The Failed Recipes of 2013

Fails 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.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites

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.


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.

fails of 2013

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.


Swedish Christmas Bread

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. fails of 2013

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.

fails of 2013

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!

Fails of 2013 IMG_1656

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.

Fails of 2013

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.

Fails of 2013

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.

fails of 2013

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. I love your beets! I agree- dirt is dirt! Happy New Year Lindsay! Cheers to 2014!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!!! 😉

  4. I love that you did this post :) It makes me feel better about my own kitchen melt-downs :)

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

  6. 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?!)

  7. 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?

    • 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!

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

    • 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

  9. I didnt document my failures but I have had a good share of burnt cookies, gross looking dishes, and recipes I dont even know what I was doing..Looking forward to 2014 :)

  10. There’s hope for all of us!

    I have a good roasted beet recipe on my blog if you still want to give it a go.

  11. I love the fact that you shared your ups and downs! Trust me, we all have our share of recipe failures.. Have a Happy New Year!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. How are half of those on the list of fails! They look like they are suppose to be on the list of successes!!! :) (Except maybe the burnt bread) :)

  15. 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!

  16. 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 :)

    • 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… :)

  17. Haha! Its nice to see that bloggers have mistakes just like everyone else. I need to start remembering to post my fails sometimes too, so people don’t think I’m so perfect – right? 😉

  18. I love this almost as much as I loved yesterday’s post – amusing! The funny thing is that most of them look quite tasty…

  19. Loving this! Here’s to another year of food mistakes and fantastic food, hand in hand! =)

  20. Thanks for making cooks everywhere feel better today!

  21. The look on your face holding the burnt bread is priceless!
    Happy New Year!

  22. 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 Pinch of Yum—# 4 reference site to my blog— per Jetpack. Thanks a lot—jean

  23. LOL I love this post!

  24. Lizabeth K. says:

    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?

  25. Oh my gosh, you are brave. My feelings get so hurt when I have a big-o-fail. I guess I need to learn to laugh.

    Happy New Year.

  26. Like other commenters, I really appreciate seeing the failures. There’s nothing more devastating than putting time and effort into food just to find that the result suuuuuucks. The sad results sometimes make me think that I should stop cooking altogether. But we persevere!

  27. I love the fail posts that are coming out right now — it’s totally encouraging to someone who, well, tried to make a lot of things this year. Some of which exploded, flattened, burned, or otherwise took a turn for the very bad.

    Happy New Year!

  28. Oooh this post makes newbies (like myself) feel so much better 😉 Keep up the good work. Have learned so much from you and Bjork. Thanks!

  29. Thanks for sharing! 😉

    And a good reminder that foods that look good don’t always taste good, and vice versa… I’m fairly new at blogging, so I’m not experimenting much yet so not many failures yet. But you’re not going to see that perfectly beautiful dish of stuffed mushrooms we had on Christmas – because they didn’t work. When I fix them, I’ll take a new picture… and hope they’re as pretty…

  30. Oh thank you so much for sharing this. I laughed and smiled- you have such a good sense of humor- and I can so relate. You’ve inspired me to save my bad photos and failed attempts for my own post. Surely,the fails make the successes all the more sweet! Happy 2014! Thanks for all your hard work and I wish you much more success in your business and personal life :)

  31. Hilarious. I HOPE HOPE HOPE the Swedish Christmas bread braid wasn’t a Carpé Season special, or I may never be able to look you in the face again.
    (PS – I think my favorite is your first failed Philippines cake that you ate in sadness, with a spoon. We are the same person.)

  32. Thank you for sharing these little kitchen mishaps Lindsay — it makes me feel SO much better! My most memorable fail this year was trying to bake coffee bars. I wanted them to be like a lemon bar (shortbread / cookie dough crust with a soft, sweet milky coffee filling), but somehow, they defied the laws of physics. I baked the crust, poured the filling on top, popped it back in the oven, and the filling sank BENEATH the crust and baked underneath! So crazy.

    Have a wonderful New Years Eve and an even better 2014! :)

  33. I think it’s totally admirable, endearing, & relatable that you’ve shared all your kitchen failures from the last year. It happens to the best of us! Here’s to lots of success in 2014! Happy New Year, Lindsay!

