Hamburger Helper High Tech

I admit I lead a semi-charmed kind of life. But I’m sure I’m not alone when I admit one of the most dreaded decisions I face on a daily basis is what to cook for dinner. I enjoy cooking (eating, anyways) but sometimes I get into a rut. I know it’s bad when I find myself staring blankly at my refrigerator and my eyes are drawn to the school lunch menu in search of inspiration. Searching food websites or flipping through magazines replete with glossy photos of impossibly difficult dishes containing unobtainable ingredients surprisingly does not make the task any easier, or fun.  However, take all the information and distill it into an iPad app and I’m so there.  Last week,, the website with over 44,000 recipes and a membership of over 3.6 million users, released a new free cooking app, Allrecipes – Your Kitchen Inspiration.  Read my review after the jump…

The social food networking site has already released apps for the iPhone and iPod ( Dinner Spinner) for menu planning on the fly, but this is its first iPad offering that actually aids in the preparation.

 The search starts at the “Inspire Me” screen where the user can select a course, main ingredient, cooking method and cooking time.  (The main ingredient pop-up surprised me.  When searching for a dinner recipe, the fourteen button grid of primary ingredient choices did not list turkey as a potential protein.  Legumes and lamb, but no turkey?).  Once the aspiring chef has narrowed down the possibilities, photos both amateur and professional drop down from which to choose.  I chose Beef Tenderlion with Easy Cranberry Balsamic Sauce.  Here’s where the app gets really interesting.

The recipe card in the upper left corner provides nutritional information, the ability to scale the recipe (up to 300 servings!), create shopping lists and email the recipe for easy access on the iPhone for when it’s time to go shopping.  In the upper right corner are members’ reviews which offer more than the random “yummy!” comment and provide actual tips and tweaks.

 The next step is to start cooking.  The layout here is practical and well thought out.  Each step is highlighted as you go along, and font size is adjustable so one can read the directions from a few feet away, which is ideal since iPads and ceramic cooktops don’t mix.  The app also has a built-in timer for sauteeing those onions exactly six minutes.

 I’m looking forward to using the app.  It has inspired me to get out of my rut and check out some new recipes.  Even if the user can’t find something to cook and has to resort to the pizza place on speed dial,  the random quotes by members that flash during searches and loading of content are entertaining (“I was drunk by the end of the cooking time, but what I remember was excellent!”).

Post a response / What do you think?