Baked Meatballs with Penne in Arrabiata Sauce

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You know me: always on a diet, but a greedy boy with a big appetite! Well, no surprise that I’m always on a diet, then! The problem is, most people associate diets with rabbit food, and that’s really just not my scene. So when I heard all the gym-bod meat-heads of the interwebs buzzing about this new phenomenon called Muscle Food, I thought I’d give it a go. Basically, they sell high protein products (mostly very lean meat) mainly marketed at those who are trying to bulk up through excruciating gym routines, but also with an eye on those like me who just wanna watch what they eat.

So first order made, I got their New Year Hamper which included tonnes of chicken breasts, steak, and the like. I was also intrigued to see they’d included giant meatballs. I was a bit wary, but a quick check of my Slimming World app informed me the meatballs were only half a syn each. HALF a syn! I’m allowed 15 a day, and there were six of these beasts! For only 3 syns the lot, I was damn sure I was going to find a recipe to use them in.

Pasta seemed an obvious choice (and I always have some) so then I just wanted a sauce to go with it. I was thinking of something tomato based, as I always have tinned tomatoes and pasata in the house as well. My first thought was an Arrabiata, but I thought I’d have a look through my Slimming World Little Book of Sauces first, just in case…. and then it turned out that I already had all the ingredients I needed for an Arabiatta sauce anyway, so that won…. and am I glad it did!

I thought it was a bit of a boring fail-safe, but it turns out it packs quite a kick! I can’t rave enough about how good this meal was (only regret is eating it all in one sitting, so there was no more left for later!)

Don’t take my word for it though…. get your cook on!


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Beef & Peanut Kari Kari

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This Christmas, the mothership bought me loads of cook books (there were five, in total) including a one-pot & slow cooker one. I’m a big fan of one-pot cooking, because it means less washing-up! I’d never owned a slow cooker, though, but when Tesco are selling them for a tenner, it’s rude not to, right?

So when I ordered the slow cooker, I had a scan through the book to see what recipes to order food for, and the absolute winner was this beef & peanut stew recipe. Apparently, it’s an Estofado, which was taken by the Spanish to the Philippines, where they renamed it Kari Kari.

Although it’s not a fat club recipe, it’s actually pretty light on calories and fat (helped by using fry-light instead of oil) so if you’re looking for something healthy that still tastes indulgent, get stuck in!


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Brisket Bunny Chow

IMGP3705No bunnies were harmed in the production of this blog! (Although I do plan to do a rabbit recipe in the near(ish) future!)

I haven’t been able to find a definitive answer on where the name comes from, but one plausible explanation is that the “bunny” part is an adaptation of “bun”…. now, given that this curried meat is served inside a hollowed-out loaf of bread, that’s not such a far-fetched idea, is it?

I fancied a break from the recent fat club posts (although bread aside, this is fat club friendly) and when I saw this online (courtesy of Christie) I had to give it a try. It’s quirkiness spoke to me, as she knew it would!

This originates from the Indian regions of Durban, South Africa, and its history is as disputed as its etymology. Some say that it originated as a way for Indian slaves to carry their meals out into the fields, others link it to the Apartheid era when Indian golf caddies weren’t allowed to carry cutlery, or in the same era when Indian people weren’t allowed in certain restaurants, so the bread bowls were used to serve them takeaway on the sly, from a back window.

We may never know the definitive history, but we do know it tastes delicious!


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Beef Goulash for the Soul

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Well, the nights have started drawing in, and isn’t it that little bit colder most days? I keep hearing rumours of an Indian summer, but every hint of it seems just to be a tease before the chill sets in again. I’m sat on the couch today, under a blanket, because I refuse to believe it’s time to put the heating on!

In any event, it’s definitely time to switch to your autumn wardrobe (which to me means cracking out the Autumn/Winter/Spring jumpers) and trade the light summer salads for those good old-fashioned hearty stews. Something a bit more comforting, and well… soul-warming!

I promised back in January that not every recipe would be a fat club one, but it turns out that most of them have. I can only apologise for that, whilst hoping that you haven’t found them to be lacking. You’ll be glad to know that this one isn’t from Fat Club…. but I’m still fat fighting, and it just turns out that this particular recipe is still pretty healthy, and would be considered “free” at Slimming World… just a coincidence, though!

