury’s hadn’t started dusting their tomatoes with sniff. I mean, I know it’s a middle-class supermarket, but sadly not. I did make sure to catch up with her later in the store and fart near her head as she was bending down to select something off a lower shelf, so I consider myself the winner.

Of course, the way out of all of this nonsense is vaccination. If you’re anti-vaccination I won’t use this blog to try and change your mind, because personal choice and all that, but I do beg of you that you at least do some proper research into these things before you rule them out. Taking medical advice from someone who has ‘University of Hard Knocks’ on their Facebook profile and ‘none of ur fukin buzniss’ listed as their employer, for example, is never a good idea. No, my point about vaccination is for anyone out there who is worried about having it due to health anxiety, something I’ve talked at inexhaustible length before. As you can imagine, for someone like me who is a fretter, getting injected with something new is always going to mess with my head. But a degree of research beforehand, a stoic sense of ‘well something has to kill me, and I’m not giving him the satisfaction’ and the angst of not being able to immediately tell people I’ve been vaccinated on Facebook got me past my doubts.

For the record, I’ve had both jabs now, and both times the process was amazing. Turned up, was reassured by someone very friendly, less than a minute wait, quick jab in my arm and a nice sit down. I didn’t feel a thing both times, with the second time especially painless – I had to ask her if she was sure it had gone in, which admittedly is something I’m used to. Luckily, she said I was the best she had ever had and we all laughed awkwardly. Due to NHS budget cuts I didn’t get a sticker or a lollipop which naturally I was fuming about, but you make do. After the first jab I felt like crap the day after, but nothing a couple of ibuprofen and wearing Paul into the ground didn’t solve. The second jab gave me a headache, but that gave me the chance to theatrically wail in the bedroom and turn my back to the sunlight which is always welcome. Now, fully vaccinated, I feel tip-top and ready to spend the rest of my days wincing when anyone coughs and reflexively asking people stay three metres away at any given time unless they’re entering me. I know the rule is two metres, but I’m a contrary bitch.

Oh look at that: I was planning on a succinct entry for the posh frittata, and instead I’ve waffled on ever so. But let’s be honest, you expected that as much as I did. Please do get your vaccine, though. Remember, it’s not all about keeping yourself safe, it’s about making it safe for others who can’t.

To the posh frittata, then.

posh frittata

Looks bloody good in the pan, does the posh frittata!

posh frittata

Tried to get a good cheese pull shot of the posh frittata but it was having none of it.

posh frittata

And here is what the posh frittata looks like inside! SO CLASSY

posh frittata: asparagus, spinach and smoked cheese frittata

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 big wedges

The inspiration for this posh frittata came from a book called The Picnic Cookbook which I impulsively bought in a garden centre as an assuagement to my feelings of FOMO - Paul was treating himself to eighty-seven new Yankee Candles and I wanted something. Why he buys those bloody things I don't know: I don't allow them to be burned in the house because they make the place smell like a nursing home, but he likes to collect them. I'll have the last laugh though: when he invariably dies before me I'll cram his piano-box coffin with them and when he goes in the incinerator, the whole of Newcastle will be choked on a miasma of A Child's Wish, Summer Roses and Rendered Fat.

We have made a few changes in this posh frittata - they suggest blue cheese but why would you - and for once, we're leaving out the butter they suggest. You don't need it, and that's that. As with all quiche/frittata recipes you can add all sorts in. Don't be shy. Do read the notes on this one!

This comes in at 375 calories for a massive quarter, or, I believe, syn-free if you use your HEA. 

Also: we cooked ours in our oven-proof frying pan because we couldn't find our silicone tin.

Ingredients

  • 400g of new potatoes - don't need to peel them, but do dice them into fairly uniform chunks
  • 200g of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1cm chunks
  • four fat spring onions, cut into slim chunks
  • a big bag of spinach leaves (150g or so - you know the one, you cook it down and it leaves you with a postage stamp square of spinach)
  • eight large eggs
  • 160g of smoked cheese, cut into dice (your healthy extra of smoked cheese is 40g, if you're on Slimming World)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees and lightly oil a good quiche tin - there's a link in the notes to the one we use
  • boil the new potatoes and asparagus chunks for a couple of minutes until softened but still with a bit of bite
  • their recipe calls for you to fry off the spring onion, but I don't think you need to do it
  • in a large pan with a dribble of water, and over a medium heat add the spinach leaves and pop a lid on - let the spinach wilt in the heat until it's all done, then finely chop
    • spinach tip - to make sure you get all the water from the spinach, get two equally sized chopping boards and sandwich the spinach between the two - then push down on the chopping board on top so all the water is forced out - then chop it finely, pile it back up and repeat a couple of times - so much easier
  • in a large bowl, crack the eggs and beat them with a good pinch of salt and pepper, add the rest of the ingredients and give everything a bloody good stir
  • slop it into your quiche tin and stick it in the oven for about forty minutes or until a knife pushed into the middle comes out clean
  • if it needs longer and the top is catching, cover it with foil and keep cooking
  • allow to cool and serve with salad

Notes

Recipe

  • you can swap the smoked cheese out for blue cheese as suggested
  • peas make a great addition - throw a couple of handfuls in with the potatoes when they're cooking
  • bacon and chicken can also be added if you desire

Books

  • we couldn't be prouder of our second book: it's technicolour, the recipes are banging and the reviews are amazing: order yours here! 
  • if you're struggling for funds, the first book is a bit cheaper and still utterly glorious: click here to order
  • we've also got a planner: here

Tools

  • we use a smart silicone dish for this posh frittata - this has never failed us once!
  • this freezes perfectly - cut it up, wrap the pieces in foil and take one out the night before for lunch
  • feel free to tip the mixture into several smaller tins to make individual quiches

Courses snacks

Cuisine picnic

Done! And if you’re looking for another frittata recipe, why not click the image below to be taken to another of our favourites?

Stay safe!

J

recipe: roasted vegetable and lentil jumble

Roasted vegetable and lentil jumble: if the thought of a vegetarian dish leaves you shaking and pulling at the hairs on your arm at the thought of a meal without meat, then have a bloody word with yourself young lady. This is delicious. A wonder. A treat, if you prefer. We weren’t convinced on lentils but a friend of mine has seemingly been making a lentil dish for the last twenty-eight weeks and honestly, hearing the word lentils over and over and over and over – well, something sunk in. But anyway, whisht yer gob, I’ve got things to say.

