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I try pretty hard to feature original ideas for my food, and the cost is a lot of failure. Buckets of the stuff. Ugh. And as I move away from tried and true recipes toward completely new ones, it gets harder and harder to have a backlog of material if something doesn’t work out. This, coupled with my procrastinatorial nature, leads to a lot of fruitless nights.

Let’s discuss food philosophy a moment. Tastiness is tantamount. That’s one quality I can never bring myself to sacrifice. But the economist in me is always trying to balance out two other priorities: cool factor, calorie control & time to cook. Okay, three other priorities. Anyway, back to my point, sometimes something really REALLY satisfying and light doesn’t look like much of anything, and it’s worth it, because, well, it’s really REALLY tasty and hello skinny (like my homely Shrimp Surf ‘n Bake). Other times it’s just too heavenly NOT to share, and I cite as evidence the most amazing food Crisco can make (spoiler: it’s whoopie pies).

My recent neglect of calorie control has manifested itself in the form of an additional five solid pounds, a development that in itself is not a big deal, but I find that five pounds quickly becomes 40 for me, so my attention is important. To that end, I tried to return to my weight watching roots and had this great reinterpretation of Huevos Rancheros. I have exactly one problem with this recipe, and it makes it such that this will never work: eggs take for-freakin-EVER too bake inside a tomato. Forever. After 50 minutes of baking, the egg white was woefully inedible. I can’t justify spending any more time baking something just because it’s a neat way to do it.


Guts salsa.

Tomatoes, stuff.

The beginning of the failure.


I’ll admit that this photo really looks quite tasty. And I’m sure it would be, too, if it didn’t so cavalierly scoff at safe food handling practices. It’s tough to illustrate the slimy clear uncooked egg white smeared all over this dish, but I assure you it’s there.

 It would be a yummy mess if it didn't violate safe handling practices.

This cake pan, where I threw all the salmonella-laden refuse, shows a clearer picture of the dinner’s inedibility.

Discard bin.

There might be some merit to cooking the salsa properly, then frying an egg and serving it in a roasted tomato shell like that, but I felt the tomato flavour was just way too pronounced and difficult to overcome with what I threw into the salsa there. I did try making a tomato tube (instead of a tomato cup), throwing the egg at the bottom and salsa on top, but after 30 minutes it became clear that the egg white was rising and doing its whole “stubbornly not cooking” thing.

So that’s what I did last night. All I have to offer in terms of actionable food is not so much a recipe as it is an idea: fruited oatmeal is never as sweet as it should be and always seems to require additional sugar to balance the tartness. So I made a mango puree—one mango seems to do it for about 1 cup dried oatmeal, or four servings. I’ve dubbed it “Mangoatmeal,” because it’s vegan and I wanted to give it a name that made it sound decidedly non-vegan and even possibly cannibalistic. Also, because that was just the most obvious portmanteau.

Some visual notes.


My mango will never be elegant.

Let the sun shine . . .

If I called it "Mangoatmeal," would that imply it is not, in fact, vegan?

Eh, I'm not vegan anyway. Mangoatmeal it is.

Hopefully this weekend I will be cooking up a storm so I have something to report other than “my cooking skills cannot keep up with my creativity.” I have to say, though, I actually find most of my failed creations to be quite amusing. They say you learn more from your failures, and it’s true. Luckily I’m also quite adept at laughing at my own folly; it genuinely amuses me. So no need for consolation. I got a good laugh and a good lesson out of this deal.

  1. Mu Said,

    Have you considered Cryovac bags or sous-vide for cooking the failcheros? 😀 Might take less time but you wouldn’t have to watch it. And you could pile herbs and stuff into the bags to boil ’em…AND you could finish under a broiler to get the texture…? Maybe…?

  2. Rose Said,

    Am I the only person who read “man” “goat” “meal” and thought that was hilarious?

  3. Melanie Said,

    No, Rose, I read “man” “goat” “meal” and thought it would be some kind of oatmeal failure, “made for a man but only fit for a goat” or something like that.

  4. Marta Said,

    Aleta, I just found your blog and I think it’s gorgeous! Your recipes look fantastic and your visuals are very appealing. This recipe, in particular, catches my attention as I’m a brunch diva and I think this would be an excellent addition to it!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Matthew Said,

    I’m glad you put up failed recipes. I don’t think enough people do this. I asked some people on a panel on food blogging at SXSW about whether they put up their failed recipes, and they all scoffed at me. “I never fail,” was their response pretty much.

  6. Hillary Said,

    I like your way of thinking outside the box! Two great recipes with very original presentations. I just love how the tomato container for the huevos rancheros fits right in!