I loved this recipe – not only was it super tasty, but it definitely warmed me up. It doesn’t have the spice you might expect from me, just a nice warmth and depth that left me feeling comfy-cosy!


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Caribbean Pepperpot Stew

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If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling the effects of the Seasonal over-indulgence! I’ve mentioned a few times that one of the risks of running a food blog is that the pounds pile on! Having injured my foot in the Cardiff 10k back in September, I really haven’t been exercising as much as I should, and I’ve also been eating whatever the heck I like! Generally, for me, that involves far too much of everything, and none of it very healthy! With the added decadence of Christmas thrown into the mix, I’ve put on about half a stone in three months… eek!

So, rather than waiting for the new year to start, I signed up for Fat Club (otherwise known as Slimming World) on Monday. I thought this recipe of theirs looked great, so I’ve decided to share it with you today, as a healthy option to kick-start your resolutions!

Don’t worry, I’ll still be having cheat days, so not every post for the next few months is going to be a fat club recipe! Although if they taste as good as this, you’d never know the difference anyway!

I’ve only modified this recipe very very slightly, but I have suggested some other tweaks (as ever)!


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Where There’s Smoky Chunky Chilli There’s Fire

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This Chilli is so smoky that for 24 years, it’s been living next door to Alice. Don’t let that middle-of-the road, easy-listening 70’s Soft-Rock Ballad analogy fool you, though… where there’s smoke there’s fire, and this is no exception! This smoky-fiery chilli will make your nose run and your forehead sweat. It’s illegal to wear a wooly jumper whilst eating this dish.

I’ve often said that every man should have a robust chilli in his repertoire, so I guess it’s somewhat surprising that after over 25 recipes, one hasn’t featured yet on TidyMunch. The honest truth of the matter is that until now, I haven’t had such a chilli! With the weather turning bitterly colder this week, I was determined to fix this with a proper winter warmer. And I’ve certainly achieved that!

Don’t worry – you can always adjust the spices if you prefer a little less heat – the smokiness still makes this a hearty and tasty plateful for cold winter nights!


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Meatballs in a Sweet, Sour, and Spicy Tomato Sauce

IMGP3062This one’s a treasure! It looks like a bit of a faff, but didn’t feel so in the doing!

I found this in Honey & Co. Food From the Middle East by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich. Another beautiful-looking cookbook with some fascinating recipes. I found it somewhat mesmerising to read the introduction and the first few pages of recipes – personal experience of their life together and early days of launching their own restaurant are weaved around and throughout the recipes to create a narrative that reads almost like fiction. No matter how many of the recipes I get around to trying, I’ve a feeling I’ll read the book cover to cover, which I don’t think can be said for many cookbooks!

Back to the recipe itself, this is almost a straight take on it. I’ve suggested some tweaks later as I always do, but the version presented here is fairly true. It is indeed sweet, sour and spicy. It’s also very filling and satisfying. So go go go!


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Ifits Sweet & Spicy Beef Stir-fry

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My mother is one of those people who always has a fully-stocked kitchen. The fridge and freezer are always over-flowing, as are the cupboards. If there is a blizzard, my parents will not starve. If there is a tropical heatwave, there will be cool drinks. In a Nuclear Apocalypse, they’ll outlast the cockroaches. On judgement day, there will be nachos.

I’m not one of those people.

I plan my week’s meals, and I buy the ingredients for them. A week at a time. If I’m craving chocolate, I have to walk to the shops, and convince myself that I’m burning off the calories I’ll be consuming.

Once in a while, things go wrong – one of the ingredients will have gone off, I’ll have forgotten something, or I just (shock) won’t feel like cooking (most often, it’s more accurate to say that I won’t feel like cleaning up after). Those days are known as Eff-it days…. as in “eff-it, I’m having a take-away!” Those who know me, will know that this happened far too often.

Lately, I’ve been trying to lose some lbs and save some £££s, so the Eff-it days have greatly dwindled, to be replaced with what my friends Trudy & Julian call Ifits days – “If it’s in the cupboard, that’s what we’re having!”

So, despite my propensity towards Mother Hubbard-dom, I can honestly say that the beef itself is the only ingredient from Ifits Sweet & Spicy Beef Stir-fry that wasn’t already in my cupboards. The whole Idea of this recipe is that many of the ingredients can be replaced by anything else!

So what are you waiting for? Get your sleeves rolled up, and get up to the elbows in the cupboard!

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