A couple of pieces of housekeeping before we get to the chat and the recipe. Firstly, I need to show you this:

james and paul

We wanted something for the house that represented our twochubbycubs story – and also, I want something to show Paul when he says that he doesn’t make stupid faces when I want to take a photo of him. We asked local artist and mega-DILF Tom Owen to come up with what we would look like in the future (me forty years, Paul forty minutes) and this is what he came up with – and we adore it. He’s really captured everything you need to know about us: Paul does the cooking and has a face that could stop a clock, I’m the one behind him holding a knife with scant regard for anyone’s welfare and setting his hat on fire for giggles. If you’re looking for something unique, or some stunning prints for your home, please do give Tom a follow on Instagram – the fact that he’s fit as all outdoors is, for once, not swaying my recommendation of what an absolute legend he is. Honestly, give him a follow and check out his work: he deserves every single success.

The other piece of house news is this:

a big garish light of our logo

What better way to celebrate being back in the house than to have your logo created in neon almost two metres across and attached to your otherwise very Hun-grey kitchen wall? We wanted something to finish the kitchen off, and after trying a fire, what else was there? We hadn’t appreciated quite how bright it is – if I turn it on, my cigarettes light themselves before I get a chance to fumble them out of the packet. Also, as you pull into the street, you see the word CUBS light up in glorious neon as clear as day. It’s like we’re running a gay nightclub and I adore it. I am conscious that, should the days ever commence when we get trade over, we’ll need to turn it off – don’t want to run the risk of my gobbling lips becoming the focus of our next cookbooks. Though I promise that if such a thing does happen, we’ll call the book ‘Easy to Swallow’.

Anyway, that’s enough of me and my braggadocio ways: let’s turn to the important matter: I’ve had a haircut! Now I know what you’re thinking, James, you’re beautiful as you are, and any haircut is going to be as irrelevant as chiselling a more defined six-pack into Michelangelo’s David. And naturally you’re right, but you must understand that this represents a major point in my (and I feel I speak for the nation here, too) fuck-off-COVID journey. Before someone sneezed and the world wiped spittle off its face, I used to go for a haircut once a week. It was my one slight indulgence, amongst the myriad of others. That hour spent in a chair trying not to look at myself in the mirror was one of peace, serenity and wondering whether the fact my barber had just rested his balls on my hand whilst he set about threshing my ear-hair was a mistake or a come-on. I looked forward to it. Hopefully they did too, though I imagine there was an element of despair that they’d spent an hour shaping my beard and plucking my nose hair and setting my eyes on fire and giving me a sick-fade-bro only for me to look down into my wallet to get a tenner out and look back up with a face that looked like a boiled egg rolled in the contents of a hoover bag. Seriously, my hair grows so quickly that it’s a genuine surprise that my eyelashes don’t dreadlock together when I blink.

Of course, with COVID restrictions, health anxiety and my general apathy to moving away from my computer chair it was always going to be an exercise in nerves, and certainly, it didn’t get off to a good start when I peered into the window and spotted my normal barber had either died or called in sick. I’m not one for dramatics so let’s assume he’s died of a broken heart. However, in his place was another chap with brown cow-like eyes and altogether too much FM-World-Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male and what can I say, I’m literally a sucker for a man who could pin me into a barber’s chair and hold a blade to my throat. He actually didn’t even give me a choice, he shouted ‘bossman’ at me through the window and beckoned me in.

He did a cracking job too – I like to tell them to do whatever they want (in the forever vain hope it’ll lead to shenanigans) and then, after a bit of small talk, shut my eyes and drift off. I’m not one of those socially awkward people who can’t handle a conversation with a stranger and one of my favourite things to do is change my profession every time I go in and see how long I can carry on the ruse for (which got me into trouble once when I had to bluff my way through real estate law). But, at the same time – and especially now people are wearing masks –  I can’t make out what people are saying, and even more so when you’re looking into their earhole. So there’s a lot of ‘pardon’ and ‘excuse me’. Plus, I do hate being asked for my opinion on something whilst someone is holding a straight-edge razor to my lips. I’m an animated story-teller at the best of times so if you ask for my opinion on whatever hot-topic is in the news at the moment, I’m liable to come out looking like him out of Hannibal who cut his lips off. Luckily, conversation stalled as soon as he asked about my girlfriend and I laughed gaily and told him about my twenty-stone husband. You don’t know him, he’s standing behind 30-stone-Paul.

Despite me nuking the conversation by confessing to being a touch light in the loafers, he didn’t skimp on the attention and a wonderful hour was had by both. He had to ask me to stop polishing my glasses under the blanket a couple of times but that’s standard. I do hate the last five minutes though – you think he’s done, and suddenly there’s a lotion being slapped on the shaved bits, or some bright blue unguent scooped from a bottomless jar slathered into your hair. I made to get out of the chair so many times that he must have thought I’d developed an essential tremor. Turns out the final flourish was to hold the mirror up behind me so I can look at what he’s done to the back of my head. I’m mystified by this: he’s cut all the hair off, what is he going to do if I shriek and say it’s not what I wanted? Run a Pritt-Stick over and try and sweep my back hair upwards? Anyway it doesn’t matter, he could have written ‘yer ma’s a tart’ on the back of my skull in bright pink Sharpie and I’d still smile like Julia Roberts accepting her Oscar and say what a terrific job he’s done.

Naturally, I didn’t miss a chance to embarrass myself, lest you were concerned that my return to normal society had gone without calamity. When it came to paying I asked how much I owed and he mumbled ‘forty’ from under his mask. I was aghast and with all the polite Britishness that I so embody, I replied with a ‘how fucking much?’, doing a full clutching my heart theatrics whilst I did. He clarified that it was fourteen pounds, which in retrospect did seem altogether more reasonable, and I paid and cut a quick dash. Tune in next week to see how else I can make a tit of myself, won’t you?

Oh! Thinking about it, I don’t think I was so out of line being shocked by the price. The barbers does have a photo of Drake in the window and frankly, if he can lure multi-millionaire Canadian rappers to Bedlington, then he must be shit-hot.

Speaking of shit-hot, shall we do this recipe? I can confirm that this roasted vegetable and lentil jumble is a thing of beauty. You might be looking at it thinking that it’s going to leave you farting like a brewery horse and indeed, that’s correct, but trust me with this one: it really is tasty.

roasted vegetable and lentil jumble

Oh I know, for a roasted vegetable and lentil jumble that looks pretty damn good doesn’t it?

roasted vegetable and lentil jumble

If you’re stuck for a lunch idea, try this roasted vegetable and lentil jumble – it keeps ever so well! But don’t keep it waiting too long though: everything has a limit.

roasted veg and lentil jumble

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Yeah as I was saying in the paragraph before where I always forget that I need to write this bit too, it's a thing of beauty. With all roast vegetable dishes you can add any old shite into this: it's not a taxing matter to make it your own. Also: if you're thinking that's a lot of cheese and perhaps you should cut back, then frankly if that is the case, then you can go to hell. More cheese, always. It serves four.

A reminder that we're all about calories now: but if you're still following SW, you'll find the syns are low enough! We use the NHS calorie checker to work it out - so it's a rough estimate!

