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!

curry loaf reloaded

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 slices

The key to a curry loaf is understanding you can throw anything into it vegetable wise and it'll work. This isn't an exact recipe by any stretch of the imagination: think of it as the perfect vehicle for whatever you have left in the house.

You will note one big change: we swapped out the chickpea dahl for Heinz Curry Beans. We did have a scour of the major supermarkets (well no, I half-heartedly looked in Tesco before giving up) and couldn't find a good dahl, but if you know of one, do mention it in the comments. The beans worked surprisingly well! From recollection they're about 1.5 syns, but you can use normal baked beans and add a teaspoon of curry sauce.

This, served up, makes about nine slices or so. 

Ingredients

  • one tin of Heinz Curry Beans (1.5 syns)
  • one packet of golden vegetable rice cooked through (see notes)
  • one large thinly sliced onion
  • one large red pepper chopped
  • one large orange pepper chopped
  • a bunch of ham chopped up
  • four eggs
  • a spoonful of mustard
  • good pinches of salt and pepper

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • grease a loaf tin with a little olive oil (see the notes for the one we use)
  • mix everything together
  • slop it into the tin and bake until you can stick a knife in and it comes out clean
  • if it is catching, cover with foil as it cooks
  • once cool, tip out and slice

Notes

Recipe

  • swap the beans for chickpea dahl if you can find one
  • we use golden vegetable rice from Aldi which is syn free
  • leeks, new potatoes, peas, grated carrot all work well in this loaf

Books

  • our second cookbook is going down a storm - if you loved our first book, you'll think this is fantastic, I swear: order yours here! 
  • our first cookbook is 100 recipes of slimming food that will help you lose weight: click here to order
  • if you're struggling to keep yourself on track, then our fantastic new planner can do you well – you can order it here

Tools

Courses snacks

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: crispy chilli beef and coriander noodles

Now just look here a minute would you? Crispy chilli beef is an utter misnomer right from the off on a slimming blog because in the absence of fat to fry in, they don’t get very crispy. They don’t melt in your mouth like a pocket full of church chocolate and they do have a bit of a kick, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But still: if you’re after crispy chilli beef and coriander noodles, and bless you, you must be if you’ve started reading, this will still tickle your pickle.

We’re taking a tiny wee break from the This Time Next Year story this week because it’s A MILESTONE. Sadly not a millstone, that’s my husband and his fat ankles hanging onto our marriage like a sailor in a rough sea, but a milestone in that this will be the very last blog entry from Chubby Towers Adjacent: we are going home! We are! It were all round ASDA, it must be true! Short of the roof developing COVID or the rubble bursting into flame, we are due to be back in our own bed in a matter of days.

And we’re beyond excited. Understand this: it’s now been just shy of ten months since we last hurtled out of our home in a blaze, no pun intended, of polyester and partial nudity. Ten months since I sat in the garden and cried like a bitch whilst Paul tried to wrap me up in a duvet whilst simultaneously hiding the worst of the jizzle-streaks from the neighbours. The original plan was for our insurers to put us up in a hotel until they found a short-term let, but then the world caught a cough and we got fussy about not being able to have the cats with us. We’ve ended up staying exactly where they put us on the first night and you know, it actually hasn’t been bad at all. One small kitchen, a living room and an air-conditioned bedroom.

Don’t get me wrong. I miss the excitement of having a bath at home, reaching behind to grab the shower gel and being accosted by Sola showing how much she loves me by presenting her puckering asterisk-anus at me like a child might show off a drawing they did at school. She does seem inordinately pleased with it, I’ll say that. I’ve missed the wall of ashen faces staring at me as I take the wrong bin out on the wrong day outside of the pre-approved hours. I know at least one neighbour must have been having sleepless nights due to not having my car to tut at, ‘accidentally’ key or covet with his mackerel eyes. All that and more to come when we return, at least.

But the hotel won us round. At first we felt like Alan Partridge and Lynne (you won’t get a coconut if you correctly guess which is which) and lockdown meant it was just us, a few select other guests and the staff and because, in the absence of anything other to do than prime my lungs for COVID, I was outside at the smoking shelter so often they put up a plaque. I am awash with bonhomie at the best of times but faced with the same faces for weeks on end, I would usually cave and give up leaving the room rather than making awkward small-talk. Not with this lot. I’m not writing this in the hope that I get a few IHG points, I promise, but you just couldn’t wish for better staff. Given what a shite year we’ve all been through they have, without exception, been utterly wonderful. Imagine how hard it must be to muster up a polite smile at the sight of me stumbling out of the lift of a morning, face like an unmade bed and my belly spilling over the top of my ‘yoghurt’ stained jeans. They never faltered! I can barely speak to Paul without acidity until around 11am, but there they are, all round the clock, always smiling and professional. They’ve made a frobly-mobly year halfway decent, and you’ll find no better in Newcastle.

Tell you what we won’t miss though: the agony of having to clean the room before housekeeping get here. I know from chatting with staff that they see some unseemly sights working in a hotel but it’s just not in me to leave a beskiddered toilet pan for someone else to clean up. Especially as living with Paul tends to mean you’ll need a pneumatic drill and some strong prayer to get the worst of it. I’m used to it now, the same way that one may get used to a wart on a finger or a haemorrhoid, but no-one else needs that in their lives. Also, the slight angst of knowing that someone is going to look at your rubbish as they empty it and silently tut at the amount of sweet wrappers, fag packets and none-name-brand beans has meant I’ve been responsible for taking the rubbish out most days. To be honest, I’m thinking about getting a pinny and a name-badge and putting in a shift.

Actually, not the worst idea, because that would give unprecedented access to the very best feature of this hotel: it is absolutely and utterly awash with tradies and men who ‘ave a babby at ‘ome but t’wife durnt do it like she used to’. Honestly, if I was single I’d be lollipop-thin, completely white behind the eyes and have lips whittled down to my teeth. Thankfully, Paul’s harsh ways and bewilderingly keenness to maintain the sanctity of our marriage has put paid to any indiscretions, but, let me tell you: it’s been hard. Many times over. Every day I stand at the window like Miss Havisham, waving goodbye with doleful eyes to another departing Network Rail van, only for another one to come barrelling under the security barrier ready to spill another quintet of gas engineers or some other such treat.

Our house then. It is ready to receive us, with a fancy new bathroom and an upgraded kitchen. We’ve painted all the walls a ‘bright’ shade of grey, if only to make a mockery of all of my hun-rhetoric of late. There’s new carpet and a robot or two to sweep up the crumbs. We’ve got new pillows to pluck at whilst we struggle to sleep thinking every snap, crackle and pop is the house bursting into flame again. Luckily, we know the pillows are remarkably comfortable simply by virtue of them being the exact same ones as the pillows they have here. Funny that: see also the bath-towels and a quarter-tonne of dishwasher tablets. It’s a mystery! So, off we go. Back to Chubby Towers and goodbye to Staybridge Suites in Newcastle, with particular (but not discerning) goodbye to the lovely Caterina, Nola, Dave, Paul, Philip, Jason and honestly, everyone. Too many names to mention. And this is getting indulgent now, so stop. Sssh.

Let’s do the crispy chilli beef and coriander noodles. That’s crispy chilli beef and coriander noodles, you know, for the sake of the SEO. I must apologise for the shite photography: Paul took the pictures and as he is from a town where electricity was dispensed 50p at a time and inbreeding was encouraged, he doesn’t know how to use the AUTOMATIC focus on a camera. It’s not surprising. His eyes permanently look like he’s anguishing over a Magic Eye puzzle, though I suppose we mustn’t be too scornful.

crispy chilli beef

You deserve someone so much better than anyone who puts coriander on their crispy chilli beef, mind.

crispy chilli beef

I mean, you would, wouldn’t you: our crispy chilli beef?

crispy chilli beef and coriander noodles

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

So, then, crispy chilli beef and coriander noodles! This has gorgeously rich beef mince with some gorgeous, carby noodles on the side. Perfect if you're in the mood for a takeaway. Fool yourself that it's basically a salad by sprinkling some coriander on top, though know that we will forever judge you and never invite you to our famous candlelight suppers.

As you've just read and no doubt are sick of us mentioning by now, we've been trying out recipe kits while we're in the hotel as we've limited space and equipment, and frankly, I can't be arsed to go shopping. We've recently made the switch from Hello Fresh to Gousto as so many of you were recommending them, and so far we haven't been disappointed! This is another recipe ripped off lovingly inspired by those folk at Gousto, but made slightly healthier. If you fancy giving them a go, use our referral link to send some dosh our way and get 50% off your first box, and 30% off your first month. 

