The Failed Recipes of 2013 - Skillful Cook
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The Failed Recipes of 2013


In addition to all of yesterday's wonderfulness in the form of all your favorite recipes from the year 2013, I would be pretending to be a better cook than I really am if I didn't also reflect on the less delicious recipes of the year. To put it lightly, 2013 twas also the year of fails. Anytime you have a person vaguely self-taught in food and cooking with loosely organized ideas trying to make a food combination taste good, you're probably going to get some not-so-happy endings.

There was a very strong pattern in the fails this year: primarily that they start with the word HEALTHY and end with DESSERT. I have no explanation for myself other than to apologize for trying to make weird and healthy ingredients try to taste like things that should only ever be buttery, sugary, and richly chocolatey. It's the ultimate betrayal to self.

Here are the most memorable (or what's the word for anti-memorable?) yuck-ster recipes of the last year.

Okay, I have a bone to pick with whoever had the idea to use trendy coconut oil in place of good old fashioned butter. Meaning, myself. They look like they might taste a little tint bit good, but that's really only because of that one luscious little melted chocolate chip on top. Coconut oil instead of butter = N-O. They looked like flattened tennis balls and tasted like crumbly coconut. But worse.

Cookie bites on a blue plate.

Healthy Chocolate Banana Frosting

Here and now I ask for your forgiveness for these horrendous results of what started as just a medium-bad idea. The cupcakes were decent, so there was that. But the frosting was like something from another planet. I'm 96% sure it made noise when you looked at it. Globbity gloppy gloop.

Chocolate muffins with banana frosting.

Pomegranate Shrimp

I know you're tempted to like this because it kind of looks good, but don't you dare think that for one second. IT WAS HORRIBLE. I literally had to get up and go to the garbage to spit it out. It's very hard to go wrong with a good pomegranate, so you can give me like one fourth of a bonus point for that, but the rest of this dish was just nauseating. I blame it on some combination of the quality of the Minnesota shrimp and my extremely over zealous seasoning with every herb in my spice cabinet. My major bad.

Salad on two white plates.

Swedish Christmas Bread

Woman holding burnt food.

This delicious failure of a braided bread ring took four hours of my life to mix, rest, knead, rise, shape, and bake. And naturally it took another four hours of my life when it set off the fire alarm, crusted black stuff all over my baking pans, and required washing of my clothes and hair to get rid of the burnt smell. Special.

Healthy Cinnamon Pumpkin Blondies

Please block this from your memory. I don't know what's melting out of the middle but it's no good, my friends. NO GOOD.

Dessert bar on a white plate.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cake:

Remember when I baked a cake for one hour and ended up with hot goo? Yes. A flimsy aluminum pan filled with hot chocolate goo which I then ate in depression. I think I might have cried while spooning the chocolate into my mouth (not joking - it was my first baking experiment in the Philippines and I was convinced that this was the end.) FYI this eventually made it into my favorite recipes of the year because I learned how to appropriately use my no-temperature-marking oven in the Philippines. Recipe here!

A tin on a grill overflowing with cake batter.
Burnt food in a aluminum dish.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

At one time you could actually pick these up without them turning into ash instantaneously. But then I got a hold of them.

Fails of 2013

Mango Pie

I dove headfirst into the Mango Pie the second it came out of the oven so it became Mango Smoosh. It was actually very delicious and I might have eaten about 3/4 of the pie. I mean, the Smoosh. And now this picture is really grossing me out.

Fails of 2013

No-Donut-Pan Donuts

As in, baked in aluminum foil rings instead of a mini-donut pan. In my mind it was total Pinterest bait. In reality it was... ugly. But at least I had that nice Valentine's napkin.

Fails of 2013

“Perfect” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Perfect except for that they will break your teeth.

Burnt cookies on a pan.

Chocolate Surprise:

I think this was something I tried to bake that was a completely flat fail, so I pressed nuts into it and froze it. But honestly, I don't even remember, which is probably best for everyone.

Chocolate almond bars covered in parchment paper.