Oh we drizzled it with basil oil (olive oil mixed with basil - Internet readers hate us!) because we're that kind of wanker now.

Ingredients

  • 2 aubergines - 120 calories 
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 red onions
  • 250g baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 100g harissa paste
  • 160g reduced fat feta cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch of coriander (see notes)
  • 2 tins of lentils
  • 1 handful of flaked almonds (optional)
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 vegetable stock cube

Instructions

  • first, preheat the oven to 200°c
  • chop off the ends of the aubergines and then slice in half
  • slice each half into four long strips, then cut widthways into roughly 3cm chunks
  • chop the sweet potatoes into 2cm chunks (no need to peel)
  • peel the onions and roughly slice one, then chop the other into wedges
  • add the sweet potatoes, aubergines and onion wedges to a large baking tray and spray with a little oil
  • drizzle over the harissa paste and mix well by hand until everything is well coated, then spread out into an even layer (use two trays if you need to)
  • bake in the oven for thirty minutes. At the halfway point turn the veg and add the tomatoes to roast for the remaining time
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat (dry, no oil) and add the almonds
  • cook for a few minutes until toasted, approximately 2-3 minutes, then tip out into a bowl
  • next, squeeze the juice from the lemon into a bowl with the coriander, a pinch of salt and 2 tbsp of olive oil, and mix well
  • put the frying pan back over a medium-high heat and spray with a little oil
  • add the sliced onions to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally
  • add the garlic and cumin to the pan and cook for another minute, then add 150ml cold water to the pan and stir well
  • crumble in the stock cube and stir again, and leave to cook for a minute
  • drain and rinse the lentils and add to the frying pan, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat
  • add the roasted veg to the pan and stir until everything is mixed
  • serve onto plates, crumbling over the feta and sprinkling with the almonds, and finally finish with the herby drizzle

Notes

Recipe

  • we think coriander is rank, and if you do too then you're our kind of person. Feel free to do what we did and swap it out for a basil instead, it's just as tasty (if not better)
  • not a fan of feta? Goats cheese or even dollops of philadelphia will do the trick here - and might save you some calories too 
  • lentils are cheap, tasty and bloody brilliant at making dinners go further. If you're not a fan please do give this a go, we reckon we're about to change your mind!
  • we've used some oil for the dressing and reckon it's worth it, but if you really are being tight with the syns feel free to chop the basil up and simply sprinkle it on top. We won't judge you!

Books

  • we couldn't be prouder of our second book: it's technicolour, the recipes are banging and the reviews are amazing: order yours here! 
  • if you're struggling for funds, the first book is a bit cheaper and still utterly glorious: click here to order
  • we've also got a planner: here

Tools

  • no fancy tools needed for this one, but of course it wouldn't be a recipe without us mentioning our most favourite kitchen gadget - the Microplane. It's almost like it makes the garlic melt away! 

Courses lunch

Cuisine vegetarian

Want some more veggie recipes? You’ll find loads by clicking here and, if I may suggest this beauty? Click the picture to go straight to it!

sautéed mushrooms

Stay safe and well, all.

J&P

recipe reacharound: curry loaf reloaded

Well hello! Normally I’d apologise for the delay between posts but not time time, no way: the last time I updated we were about to move back to Chubby Towers, and now? We’re back, and it’s all very exciting. More on that a moment!

Today’s recipe is one of our reacharounds, where we look at the abominations that were our early recipes and update them for a more modern take: and for this one, we’re going right back to the very beginning, not least because that’s a very good place to start. It was 2014 when we first posted this and honestly, looking at that style we used to have makes me cringe so hard I’m no longer circumcised. I’m not sure why we eschewed capital letters back then, or providing proper ingredient lists, or presented our food in such a cackhanded fashion. But thank goodness we’ve changed.

Curry loaf is one of those things that are held up in highest regard amongst Slimming Worlders, possibly because it’s so easy to cook, possibly because they’re always at bloody taster nights, possibly because it has ‘loaf’ in it and us dieters start bubbling at the lips at the thought of being allowed bread. Who can say? Either way, a curry loaf is just a combination of various vegetables, some microwave rice (leftover rice also works, but none of us got to where we are by leaving leftovers – most of us barely leave the pattern on the plate because we’re so feverishly finishing our food), eggs and a chickpea dahl. Chickpea dahl is an absolute arseache to find these days so we’ve done a few swaps, and if you’re in a rush to get to the food, just scroll straight to the curry loaf photos and be done.

It’s funny though, looking so far back at the old stuff when we are, for the want of a far less hyperbolic turn of phrase, at the start of a new chapter for us. Being back at home is terrific, although I miss terribly the excitement of settling down for a wank and then having housekeeping rattling the door and trying to get in. I’ve tried to recreate it by bundling Paul into the alarm cupboard and locking the door, but his mewling cries about spiders just proved more of a distraction. Plus, it’s Paul, leave him unfed for more than twenty minutes and he’ll start chewing at his own arms in the hope of righting the calorie deficit. Our house wasn’t destroyed in the fire, but pretty much everything needed replacing or redoing, and all the rooms are now blank canvases for my fits of whimsy and it’s great. For example: no house truly needs a toilet brush that looks like a cherry, but we do, even if very good friends grouse about it. But then some very good friends’ lavatories look like the one out of Trainspotting, so they can respectfully sod off. We have some plans for the outdoor bit and our kitchen is far more suitable for filming in, so you can expect some fresh twochubbycubs content soon enough. Well, that, or onlyfans, and I ask that if you do want to pay good money to watch me eating name-brand crisps in my off-brand knickers whilst I scratch at my balls with a bristle brush, you get in touch privately.

Of course, the best thing about being home is simple: we have our cats back, though it was very much an exercise in winning their trust back. We were lucky that they both escaped the fire unharmed (though watching Sola trying to hustle out of the cat-flap with a box of Cooks Matches wedged in her jaw did arouse suspicion) and we were able to house them just up the road with a friend. However, they had to become house cats for ten months, as we couldn’t bear the thought of them plodding back to our house and scratching at the door to be let in to no avail. That would be no problem for Sola, the older one, but Bowser is very much an outdoors cat and if he hasn’t had his four fights with the neighbourhood cats he tends to get a little fussy. I’m not one for sentimentality, I’m not, but when we used to drive back to check on progress at the house I couldn’t bear to turn around at the top of the street in case I saw them looking forlornly at the window like the widows of men lost at sea. I say that as though Sola wouldn’t have spent the ten months learning how to stick her middle finger up.

