Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

Dust yourself off and try again.

Sara Tane
August 11, 2017

We all know that feeling of getting really excited about a new cooking excursion, pouring your heart and soul into said excursion, and then sitting down to enjoy what you’ve made, only to discover that it freaking blows. You’re not sure if it’s you or the recipe or the day or the circumstances, but something went wrong along the way, and now you’ve got to settle for your sub-par creation. Regardless of your level of culinary expertise, this earth-shattering moment of defeat is inescapable—everybody needs to have their ego checked from time to time, and cooking is the perfect hobby for this. While it’s a great way to grow and improve as a home cook, there’s no denying that a mess-up definitely sucks while it’s happening.

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Rather than assuming fetal position and tossing in your apron for life (dude, it’s one dish gone wrong, you’re going to be okay), dust the dirt off your shoulder and #never #stop #cheffin’. Because your morale is low and your cooking confidence might be more fragile than usual, it’s probably best that your next bout in the kitchen is a recipe that you know you can’t mess up. If you’ve got one that you can practically make with your hands tied and your eyes closed (damn son), that’s great. Make that and pat yourself on the back when it comes out just as beautiful as it always does. If you’re feeling ultra lost and down in the dumps, don’t worry. Pick your head up and make one of these no-fail, you-can’t-f*ck-this-up, easy, breezy recipes. If these let you down, then maybe it’s time to find a new hobby.*

Charred Shishito Peppers

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

There is something about this effortless side or starter dish that is seriously addicting. With only a couple ingredients and a process that kinda lets you burn it and still get away with it, these tasty peppers are sure to build up your confidence.

Roast an Entire Chicken

Photography: Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Cindy Barr.

Yes, we know that this might sound like a gargantuan undertaking and not the sort of thing that somebody with a shattered ego should be flirting with. Well, think again. Not only is this simple cooking process something that’s like, pretty damn hard to screw up, you’re going to feel like the King/Queen of the Universe when you pull this golden brown beauty out of the oven. Now, dig in, you monster.

Taco Night

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

The great thing about a solid, stay-at-home taco night is that you can make it what you want. Make your own salsa, or just buy a jar, it’s up to you. Use ground meat, or use slices of chicken breast or a flank steak for a more fajita-style situation. Beans, rice, corn, tortillas—it’s all good and easy. As long as there’s a big bowl of guacamole, a whole lot of cumin, and even more cilantro, then I’d say you did a pretty good job.

Broiled Salmon

Baked fish is almost too straightforward to be true. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise (and if they believe that, you should probably ask about the trauma that they have clearly experienced, because that is just unheard of). Whip out your trusted sheet pan, and maybe throw on some veggies to help mend your sorrows.

Galette

Sara Tane

If your kitchen whoopsie happened to be in the sweets department, don’t worry, there is still hope. Whether it was a cake that went south or a pastry item that broke you to your core, the only way to redeem your flour-coated self is to make a galette. With a rustic, free-form appearance and highly customizable filling options, there is no way that you can stray from greatness here.

Skillet Cookie

Photo: Alison Miksch

If a fruit dessert isn’t what you had in mind to turn that frown upside-down, then go ahead and wipe those tears from your eyes, whip out the cast-iron, dump a whole lot of dough in there, and eat that skillet cookie of yours straight out of the pan. A scoop of ice cream is mandatory.

Upside-Down Cake

Strawberry Upside-Down Cake from All You magazine

This might be another one that likes to disguise itself as a baking nuisance, but we’re going to go ahead and offer that it might not be as much of a headache as you think. In fact, you might be quite surprised to truly realize the restorative powers of a good, flipped dessert.

Margarita

Listen, when all else fails, that is when you turn to alcohol. And what better way to forget a regrettable mishap than a good ol’ margarita? Salt the rim (because you’re not going to be a heathen and put sugar on it), add a little orange zest, and do what you gotta do. As Julia Child used to say, “If tequila can’t lift your spirits, then frankly, all hope is lost.”**

*JK, never give up! Cooking is fun, except when it… isn’t.

**She has literally never said this! Ever! I just made it up!!

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