beef chilli and bean pasta bake – canny winter food!

Beef chilli and bean pasta bake! We’ve done a fair few pasta bakes lately but see, they’re excellent winter meals because you can make a huge portion, freeze the leftovers and thoroughly enjoy them as a meal! It’s a holiday entry though, so if you’re here just for the recipe, click the button below and it’ll take you straight to the recipe. Move along, sugarboobs, there’s nothing for you here.

You absolutely made the right choice, let’s go!

click here for part one | click here for part two

You last left us just as we stumbled, blinking and frowning into the apricity of a Stockholm winter, having spent a merry hour groping around in the dark with a total stranger. I appreciate that’s pretty much the start of all of our holiday entries but you get the idea. What next? Over in the distance from the Museum for the Blind loomed the Kaknästornet, a 155 meter TV tower. We weren’t planning on visiting until we realised there was a restaurant on the 26th floor and given how windy it was, it was likely to be deserted. A quick tramp through the woods led us there and, after handing over a small fortune, we were dispatched to a rickety old lift that sounded like it clacked and clicked against every last bolt and screw in that shaft. Despite the whole tower swaying ominously it was absolutely worth the trip – the views were amazing. We sat and enjoyed a strong restorative coffee and a slab of cake the size of Paul’s arse and all was well with the world. I like being high up looking down – it makes me feel like a God, albeit one with lingonberry jam dripping on his chin.

Admittedly not the best photo, but it was swaying…


We should explain at this point that we had, for once in our lives, managed to plan ahead and purchase a Stockholm Pass, which afforded you entry into all sorts of attractions for a one-off fee. A quick google search revealed we were within walking distance of a bus-stop which would take us straight to the museum district which held, amongst other things, an Absolut Museum and even better, the friggin’ ABBA museum. Well now come on, some things are inevitable, and us two benders paying homage to the campest band ever, well, it was always going to happen. We wandered over to the bus-stop and took a seat, reassured that one of Stockholm’s incredibly reliable buses would be along within six minutes. The timetable and electronic board certainly confirmed this. So we waited. Waited some more. Then a bit longer. Thirty minutes passed and I made to leave only to spot Paul sitting there with that grim, sulky and determined look on his face that told me that because he had wasted half an hour waiting for this bus, he was going to damn well wait until one turned up. I know this face well: bottom lip pops out, eyebrows furrow like he’s solving a cryptic crossword – normally the only thing that can break the spell is if he hears me unwrapping a Crunchie bar, like an obese take on Pavlov’s dog.

Even the bus-stop suggested filth.

So we waited even longer until I snapped and ordered him to stand up and start moving. So much protestation but I’d be damned if I was going to spend another minute gazing at the minutiae of the Stockholm bus timetable and trying to work out whether överföra meant cancelled, transfer or that the typesetter had taken ill at the keys and slumped over the keyboard. After promising I’d rub his feet if he started moving we were finally off.

We were about twenty steps away from the stop when a bus sailed straight past us, depositing a pleasant mix of slush and schadenfreude across the bottom of our trousers. Paul was furious and only calmed down when we happened across The Museum of Science and Technology. Now we’re talking: buttons to press. It was great fun! Highlights included a stage where you could pose whilst virtual reality dinosaurs ran around you, the sight of which was beamed to the rest of the museum live. It took less than seven hot seconds before Paul was pretending to get bummed by a tyrannosaurus rex and was roundly tutted from the stage. Oh and let’s not forget the winter sports section where you could try all manner of sporty experiences in the comfort of a warm museum and a reassuring proximity to a defibrillator. I climbed a tiny little mountain before realising my own giant crevasse was on show.

It’s like a Lidl take on Cliffhanger

We both tried our hand at curling only to realise you need dexterity and grace rather than a considerable weight advantage – most folks glide on ice, we look like a landslide. My favourite part was an enclosed booth which offered you the chance to be commentators on an ice-hockey game playing out in front of you – we started off with good intentions, yelling and blaring, before it degenerated into ‘HAWAY TORVILL, YOU LAMPSHAPE-FACED SLAPPER’ and ‘SKATE FASTER, NANCY KERRIGAN: THIS TIME THERE’S NAILS IN THE BAT’.