We decided to bring them back with a week between them in order to allow them to re-acclimatise to the new house without winding each other up. Bowser was brilliant: immediately fussing about us and then retiring to our bedroom to casually shed as much hair as he can all over our new bed. He doesn’t seem to go out as much, but then maybe he’s just observing the COVID guidance. Sola was far more effort: although the initial reunion between us was slightly less hysterical than I anticipated, that’s mainly because she’s grown too fat to run away at speed. She was always such a lithe cat back in the day – now she looks like a teapot when she sits. Watching her trying to lick her nipsy (we don’t have Sky anymore, so gotta watch something) is quite the sight. We’re putting her on a calorie controlled diet. Anyway: she let us pick her up (which she would never do) and carry her home, where she immediately took one look at our newly grey and very hun walls and disappeared under the sofa, where she remained for a good couple of days.

However, as philosopher Daisaku Ikeda said according to the google search for patience quotes I just did to make this blog entry sound more clever, ‘with love and patience, nothing is impossible’. Well, I’m the master of patience (I’ve waited fourteen years for the light of love to leave Paul’s eyes, and still here we are) and also fantastic at pss-pss-pssing, and now she’s back to her normal self. That is, she will meow loudly at me every morning until I move to stroke her, then turn her back on me to show she considers me to be subhuman scum. She’s easily won around with a little baggy of catnip and a fuss, mind, so perhaps we aren’t so different after all.

So: reunited, and it feels so good, and Chubby Towers is complete once more. We have smoke alarms in each room which all bellow at us in unison if we so much as snuff out a candle without using a fire blanket. Speaking of fire blankets, Paul bought one for the kitchen but given it was £3.99 and they have misspelled blanket as blaknet on the box, I’m not especially convinced it’ll do us the world of good if the fire demands a sequel. But we’re home and it is marvellous. Even the neighbours seem pleased to see us save for one miserable old fart who ignored my cheery wave, electing instead to scowl at me. But then he always has a face that suggests he’s just discovered blood in his urine, so I shan’t take it to heart.

To the curry loaf then.

curry loaf

The ingredients for the curry loaf – chop, mix, go.

curry loaf

Curry loaf all cooked!

Curry loaf sliced and ready to go!

lovely loaded wedges

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

Recipe

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

Books

Courses wedges

Cuisine twochubbycubs

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

If you want to try your hand at a different loaf, may I suggest our chicken and ham picnic loaf? Just click the image below to be taken straight there!

chicken and ham picnic loaf

J (and Paul) (and Bowser) (and Sola)

recipe: curried sprout risotto – no, seriously, hear us out

Curried sprout risotto: I can already hear you all gasping and dry-heaving into your mailboxes. And yet, you mustn’t: the sprout may be a little ball of farts, but cooked well and with flavour, it makes for a lovely, soft, oniony dish. If your only sprout experience comes from Christmasses past where your mother put them on to boil a day or two after Easter, then I beg you to reconsider. Here, we’ve turned it into a risotto and served it with spicy jerk chicken from our newest cookbook – and that’s exactly what this should be used for: a base. Bit first, a couple of bits of admin as ever, then the curried sprout risotto recipe is all yours, I swear it.

Firstly, thank you to everyone for buying our book – it’s still doing so well and frankly, having an extension put on the house where I can smoke expensive cigars and type out my stories like Lynda La Plante has never seemed so possible. Please keep sharing your photos, reviews, telling your friends etc. For all those that haven’t yet got it, it’s available right here on this link!

Secondly, I apologise, but this is a long, long entry! It occurred to me the other night that we haven’t done a good ‘writing’ post in such a long time. So, here we go – but please, if you are hungry, scroll down to the recipe! If you honour me by reading it, I would absolutely love your feedback and comments. Don’t be shy! Here we go.

I’m about to tell you a story that I haven’t put to paper, for reasons each more inexplicable and bewildering than the last (I forgot), and will subsequently detail over four blog entries. It was a simpler time: Brexit was confirmed but we all thought it would disappear as elegantly as a magician’s trick on an ill-lit stage. There was nothing more infectious troubling the world than my laughter. Paul’s face wasn’t the haggard shell that haunts me now as I drift off to sleep. Our cats were young, with full bellies and bad attitudes and, in Sola’s case, ovaries: something she’s never quite forgiven us for taking away. It was 2017, we had returned from a mortifying trip to Copenhagen (where Paul shat out an egg with me dying of fremdscham at the side, and of course, the time I used chøc-a-bløc in a blog recount of our holiday, a writing standard I don’t think I’ve topped since) and were just settling down to ignore our ever increasing obesity when I received a text from a friend. It wasn’t the usual ‘you best go get checked love, it’s dripping from the end’ text either – it was, for the want of a less hyperbolic phrase – a text that changed our lives.

It’s here that we start the story of the time we went on This Time Next Year.

chapter one: “oh, so much cum”

Copenhagen, for all the laughs and jolliness the holiday recaps portrayed, was an awful holiday. It was the first time we’ve ever been away where we weren’t able to enjoy ourselves properly. We were simply too fat: we’d reached a critical mass where going on rides was a no-no. Eating in public was an exercise in embarrassment and self-consciousness. We couldn’t walk across the city – a city known for beautiful, lithe people, mind you – without worrying about what people thought and whether our ankles would make it. Older readers may remember a bit in the Vicar of Dibley where Geraldine, laden with three Christmas dinners, hops into a taxi which takes her about fifty yards down the road. We did pretty much that one evening, bellies so bloated that we got a taxi what would take a reasonable person three minutes to walk. I’ve always been fairly body confident but that was the absolute first time where my weight was making me miserable. Paul took a photo of me over dinner (presumably taking a census of the bread rolls that were left for later interrogation) and I look like two people cosplaying as a bearded horse. I’m literally widescreen. Paul was equally fat and equally as miserable. We rowed constantly, both unhappy with ourselves and taking it out on the other.

I mean, you’d struggle to run me up a flagpole, wouldn’t you?

Now, you must understand, us arguing on holiday is almost a tradition, though it’s usually over me opening my legs like the gates on a level crossing whenever a passing bearded Daddy-type walks past. But these were absolute humdingers, and for comparison, Paul once left for the airport to fly home from Hamburg after we had a ruckus in a backstreet gay bar. That’s not a euphemism. The only thing that stopped him actually flying home (after spending hundreds on a ticket) was the fact he’d forgotten to strop back to the hotel first and pick up his passport. So holiday arguing is de rigueur and normally, once we’ve cried into a few pastries over breakfast, we’re fine. Not this time. Things came to a head on the final night: me throwing stuff around the room, him shouting and bawling like his arse was on fire and his hands were in mittens. Realising that – for once, I wasn’t in the wrong, we had a good chat about what had happened, and confessed to each other how unhappy we were with how far we’d let ourselves go. Such a dramatic revelation was tempered a little by the fact we were sharing a giant Toblerone from the airport at the time – though perhaps it tells you of our greed that we bought a Toblerone from our departure airport as opposed to one from our returning airport.

