Okay people. I have hereby dubbed 2012 THEE year of recipe disasters. I mean, it was bad.

2010 was… whatever.

2011 was sort of rough.

This year. Ouch.

More failed recipes came out of my kitchen in the last 12 months than ever before. I don’t know if I attribute that to my increasing comfort level in the kitchen (read: oh, I don’t have to measure anything ever. EVER.) or my ambitiousness and desire to try new things. But I’m going to go ahead and say both. Yeah, and some of them came from utter laziness, desperation and just plain hunger.

Seriously? Some weeks I was busting out four or five fails in a row. Do you want to hear about them? Probably not. But guess whaaaaaat? I’m telling you anyway.


Last January, I tried to make a chocolate peanut butter sheet cake. Um, it was disgusting. Like barely any flavor. I also think I burnt the peanut butter while melting, then decided to use it anyway. Have you ever tried burnt peanut butter? Please don’t. Anyway, this obviously did not stop me from going at this cake with a fork a few times. I live a sad life.


Moving on.

I tried to make some sort of chicken in a green-chili-this-looks-absolutely-horrific sauce. I have no idea what I was doing. It was terrible. I would not wish this on my worst enemy.

Wait. Maybe I would.


In the Spring I went on a serious blue corn chip kick. If you are asking yourself how this is different from my everyday life… you are correct. It’s not. Except at this point I was so obsessed that I was putting blue corn everything in my food. EVERYTHING.

Example #1… blue corn cakes. Not so good. Pretty hideous. Also an unpictured fail, blueberry butter. I was lazy and used frozen blueberries which ended up making the butter transform into dark purple separated water. Awesome.


Example #2… blue corn chip crusted chicken fingers. Not as good as you would think. Was hopeful it would be as fabulous as salt and vinegar crusted fish. It was not. See also: totally unappealing pictures of bluish-purple-brownish chicken.


Apparently, fails came in twos this year. Or else I was just super forgetful. Probably that second one.

I tried to make some lavender cinnamon rolls covered in chocolate ganache, and oh gosh… barf. So awful. It wasn’t so much the chocolate + lavender combo that turned me off (that’s sort of fab) as it was the horrendous whole wheat cinnamon rolls that I attempted. Certain things should not be made with whole wheat flour. Cinnamon rolls are one of them.


But, didn’t learn my lesson and tried making whole wheat apple cider cinnamon rolls later this year. The best part is that these pictures? They are the THIRD failed batch.

Um, what’s the definition of insanity? My picture will probably be directly underneath.


Let’s see. How not to cook shrimp:

Do not: try to make a lightened up version of sweet and sour shrimp and end up with rubbery pieces that taste only of soy sauce and vinegar. Like a lot of it. Like this shrimp took a six hour bath in vinegar. Hate.


This mango coconut chicken was good in theory but extremely bland in taste…

… and covered in electric yellow mango sauce. Gross. Acidic. It might sound good, but just… no.


OH wait!! Let me show you what my life looks like every week.

Yeah. That.


But sometimes, they do turn out… sort of. Or not.

In September, I made chocolate cupcakes and some of the worst pumpkin buttercream I’ve ever laid eyes on. Coming in at a close second are my decorating skills which were quite pathetic. I still don’t have any patience.


Remember when I made those glazed donut holes that I OMGlovedsomuch?

This is what I did to the first batch. Like little lumps of coal. How tasty.


And only two nights ago, I tried to recreate my grandmother’s orange cookies at, like, midnight and, well… that didn’t turn out.

At all. Cookies. Those are supposed to be COOKIES.



This is probably about an eighth of the disasters that came out of my kitchen, but I guess we can say that these are some of my favorites. At least some of my favorites that I took the time to photograph instead of throwing an all-out tantrum and pitching a fit. Even if I’m full-blown meltdown Jessica at the time, looking back I sort of appreciate these failures because I assume I must learn SOMETHING at the time. Right? And you know, that sounds sort of mature. Or old. Maybe I’m growing up or something? I don’t know. I hope not.

