If she’s not in your life already, chances are you’ve heard of Alexa. She’s the one who moved into millions of homes over the holidays and will soon be staying in every room at Wynn Las Vegas. She is the “other woman” in our lives, and we’d better get used to it. If you haven’t been introduced, Alexa is the voice-activated personal assistant on the other end of the Amazon Echo speaker. And she has “skills,” which is another way of saying apps. All you have to do is ask, and she’ll call you an Uber, read you the news, turn on your lights—Alexa will even play Jeopardy! with you. She’s also amazing help in the kitchen, especially if you’re entertaining and want to make your fancy new gadget the star of the evening. Here are seven Alexa/Echo skills that will enhance your menu and impress your guests.
1. Prohibition-Era Cocktails
An excellent drinking-related skill, you can ask Alexa for a specific recipe by name, or say “Surprise me” to hear the ingredients and history of everything from the Sidecar to the White Lady.
2. Food Holiday
All those random food holidays you see trending on Twitter are stored in this skill. Plan ahead by asking Alexa which food holiday best corresponds with your dinner party, and add that item to your menu. Your guests will think you’re so clever for remembering that it’s National Grab Some Nuts Day.
3. All Recipes
Searching “recipe” in your Alexa app will return more than 100 results. Saying “Alexa, open Allrecipes” will give you access to the popular website’s massive database and cooking information. Select a recipe and have it sent to your phone, or have Alexa read you the ingredients as you begin preparing your meal. She’ll even tell you how many people your recipe serves and how long it needs to cook, and she’ll you walk you through every step of the cooking process.
4. Wine Assistant, Your Sommelier
There are a couple of ways you can use this skill beyond just getting the names and prices of wines. Spark a conversation by having Alexa read you and your guests a wine description, or, better yet, ask for this information before people show up and then blow them away with your wine knowledge.
5. Meat Thermometer
Call on this skill if you’ve been known to over- or under-cook meals. It will also respond to simple queries, such as, “How do I cook a chicken?” with specific temperatures for legs, thighs, etc.
6. My Food Facts
Another skill to call on when you want to get your group talking, asking Alexa about My Food Facts dispenses random food trivia such as, “Ripe cranberries will bounce like rubber balls.”
7. Glad Leftovers
When you’re wrapping things up, call upon this skill to make a list of all the excess food going in your fridge. You can have Alexa read it back to you when you’re hungry, as a helpful reminder that you should finish those cranberries before they go bad. Or drop them on the floor to gauge their freshness.