The Failed Recipes of 2014

Messy kitchen.

Here she be! The Last Post of 2014.

And what better way to wrap up the year than to share my worst failed recipes from the last 12 months? Brilliant, I know.

This year I’ve found myself cooking in some really weird situations. Like, REALLY weird. From the basement to the construction zone of our new kitchen (which is soon to be revealed completely! I haven’t forgotten – just got slowed down by being sick last week) to my parent’s house and, in warmer, more ambitious times – the patio?! Yeah. It’s been quite the year for scrappy cooking.

Kitchen renovation.

And even with all that, it’s also been a year of really really good food. Like the Chopped Thai Salad, the Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole, and the Gingerbread Muffins which I am really really craving this morning thanks to the frozen icebox that is Minnesota right now.

But I have to come clean with you so you don’t start thinking I’m a better cook than I really am – because for every week of good recipes you see on the blog, there are at least a handful of prior attempts, two or three food ideas gone very very bad, and a minimum of one straight up cooking fail that stay behind the scenes.

Until today! It’s the last day of the year, my coffee mug has magically refilled itself twice this morning, and I’m feeling extra-prone to oversharing.

Brace yourself for the truth, friends.

Man and woman making silly faces.

Cauliflower “Cheese Sticks”

You should already be nodding your head in agreement just based on that title. I’m a cauliflower girl at heart and I can support the idea of a good “healthier swap” – but honestly. What compels a person (ME) to grate the cauliflower // cook the cauliflower // press the moisture out of the cauliflower // puree the cauliflower // and mix it with eggs and spices to just to make it into a crust for a wannabe cheese bread? No. Just absolutely no.

We’ve been doing our civic duty to keep Pizza Hut in business ever since this crusty, saggy cauliflower cheese stick occasion.

Pizza with burnt crust.

Chia Egg Pancakes

Anytime I use something resembling googly alien eyes to make an “egg,” I definitely deserve a failed recipe. But sometimes a girl gets desperate, and due to a lack of eggs one fine Saturday morning, I went for the chia egg in my pancake batter. Bad, bad, bad. These poor things were flat, lifeless, and gummy beyond rescue.


Chocolate Quinoa Cake

I blame this recipe fail on our 60 days sugar free, because even though our experience was super awesome and helped me to generally cook better, it also created monsters like this one. As I recall, not only did I try to make a CHOCOLATE CAKE out of cooked pureed QUINOA (no no no no noooo), but I also reduced the sweeteners to something like three single granules of sugar. I know. Send me to cake jail already.

Within one bite, I realized that the time when you make a cake out of quinoa is not the time you should also be reducing the sugar – it was like eating bland chocolate-flavored baked cardboard. But if I’m going to be totally honest here, it was a rainy afternoon and we were so desperate for some kind of warm treat resembling cake that we covered up the cake woes with a nice glug of real maple syrup and… ahem… ate it. I’m so so sorry.

Chocolate chunks.

Chocolate cake.

Sweet Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, and Mystery Sauce

Oh my. I think this came about from me wanting to recreate that sausage and sweet potato dish with cheese sauce, which was a noble place to start. But somewhere between the obscure glue-like sauce and the mushy, dirty looking sweet potatoes and whatever else that is in the pan, maybe a few glops of brown rice? My deepest apologies. Somewhere in the middle of all that, things took a turn for the mushiest, and the stinkiest, because why do Brussels sprouts smell like rotten garbage? Come ON, Brussels sprouts. Needless to say, this baby did not see the light of blog day.

Sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts and a white plate.

Apple Pancakes

This story has a happy ending, but it has a very troubled beginning involving halfway-connected random bits of pancake batter and semi-burned apple rings trying to be a single, cohesive pancake that would be considered edible. I could talk for a long time about what went wrong with some of the early attempts for those Old Fashioned Apple Pancakes. But more importantly, let’s talk about the fact that based on the sad looks of this pancake, my legal age is probably three years old.

Pancake in a skillet.