  34. This is hysterical! Thanks for sharing. The next time I have a kitchen failure, I’ll try to suppress my burning hot rage and snap a picture to laugh about later. Happy New Year! Looking forward to lots of Pinch of Yum in 2014!

  35. hahahhaha I got a good laugh, this post is absolutely hilarious and one of my favorite posts I have ever read! Thank you for sharing! My friend and I were just yesterday looking at pinterest recipe fails and were dying laughing, so seeing this today was perfect, I sent her the link immediately-although your pictures are still amazing.
    Happy New Years!

  36. I’m going to bet this will be your most popular post of 2014. It was absolutely wonderful. It’s 2014 in South Korea already. Happy New Year!

  37. I love this post! Thanks for giving all of us moral support. It’s nice to know that even the pros have bad days!
    Happy New Year!

  38. I was laughing so hard about the burnt bread, and my husband wanted to see it. Then he says, have you ever done anything like that?? Little does he know. Thank you for sharing, we all have our share of kitchen disasters! Happy New Year..♥

  39. Thanks for sharing these with us! they were so funny and reminded me that even these perfect bloggers I follow mess up now and again 😛

  40. Thanks for sharing your successes and failures with us. You are so talented and when experimenting in the kitchen you are bound to have some dishes that end up in the trash. I’ve cried too when dinner turned out to be a disaster, but sometimes I have to laugh at myself when my enthusiasm gets the better of me and a dish turns out to be a mess. I appreciate knowing I’m not alone in my kitchen mistakes. Here’s to a great 2014 in the kitchen and out.

  41. These are so funny! What a great way to look back at the past year.

  42. I loved that you shared these! I deleted all the photos of my failures. Makes me want to save them next year.

  43. So. You are mere mortals – hurrah!! Thank you so much for sharing these – can now approach my blog with renewed determination! Happy New Year to you and Bjork x

  44. This is hilarious! We all have complete and utter failures in our lives and in our businesses – and this is a great way to remind ourselves (and others) that we all eat some ‘humble’ pie every now and again. Thank you!

  45. So good to record your flops! The inedible prize goes to the tea ring. A fitting start to the New Year.

  46. This was such a great post that I made my husband read it and chuckle along. :-). I don’t normally comment on blogs but I thought its about time I tell you that you’re my favorite blog to follow! So thanks for the great recipes as well as the personality that shines through the posts- making me feel like I know you! Happy new year to you and Bjork. :-)

  47. Marianne C. says:

    Oh boy. The tea ring. I feel your pain.

  48. Lindsay – This post is hilarious! Everyone has those recipes that just don’t work…or you forget in the oven! So great to see someone else laughing at their silly kitchen mistakes! :)

  49. Hey, wait! That mango pie looks really good! Do you think you could find it in your heart to show us how you made it? Perhaps…mango cobbler or something?

    My worst one this year was to make oatmeal cookies with dehydrated apples mixed in. For some reason It didn’t occur to me to soak the apples a bit first so the cookies came out like crumbly sponges, except, bad. So dry they almost caused our heads to shrivel up. (sigh)

  50. Oh, it is nice to hear that even you have recipe failures! Don’t ever try to make something with a Frito pie crust… it was the most disgusting mistake I made this year.

  51. My husband and I laughed so hard that we cried! Thanks for this hilarious post. So great that you shared your failures with all of us and made us laugh because we can all relate! Happy New Year to you and Bjork – you guys are the best!

  52. HILARIOUS! I tried to read these while brushing my teeth and had quite a mess to clean up afterwards. I remember having the same experience while serving in the Philippines.. Or oven only had ON and OFF! Took a lot of failed recipes before the kids at the orphanage got to taste any 😉

  53. I loved that you shared these with us! I enjoy a good fail every now and then. We are all human. I have had my fair share these last few months, both with food and photos. I debated about posting them and just decided that sometimes a good blog needs a dose of humor and folks should see the person that goes along with it. So, I now have a “fail” tag for posts. Ya know, in case I need it. 😉

  54. Your post had me laughing out loud – so funny! The baking failures are really sad, but it is so nice to know that I’m not the only one who has epic fails! Happy new year, Lindsay!