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 red chillis
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 30g fresh root ginger
  • 5 spring onions
  • 250g fine egg noodles
  • 2 carrots
  • 8 tbsp of sweet chilli sauce (8 syns)
  • 30ml toasted sesame oil
  • 60ml soy sauce
  • 60ml rice vinegar
  • 10g sesame seeds (optional)
  • 20g coriander

Instructions

  • chop the tops and bottoms off the carrots, peel and then grate
  • peel and finely grate the ginger and garlic
  • peel and finely chop the shallots
  • cut the chillis in half and scrape out the insides, then finely chop
  • next, heat a large saucepan over a high heat and spray with a little oil
  • add the mince to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes until browned
  • meanwhile, trim and roughly chop the spring onions
  • chop the coriander finely (including the stalks)
  • add the grated carrot to the mince and cook for another three minutes, stirring frequently, and then boil the kettle
  • pop the egg noodles into a pan and cover with boiling water until submerged, then bring to a boil over a high heat. Cook the noodles for 1-2 minutes until tender, then drain (reserving a cupful of the water) and put back into the pan, and set aside
  • add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the mince and cook for one minute
  • add the sweet chilli and half of the soy sauce and cook for another 3-4 minutes
  • place the noodles back over a medium heat add the spring onions, remaining soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil and stir well until combined, then remove from the heat and set aside. Add a splash of the reserved water if it needs loosening a bit
  • serve the beef with the noodle, and garnish with the coriander and sesame seeds

Notes

Recipe

  • if, like us, you think coriander is fucking rank feel free to leave it out
  • if you like things a bit stickier, try using dark soy sauce in this - it works a treat
  • no shallots? an onion is fine!
  • if you're a total fanny when it comes to spiciness you can reduce or even leave out the chilli, it's still good

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

  • mince that garlic and ginger in no time with one of these microplane graters. It's our No. 1 kitchen gadget!
  • give the pan a good coating of oil with a mister – this is what we use

Cuisine chinese

Hungry for more?

Yeah whatever

J

recipe: beef, spinach and mango curry

Well hello! Are you here for the beef, spinach and mango curry, you poor unfortunate soul? I’d expect nothing less, given how fabulous it is, and in a rare bit of brevity, I won’t keep you for 1500 words until we get to it. That said, if you’re itching for the beef, spinach and mango curry and can’t wait a moment more, you impolite cow, then scroll down to the pictures where you will be rewarded with everything you need.

Before we start anything, THANK YOU to everyone who is buying our new book. The reviews are superb, the comments on social media are amazing and I am loving seeing so many of you recommending us. It means the world! Please do continue to drop your photos into slimming groups on FB, or copying us in on your Instagram posts. If you haven’t already left a review, we’d love you forever if you did. And finally, if you’re still on the fence…

Anyway. I want to give you some advice. Take a seat, preferably on a chair but if you’ve got good pelvic floor muscles, you can grip onto a bannister or a fence like a limpet. If you’re not one for reading lots of words, that’s fine, we have a handy Instagram summa of the main points right here:

See, one of the main things about running a diet / slimming blog and social media thingamajig is that we get asked a lot of questions, and because I was brought up in a house where I’d get my fingers smacked with a wooden spoon for rudeness, I always try and answer them. The key question we get is ‘how to lose weight’ or variants thereon, and nevermoreso than this time of the year when everyone has put away all the Christmas pudding and turned slightly more spherical than they perhaps would like. I reassure and cajole and try and give the best advice I can, but for years I’ve been saying the wrong thing – go to slimming classes, keep the end in sight, all that tush.

Now, before I go into the main advice, a note of reassurance: I’m not going to tell you not to go to slimming classes. I’m a firm believer that they work – I know they do – for a lot of people, and if you find that way a comfort or it helps with your weight loss, you crack on. We’re Slimming World through and through and that won’t change. But, that said, I encourage you to tinker with your thought process if you do.

We think you should try to lose 1lb a week if you’re losing weight. No more. Don’t get me wrong, if you lose more than a pound a week, great, but your target should be a pound. Every week until the end of the year.

Our reasoning is sound, too. One thing we always used to hear at slimming classes was ‘what’s your target for next week – 3lb? 4lb’ – and then if you have a poor week, or something comes up, or if you have a birthday or a funeral or a stressful visit to the clap clinic, you might not hit that target. What comes next: disappointment. You’re sad because you lost 3lb, and it wasn’t 4lb, rather than being chuffed you’ve lost 3lb. It’s a negative reinforcement that you can do without. Whereas, if you were always aiming to lose a pound, you’d feel brilliant when at the end of the week you can tick it off your list. You’ll create a positive feedback loop in yourself – less stressed about dieting because you’re not ‘trying’ so hard, weight loss at the scales, results showing – and you’re far more inclined to keep going.

Think about it: how many times have you stood on the scales after a week of hard graft and exercise and been gutted because you’ve only lost a pound, or stayed the same? Then if you’re anything like us, you’ll fuck the whole thing off out of frustration, eat a tonne of food to feel better and then the shame circle starts again. It’s why I think we’ve failed so many times at losing weight – slim, sadness, binge, repeat.

This way, there’s far less pressure on you. You’re more likely to succeed. And it gets better: think how many weeks you’ll have where you lose more than a pound, given how quickly weight can fall off when you are sticking to things. By all means tot the total up as you go along, keep the end in sight, but don’t give it your full attention. Stick to your 1lb a week: get it? Got it? Good.

Oh and celebrate your victories. Don’t be dashing down to the chip shop every week, though we always say no food is banned because it bloody well shouldn’t be. But a bit of self-love for your accomplishments is no bad thing, whether it’s a book or a trip out or buying something outrageous from lovehoney.com that makes your neighbours’ lights dim when you’re going full strum.

It all boils down to positivity. Get that nailed, and you’ve got this year sorted. Good luck!

And look at that! We’re done, and only 800 words. I’m getting leaner even in words! Shall we do the beef, spinach and mango curry?

recipe: beef, spinach and mango curry

How’s this bowl of beef, spinach and mango curry for comfort food? Amazing, that’s what.

beef, spinach and mango curry

recipe: beef, spinach and mango curry

Fancy this beef, spinach and mango curry – then get it made!

beef, spinach and mango curry

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

We're still in our evil lair and still on the Hello Fresh boxes for convenience! We've lifted another banger straight from them - lovely comforting stodge with a spicy (but not too spicy!) tinge! If you want to take the faff out of shopping we can't rate them highly enough. A box arrives once a week (or however often you want it to) with all the ingredients pre-portioned out for you, and handy recipe cards so you can just crack on with none of the pissfarting about. If you want to give them a shout follow this link and you'll get £20 off, and also send £20 our way too! 

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 2 onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 4 tbsp rogan josh paste (4 syns) (see notes)
  • 100g dried red split lentils
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney (4 syns)

Instructions

  • halve, peel and thinly slice the onions and grate the garlic
  • heat a large frying pan over a high heat and spray a little oil
  • add the beef mince to the pan and cook until browned
  • meanwhile, heat 600ml water in a large saucepan with a bit of salt and bring to the boil
  • add the rice, stir, reduce the heat to medium and cover with a lid
  • cook the rice for ten minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside for a further ten minutes
  • add the onion to the minute and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes, stirring now and again
  • add the garlic, tomato puree and rogan josh paste to the pan and stir together, and cook for one minute
  • dissolve the stock cubes in 700ml of boiling water, and pour into the pan with the mince
  • add the lentils to the same pan and stir well
  • reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • once the lentils are tender, add the spinach to the pan in handfuls, stirring into the mixture until wilted, then stir in the mango chutney (add a splash of water if needed)
  • fluff up the rice with a fork and spoon into bowls, and top with the curry

Notes

Recipe

  • fancy it meat free? Quorn works just as well!
  • Sainsbury's own brand rogan josh paste is only 1 syn per tablespoon - other brands are around the 2 syn per tablespoon mark, so be sure to check!

Books

  • OUR BRAND NEW COOKBOOK IS OUT NOW! You thought the last one was good? It was, but this sequel is even better! Order yours here! 
  • our first slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – 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 – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedbacks

Tools

Courses dinner

Cuisine Indian

Wasn’t that easy?

If you’re after more easy meals, why not have a look over our older stuff? And just for sheer retroness, let’s get these buttons out one last time!

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmall lunchsmallpastasmall

Crikey.

J&P

recipe: rigatoni caprese pasta

Howdo! This rigatoni caprese pasta is a treasure, not least because it’s perfect for when you can’t be arsed to fuss about in the kitchen for very long because your ankles hurt and you’ve got a touch of sweaty boob rash and your husband is an unhelpful clot. Just me? The recipe can be found if you just scroll straight on down to the photos, as ever, but also, as ever, we have all our self-indulgent ramblings to get through. Only a quick one though! Before I do, one note on the rigatoni caprese pasta – you can reduce the syns entirely by leaving out the pine nuts, honey and olives, but honestly, they add so much.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, Paul did indeed come down with the ‘rona and had to be put away in another room, like one might do with best china when you have rough relatives around. Only in this case, Paul is the rough relative. After a long period of wondering whether he was going to get worse (he didn’t) or I was going to catch it (I didn’t) we are reunited and it feels so good. Well, it feels as good as it can do, we’ve been together fourteen years. Reuniting was like pulling an old jumper from the wardrobe before winter comes.

