Three perfect autumn pizzas

Everyone loves pizza. The perfect combination of zesty tomato sauce with just a slight kick of sweetness, the indulgently rich cheese, crispy or fluffy crust that perfectly captures the texture you want – and the toppings! Who can forget the toppings? In fact, some people might say that the toppings make the pizza. If that's true, then you're sure to want to give these autumnal-themed pizzas a try. If you're in need of a new wall oven, Gerhard's Appliances has you covered. The Kitchenaid KEBC167VSS is sure to satisfy, with 5.1 cubic feet, this True Convection Architect Series oven offers a 36-inch width that's perfect for baking your ideal autumn pizza pie. Why not consider these three expert recipes from a variety of great gourmand sites?

Sliced pear pizza with Stilton cheese and walnuts
Start with something adventurous. Ditch the traditional mozzarella and forget the sauce or usual herb combo. This pizza from Greedy Gourmet is made with ricotta cheese, four luscious sliced pears, crumbled Stilton and coarsely chopped walnuts. A surefire winner for the pizza lover with daring tastebuds.

Apple, bacon and gouda parmesan pizza
Want something a slight bit more traditional but still maintaining that tasty autumn twist? How Sweet It Is, a recipe site for food-lovers, offers a delicious pizza made with orchard fresh apples. Instead of cider doughnuts or the traditional apple fritters, slice up those tasty fruits and mix them in with red onion, grated gouda and parmesan cheeses, sage leaves, nutmeg, clove and – of course – plenty of thick-cut bacon.

Butternut squash and goat cheese pizza with roasted garlic
Ready to get adventurous again? Add a whole new texture and flavor profile to your pizza with this butternut squash-based pie from The Endless Meal. Featuring the sweetness of butternut squash paired with the zesty power of garlic, an onion and plenty of goat cheese, this pizza is sure to please even the most skeptical of margarita diehards.

So don't put it off any longer. Cheese and tomatoes are sure to stick around at the grocery store, but many of these ingredients are freshest this time of year. Take advantage of the autumn's bounty and get these great harvest ingredients into your dream pie. Best of all, many of these pizzas are considerably more healthy than your usual grease-soaked takeout fare. Hit up the grocery store and make every night pizza night!

Three summer salads to celebrate the heart of the season

Nothing tastes better during a late July heat wave than a plate of summer salad. Whether you're throwing a casual weekend brunch, looking to make a heaping bowl for a cookout (you'll need to do some multiplying), or want to treat yourself to a quiet afternoon meal, fresh and light ingredients are what make summer salads so delicious. Hop on over to Gerhard's Appliances for your kitchen appliances and consider these three excellent recipes.

1. Grilled pineapple summer salad

½ pineapple, sliced into medallions
1 mango, cut into ½ inch-thick medallions
4 cups arugula
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
⅓ cup balsamic vinaigrette
⅓ cup macadamia nuts, halved

Heat grill to medium-high then put down pineapple and mango slices until lightly browned on both sides. Dice both into medallion halves or smaller slices. Take a large salad bowl and mix the greens and tomatoes, then add grilled fruit. Toss and lightly dress with balsamic vinaigrette before topping with macadamia nuts. Serves two to four.

2. Fruit and herb summer salad

1 large peach
1 tomato
1 cup of bing cherries, halved and pitted
4 strawberries, quartered
2 tablespoons of basil, chopped
2 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon of mint, chopped
1 tablespoon of lime juice
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Cut tomato into cubed chunks and then thinly slice peach and remove pit. Mix both with cherries and strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with basil, cilantro and mint. In a separate dish, mix lime juice, agave, olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the bowl of herbs and fruit. Serves one to two.

3. Tuna summer salad

Bibb letuce
1 tomato
1 large carrot
1 can of tuna in olive oil
2 slices of hearty wheat bread
Olive oil, red wine vinegar and dijon mustard to dress

In a bowl or on a plate, arrange bibb lettuce and spinach. Cut tomato into wedges and arrange with greens. Wash, peel, then shave carrot and arrange with greens and tomato. Carefully place tuna on top of salad and either dispose of olive oil or mix it with red wine and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to dress the salad. Drizzle dressing and serve with a slice of bread on the side. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves one or two.

