The Failed Recipes of 2014 - Skillful Cook
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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.

Filed Under: All Recipes Life

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      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Are you using fresh bamboo shoots or canned? There are also ones which are not fresh, but packaged in water in aseptic plastic bags. There’s a world of difference in taste, of course, but you can still use canned ones (last choice) if you soak the bamboo shoots in cold water, changing the water once, for a couple hours. (You can also soak them overnight in the refrigerator.) This will help remove some of the off-taste of canned bamboo shoots. If you can ever find them (usually early spring), I urge you to try fresh bamboo shoots as they are very crisp, sweet and tender … nothing like what you get in a can. It’s like the difference between canned asparagus and fresh.

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love posts like these, it’s so healthy to see the non-perfect attempts that lead to great food 😉 And I think it’s the baking fails that always crush me the most, you wait so long for something to bake, and when baked goods fail they fail hard.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    That description of the Healthy Chocolate Bars has me shaking with laughter. My husband encourages me to do Failed Recipes posts every month because there’s that much opportunity. 🙂

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post! Love your pictures from this post because they are “not so perfect”:) It is reality what happens in the kitchen:) I like rhubarb .. I grew up in Europe and I basically grew up on rhubarb. We made delicious juices and cakes.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is PRICELESS!!! Thanks for sharing! Favorite one is the chocolate cake + maple syrup “save.” We as readers & humans can relate to this! My biggest fail was pad thai – something that a 22 year old should not have been trying to make. It was a huge fail but edible {not delish at all} and then i just dumped siracha all over it and it was an orange goop. Fast forward to post dinner and i was literally running around the house fanning my mouth b/c it was soo spicy. #fail

    Happy 2015!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Haha. I love these end of the year FAIL posts because (as others posted) when all you see is pretty artfully arranged food that is great tasting and looks effortless, it’s easy to forget that food bloggers have failures too. Makes me feel less terrible when a dish/dinner idea of mine turns out tasteless/inedible or just plain gross.

    Also, I love rhubarb. I love a really good strawberry rhubarb pie for a sweet treat, especially during the summer!

    Happy 2015! To many more successes!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love these posts! At this point I feel like I have more fails than successes and it’s awesome to hear that big time food bloggers (yep that’s you!) have fails too. AND I LOVE RHUBARB! it’s my fave vegetable actually. Hence the blog name. Tee-hee.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    OMG I am dying laughing over here! Lindsay, this post is absolutely hilarious and I love love love it! It’s nice to see I’m not the only one that has some pretty dramatic kitchen failures lol. That cake though…with three granules of sugar…still dying laughing!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Recipe fails can be so discouraging. Love that you can have a sense of humor about it! Happy new year!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    The picture of the cake in the garbage can made me laugh out loud and startle my dogs! Been there, done that. Lots!

    If handling a whole raw chicken doesn’t make you want to stop eating meat, nothing will. Even when I did eat chicken I couldn’t do a whole bird. It made me feel queasy.

    Thanks for being real Lindsay! You make us all feel better about our own kitchen failures. Happy New Year!!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I stew rhubarb and apple (it needs sweetening) then mix up a sponge pudding topping. Into the dish goes the fruit then sponge mix and into the oven to cook. We eat it with icecream! I have a recipe for the sponge pudding if you want to try it.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I would love to have the sponge cake recipe- I actually like rhubarb and have many fails in trying to make it with muffins.v

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi guys,

    I’ve had my share of failed recipes too. But if I were to judge the top from your list, it has to be the chicken!

    But don’t give up on that. Once you master roasting a whole chicken, there’s so much you can do with it.

    Btw, if you guys are planning to drop by Cebu next year, drop me a msg. I’m opening a cafe soon! 🙂

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ahh thank you for blogging about your failed recipes! (I should do that next year, too! It’d be… cathartic.) I have so many failed recipes, too, but sometimes I am SO upset by them that I can’t even bear to capture photographic evidence (and/or, I ask my wife to be the one to throw them away in the garbage while I avert my eyes because the idea that I’m wasting food is painful to me…).

    Anyway, I will just add that I love rhubarb, and I hope you give it another chance in 2015 (it’s awesome in fruity oat crumble bars and crisps). Happy new year!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Did you sneak a camera into my kitchen? I’m relieved to know others have cooking failures, too. Love, love, love this post and love the honesty.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    FINALLY!!! Someone who shows the failures of 2014! HA! I started a draft blog post of my 2014 least popular DIY projects… you know, the ones where the crickets were chirping down in the comments sections and the pins were nil. LOL. I’m posting mine tonight! Glad to see someone else thinks like me: poking fun at the failures!

    Serena @ Thrift Diving

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    ha ha best year end post ever! These are hilarious and disgusting, but still look better than half the crap I serve up 🙁 Happy New Year!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love it! Thanks for sharing. I’m sure they were incredibly frustrating at the time, but they make a ridiculously fun post! 😉 My standout recipe fail (and there are many) is always pork chops. You like pork chops like leather? I can do that. You like pork chops cooked any other way? I can’t help you. Here’s to 2015 being a less leathery year 🙂 And thank you, Lindsay, for really cheering up my 2014 with your posts!! 🙂

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for the laughter this New Year’s Eve morning, and for “coming clean!” It is good to know I’m not alone 🙂 My sons never stop reminding me of the raspberry, dijon, tarragon pan sauce I once made for a roasted chicken. It was a pink epic fail! Happy New Year to you both!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love your blog. So REAL. The Easy Gingerbread Muffin Recipe was the best recipe I tried this year.

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love your sweet sense of humor. And the photograpy is beautiful! But you got me at quinoa chocolate cake. I can not stop laughing. I am breaking out maple syrup to pour on my next mistake (which happens all too frequently

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    I was laughing out loud at this post. I love that you share your recipe fails because I think EVERYONE can relate to that. I think my favorite was bundt cake #2 because I have ruined many recipes by trying to swap all purpose with whole wheat flour. Unfortunately, my husband has eyeballs and can clearly tell when I have turned his beloved flaky biscuits into flat, dense biscuit wanna-bes. I also wasted far too many hours on a recurring dream to make a quesadilla shell from scratch. I should have learned after the first 3 failed attempts. Thanks for the fun post and for showing us that even one of the best food bloggers has some kitchen fails!