February 11, 2011


Today I’m opening up the vault and letting you in on a few of my cooking & baking FAILS!  I’ve got a bunch of pretty pictures wasting precious space on my hard drive because the recipes were bunk or I failed at executing them! It’s time to clear up some space!

Ahhh mistakes….We all make them! The most important thing is to learn from them! That’s the only way to get better.  Here’s some failures for ya….

This Lentil & Bulgur Soup sounded too good to be true! I was attracted to the recipe because the ingredients list was short. Little did I know the soup would be short on taste! I tried to add more vinegar to the recipe to wake it up. Unfortunately, the vinegar only made it worse. Parmesan cheese didn’t even help it. How lame is that? FAIL.

I had the cool idea to substitute sweet potato puree for the pumpkin puree in these cookies. They turned out SUPER cakey. I think it might have been the starch in the sweet potatoes & the fact that I over- mixed the batter. It would have been OK if I had the intention of making whoopie pies BUT no…I’m not a fan of cakey cookies. FAIL.

One day I decided to make hummus from scratch- without following a recipe. I was getting all cocky, things were going my way and then I got a little heavy handed on the smoked paprika. All of a sudden the hummus tasted bitter and then I added way too much lemon juice. Suddenly a pound of hummus made its way into my compost pile. FAIL.

I made these Mexican Wedding cookies for my Mom’s birthday in January from a pretty unreliable source on the internet. Scheduling got in the way and I wasn’t able to bring these to her. It’s a good thing because they didn’t taste as good as I had hoped. I like walnuts or pecans in Mexican wedding cookies- NOT almonds. They totally threw off the taste. These cookies were also SOO crumbly and I had a hard time getting the powdered sugar to stick them! AHHH! Sorry Mom! FAIL.

I had SUCH high hopes for this strawberry napoleon made with wonton wrappers, nuts & sugar. There was also Greek yogurt, honey & strawberries in between those layers. Fun, right? I made the dessert a couple of hours before my friends showed up for a Project Runway Girls night, photographed it and then went to taste it. YUCK. Totally bland, not sweet enough and really complicated to eat. I scrapped the dessert and made something else instead. Talk about a time waster! FAIL.

I made this Garlic Eggplant Dip over the summer when Casey was out of town. He doesn’t like eggplant, but I sure do! Even though the dip had 8 roasted cloves of garlic in the mix, it was still bland! I also couldn’t get a good picture to save my life. Kinda looks like it belongs in a baby diaper. Nuff said. FAIL.

I started making a curry tofu scramble because I was on one of my health kicks. The original recipe called for spinach. I didn’t have any, so I substituted asparagus and zucchini in the mix. Tasted bitter gross and I don’t think I added the right type of curry.The tomatoes DID not help EITHER. Nothing could have saved this recipe. Blah.  FAIL.

This Pumpkin Molasses pie had soo much potential! I LOOOVE me some molasses. I had the good idea of adding ANOTHER spoon full of molasses to the filling. BAD IDEA. Turned out uber-sweet. Makes my teeth hurt to look at this picture. Cringe! FAIL.

Chocolate pudding with white chocolate shavings. Sounds good, right?  I made this for a family get together and the pudding never set because I was too timid while cooking it. I was paranoid that the pudding would overcook, so I didn’t cook it long enough. Luckily my family loves me and they still ate it!

And there you have it!  Always keep in mind that mistakes are a necessary element to baking & cooking. If you don’t have a chance to figure out what went wrong, you’ll never get better!

  • Kasey

    Urgh, I had a similar experience with hummus! I made it out of dried chickpeas, too, so it was that much sadder when it went in the trash. 🙁

  • Mahtzie

    Thanks for this. I was starting to not like your perfectness. I know that’s not a word, but it works. I never take photos of my failed attempts, but I may just start!

  • alix*modernkiddo

    this is fantastic. I LOVE IT! we all have those kitchen moments where it seems great and then just doesn’t turn out quite like we expected. hee. love the honesty.

  • Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen

    Is it weird that all of them look kinda good? Especially the pumpkin molasses pie! I think try again. This world needs that recipe!

  • natalyn

    You’re absolutely right! I’ve had some bland fails too. A couple of my crock pot meals over the past several months come to mind. Usually, it happens when I don’t season well enough and stuff turns out bland. Thanks for sharing this and reminding me that it happens to everyone!

  • Dayanna

    Oh boy the pictures are so decieving because they all look super scrumpcious! Well not a total fail when youve learned from your mistakes – I think we can all relate. I love tofu scramble! Did you add turmeric? That always gives it a good kick with some tomatoes and seasoning!

  • anna

    you might have failed in the cooking dept a few times but you still got some nice images out of it. hehehe

    i flopped one time on kolacky cookies where it melted into burnt puddles of nothingness. then the time i forgot to add baking soda in my banana bread. or when i forgot to add sugar to my kalbi marinade and it was straight sesame soy saltiness. bleeeeech!