But what could we do? We knew how to lose weight: we ran twochubbycubs at that point and dieting wasn’t some elusive mystery. Calories in vs calories out. But it’s all such a bore, isn’t it, if we’re honest. We’d had eight or so years at this point, attending Slimming World classes and developing piles on the plastic chairs and wishing for death as Sandra and Enid and Derek and Elsie and Sandra again all recounted their tales of how they couldn’t shit and birthday parties where they ‘had been really good and just sucked an ice-cube‘ all night. That’s not being good, that’s wasting an opportunity. The only thing that was sticking for us was cholesterol in our arteries, clad on the sides like seams of fridge-cold butter. We couldn’t bear the idea of another twelve months of standing in someone else’s verruca-prints and discussing Muller Lights. But without a class, what is there? The frightening prospect of taking responsibility for our own actions, and I think the fuck not. Never have, never will.

Then, as I say, we got a text. My good friend Sarah – someone I had worked with for a few years and made such an impression on that she knitted a fabulous little Bobomb for our house – had seen a calling card for a show on ITV called ‘This Time Next Year’ and sent it over. The premise was astoundingly simple: you turn up, pledge you are going to do something dramatic within a year, Davina McCall smiles and asks you lots of questions, then you disappear behind a door. This part is filmed but not aired at the time of recording. A year later, you come back, walk back out of the door and Davina has a scream and everyone claps and you’re briefly the star of ITV prime-time. Then, through the magic of editing, they splice the two films together and make a show of it so it looks as though you disappear behind a door and then come straight back out again a changed man. Or men, in our case. If you look on discussion forums discussing the first series you get numbskulls actually thinking the ‘change’ has happened there and then, as though Dumbledore was putting in a nightshift at Celador and just magicked away your fat. I mean, it’s surely not the most taxing of concepts, but to look at digitalspy back in 2017 you’d think the viewers were being tasked with cracking Gödel’s completeness theorem using only a broken abacus and six of their webbed fingers.

Realising that this was an opportunity we may never get again – and once I’d explained the gist of the show to Paul through discussion, then animation, then puppets and finally one of those ‘pick a number’ folding papers people used to make in school to choose their boyfriends – I emailed the production company. Sensing that one look at our humourless faces may send us straight to Deleted Items exile, I tried to make our application as funny as I could, describing myself a ‘spherical Geordie prone to shrieking’ and Paul as a ‘lighthouse in M&S slacks’. I also attached a couple of photos of the two of us, including that awful one I mentioned above. We must have caught their eye as we received a call a couple of hours later – first with a researcher who asked us lots of questions about whether we had been on TV before (me, no, but Paul yes, being wheeled in a pram through some flood water and throwing himself in front of the Chief Executive of the local council’s car during a pension strike) (not on the same day), whether we had been in trouble with the law and why we would be a good fit. A couple of Skype interviews followed that where we were asked what we wanted to pledge – we both said we wanted to lose four stone each.

Four stone! In all honesty, we could have both spared twelve stone a pop and still rarely have felt the cold. I genuinely can’t remember the exact weight, but I know I was over 26 stone and Paul 25 stone. The researchers went away and discussed with the production company and came back to make us an offer: lose ten stone each. Quite the upgrade but, faced with the very real possibility of us joining together like little globs of mercury when we made love, we agreed. Contracts were signed, confidentiality clauses agreed, and a date set for a week or two in the distance where we were to travel to London to film the ‘before’ portion of the show. We barely had time to get nervous, but you better believe we made the most of that week, wanting to be the heaviest we could possibly be when we got on the scales before the year of dieting commenced. We’re talking ordering two separate takeaways of an evening, grabbing a McDonalds every time we went for the paper, that sort of sluttish behaviour. And oh, it was glorious: a week dedicated to fattening ourselves up like Christmas turkeys. It wouldn’t have come as a surprise to me if I had walked in on Paul brushing his teeth with a Cadbury’s Flake. The night before filming we drove down to the cheery little Premier Inn in Borehamwood where we were all stationed and we stopped at every single services on the way. That’s ten, for the record, and we snacked at each one. By the time our little Micra pulled in at the hotel two of the tyre pressure warnings had come on. We were, quite literally, bursting at the seams: the fly on my elasticated jeans had come open for reasons, unusually, not relating to my traditional ‘welcome to the roads of Britain’ blowjobs I hand out to lorry drivers with especially consonant-heavy first names.

We slept fitfully: partly the worry of being filmed the next day, partly the angst of not knowing whether we would be able to squeeze in a Premier Inn breakfast before our taxi picked us up at 7.30am. You mustn’t worry: we did, and did so handsomely, knowing this would probably be the last ‘unhealthy’ meal for a very long time. Our taxi came and whisked us to Elstree, where we were given a fancy BBC badge (ITV were borrowing their studios) and made to wait in the security guard office until someone came and picked us up. They forgot about us. Paul didn’t seem to mind as he spent most of the time anxiously looking out of the window in the hope of seeing his teenage wank-fantasy Martin Fowler strolling up to set. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he had left the show in 2007 – it was just nice to see Paul with some light behind his eyes. A runner eventually noticed that the security guard’s hut was full of fat people and came to whisk us to the green room in a blur of yahs and small-talk. Actually, that’s doing her a disservice, she was utterly lovely and put us at ease immediately. I remember seeing a Holby City ambulance and being amazed by how run-down everything looked behind the scenes, though I suppose the BBC mustn’t be seen to be splashing the cash on paint and decent carpets in these times of austerity.

Our green room was immediately behind the set and although we had arrived first, we were to be the fourth story filmed. This meant spending most of the day making small talk with people. Now, I’m excellent at small talk and can cheerfully chat away to most folks without a pause, but this was different. The people in the green room were absolutely terrific but they had all such important stories: someone was wanting to face the outdoors again after a fire had left her with significant burns. There was a couple who were trying one last bout of IVF before giving up on being parents after years of unsuccessful attempts. A young boy with artificial legs who wanted to play a proper game of football. Actual heroes, laughing and smiling away and all hiding their nerves with too many cups of the free (and bloody awful) coffee. We felt like shams: we were there because we’d eaten too many sandwiches over the course of our married life and neglected to move enough to counter it. But the camaraderie was great and though I’ve forgotten their names (and cut me some slack, it’s 50/50 on whether I remember to breathe out these days), I won’t forget how we all relaxed one another and cheered when each pairing disappeared off to make-up, wardrobe and then onto filming.