    Posting all of these in the first place is so admirable! Most people just post the best recipes of 2013, but your post reminds all of us that no one is safe from mistakes. I remember the tears pricking the back of my eyes as I opened the oven to find a sticky, gooey, mess of sweet rolls, or when I took a bite of cookie that tasted like straight up soap on the outside.
    We connect over experiences like this because we all have something to contribute. So thank you for this lovely and hilarious post!
    Happy new year!

  56. LOVE these. I really need to start doing a better job at cataloguing my own kitchen disasters- it’s nice to see the crazy variation on success throughout the year! And that tea ring is classic.

  57. THANK YOU for making me laugh and feel better about all my failed recipes attempts this past year too. I especially sympathize with all those “healthy dessert” failures. Story of my life, especially lately with trying to come up with healthier ideas to start the year… I’m coming to the conclusion that nothing will really match up to a good ol’ unhealthy dessert. :)

  58. Ha! What a fun post – I never take pictures of my craptastic recipes. I’m totally going to do that this year. Though I must say, I can’t have dairy and I sub coconut oil for butter all the time, and I usually have great results. It’s totally delish. Your first two recipes of the cookies and frosting look tempting to me, and so do the pumpkin blondies. I guess beautiful photography can be deceiving sometimes. Happy New Year!

  59. This makes me feel better about my own kitchen disasters! I once tried to make cupcakes without a cupcake pan– it ended up looking like a giant amoeba, but they tasted good!

  60. I love that you did this!! I’ve had sooooo many failures, and your food is so beautiful all the time. Yay! You’re normal!! 😉

  61. It’s always so refreshing to see culinary fails, especially when they come from a person who normally creates such delicious and beautiful food. It makes my own kitchen disasters a little less frustrating when I can just remember that I am not the only one who has them!

    Thank you for this. Have a happy new year!

  62. Hilarious!! I’ve had too many of these that I don’t care to remember. :)

  63. I know the feeling. Sometimes I take a terribly unappetizing picture into Photoshop with a remnant of hope and optimism…then Photoshop gives me that look and is all like “Are you serious?”

  64. Hi Lindsay, this post is just too funny! As a matter of fact, I just pulled a very disappointing batch of ‘healthy’ muffins out of the oven two seconds ago. I thought that it would be nice if I came up with a less-than-100-calorie muffin recipe so that even people with new year’s resolutions could enjoy some guilt-free muffins 😉

    Like you said: it’s basically impossible to make ‘healthy’ taste like ‘dessert’ (or cakey breakfast, in my case).

    They weren’t disgusting, but definitely not something I would put on my blog either!

  65. hahaha! I so so love when bloggers post their mistakes! I laughed out loud at your ash sweet potatoes, and I can feel your frustration for baking homemade bread and then having it burn :(

  66. Oh my gosh, this makes me feel 100 times better about my food fails. I guess we all make them, I’ve had plenty of cake disasters this year myself!

  67. Thanks for this! (Makes me feel better about the new cinnamon roll recipe I tried this morning for some guests- they woke up to a house filled with smoke from the filling overflowing in the oven…) Happy New Year!

  68. haha! love seeing these posts! I actually love coconut oil in cookies though! yum!

  69. Too funny! :) I love seeing these. I get so bummed out when I make something that tastes like dirt, ash, or something unmentionable. There’s nothing like putting time and effort into a dish or recipe, and then burning the heck out of it on accident. Not that I’ve done that. 😉 This shows that it’s possible to spin those mistakes and mishaps into something funny. Thanks for that!

  70. I love that you shared this! I’m a newcomer to pinch of yum, but so glad I found you today. Looking forward to the blog posts to come :) x

  71. So funny! Love your humor. :)

  72. Sarah Johnston says:

    Great idea to show everyone how human you are with your mistakes. I always smile when I think of you making pancakes with your fourth graders a few years ago…
    Smiles for our bonus day off… I think I will go in on Monday just for a short time just to get my head in the game. Happy new year!

    • Good idea! I was thinking about doing that too but I don’t know if I can bring myself to do it. Right now my chair, blanket, and sweatshirt are feeling just a little too comfy.