    • Tracy

      wooops! I’ve forgotten baking soda so MANY times. I remember one cake….I popped it in the oven and then realized my error, added the baking soda directly into the pan and mixed my heart out and then let it cook. Totally worked. There’s a lot to remember when you’re baking!

  • jenny

    this is awesome!!!!! i love seeing all these fails. because… you know… you have SO MANY winners. so many. and i agree, they all still look amazing. i never would’a guessed. 😉

  • abi

    yeah, seriously! all of these look so good. the tofu curry scramble and pumpkin molasses pie sound especially amazing.

  • Vanessa

    You’re so amazing for sharing your fails – not just your successes!

  • Lindsay

    This is an awesome post! And super encouraging! It’s nice to know that you’re a REAL person who makes mistakes sometimes and not just some perfect robot blogger who always makes perfect food =]

  • Kim

    This post is hilarious!! You are awesome no matter how many FAILS you rack up. I love reading your blog.

  • Kristi

    Thanks for sharing, I’m feeling much better about my failed quiche this weekend.

  • Ashley

    I could write a whole blog on failings. Especially lately. Sheesh. One recent post would be a hibiscus cocktail with lime and hot sauce – sounds fun right. I had expectations that my mind would blown. Instead one sip in and I heard a big waaaaaaaaa wuh. Fail. It’s too bad because the pictures were pretty epic.
    Thanks for sharing your mistakes. We all have them. We must embrace them.

    • Tracy

      I love that waaaaaaaaa wuh sound. I actually use it in real life (A LOT!). I even taught Coop how to do it. I think you should post your epic cocktail pictures. I wanna see! It’s such a shame!

  • catheroo

    Thank you so much for posting this. I am currently trying to master the French macaron and even on batches where some come out fine, others look completely ridiculous. I should take photos of them. They look like little hats most of the time.

  • Jessica

    I love this post! I’m most sad about the napoleons not working out because they *sound* delish. Had a structural fail myself today, but it tasted good anyway!

  • Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes › shutterbean

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  • Joanne

    I like that you posted about food failures. I think failure in the kitchen is a good thing sometimes, because you will ALWAYS remember not to make your mistake again!

  • jenny

    I just discovered your blog and have spent the last week delightedly trawling your archives. (admittedly, this is the way I prefer to do TV, too–wait ’til there are at least three seasons and then watch all the episodes in succession in a manner of weeks. it’s like reading a novel–everything unspools all at once and there are no cliffhangers that don’t have immediate resolutions!)

    anyway, I have PDF’d an absurd number of your recipes and enjoyed dozens of your posts, but I think this one was my favorite. I seriously belly-laughed at every wind-up to FAIL! the failures are sooooo frustrating in real time, but I love that you redeemed them by offering your readers a good giggle. 🙂

    is it creepy to call myself your new biggest fan?! seriously, you’re awesome.

    • Tracy

      wow!! that’s totally awesome. THANK YOU!! Failures are only funny AFTER the fact, right?? Soo annoying when it actually happens. p.s.- i love binging on tv shoes too!

  • Laurie Ann

    Thanks for writing about your mishaps. I’ve had some pretty epic failures and, as a published cookbook author, I don’t normally live them down. When I was younger I forgot a pot of boiling eggs (in their shells) on the stove. They exploded. You can’t imagine the mess and smell.

    My favorite is this one…


    Be sure that you aren’t eating or drinking when you read it because I wouldn’t want you to have an issues when you are laughing with me.

    Great blog you have here. Lovely photography.

  • Iraida

    Well Tracy, I agree with what someone else said above…. your Fails don’t look bad at all!!!
    But I believe you… by the way, I LOVE getting your e-mails… (and Joy’s) they’re like little presents, and they are pretty good mood lifters, if that’s a word-phrase. I also like that you send a few of them a week… THANKS… and I appreciate it because that is a lot of work too!!! Cooking AND taking the (helpful) pics of the process, AND blogging about it! How’s your schedule like? Gracias!

  • Kara

    This list makes me SO happy! I could do a post exactly like this. Hooray for the triumphs and failures in the kitchen. For some reason that FAIL posted on every one of your pictures makes me want to laugh really hard! It’s been a long day 🙂

  • BigYellowEyes

    This fail list inspires me to keep cooking and trying things even when the food doesn’t come out as I hoped. I understand it’s just apart of the process-thanks for keep it real 😉

  • Morgan

    I can’t describe how much I love this post. Brilliant, genius, & completely relatable! Listening to you now on homefries. You rock!!

  • Myra

    You know some times it’s much more rewarding to admit failure than hide it and pretend that “you ment to do that”. My husband is so sweet when it comes to my failures in the kitchen, He says “I’m here to eat your messups” In other words, I’m here for the Good as well as the Bad. He’s a Keeper. And now you know what not to do next time. Chin up!

    • Tracy

      He’s a keeper for sure!!!! My husband will eat most of my messups…within reason. He’s getting spoiled!

  • whilehewasout

    I love love love seeing kitchen fails because it helps me laugh at my own fails. ON the other hand, I actually really like puddings that do not set so that one does not look like a fail to me at all 😉 Thanks for sharing!!

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