Favorite {food & entertainment} Apps

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It’s no secret that I’d rather spend hours in a kitchen store than five minutes in a jewelry store. {Lucky for my husband – he gets to reap the benefits AND it’s so much cheaper… in the long run!} I used to be a bit of a kitchen-gadget addict, but our remodel gave me the opportunity to purge anything that good knife skills could replicate. Now, several of my favorite kitchen tools don’t take up any drawer space at all – they’re all on my iPhone. Here are my current favorite food and entertainment apps:

CAMERA PLUS :: Tons of features to make your food pics pop.Camera+ :: Camera phones have come a long way, but for taking pictures of food,  I love Camera+ when I’m without my “big camera” and I know I’m not going to get a magazine quality shot anyway. Lots of editing options help boost even the most bland images, and there are many fun filters and frames. {As a courtesy in nicer restaurants, always ask if it’s ok to take pics of the food, and don’t use the flash!}

ETSY :: Awesome hostess gifts and unique homemade kitchen stuff!Etsy :: Whether you’re looking for a unique handmade hostess gift or want to find the perfect apron to replace the one that says “Kiss the Cook,” Etsy is your place. I’ve found beautiful hand-embroidered tea towels, one-of-a kind ceramic spoon rests, and many other cool finds.

FOOD52 HOTLINE :: Kitchen emergency or pressing question? Get instant advice here!Food52 Hotline :: Forget how long you should poach an egg? Wondering if you can substitute buttermilk for regular milk in a recipe? Deciding between pink and red for your pedicure? OK, not that last one. But for food and cooking questions for which you need an answer NOW, the folks at the Food52 Hotline are here to help.

GROCERY IQ :: A lifechanger... organize all those lists! And sync with other shoppers in your household.GroceryIQ :: What’s not to love? Keeping your grocery list handy at all times – and organized by aisle! But its additional features make it a home-screen app for me.  You can have multiple lists {in addition to groceries, my lists include Target, Costco, Home Depot and the wine store}. You can scan the UPC code on a box of cereal or bottle of wine to add it to the list. And you can “sync” the list with others. That way, whoever gets to the store first has the most up-to-date list.

HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING :: The indispensable book becomes a handy app.How to Cook Everything :: Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” book is an indispensable tool for many cooks – and now it’s available as an app! Besides covering lots of great info on kitchen fundamentals, the app includes a searchable recipe collection that you can filter by key ingredient, cooking technique, and other variables.

OPENTABLE :: Make reservations at your favorite spot, and discover new gems.Open Table :: Want to find an Italian restaurant in your city with availability for 4 at 7pm? This is your app. Want to book a special dinner at your spouse’s favorite spot for your anniversary? Look no further. Traveling to a new city and want to try a top rated restaurant there? Download this now. Every time you make and fulfill a reservation via OpenTable you get points that can be redeemed for Dining Cheques that can be used at any OpenTable restaurant… I’m sitting on about 7700 points at the moment!

PAPERLESS POST :: Email invitations with flair - and, it manages your RSVP list.Paperless Post :: Sure, you can simply email your friends and invite them for cocktails. But why not send a fun, themed invitation to their inbox? Paperless Post has many fabulous free designs you can use, and it keeps track of RSVPs as well – especially helpful for larger gatherings.  I recently used this for Husband’s office party we hosted here, and it was a great way to communicate with guests.

TIMER :: It's already on your phone. Now you're not tied to the kitchen while waiting for that souffle to bake.Timer :: The Timer app is already part of your phone’s arsenal, but most people rarely use it. I tend to lose track of time easily, and on more occasions that I can count, have burned nuts I was toasting or bread I was baking. Sure, there’s a timer on my oven. But my distractions often take me to another room, where I miss the ding-ding-ding of the reminder. With this app, I carry the timer with me.

TRIP SPLITTER :: Perfect for a girls' weekend or multi-family vacation.Trip Splitter :: Whether embarking on a “girls’ weekend” or going together to plan a shower for a friend, keeping track of who-spent-what, and who-is-owed-what is super easy with Trip Splitter. If you need it to figure out how to split a bill for a single dinner with several friends, you’re probably better off with a calculator.  But if the expenses are the least bit complicated {so-and-so didn’t have wine, so-and-so only had the appetizer…} this is invaluable.  We use it on our annual trip to Mexico with 4 couples, and it’s so easy that we’re all squared up before the plane lands at home.

UBER :: Had one glass too many, or just don't feel like driving?Uber :: Taking a taxi is ok if you’re in New York and they’re readily available, but even then you take your chances on the quality of the ride and the competence of the driver. Uber is brilliant. When you’re ready to be taken from point A to point B, simply open the app to request a driver. Within seconds, Uber lets you know where the closest driver is, and how soon he or she will be there.  They have your location (via GPS) and your billing information (you enter that when you register), so no worries if you’re short on cash. Uber takes care of paying the driver – including tip, so you can simply exit the car and get on with your evening. It’s a bit more expensive than a cab, but the ride {usually a Town Car} is nicer, and I like the safety of an electronic trail of where I’ve been.

VIVINO :: Snap a picture of that wine label, and this app tells you all you want to know about it. Vivino :: You’re at a friend’s house, and she serves you a fabulous Chardonnay that you want to remember. Simply snap a picture of the label and Vivino recognizes all the pertinent info and logs it. You can add your tasting notes – and read those of others. The app also provides the wine’s ranking and average price in the US. Another helpful feature is that it categorizes which of your wines are best with different food pairings. And next time you’re at the wine store, you have your list of favorites at  your fingertips.

YUMGOGGLE :: A feast for your eyes! YumGoggle :: I have to confess that this site has the same affect on me as a great book. I get lost in it, inspired by it and can’t get enough of it! YumGoggle is a collection of gorgeous food shots with links to hundreds of fabulous food blogs. Think “window shopping” for food! Several Raisin & Fig photos have even been accepted on YumGoggle! So I peruse the site, not just for recipe inspiration, but to get ideas for taking better food shots! Pour your favorite beverage and enjoy! {Note, technically not an “app” – yet – I’ve bookmarked the site, and use its mobile version.}

I’m always game for a new app that helps make life a little easier – especially when it comes to food and entertaining! What are your favorites?

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