Here’s to much more patience in 2013.

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145 Responses to “Recipe Disasters of 2012.”

  1. #
    Amy Powell — December 26, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

    always good to know that everyone makes disasters, lol.

    I do want you to perfect those orange cookies, though, that sounds yummy!

    thanks for a fab 2012!


  2. #
    Aly — December 26, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

    Aww. I’m glad you can find some humor, though. I bawled about my croissants and then after realized how silly I was being.


  3. #
    Jenn — December 26, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

    So good to know I’m not the only blogger who has several fails for every winner. Found you on Flipboard, great blog! Have a. Happy New Year.


  4. #
    Ian — December 26, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

    Love your honesty! Made chuckle…


  5. #
    Natalie @ In Natalie's Shoes — December 26, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

    It’s nice to know that even my baking idol isn’t perfect all the time. Cause, seriously girl, everything you post on here looks delicious allllll the time. You give a wannabe baker with plenty of mega-fails hope. Thanks for sharing and for giving me a giggle this afternoon!


  6. #
    Emily Drew — December 26, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

    Thank you for your failure post! It makes me feel better that I’m not the only one! Hope you had a great holiday and a happy new year!


  7. #
    Katie — December 26, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

    What a fantastic post! I admire your culinary swag so much, and it’s so comforting to know that someone as accomplished as you can still make a fair share of mistakes in the kitchen. I’ll think of this and remember to keep my head up/keep tryin’ the next time I have a boo-boo. :) Happy holidays to you!


  8. #
    Heather Byrd — December 26, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

    I love your blog! You’r commentary and writing makes me want to cyber surf to your dinner table and hang out! I look forward to you nonsense and delicious happenings in the new year!!! As far as I’m concerned you are a celebrity, food celeb that is :)

    Happy New Year!!


  9. #
    peabody — December 26, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

    I love this! People always seem to think that everything we make turns out so amazing. Yeah, not so much. :)


  10. #
    Hilary — December 26, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

    Totally enjoyed reading this. Thanks for the humor!


  11. #
    StephD — December 26, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

    Loving this post! So nice to know I am not the only one who sometimes has trouble in the kitchen…lol


  12. #
    Jade Sheldon — December 26, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

    Disasters only mean you are taking chances. Can’t wait to see what you come up with in the coming year…


  13. #
    Holiday Baker Man — December 26, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

    Thank gawd this happens to someone else too!


  14. #
    Beth — December 26, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

    I really enjoy your blog, your recipes and think your photography is great. It makes me feel like I am right in the kitchen with you. All of the time you take, the trial and error make the end result SO much better. Thank you for sharing and Happy Holidays to you.

    P.S. I just made the breakfast muffins (streusel inside and on top, wheat flour and greek yogurt) for the second time. They have become a new favorite around here!


  15. #
    Mary Beth — December 26, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

    I’m so glad to hear you burned the first batch of donut holes because I totally did too! :)


  16. #
    Cat — December 26, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

    Orange cookies are my favorite cookies of all time. My mother has a recipe, which she got from her mother, who got it from her neighbor when she was younger. The neighbor got it from who knows where, but it’s absolutely amazing.

    They are a very cake-y cookie! I can give you the recipe, if you’d like. :)


  17. #
    Amber @ Au Coeur — December 26, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

    It’s always nice to know I’m not the only one! :-)

    By the way, my FAVORITE cinnamon roll uses whole wheat flour and I have never found another recipe I love more. It also happens to be loaded with pumpkin puree which keeps it super moist and delicious. http://www.amber-hinds.com/2010/12/06/pumpkin-cinnamon-rolls/


  18. #
    Katie — December 27, 2012 @ 12:32 am

    I absolutely love being your imaginary internet friend. In fact, I have been watching/reading you daily for almost a year now and have never posted until a couple days ago. You’re my cooking/blogging hero! :)


  19. #
    Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) — December 27, 2012 @ 12:35 am

    Oh my, lol! I guess to come up with so many wonderful things, you’re bound to have a few flops here and there.