He’s still not 100% – getting breathless very easily being his main bugbear – but given he gets out of breath sucking a Polo mint at the best of times, it’s hard to know what is what. He’s also entirely lost his sense of taste which I’m sure in no way goes towards explaining why he’s started cutting about town in a little yellow woollen hat. Actually to be fair, he does look cute in it so we can let him off. His sense of smell is returning which I’m absolutely raging about because I was in the middle of arranging for the gas taps at home to be uncapped so he could have a terrible accident.

But let’s be honest: Paul got lucky here. He’s a lad of heft, after all, and I confess that as soon as he told me he was positive I was eyeing up my black shirts and wondering whether I had the legs to carry off a set of widow’s weeds. Other people haven’t been so lucky and whilst a vaccine may be incoming, it’s going to be a rough winter.

It’s not my place to hold forth on the legitimacy of the virus or whether it’s all a big conspiracy, although, clue, it isn’t.  But I do just want to make one plea: be considerate. Having Paul go under with it made it all very real for me, and I honestly think that’s what it’ll take for all those people not bothering with masks or washing their hands. The mask thing I genuinely don’t understand: absolutely fair enough if you can’t wear one for medical reasons, but those people who make a big show of not wearing them because it’s ‘state control’ or ‘following the sheep’ – nonsense.

It’s just decent behaviour. Even if you don’t think it’ll make much difference, where’s the harm in popping one on when you speak to people in retail, for example? By not doing so, you’re forcing them in a difficult position where they have to be civil despite you not giving a jot what they think. But if you wear one, no-one loses out!

Anyway, shan’t keep you. Let’s do the rigatoni caprese pasta and then you can get back to being filthy.

rigatoni caprese pasta

This rigatoni caprese pasta is perfect for a quick lunch, and remember you can knock out a few syns by leaving out the pine nuts. But you mustn’t!

rigatoni caprese pasta

You can add chilli to this rigatoni caprese pasta if you want it a bit spicier.

rigatoni caprese pasta

It keeps well in the freezer too, though the tomatoes may burst.

rigatoni caprese pasta

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 2 servings

This recipe for rigatoni caprese pasta makes enough for two big servings.

You'll know this by now - we're huge fans of Hello Fresh. We took out a subscription while we had to lockdown in a hotel after a Pasta 'n' Sauce went rogue and made Cub Towers uninhabitable for a bit. We've only got a tiny kitchen here and it just made sense, and plus I couldn't be chewed on with queueing outside of the Morrison's. We've stuck with it while we're still here and we're hoping if we big them up enough they'll not get a cob on about us pinching their recipes. If you want a taste of the action, just click here to get £20 off your first box, and also send a pretty £20 note our way too. Thanking you! Now, if you'll excuse me I'm gonna ride this big rigatoni into the sky. 

Ingredients

  • 2 shallots
  • 400g rigatoni
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 black olives (3 syns)
  • 250g baby plum tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts (2x HeB, or 6 syns)
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 bunch of chives
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 80g reduced fat mozzarella (2x HEA)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)

Instructions

  • bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil
  • meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the shallot and roughly chop the olives
  • halve the baby plum tomatoes and roughly chop the parsley
  • place the baby plum tomatoes and parsley in a bowl and season with a pinch of salt
  • when the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions, then drain
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the pine nuts, and toast until golden (this will take about 2-3 minutes, be sure to stir them frequently), then tip into a bowl
  • place the frying pan back over the heat and spray with a little oil
  • add the shallots to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, then add the garlic and tomato puree and give a good stir
  • add the chopped tomatoes and olives and crumble in the stock cube and stir again
  • bring to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes (until reduced by about half)
  • meanwhile, finely chop the chives and drain the mozzarella
  • tear the mozzarella into small pieces
  • gently stir the balsamic vinegar and honey into the baby plum tomatoes
  • when the sauce is cooked, add the drained pasta to the frying pan and stir until well coated
  • add half the chives and half of the mozzarella and stir again, and serve onto plates or bowls
  • top with the baby plum tomatoes, remaining chives and mozzarella, and pine nuts

Notes

Recipe

  • any pasta you have will do!
  • the pine nuts are absolutely optional, if you can't be arsed to find them then you can leave them out. Roasted chickpeas work really well in this too!
  • if you want to add a bit of zing, feta works really well instead of mozzarella 

Books

  • OUR BRAND NEW COOKBOOK IS COMING OUT SOON! Loved the first one? You'll love this one even more, we promise. It's bloody amazing. Get it in time for your New Years Resolution! 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

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Love having your hole stretched?  The rigatoni caprese will do that, and you can find more pasta ideas from your tasty cubs below!

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

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

J

recipe: ginger beef noodles – and Paul’s got the ‘rona

Well, hello there: ginger beef noodles may sound like the nickname you may give an ex-lover but no, fear not, it’s just another delicious dish from us, the two fat blokes who occasionally trouble your inbox. If you want the recipe then scroll straight to the pictures, because as ever, we have a bit of admin and an update for you.

Firstly, have you pre-ordered our new cookbook yet? Because if you have, then we must insist you take part in our competition for a chance to win £250 towards your food shop this Christmas. Just send an email with a copy of your pre-order or what have you to fastandfilling@hodder.co.uk to be in with a chance of winning. Not ordered your copy yet? Preorder yours here! I know it’s an obvious thing to say but honestly, we’re even prouder of this book than our last! 100 more slimming recipes and our usual nonsense. Go!

So, how are we? Well. You know when people say it never rains but it pours? Turns out that it doesn’t just apply to your liberal touch with the gravy boat, young lady.

No, 2020 wasn’t quite done with us just yet. After being forced to spend three weeks apart due to various self-isolation dramas, we finally got back together. Hooray: back to catty asides and me staring disdainfully at Paul as he struggles to put his shoes on of a morning. We had decided to try for a weekend away because what greater joy is there than exploring a desolated high street in a different city before enjoying a meal surrounded by plexiglass? I ask you.

Only, of course, that didn’t happen. Paul got a notification to say he had been around someone who had tested positive for COVID and so off we went for tests. Paul’s came back positive. Mine came back negative. We’re living in a hotel at the moment and so the staff – who have been absolutely wonderful – squirreled me into a different hotel room right next door. That was eight days ago, and two waiting games begun:

  • Paul to see how bad his infection would be and to ride it out (10 days); and
  • me to see if I became symptomatic (14 days)

So, by way of update: Paul has been incredibly lethargic, a terrible sense of taste and gets out of breath easily, and then to contract COVID on top of that has been a shock. Jokes aside, he’s done absolutely fine – each day seems to have brought a new symptom, but he’s just getting on with it. Which doesn’t surprise me, he’s an incredibly stoic person when it comes to stuff like this. He’s not just my rock because he weighs a tonne and smells of sulphur, you know. Hopefully he’ll be on the mend soon, although it’s going to be a while before I go back into our shared room without fretting he’s accidentally left a thin sheen of spittle on everything. I’ve seen him eating: it’s inevitable.

For me, well: I have health anxiety and have been trying really hard to minimise my COVID risk, so I thought I’d spiral and go completely doolally, but actually, save for a minor wobble at the start, I’ve been fine! Worst part has been the self-isolation and not being able to go outside: I find myself pressing up against the hotel window and gazing longingly at the folks outside – which given I haven’t worn clothes for a good seven days now must look like an especially obese starfish pressed up against the walls of its tank.

I still don’t understand how I didn’t catch it from Wobbles McGee given I shared a bed with him for a full week and had many a car trip with him coughing and spluttering away, but I suppose there’s still time yet. Part of me thinks I may have already had it back in February, but who can say? Anyway: wish us both luck!

Now, let’s not keep you for a moment more: our next recipe is here – ginger beef noodles!

ginger beef noodles

It’s ginger beef noodles, but honestly, this works well with pork and lamb too.

ginger beef noodles

Only 1.5 syns for a massive portion of ginger beef noodles.

ginger beef noodles

Now that’s proper scran and make no mistake. Ginger beef noodles on the plate in twenty minutes!

2 votes

Print

ginger beef noodles

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This makes enough for two large servings, but it's an easy enough recipe to double up if you need to. Or stretch the ginger beef noodles out by adding more vegetables. You do you!

Hey guess what, yes, it's another Hello Fresh recipe. Don't worry, we aren't being sponsored or owt like that, we're just very satisfied customers using 'em during a difficult period, and hoping that if we praise them enough they won't bollock us for sharing their recipes. We've modified this slightly to make it lower in calories and a few of the ingredients to ones you're more likely to find in your local supermarket, but it tastes just as good. If you want in on the action, you can use this link to get £20 off your first box, and you slip £20 our way n'all. Win win, eh?

