The Top 10 Faileos of 2015

Since starting food blogging, I have learned a ton, but definitely still have moments of utter failure.

You know how everyone puts all their best shots on Instagram to show how awesome and incredible their lives are? Everyone does it, myself included. However, I also do the same sort of thing here on South of Vanilla: I rarely, if ever show or share recipes that don’t work out because this is a food blog. I want you to want to make the recipes I post. (I want you to want to do the dishes!)

Last year, I shared my Top 10 Faileos of 2014, or paleo recipes that just did not work out. This year, even though I thought I learned a lot, I still had my fair amount of faileos. Keep reading for a good laugh…

Top 10 Faileos of 2015

10. Buffalo Chicken Bleu Cheese Salad

Ugh, this salad. Honestly, it (kind of) tastes good, and I am still hoping that maybe it will work in the future. Also, it photographs horribly. Who wants to eat a bunch of leaves slathered in orange slime? Not me, and I’m pretty sure no one else does either. Also, I tried to “bread” chicken with almond flour and garlic, but it just turned out a pile of chicken with a weird almond garlic paste that would flake off into the dressing and make it chunky- and not in a good way.

The worst part? I still set up a photo shoot because I was so desperate to try to make it work. This photo shoot was oddly at 7am, which explains the weird shadows. Lesson learned.

9. Broiled Asparagus

In spring, nothing is better than fresh asparagus. Sometimes it can be hard to cook asparagus just enough to where its soft but not limp, but I took this one a little too far….

This dish went straight into the garbage.

8. Chemex Coffee

I have long been a fancy coffee fan, and the Chemex makes a great brew, however, I quickly learned that one needs to be careful when taking out the filter. Why? Because all the ground can easily spill straight back into your perfectly made coffee…

And I did this 4 times in 2015….

7. The Sad Cake

While on a road trip to Pittsburgh, we stopped and were so enamored with this sad pumpkin cake we spotted at a grocery bakery.

But we were the real sad ones after eating this conventional cake filled with wheat, gluten, coloring, sugary frosting, and a ridiculous amount of artificial ingredients. We quickly had the re-realization of why we follow a real-food diet. Although not a faileo of my own making, this one serves as a reminder to not be tempted by baked goods with faces, however sad they are.

6. All the leftovers in the fridge green beans

Just two weeks before the end of 2015, we moved…. again. This time, it was to a permanent place (Thank the lord), but we spent a good 2 weeks trying to eat everything in our fridge and freezer to minimize waste and any transport of food.

This concoction LOOKS great, and I even posted it to Instagram excitedly before trying it.

However, I quickly learned that throwing some oil, veggies, bacon, and a mess of herbs into a cast-iron skillet does not necessarily result in something tasty. These green beans were somehow limp on the outside but slightly uncooked on the inside with so many different flavors it was overwhelming.

The worst part? Somehow in the commotion of the move, we transported this to the new place where it sat in the back of the fridge and promptly became our first moldy food of 2016.

5. Raw-Dairy Alfredo Sauce

This sauce. This. This was one of the last recipes of 2015 that I made in trying to prepare some posts for the New Year.

However, during cooking, I had the realization that buying pricey raw dairy was foolish because once cooked, it was no longer raw. Plus, the combination of cream and a whole stick of butter made my lactose-sensitive stomach quiver. Also, it tasted like melted butter, which although delicious, isn’t something anyone wants to sit down a make a meal out of. I even tried adding a bunch or parsley to make it better, but it didn’t work. Lesson learned.

4. Activated Charcoal

Early in 2015, I was with my friend Kathy, when we somehow stumbled upon the topic of activated charcoal. Kathy, who was newly pregnant, was excited about a chemical-free way to whiten teeth, and I (being not pregnant and all) was excited to share how charcoal tablets were my go-to for avoiding a hangover after drinking too much.

We then spent an hour brushing our teeth with charcoal at midnight and posing for terribly unflattering photos that her (extremely nice) husband took of us with black teeth. (PS Thanks Carl!)

These photos never made it to the blog because I soon realized that there were 100 other bloggers that already wrote about the topic more successfully, but I will always have these photos to cherish and look back upon.

