recipe: pumpkin and bacon soup

Remember last week when I gave you a quick recipe for soup? Well! Here we go again – this time it’s for pumpkin and bacon soup. Big fan of soup here at Chubby Towers Adjacent and this series of soups is all about recipes where you can buy the stuff pre-chopped and hoy it all in a pan or soup-maker and crack on!

Now had we been one of those super organised blogs we would have had this soup up around the hallowe’en time so that people had spare pumpkin around, but we’re not. We’ve only just got round to updating Realplayer and we can’t wait to bring you some video recipes soon.

Mind, I used to love hallowe’en, even if trick or treating in my family meant putting on a barely cleaned bag that had blown in from the farm next door, hollowing out a turnip, sticking a candle in it and schlepping around the village knocking on locked doors. No wonder they didn’t answer: nothing says ‘trick or treat’ than a ‘ghost’ emblazoned with ICI Chemicals mincing down your path smelling like a carvery.

They didn’t bother dressing Paul up to go trick-or-treating either, though I presume when he rocked up on a doorstep with his fragrant mother by his side, they assumed it was just Fester and Grandmama from the Addams Family.  The realism!

Anyway, I said this would be a quick recipe, didn’t I? So we must crack on! To the pumpkin and bacon soup!

pumpkin and bacon soup

This spicy pumpkin and bacon soup is gorgeous, but if you have a sensitive nipsy, leave the spice out!

pumpkin and bacon soup

If you can’t find pumpkin, then swap it out for butternut squash! Right, let’s get this pumpkin and bacon soup on the go!

spicy pumpkin and bacon soup

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 bowls

Now then, this spicy pumpkin and bacon soup doesn't need to be spicy, you can always leave that bit out at the end if you so desire. As before, we made ours in a Tefal Easy Soup but you can just chuck it all in a pan and blend it after half an hour. You don't need anything fancy here! But they are good, mind.

Ingredients

  • 500g of finely chopped pumpkin
  • 100g of chopped white onion
  • 75g of chopped cooked bacon
  • 1tsp each of garlic and ginger paste
  • 500ml of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp of chilli flakes

Instructions

  • if using a pan, chuck everything in (save for some of the bacon) and simmer for about twenty minutes or until the pumpkin is soft
  • blend and top with chilli sauce and bacon bits

Of course, if you're using the Tefal Easy Soup - chuck it in, press the soup button, it'll blend when it's ready!

Notes

Recipe

  • as I mentioned, you can swap pumpkin for butternut squash, and I dare say it will be easier to peel
  • you can buy pre-chopped pumpkin and butternut squash in most supermarkets, you lazy cow

Books

  • LOVE THIS RECIPE? You should see some of the amazing recipes in our new cookbook - out December 31! Preorder yours here! 
  • our first slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 3000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedbacks

Tools

Courses soup

Cuisine twochubbycubs

There you go! More soup recipes needed? Nee bother!

J

recipe: warming beef and chickpea loaded naans

Oh yoohoo! Come for the beef and chickpea loaded naans, stay for the writing and adverts! No, I jest, but listen, I’ve been through the archives and my drafts folder tidying up and I’ve come across a blog-post that I didn’t publish – and it just commands attention!

So, without a moment of pause and certainly before we get to the beef and chickpea loaded naans, let me take you back to February this year, when circumstance saw me in terrible pain. I know, hankies at the ready.


If this was a Youtube video, I’d be opening it with a dramatic sigh and dabbing fake tears from my eyes as some mournful music – let’s say a trap remix of Radiohead’s Creep – played in the background. I’d pick up the cat and blow my nose on its fur. Paul would come into shot, put his spammy hands on my shoulders and say ‘there there’ in that meaningless way people use to provide comfort, as though I was a horse startled by a van.

See, I’m poorly. Now I’m not one for exaggeration so I shan’t tell you that I’ve been at death’s door and really you ought to buy as many cookbooks as you possibly can to pay for my fancy funeral (unlikely to happen: I expect DEFRA will turn up at my corpse in bleach-soaked-shoes, set me on fire and set up a three mile hot-zone) but I can’t deny it isn’t tempting. See, more than a few days ago, I was driving home from a Marquis de Sade homage when I noticed what felt like a tiny mouth ulcer on my jawline. Naturally I spent the next hundred miles or so poking it enthusiastically with my tongue as though I was trying to rim a Rubik’s Cube to orgasm. By the time I got to Ferrybridge services, it was knacking to the point where I couldn’t have my customary Haribo, Burger King and Ukrainian lorry-driver combo. Gutted? I was foaming: as my cheek had swollen up so much I couldn’t spit properly.

I checked into a hotel to feel sorry for myself and the next day, drove home with a face quite literally like a smacked arse. I tried to brazen it out until the point where the swelling was so bad it was pushing on all my teeth and gums and making me look like Rocky Dennis chewing a toffee penny.  To put this in perspective – I do have a high pain threshold, tested regularly and thoroughly at what I’m convinced isn’t a BUPA hospital at all – but I was actually crying because it hurt that much. Paul insisted I call 111, though I think that was predominately to hear me trying to speak to the operator through a mush of cheek and spittle. The charming chappy at the end of the phone demurred at my insistence they send the air ambulance and instead sent me to the walk-in centre. We stumbled in at ten to midnight and I was seen within fifteen minutes by the friendliest, most Geordie nurse I’ve ever met. I had to resist the urge to ask her to adopt me, though admittedly that may have been my eyes falling upon the strong painkillers that was colouring my view.

She declared a salivary blockage – mmm – and told me to take antibiotics and suck lemon sherbets. Even through my significant dolor I tried to crack a joke and asked if I could have one of the Fruit Pastilles that I could see poking out of her handbag. She pushed said bag under the desk with thin lips indeed and we departed awkwardly. Paul drove me home – me pressing my cheek against the window of his Smart car and wailing all the while – and then tucked me up in bed and fussed the living hell out of me. What has then followed has been over a week of me eating soup, gazpacho and the softest of scrambled eggs, washing them down with as many sour sweets as possible and me watching Vera furiously as I pressed my face so hard against a hot water bottle that I’ve got ‘COMFORT RUBBER’ imprinted on my face. I mean, it kinda works. For the first few days I could barely talk or open my jaw – Paul offered to make me a curry until I snapped at him that he’d need to freeze it into a paper-thin slab and post it through my jaw like a court summons. To make things worse, no-one knows what it is. The doctor says go to the dentist, the dentist says go to the doctor. I’m tempted to go the vets as a wildcard and see what happens, though they’ll probably just melt me down for glue.

