Well. I just titled this “2014 recipe disasters,” so that should give you an idea of how wrecked 2013 was. Lots of recipes failed SO many times in 2013 that I added a year onto my life. Because it’s just impossible that I had that many fails. Oomph.

I say it every year, I know. But this year? It was the WORST in the kitchen so far. So many fails. So, so, so many. In the very beginning of the year, I was finishing some recipes for my cookbook. Hello, self doubt and fails in every way? Oh yes. It wasn’t just that though. Lots of new recipe experimentation and good old ideas that tanked. Fun!

As I embark on my fifth year of this stuff, it’s always fun to take a look back on tradition and my kitchen blunders. You can also find:

2012 recipe fails

2011 recipe fails (and apparently the year when I thought rhyming was cool.)

2010 recipe fails

And this doesn’t even count the floor-smashed eggs and spilled milk that’s a daily occurence. When we don’t even have kids.

So. Here we go!

I cannot count that number of batches of coconut oil brownies I attempted. Started last December… gave up in late summer.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Probably ten? What’s the definition of insanity again? Perhaps it wouldn’t have been so insane had I stopped using ALL coconut oil and still expecting rich and fudgy traditional brownies, but no. Why would I have done that? Clueless.

These were gritty in your mouth. Doesn’t that sound like something you want to sink your teeth into?

I made this clementine chicken skillet this past Spring.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

It was probably good in theory, but then I went and added things like beer, peanuts, parsley and uh, spinach? I have no idea where that was going. No where good, that’s for sure.

After learning of the fabulousness of skillet pizza first thing this year, early on I decided I’d make dessert skillet pizza.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

This was atrocious. I have no other words.

Then I tried to make mini pepperoni pizzas. Why did I think a muffin tin was appropriate for that?

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Spoiler alert: it isn’t.

One thing I made that was delicious? These dark chocolate mini loaves.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Then I lost the recipe. Maybe I just never wrote it down? I’ve never been able to recreate their moistness since. Yeah, I said it. Go ahead. Yell at me.

And this happens more often than not. The missing recipes… not the moist cake.

I could’ve just had a bad year with loaf pans. This yeasted coffee cake below failed FOUR times.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

It’s exploded in my oven all four times too. AWESOME.

Goat cheese alfredo? Sounded fab to me.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

But it curdled and separated and was nothing that I hoped for. The good news is that I figured it out. We can talk about it soon. Also: what was I doing with the plain tomatoes? That’s just gross.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I was THISCLOSE to sharing a rice krispie recipe. I thought those days were behind me.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

They’re not, I guess. I love me some culinary lavender, but these tasted like flowers. Rice krispie flowers. I do not support the floral crunch dessert. You may think a lot of my food is weird but this? Is weirder.

I also went through a two hour phase of photographing food on ripped pieces of a cardboard box. What?

Hmmm. Again: Why did I think the below was a good idea?

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Yes that is cheese. No, it is not a Kraft single but it appears that way. Yes, it was made by me. No, I am not three years old.

I swear it was a real thing, based on a breakfast I had in Nantucket in June. Apparently I didn’t convey my love properly. This looks horrific. But hey! AT LEAST I GOT THE POURING SHOT. Stuff that matters.

I thought it would be an excellent idea to make roasted cherry chocolate chip cookies.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

It was not.

Speaking of fruit, I also thought it would be an awesome plan to make roasted strawberry marshmallows. And homemade chocolate graham crackers.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Seriously can’t even. An awful, awful mess. Gross beyond words.

Pesto pork chops sounded great in my head.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Would YOU want to eat green pork?

These blondies? Below was my first attempt.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

Blech.

Remember that time I thought it would be a wise idea to melt cheese on meatloaf?

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

On no, you don’t. Because I never told you. THANK GOD.

The saddest fail for me in all of this year were these whole wheat pumpkin sticky buns.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

They look pretty good, right? I even added pistachios!

Too bad they tasted like cardboard. Or worse. I had been excited about this recipe since August, after visiting American Spoon. It came out of their fall catalog but I thought I could be cool and make it a whole wheat dough. I couldn’t. It was sad. My mom ate one and was disgusted. Fail fail fail.