3. “Crispy” Broccoli

Charred veggies are wonderful, and I tried to recreate them in the oven instead of a grill. However, I will now forever remember that when broiling, its important to watch closely because….. burning happens fast.

I even tried to still eat these because I hate wasting food, but I just couldn’t choke them down. I don’t know what I was thinking to even try them.

2. Glitter Donuts


This was going to be my New Years recipe, because glitter is synonymous with New Years. However, I somehow burnt the donuts without even realizing until I saw the pictures. 30 minutes after frosting these donuts with a coconut cream type glaze, they all melted into a slimy mess, and the glitter didn’t even look like glitter- it just looked like weird shiny bits.

I didn’t eat any of them because I thought they were gross, but the best fiancé award goes out to CK, who ate every last one in an endearing effort to show how much he supports South of Vanilla and all my weird food endeavors.

1. Exploding Ginger Beer


This was quite possibly the BIGGEST mess I have ever created in my kitchen, and uniquely sounds like something you could buy in Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes. I was trying to make ginger beer, through fermentation, which was going great until the glass bottle I had newly bought exploded all over my kitchen, and because of our open home layout, all over the living room too.

This meant that shards of glass, ginger pieces, and sugar went all over the top of the fridge (where I was storing it), all of the floor, countertops, walls, and carpet of the living room which I had to scrub several times to get clean. Naturally, the week it happened, the southwestern temperatures decided to soar and our air conditioning decided to take a little vacation, which meant that hard yet sticky invisible sugary globs decided to abstractly decorate the walls and floors.  It also took weeks of walking around our house with shoes on because we kept finding tiny glass shards in obscure places. Ugh.

Luckily, no one was hurt because no one was in the room when it happened, but I haven’t attempted homemade ginger beer again for my Moscow mules since. Maybe 2016 will be my year.

Happy New Year!

Sunday Snaps, 01-04-2015

Happy first Sunday of the year! It has been quite the month, hasn’t it? (I also now do realize the irony of “Sunday Snaps”: this doesn’t seem to be a weekly thing at all. More like monthly. Ah well, better luck next time.)

Its been a whirlwind guys. I suppose the holidays always are, but this year seemed to go really fast. Now I have the post-holiday blues, mostly because Christmas isn’t for pretty much a whole year minus 1 week, and it won’t be appropriate to wear all glitter errythang until next New Year’s Eve. Life is hard sometimes.

This Christmas was low-key, which was exactly what Christopher and I needed after a stressful and crazy busy fall. We figured out that since September, either one or both of us had been traveling or having guests stay with us almost every other weekend and sometimes back to back weekends. Also a perk of a New Mexico Christmas? Shooting guns. And biscochos. And Ponchoclaus. (He had a donkey. With a reindeer antler headband.) Nope, not a joke, and yep, a New Mexican staycation was just what we needed:

Old town Mesilla on Christmas Eve

Old town Mesilla on Christmas Eve




Ponchoclaus is real. 

Ponchoclaus is real. 



Can't stop eating

Can't stop eating

And it has been full of gorgeous scenery, especially the past couple weeks:





A friend just told me that eggs are actually considered protein/meat and not dairy. Whatt???? Mind blown. I mean, it makes sense, it does. Its not like an egg is made of cheese and milk or anything, but then why is it always found in the dairy section?? And why hasn’t anyone informed me of this? I’ve gone almost 27 years thinking eggs were dairy. Step it up, world. I’ve lived in ignorance for far too long.

I’ve really noticed the prices of food going up the past few months. Admittedly, healthy eating, and especially following a paleo diet, is always more expensive than conventional diets, but really. Is it just here in the southwest? Anyone have insight on this one? I am baffled.

I am currently obsessed with my new Christmas gift acquisitions, which include a blanket scarf and a pair of Hunter boots. I think they're super cute, but Christopher has been looking at me quizzically and asking why I am insistent upon wearing a blanket around me neck and bright red rain boots in the desert. Men. They will never understand. 