  20. #
    liz — December 27, 2012 @ 12:48 am

    hilarious. I think my favorite part is that you got them all set up food-photography style…especially the blue-corn pancake fail all gussied up with the messily placed blueberries and background pretty pitcher.
    Been there. Set up the picture. Took some pretties. Tried it and gagged.
    Here’s to better luck in 2013!


  21. #
    Nicole — December 27, 2012 @ 7:02 am

    Even though I am a good cook and baker, it’s good to see I am not the only one to fail sometimes. And when they’re horrible, they’re really horrible! I have to agree with Liz, though. You still took some awesome pics.


  22. #
    Donna — December 27, 2012 @ 7:53 am

    Nodding head in agreement with Liz and Nicole…great pics..even of the “fails”…that had me rolling on the floor laughing in total empathy…the comments prefacing the photos had me weeping…literally….the charred donut holes did it for me!!!…I simply love you and your honest, beyond witty prose…Thank you for all of your work this year…you have some mighty grateful readers here….Funny how you wish for more patience in 2013….I wish I possessed half the patience you seem to demonstrate on a daily basis…


  23. #
    Sharon B — December 27, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    I look at all of my kitchen fails as accomplishments. It means I am still willing to try new things. Love that you shared your “fails”. Happy New Year!


  24. #
    Rachel — December 27, 2012 @ 9:54 am

    Lucky for us, you keep trying. Some of my favorite dishes to make now come from your recipes. Some I make as-is, and some I modify to suit my family’s tastes and needs. I look forward to each one of your new posts and going back to look at your old posts!


  25. #
    Anne — December 27, 2012 @ 10:11 am

    Loved this post! Thank you for helping me get over this week’s failed wheat bread that didn’t even make it to the oven it failed so badly. And last week’s failed butterscotch-pumpkin fudge that, rather than being a fabulous gift, became the drizzle-over-cake-topping at home.

    I, however, did not photograph my disasters. You have great courage.


  26. #
    Nancy — December 27, 2012 @ 11:34 am

    Well, you certainly gave me a chuckle this morning! We all have disasters and the best catharsis is to laugh at onesself! Now you wouldn’t put these out for THE WORLD to see :-) if it didn’t give you a little chuckle too! Happy New Year to you and your family.


  27. #
    Cate — December 27, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

    I love how you still style and photograph your failures!


  28. #
    wendyb964 — December 27, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

    Thanks for showing us that excellent baker-bloggers are not infallaible. Many of my failures should be documented, but I get thoroughly dsgusted and have even thrown away some pans as I can’t deal with them. Thankfully I’ve learned the hard way it’s at least as instructive to read the post-recipe comments as the recipe itself. This tempered with my common sense or piquing my curiosity has minimized my pan-tossing.


  29. #
    Courtney @ Neighborfood — December 27, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! It makes me feel somewhat sane for making three batches of caramel since the first two turned into a blackened oil slick.


  30. #
    Emme — December 27, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

    I love it that you share these. Helps me remember that you’re human, like me!


  31. #
    Rochelle Walker — December 27, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    this is so, so funny ;)
    i love your blog: the way you write it…the recipes are fabulous. so it’s reassuring (and hilarious) to see the failures, too. because it happens to us all. ha! love.


  32. #
    Michelle Levine — December 27, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

    Love this post ! Ha no worries – I had many disasters too. Like a greek yogurt strawberry bread that was a loaf of mush. And candy filled brownies where the candy actually disappeared and dissolved leaving , just, well. brownies !


  33. #
    Sharyn Dimmick — December 27, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    Jessica, what a wonderful thing to do to post all of your failed recipes at once — when I fail at cooking I just stop blogging for awhile (okay, a long while). That said, I think the blue corn cakes with blueberry butter look delicious — I would eat them. Anyway, your post made me laugh. Happy New Year.