ANYWAY. The swelling has gone down leaving a lovely hard lump in my cheek which shows no signs of going away. The urge to poke at it with a pin is my main focus right now, and honestly, if I didn’t think I’d end up with some awful blood related side-effect that’s precisely what I’d be doing. It doesn’t hurt unless I really stretch my jaw open (so you can imagine how this is upsetting other key parts of my life) but it is bloody annoying. If anyone is reading this and has any hot ideas, do get in touch. Meanwhile, I’ll stumble ever onwards, only reminded of its presence by the occasional mishap – my barber put his full weight on my jaw before to trim my beard and I almost passed out. To be fair, he’s used to that, as soon as he gets close with his rough hands and a blade at my neck, all the blood rushes to one point. Ah Farzad, my love, I would be yours at the drop of a hat. Wish me luck, everyone.


You’re back with me in present time now. The lump went away but it took two weeks and I was sick of my life by the end of it. Also, seems like so long ago that you could go into a services and nosh off a lorry driver without having to worry about catching something that couldn’t be cured with a simple course of antibiotics and another stamp on your GUM clinic loyalty card. It’s the little things in life I miss most, I tell you.

beef and chickpea loaded naans

Look at those beef and chickpea loaded naans man!

beef and chickpea loaded naans

You don’t just need the topping for beef and chickpea loaded naans – stick it on a jacket tattie if you prefer!

beef and chickpea loaded naans

We sprinkle a bit of zahtar powder on our beef and chickpea loaded naans because we’re fancy. Black pepper will do the same.

curry beef and chickpea loaded naans

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 naans

I love the idea of a loaded naan, not least because my own nan shuffled off in her Aldi slippers far from loaded, much to my chagrin. We got very little in the way of inheritance but that's fine: I'd still swap everything I have for another chance to listen to her four same stories and her loud remonstrations whenever I used to mouth 'vacuum' at Paul from across the room. Ah, sweet times.

This recipe really is ridiculously easy - note that we haven't counted the syns for the naan breads though because it changes all the time. Check with your SW consultant for the best naan breads to have as your healthy extra!

As our exciting life in a hotel continues, we're still using Hello Fresh - not getting paid to promote them, mind, and making changes to their recipes to bring them in line with the blog. That said, because we've been asked, we tend to go for the low-calorie options or the rapid options if you were thinking about having a go. It works for us because we don't have a big kitchen to store ingredients and we're actually saving money because no food waste. If you do want to try it, you can use this link to get £20 off your first box, and we'll get £20 too.

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • one tin of chickpeas
  • one beef stock cube
  • two tsp of curry powder
  • salt and pepper
  • two tbsp of tomato puree
  • one clove of garlic minced
  • four mini naans
  • one iceberg lettuce
  • natural yoghurt to drizzle all over the top

Instructions

  • drain and rinse your chickpeas, keeping half in a bowl and mashing the rest with a fork
  • in a frying pan, fry off your beef mince until cooked through
  • add a pinch of salt and pepper as it cooks
  • reduce to a medium heat and then add the curry powder, tomato puree and garlic, stirring through for a moment or two
  • add 100ml of water along with the chickpeas - mashed and whole - and the stock cube
  • allow to burble away for a few minutes to thicken up
  • whilst that's happening, toast your naan breads and chop up your lettuce
  • when you're ready to serve, top the naan with lettuce, then the beef mix, then a drizzle of yoghurt on the top if you can be arsed

Notes

Recipe

  • if you don't want to use your healthy extra on naan breads, this mixture does very well indeed on a jacket potato
  • add peppers and onion to bulk it out, but honestly, the recipe sings with its simplicity

Books

  • you know what has over 100 recipes designed to help you lose weight - our new cookbook! More curries, burgers, exciting dinners and all that excitement - Preorder yours here! 
  • of course, our first cookbook was a treat too - click here to order
  • we even have a fabulous diet planner - you can order it here 

Tools

  • I was going to recommend a potato masher for the chickpeas but honestly, use the underside of a cup if you can't do it with a fork - save your money
  • give the pan a good coating of oil with a mister – this is what we use

Courses dinner

Cuisine who can say

How’s that for a perfect quick dinner? You want some more beef mince ideas? Naturally – try these:

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

recipe reacharound: mushy pea curry

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

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

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

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

Ah, precious memories.

Interestingly:

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

I’ve since learned his name.

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

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recipe reacharound: mushy pea curry

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

Notes

The dish

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

The books

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

Tools

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

Courses sides

Cuisine curry

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

Anyway shush! More veggie recipes? Fill your boots!

Byeeeee byeee

J

recipe: bacon and tomato rigatoni – syn free

Bacon and tomato rigatoni – it’s a quick meal to throw together with the added bonus of some aubergine in there so you can ‘get your speed’ and all that pap. Full confession: this is inspired by a Hello Fresh meal we had. We’re trying out Hello Fresh whilst we’re stuck at Chubby Towers Adjacent because there’s not much of a kitchen here and it was getting to the point where we were on first name terms with the entire roster of the Just Eat delivery drivers. It sounds amazing eating takeaway every day but once Paul’s lips had turned blue from the effort of shaking the drips off after a piss, we needed to change. We aren’t being paid by Hello Fresh – indeed, somehow, Paul managed to be the only person in the entire world to pay full price for his first box – but we will keep you informed as to how we go. So far, so good! Don’t you fret, though, the meals on here will always be Slimming World friendly, and this bacon and tomato rigatoni is a good example of that! Take a look:

bacon and tomato rigatoni

Oh, and this bacon and tomato rigatoni is excellent for lunches!

Anyway. How are you all coping with the kids being at home during these difficult times? Because, frankly, it must be bloody awful for you. I have made no secret on here that I am terrible with children. They can’t tell good jokes, they’re rubbish at fetching things and they command your attention all the time. I’ve already got myself for that. Babies get angry and poo all the time (and seem destined to get troubling maladies like cradle cap – a friend of mine had a baby recently and I genuinely thought she had popped out a giant rice crispie), toddlers bump into things and shout, children need clothes and feeding and teenagers – from my own experience – are whirlwinds of emotions and Lynx Africa. Nope.

The reason I mention children is that I overheard an absolute belter this morning. A very prim and proper looking family (you know the type surely, Dad will be an accountant in a failing regional firm, mum will spend her evening writing lengthy diatribes about perceived supermarket injustices on Mumsnet) were in front of me when I went to collect breakfast. There was ever so much noise as you’d expect with two children in tow, with the youngest shouting Mummy over and over again and being largely ignored save by me who tutted and made a show of turning up the volume on my earbuds*. This went on for at least five hateful minutes before he shouted MUUUUUUMMY one last time and then loudly declared that he ‘needed a big shit’. Well: they are looked mortified and I had to feign a good old corona-cough into my elbow to mask my laughter. If I had a child, that’s the kind of kid I want.

