A collection of the top 10 worst recipes – failures that you’ll thank me for not sharing in 2015.
The other day I shared the Top 10 Best Recipes of 2015, as indicated by my awesome Readers. I agree that those recipes are every bit as delicious as they look, therefore very deserving on Top 10 honors. If you know anything about me at all, you should know that while I’m passionate about what I create in the kitchen, I try not to take myself too seriously.
Cooking is a creative expression and as such, should be fun and not the least bit intimidating. I wouldn’t be able to create new recipes to share here without a steady “Who knows? Let’s see what will happen.” attitude. The triumphs are sweet. It’s easy to share the slam dunk recipes here, what with their pretty photographs enticing you to try the recipes at home.
But every winning recipe leaves behind a few failed attempts in their wake. Sometimes I keep plugging away until I get it just right. Other times, I shelve the recipe to attempt later with a clear head. Still more recipes get scrapped all together in disgust. I assure you that it’s not all sunshine, rainbows, and culinary perfection in the Comfortably Domestic kitchen. Perfection is a myth.
Failure just means that I’m taking chances, and I become stronger and better by learning from it. So in the spirit of learning from mistakes–and a lot of laughing at my expense.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 worst recipes – the biggest fails of 2015.
The Pie Girl in me gets pretty perturbed whenever a pie recipe fails. I mean, I know pie. Pie is my jam. Pie & I are BFF! I was totally rethinking that friendship after attempting to tweak my favorite chicken pot pie recipe to make mini chicken pot pies. My thought was to freeze them in single servings so that my boys could pop them in the oven for a hearty snack to fill their seemingly hollow legs in between meals. Instead, the filling was too runny and I forgot to cut vents in the top crusts. This is one after school snack that ended as an impromptu lesson on thermodynamics. The steamy filling blew the crusts right off and the filling leaked all over the place.
Verdict: I might revisit this recipe later, but only after ensuring that the batteries in the smoke alarms are charged and ready.
Once I had seemingly mastered the best gluten free pie crust recipe, I got a little cocky and tried to use it as a base for a gluten free version of spanakopita or spinach pie. The resulting spinach galette harbored a crust with the consistency of wet sand, and was about as tasty as such. And oh my goodness! I don’t know what I was thinking adding as much salt as I did while wilting the spinach. I’d have been better off serving a salt lick on a bed of unwashed spinach, which in retrospect, may have been more palatable.
Verdict: Scarred for life. Not going there again.
On the very same day of the spinach pie debacle, a day that I’ll always remember as Salt Lick Saturday, I attempted one of Bacon Slayer’s favorite meals of all time, salisbury steak.
Salisbury steak is essentially a really big meatball or well seasoned hamburger, served with gravy. I was super excited for this one because Bacon Slayer loves him some salisbury steak something fierce. We have this ongoing Donna Reed banter between us, where he asks when I’m going to get up well before he leaves for work, don a dress and perfectly coiffed hair and make up, mile high stiletto heels, and a strand of pearls while making him breakfast. Spoiler Alert: It’s never. going. to. happen.
On April Fools Day, I figured that I’d surprise him with his favorite meal, serving it while wearing a vintage apron, heels, and pearls as a nod to our little Donna Reed joke. Rather than finding a good recipe, I decided to wing it because, how hard could it be? I had grand plans to serve the salisbury steak over spicy sweet potato oven fries with loads of creamy gravy. I fried up the patties and went to my happy place before going all Pioneer Woman and using the pan drippings as a base for the gravy. The results were so salty and greasy that I couldn’t help but laugh as I took a quick action photo just to document that hot mess. We gagged just looking at that barf on a plate. April Fool, sweetie! We’re having cereal instead of your favorite for dinner!
Verdict: will try again after hiding the salt cellar and finding the strainer to drain all the grease so that I’m never tempted to make gravy out of that slop again.
Fresh on the heels of my success with vanilla and chocolate shortbread pinwheel cookies, I decided to play around with other flavors and try these fun, huge sprinkles in the process.
Little did I know that these colorful candies were not oven safe, until I saw them melted in a molten puddles of sugar in the oven. After seeing the finished cookies, I reread the sprinkle container and noticed the phrase “not oven safe” in big bold letters. Oops. Who knew? The cookies were anything but pretty or as cheerful as their inspiration, but we still ate them. They were tasty, but the flavors aren’t quite good enough to share. The melted sprinkles were a threat to nearby dental work for miles around.
Verdict: I’ll keep playing around, and be sure to read the sprinkle container to see if they will hold up in the oven.
Next up is what I hoped would be a killer-good slow cooker version of chicken cacciatore. If chicken braised in tomatoes and vegetables comes out tender and juicy in a skillet, surely it has to be even more so when made in the crock pot, right? Nope. What came out was anemic chicken with rubbery skin, and a pile of flavorless vegetables that completely obliterated at the touch of a fork. I so wanted this one to succeed that I photographed it despite the lack of natural light, making it look like something more befitting a menu item at The Krusty Krab rather than a family dinner.