 

 

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 160g green beans
  • 2 peppers
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp of ginger paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce (3 syns)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 250g dried egg noodles
  • 1 bunch of coriander (optional)

Instructions

  • trim the green beans and chop into thirds (or rinse under lukewarm water to defrost if you're using frozen), then set aside
  • halve the peppers and discard the seeds and core, and slice into thin strips
  • zest and quarter the lime
  • roughly chop the coriander (if using)
  • fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil
  • meanwhile, spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
  • add the mince and cook until browned (about 6-8 minutes), then scoop out the pan into a large bowl and stir in the hoisin and oyster sauce and half of the soy sauce and set aside
  • when the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for 4 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water
  • return the frying pan to the heat and spray with a bit more oil
  • add the sliced peppers and runner beans to the pan and stir fry for a few minutes
  • add the ginger and garlic to the pan and cook for another minute
  • add the remaining soy sauce to the pan and stir
  • add the mince back to the pan along with the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously
  • remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime zest, juice of half the lime and half of the chopped coriander
  • serve into bowls and sprinkle over the remaining coriander and remaining wedges of lime

Notes

Recipe

  • frozen or tinned runner beans are absolutely fine in this, no need to get fancy
  • any colour peppers will do, it doesn't really matter
  • don't be put off by oyster sauce - it doesn't taste like you think it would, and gives a lovely, rich taste. Try it!
  • either light or dark soy sauce is fine in this, use whatever you have

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

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Cuisine dunno, whatever, who even reads this bit?

Still absolutely Hank Marvin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Here’s more!

Enjoy!

J

recipe: cheesy bubble and squeak fritters

Come for the cheesy bubble and squeak fritters, stay for the lengthy polemic about free school dinners. Now, some of you on our Facebook might have seen the condensed version of this already, and some of you might have no time for some fat bloke pontificating about the hungry when all you want to do is read a few knob jokes and see what to do with leftover mash, and that’s fine. You just scroll down to the pictures and crack on. Everyone else though: a subject that is close to my heart (because it involves food) and one I, James, wanted to write a little more fully on.


Last week saw our wonderful Government vote against the proposal for kids to receive free meals. These MPs, who have more than likely never missed a meal in their lives and certainly don’t go without these days, directly voted against supporting hungry kids during a time when so many families don’t know where their next meal is coming from. When you read the reports online, the comments are littered with folks in agreement, including such cheering philosophies as ‘don’t breed them if you can’t feed them’. Fuck off.

I’ve previously mentioned that I used to work for a homeless charity, and if I’m speaking honestly, I started out with so many misconceptions about the homeless and the struggling – misconceptions I still see bandied about by others now – that people who were struggling just weren’t trying hard enough, that benefits were spunked up the wall on fripperies and fancies, all that tired rhetoric. But the longer I spent there, the more my eyes were opened to the reality of what is actually happening out there. And mind, this was before the massive austerity cuts and COVID, so it won’t have got any better.

I remember one father who came in – dressed like he was going for an interview with a bank, well-spoken and clean shaven – and because I was a shameless slut back in the day I took him in for an interview. He explained that his wife had been diagnosed with MS and had to give up work. They’d struggled and then he lost his job too, and suddenly they were faced with bills and a mortgage they couldn’t pay. Children don’t stop needing food and uniform and days out and entertainment and medicine just because you’ve received a P45 after all. Imagine that these days with unemployment absolutely rocketing and costs of living giving chase and then ask yourself what a family like that is supposed to do? If anyone out there has an answer that doesn’t extend to applying for Universal Credit – which takes weeks to process and offers scant difference when put up against cost of living increases – then do let me know. These people didn’t plan to be faced with stark choices between heating and eating, they didn’t have children with the expectation someone else would pay for them. Circumstances forced their hand and the truth is, nobody knows what is coming down the line and never more so than during these COVID times. Of course there are chancers who abuse the system, but they’re few and far between. Why not vent your ire at the MPs who pocket £300 a day to sit and kip in the Houses of Parliament rather than someone getting an extra £20 to feed their kids? What’s the alternative? Let them starve in the name of teaching them a lesson about having fiscal responsibility in a system where all the cards are stacked against them?

It’s easy to kvetch about ‘wasting taxpayer money’ as though we’re talking about delays on building a bypass or cobbling together a fancy garden bridge, but we’re talking about starving children and broken families. To dismiss that as ‘hyperbole’ or ‘emotional manipulation’ does nothing but show the person thinking that as the selfish, myopic prick that they are. If they can piss away £156,000,000 on contracts for PPE that doesn’t work, £87,000,000 on contracts for ferry companies with no fucking ferries, why can’t they help families out during these unprecedented times? It’s an absolute disgrace and make no mistake, none of the MPs who voted against the bill will face the consequences of their actions. They’ll never fret about sending their kids to school with empty bellies, after all.

Some of the MPs who voted against have come out since to wring their hands and say that it’s better to cure the need for this sort of ‘charity’ rather than putting a sticking-plaster over it. Think that through. If you tear your leg open on a nail sticking out of a fence, of course you’ll want the fence fixed so it doesn’t happen again, but you wouldn’t expect to go to the doctors and have them say they won’t bother dressing your wound because it’s better they fix the fence. It’s a short-sighted, piss-weak argument and one made even worse by the fact they’ve caused the bloody need for the plaster in the first place. Much fuss has been made about the fact that the Government has given extra to local councils to meet the shortfall, but councils have been cut to the quick by funding cuts after funding cuts and what has been given back – a veritable crumb off the banqueting table – doesn’t touch the sides. And why do they do this? So the Government can turn around and put the blame at the door of local councils when things go tits-up. Kids going hungry in your constituency? It’s the council’s fault now. They did it with social services – stripped the support bare and then stand looking anguished at the fact that families are falling apart – and now they’re doing it with feeding hungry kids.

You know what fucks me off most of all? There is ZERO accountability. One of our local MPs has been asked repeatedly over and over why she voted no – on Twitter, on Facebook, via letters – and she hasn’t deigned to reply to a single one that I can see. She’s retweeted the odd tweet blowing smoke up her arse, because of course she has, but people with genuine questions asked politely about a situation that any decent person would deal with? Nah. Happy to claim almost £60,000 in expenses though, and I very much look forward to seeing her face adorning the sides of the A1 when it comes to election time, because lord knows I need another reason to wonder what would happen if I put the handbrake on at 70mph. Doesn’t matter though: she’ll be a shoo-in for re-election because people round here have short memories or deep pockets.

And honestly, I think it takes a special type of cold-hearted shit to endorse a government that can hand-wave feeding children away as ‘not our responsibility’. It bloody well is. Homelessness is rocketing, food bank use is off the scale, and if anyone honestly thinks things are going to get any easier for the poor and the disadvantaged and the struggling over the next few months, you should hang your head.

Paul and I both came from families where if someone dropped a pound it would land on the back of their heads – never had a lot (though never went without) and in Paul’s case certainly, often went to bed hungry. He’s certainly made up for this struggle since, preferring to go to bed only when there’s a real and distinct chance his belly-button is going to blow out like a party popper, but neither of us would want what we went through for anyone else. And that’s what I don’t understand. You see people on Facebook – nearly all of a certain age mind you, and nearly always looking as though the last time they went hungry was back when Thatcher was mulling over the Falklands – saying stuff like ‘well when I was young I used to eat gravel and my mother would go out and work 25 hours a day just to get enough moisture in her mouth to fill the tin-bath with spit so I don’t see why parents these days can’t do the same‘.

What sort of argument is that? Why wouldn’t you want kids to avoid that? It’s not a character-building exercise, living in squalor and poverty, but these people seem to think it should be endured because ‘they had to do it’. Mind, I got into an argument with someone along those lines on Facebook which quickly turned into her telling me how COVID was just a ‘plandemic’ (and if ever there was a portmanteau which made my shit itch, it’s that) and how she had survived many a pandemic in her seventy years. When I enquired which ones she replied ‘scarlet fever’ and then went absolutely spare when I pointed out the last scarlet fever pandemic was in the nineteenth century. She did look good for a foaming gas-bag knocking over 200 years old, though. Same as those people who’ll suggest that parents should get their ‘priorities straight’ and sell their TVs and mobile phones. You need a mobile phone and internet access to apply for jobs now – selling your phone might get you £100, but it’ll mean you can fuck right off when it comes to trying to get a job. But that doesn’t matter, because it’s just another stick to beat the poor with. Maybe there’s no reasoning with these people, content as they are to live in their bubbles of superiority shouting at the clouds to do better. Fuck ’em.

We’re all in this together, after all. Except when, you know, we’re not. But just remember all of this next time. Remember how your MP voted. Remember the absolute contempt they have for the poor and those who elected them on the misguided belief those MPs gave a shiny-shite about anyone other than themselves and their pals with their hands in the till. In the meantime, try and do something to help, whether it’s donating to a food bank or raising awareness.