* nothing makes me feel older and in the way than trying to change songs on my Samsung Earbuds. You have to tap three times to move back a song, and double tap to move forward. I just can’t get the hang of the tapping, and as a result I’m left walking down the street swearing furiously to myself whilst tap-tap-tapping at my ears like a fucking woodpecker. Honestly, I long for the days of my JAMP3 player where I had to agonise over which twelve Limp Bizkit songs to put on it and then cut about town holding what looked like a radon detector in my hands.

Children is something that will never happen, though. Can you imagine the resulting mess that would come about from Paul and I blurting into a test-tube together and getting it fertilised? If we were lucky we’d end up with a child who inherited my humour and height together with Paul’s fabulous eyebrows and exhaustive intellect but readers, we’re not lucky. The little bugger would get my “designed by Frank Gehry” nose, Paul’s pig-trotter feet, my total irrationality and some bizarre combination of the very worst of all our features. In short, our child would look like a badly-faxed photo of Ann Widdecombe, and that’s something this world doesn’t need.

I’ll concede on one aspect of having children around that I would like: taking them to magical places like Disney. I bet that’s an amazing feeling seeing their faces light up with joy and wonder. But see, that feeling would soon sour when we left them in the car with the window down whilst we went shrieking round the teacups. It’s just too much responsibility for a man for whom keeping a basil plant alive for two weeks is his crowning achievement in fatherhood.

Luckily, I have a nephew who I can deign to visit on occasion, and he’s really not bad for a mewling bespectacled hellion, though I’m reminded that I made the correct life choices within four minutes of being in his presence. If children came with an off button I’d be far more inclined to consider one, but the endless volume is really too much for my old ears.

Anyway. That’s quite enough chatter for now. Shall we get to the bacon and tomato rigatoni? We ought to: it’s really very good.

bacon and tomato rigatoni

If you’re not a fan of bacon in the bacon and tomato rigatoni, swap it out for chorizo!

bacon and tomato rigatoni

You can all sorts of vegetables into the bacon and tomato rigatoni, but this works jut fine as it is for Slimming World.

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bacon and tomato rigatoni

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

We seem to have hit a bit of a run with pasta recipes here at twochubbycubs but I shan't apologise for it. No no. See, quick meals you can throw together with whatever shite you have in the fridge is our raison d'être and frankly, this bacon and tomato rigatoni is very much one of those. We have, of course, tweaked it slightly for Slimming World. But damn does it taste good!

Ingredients

  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 300g plum tomatoes, halved
  • 80g reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled (use your HEA!)
  • 400g dried rigatoni
  • 120g bacon medallions, diced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried crushed chillis

Instructions

  • first, preheat your grill to high and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil
  • as those are heating up, halve your aubergines lengthways, then slice slice each half into centimetre long strips, then slice the other way for cute little 1cm cubes
  • spread the aubergine cubes out onto a baking sheet into a single layer and spray with a little oil, and sprinkle with a little bit of salt
  • place under the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, then turn and cook for another ten minutes
  • as that's going on, cook the pasta according to the instructions
  • meanwhile, spray a large frying pan with a bit of oil and place over a high heat
  • add the bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes, until crispy
  • reduce the heat to medium high and add the onion, and cook until soft (about 4 minutes, stirring frequently)
  • add the garlic and the chilli flakes to the pan, stir, and cook for another minute 
  • add the tin of chopped tomatoes and stir
  • reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • once the aubergine is cooked, stir it into the pasta sauce
  • meanwhile, place the cherry tomatoes onto the same tray you used for the aubergine, spray with a bit of oil, and crumble over the feta. Pop under the grill for 4-5 minutes
  • when the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the tomato sauce with the grilled plum tomatoes, and stir
  • serve to gasps of amazement

Notes

The dish

  • diced aubergine really helps to pad this out and make it go further, and tastes bloody lovely
  • you can swap out the bacon for chorizo if you like

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

  • nothing fancy needed for this recipe, but if you need some new lunchboxes for work, the SISTEMA ones we use are currently on sale at time of writing - click here!

Courses dinner

Cuisine pasta

Tasty stuff! Once you’ve had your fill of syn free bacon and tomato rigatoni, why not spin the wheel on our other pasta dishes? Here’s links to ten syn-free dishes!

Enjoy!

J

syn-free butterbean houmous – perfect for lunch

Syn-free butterbean houmous awaits you today, with an apology because there’s absolutely no way of taking a photograph of a plate of syn-free butterbean houmous without it looking like Smash that someone’s already had a crack at eating. But it tastes lovely and makes a decent change from the chickpea houmous that we also recommend. That’s enough about houmous. Very quickly, I’m doing alright. Lots of lockdown langour at the moment – there’s only so much staring sadly out of the window one can do before he becomes a lighthouse keeper – but I’m getting on with things. As per the last few entries we’re opening with a tale as old as time before we get to the syn-free butterbean houmous, but you’re free to scroll down to the food pictures if you’re in a rush! Always welcome feedback on the holiday entries, and must apologise for this one, as it is a little more adult than the previous entries.

Little bit of admin first, of course: our fabulous new planner comes out next month, and if you’re needing inspiration, a kick up the arse, sex-tips (maybe not those) or other flimflam, you’ll find it all in our beautiful new book! You can order it here – I know, how terribly exciting! Now, come back with me to Canada…

part one | part two | part three

Next on the list of attractions that time forgot, a mirror maze! Piece of piss this one, though: how hard can a hastily assembled mirror maze consisting of a few boards of plywood and some scotchy IKEA mirrors be? Please. I spend most of my day cats-bumming my mouth into my phone camera, a few tricksy mirrors and party-bus lighting wasn’t going to hold me back. I paid the lady, Paul went ahead, and in I stumbled into hell.

A little side-story for you. After Canada, we flew to Tokyo for a few days “to rest”. Whilst there we came to learn of a gay sauna exclusively for the larger gentleman – you would actually be turned away if you rocked up with a six pack and a BMI that didn’t need an extra digit on the calculator. Skinny and toned folks were sent next door to use the sauna for the slim. It was heaven: we’ve always been about the larger chap. Sex holds little allure for me unless there’s a strong risk of one of us clutching our arm and Jim Robinson-ing our way through to climax. Oh! They also fluffed you and measured your cock when you turned up and if you were over a certain size, you’d get a King Kong sticker to wear somewhere on your ample frame. They gave me a Goomba sticker and a lollipop.

Anyway, the way this sauna was set up was a giant dark maze – the idea being that you would stumble around until you slid into another fatty-boom-boom and made sweet, slappy love. Or, in my case, a breathless handjob whilst I tried not to pass out from the heady combination of poppers and having to climb more than two flights of stairs. It was great fun, if not a little disorientating.