  34. #
    Katie @ Blonde Ambition — December 27, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

    LOL I always love seeing these pictures. The blue corn mess-ups made me laugh out loud…Such good ideas in theory!!!


  35. #
    Vicki — December 27, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

    Oh — so I’m not the only one who has culinary disasters! Thanks for sharing and easing my mind…..


  36. #
    foodwithpictures — December 27, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

    Great post … fun to read and easy to relate to.


  37. #
    Cate @ CatesKitchenAdventures — December 27, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    Any cook who claims to never have disaster moments is a complete liar in my book, we all have them! I have had loads this year (don’t talk to me about salted caramel or my attempt at creating rocky road cupcakes!) but after the initial frustration I always manage to learn something new… I look forward to your 2013 creations, happy cooking!


  38. #
    claudia — December 27, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

    Jessica, you are hilarious! Love your mistakes and even love you more for making them. Some of the greatest discoveries come from mistakes, and you, most definitely, have shared some great discoveries. Happy New Year!!! :)


  39. #
    Sarah O. — December 27, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

    Love it when bloggers keep it real. My most recent fail involved a vegetarian mushroom “stroganoff” and a greek yogurt sauce that separated so it looked like thousands of tiny maggots swimming in brown liquid. Pretty horrifying.


  40. #
    Mercedes Azurdia — December 27, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

    Thank you for this post, Jessica. I was doubting that you were human for the incredible perfection of your food. You are amazing and you inspire me so much. Keep it going.


  41. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — December 27, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

    I had the most kitchen fails of all time this year too! Buuuut I cooked more, so that might have something to do with it. This year I bookmarked (and pinned) more How Sweet It Is recipes than any other blogger! I love you. Thanks for making 2012 a great one! :)


  42. #
    Alex — December 28, 2012 @ 12:53 am

    Yeah, I just made whole wheat cinnamon rolls for Christmas…………never again. Never. :)


  43. #
    Marci Johnson — December 28, 2012 @ 9:18 am

    awwww.. I find it so refreshing that you shared some of your disasters with us. When it comes to cooking in general I am a walking disaster. I can bake a mean cookie or cupcake- but cooking nah,,,,, Let’s just order some pizza. okay?


  44. #
    Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen — December 28, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

    I love this. The little lumps of coal make me laugh…out loud….in the office. Luckily, no one is around to witness my insanity. haha

    My most recent disaster? An attempt at red velvet fudge which almost boiled out of the pan (there was definitely screaming/panic occuring…accompanied by feverish stirring) and in the proceess it got too hot…so, while it tasted good…it was like a giant shingle of sugar. It could be called a success only for the fact that I was able to stop my house from catching on fire due to a molten sugar explosion two days before Christmas.


  45. #
    Cookie and Kate — December 28, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    This post is so refreshing, Jessica! I’m still amazed that you manage to post five recipes a week even with these disasters, though. I am constantly getting excited about recipe concepts that aren’t as great in reality as they are in my head! Ug.


  46. #
    Tina K — December 28, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

    Of all of the food blogs I follow (it’s a ton), yours is the only one who publishes fails. This says a great deal about you. Thank you for being honest and for making the rest of us feel less like losers (wait…speaking for myself here…didn’t mean to lump EVERYONE in with me).


  47. #
    Erica {Coffee & Quinoa} — December 28, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

    Love this. Thank you for sharing! Always nice to know that everyone is human :)


  48. #
    Ruthy @ omeletta — December 28, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

    Your year of recipe disasters looks like my life at times, and I don’t know if I should find that comforting or sad. Thankfully bad cake is still cake! (most of the time)


  49. #
    Vera — December 28, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    Whole wheat cinnamon rolls can turn out quite well. You just have to know what you’re doing. Bread is not everyone’s forte!


  50. #
    Ashley — December 28, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

    Even your disasters look delicious. I want to stick my face in that apple cider cinnamon roll. And that green chile chicken dish? That’s how ALL my chicken dishes look!



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