Not exactly Match of the Day

All in good fun – the booth was soundproof from the inside so no harm no foul, and we took everyone’s icy stares as simply being that crisp Swedish attitude so common over there. That was until we realised I’d managed to shut my coat in the door, preventing it from fully closing, and allowing the museum full audible access to our rantings, shrieking and wailings. We left ashen-faced, but not before a quick go on the virtual toboggan – only a quick go because a four year old child appeared and start pressing the buttons.

Honestly, do folks not know how to behave in museums?

We tackled the big issues!

After the Science Museum I somehow managed to persuade Paul to keep walking (it’s easier in cold countries – because of the icy ground, you just need to shove him gently and let gravity do the rest) and we headed a couple of miles along the river to the Spritmuseum down on Djurgårdsvägen, having found out that the Abba museum was shut for the night. Bastards. The Spritmuseum is a museum dedicated to booze – how they make it, how they bottle it, what it does to the body and even better, with some free tasters. You understand why we were lured in, yes? I can’t pretend it was terrifically exciting, and I don’t think we took the ‘hangover simulator’ as seriously as the guides wanted as Paul promptly fell asleep on the sofa during the ‘a hard night out’ movie, but it passed the time. There’s something about museums abroad that the UK can’t seem to match – our museums are always full of tired exhibitions hidden behind glass cubes coated with fingerprints, smelly children barrelling around being noisy and loud and lots of ladies who have never known what it is to love yelling at people that THEY MUST NOT TOUCH and STAND WELL BACK and YOU CAN’T EAT THAT IN HERE. I swear I once had an argument with a curator who had a pop at me for eating outside food when I took a packet of Halls from my pocket. Pfft.

Found Paul!

Found my bedroom friend!

The museum itself took up only half an hour but afterwards we decamped into the bar and, in a fit of ‘but I don’t care that it cost more than the flights over’ excitement, I ordered a taster selection of the various spirits for us to try.

Pictured: Cyril Smith enjoying a drink

It’s hard to look butch in that shirt

Now listen: I’ve swallowed some disgusting things in my life. Top tip: pinch your nose and gulp, you’ll find it slips down that much easier. But these spirits absolutely defeated me – I felt like Anne Robinson back when she was necking her dressing room Chanel. I tried to sip them to ‘taste the flavour notes’ but it would have been nicer to chew open batteries. Paul was merrily necking them and so, in my haste to get past it, I threw the lot in my mouth, grimaced and swallowed. Worst 50 Swedish krona we spent that holiday. We should have left, but the very friendly bar staff noticed how quickly we had knocked it back and filled our glasses up again for free. Very generous indeed, but you have no idea how difficult it is to fake pleasure in swallowing what tastes like something they’d use to dissolve a London fatberg, especially when some blonde bombshell is looking at you both approvingly whilst you savour the flavour. I’ve never acted so hard in my life but after the second round – seeing stars – we had to pretend to urgently leave. We were absolutely bloody smashed.

We had an escape room booked for the evening and so, conscious of the fact we were both seeing double, we decided to make our way to the escape room via a nice long boat ride. Ah it was glorious – floating along in the ice-cold really freshened the mind and by the time we were pulling into the port, we were back in full ‘Rose and Jack’ voice.

Our Escape Room was hosted by Fox in a Box and they welcomed us with open arms, wincing only gently at the alcohol fumes pouring out of us. It was a very unusual location – underground with several rooms with different themes. You know we love an escape room and we have made a point of doing one on each holiday so far: this one was themed like a laboratory and the idea was that we had to stop a zombie apocalypse. Of course. Escape rooms are fun but it’s so hard to look serious whilst someone who couldn’t care less is telling you that there’s zombies just outside the door. She sealed us in. I started looking for clues when, as though he’d been holding it in since the TV tower, Paul let out a fart so loud and so elongated that I thought he’d found a trombone. You know how your ears ring after a large firework goes off? That was me. I might remind you that the rooms are linked to the reception so that they can hear if you get stuck, so they would have been treated as well. We were absolutely creased – we’re huge fan of toilet humour – but then it literally sank in. In a sealed room, with no air-conditioning or window, that fetid air wasn’t going anywhere. If anything, it seemed to get worse and worse, smelling like someone was burning tyres in a fire made of shit. It’s hard to concentrate on mixing colours and typing codes when your eyes are streaming and your nose is bleeding. The hour passed and we ‘saved the day’ with moments to spare. That’s all well and good, but when the lassie unlocked to lock the door and the air rushed out of the room, she was hit with the full force and set away with a coughing fit. I’ve never been so embarrassed and this happens a lot on our holidays: I’m left beetroot faced and Paul is standing there grinning like the cat that shat the bed.