Paul and I crashed around in the dark (though I went down well, figuratively and literally, because I was a good foot taller than everyone else there) and had a great time. At one point I decided to try and find a new nest of immorality and so I set about exploring in the dark. After a few false starts grabbing the wrong type of knob I managed to find a promising door. I yanked it open only to reveal the other sauna on the other side, well-lit, with lots and lots of skinny, beautiful Japanese fellas sitting around nude. The sight of my hairy, wobbling frame bursting through the door caused instant dismay, looking as I do like a badly-shaved McGrimace with a bouncing erection. I’ve never seen so many sets of lips purse at once – it was like someone had sprayed lemon juice into the room. I gently gave everyone a nod, did a little curtsy (my knees had been weakened by earlier activity – I had forgotten to bring my kneeling pad from the garden) and carefully shut the door. I know my place, and it isn’t amongst men who look like they’ve been whittled from marble by God himself.

Anyway – I mention this sauna because that’s what this mirror maze was like: endless corridors, albeit with less fat businessmen grabbing at my bumhole like a sliding mountaineer might grab at the cliff-edge as he tumbles. I panicked. I knew Paul had managed to escape relatively easily but I just could not figure it out. Small kids were running around my legs and making a quick exit as I blundered about leaving fingerprints on the glass and crying. OK, I may not have cried, but I won’t pretend that I wasn’t struggling to keep my shit together as I was surrounded by eight identical versions of myself. For someone whose camera is permanently on selfie mode you may think that this is my idea of nirvana but I assure you, seeing all my imperfections wrought large in octuple was soul-destroying. I have a friend whose sole reason for existence seems to be pointing out the fact my nose has more angles than a shattered protractor and having this presented to me from all sides really stabbed me deep. Like he does.

At one point I stopped trying to exit and just gazed at my haunting visage, lit by cruel blue LED and strobing green, and wondered where everything had gone wrong with my life to leave my face looking like a bag of broken china. I stood for a good few minutes before the owner must have spotted me looking glum and sad and turned the emergency lights on, leading me straight to the exit where I was met by Paul. To his credit, he had the decency to notice I’d had a full existential crisis and so took me gently over the road to get a burger, where all became right with the world and really, it was just the lighting that upset me. Yes.

Existential ennui overcome and drowned in saturated fat, we made for the final attraction of the night: an arcade that promised a ghost train and a 6D rollercoaster. Not 4D, no no, six dimensions of thrills. It barely managed three. We were the only ones on-board and once the shoulder-holders came down, we realised that actually, it didn’t move – it was a simulator. The 32” ALBA screen in front of us degaussed and we were off, the distant chimes of the Windows 95 start-up sound seeing us into the ride. It. Was. Crap. Give me ten minutes and I can knock together better animation in Paint 3D. The ‘six dimensions’ came from the seat rocking gently to the side about five seconds after the on-screen cue and a tiny spray of what I am sure was hydraulic fluid in my face when we went underwater. I’ve had more thrills and spills washing my poor nipsy on a Japanese toilet.

The ghost train was no better. We shunted off through various neon-painted cardboard ‘frights’ – cardboard graveyard, cardboard fun- house, cardboard 25 Cromwell Street. At one point a spring burst out with absolutely nothing on it. The only scream that the ride elicited from me was afterwards, when the busty young lady at the front asked if we wanted to pay half price and go again. I demurred, claiming my heart could only take so much excitement, and we instead set about winning enough tickets on the Wheel of Fortune machines to claim a glorious prize. An hour later, with handfuls and handfuls of tickets, we dashed up to claim our prize just to find we only had enough for a tacky painted fish (since lost) and some chewing gum. Best $120 we’ve ever spent.

All in all, an absolutely fucking brilliant night. We also squeezed in a round of crazy golf and half an hour in a weird door maze but I fear I’ll lose you forever if I don’t wrap this chapter up soon. All you need to know about the golf is that I won. I always win. Paul has prism lenses in his glasses that afford him four holes to aim for instead of the customary one and thus is at an immediate disadvantage. Thinking about it, that’ll be why we’re still, 12 years in, playing the ‘up a bit, up a bit, no down a bit, just push it in’ game of an evening.

Niagara done, we retired to bed, and with the burger and mouldy iHop platter from earlier rustling around in our bellies, were soothed to sleep by the sound and scent of a thousand farts.

We arose the next day in a grim state. I’d been fighting off a nasty cough for about a week and had woken up with a throat like sandpaper. Understand that’s par for the course when you’re a frisky bitch like me, but Christ I felt dreadful. We decided to reach for the antibiotics: but this meant a visit to the Canadian doctors. All very easy – trip to Walmart where the surgery was, a quick signing of a few forms and then I simply needed to pull together every piece of jewellery, money and property I own to hand over to the receptionist who took the lot and asked for more. In a perfect circular loop-back to the time we paid $180 for a course of antibiotics for Paul’s poorly ear back in Florida, here we paid $280 for a ten minute chat with the doctor and some amoxycilin. He had the sheer brass neck to make a loud disapproving noise when I explained that ‘otherwise I was in good health’. Great: I have a face that exudes illness.

Worst part of all of this? No sooner had I paid for my antibiotics and checked with my travel insurance company who no, of course not, wouldn’t cover the cost (too small of an expense – I was tempted to go ram my head through the plate glass window out of sheer fucking spite) than I immediately felt better. The shock of paying so much for a few pills was clearly enough to reboot my system. If I ever get some awful terminal disease, I’m going out to buy a BMW.

The rest of the day was spent driving back to Toronto and finding our AirBnB, before meeting our “just a friend”, who I’m naming Bhalu as he was cute and cuddly. We’ll come to Toronto in another blog entry, because see, that’s how holiday entries work, but I need a good closing anecdote.

Which I haven’t got. So let’s stumble around the word count and take a moment to bow our heads in sadness, because there was one casualty of our trip to Niagara: the sex-hat. Back in Montreal I successfully pulled The Hottest Barista in Town and he gave me a lovely cap to go with my troubled bumhole. The one hat I’ve ever had in my life that doesn’t look like a comedy Christmas cracker sized hat on my giant moonhead. The one that I was wearing because it reminded me of a happy time when I was used like Sooty by someone with hands with size of banquet gammons.

Paul left it in the fucking rental car. He had tried it on whilst he was driving and because I didn’t want a rim of dead skin and sun-tan lotion left on it, I had plucked it from his head and hurled it in the back. You may think the onus was on me to retrieve it but no, it would have been on my head had he not touched my things and ruined my life. I’m not one for sulking but you better believe I was at maximum tittylip for a good hour or so after that. Paul offered to go buy me a hat but it could never have been the same if it wasn’t gifted to me by The Dreamy Barista to make up for the blood pooling in my knickers.

