This is the time of year when we all look back, reflect, and think about everything that's happened — the people we've connected with, the places we've been, and the things we've accomplished. We thought it fitting then that we reexamine with an unflinching eye all of the things that we cooked this year.
And we discovered a cold, hard truth. While there were definitely a lot of wonderful recipes with great photos that went practically viral, not everything was a home run. And that's OK. Because Recipe SWAT Team is about as real as it gets. It's a themed recipe contest that's open to all of The Daily Meal staff, and we cook under the same conditions that you experience during the week as home cooks — a limited budget, a limited timeframe, a limited amount of energy, a home kitchen, the need to cook for yourself or a group of people, and only one chance to get it all right. Once a participant commits, there's no fudging around — groceries arrive at the start of the week and an original, written recipe with a photo is due at the end of the week, which gets pulled into a story. If you cook for a group of people on a regular basis — say a family or a loved one — or even just for yourself, you know it's tough: Some days are just better than others. And that's true for us, too.
How exactly did we come up with this list? We looked at all SWAT team recipes published this year averaging at least three stars based on at least 120 ratings, and factored in social media by adding the number of Facebook "Likes," Google "+1's", and tweets on Twitter to arrive at a score. To account for the fact that some recipes have been on the site longer than others, this score was then adjusted by the number of days that have passed since the recipe was published. This put newer recipes on an equal footing with older recipes. For example, a recipe which has been on The Daily Meal for half as long as the oldest recipe on the list would have its score doubled. The recipes were then ranked according to this score.
Were there surprises? Well, we have to say that we had an inkling that folks out there really like healthy eating recipes, but putting some numbers behind a hunch can sometimes be a real eye-opener. And this time was no exception. The people have spoken: The top-rated SWAT Team recipes this year revolved around healthy grains, with six out of 14 recipes featuring either quinoa or farro. Tilapia is also popular, with three recipes grabbing top spots. In fact, top honors go to video producer Ali Rosen for her Quinoa-Crusted Tilapia recipe. Based on our scoring system, hers was the best SWAT team recipe all year — probably because it combines two of the most sought-after ingredients. But sometimes, people just want to get their fat on, too, which explains how Potato, Bacon, and Cheddar Soup snagged number three. And quite a few of the top-scoring recipes caught the people's attention thanks to the amazing photography and editing skills of our photo editor, Jane Bruce. After all, you eat with your eyes, too. To check out what else made the list, read on.