Oh, at least the McDonalds had a compliment…

Cheers mate!

Seems like a good moment to get back to the recipe, doesn’t it?

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Right, let’s do this recipe eh? This serves 4 big portions!

beef chilli and bean pasta bake

beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you will need:

  • 400g lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 2 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp chilli powder (as hot or as mild as you like)
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 300g wholewheat pasta
  • 120g fat-free greek yoghurt (check the syns)
  • 220g Philadelphia lightest (2x hea)
  • 80g reduced fat extra mature cheese, grated (2x HeA)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten

top tips to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200ºc
  • cook the pasta according to the instructions, then drain
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, spray with a bit of oil and add the onions and celery
  • cook for a few minutes until starting to soften, then scoop out the pan and set aside
  • add the mince to the pan and cook until browned
  • add the onions and celery back into the pan and tip in the tomatoes, kidney beans, celery, tomato puree, chilli powder, garlic and beef stock
  • stir well, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes
  • next, mix together the yoghurt, Philadelphia, salt, pepper, cheese and eggs and set aside
  • mix the pasta and the mince mixture together and tip into a large dish
  • top with the cheese mixture, making sure that it’s even spread over the top
  • bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes – finish under the grill for a few minutes to get the top crispy

Who couldn’t love that?! Try our other pasta bakes!


four meals from a chicken: sweet potato, chive and chicken risnotto

If you’re purely here for the recipe for sweet potato, chive and chicken risnotto, scroll to the bottom. It’s below the pictures. We’ve got a load of nonsense to get through first!

Firstly, I almost died today. Perhaps a slight exaggeration but I was busy eating my 28g³ of bran-flakes as per Mags’ orders and watching a particularly loud Jeremy Kyle when an errant bran flake shot down my wind-pipe and got stuck there. I immediately started spluttering and choking but Paul just looked at me with a ‘Oh I know, and look at their yellow teeth’ face, no help at all. It took almost thirty seconds of trying to dislodge this bran flake before it finally shot out and landed with a splat in his bowl of cereal – that’ll teach the unobservant fucker. My whole life flashed before my eyes – far more sitting in front of a computer trying to come up with fresh gags about fellatio for my liking – and let’s be honest, thirty seconds is a long time for a fat bloke to hold his breath, let alone one who smoked twenty a day for three years. Hell, it’s hard enough for me to not eat for thirty seconds, nevermind breathe. Plus, imagine having bran as your cause of death? You quite literally could not have a more boring reason for expiration, unless you were mumbled to death by someone with dried egg on his shirt.

Speaking of boring farts with dried egg on their shirts, we got a rather arsey message from someone “in charge” of a geocache that we visited last weekend, stating that because he couldn’t see that we had signed the log, he would delete our find. Well, you can imagine the devastation that caused in our household, can’t you? His message was so infuriatingly terse and snippy that it got my back up something rotten. Why would anyone lie about something so insignificant about finding a tiny container hidden in some nettles by the side of the A696? Goodness me. I explained that our pencil had broken and he went “away to consider the options”. I like to think he tossed and turned all night with his little GPS unit calling to him like The Tell-Tale Heart. I genuinely don’t think I’ll ever come across in my lifetime someone imbued with such a misguided amount of self-importance in relation to the tiny amount of power they’ve been granted. Honestly.