  73. Hi Lindsey! This is probably THE BEST food related post I’ve ever read. I mean EVER! Your humor is to die for! I’ve visited pinch of yum for the first time and I’m glad I did. This post made me laugh like crazy! You don’t find such things on a food blog and quite honestly this post is really refreshing after reading ‘recipe only blogs’.
    P.S Ashes and dirt cracked me up! I still can’t stop laughing! Great job!

  74. Thanks for sharing! I have to admit it’s nice to see the “fails” amongst your beautiful other pictures. Reminds me of real life :) Thanks for sharing the good and the bad!

  75. You are hilarious! Thanks so much for keeping it real, nobody’s perfect! And don’t feel bad about crying over the chocolate cake, I accidentally made cookies with bread flour because my dad mislabeled the containers, and I totally cried when they tasted absolutely terrible. No shame.

  76. This is really funny and novel – imagine all of us trying to share our successful recipes and here you are sharing all the failed ones with the world. I guess this is what makes your blog so endearingly different and honest. I am still rolling in laughing!

  77. This is soooo coool! Love that you actually put these up and showed us the other side too! We always imagine food bloggers have perfect kitchens and perfect meals, but this brings in a bit of reality.

  78. OMG – I’m shocked to find out that you are human after all {grin}! Loved this post, Lindsay, because I think readers assume that we bloggers post every recipe we make and don’t realize that we, too, make mistakes, horrible messes and/or create inedible recipes! Thanks for brightening my day and even if the food you made was terrible, as always your photos are beautiful!

  79. I love that you shared these! Sometimes I think I’m the only person who has recipe mishaps, so I’m glad to see I’m not alone! All of your posts are usually so delicious and perfect-looking, but it makes me like your site even more to see the ones that turned out not-so-perfect. Thanks for keeping it real :)

  80. It’s nice to see a reality check in the food blogging world! We’ve all had our share of blunders and it’s nice to see that everyone has their problems! Thanks for sharing!

  81. Hey Lindsay

    Absolutely love this! It’s so honest and down to earth and REAL. So many blogs you read are so glossy and beautiful, but make you feel like s*t because you know your own attempts usually don’t turn out like that. And what you show here is how often things just don’t at all work out the way you wanted :)

    I know the feeling of “that’ll-shine-on-my-blog/Pinterest”, only to then come out the oven burnt, flat, pale and ugly… and all that effort that went into it…

    Anyway, great blog love all the photography. I’m trying to improve my blog and make it more interesting for readers, do you have any tips? Would be great to hear from you about how you did it.

  82. Loved seeing these! This gave me a huge smile! Always reassuring to know that you aren’t the only one that has kitchen fails!

  83. This is hilarious and love your lovely definitions of these “special” treats!

  84. So I guess I’m not alone! It feels good to know that other people fail too :)
    Just kidding. It was hilarious :)

  85. haha! This was ridiculously awesome to read…you have a way with words! I loved reading about your kitchen fails, makes me feel less discouraged about mine :)

  86. This was like an SNL skit of food blogs.

    Refreshing… :)

    Your fails reminds of my first year baking and cooking gluten-free. Gah.

  87. I’m sorry for the less than wonderful taste tests you had, but it’s nice to know that other people also have struggles in trying to create new recipes or finding out some recipes are not as wonderful as we hoped. Thanks for the post!

  88. This is my favorite blog post of all time! Love the honesty and humor. So refreshing! I love that you don’t take yourself or your food too seriously. Had me laughing out loud…thanks!

  89. Gundega Korsts says:

    If you want beets by themselves, try them steamed and then sauced w/orange juice and honey. If you want them roasted, use a mix of cut-up vegetables and autumn fruit: carrots, beets, potatoes, winter squash, onions or leeks, garlic, tart apples, and what-have-you, mixed with some olive oil and your choice of herbs (Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset, for a shortcut). … Add pears and walnuts near the end of roasting, and then gorgonzola (or the like) and a splash of balsamic vinegar at the very end. Before mixing the whole batch in the olive oil and herbs, I precook the cut-up potatoes in the microwave, because these usually cook a lot more slowly than the rest. Can cover at the beginning, but roast uncovered at the end. Low to medium heat, 1 to 2 hours? — Well worth a try. (You can tell I don’t follow exact recipes.)

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