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Recipe apps and gifts for the home cook

Published recipes and menus are no longer controlled by celebrity chefs. Now, home cooks, foodies and local restaurants can share their kitchen creativity with the click of a mouse. Luckily, organizing and finding recipes has become just as easy with the vast collections on the internet.

Growing up, I remember my mom bookmarking cookbooks that were passed down to her from her mother, and piecing together an enormous scrapbook of recipes written down, torn out of newspapers and saved from packages. I also remember her looking at the pile when we were ready to move, and for the first time in a long time fully appreciating how heavy books can be. While there's definitely something nostalgic and wonderful about secret (or not-so-secret) family recipes, there's also something to be said about recipe apps for your mobile device or tablet. Check out my favorites:

Allrecipes.com

Overview: This app syncs with your allrecipes.com account - it's not just a cookbook. All of your lists can be saved and custom-sorted in your virtual recipe box, that's accessible via computer, tablet and mobile device. So, next time you bring the best dish to a party and someone needs the recipe, you can pull it up on your phone and email it to them. That simple! You can also rotate your device to put it into "cook mode" where it'll take you through the various steps in an easy-to-read experience.

Best feature: You can filter recipes by ingredients that you want to use, or ingredients that you DON'T want to use. This is great if you have tons of leftovers, or you bought one-too-many of something and you just need to use it while it's fresh. This is also especially helpful for people with food allergies or intolerances. Other fun features include a "dinner spinner" for indecisive nights, shopping lists generated from your saved recipes, nutritional facts, sponsored recipes from your favorite brands, and user recipe reviews. Tip: Buy the pro version. While the free version is wonderful and has my favorite ingredient feature, going pro for only $1.99 unlocks the syncing capabilities. It's a one-time fee! Allrecipes.com does have some ongoing membership plans, though - so if you fall in love with allrecipes.com check out their other benefits.

Epicurious

Overview: This app also links with your online profile and has many of the features Allrecipes.com has - like the virtual recipe box and shopping lists, and "rotate for cook mode." It stands apart with a home page where the featured collections are available, unlike Allrecipes.com, where they're only available on the full site experience. This allows the mobile user to discover new recipes on-the-go by theme, without having to do any digging.

Best feature: Their iPad app is just beautiful and easy to navigate. Epicurious also partners with Snooth.com to suggest wine pairings with every dish. Tip: Buy the pro version. Only $1.99 unlocks the syncing capabilities here too.

Food Network Overview: If you love Food Network and know the famous chefs, you'll love this app. Like Epicurious' home page, their featured recipe collections are perfect for holiday party planning. Like both Epicurious and Allrecipes.com, you can save recipes to your personal folder. This is unique from the others because all of the recipes are professionally crafted, so there's little chance you'll end up cooking something a little "off."

Best feature: You can search recipes by celebrity chef. If you're a little obsessed with cooking shows like I am, chances are you'll know exactly what kind of recipes to expect from your favorite star, so the feature will be especially useful to you.

With the holidays in mind...

For the techy chef in your life, consider getting them a gift card to their app store and a stand or mount for their tablet so they can get messy in the kitchen without worrying about their electronics getting wet or covered in other food stuffs. I love this Belkan mount - it hangs from cabinets, so it doesn't require putting any holes in your wall. There are tons of different varieties, so definitely browse before committing to one!

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