Roasted Beets

Also known as dirt in your mouth.  I think I spy some rosemary in there as an attempted taste-cover-up, but no such luck, my friends. Dirt is dirt.

Fails of 2013

Cherry Almond Tea Ring

The version my mother in law makes uses crescent dough and a cream cheese filling which, against all of the magical odds of crescent dough and cream cheese filling, I managed to completely destroy. Tea ring -> tea pile of semi-burnt messy, although as you can see from the picture, it was a lost cause waaay before hitting the oven. Beyond salvageable, drowning in filling, cut and arranged like a three year old did it. I do not deserve to be married into this tea-ring making family.

Pink bread dough on a pan.

There you have it, friends. Or can I still call you friends after all that? Like, if I promise to never commit these food crimes again? Puhleese?

Here's to less burning, fewer healthy desserts, and more of the good stuff in 2014.

Happy New Year! *CHEERS*

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love that you shared these with us Lindsay! It made me laugh. Here’s to all your outstanding culinary successes in 2013 and the beautiful pictures you took of them. Can’t wait to see what you create in 2014. Happy New Year to both of you!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love this- although if the mango pie was delish you have to cut yourself some slack. Serve it in a little cup with some whipped cream on top and it goes from fail to success!!! 😉

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for sharing these. It makes me feel a little better bout my own blunders.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Jen and I just read your post in the early morning glow of Christmas lights… and giggled like crazy! Thanks for the laughs. We are impressed by your perseverance and good humor. We’re already looking forward to next year’s “recipe fail” post! (p.s. Jen wants me to let you know that she is definitely NOT looking forward to the change of year, in general. It freaks her out. Change just ain’t this girl’s thing. You can relate, right?!)

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m not a fan of the fact that Jennifer Aniston’s naked shoulder has popped up on the screen FIVE times while I’ve been on POY this morning. Have Bjork fix that, will ya?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Ugh, really Jen (not your Jen but the other Jen)? I do not know where that’s coming from but it doesn’t make me very happy. Thanks for letting me know…I’m on it!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Irony: As soon as I posted my gripe, she popped up again. 😉 So, make that six times…

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Sam,Thanks so much for your message and for jioinng us as a stallholder. Sorry things have been very hectic so just managed to answer this message.We would be interested in an event in West Lothian. Most of our events are in Edinburgh as that is where we and most of our stall-holders are based but we are happy to travel further.We were not sure if you were thinking of hosting an event as an individual or an organisation and what type of event you were thinking of but would be happy to discuss things with you.We do all the organising for whatever event it is so the host just needs to provide the space, and 10% of takings is collected at the end which goes to the host’s chosen charity.Just let me know if you want any more info and hope to meet you soon, please email me at or call 07946 517334 if you want to discuss this more.Look forward to meeting you soon,Best wishes,Sam Miller

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Haha! I love reading fail posts! I consider myself a pretty good cook/baker, but I have my occasional fails so it’s always nice to know that I’m not alone 🙂

    Cheers to a happy new year!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your face in that Swedish Christmas bread photo is the same face I make any time I try to baking ANYTHING. So I just don’t anymore. 🙂 It’s always fun to see the fails!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Haha, I thought this post was hilarious and a great “different” recap of the year. Thanks for letting us know it is okay to fail. 🙂 Happy new year and best wishes!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is hilarious, Lindsay! I love that you took photos of all of these too — usually we’re too depressed to snap a photo of our fails, haha! Great post 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      It’s ridiculous how many horrible food photos I still have in my Photo Stream and in my old files. I think sometimes I take pictures before actually sampling… 🙂

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    As a newbie blogger, making dessert presented a problem, no one has a sweet tooth in this neck of the woods except for dark chocolate bars. Solution I made desserts on Fridays or Saturdays took turns in distributing them to among nearby friends, who brought them to their work as samplers.

    So grateful to Skillful Cook—# 4 reference site to my blog— per Jetpack. Thanks a lot—jean

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love that you took the time to take high-quality pictures of low-quality results. 🙂 My fails have no documentation…. which I think means they don’t exist?