Gobble gobble! 8 apps you need to make it through Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the things we’re thankful for and reconnect with family and friends over a good meal. Here are eight apps for Windows and Windows Phone to help make sure you have a safe, hassle-free and enjoyable holiday.

Bing Food & Drink

The Bing Food & Drink app is a must-have on your tablet or laptop for Thanksgiving. The new app makes it easy to explore recipes from all around the world, choose from more than 100,000 wines and cocktails, and learn tips from celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Tom Colicchio to make your next meal a taste-tempting success with family and friends. Not that you have to be a celebrity chef to cook a mean bird or get those garlic mashed potatoes just right.

Bing Food & Drink provides immaculate photos (as seen in the screenshot above), easy-to-follow instructions and tools such as a shopping list and meal planner to help you prepare your Thanksgiving dinner. You can also use the app to enter notes or upload your own favorite recipes, and then share them with a single tap of your finger – a great way to make the relatives happy when they ask for your sweet potato pie recipe!

One of the coolest features of the app is its “Hands Free Mode.” Here’s how it works: Let’s say you’re preparing Swedish meatballs and you’re ready to move on to the next step in the recipe, only your hands are all sticky from handling the ingredients. No worries in THIS kitchen. With the “Hands Free Mode,” you can navigate recipes with a simple wave of your hand. No more messy fingers on your device’s glossy, pristine gorilla glass!

On a related note, the Rachael Ray show will feature Colicchio on Dec. 3. During the show, he will show off some of his favorite cooking items, including the Bing Food & Drink app. Don’t miss it!

Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving Recipes by iFood.TV

Thanksgiving Recipes by ifood.tv has everything you need to prepare an awesome meal. As soon as I open the app on my Surface, I’m greeted by a menu of tiles that includes video recipe categories such as cakes, casseroles, drinks, gravy, pie, sauce, soup and stuffing. And, of course, there are countless turkey recipes – roast turkey, cider brined turkey, turkey with almonds and apricots and more.

You can also search by course, ingredients, method, taste and interest. Maybe you don’t want to do the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing meal. My wife is from New Orleans, which means I eat a lot of Southern food. We’re giving serious consideration to replacing one of our regular side dishes with a chicken and sausage gumbo recipe that we found in the Thanksgiving Recipes app.

If you’re like me and you have more success watching someone else prepare a recipe as opposed to following one from a book, then Thanksgiving Recipes and its massive library of thousands of videos might just be right up your alley. You can find it in the Windows Store.

Prefer to cook with your Windows Phone close by? I also recommend Yumvy and AllRecipes.

Cocktail Flow

Cocktail Flow for Windows

Cocktail Flow is one of my favorite apps for when my wife and I entertain guests. I am not a connoisseur of cocktails by any stretch of the imagination, but this app for Windows and Windows Phone sure goes a long way in helping me make passable drinks for my friends and family.

The first thing you’ll notice about the app is its sleek, sparse and easy-to-navigate set-up. You don’t need to know a thing about making cocktails to get started. The app has three guides for entry-level cocktail creation that go into measurement units (what does it mean when a recipe calls for “one part Bourbon whiskey, one part Sambuca”?), glassware, barware and garnishes.

One of my favorite features in Cocktail Flow is the Cabinet. Here’s how it works: you swipe through a menu of spirits, mixers and liqueurs, selecting the ones you have in your actual bar cabinet and Cocktail Flow will generate drink ideas for you. For example: in your bar you’ve got some vodka, gin and bourbon whiskey, as well as some sugar syrup, grenadine, lemon juice and orange juice and some triple sec. Whammo! Cocktail Flow comes up with 11 different drinks you can make for your guests.

The app also breaks down drinks by spirit and by color. So, if someone asks for something with rum in it, all you have to do is tap on the rum category. If someone asks for something red or blue, all you have to do is tap the red or blue category. Easy peasy!

Alcohol Free Drink Recipes

And for those Thanksgiving guests who don’t drink, there’s always the Alcohol Free Drink Recipes app for Windows Phone.

The app has more than 200 alcohol-free drink recipes to choose from. The app breaks down drinks by category – soft drinks, shakes, cocoa, cocktails and coffee and tea.

Wait, cocktails? You bet. Ever heard of an Afterglow? It’s one part grenadine, 4 parts orange juice and 4 parts pineapple juice. Mix and serve over ice. Done. What about a Cranberry Bomber? Four ounces of cranberry juice, ½ ounce of OJ, two tablespoons of grenadine, one tea spoon of honey and a dash of cola. Garnish with a slice of lemon. (Of course.)

You can also add any drinks you have a particular taste for to your Favorites list using the menu bar.

Instagram

Instagram

Thanksgiving is a great time to reconnect with those family and friends you don’t get to see as often as you’d like throughout the year, and one of the best ways to capture those precious moments is on your smartphone’s camera. Pair that with the newly arrived Instagram app for Windows Phone, and you’ve got a great combination. Grab a picture from your Windows Phone Photos Hub, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram – it’s that easy.

You can even share to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare right from the app. Turn everyday moments into works of art with Instagram for Windows Phone 8. The new app is now available for free in the Windows Phone Store!

Waze

Waze for Windows Phone 8

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go, right? Lots of us spend at least a little time in the car and on the roads on or around Thanksgiving, shuttling from one relative’s house to another. The last thing we want to deal with is holiday traffic, if it can be at all avoided.

Sometimes, your best sources for the most up-to-date traffic and road reports are other drivers ahead of you – and the free Waze app now available for Windows Phone 8 devices can deliver their advice exactly when you need it.

Using crowd-sourced info, Waze plugs you into a network of drivers who share real time traffic alerts and road info to find you the best route in real-time. With just a tap, you can join the Waze community of drivers and share your own reports about traffic, accidents, road closures and more to improve everyone’s daily commute.

Other perks include automatic re-routing as conditions on the road change, and personalization as the app learns your frequent destinations, commuting hours and preferred routes. Waze can also notify a person that you’re on your way by sending a live ETA and a link showing you as you drive, and also helps find the cheapest gas station along your route.

Bing Weather App

Bing Weather App for Windows Phone

It’s equally important to stay mindful of the weather as you travel about by plane, train and automobile for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s easy to do that with the Bing Weather App for both Windows and Windows Phone.

The app helps you prepare for the latest conditions with hourly, daily and 10-day forecasts. It allows you to compare weather from multiple providers, check radar maps and view historical weather. You can also get current weather information for your location and for the other places you care about, like a family member’s city or your next vacation destination.

The Maps feature allows you to go deep in detail with radar, temperature, precipitation, cloud and satellite maps. And for those planning to hit the slopes while on vacation over Thanksgiving, there’s even a feature that lets you check the weather at ski resorts around the world with snow forecasts, ski trail maps, ski deals and news, Web cams and 360-degree panoramas.

Bing Sports App

Bing Sports App for Windows Phone

Watching football on Thanksgiving has become as much a staple of our holiday tradition as cranberry sauce and apple pie. As in years past, there will be three NFL games televised: The Green Bay Packers versus the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. ET on Fox, the Oakland Raiders versus the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS and the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Baltimore Ravens at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

It won’t be easy though, keeping up with all that football between eating dinner, catching up with old friends and family and shooting photos with your Windows Phone. So, you’d better have the Bing Sports App for Windows Phone so you can stay up to speed on the top scores, top stories, slideshows and videos. Both the Windows and Windows Phone apps are highly customizable, so I can follow news, scores and stats from my favorite sports and my favorite teams. Plus, I can even pin my favorite team to my start screen, creating a tile for one-touch access to all the latest team updates.

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Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog