Online recipe sites are great (I keep a recipe box at AllRecipes and lurk at Epicurious) but what about the iPhone and iPod touch? One of my favorite new App Store discoveries is AllRecipes.com Dinner Spinner (iTunes, free).
With it you can search AllRecipes.com's thousands of recipes (with photos) by narrowing your search criteria down to three categories:
- Dish Type (main dish, side dish, appetizer, etc.),
- Ingredients (chicken, beef, fish, vegetable, etc.), and
- Ready in (45 min or less, 20 min, etc.)
The screenshot at right shows searching for a pasta main dish that will be cooked in a slow cooker (spoiler: slow cooker lasagne).
Choices are made by spinning each of the three horizontal wheels until the option you want is displayed in the center. Tapping your choice "locks" that wheel as indicated by a blue highlight. The fun part is shaking the iPhone or iPod touch for a random selection. The wheels spin like an Atlantic City slot machine and stop randomly.
Tapping on the View Matches button takes you to a summary page displaying the name, average rating, number of reviews, a picture and the recipe summary. You can then flip through your search results using small left and right arrows at the bottom of the screen. Tapping again loads the full recipe, nutritional information and member reviews on how to prepare the recipe and their suggestions.
While it's fun to shake and spin the wheels (think UrbanSpoon) and it makes for a great demo, it's not entirely practical for me because I usually have an idea about what I want to cook already in mind. While it's fun for my spontaneous side, I'd like Dinner Spinner to add a text search field so that I easily search for recipes, like "chicken parmesan," instead of having to drill down through "Chicken," then "Main Dish," etc. Although this ommission can easily be remedied by bookmarking the AllRecipes mobile site (m.allrecipes.com) on your iPhone, homepage icons consume precious iPhone real estate.
For Dinner Spinner to really become a 5-Star application it needs to allow me to log into my account and view/edit/add recipes. Give it a nice shopping list view organized by category and you'll have recipe nirvana.