Anyway, it’s been a while since we revisited New York, hasn’t it? Why don’t we take a trip and chortle our way through another day of our holiday in The Big Apple. I hope I don’t get an email from you lot asking for proof that I actually visited New York, but if I do, I can show you a blurry photo of Paul’s arse-cheeks as he took a piss in Central Park. The glamour! Here’s a link for part one and part two. Enjoy!

twochubbycubs go to New York, part three

I can tell you one thing right from the off about New York – there’s hardly any fat people. It’s the most confusing thing.  It’s genuinely the only time in my life I’ve ever felt skinny. Paul and I remained the fattest of them all. Eh, who cares right? As long as our ankles don’t give out from under us, we’re good to go.

We started with breakfast, naturally, which I’m sure involved half a pig and some Smuckers, which I still think sounds like something your bumhole does when you’re got the skitters: “oooh, Elsie, put an Andrex in the freezer, my hoop is smuckering” or something. Our first destination was Times Square and after getting lost several times and ending up in the same K-Mart – twice – we finally found our way there. I’m not sure what we were expecting – yes, lots of big screens and people bustling about…but it really is just a meeting of streets. Am I missing something? 

We did spot an interactive screen by L’Oreal, which implored couples to stand on a spot and wait until one of the giant screens was filled with a live stream of them, then you were to pose kissing or cuddling and SHOW NEW YORK LOVE. Now, obviously, there was someone out of sight deciding which couple gets projected onto the massive screens, and when it was Paul and I standing there…well…they didn’t put on the big screen. Sob! Was it because we’re fat? Was it because we’re shirtlifters? Who knows. Paul was all for heading straight off and letting the beautiful people have their moment in the digital sun, but not me. Oh no. I stood there with Paul by my side for a good ten minutes until we were eventually projected to all of New York – we kissed, but sadly the photo was taken at such an angle that it looks like I’m gnawing on Paul’s head and he’s trying not to Smucker in his trousers. Nevermind, we still got our moment. We went back later and stole in front of a crowd of bemused Chinese folk and got a slightly better picture…see?


Yes, I appreciate any British person passing was going to be thinking that French and Saunders had really let themselves go, but what can you do? Also, I seem to have morphed into Drew Carey. Paul’s been wearing that little Icelandic flag on his coat for a few months now and we got asked three times if we were secret service. Imagine us as secret service – we’re not exactly going to be chasing criminals down on foot. Best I could do is sass him to death in the interrogation room.

We spotted that a nearby museum was hosting an exhibition by Gunther von Hagens, the German anatomist who travels around with those stripped back skeletons and bodies that show the various muscles and whatnot. Hard to describe but hopefully you know what I mean. Fair warning, there’s a pretty grim picture coming up, so if you’re a sensitive Betty get scrolling! We’ve always wanted to see his ‘show’ but forever missed it, so this time we were at the front of the queue. Is it wrong to show such a fevered desire to see bodies and bones? It was like our arrival at the Icelandic Knob Museum all over again!

It was brilliant – all very scientific and tasteful and interesting, although let’s be honest everyone there was gagging to see how funny the knobs looked hanging down and stripped of skin – like weisswurst, since you ask. Around every corner was something of note – the tiny bones of a premature baby, the nervous system all laid out like a colossal piece of broccoli, four naked men sitting around playing cards with their bollocks hanging down like tiny church bells. As you’d expect, Paul and I tutted at the giggling school party who were shrieking into their sleeves and nudging each other at the sight of a lady’s vagina (well it wasn’t going to be a bloke’s vagina, after all) all laid bare like a broken oyster, then we proceeded to stifle our own giggles at the ‘sperm and egg’ portion of the show. I’m a man who loves his puns see, and it was all I could do to hold back from ‘…and THIS is what it’s come to’ or suchlike.  Museum fatigue set in for me before Paul, meaning my eyes had glazed over to the point where, had I not moved for a minute more, I could have passed as part of the exhibition.


Well HELLO SAILOR. See, weisswurst!