Verdict: I might share the skillet version sometime, but the I’m hesitant to put the slow cooker back in play.
After the success of strawberry cream cheese brownies, I got it in my head to try another version with a thicker layer of vanilla cheesecake layered on top for a fancy tuxedo look. Just for grins, I tried using duck eggs in the cheesecake layer because they tend to be creamier when cooked and have more protein than chicken eggs. I know. I’m a freak.
I’m not sure if it was the extra protein or the fact that duck eggs have a chemically different kind of protein than chicken eggs, but the cheesecake layer was almost neon yellow, runny, and baked up to a consistency that is best described as “Elmer’s glue.” Not that I was the kid that ate glue in class or anything, but if I were to start, I’m betting that it’d taste a whole lot like these brownies did.
Verdict: I’ll stick to the original recipe and forever skip duck eggs in cheesecake. Amen.
Chai latte has always been my comforting beverage of choice for as long as I can remember. I freely admit that I buy into the excitement of the Starbuck’s PSL when their pumpkin syrup hits stores. I tried my hand at creating my own pumpkin chai syrup by simmering a spiced syrup homemade pumpkin puree, and later straining the squash from it. Even after lining a fine mesh strainer with several layers of cheese cloth, enough fiber leached through to lend a certain eau-de-Metamucil consistency to the drink. It was earthy, gritty, and way too intensely pumpkin in flavor. Kind of like a big spoonful of the dirt the pumpkin grew in, only worse.
Verdict: I’ll leave the PSL magic to the barista professionals.
Refusing to abandon the fall flavored syrups theme entirely, I focused my attention on a concentrated apple cider syrup. First, I spent a few days mastering a caramel recipe in which the candy actually held it’s shape when cut without being refrigerated. By the time I nailed that aspect of the recipe, I was pretty much done with standing over boiling sugar waiting for the candy thermometer to move in the right direction.
I must have been faint from the heat, because I decided to try and speed up the process by boiling the sugar in the cider. I was hoping that the cider would reduce to a syrup, and then later to caramel in one fell swoop. Yeah, science will not be rushed.
It took five times as long to reduce the cider to caramel stage than if I would have separated the steps. Once caramel stage was reached, it never quite thickened to a firm candy, which I could handle if the flavor was right. Which it wasn’t. In fact, it was very, very wrong. Reducing the cider for hours burned the sugars and left me with charcoal flavored caramels that weren’t even fit for camp fire starters.
Verdict: I’m not ready to give up on this one, but I’ll wait for a day when I have an abundance of patience so I’m not tempted to speed things along.
Later, I tried to give a classic cheese steak sammie a little southwestern flair. I kicked up the heat with what I later discovered were the hottest jalapeño peppers known to man. I’ve eaten ghost peppers with less heat! Couple that with the fact that I mistakenly added a huge handful of smoked paprika instead of chili powder, and the meat wasn’t worthy of the dog dish, let alone a sandwich.
Still hoping for a miraculous burst of edibility, I went ahead and broiled the peppers and cheese on top…and promptly burned the bun. Refusing to admit defeat, I was setting up the props to photograph the sandwich when one of my hungry kiddos, I think his name was Not Me, nibbled on a few non-charred bits of bun while waiting for dinner. I probably would have still powered through to eating the sandwiches, but after the comedy of errors in making it, I couldn’t stomach the idea of it anymore.
Verdict: this one will continue in development in the near future, but only after verifying the scoville rating of the peppers and tucking the smoked paprika away in the back of the cupboard.
I’ve saved the most epic failure of the year for last because it’s, well…substantial. I was going for version of my go-to honey oatmeal bread with the same fluffy texture, but with the heartier, whole grain chew of steel cut oats. The first trial made with uncooked steel cut oats was so crunchy that I was worried that anyone eating it was at risk of breaking a tooth!
Next time, I folded in some leftover cooked steel cut oats, and hoped for the best. The fact that I have medicine balls that are lighter than one of these loaves coming out of the oven should have been a clue as to how the workout ahead of me as I took my bread knife to the loaf. A hack saw might have actually been a better tool for the job. The bread was definitely chewy…if you make a habit of gnawing on brick and mortar. No amount of butter and jam could save this loaf from it’s rightful place as a paving stone.
Verdict: I’ll have to math and science a few other ingredient options before trying this one again. I think I’ll wait until we put in that new patio, just in case we run out of bricks.
So, there they are. The top 10 worst recipes of 2015.
All in all, 2015 has been a very delicious year. The few missteps in the recipe development process just serves to make the successes all the more sweet…and the failures even more hilarious.
Happy New Year, Friends!