Sweet Chili Chicken Pizza

This pizza! I made it and it was going to be a spicy-delicious Friday night dinner – which is always a great set-up for a fail, right? The happy food-loving spouse works all day on a homemade pizza to celebrate the end of the work week. Perfect.  I tried to cut a slice of said spicy-delicious pizza and somehow I found myself looking at this tangle of chicken, pineapple, sweet chili sauce, and cheese. Like, HOW DOES THIS EVEN HAPPEN. It’s 110% likely that I cried, half for the lost pizza and half for the fact that we are becoming Pizza Hut regulars.

Messy food on a cutting board.

Citrus Poppyseed Muffins

Baking powder, where you at? Come on and help a girl out already. Yet another run-in with The Deeply Inverted Middles.

Deflated muffins in a tin.


This one – ugh. I can hardly even talk about this one. *shudder* I made salmon to go in a recipe I was working on and, I know this is not a creative way to describe it, but the recurring thought of the salmon has killed all creativity –> it was just plain old GROSS. As in dry, hard, leathery, and then some.

The ultimate fail, however, is me attempting to revive and reuse the salmon by packing it into these little containers and pretending that we would put it on salads for lunch throughout the week. Resourceful! Healthy! Ummm, yeah. Not even close. This poor salmon was destined for the garbage and I am destined to be a most-of-the-time vegetarian.

Food in containers.

Bundt Cake #1

Because, yes, there is more than one.

Messy food on a plate and in a bundt pan.

Bundt Cake #2

Hi, I’m a whole wheat apple bundt cake! And thanks to an overzealous amount of whole wheat flour, I taste like heavy sand in your mouth. Mmmmm.

Cake in the garbage.

Thai Green Curry

I came -thisclose- to actually posting this recipe earlier this year, but it came time to publish and the aftertaste of the bamboo shoots was still lingering in my mouth and I just couldn’t do that to you. I mean, just look at it for a second and try to see something other than scary vegetable swamp water. Plus, those bamboo shoots (also known as sour grass + dirt to my immature tastebuds), and the color? Ummm, where my red bell peppers at? Carrots? Halloooo – anything with a little bit of non-green color out there? S.O.S. to the green curry. Green took over my mind, things spiraled out of control quickly, and in the end, we lost this one to the WordPress Trash.
Green curry in a skillet.

Rhubarb Muffins

Nope. Don’t do it. I know you’re tempted to like them, but don’t succumb. Way too much sugar and way too spongy and wet around the rhubarb, like rhubarb always does. Which brings me to the real question: who even really likes rhubarb? Stringy, sour, chomp chomp chomp.

Muffins on a drying rack.

Healthy Chocolate Bars

These, too, have a happy and delicious Healthy Chocolate Bar ending (three cheers! hooray!), but it took me many batches resembling this crumble of a mess to get to the point of healthy chocolate bar success. Speaking of fails, in this particular example 1) why am I balancing the whole batch of chocolate bars on my ONE ARM? and maybe even more startling – 2) why does my arm look like it’s been oiled up for the tanning bed? Not okay. Super not okay.

Chocolate mush on parchment paper.

Whole Roasted Chicken

This one is most definitely rated PG – squeamish readers, avert your eyes now.

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to be a domestic queen who roasts whole chickens. After watching 800 tutorials on how to tie the chicken, buying a roasting pan and twine and a meat thermometer, handling a raw whole chicken in ways that I can’t even talk about right now, splattering chicken grease ALL OVER the inside of our new oven, setting off the smoke alarm, and wasting at least 1,000 minutes of my life with all of these shenanigans put together, I ended up with this overly watery, jiggly pink (is that, like, blood? or is it undercooked? omg I need to sit down.) disgusting mess. In 2014, I fully accept whole roasted chicken Defeat with a capital D.

You win, chicken. YOU WIN.

Chicken on a cutting board.

So now you know the truth about me – that I cook swamp water-type foods, that my arms are apparently oiled, and that I have accepted whole roast chicken failure in my 28th year of life.

And if, by some weird chance, you want to know more about how much I totally rock at cooking, you can also check out the fails from 2013. Special. Also, if you want to see the posts that inspired me to start documenting my fails, you can check out these recipe disasters.

Can we still be friends in 2015? No repeat offenses with these shmuck recipes, pinky promise.

Have fun, be safe, and see you for MORE FOOD in the New Year! And if you have any fails from 2014 to commiserate about, START TALKING.

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