Sigh


Right, let’s get to the syn-free butterbean houmous, shall we? Looks alright!

butterbean houmous

The Northern Lights are dancing!

butterbean houmous

Čajet dan čuovgga!

butterbean houmous

Suppose you’ll be wanting the recipe for this syn-free butterbean houmous, aye? Gosh, I remember when you were far less maintenance…

syn-free butterbean houmous

Prep

Total

Yield 4

Sometimes you just need something to dip your finger / crudites / nipples into without guilt or remorse, and that's where this syn-free butterbean houmous comes into it. You can make it syn free by leaving out the oil, but given this makes enough to serve four, we'd be tempted to demand you drizzle a bit of flavour oil on the top and soak up the syns (6 syns). But again, we aren't your parents. 

Ingredients

  • one large tin of butterbeans
  • one clove of garlic (chopped garlic is fine)
  • one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • good pinch of salt
  • one reserved tablespoon of the weird butterbean pre-cum that they come in the tin with (aquafaba, if you want to be technical)
  • couple of tablespoons of natural yoghurt

If you're using oil, add it at the end (6 syns).

Instructions

  • I mean, haway. Do you want to have a guess, pet?
  • stick all the ingredients in a blender
  • blend
  • loosen it up by adding more yoghurt or the aquafaba from the butterbeans
  • season to taste

Syn-free butterbean houmous, done.

Notes

  • the one thing I’m going to push here is our Kenwood Mini Chopper. It makes very quick work of this dip. It’s cheap on Amazon. Not essential but I will say this – as people who use a lot of gadgets, this is probably one of our favourites
  • we buy our flavoured oils from Yorkshire Drizzle, in this case, a lemon oil. You can take a look at their range here: it'll open in a new window. We haven't been paid to promote or anything like that, they're just a bloody good company and we love them very much
  • remember - our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now - full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 2400 5* reviews: click here to order
  • our new diet planner launches soon: you can order it here (it’ll open in a new window)

Courses dips and sides

Cuisine I hardly think that's any of your business

Looking for more dip ideas? We got you covered:

Enjoy!

Jx

cheesy sprouts and bacon side-dish

Cheesy sprouts and bacon as a side-dish? I know, but it’s Christmas, and the little fart-balls deserve some love. Get it made! I appreciate that I’m the side-dish that you really want under your tree this Christmas, but I’m otherwise engaged.

Before we get to the cheesy sprouts and bacon, a gentle reminder that our cookbook comes out in two weeks, and frankly, if you haven’t ordered it, then what’s wrong with you? 100 slimming recipes to help you lose weight with the typical twochubbycubs humour splattered across it like a hedgerow edition of Razzle. You can pre-order it for £10 by clicking on the tasteful banner below, which will open in a new window!

chicken, chorizo and seafood paella

Now before we get to the cheesy sprouts and bacon I must warn you that there’s a long entry ahead from our latest holiday. Buckle up buckaroo, it’s a good one, but if you’re so inclined, you know what you need to do: click the banner to go straight to the recipe.

As ever: our holiday entries tend to be skewed a little more adult, so if you’re a sensitive soul, please, click the banner

I know, forgive us: we are on holiday an awful lot. But in our defence, we never made the mistake of fathering children and so we can fritter away our pound coins with literal gay abandon. Plus, the world is out there to be seen and there’s hardly any chance with my current lifestyle choices that I’ll be one of those older folks in leisurewear prancing around the Alps, so let’s take what we can before the rickets kick in. Continue reading

warming curried cauliflower soup: syn-free and tasty!

Curried cauliflower soup – and syn free to boot – perfect as the winter sets in and Christmas approaches. This is a dual purpose recipe: I wanted to find a soup recipe that took no effort at all AND used a vegetable that is cheap and abundant at the moment. Added bonus: it’ll make your arse so toxic that, should you be like me and have a husband who is constantly knocking on your nethers with Ole Blind Bob, you’ll be given a free pass. A free ass, if you will, though no-one’s ever thrown socks at my bottom. Pity. Anyway, the curried cauliflower soup will follow shortly, but first the usual balderdash.

One thing I haven’t mentioned on the blog lately is that I’ve been gallivanting quite a bit – a veritable blizzard of trips away and driving around the country snaffling a hundred service station sandwiches whilst owlishly ignoring my ‘Service Due’ spanner light on my car. One such trip took me to Birmingham to see Chernobyl Edition Paul who took me along to see Frisky & Mannish. Now, when someone recommends something to me, I’ll often nod and smile and die inside whilst I have to pretend to be interested in something awfully unfunny or just not up my street. If you ever meet me, you’ll see the exact ‘but I don’t care‘ face I pull the very second I ask you how you are and you reply with anything other than the most basic acknowledgement of the question. Honestly, it should be a crime to actually give a proper answer. In the North East we have this down to a fine art, which goes like this:

“Alreet mate?’

“Alreet?”

See? Didn’t even answer the question and then it’s off back down t’pit. Learn from that, people.

Anyway, it turned out his recommendation wasn’t duff at all, and after a few Youtube videos which actually made my insides ache we were booked and ready to go. Now, if you’ve never heard of them, they’re a musical comedy duo act who do shows which play on musical themes and mix pop parodies, jokes and some actual amazing singing. That’s a shit way of describing them, so let me simply encourage you to watch this:

It even won over my stone-hearted husband, who last laughed back in 2014, and even that was mainly acid-reflux.

Aside from spilling my beer as I sat down and creating a heart-stopping moment when Frisky came speeding out in massive heels and oh-so-almost slipped over, it was a genuinely fantastic show. You know how these things tend to go: there’s nearly always a ‘down bit’ where they try new material and not everything sticks. Not here: I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at a live show, and I’m someone who ends up in paroxysms of laughter watching You’ve Been Framed. My benchmark isn’t high. I left that venue with my ribs aching like someone had spent four minutes slapping me about with a pair of fish slices to the key-change in Scared of the Dark by Steps. That’s a musical joke and you know it.

We were given a chance to meet them after and to their absolute credit, they remained entirely unfazed and positive even in light of being hugged by a giant sentient Sugar Puff and his glazed companion. I’d post the picture but I look like I’ve been awake for eight days and that’s not a treat for anyone. However, they were that bloody good that when I returned home I booked three more tickets to see them in Newcastle with Paul and someone who was sick of hearing me bang on about them. They loved it too, and it was great to see them playing to a much larger venue. Actually! Because I’m a narcissistic sod, I wanted to redo the picture I had taken from the other week and they were only happy to oblige:

I’m the one in the middle, in case you didn’t realise. Did I feel guilty about leaving Patrick and Paul outside in the pouring rain whilst I went full Annie Wilkes in the foyer? I did not. Worth it! They’re taking a break now but honestly, if you ever get a chance to see them, you absolutely must.