And, if you need support, if you’re struggling, there’s help out there from decent folk and you should feel fuck-all shame in asking for help in whatever form you need it. Don’t let the media, and the parasitic arseholes who comment on it, tell you otherwise. The country is full of decent, kind folk who will give you whatever they can, and you’ve only got to look at the businesses currently rallying around to try and give away meals in order to prove that. They are the people to focus on and celebrate, not the vainglorious, self-serving shitheads in Parliament who wouldn’t give you the steam off their piss unless they could claim it back afterwards.

You know what worries me though? The very same MPs will look at the help that has been offered and claim the whole thing as a success as it proves extra money wasn’t needed.

The full list of MPs who voted against – remember their names and DO something about it when you can – call out your MP, make your voice heard

https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/daily-mirror-names-and-shames-every-mp-who-voted-against-free-meals-for-hungry-kids-on-its-front-page/22/10/

Find a food bank near you:

https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/

Find a company near you giving away free meals:

https://www.freemeals.uk/  

And that’s me done. If this post is anything like the Black Lives Matter post I did a while ago, it’ll attract some good discussion and comments and, more than likely, more than a few comments telling me I’m a leftie do-gooder. You know what though? If do-gooder is the worst someone can call me, then that’s a hill I’m willing to die on. Far better to be known for doing good than doing nothing.


Right: cheesy bubble and squeak fritters then!

cheesy bubble and squeak fritters

See? These cheesy bubble and squeak fritters are the bollocks with the sauce added!

cheesy bubble and squeak fritters

You could eschew the sauce if you want to save a couple of syns, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to – and rightfully so!

3 votes

Print

cheesy bubble and squeak fritters

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 10 fritters

These are an absolute piece of piss to make - if you have leftover cabbage or spring greens to go with your leftover mash, then even better, but even if you have to buy the ingredients in fresh it is a worthwhile cook. They freeze well, and I'm serving them with a cheesy sauce to dip in. Because I'm a whore.

We've worked out the syns - with sauce - as 3.5 for four large hot fritters each. Treat yourself!

This is another recipe inspired from Hello Fresh - we've tinkered with it a little to make it lower in syns for you. We aren't getting paid to promote Hello Fresh, we're just using it whilst our house is rebuilt. We love it, and you probably will too! Click here if you want to give them a go, you'll get £20 off your first box. We also get £20, because damn it someone needs to pay for Paul's extra-wide shoes.

Ingredients

  • 400g of mash (or 400g of tatties cooked through and mashed)
  • six or eight or even ninety bacon medallions
  • bunch of chives
  • 160g of spring greens
  • 30g of panko (5 syns)
  • 50g of Philadelphia Lightest (swap for Quark if saving syns) (but also have a bloody word with yourself, you loon (2 syns)
  • 40g of extra mature lighter cheddar
  • lighter cheddar? I did yes, but she blew it out after and we've since made up
  • enough black pepper and salt to suggest you need to talk to Frank

Instructions

  • chop up your bacon medallions and fry them in a little oil, along with your spring greens, until the greens have softened and the bacon is crispy and you feel really proud of yourself
  • in a big bowl mix the mash with the panko breadcrumbs, grated cheddar cheese, spring greens, crispy bacon and all the vim and vigour you can muster
  • season to taste by eating about half of it 
    • tell your husband there wasn't as much mash as you thought there was
    • offer to make him a sandwich as a conciliatory gesture only for him to turn it down because he's got a tittylip on because you apparently can read minds and should have guessed that he had forgotten to take his lunch to work and was starving
    • have a blazing row where fourteen years of angst and indiscretions come tumbling out so he leaves in a huff and you get to eat the rest which you cook by...
  • heating a flat frying pan to a medium heat and spraying with just a little squizzle of oil
  • form the mash mix into burger shapes and pop them in to almost dry fry
  • serve when they are a bit crunchy on the outside and drizzle with the sauce

The sauce, such as it is, is Philadelphia heated ever so slightly with some chopped chives and black pepper mixed in. Drizzle over rather than drown your fritters.

Notes

Recipe

  • the panko is worth it because the dryness of the crumb help soak up some of the 'moistness' - you could just blitz a breadbun but honestly, it's worth getting some panko – most major supermarkets stock it and you can stick them in an airtight jar and use them wherever - see the recipe list below for more ideas
  • the stronger the cheese, the better these are
  • these make a great little snack for taking to taster nights - stack them on top of each other with a slip of greaseproof paper betwixt them

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

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Lovely, yes? Want some more ideas on where to use panko? Sure Jan, here you go:

That’s it from me. Stay safe.

JX

recipe: sticky teriyaki mince

Here for the sticky teriyaki mince? Naturally: it’s quick, it’s sweet and it it is terribly good for you. I mean, what more could you want? Of course, as it’s us, we’re going to bore you with waffle and flimflam first as is our way. So, if you are wanting the sticky teriyaki mince, just scroll down past the pictures to be taken straight there. Fair warning, it IS a long way down because boy howdy, do I have a lot to say. The sticky teriyaki mince is worth it though!

First, a reminder that our fabulous new cookbook is coming and is available to pre-order now! Even better: it is released on 31 December 2020 so this time round, we’ll be there right with you from day one of 2021! You can pre-order from Amazon right now by clicking here (it’ll open in a new window) and of course, Amazon comes with a price guarantee – you don’t pay until the day of release, and if the price goes down (which it absolutely will) you’ll pay the lower amount! It’s a beautiful, beautiful book and we can’t wait for you to see it.

Secondly, in the antepenultimate blog entry to this one, I was chuntering on about a weekend away with my better half, Paul. You may recall him from such memories past as The Time He Was Bitten On The Head By A Horse and James, We Need To Talk 89. In my usual rash approach to using eight hundred words per sentence I’d tipped the blog entry into a 2,000 word behemoth and we’d barely climbed out of the car. So: we’re going to be succinct this time, I swear.

The morning was sent doing two further escape rooms – a Hotel Heist and a World War II themed room. They were both terrific but honestly, if I write about escape rooms anymore I think my eyes will permanently glaze over. That is, I adore doing them, but they’re bloody hard to write about without giving away spoilers. The World War II room had a worrying moment where we had a few minutes left to assemble a four piece object. Sounds easy, but you’re talking to someone who fumbles getting his knob out for an urgent piss and ends up with wet legs. I can’t cope under pressure! Luckily Paul, with a manual dexterity that betrays the fact his eyes can see into both his immediate future and distant past at once, managed to throw it together and out we sauntered.

We decided to celebrate saving the world by having lunch in a vegan place. I can’t all in all honesty say it would have been my first pick, but it was delicious. I had smashed avocado served on toast that attended a poetry circle on a weekend, washed down with tea. I’m always thrown off by the bewildering array of not-milks offered and start to panic. Oat? Rice? Almond? Soya? Hemp? Coconut? Watered down brilliant white gloss from Wickes? Pea milk? How the fuck do you milk a pea? I knew I had to decide quickly because the lady serving looked as though the effort of clicking her waitress’ pen might necessitate a lie down to regain her strength, so chose a black tea and regretted my choice immediately. I have tried with non-dairy milk, I swear I have, but it’s the look and the consistency that put me off: they all, to a fault, look like samples being sent away from a GUM clinic. Food was terrific though!

Buzzing our tits off with the introduction of fresh vitamins into our otherwise grey diet, we decided to drive onto our next stop, The Bear’s Paw hotel. How could we not? Paul hand-waved my offer of helping with putting it into the Sat Nav and off we set, with Captain Death at the wheel driving the car like the police were chasing him. We pulled up an hour or so later, Paul just glad to be getting away from me gently singing my way through every song that came up on Spotify (does he know how lucky he is to have a husband who can switch from Lady Gaga to Madonna to John Denver in a blink of an eye – sometimes I wonder) and went to check into our room.

Except, we couldn’t. We were told by the charming madam behind the bar that “we don’t do rooms, and we never have“. The never have was said with a touch too much malice for my liking, as though Paul’s Smart car was capable of time-travel and we were gonna sneak back two weeks previous and catch her out on her lies. I thanked her for her effusive, warm welcome and went back to the car. Now, as a humble, caring husband I acknowledge that people make mistakes and so resisted the urge to smile smugly at Paul and tell him how silly he had been, but by the time I had closed the passenger door that had worn off and terse words were exchanged.

The drive to the actual hotel was done in fair silence, though as this afforded me a chance to doze and only wake to clutch dramatically at the door handle as Paul careered around sharp corners on what felt like two wheels, I was happy enough. We checked to the proper Bears Paw Inn in Sandbach and it was truly lovely. My standards are low when it comes to hotels – as long as the bed is comfortable and there’s a decent number of men tramping through the corridors who look as though they could put their fist through my jaw, I sleep well. I can’t be one of those absolute knobbers on programmes like Four In A Bed who will go into a hotel room with their prissy white gloves on, start dismantling the sinktrap and then feign utter disgust that there’s a smear of toothpaste in there. In fact, I’m like the reverse of The Hotel Inspector, in that I’ll walk into a spotless room and immediately start shedding pubes all over the floor.