Exhibition over, we decided we both needed to say goodbye to our breakfasts, which led to the next awkward toilet encounter. Remember in my last post I complained about the fact that American toilets have that weird gap under the door and a huge crack (especially when I’m in it) between the door and the wall of the cubicle next to it, meaning every hastily taken shit is a lesson in trying desperately not to meet someone’s eye as you crimp off a loaf? Well, no sooner had we both settled down (in adjacent cubicles, we’re not that close) and preparing to drop anchor when in walks a janitor who proceeds to start mopping the floor. Fair enough, in the UK someone would have knocked on the door, waited outside and given you a filthy look as you leave and they walk into your arse-cloud, but no, this cheeky chappie starts whistling merrily and going about his business. That wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t then stuck his grimy mop under the friggin’ toilet door and sloshed it over our shoes. NOTHING makes the shutters close quicker than something like that happening, and Paul immediately whatsapped me to say ‘he couldn’t go’ and that ‘we should leave’. The janitor gave us a proper smirk as we left too. He totally knew what he was doing.

As soon as we left the Body Works museum I immediately got a nosebleed. Smashing! I have a really fragile nose and go through spells of heavy but entirely non-serious nosebleeds, and boom, here we were. Well goodness me, you’ve never seen so many tourists swerve out of someone’s way then that day, in the rain, when I came shuffling towards them with a face full of blood. N0-one offered to help, of course, so Paul dashed as fast as his swollen feet allowed him into Walgreens, where a security guard, after a LOT of persuasion, tore me off a piece of fucking parcel paper to wipe my face with. I’d have been more bloody comfortable wiping my face with a square of 1200 grit sandpaper. I muttered my thanks and sent Paul back in to try and find some tissues, only for him to disappear for ten minutes and reappear having been forced a packet of $8 aloe-fucking-vera face-wipes. Luckily, my inbuilt Geordie tight-arse came out and the outrage at having to pay so much to stop myself passing out distracted my brain from pouring my life out of my nose and we were soon sorted. I left a charming puddle of blood around the back of a donut shop, which I like to think will have confused the police for a few hours at least.

I can’t help but feel that had the janitor at the Body Works exhibition allowed me to have a dump, the pressure in my body would have settled and there would have been no nosebleed. I should have nipped back and dripped all over his urinals.

So, unexpected epistaxis aside, we made our way to M&M World, where we treated ourselves to a few bits of tat and quite possibly the most awkward photo we’ve ever had taken. I’m not posting it. A tiny lady in a massive red M&M costume came tottering out of a door to entertain the waiting children when we asked if we could have a photo. Well, I’ve never seen a costumed figure with a six foot wide smile manage to look so dejected and uncomfortable but by God, the photo doesn’t lie. It doesn’t help that Paul, in his effort to get his hands around her to make it look like he’s hugging the ‘giant M&M’, just looks like he’s trying to fingerbang her through the felt. We made a sharp exit, stopping only to buy a glass ‘Big Apple’ with chocolate M&Ms inside, which I am genuinely proud to tell you we still have and haven’t smashed open in a fit of hunger. It’s only the thought of swallowing glass that puts me off mind, rather than any sense of decency.

For reasons still unknown to both of us, we decided to visit Ripley’s Believe It Or Not (well, it was chucking it down and we didn’t want to walk far). The first believe it or not came when she charged us $65 for entry. I told her that, actually, I didn’t believe it (ho ho) but clearly she had suffered a long, miserable life of gags like that and fixed me with a stare that nearly set my nose away again. These places are what you make of them. Go in expecting a load of frippery and nonsense and you’ll thoroughly enjoy yourself. Where else can you put your head down amongst thousands of skittering cockroaches (aside from a Travelodge bed) or ‘enjoy’ medieval, ancient equipment designed to torture and maim (aside from a Travelodge bed)? We had a whale of a time until the bit at the end where you reach a ‘dizziness machine’ and have to walk along a platform whilst a curtain of paint-splattered material rotates wildly around you. Yikes. I get dizzy unscrewing the lid off a bottle of Coke. I closed my eyes, walked through, straight into Paul who was taking a picture and sent him tumbling. Calamity Anne strikes again.


Paul’s mother dropped in to say hello (Jackie, I jest, there isn’t a smouldering Richmond Blue in her fingers nor Bejewelled 3 barely loading on a Upple Y-Pad).