We also managed to squeeze in to see Jay Rayner on his Last Supper tour when we were both in Birmingham. I’m going to use that as a jumping off point for a fuller blog entry down the line but I’ll say two things now. Firstly, the man was an utter delight – hilarious, self-effacing and full of anecdotes you actually want to listen to. Which leads me to my next point: if you’re attending a show with a ‘question and answer’ element, don’t be that irritating raclure-de-bidet who thinks everyone in the room has come to hear your thoughts on the act as the show goes on. My word, she was bothersome – talking over everyone’s questions, guffawing in that ‘look at me look at me oh god won’t you look at me’ way at everything he said…the list could go on. I sure hope her heartbeat doesn’t.

Anyway, we’ll come back to Jay Rayner another time, but in the meantime, let’s do this curried cauliflower soup, shall we? I can’t pretend I’ve found a way of making curried cauliflower soup look exciting, but damn it’s syn free and delicious. What more do you want?

curried cauliflower soup curried cauliflower soup

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curried cauliflower soup

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Yield 4 bowlfuls

We're trying to spin our meals around whatever vegetables are currently in season here at Chubby Towers - plus, eating meat for every single meal is getting a bit tiresome on both the entrance and exit doors. What can you do with a cauliflower? Some people - we'll call them mental - pretend you can make steaks with them. You can't. You can no more make a steak with a cauliflower than you can make a lamppost with a giraffe. Get ahad of yerself, lass.

However, the good folks at Olive Magazine posted this recipe last year, and although we've adapted it ever so slightly for twochubbycubs and Slimming World, it didn't lose any flavour in our tinkering. We heartily recommend!

We've also included a tip to really speed things up if you're pushed for time, but honestly, there's very little to do here.

Ingredients

  • one large cauliflower - remove the outer leaves
  • few sprays of olive oil
  • one large white onion (we used the cannonball onions from Morrisons, but only because the name got me all a-frisk)
  • two teaspoons of garlic paste
  • one tablespoon of hot curry powder
  • one litre of vegetable stock (made from bouillon powder if you have it)
  • 100g of fat-free Greek yoghurt
  • Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  • chop up your cauliflower into little cauliflowers - don't waste the stem either, chop it finely
  • save a few shapely florets aside
  • slice up your onion
  • in a nice big pan, gently sweat off your onion and cauliflower until nicely golden
  • add the garlic paste and curry powder and give everything a good stir and cook for a couple of minutes more
  • add the stock and allow to simmer gently for around 25 minutes, or until everything has softened up
  • if you like a thicker soup, simmer for a bit longer to take off some of the stock
  • allow to cool, add the yoghurt and then blend together with a stick blender 
  • taste and if it needs salt, add it and reblend

For the top, I sliced the cauliflower florets nice and thickly and then in another small pan, fried them off in Worcestershire sauce - you want them to have a bit of a bite, but the Worcestershire sauce adds a lovely flavour - totally unnecessary though! I also added a bit of chilli oil because I'm not content unless my arse is melting like a summer ice-cream

Notes

  • you don't need a fancy blender for soup - we always recommend this wee stick blender which does the job and is rarely more than a tenner on Amazon
  • want to speed this up - you can buy already chopped cauliflower in Tesco sold as 'cauliflower rice' - combine with a pot of chopped onions and you could have this done in no time at all 
  • want more fabulous recipes of this scale and complexity - of course you do, you're wonderful - click away!

Click here to preorder our new cookbook! Now £10!

Courses soup

Cuisine vegetarian

This freezes well, I should have said – and what better way to say I want a divorce than present your partner with some freezer-burn soaked curried cauliflower soup? I ask you. You want some more ideas for soup? We got you – here’s all our syn free soups:

Tasty!

J

sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash – better than it looks, I swear

Firstly, let me apologise for something. This sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash looks like something my cat shat out when she was going through the change, and no amount of Photoshop trickery is going to make it look better. But here’s the thing – it was genuinely tasty and I’m sure in more capable hands it would look halfway presentable. But in my defence, I was up at 6am thanks to a combination of Paul’s snoring, Paul’s farting, Paul’s phone going 🎵rit dit dit do doo 🎵- that, with 28 added lusty attempts from him to get some morning marital love outside of his birthday, meant I was super bloody tired. Luckily, I don’t hold a grudge, and I told him I’d grown fond of his face over the last twelve years as I merrily doused the bed with petrol. So, although the sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash looks like shite, I absolutely recommend you give it a go.

Let’s get straight to the recipe with no more chit-chat then, is one of the many opening sentences you may expect from a food blog. However, of course not, it’s us!

Fair warning on this one. The next few paragraphs – whilst not explicit in any way – are a bit more adult than the normal nonsense I post. Bear that in mind if you’re a delicate flower.

I touched on the fact we’d spent a merry weekend surrounded by hurly-burly gay men in my last post, and I feel I should expand on the memory of that. Something I’ve certainly done with alarmingly frequency since being back, for sure. See, every year in Edinburgh, there’s an event called BearScots – which in turn begs a further explanation. For those that div-not-knaa, a bear is a gay man who can’t shop at H&M. It’s where the ‘Cubs’ part of the blog name comes from, for what is a young bear if not a Cub. The theme tends to be hairy, portly and bearded. We’re making the term Cub work bloody hard now we’re both freefalling into the other side of 35, but I’m not changing the name now – we’ve had tea-towels printed. Anyway, it’s a surprisingly international event that puts significant strain on the airframes of low-budget airlines from all over Europe. I’ve always fancied going but, as regular readers will know, I’m a horrendously shy person who hates being looked at. Paul’s even worse, remaining the only man I know who would enjoy waking up in a sealed body bag because at least he’d never have to interact with anyone.

However, we had our arms twisted by a very good friend of ours who promised to look after us and make sure we were tucked up in bed by 10pm with a cocoa. We rashly agreed – somewhat fuelled by alcohol at that point – and before you could say who’s bringing the rubber bedsheets we had rented an apartment with all the laissez-faire attitude to cancellation policies that you’d expect from two frisky tinkers drunk on two sniffs of the barmaid’s cloth. We managed to rope in a couple more to meet up there and in no time at all, we were driving up the A1 to Edinburgh. I say we, Paul was driving and I was feverishly working my way through the many cans of gin and tonic we’d elected to pack instead of toiletries and essentials. It was a long, subdued trip.

Because Paul was driving, the two hour journey took exactly two hours. No stopping for cigarettes, cottaging or a wee mosey around the giftshop, he’s all business. He could be a taxi driver, he’s certainly got the sitting on his arse complaining bit down pat. We met our friends at our fabulously appointed apartment, shrieked at the absolutely tiny shitter (seriously, next time you’re dropping the kids off, try doing it with your legs pressed entirely together), exchanged insurance details and then went out. The first night was CC Blooms and served as an introduction of sorts, just an excuse to have a drink and a catch-up. I admit to being nervous: I’m actually not too bad at being social, to be fair, but it can be quite intimidating walking into a bar with two hundred far more polished hot-takes of yourself. Still, again fuelled with alcohol, I threw myself right into it and can’t deny that I had a maaaarvellous time. Put it this way, I started at 8pm, had already been offered excess and shenanigans by 9pm, and was dressed like this by about 10pm

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CENSORED.