Our time came soon enough. Another brief chat with one of the production staff who ran through the questions we would be asked, where to stand on stage, how to definitely not say fuck or bugger and don’t do it as a joke because fuck me, that bugger is tired, that sort of thing. Then into wardrobe where they pressed the clothes we brought from home and stuck a sanitary towel in our underarms to stop us sweating. I’m a big guy, I asked for a maxi-flow. The clothes thing – they wanted us to bring our own clothes because they knew we’d look awful in them, so when the big reveal happened later and they had dressed us with decent, stylish clothes, it would look so much better. That’s why, if you watch the video, we are wearing dreadful polyester shirts picked straight from the two-pack pastel selection from ASDA. Then straight into make-up which I absolutely fucking loved, not least because the chap doing my make-up was a gorgeous, massive bear, camp as tits and utterly indiscreet. I got asked for my number somewhat surreptitiously (don’t worry, so did Paul, what a cad) and he described his previous visits to the North in glorious technicolour as he powdered my face: ‘oh but there was SO MUCH CUM‘. I had to ask him to calm down because I was laughing so much my foundation was falling off like Tango-coloured snow.

When they had finished making us look halfway presentable (which involved turning us a very, very orange shade which is then cancelled out by the studio lights) we were sent back into the corridor, ready to be installed behind the doors waiting for the big moment when they slid open and revealed our corpulent, crumpled selves to Davina and the audience. However, you know my husband: he can’t pass a toilet without some sort of crisis and as a result, piped up that he just needed a wee. No problem, he was dispatched to a nearby lavatory and I took up waiting outside. He was gone mere moments before we heard a crash and a sound not unlike a cow being branded by a farmhand with an essential tremor. I poked my head round to find him lying on the floor like a piss-soaked turtle – he’d rounded a corner a bit too sharpish and fell over at the urinal. With little time to spare and a face as red as a freshly-slapped arse, he was whisked to wardrobe where, with not enough time to change his clothes, they went over him with a hair-dryer and pushed him back out. We like to think it was water on the floor from a leaking urinal, but he stank like a city-centre back-alley. Davina wasn’t crying with emotion that day, it was pure ammonia fumes.

Clothes smartened, make-up touched up, mics fitted and refitted when they realised my belly was accidentally turning off the mic-pack when I sat down, we were taken to the back of the stage. I can’t remember anything that the runners were saying at that moment and was instead concentrating on making sure I was standing on the right side of Paul and holding his slightly scented hand to keep us both calm. My own bumhole was chewing out the seams of my pants, but no time for panic.

The lights went up, the doors slid open, and in we went.

More on that next time!


Goodness, that was a LOT of text, wasn’t it? But see, when I have something I like writing about, it flows like a poo half an hour following consumption of a newsagent egg sandwich. To the curried sprout risotto, then!

See, the curried sprout risotto isn’t as bad it sounds!

Well no, maybe it looks poo, but it’s tasty!

curried sprout risotto

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Normally with a risotto we throw everything in the pan and let it bubble away on its own with the lid clamped tightly over it. Not this time. Possibly due to my swirling contemplativeness, I found much merit in standing by the hob stirring the buggery out of it whilst looking sadly at the kitchen tiles. Either way will work though, I suppose it just depends on your ankles.

Take a look at the notes: I've added a few ideas to liven it up if you wanted to push this into a main all of its own.

Ingredients

  • one large white onion
  • 200g of baby sprouts
  • one clove of garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt and curry powder
  • around 800ml of good quality or so help me God I'll do time vegetable stock
  • 200g of risotto rice

Instructions

  • chop the onion finely
  • with the sprouts, cut off the stems, remove a couple of the other layers and then chop finely into lovely little lunules
  • gently sweat off the onion and chopped sprouts in a little oil until the onions have gone lightly golden
  • add the curry powder, garlic and salt and cook for a moment or two more
  • add the risotto rice and stir it through so all the grains are moistened (eww) and then add a ladle of stock at a time, cooking on medium, allowing the liquid to almost disappear before adding another ladleful
  • keep stirring until the rice is cooked through
  • serve with whatever you want

Notes

Recipe

  • if you wanted to add meat, cubed bacon lardons added with the garlic would be a good choice, but don't add extra salt
  • we served ours with our jerk chicken from the book - rub and cook

Books

  • absolutely loving all the kind words from you about our amazing new cookbook - please leave a review or order yours here! 
  • our first slimming cookbook can be also ordered of course – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 5000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – it'll keep you going through the next six months!

Tools

Courses risotto

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Enjoy! Want more risotto recipes? Sure!

Mwah!

J

recipe: spinach and chickpea stew

Sometimes you need something that is quick to throw together and sticks to your belly like muck on a lavatory, and honestly, despite that unsavoury opening, this recipe for spinach and chickpea will do the trick. Doesn’t sound like the most exciting in the world, but it’s grand – nicely spicy, no meat and just yessss.

Before we get to the razzmatazz of the recipe, a note about our new book which is available to pre-order on Amazon and WH Smith now. There’s only a couple of weeks to go before this colourful little bugger is in your hands. If you pre-order now by clicking the banner below, if the price drops between then and now, you’ll pay the lower price! We get asked a lot why we didn’t release at Christmas and I would have thought the answer obvious: if someone bought me a ‘lose weight’ cookbook for Christmas, they’d have it pushed up their fundament. So that’s the reason, plus you know, we need time to write these and get the swearwords past our publishers. So! Don’t delay, do order today. If you loved our last book, and so many did, you’ll find even more of us in here!

Anyway, enough admin. Can we discuss hotel breakfasts? For me, the best part of staying in a hotel, aside from leisurely scattering bodily fluids all over someone else’s duvet and stealing everything that isn’t welded down, is the hotel breakfast. Long-time readers will also know that a Premier Inn breakfast is, to me, the pinnacle of good eating: as you’ve seen from both my waistline and my marital indiscretions I believe in quantity over quality, and being able to graze at a trough of heat-lamp solidified Costco fare is an absolute treasure. As it happens, I had cause to find myself in a Premier Inn a while ago (post first lockdown, so shush, snitches get stitches from bitches) and aside from my room being so far from the reception that going out for a cigarette meant crossing two tier levels, it was grand. I live for moments cast in electric magenta. My friend Tall Paul, of similar heft and capacity for eating, was joining me for breakfast.

How can it be possible to get every single item on a breakfast wrong? It was like a Dali interpretation of what a good cooked breakfast should be. Case in point: the toast. When we have previously breakfasted together it is my job to fetch enough toast that the shareholders of Warburtons can book themselves another week in St Moritz. That’s fine: I’m the master of working two rotary toasters at once and make skipping between the two into an elegant polyester ballet. It’s not a taxing affair, yet somehow in the haste to deny us all pleasures in life thanks to COVID, they’ve taken away that responsibility from the customer. You now have to owlishly ask for toast, tempering the amount you want lest the waiting staff wrinkle their noses in disgust and refer to you as Bacon-Tits in the kitchen.