A few weeks ago, we attempted these jalapeño jack turkey burgers.

2013 Recipe Disasters I howsweeteats.com

They turned out fantastic. As you can see.

And just last Sunday, I dropped an entire sheet of cookies in my hot, hot oven.

That was great. I can’t show you the picture because you will judge me and my dirty oven. Truth.

And there you have just a little portion of my year. To say it’s been a learning experience would be quite the understatement… yet after every fail, I wonder “what the heck am I actually learning?” The jury’s still out. But! Thanks for sharing in all of my gluttony this year. You guys rock my socks. Now seriously? Tell me about some of your kitchen fails so I can feel like I have friends. Hearts hearts hearts!

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138 Responses to “2013 Recipe Disasters.”

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    Dana N — January 3, 2014 @ 3:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing your flops! I laughed out loud. We all have them (I had a severely underbaked coffee cake just two weeks ago – and that was even with using a cake tester. And don’t get me started on how I forgot to plug my crockpot in on New Year’s Day….). Sigh. :)

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    Kato — January 5, 2014 @ 7:13 am

    I think the mini pepperoni pizza muffins are really sweet looking.. <3 ^^

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    Ginger — January 6, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

    Seriously overbaked pound cake…as in I couldn’t swallow it!! Think of it this way – when you’re creative, sometimes your ideas will rock and sometimes they won’t be quite as good. Creative geniuses can’t hit the jackpot EVERY time! :)

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    Ashley — January 7, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

    Dude. You are amazing. This made me laugh and shake my head in my own disasters. Which made me realize that I need to take more pictures of them and laugh at it all rather than hang my head in culinary shame.

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    Mollie @Sprinkles of Life — January 7, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

    I look forward ro this post every year, Jess! I love the real look into your kitchen and am always curious as to what actually flopped.

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    Meabh — January 11, 2014 @ 2:16 pm

    Ha! A brilliant post! It’s not often bloggers are so honest! Meabh xox
    http://www.peachparade.com

    Reply

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    Olivia — January 11, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one making mistakes this year! Thanks for sharing, I laughed out loud :)

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    cassie — January 12, 2014 @ 10:54 am

    I tried to make peppermint marshmallows…I wish I could attach a picture of the mess! I burned the sugar, turning it pitch black and it bubbled up (picture a giant bubble gum bubble) in the pan (that I STILL can’t get clean)! Nightmare. I tried again, with a friend helping (it’s a two person job, in my opinion) and a glass of wine (it helps, I swear), and they turned out soooo yummy and look amazing too! The first time was HILARIOUS though! Glad I’m not the only one with some food fails of 2013 ;-)

    Reply

    • Katie — January 12th, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

      this is so great – cracked me up because I have SO been there – many times! thanks for sharing!

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    Nina — January 15, 2014 @ 10:23 am

    I haven’t known so much recipes fails as far as I can remember. Not that I’m not experimenting, but when I do, I try to play it safe. Or to adapt a recipe that I already have tried. But when I try something new, yeah, sometimes it fails.

    I once bought some cheese flavoured tofu patties. I didn’t really enjoyed eating one like a regular “steak” so I decided that I would made stuffed cabbage with the othe one. I don’t excatky recall what I put in the stuffing with the crumbled tofu steak, I think there was lentils or rice, or both. then I stuffed my cabbage leaves and cooked them. I don’t really know what didn’t work, but it tasted awful. It was acid, totally inedible.

    Once, coming back at 11pm from a weekend at my boyfriend’s, I was hungry but had very few items in my pantry. I decided to cook tuna pilaf rice (I know, it sounds so WTF and i SHOULD have know it would be horrible, but I was SO tired and hungry!) I started with oignons, and since I wanted them to cook faster, I used one of my mother’s technique : pour a bit of chicken broth (or water, I sould’ve stick with water…) in it. I was so tired that I put half of a broth cube in my pan (what I usually use for 4 people…) without thinking about it. Then I added the rice, more water, tuna and let it cook. Then I don’t know what crossed my mind, but I thought that curry would be great in it (to go with the fish, you see?). It was over-salted because of the big amount of cubed broth I had put in it. I tell you, canned tuna and over-concentrated chicken broth taste awful together. You can’t even imagine… I wanted to make up for that, and added… olives in brine, since I had some in my fridge (or maybe I had put the olives first and then added curry for balance? I don’t remember). It was even saltier and I tell you again : curry and olives in brine is the worst match you could think about. Horrible. But I was so hungry that I ate some and went to bed past midnight. the day after, I had no time to go for grocery shopping but I couldn’t even imagine eating my rice again so I asked a friend to invite me for dinner!