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I know, so demure. They hurt like an absolute motherfucker taking them off, mind you. Paul got into the swing of things almost as quickly, which was lovely. He lost me for about an hour and a half when I ventured downstairs into such a sea of flesh that I ran the very real risk of appearing back upstairs like a spill of mayonnaise rolled in pubic hair. Actually, fair play to me, I kept my hand on my ha’penny all night. Every single person I talked to was an absolute treasure, though, and when Paul and I rolled back to bed early in the morning, I was a very content cub. Mind that also had something to do with the deep-fried Scotch pie that I had smushed into my beard, granted. We stole a pack of Frazzles from the kitchen on our way.

Now, some people can languish in bed fitfully sleeping with their hands smashing all over all day long, but not me – despite having 84% proof blood, I woke at my usual 8am and decided to take the air. Well, that, and I needed fags. Because I’m a prissy bitch, I only like a certain brand, and it took four shops and all manner of blank stares and curious expressions before I found what I was looking for. Not only did the homely wee newsagent provide me with the minty nicotine hit I was desperately craving but also took the time to kindly point out I had a Frazzle adhered to my sweaty bald head from the night before. No wonder I couldn’t get served, I looked as though I was bringing leprosy back.

The day was spent mooching about, feeling sorry for ourselves (now I’ve reached the age where I get hangovers, I start to sympathise with my mother’s short temper at Christmas) and then having a restorative afternoon tea which was terrifically fancy. Naturally, I managed to get Creme Patissiere in my beard and drop my tiny sandwich on the floor, though I maintain we made a good impression with the two lovely Norwegian bears who had decided to sit with us. I heard the words ‘Ukulturerte sviner’ but we can take that as them choking on a flake of puff pastry. We were joined by Patrick, all smiles and startled from the night before, and we left for a couple of pints in Dirty Dicks before nicking back to get changed for the big event. On our way back an absolutely stunning man (tall, bearded, bald, arms like Christmas hams) walked past with his wife (mousy, plain, only in it for the money, definitely having an affair) and attracted all three of our gazes at once. Paul and Patrick are subtle, I’m most certainly not – I span my neck that quickly that the resulting crack of my bones smashing brought the street to its knees. So vexed was the wife by this attention lavished on her husband that she yelled ‘ALRIGHT LADS, YOU CAN STOP GAWPING NOW‘. Only she said it in a broad Scottish burr so actually, it was entirely incomprehensible – for all I know she was hailing a taxi. The chap did smile though. He knew. He knew we would father his children at a moment’s notice.

The evening event was the big one – around 400 blokes packing into The Caves, an underground, multi-level gorgeous place normally reserved for weddings and fancy dinners. It tickles me absolutely pink to think of some wedding nana sitting down sipping her Asti Spumante in the same place where someone was having their ring tested in an entirely different way. The theme for the event was ‘TAPS AFF’ which I’m told means tops off, with everyone being encouraged to take their tops off, wear a kilt or some fetishwear and just have a bloody good time. This was my effort:

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Please, put a towel down.

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I know, the casting for the Bring It On reboot is spot-on. I look like the campest Goal Defence substitute you’ve ever seen, I appreciate that. And yes, I went without my knickers on, a mistake I realised later when the steamy underground air – raised by the exothermic reaction of so much panting and sweating – left my balls clattering around my knees like a set of 90s Clackers. Paul won’t let me post a picture of him in his kilt even though he actually looked great. Poor sport. My top was off before I’d even clambered out of the taxi, the chilly Edinburgh night air no match for my Geordie approach to weather. I break a sweat wearing an earring, let alone wrapping up warm. I shan’t go into detail because it was just eight happy hours of pleasantries, drinking and warm embraces. I’ll say this though: I’ve never – in my absolute entire life – felt more confident in my own skin, back-hair and moobs all included. We both went down well.

Serious bit now. The reason the event is such a success is – from at least what I can see when I’m not gazing at myself in my phone – no bitchiness. I didn’t see a single person looking miserable, or alone, or down at his shoes – just everyone having a bloody good time and mixing wonderfully. I’ve been lucky enough to mince through my life either not experiencing – or rather, not noticing – any hassle about how I look or what I’m doing – but as with most large social groups, you always get a few bad apples. They must have stayed at home turning themselves into bitter applesauce because there was none of that there and it was just absolutely brilliant. We made a tonne of friends who – shock horror – we’re actively staying in contact with. Hell, one especially charming fella is sending me something I absolutely can’t wear for work, and that’s very exciting indeed. Fetch the talc and Momma’s pryin’ bar.

Sunday was the wrap-up event where Mr Bearscots was crowned – a very deserving winner who had crocheted his own kilt – but I had my eyes on one of the runners-up (who luckily visited last week, so we were able to commiserate his loss together). Paul held me back from storming the stage and offering myself up as a consolation hole, which was very decent of him. And of course, because I’m me, I now definitely want to enter Mr Bearscots next year. If Miss Congeniality has taught us anything is that hilarious antics will ensue and I’ll end up being crowned to the strains of ‘One in a Million’ (easy joke there) after I do my ‘making 18″ disappear’ trick.

In all, then, it was an absolutely tremendous weekend, and I’m so glad we rolled the dice and went up. It helped having such lovely company, of course, and the fact that the whole event ran so perfectly is a credit to the organisers and the volunteers. We will be back, in a heartbeat, and we’re also signing up for Bears on Ice next year – the same type of event but in Iceland. Those of you who have been with us a long time may remember our previous escapades in the Land of Fire and Ice, if not, have a click through here and take a look – that’s part six of a six-part blog story of an absolutely amazing trip, with links to all the previous entries included.

Ah, what a time. And here’s Paul’s cheery hangover face, to finish you all off:

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Paul's face when you fuckers suggest synning anything.

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See, he does exist! For all his many, endless faults, I do love him so. You’ll note he’s wearing my hoodie in that picture, which he liberally coated in oil from his pizza. That was his face when I dared to raise it to him. I’m sick of living in fear, if I’m honest.


Now, speaking of living in fear, I’m terrified by how rubbish this looks. Well no obviously I’m not, but please forgive me. Onto the sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash…

sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash

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sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash

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This is actually a Nigel Slater recipe that we've tinkered with slightly to make it less buttery and better for your arse. Enjoy. We do spoil you.