Many in the paleosphere are doing a Whole 30 this month, which is admittedly a great idea following holiday eating. Currently, I feel like this:

I thought about doing a Whole 30 as well, except I’m going to D.C. soon, where I will inevitably eat 10 Georgetown Cupcakes and drink approximately 12 moscow mules, so I’m holding off. Until then, I’ll be continuing to indulge in these wonderful paleo treats I recently posted:

Paleo, dairy-free caramel hot-chocolate with homemade marshmallows

Paleo, dairy-free caramel hot-chocolate with homemade marshmallows


Paleo hot chocolate bar

Paleo hot chocolate bar


Paleoish Kombucha Gin Ricky

Paleoish Kombucha Gin Ricky


Non-dairy chocolate "ice cream" with peppermint-mocha marshmallow swirl

Non-dairy chocolate "ice cream" with peppermint-mocha marshmallow swirl


After I’m back from my D.C. weekend, I’ll be strict paleo…at least until the next sprinkled pastry comes along. But really, I’ve even working on some detox-ready, paleo-friendly recipes. I can’t wait to share, but here’s a sneak peak:



Clearly, this photo is appropriate right now. Except I have been diligent about doing Hot Yoga lately, which I feel detoxes my body, but I really have no scientific evidence to back that one up. I just like sweating. It makes me feel good. And the showers after a long sweat are epic. I also like wearing my lululemon yoga pants for doing actual yoga, and not my normal lululemon routine of drinking coffee while browsing through instagram.

Today is my last day of break before returning to work, and I am so sad. My days of lounging and doing nothing are over. During break, Christopher has figured out a gentle way to tell me to go find something else to do and not bother him while he watches football. Very subtle:

 

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 brings you lots of happiness and health!

 

P.S: If you haven’t seen my Top 10 Faileos of 2014, go check it out here. You’ll get a good laugh:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Top 10 Faileos of 2014

I talk a lot about how great my food is. I mean, obviously, I'm not going to post a recipe and say how deplorable it is and how you should never ever attempt to make it. That would be absurd.

But what I haven't ever talked about is how many times I have failed trying to create recipes and meals and blog posts that just never turned out. I think of all of my blog posts, I have had maybe 5 recipes that turned out great the first time I made them. Every other recipe I had to make twice, sometimes three or four or five times. And those numbers alone mean that there are a whole lot of mess-ups and failures that I haven't shared, a whole lot of failed paleo dishes, which I would now like to introduce as "faileos".

In excitement for the upcoming new year, I thought it would be nice to have a good laugh and talk about all the things that have gone wrong on South of Vanilla over the past year, all the things that had brought me to tears of frustration in the moment, but now are providing an abundance of tears of laughter. Because really, what was I thinking with some of these?? I still don't know.


10. I was really excited when one I day I found this super cool, barely been used waffle iron at Goodwill. Immediately upon seeing it, I dreamt of all the things I could make in a waffle iron: paleo cornbread! brownies! cakes! waffle bread! How has anyone ever existed without the genius invention of waffle bread?? The possibilities were endless. But first, I needed to start things off slowly with creating a basic recipe for just plain waffles. It didn't work out so well:

Yeah. Never ever coming soon to a paleo blog near you!

9. Last New Years eve, my best friends and I were throwing ourselves a NYE party for ourselves the only way we knew how: with movies, music, dancing, glitter, chalkboard paint, a photobooth, liberal amounts of alcohol, and lots and lots of food. Being the self-righteous person that I am, I decided to show my friends that great tasting paleo desserts were definitely possible:

Yeah, I showed them.

To make matters worse, we were stuck with these things for days after, since the 2014 Chicago snowpocalypse and the polar vortex snowed us all in.

8. I had this brilliant idea that I was going to show the world that brussels sprouts were nothing to fear! I was going to write this post about how sometimes getting yourself to love vegetables is just about you prepare them.

So I literally spent almost a an hour and a half peeling back each layer of each little leaf of each tiny brussels spout while watching Frozen, naturally. (Winter vegetable, winter movie. It made sense in my head.) This brussels sprouts idea of mine, I thought, was so brilliant. I was going to call them brips. As in brussels sprout chips. I was going to take the world by storm! They were going to be the new kale chips!

 

I never tried this recipe again. And then soon after, I found out that Nom Nom Paleo pretty much did the same thing but 500 times better. And did it successfully.

7. Remember those carrot fries that got a whole lot of attention when I first posted them, and then again right around Thanksgiving?