    There is also this time when I made egg cream with caramel. After my 3rd attempt, my caramel still refused to cook properly, I was just having a kind of crystallised sugar syrup. I didn’t want to try again and put this syrup in the mould, poured the egg cream on top and put it in the oven, thinking that the caramel thing would settle when cooking. And when we served the cream, plunging the spoon into it, water came from the bottom of the mould, owerflowing the cream. There was no caramel, but instead a thick sheet of crystallised sugar, a layer of water and then the cream. The cream was delicious despite that, I had correctly followed the instructions for it at least!

    I had a super cake fail once as well. I wanted to try a 3-chocolate and orange layer cake. But with no real recipe. I planned to make a cake base from a recipe, chocolate fillings from another one, and assemble everything. I baked a génoise, thinking it would raise a lot in the oven and that I could slice it in 3, but I ended up with a 1 cm thick cake… So I made another one, but the egg whites didn’t get very foamy (I was beating them In the bowl I used for the 1st cake, without having rinced it… Stupid me…) and the 2nd cake was even flatter… Didn’t feel like making a 3rd one and I thought I would put the first filling between the two cakes, the 2nd on the top and the 3rd on the side (3-chocolate cake, remeber?). I had wanted to avoid an over-buttery cream at most for the filling so I had found a recipe with gelatin (thus cutting outh the butter amount). The black chocolate filling went well, the milk one too (or so I thought), but the white one was a problem. The chocolate wouldn’t melt ptoperly and made thick lumps in (supposedly) cocoa oil and melted butter, I thought it looked as if my cat had puked in my pan… I poured a good amount of grease in the think before obtening finally an smooth consistency. I started assembling the cake, the fillings had cooled a bit, but it was stil pourable. Well, excepted the milk chocolate one which was very gelatin-y and had a kind of “skin” at its surface that broked into lumps when mixing the filling. I realised that I had put 3 gelatin sheets instead of 2 without realizing, b/c 2 of them were stick together. (yeah, I know. Big BIG fail. And it’s not over) After cooling, the white chocolate filling that I had put on the side had moved down the cake b/c of gravity (bc you know, filling is NOT frosting…) And I was having friends for tea (actually one of them helped me making this mess that I can’t call a cake and we laughed a lot together), I felt so sorry to serve this thin and horrible looking cake… But it tasted good and we really had fun talking about this fail!

    I also made horrible looking macarons, the liquid food coloring that I had put in the shells in great quantity (otherwise the colour wouldn’t be bright) made the dough too liquid. The shells spread and cracked and looked a bit foamy, but again, it was fortunately tasting very good! I learnt afterward that one should better use powdered food colouring for macarons. I guess experimenting in pastry is not a good thing to do when you’re not a chef (though I once made a chocolate and pear cake at random, just judging from the consistency, baking it directly in the mixing bowl, and it was great! Like a big mug cake! So bad I don’t know the excat recipe…)