Faced with the prospect of having to talk to each other, we decided to drive yet further into Chester and do another two escape rooms: Legacy and Roman at Escapism. They were brilliant, especially the Legacy room which featured a load of different locks and puzzles. Unfortunately, I was up against a friend’s time and lost by minutes, but it balances out nicely because we beat his time in a room in Las Vegas. Plus, Paul and I smell significantly better. In the Roman room you are split up as you go in and have to rely on shouting at each other to relay the clues you have in your individual rooms. Not going to lie, it did give me a moment of pause when Paul yelled through the bars that he was checking his helmet for clues. I’n not saying muscle memory kicked in but I’d already got my hand-drill out and was putting a hole in the partition before I realised. Excellent room though, and the staff were just the very best.

Now, we’re tipping into long blog post territory again so I’m going to jump forward to the next day when, in a fit of whimsy, we decided to go to Liverpool because there were two things there Paul had always wanted to do: a nuclear bunker and a safari park. Me, as an obliging and kind husband and also a fan of irradiated wastelands, agreed to go to Liverpool to honour those requests.

Hack Green Bunker, then: you may know it from all the signage on the motorway advertising ‘SECRET NUCLEAR BUNKER‘, which seems like a bit of a misnomer to me, but hey, I’m not in charge. Thank fuck: I’m just clumsy and spiteful enough to set off a nuclear bomb accidentally by falling on it or lighting a cigarette off the fuse-wire. Speaking of highly explosive fat-boys with a short fuse, Paul was in his element. He adores stuff like this and can cheerfully spend an age looking at old bits of communication whilst I smile wanly and wish for death. Don’t get me wrong, I love a museum, but only if it has buttons to push and children to knock down the stairs in my haste to get to the gift-shop to buy a giant pencil. I’m doing the place a disservice in the name of a funnier blog entry, it actually was pretty decent.

One ‘interactive’ part involved going into a ‘fallout shelter’ to experience what it was like to be hiding from the bombs as they fell. Lots of flashing lights and scary noises and terrifying smells. The sign on the door explained that the simulation would loop every ten minutes and as we took a seat in the pitch black room, we realised we must have just missed it so had to sit and wait for it to start again.

And wait, we did. Twenty five minutes we sat in that inky blackness before someone must have spotted us on the infrared camera and came in to explain the exhibit was closed because they couldn’t have people sitting in close proximity to one another. Made sense, but I was furious that she had interrupted my nap. I begged Paul to go on ahead and leave me in there but he was having none of it, the poor sport. We made sure to take lots of photos that we would naturally never look at again and came to a small theatre where The War Game was playing. Fuck me: it’s hard to have an upbeat day when you’re watching someone’s skin melt off in black and white. Fallout? We almost did when Paul wanted to watch it over again. I explained that my tolerance for death and destruction had reached its peak and I think he saw from the glow in my eyes that I meant business. We went to the giftshop, bought a terrific amount of tat (no giant pencil, but a snowglobe with a burnt-out city on the bottom and the snow flying around representing fall-out – we’re saving that cheery little number for a Christmas decoration) and went on our way to Knowesley Safari Park.

Now, of course, Paul had decided that we would spend eight hours at Hack Green and therefore had booked our tickets for the safari park for 4pm, which meant spending an hour in some awful business park trying not to swear at one another and browsing the tat in B&Ms. Side question: why is everything grey and crushed diamonds all of a sudden? What’s that about: why would you want your living room to look like a side-of-the-motorway-stripper show? I ask you.

4pm rolled around, and after we had driven up to the entrance and then driven all the way back to the business park so Paul could have an emergency poop, we were in. I’ll say this: I’m not a fan of zoos and wouldn’t normally go, but if we have to have them then a safari park is probably the kindest option. Can’t say I felt especially safe though – not because the safety protocols weren’t up to scratch because they absolutely were – but because we were sat in a Smart car going through a rhino enclosure. Again, a Smart car: a car that is at genuine risk of tipping over if I get out of the passenger seat before Paul gets out. I’d have felt safer mincing through in a bikini made of Bacofoil with a side of bacon hanging out my cheeks. Nevertheless, it was all very interesting and we took some great photos which I shan’t bore you with.

Highlight of the trip was the baboon enclosure which was preceded for about half a mile by signs warning you that if you choose to drive through, they will possibly damage your car. That gets upgraded to ‘YOUR CAR WILL BE DAMAGED’ as you get closer, and then as you enter there’s a rough Scouse bird shouting ‘ROWLL YER FUCKIN’ WINDIZZ UP LAAAAA‘ as you drive over the cattle grid. Paul, naturally, ignored all of these warnings and turned to me, with that infuriating sage face he pulls when I’m just being silly, and explained that baboons aren’t likely to go for a Smart car, as though they’re sitting there perusing What Car waiting for a flash BMW to shit all over.

We were no sooner in the enclosure before the Chief Baboon came bounding over, sat on the bonnet and gave us a look that guaranteed mischief. Firstly, have you ever seen a baboon’s arse up close? I had to check Paul hadn’t got out to change the windscreen wiper fluid but no, he was right next to me shrieking. Very conscious of the fact we had a 200 mile drive home in the rain, we could ill afford any damage to the car. The baboon fixed us with a stare and immediately started wrenching away at the windscreen wipers. Of course I went full Chris Hargensen in Carrie and demanded Paul put his foot down and floor it, but Paul’s altogether more compassionate and instead threw the car speakers on. Turns out that (You Drive Me) Crazy by Britney has no effect on a hungry baboon, though he did move away from taking off the wipers and instead bent down, grabbed the washer jets and pulled them both out with his teeth. The little fucker even had the cheek to roll them around his mouth like they were Mint Imperials before spitting them into the grass. Luckily, a smug looking family in a flash BMW came in and the baboon fucked off – Paul was right!

We decided there and then that this was altogether too much drama for one day, and plus, knowing we had to get back to Newcastle without the ability to wash our bloody car windows, we had to act fast. Luckily, it was a British summer, so we had rain from leaving Liverpool to arriving back in Newcastle. Paul paid £50 to get the jets fixed and I promise I didn’t rag on him too much for his many errors.

And that, readers, was our little weekend away. I’ll say this, too: it was fantastic to get away with him and not have to worry about all the crap currently going on. We felt safe in every place we went to, everyone seemed chipper and I’ll simply never tire of paying over-the-odds for any British experience. I’d forgotten, almost, what a brilliant travel companion he is: always willing to entertain my nonsense, never complains when I litter the bottom of his car with eight hundred empty packets of crisps or when I pick fitfully at his sleeve when there’s a chance I might have to get my wallet out. The best part of this twochubbycubs show is that we’ve been able to travel to all sorts of places and have mischief, and although COVID has temporarily put a stopper on international travel, it’s reassuring to know we can still enjoy ourselves here. Even if he was wrong about:

  • driving in the rain
  • the hotel we stopped at
  • driving through a baboon enclosure
  • most of the clues in all of the escape rooms
  • his inability to pack for more than one weather condition

but I don’t like to cause a scene.

Right! Shall we do the sticky teriyaki mince? Of course we should. Without any more pause…

sticky teriyaki mince

Well hello there Sticky teriyaki mince! How you doing?

sticky teriyaki mince

For a proper quick dinner, the sticky teriyaki mince does the job!

sticky teriyaki mince

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This makes enough for two huge portions - and certainly enough mince for four.

This is another recipe inspired by one we've had from Hello Fresh recently. They aren't sponsoring us or owt, we're just normal customers, but their stuff is good! If you want to give it a try, use this link and get £20 off your first box. We'll also get £20 so you'll be sharing the love! We've adapted this one to make it more slimming and more twochubbycubs friendly. Trust us, this will become a new favourite in your house. It's sweet, it's saucy, it's tasty, it's sticky. And we know you love all of that. Give it a try!

Ingredients

  • 500g beef mince
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2" piece of ginger
  • 2 spring onions
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 300g jasmine rice (see notes)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (2 syns)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce (see notes)
  • 1 tsp sugar (see notes) (2 syns)

Instructions

  • bring a pan of 600ml water to the boil with a pinch of salt, and stir in the rice
  • reduce the heat to medium and cover with a lid, then leave to cook for ten minutes
  • after ten minutes, remove from the heat (still covered) and leave for another ten minutes to finish cooking. DON'T TAKE OFF THE LID!
  • meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic and the ginger, then thinly slice the spring onions
  • heat a small saucepan over a medium high heat and spray with a little oil
  • add the ginger and garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute, then add the soy sauce
  • bring to a simmer, then stir in the sugar, and cook for 1 more minute, stirring continuously
  • remove from the heat and set aside, stirring occasionally
  • next, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat (no oil!) and add the sesame seeds. Gently toss for 3-4 minutes until they start to turn golden. Pour the seeds into a small bowl and place the pan back over the heat, and spray with a little oil
  • add the mince and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned
  • pour in the soy sauce mixture along with half of the spring onions and cook for 1-2 minutes, adding a splash of water if needed
  • fluff the rice and stir in the lime zest
  • divide between bowls and top with the mince
  • sprinkle over the remaining spring onion and sesame seeds
  • eat

Notes

The dish

  • we're getting right into jasmine rice and we think you should too. It's like normal rice but stickier. It's lovely, try it. If you don't have any, normal rice will work just as well, including the microwave stuff.
  • any soy sauce will work fine here, but if you can, use the dark stuff. It's thicker and sweeter and not as salty, but the light stuff will be fine too!
  • don't you dare miss out that sugar, now. I mean it. It's worth it. 