Still, toast isn’t hard to get right, no? After forty minutes, Schrödinger’s Toast appeared: a sheet of midnight carbon on one side, totally uncooked on the other. It explained the wait at least, given they’d clearly prepared the toast by standing outside and holding it up to the December sun for thirty-five minutes like some sacrifice to the Yeast Gods before finishing it off in the blast zone of a nuclear atrocity. To make things worse, they had brought four tiny pats of butter for six slices of toast and everyone ought to know by now that this simply won’t do: we both spread our butter like a whore applies lipstick and we had to pester the waiter for more. He slapped it down on the table with a finality that suggested we weren’t to ask for anything else and a moment later, our breakfast was hurled onto the table with similar venom.

Well.

The bacon was one good vet away from resurrection, the hash-browns had all the structural integrity of an envelope full of custard and they even managed to bodge the beans up. Breakfast beans should be put into a saucepan and gently heated for approximately four days before being served, so the sauce goes as thick as a welder’s apron and leaves little red kisses in the corner of your mouth. This is especially pertinent with my dining companion as looking at the food smeared into his beard is my only reassurance he’s eating properly. Instead, we were given beans that suggested that the cook had parcelled them out individually moments earlier, perhaps wearisome of oncoming rationing measures. Not usually a disaster but when beans serve as the only moisture available on the plate, it becomes far more consequential. I’d have had a wetter mouth if I’d tucked into a plate of those silica balls that come with my boots.

They had made an attempt to gussy up the tomato by cutting it with pinking shears but frankly, if it didn’t work for my circumcision, it’ll do nothing for an ice-cold tomato. And the sausages: a good sausage is either (a) pink, cylindrical and devoid of any identifiable meat bar an eyelash or valve or (b) made with care and attention from animals that get tucked in at night by a kindly nanny. The middle ground is a waterbed of meh and it was in that meh that the sausages bobbed like turds in the sea.

But honestly, it was the egg that finished us off. A fried egg should be white and firm on the outside, with a sealed yolk that you can excitedly dip your toast into. Salt should be liberally applied either via the vessel on the table or your own thankful tears. What we were served was almost a magician’s trick: the perfect looking fried egg indeed, but one that you couldn’t dip your toast into even if you applied it to the sharp end of a wish.com pneumatic drill. I’ve never known an egg fight back – it was as though they had cast it from plaster. My friend likened it to those plastic facsimiles of food you get in the windows of restaurants in Tokyo and I was minded to agree, though disagreeing with him is never truly an option anyway, unless you like to be told why you’re wrong over the course of fifteen minutes, three slideshows and a ‘discussion’ that ends with him looking at you with a sage expression, resting his hand on your shoulder and shaking his head sadly whilst you boil with barely-masked incredulity.

Naturally, as we are British and fat, we ate everything put in front of us and were fully prepared to reassure the waiting staff how delightful the food was had they bothered to check in.

With the main plate finished, my mate nipped outside to smoke, such as he does treat eating as an interruption to his smoking regime rather than the other way around, and I was left alone to my own devices. Of course this is where the waiter took a moment to come over and whether he could get us anything else. I resisted the urge to ask for a pre-emptive air ambulance ride to the nearest gastrointestinal unit and instead requested, somewhat tremulously, some yoghurt. He met my gaze and said ‘cumpit‘ with a raised eyebrow. I confess, I was shocked and at once wondered how he knew – perhaps house-keeping had let him know the state of my room in advance – before realising he was actually saying compote in that gloriously bewildering accent where every syllable is murdered twice over before arriving at the lips. I agreed with him that it would be a sensible addition and he returned moments later with a bowl of yoghurt and a tiny bowl of berries which, rather like the toast, managed to exist in two states at once. I’ve never had my lips frozen and burned at the same time, and I’ve kissed Paul’s mother.

Breakfast finished, we both agreed to never speak of it again, chalk it down as an anomaly and, should the moment take us later, leave a snotty review on Twitter or suchlike. However, neither of us are petty enough to remember the detail, so I’ve simply and reasonably settled for a 1,200 word bitchfit on my blog instead.

Speaking of poorly presented food, here’s the spinach and chickpea stew, actually looking bloody beautiful!

spinach and chickpea stew

How’s that for a plate full of stodge? But it’s so damn fine! Try our spinach and chickpea stew, or shush.

spinach and chickpea stew

Only one syn, and you can leave the apricots out of the spinach and chickpea stew to make it syn-free!

spinach and chickpea stew

It’s like a super quick tagine, this spinach and chickpea stew!

spinach and chickpea stew

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Warming, slightly spicy, mixed with a tonne of feta - this spinach and chickpea stew is bloody fine!

We've adapted another of Hello Fresh's recipes to make it a bit easier on the waistline and the pocket. This spinach and chickpea moroccan style stew combines a few of our most favourite things and is so rich, you'll love it. If you want to give Hello Fresh a go you can use this magic link to get £20 off, and also send £20 our way n'all. Cheers!

By the way, we ain't on a kickback from Hello Fresh, but until we're out of Chubby Towers Adjacent, it's all we have!

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 dried apricots, roughly chopped (4 syns)
  • 2 tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 240g couscous
  • 500ml passata
  • 500g baby spinach
  • 160g reduced fat feta cheese (HEA x4)
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • crumble half of the stock cube over the couscous and pour over 480ml of boiling water, and stir well
  • cover and set aside
  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
  • add the onion to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened
  • add the garlic, paprika, tomato puree, chilli flakes, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, pepper and cinnamon to the pan along with the dried apricots and cook for one minute
  • stir in the passata and 100ml of water along with the remaining half of the stock cube and bring to a simmer
  • add the chickpeas to the pan and continue to simmer for another 4-5 minutes
  • stir in the baby spinach in handfuls and cook until fully wilted
  • fluff up the couscous and add half of the parsley
  • serve the couscous in bowls and top with the stew, crumbled feta and the remaining parsley

Notes

Recipe

  • the original recipe uses 'tagine paste' which we've never come across in the supermarket, but the spices in this are almost identical. If you can find tagine paste however feel free to use that instead - you'll need about 2 tbsp
  • if you aren't a fan of feta a bit of natural yoghurt with a bit of salt added will add a nice alternative tang

Books

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

Tools

Courses dinner

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Delicious right? Want more vegetarian recipes? Have a gander at these:

Mwah!

J

recipe: spicy tomato and beetroot soup

Just the quickest of posts tonight for this spicy tomato and beetroot soup, which has already featured on our Instagram but needs an airing on here. As the cold nights draw nearer we all need something warm slipped inside us, and frankly, this soup does the job perfectly.

I shan’t keep you with my usual 1000 words of hooey, but I will slip in a note of caution for you (and if you’re sensitive, do skip forward to the recipe pictures, I beg you) – please remember that you’ve had beetroot the day after you demolish this soup. I tell you this only as someone with a tendency towards the dramatic. Paul doesn’t like beetroot, it reminds him of kissing his mother, so I consumed four bowls of this soup in one day a couple of weeks ago.