    I served undercooked ratatouille to my boyfriend (and we were too tired and hungry to cook it more… Tomatoes, pepperbells and zucchinis are ok if unercooked, but undercooked aubergines are an abomination beyond words…), and over spicy pasta too, put a tiny brussel sprout in a pot of soup wich ended up being inedible (my flatmate and I Hate brussel srpouts, now we know it for sure), never managed to cook dried beans properly, put way too much pepper in anothe soup b/c the pouring lid was set on “big” and I hadn’t seen it, made an over-bitter fennel and orange soup, and an even more bitter salad soup, tried a mushroom, spinach and egg stuffed kabocha squash that ended way too sweet to my taste (but I’ll try it again for sure!), almost burnt a risotto in my rice cooked today (but finally saved it, yay! And it was good!), let half my soba slid in the sink when draining them, used already flavoured seitan for a recipe that involved ginger (and the two tastes dind’t go together very well…), made spanish croquetas with a bechamel that was too liquid (it was just impossible to handle them and fry them. My boyfriend names them Hulk. But again, it was good!), put a TINY cayenne pepper in fajitas sauce which ended up being WAY TOO HOT before I added sugar and vinegar to make up for it, made super sticky stir fry noodles with peanut sauce (delicious. But so, so sticky) tought that thai basil would compliment salmon well (it doesn’t. Don’t EVER try it), made a SUPER HOT green thai curry (yeah, I have a problem with dosing pepper and othe hot stuff… But I had no idea that green curry paste was so hot!), was super upset the first time I cooked red lentils (I had a pot of muddy, orange-y stew, with pieces of chestnut and ham floating in it. I called it “cat puke”), made an undercooked meringue and lemon pie for my boyfriend (poor him. You must think I only serve him undercooked meals. But We cokked the pie again the next day and it was perfect!) and regularly burn stuff in my oven (because it’s an old thing that belongs to my landlord, it heats too much in the bottom and not enough on top!)

    I think it’s all I can remember. Oh and I’m not mentioning the cakes and breads with too little yeast… And burnt cakes b/c I forgot watching after them. This was suuuuuper long sorry! But I laugh so much when thinking about it all this I thought you would too!

    Reply

    • Nina — January 15th, 2014 @ 10:36 am

      I meant “that I thought you would too”, sorry.
      I know you may think “she said she doesn’t have many kitchen fails but that’s a whole bunch of them!”, but actually I’m only 23 and started cooking and experimenting on a daily basis 3 years ago when leaving my parents for my studies (though all the pastry fails were made at my parent’s as a teenager). And as I told you, I try to stay within safe limits when experimenting. I play with ingredients ans spices I know, and I take very little risks. When i think about a recipe that is completely new to me, I first check on the internet to see if someone made it already or made something close so I can know a bit more about the cooking method or the proportions. My tuna rice and stuffed cabbage taught me a lot about associating tastes ;) also, I was a member of what we call an AMAP in France (don’t remeber the English word for it, sorry! But it’s a weekle delivery of seasonal and locally grown vegetables) 2 years ago and it helped me a lot being more creative in my kitchen! I learnt a lot from this year, tried vegetables that I wouldn’t have bought on my own, discovered new ways of cooking them, new matches with spices, etc. I started reading food blogs at that time and i’m more confident now, which prevents me from huge disasters!

      Reply

      • Nina — January 15th, 2014 @ 10:44 am

        (I promise this is the last thing I say!!)
        Hum, “very little risks” I said… I mean, I’m not gonna try “haute cuisine” stuff, like chefs do. That’s not what I like to eat anyway. But the experiments you made, putting cheese on meatloaf or trying pesto pork ribs are experiments that I would totally do! So if you see them as risky, so yeah, that’s the kind of risks I could take. Fortunately, it almost always worked for me. The fact that I have to compose with my flatmate’s tastes also limit the experiments (and the failure) I think!

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    Risa — January 20, 2014 @ 8:23 pm

    My biggest fail ever was losing the cheesecake recipe that took me years (no joke) to perfect. I’ve have scoured all over the place and I can’t find it anywhere :-(

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    Destini — January 23, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

    I love that you shot photos of all these! Thanks for sharing

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    Cel — January 26, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

    It’s nice to see that someone who puts out such amazing food still makes mistakes! I’m an aspiring chef and my failures drive me up the wall. Like the time I attempted to make vegetable consomme and managed to BURN A LIQUID. Only me. Or the time I accidentally added twice as much sugar to my brownies as I should have and they came out gritty and horrifying.

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    Sonya — February 11, 2014 @ 11:03 pm

    You are hilarious and this post made my day! Thank you for so many LOLs, and a good sense of perspective :) And also, to know not to melt cheese on meatloaf among your other anti-suggestions.

    Reply

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