The books

  • OUR BRAND NEW COOKBOOK can be pre-ordered from Amazon right now! It's rammed with recipes which are both FAST and FILLING. We called it FAST AND FILLING. I know, we're geniuses. But it's really banging. 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 feedback!

Tools

Courses dinner

Cuisine japanese

Want more fakeaway goodies in your gob?

Enjoy

J&P

sticky bacon meatballs with redcurrant and onion gravy

Afternoon all! Here for the sticky bacon meatballs? That’s fine, I can see from the spittle around your mouth that you’re ready for your dinner, but I must apologise: today’s blog entry is a long travel story and you might be here a while. Now, back in the day of the longer entries – when we were able to travel to new and exciting places – we used to provide you the courtesy of a button that would take you straight to the recipe so you could skip all those tricksy things like words. But I’m lazy and we have a lot of writing to get through before we get to the sticky bacon meatballs in their fancy redcurrant and onion gravy, so for this occasion, just scroll until you see the food. So, before we do the sticky bacon meatballs, here’s some words and all that.

OH! Actually: before I do that. If you’re not following us on Instagram or Facebook, make sure you dig us out – search for @twochubbycubs on Instagram or Facebook. We have some big news coming next week!

So: Paul and I haven’t had a break in months, and we were forever jetting away on budget airlines such as easyJet and NevaCrash and Ryanair, and it’s been awful not being able to do so. I’ve become so accustomed to ratching about Europe that I’ve started counting at least two of the airport security staff as fuckbuddies, given they’ve pawed at my genitals with their shovel-hands so often. They’re after my very own sticky bacon meatballs. However, coronavirus has put paid to random travelling and as much as I do live for danger sometimes, I don’t fancy heaving my lungs up through my mouth because of a short flight to Krakow. So, for now, Europe is out. We’re told by that walking blonde wheelie-bin in charge to holiday in the UK and to make the most of summer and that’s all well and good as long as you’re happy paying £18,050 for a weekend in Rhyl (rising to £20,000 if you stop for a service station sandwich on the way), but we’re not. What to do? In the end, my hands were tied by Paul coming home early and casually mentioning that he had the rest of the week off. With the terrifying thought of having to look at his haunted face staring at Judge Judy re-runs for a solid three days, I nipped onto Google, booked a couple of things, threw eighteen changes of clothes for me and the same selection of bus-driver shirts he always wears into a suitcase, and we were away.

First stop: a drive to Kanyu Escape rooms in York. Regular readers will know that I am not a gracious passenger and would therefore normally hire a car or take mine rather than let Captain Death and his Fisher Price car drive us anywhere, but my driving licence is with The Powers That Be because I was caught speeding. I know, I’m a horror. In my defence, I was too busy texting mates and trying not to drop my can of Monster to notice the speedometer shrieking. In my further defence, that’s a joke – I was just over the limit and hold my hands up about it: eight years I’ve been driving and that was my first genuine error. So it was that we had to take Paul’s Smart car and I could do no driving on this little break. I’ll say it now: it nearly killed me.

To give you an example of how fractious things get when Paul drives and I drive from the passenger seat – about a week or so before he was driving us to ASDA and I ever so politely asked him to slow it down a shade as light was beginning to warp around the bonnet. He took such umbrage that he did a full emergency stop (in a Smart car, that’s just opening the petrol cap and sticking your hand out of the window) and told me in no uncertain terms that if I criticised his driving ability one more time I’d be walking home. Me, full of spite and knowing there was a cruising ground about half a mile down the road, got out and started walking.

I was out for an hour before I had to text him to pick me up because I was cold – and he was equally as contrite because turns out I had his wallet and he didn’t have enough fuel to get home or money to pay for more. Don’t worry, we laugh about it now as it enters the ‘endlessly mentioned in heated arguments’ rota.

So yes: I’m not a good passenger. Paul isn’t a good driver, given he tends to drive like he’s stolen the car and will come out with reassuring little things like ‘I wish my eyes pointed in the same direction’ and ‘I should probably wear my glasses’ and ‘I don’t need to indicate on this roundabout’, and as such it’s always a heated combination. But I’ll say this: despite the weather being absolutely horrendous, he got us there with minutes to spare and only three of my fingernails embedded in the passenger door handle. A quick primer on escape rooms for those that don’t know: you’re locked in a sealed room and through the process of solving puzzles and riddles, have to escape. We’re huge fans and have been doing them for years, though it’s been a while (thanks COVID) since I did one with my husband. Kanyu Escape is in a curious location on the centre of a roundabout and I was alarmed/excited to see an ambulance on standby outside. I’m always ready for some gas, air and scenes of mild peril, after all.

The chap who met us was brilliant: slightly eccentric and very accommodating and we were in the room in no time. If you have concerns about doing escape rooms in this time of peril, don’t: the good rooms take your temperature on arrival, disinfect the room fully after you leave and make sure there’s sanitiser everywhere. I’m a slight hypochondriac and I felt absolutely safe at all the venues we ended up. The room was based on discovering a new source of electricity and was themed around an old secret laboratory and we absolutely loved it. Some escape rooms are franchises and can feel rather rote in what they offer: you can start undoing a lot of the familiar puzzles straight away. Not this one, he’d designed it himself and though it looked a tad rough and ready, it was terrific. All too often these rooms give you too much help or make the puzzles simple enough for everyone to do, but this one was taxing and we felt like we’d actually accomplished something at the end.

That said, those bank-vault locks where you have to spin the correct number, then spin another number, and then another, all the while making sure you turn the right amount and in the right direction? They can fuck right off. I have enough trouble trying to get my eyes to blink in unison, nevermind something as complicated as that. We lost a bit of time, but still escaped with moments to spare. We’ll be going back to do his other rooms, one of which is an outdoors escape room which I love the sound of. Though I confess, it will be a novelty to be tramping around in the woods and for me not to be pulling my knickers off. I do hope muscle memory doesn’t kick in.

Paul drove us down into Leeds entirely without incident and we stayed over at a Premier Inn next to a TGI Fridays, which as salubrious locations go is up there with having your dinner next to a GUM clinic. I don’t like TGI Fridays: we had a good meal there once and have forever been chasing that high since. I don’t get the appeal: it’s like someone did a trolley dash around Iceland, microwaved everything for one minute less than the instructions suggest and then serve it to you with a forced smile that suggests they’ve got a gun held to the back of their heads. That gun may be smothered in BBQ sauce though, because everything is at TGIs. Anyway, we weren’t going to eat there so it’s all irrelevant, I just wanted a dig. We checked in, with Paul reminded once again of my ability to talk to literally everyone I meet: I spent ten minutes chatting to the chap behind the counter whilst Paul danced in the doorway out of sight trying to communicate to me that he needed to get to the room immediately for a gentleman’s sit-down adventure. Classic. I spotted his anguished movements and wrapped up my conversation over a leisurely few more minutes, and Paul made it with moments to spare.

The room was comfortable as ever, though I was reminded of one thing: when you sleep with Paul you wake in a room entirely disorientated and unsure of where you are for a good few minutes until you realise he’s taken the duvet out out of the cover, polluted the air to such a degree that it’s almost edible and has star-fished his way across the bed. At home I’m used to such chicanery but throw in unfamiliar surroundings and it really can take a while before the fog clears.

Waking the next day refreshed and full of pep, we chose not to bother with the Premier Inn breakfast and instead wander into Leeds to pick breakfast up before our next escape room. A quick bagel with salad and a frank discussion on where things had all gone wrong in our breakfast choices and we were off to the next escape room – but first, spotted! It doesn’t happen an awful lot but you can always tell when someone recognises us because they look, try and work out whether we are the cubs off the Internet and whether they should say hello. Normally by the time they’ve decided to go for it, I’ve got my phone to my ear to pretend I’m on a call or I’ve pushed Paul in front of a bus to cause a distraction but I wasn’t quick enough this time. Mind, she was lovely, although because I’m mean I answered ‘are you the guys with the food blog‘ with ‘absolutely not‘ and pretended to walk on, before apologising profusely. I can’t resist it. We’d have people spotting us twice more that day and please, if you see us, do come say hello. You can delight in how incredibly socially awkward we are.