  7. ginas ww recipes Said,

    I thought this was an excellent idea. Here’s an idea, scoop out a tomato, saute scooped out tomato with scallions and eggs (aka Huevos Pericos in Colombia). Then stuff the tomato with cooked eggs and bake. Serve on an arepa! I have had many failed recipes but Ive never posted them. I just toss them and sulk! lol

  8. Rodger Said,

    I know it’s not nearly as cool, but what about baking the eggs in a ramekin while you broil/roast the tomato with its stuffing and then put the egg on top when all is said and done? OR you could poach the egg and do it similarly, that would probably be easier but a slightly different taste/texture.

  9. Steve Said,

    Eggs can be so damn fussy for such a “simple” and “basic” foodstuff sometimes.

  10. pete Said,

    2 things we used to do in boy scouts, way back when: halve an orange, scoop out the insides, crack an egg into each empty half and place directly on hot coals until egg cooks. you can do the same with an onion. both are delicious, but i haven’t tried either in an actual oven before.

  11. justine Said,

    that mangoatmeal is a perfect transition breakfast- it bridges the gap from chilly winter to blooming spring!

  12. Nick Said,

    I was thinking like rodger. Poach the things and then slide them right into the tomatoes after they are roasted. I would put some green chili in the tomato-hole first though to spice it up a bit.

    Sorry for dirtying up your comments with phrases like tomato-hole…

  13. the wicked noodle Said,

    Well, you’ve won me over with this experiment! Who cares if it didn’t work out (well, I do, because I was BEYOND excited when I saw this picture on Tastespotting…eggs baked in tomatoes? Heaven!!). But the point is that now I won’t have to try it, or some other poor tomato-egg-loving soul. Kudos to you for sharing your experience, it made for a fun read, and now I have another cool food blog to follow!

  14. rob Said,

    @Rodger: the poaching idea for the egg is a good one.

    Also you could consider using a red pepper which might hold up better to the long oven time.

    The mangoatmeal looks good. Reminds me of a dessert at a Thai restaurant I used to frequent: chilled sliced mango with coconut sticky rice… the hot / cold makes this dish so damn good.

  15. raych Said,

    *dies laughing*




    I am such a child.

  16. Hayley Said,

    I’ve always wanted to try eggs in tomatoes like that, but 50 minutes? That’s a little extreme. Thanks for the heads up!

  17. Stella Said,

    Oh, god, I have not laughed this hard all week. Thank you, “mangoatmeal.”

  18. becky Said,

    i was thinking poach the egg too. not because i am creative or even good when it comes to cooking, but because i recently got a little egg poaching device and have been eating poached eggs on pretty much everything. i’m totally going to make this delightful version of huevos rancheros.

  19. Amanda Said,

    I can never get over the idea of tomatoes and half-boiled-eggs – just seems so wrong. I know some people LOVE it, but I personally can’t stand it. It’s just too… much mushiness. Mangoes on the other hand…

  20. Emily Said,


  21. stephchows Said,

    A little raw egg white never hurt anyone… oh wait… 😀 I’ve had a bunch of fails as of late… just wait for my awesomely failtastic brie cheesecake next week… yeahhhh it’s fabulous 😀

  22. Chuckles the Wonder Pony Said,

    How about the broiler? Bake then cook the egg off under the broiler.

  23. Apollo Said,

    Even when you fail it looks delicious.

    You should get that tattooed on your arm.

  24. Beatrice Said,

    Hey there, your bakedegginatomato (i’m trying to go along with the mangoatmeal but it’s not working, hahaha.) caught my eye on Had to check it out and was floored by the fact the eggs refused to cook even after being in an oven for FIFTY minutes?! Aahhh. I remember once I baked eggs in a ramekin with goat cheese, tomato slices, and a piece of toast. The one thing it told me to do was bake it in a water bath. Sooooo, I’m thinking, if you get tomatoes to fit in a ramekin or a muffin pan, then place that in a water bath, you may get the same effect? I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.


    Well, thank you for the lovely posts. I love that you sometimes focus on healthy(er) food and then switch all of a sudden to crisco laden chocolate delights. Tee hee. I’m the same way.

  25. Lori @ RecipeGirl Said,

    bummer. I love eggy sorts of dishes like that too. You probably were expecting something wonderful to come of it…and then were left with that gross egg white blek. bummer.

    At least you got some good Mango Oatmeal out of it 🙂

  26. Kerry Said,

    what if you roasted them for a bit and got them all warm and yummy first, then put all the goodies in??? They’d be like little ovens to cook the eggs??? I think I might have to try this….

  27. Kerry Said,

    and by “them” I meant the tomatoes.

  28. Jay Said,

    Maybe try a “potato nail” or two and get some extra heat inside the egg.

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