Ingredients

  • 6 syn free sausages
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 4 eggs

Instructions

  • First, squeeze the sausagemeat out of the casing into 3-4 roughly shaped balls per sausage (don't worry, it doesn't have to be neat)
  • Spray a medium sized frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
  • Add the sausages to the pan and cook until browned all over
  • Meanwhile, peel finely slice the onion
  • Grate the potato (with the skins on) with a cheese grater
  • Drop the grated potato into a sieve and squeeze as much moisture out as you can
  • Add the onion to the frying pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until starting to turn golden
  • Add the potato to the pan and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden
  • make four divots and crack an egg into each one, cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes until the egg has cooked to your liking
  • Got an Actifry or a Halo? PERFECT! Cook the sausages in the pan with the paddle removed, shaking occasionally, for 5-6 minutes until starting to brown. Then add the paddle back to the pan and then chuck in the potato and the onion, and cook for a further 10-12 minutes until done. 

Notes

Courses breakfast

I know love, I know.

More breakfast recipes:

Enjoy!

J

cheesy pea soup – yes, just like The Fast Show

Cheesy pea soup sounds revolting, and what better way to open a blog entry about food than with that line? I know, we’re awful, we took a month off to concentrate on a few things – most notably for me (it’s always me, James, who writes the blog) was half-heartedly walking away from a career in law, only to be tempted back in with the promise of working from home one day a week and condensing all my hours into one day in the office. Well, as someone who likes to sit at home and pick his bum, how could I refuse? It gives me a bit more time to write the cookbook and ogle at our gardener. Speaking of cookbook…

chicken, chorizo and seafood paella

It’s been a sad day near Chubby Towers with the passing of one of our neighbours. It’s inevitable, yes, when the average resident took their pension before the Boer War, but still, nobody likes to see a private ambulance trundling into the street early in the morning, do they? Especially when they park in my parking spot, but I didn’t think it was the time to cause a fuss. I’ll send a parking fine later with some white lilies. It did cause a slight moment of discomfiture when I realised I knew the name of the lady who had passed, but not her husband. The only time he’s ever talked to me was to ask me to remove my Vote Jeremy Corbyn sign, which to be fair to him I’d only put up to be mischievous given we live in a sea of Tory voters. You have no idea how much I want to put a pole up and hang a BEAR PRIDE flag up, if only so we get a few confused questions from the less enlightened. There’s one neighbour on the street who I hope to tempt over to the dark side and literally nailing my colours to the mast might just do it. Me going out in stretched hot-pants and wearing a permanently surprised look hasn’t done it yet.

Anyway. Not knowing the name only became an issue when it came to sending a Deepest Sympathy card. How do you address such a sensitive card when you don’t know the name of the recipient – it’s not like I can do my usual name-fudge and pop ‘soz she’s popped off, Chief‘ on the envelope, is it? In the end, after much agonising, I put ‘Sorry for your loss’ on the card (which seems incredibly disingenuous, as though the poor chap has mislaid his car keys or dropped a bank card down the drain) and signed it ‘Love James and Paul’, which I also immediately regretted because it looked piss-taking. Least I didn’t stick a xoxo on there. Sympathy and human emotion is just too much hard work. In retrospect, signing the card in glittery silver Sharpie probably wasn’t the most elegant move either, but look, it’s all I had to hand. I live in a very camp house.

I can’t imagine we’ll be invited to the funeral.

Which frankly, is a shame: I look splendid in black and I’m all for a wake buffet. Hell, we accidentally gatecrashed a wake in Oslo and only realised our error when we were shooed out by some hurly-burly bearded Norwegian whilst we filled our pockets from the koldtbord. Honestly, the grieving can be so touchy. Only been to three funerals in my time. My nana’s was a particular highlight: both Paul and I suffer from nervous laughter and even though I was genuinely distraught, the absurd sight of her coffin right in front of me whilst the entire church lurched through the eight-hundredth verse of All Things Bright And Beautiful really tickled me. Half of the congregation was made up of her equally elderly friends who were all on the last double-digit breaths of their life – I’m surprised we didn’t lose any. Plus, despite being 31 years old at the time, I still guffawed when the lavender crowd burst out in raptures about the purple headed mountain. Me too, loves. The vicar kept getting her name wrong too, which added an air of tension between the sobs – she didn’t even look like a Norman. I bit so much of my cheek that I can stay lying on my front when Paul wants a blowie.

It has got me thinking about what I want when I die. No fancy funeral, big coffin, lots of jewels – none of that. Nope, sell off all my chintz and bibelots, stuff me full of fireworks and pop a pipe cleaner somewhere indecent as a fuse and then push me out to sea. I want people to remember me how I lived – damp, colourful and usually on fire. No fake solemnity, no wailing, no dabbing daintily at your eyes whilst you remember times past. It’s an open invite to you all that, should you read in the paper of me dying in some tawdry fashion (it’s more inevitable than you can imagine), you can all come to the service. Just make sure you stop by Iceland first because fuck me, it’s going to have to be a good buffet.

What might not make it onto the buffet is this cheesy pea soup, which is a bloody shame because considering how quick it was to make, the fact it is syn free and actually tastes bloody good, it doesn’t deserve to be betrayed by the fact it looks like something Grotbags would cough into a handkerchief. Please, give it a go, and if you don’t like it I’ll take a personal responsibility for your loss. Hell, I might even send you a With Sympathies card. Written in silver Sharpie, natch. Snatch.

cheesy pea soup cheesy pea soup

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cheesy pea soup - syn free, and tasty, I swear

Prep

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Total

Yield 4 big bowls

There's no way I can make that look appetising and for that, I'm sorry. Unless you like sink trap soup. But it's one of those meals that looks appalling but tastes nice, like moussaka, or Paul. Plus it's low in fat, like moussaka, or unlike Paul.

This does take no time at all to make however, uses only a few ingredients and is just the thing for those summer evenings when you have nothing in and the takeaway menu is just a shade out of reach.

Ingredients

  • one big old lettuce from the shops, or garden, if you please
  • 400g of frozen peas (I used petit pois - not for any culinary reason, but just because I couldn't be arsed to find the proper peas at the back of the freezer)
  • two large cucumbers
  • one large bunch of spring onions
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 80g of extra mature cheddar (two x HEA, but this serves four) (and listen, you can totally get away with adding 160g, I'm just being polite)

Instructions

  • slice your spring onions - including all the green stalk - and gently fry off in a little oil
  • cut the lettuce and cucumber up roughly - it's all getting blended so no need for neatness
  • once the spring onions are softened, add the stock, lettuce, peas and cucumber and boil for about 10 minutes until everything has softened but still stays green
  • carefully blend the soup with a hand blender
  • stir in the grated cheese until everything is thick and tasty
  • serve adorned with cress and cheerful wishes (and a lot of black pepper)

Notes

Courses soup

Cuisine syn-free

Enjoy that? Of course you did, you saucy bugger. Want more? Click.

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J