Now, look at the time. I’ve waffled on as is my way, and here we find ourselves 2000 words in and barely out of the door. So on that note, I’ll revisit this in the next entry. To the sticky bacon meatballs!

sticky bacon meatballs

Sticky bacon meatballs served with cheesy mash and broccoli.

sticky bacon meatballs

I mean, as sticky bacon meatballs go, they’re lovely!

sticky bacon meatballs with onion gravy

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Syn wise, these sticky bacon meatballs clock in at a shade over 2 syns per portion, but I can't be buggered with the quarter syns. The gravy is delicious and worth digging out the redcurrant jelly, but don't shit the bed if you can't find it.

Just a note on this recipe: whilst Chubby Towers is out of action and our kitchen is a no-no, we are using Hello Fresh for our meals and have been doing so for the last six weeks or so. We are not paid to promote them or anything like that, and we have taken this recipe and adjusted it slightly for Slimming World.

That said, honest review time (again, we aren't being paid to promote): we bloody love Hello Fresh. We haven't had a bad meal yet and the lack of food waste is brilliant for us. We only have a tiny kitchen to cook in at the moment and absolutely make do. They're not the cheapest, but we're fans. They do a 'Low Calorie' plan which is spot on if you're counting and we've found it works well with SW. But anyway, no matter what you're after we're sure you'll love it. If you use our referral link you'll get £20 off too! 

Ingredients

  • 900g potatoes
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 30g panko (5 syns) (optional but worth it)
  • 250g lean pork mince
  • 250g lean beef mince
  • 1 red onion
  • 60g reduced-fat cheddar, grated (use your healthy extra)
  • 120g bacon medallions
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 400g broccoli florets
  • 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly (see notes) (4 syns)

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • bring a large saucepan of water to the boil over a high heat, and add 1 tsp salt
  • dice the potatoes into 2cm chunks, and plop into the water. Bring back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes
  • halve any large broccoli florets and spread out onto a baking sheet, spraying with a little oil
  • roast the broccoli in the oven for 15-20 minutes
  • put the mixed herbs, panko and 2 tbsp of water into a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon
  • add the beef and the pork mince to the bowl and mix well 
  • divide and roll the mixture into twenty balls and set aside
  • place a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray with a little oil
  • add the meatballs to the pan and cook until browned all over, about 6-7 minutes, turning occasionally
  • meanwhile, halve and thinly slice the red onion, and dice the medallions into small pieces
  • gently remove the meatballs from the pan to a plate and set aside
  • add the onion and bacon to the same pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently
  • add the meatballs back onto the pan and pour over the vegetable stock
  • reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid, and cook for 7-8 minutes
  • meanwhile, drain the potatoes and mash with the grated cheese, and season with salt and pepper
  • once the meatballs have finished cooking, remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high again
  • gently stir in the jelly until the mixture is thickened and glossy
  • serve the broccoli and mash, and spoon over the meatballs and gravy

Notes

The dish

  • can't find/can't be arsed to find redcurrant jelly? We've used cranberry sauce instead and couldn't tell the difference, just use that! If you're really stuck just leave it out
  • consider the panko optional but it's definitely worth it. Lean mince can sometimes make meatballs dry. Panko helps to retain some moisture, but also add a 'crunchy' texture. You'll find panko in the 'world food' aisles of most supermarkets

The books

  • our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 3000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedback!

Tools

Courses dinner

Cuisine meatballs

And that’s that! Sticky bacon meatballs done. Want more recipes? Well now.

Enjoy!

J

recipe: crunchy munchy wraps

Crunchy munchy wraps. Listen, cut me some slack, I can’t think of a better name (and if I’m entirely honest, I’m sure I’ve used that name before somewhere and it’s bugging me enough to make my forehead furrows appear but not enough for me to get off my fat arse and check) and avocado smash wraps makes us sound like dicks. Regular readers will know that we’re fans of the avocado here – despite Slimming World’s nonsense approach – but even I’m sick of seeing it on menus now). Mind, it’s not as bad as people pretending a portobello mushroom is a sound swap for a burger bun or, worse, sliced cauliflower is a substitute for a steak. In what world is that acceptable? I’d sooner eat the stuffing out of my writing chair, and I know how toxic my south-mouth can be.

Perhaps I’m just feeling a bit curmudgeonly because of the heat, though. Perhaps I ought to do some deep breathing and calm down. But see, summer means that when I breathe deeply, I’m rewarded with lungfuls of flower ejaculate that immediately sets about clagging up my nostrils and making my eyes itchy. I also burn ridiculously easily so, although I do currently have a nice golden tan (almost like I’ve been standing next to a wood fire), I know that if I misjudge it my skin will rebel, turn shiny pink and send me scuttling inside to hide in the shadows again. At least with wind and rain you know where you are – pop a coat on if it’s wet, extra layer if it’s cold: not like I can just take my tits off to go outside when it’s sweltering. I genuinely hate summer. Remember in the Teletubbies when they’d wake up and the sun would come out to play, with a creepy baby in the middle gurgling away? That’s my life, only the sun is a drunken Nicki French shouting obscenities at me and calling me fat. Raging, hun.

And I think, if I may, that because I always have the low level irritant of being:

  • too hot to function without a shiny patina forming on my forehead; and
  • achingly conscious of the fact that now I’m always in a t-shirt, every time I sit down it’ll ride up and show my arse-crack to the world

that every other little annoyance that may have once glanced over me really hits home.

Even polite gestures are vexing me. We’re still in Chubby Towers Adjacent and there honestly hasn’t been another guest in this hotel who hasn’t been a delight to talk to. One thing I’ve come to realise is that people who smoke are far more interesting than their counterparts (aye, but you non-smokers always have the edge when it comes to blowing up party balloons) given some of the wonderful conversations I’ve been having outside with all and sundry whilst we work on our COPD. Everyone has a story to tell and I’m proper enjoying listening. Didn’t know I could! But what this does mean is that there’s many a time when they’ll do something lovely like holding the lift door open, meaning I have to then waddle-jog over and politely refuse because of the one-household-rule. This then creates that awkward ten seconds where you’re waiting for the lift door to shut so they disappear and you can press the button, and doesn’t that ten seconds feel like a lifetime, having to alternately stare at your shoes, smile wanly at them and going ‘oh ho ho, I’ll get the next one’. Yes, here at this hotel, I cosplay as Santa.

Linked to my mention of hayfever earlier, whilst we’re here, can we have a permanent abeyance on people saying ‘bless you’ after each sneeze? Once is fine – I mean, I can do without it full-stop because I’m fairly confident my sniffles is pollen related and not the fucking plague – but you do you. This wouldn’t ordinarily be so bad save for the fact that when I get going, I’ll sneeze a good six or seven times, which then leads to the person invariably clicking on that they’re going to be there a while and thus ought to go full ham. Bless you! BLESS YOU! BLESS YOU HAHA. BLESS YOU. OOOH DO YOU RECKON YOU COULD DO A FEW MORE BLESS YOU. BLESS YOU. OOOH ONE MORE AND YOU’LL ORGASM BLESS YOOOU.

I know you mean well but I’ve had that schtick all my life. Next time it happens I’m going to pull an almighty cum-face and pop a mayonnaise sachet in my pocket. Just one bless you and be gone, thot.

Anyway, that’s quite enough misery. We’ve got something wonderful in the form of these wraps – they’re just something we threw together a few weeks ago for tea to use up all the shite in our cupboard. As ever with our recipes and doubly so with these wraps – fill them with whatever you like. And that’s that. To the crunchy munchy wraps.

crunchy munchy wraps

Stuff the crunchy munchy wraps how you like. Stuff them with lettuce, herbs, onion, or stuff them up your arse. Either or.

crunchy munchy wraps

Tell you what though: I wrap a bloody good wrap.

crunchy munchy wraps

Prep

Total

Yield 4 wraps

This makes enough for four wraps, or eight halves. Obviously. Lovely and summery these.

Up to you if you syn avocado - Slimming World syn it as something ridiculous and if you're following the plan, you ought to do the same. However, if you're like us, you won't syn it at all and then these are syn free...

Ingredients

  • one large avocado (14 syns) (hmmm)
  • a big packet of wafer thin turkey
  • a selection of small peppers chopped into strips
  • one small can of chickpeas, drained
  • pinch of curry powder
  • juice of one lime
  • a tablespoon or two of yoghurt
  • whatever wraps you're allowed

Instructions

  • mash the avocado with a good pinch of salt and the lime juice
  • mash your chickpeas with the yoghurt and curry powder
  • layer your wrap - chickpeas on the bottom, peppers, wafer thin turkey and then avocado
  • wrap up and eat

Notes

The dish

  • swap out the turkey for ham and add cheese
  • we tend not to toast our wraps because we're too fat to wait to eat, but these done in a griddle pan would be superb
  • roll these up and wrap in tin foil - they're good for lunch if made in the morning

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

Courses wraps

Cuisine who can say

There you go – shove that in yer mush! Want more wrap ideas? Here you go:

J