Once Paul’s concussion had wore off, we wandered down to Grand Central Station, where, like the boring old farts that we are, we elected to take an audio tour. Well, what a revelation! Aside from having to wear headphones last used to guide Apollo 13 back to Earth, that is. The tour took us all around the various nooks and crannies of the station and was absolutely worth doing. There’s nothing much funny that you can write about an audio tour of a train station so let me just strongly recommend it and move on. We bought a set of metal subway signs to go above all the bedroom doors in our hallway – well, the ‘Next customer please’ sign was getting a little faded and the bulb in the red light had gone. We stopped at Starbucks (which wasn’t hard, given how many Starbucks stores there were – I half-expected to be offered a venti mocha frappucino when I went for a piss in the night. I was restrained, I have a peach iced tea, but Paul went all out for a drink that looked like someone had emptied a sheep dip into a bucket and topped it with enough whipped cream and syrup to make Mags’ buttocks clench in horror. The barista *cough* managed to misspell Paul as Pawl but it’s OK, we were able to identify his drink due to them having to move chairs and tables out of the way to bring it through.

Now I wish I could tell you we spent the rest of the day flitting from each wonderful thing to the next, but we actually did something terrible – we found a bar that served all sorts of wonderful beers and spent the rest of the day and most of the evening in there getting absolutely sozzled. We only popped in for one. Flight 151 in Chelsea, if you’re curious. It was brilliant – I’m a large fan of this ‘beer flight’ idea where you get several small beers to try on a fancy ladder. I was such a fan that I had four flights and Paul had to stop me when I made to put Conchita Wurst on the jukebox.

We spotted that they served ‘British’ beers and ordered a Newcastle Brown Ale and a Guinness each. Both seemed fine but Paul immediately made sure that we couldn’t possibly go back to that bar by checking in on Facebook on their page and saying ‘Wonderful bar but can’t pour a Guinness’. Once I spotted what he’d done, I shooed us out of the door. He’s very skilled at making friends and influencing people.

Can we talk for a moment about tipping? I find it hilariously awkward and even more so in a bar. We were sitting at the bar and every round of drinks, I was leaving two or three dollars on the bar when they passed me the change. I did try to give him a tip directly but he waved it away – odd – so the dollars just sat in the beer foam crinkling up. He eventually swept them up with a flourish and a thank you but did I miss something? I tried telling him to keep a couple of dollars back from my change but that got ignored…ah it’s so stressful. I know why people tip in America (wages for waiting staff and bar-folk are abysmal) but as a Brit, don’t put me in such a socially awkward situation! Take as much money as you like, just don’t make me cringe with the awkwardness of what to bloody do with the tip!

We staggered back a fair distance to our hotel, stopping only to stumble through the doors of a closed post office in the vain hope of finding a lavatory (nope) and fell asleep in our clothes. When we woke the next day all was well, save for the fact that at some forgotten point in the evening we had bought this:


Go figure.

At least we didn’t buy this, though:


An anal lubricant called Boy Butter. Haway, who is going to say that during an impassioned moment? ‘Oooo ‘eck – I’m not sure the car is going to get into the garage, throw me the friggin’ Boy Butter’…gosh.

Anyway, let’s crack on with the recipe, shall we? It’s another one of our risnottos – a risotto that you can just leave alone to cook itself rather than having to clart about adding stock and stirring.

sweet potato, chive and chicken risnotto

to make sweet potato, chive and chicken risnotto, you’ll need:

to make sweet potato, chive and chicken risnotto, you should:

  • cube your sweet potato into 1cm cubes (I mean, no need to bust out a ruler, just approximate size), squirt with some spray oil, bit of salt, bit of pepper and put in the oven on a low heat (around 160 degrees) for thirty minutes or so, until they soften and go a bit sticky
  • whilst they’re cooking, soften your onion and garlic on a medium heat until the garlic is golden
  • chuck in the chicken leftovers
  • throw in the rice, stir it once to get the juice of the onions and garlic on it, then add the stock
  • put the lid on your pan and leave alone on a medium heat for around 18 minutes – check every minute or so towards the end to make sure it hasn’t boiled dry
  • get the sweet potato cubes out of the oven and tip the into the rice – don’t worry if they stick a bit to the roasting tray, that’s good, just scrape them off and add to the mix – it’s nice to have extra textures
  • chop the chives and stir them through
  • serve with extra chives and some parmesan from your HEA.