They weren't always the recipe that they've evolved to be:

6. Back when I was living and working in DC, I found this amazing book. I stumbled upon it one day, without an owner, begging to be read. Of all things, it was a cookbook dated to the mid 1800s, containing recipes and cuisine specific to Virginia. I really felt like I had stumbled upon a treasure. I was like Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince wading through margin notes and shortcuts and cooking brilliance; suddenly I had access to all these amazing recipes, many of which were naturally paleo. I was going to use this book and spread it's power. Not only was I going to share the secrets of these forgotten recipes, but I was going to show how this was yet another instance of how our ancestors, though not that long ago, were following a primal diet.

So I found this perfect recipe, this great recipe that I think really embodied the mood of this whole situation. The recipe I decided upon was a fermented peach recipe. It only contained 5 ingredients, was naturally paleo, and was fermented! It was perfect. I followed all the cryptic steps, written in old language I didn't necessarily understand, and took all these fabulous pictures:



And then those fermented peaches just turned into straight up moldy, foul smelling, truly disgusting peaches. I didn't even snap a picture of the mold, because getting close to the moldy blobs was really, truly, too much too handle.

And just like that, My Half-Blood Princess dreams were ruined.

5. One time, I was convinced that I was going to make my own paleo whipped cream from real cream. Granted, this recipe wouldn't have been completely paleo because it had cream, but I was willing to look past that.

And then my cream turned into butter. But not just any butter! Butter with coconut sugar and vanilla...which sounded salvageable- it could be a dessert butter! And then I tried it and it was so awful. Firstly because it splattered all over my kitchen, second because it was watery, and lastly because I accidentally used an alcohol based vanilla. So my whipped cream tasted just like watery alcohol butter. Yep.

And did I mention that I made this mistake not once, but twice- the second time being with frosting???


4. Back in late winter and early spring while I was training for my half marathon, I went through these insane stages where I would just crave carbs. I knew it was because I was training so much, and my body really needed it, but dreams of pasta and bread rolls and pizza dough dancing like sugarplums in my dreams was just too much to handle. So I decided that I was going to make my own paleo linguine. I decided to make pasta the traditional way but with paleo ingredients: the art of rolling and cutting and chilling and drying would not be lost on me. I was culinary! I am not below paying homage to the great pasta making gods.

After I chilled and rolled and cut, for 48 hours, I turned my apartment into a pasta-drying factory:


Everything was turning out great, and I had even started writing the blog post in my head. This recipe was going to revolutionize the paleo diet!

And then I started cooking the pasta. Somehow all the eggs I had used to form the dough, started to boil up from the pasta to the top of the water in the pot, to form kind of a frothy, eggy foamy broth. The pasta turned from a nice tan color to a squeamish gray color, and then started to fall apart in the pot. BUT I STILL TRIED TO EAT THEM. So I smothered them in sauce, took a bite, and immediately wished I hadn't.



So long homemade, paleo pasta. Its Cappello's for me from here on out.

3. Four words: homemade paleo girlscout cookies.

Two words: epic faileo.

2. Remember those paleo soft-shell tacos? They were delicious. There is also a reason why the soft-shell of the tacos were not my own....

1. I went through this marshmallow-making obsession back when I was trying to perfect the recipes for my Paleo Pumpkin-Spice Marshmallows and my Paleo Peppermint Mocha Marshmallows. These two took quite a long time to figure out, and back in the original post, I shared that I broke two bowls while doing so. How did I do this? The first time, I somehow forgot to lock my kitchen aid bowl into the twist lock base, turned the mixer on high, and the proceeded to watch the bowl fly across the room, land with a crash, and dent the tile floor that we had literally just laid a week prior:

While waiting for my replacement bowl to come in the mail, I decided that I NEEDED to try this recipe again, and the only way I could do it, was to use the Kitchen Aid because it was powerful enough. In complete ignorance of the past Kitchenaidgate fiasco, I found another similar bowl, set it on top of the lock base, and turned the mixer on low to test it out. Everything seemed fine! The bowl was staying in place even though it wasn't designed for the mixer. So I turned it up high and then WALKED AWAY.

I'm an idiot. Bowl number two: gone, crashed, and shattered, but not before spreading a full cup of melted honey across every possible surface of the kitchen.


So there we have it: the best of 2014.

 

Have a joyous and very Happy New Years 2015!