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A spinner for dinner

Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner is a free, ad-supported app that gives you fun and easy access to the user-generated recipes on this popular cooking Web site.

Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner is a free, ad-supported app that gives you fun and easy access to the user-generated recipes on this popular cooking Web site. The Dinner Spinner gives you a slot-machine-style interface that helps you search for--or just stumble upon--new meal possibilities: you can rotate horizontal spinners to choose a recipe by meal type, ingredient, and cook time, or you can shake your iPhone or iPod Touch (or press a touch-screen button) to randomize any or all of the criteria.

This interface gimmick works surprisingly well, especially with some fixed criteria (like, say, you know you have lamb and less than 45 minutes), and you can flip through all the matching recipes, with photos, star ratings, and short summaries. If you don't want to use the spinner, you can even just browse featured recipes. You click on a recipe for more information, including a full ingredient list, cooking instructions, nutritional information, and user reviews from AllRecipes.com, and you can save any recipe to your favorites for later viewing.

The Dinner Spinner isn't perfect--for example, the categories rely on the occasionally spotty accuracy of user-generated data--but this app has shown steady improvement since its arrival in the App Store. You can now perform searches (with optional filters such as "Vegetarian" and "Low Sodium"), and you can look through all matches for a given meal and ingredient type for any cooking time. Other similar paid apps may have deeper functionality, but the Dinner Spinner gives you a lot of features (and fun) for free.

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