That wouldn’t ordinarily be a problem – I’m a big lad and can wear the extra calories like one might wear a winter muff – however I clean forgot about my intake of beetroot the day after when I’d dashed home especially to see a friend off to the coast. That dealt with, I took a quick look (and bugger off, everyone does this) (your own I mean, I don’t fancy a bus trip being put on to come look at mine) and was left aghast by the fact I was clearly shedding blood at an alarming rate.

Naturally, I was beside myself, and that’s coming from someone who is only ever two brief shocks away from hysteria.

I called Paul at work to explain that I would probably be dead on the floor by the time he got back and that he wasn’t to take another lover for at least five years after my death. He calmed me down in that patient, complaisant manner of his and then downgraded my self-diagnosed terminal illness to simply overindulgence of beetroot. It was a rollercoaster few moments, I can tell you, and I’ll ask that you exercise appropriate caution with this tomato and beetroot soup.

tomato and beetroot soup

It’s hard to make tomato and beetroot soup look sexy, but honestly, this is gorgeous!

tomato and beetroot soup

We served this with a lump of beetroot bread from Morrisons. Yes, it does rather look like a diseased knuckle. But…

spicy tomato and beetroot soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 bowls

If you're not a fan of beetroot, I still recommend giving this a go: it doesn't taste very...beetrooty! Also, if you are really fussed about spending syns you could swap out the Philadelphia for a bit of horseradish - but only a teaspoon otherwise you really will be in trouble on the thunderbox.

We used a Tefal Easy Soup for this - but you can use a pan just as easily! We love it because you chuck everything in and press a button and away it goes.

Ingredients

  • 400g chopped cooked beetroot
  • 60g of chopped white onion
  • 400ml of chilli and tomato passata
  • one garlic clove, minced
  • 450ml of beef stock
  • 50g of Philadelphia Lightest

Instructions

  • chuck everything in a pan bar the Philadelphia and cook for about twenty minutes
  • blend and serve with lovely bread

I mean it's that easy.

Notes

Recipe

  • swap Philadelphia for horseradish if you want a more 'sour' soup
  • cooked beetroot is different from pickled beetroot mind you - you'll find cooked beetroot in the fresh vegetables part of the supermarket, but vacuum packed
  • you could use the leftover beetroot juice to make beetroot pickled eggs

Books

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

Tools

Courses soup

Cuisine soup man

There you go! Enjoy! Want some more soup ideas?

J

recipe reacharound: mushy pea curry

We had to revisit this mushy pea curry, and I shall tell you why. We’ve been it making a bit of a resurgence in Slimming World circles and frankly, it always looks like someone’s strained a hot pile of meconium through a tramp’s sock. It had to be done better, surely? For this recipe, we’ve taken inspiration from the excellent Hari Ghotra and omitted the chicken we previously used in order to make a lovely vegan meal. I know, we’re shocked too. This ‘recipe reacharound’ will be an ongoing feature here on the blog, where we take some of our older recipes and revisit them to make them better.

Spoiler warning, mind: it still looks like a shitty nappy. But mushy pea curry tastes good, I swear.

Now, because it’s a recipe reacharound there won’t be a full post to go with it, though I will say this in reference to the post the original recipe accompanied: I bloody miss writing up our holiday entries. Paul and I are currently collecting old travel photos from our holidays for a Secret Project and it isn’t half giving us wanderlust. Without wanting to sound like a pretentious prick but doubling down on that anyway, there’s a whole world out there that we want to explore and thanks to COVID, we can’t. Still, mustn’t grumble. Ireland was a surprisingly amazing holiday for us: Paul got bit on the head by a horse, we were interrupted shagging in a hot-tub by a farmer (sadly not a porn-style farmer with thick arms and needs his wife can’t meet, but rather someone who looked like he cured the BSE crisis singlehandedly by eating all the poisoned cows) and we nearly careered off the Cliffs of Kerry caterwauling to Diana Ross in our car. What a week.

What’s encouraging to note from the holiday entry is that even back then we were thieving little bastards: shove us into a situation where we can snaffle freebies and we’ll be walking out with backpacks full of diet cokes and bumholes full of muffin. We have no shame when it comes to that sort of thing and don’t put any stock in the argument that it ruins it for everyone else. We both came from poor families (mine financially, Paul’s emotionally) and those feelings of hunger never truly wash off. Our most recent experience on a ferry over to Vancouver Island was exactly the same: we paid for the premier upgrade and ate so many pastries that every time I pooed over the next few days a cheese straw came curling out.

Ah, precious memories.

Interestingly:

I don’t know how appropriate it is to have a semi whilst clumsily navigating around the Bangor ring-road…

I’ve since learned his name.

Right, to the mushy pea curry! I mean, look at it….

recipe reacharound: mushy pea curry

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This mushy pea curry is perfect for Slimming World, mainly because it's syn free but also because looking at it might put you right off your dinner. Season to taste. The original recipe demanded all sorts of spices and whatnot but honestly, as a side, this will do the trick. We have cheated by using pastes for the garlic and ginger and curry powder, but listen, we're in a rush.

That said: don't skimp on the spices and chilli: if it doesn't hurt, they're not doing it right.

Ingredients

  • 300g or so of fresh, ripe tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • one large onion, finely chopped
  • one vegetable stock cube dissolved into 200ml of water
  • two teaspoons of garlic paste
  • one teaspoon of ginger paste
  • three fresh green chillis chopped so fine, or some green chilli paste
  • 400g of marrowfat peas
  • one teaspoon of hot curry powder
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • sweat the onions off in a little oil
  • blend the onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chillis, curry powder and stock together
  • allow to thicken a little on low heat for ten minutes or so 
  • chuck the peas in - if they're from a tin and not fresh (and let's be honest you lot, I know our readers, they'll be tinned) you can add the delightful pea-water in with it
  • thicken for a wee bit more and mash slightly until you get a thick, pea curry
  • season to taste

It's that easy. Serve it atop a naan, she won't mind, she misses human interaction.

Notes

The dish

  • you can bulk this out with peppers or, if you need meat as much as I do, fry off some finely chopped chicken breasts when you do the onion
  • the longer you leave it the thicker it gets, which is always a good thing
  • you can use chopped tomatoes from a can - this isn't a beauty pageant

The books

  • our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 2400 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedback!

Tools

  • We love Hari Ghotra and just noticed she has a curry cookbook out - she has never let us down on a recipe yet - click here to order!

Courses sides

Cuisine curry

I know right! You’re all gonna be cutting a dash to the kitchen to make that for the wee’uns aren’t you? AT LEAST WE TRIED.

Anyway shush! More veggie recipes? Fill your boots!

Byeeeee byeee

J