Two great vegan cookie recipes

Although the idea of making a batch of cookie dough without eggs or milk might boggle a few minds, it's not at all difficult and very delicious. Whether you're a vegan yourself or just curious about cooking without animal products, take a look at these three cookie recipes that may just be all the more delicious for the tasty alternative ingredients they adopt. So grab a mixer from Gerhard's Appliances and get baking!

1. Lemon Sugar Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice  (1 lemon should do)
4 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir together. Take another bowl and combine applesauce, canola oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice and grated lemon zest (from lemon peel). Gradually add the contents of the second bowl into the first, mixing all the while, until they've made a cookie dough.

Scoop the dough into balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet with at least an inch or two between each cookie. Bake for between ten and fifteen minutes then enjoy!

2. Banana carob cookies

1 ¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking power
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup oats
1 large banana, ripe and mashed.
¼ cup vegan margarine
3 tablespoons canola oil
⅔ cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sweetened carob chips

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl, then add oats and stir. In a separate mixing bowl, beat together banana, margarine, canola oil, sugar, molasses and vanilla extract. Combine gradually with flour mix and continue to beat until it's all combined into cookie dough. Add carob chips, stir again and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then ball up cooled dough and place on cookie sheet. Flatten slightly, then bake from 10 to 15 minutes or until desired crispness.

While you may not be interested in giving up meat, much less all animal products, you can certainly enjoy the varieties of vegan cooking – from the nutty and bitter chocolate substitute carob to the velvety taste of bananas as a thickening substitute.

The ideal summer food and beer pairings for every occasion

Although it's a matter of contention, many folks would say that beer makes an even finer companion for food than wine. While the enthusiasts of either libation can battle it out forever, there's no question that on a warm summer afternoon nothing goes quite as well with a grilled cookout dinner than a cold beer. Whether you're serving up veggie kabobs, a plate of artisanal cheeses, succulent steamed lobster or s'mores over an open campfire, there's a beer for your particular dish. Consider these idea pairings when preparing your mid-July dinner party or Labor Day cookout.

1. Spiced meats and veggies with chiles or any kind of kick. For these savory but stinging entrees you'll want a heavy porter or stout – something to take the burn out of those spices. Look for something like Old Rasputin Imperial Stout from the North Coast Brewing Company or the Drayman's Porter from the Berkshire Brewing Company.

2. Grilled steaks, sausages and burgers. The Germans have excelled in sausage and beer production for centuries, so trust them with your cookout food. A simple Spaten lager makes a great light and crisp option. If you want to add a bit of sweetness, go with the more floral Franziskaner, which is also imported by Spaten but has a more Belgian taste.

3. Any variety of seafood. While there's plenty of micro-pairings within seafood (try lobster with a pint of Guinness!), a general rule of thumb should be to stick to ales. This includes everything from Rolling Rock Extra Pale to a classic Sierra Nevada. These beers go down smooth and taste great with a variety of fish and shellfish dishes.

4. Ice cream sandwiches, s'mores, parfaits or anything else sweet to cap off the night. Since too sweet a beer is a dessert unto itself, you won't want to go with something too heavy on the caramel or vanilla here. Instead seek out a thicker-bodied IPA like Otter Creek's Alpine Black IPA or the infamous Stone Brewing Company's Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.

Think outside the wine box and invest in a few six packs before your next barbeque or holiday gathering. A little research goes a long way with beer pairings, so be adventurous and try different things. Consider a mini fridge like the kinds available at Gerhard's Appliances for a quick and easy outdoor bar. Enjoy responsibly and eat well.

Three fruity summer cocktails

If you've got a dinner party coming up, you'll want to find a way to fight the heat with a cool cocktail – something easily served out of a pitcher and, hey, why not throw in a good dose of vitamin C while you're at it? Grab a blender from Gerhard's Appliance and start mixing!

If you're contemplating a summer cocktail with fresh fruit, look no further than these three prime suggestions.

1. Blueberry Mojitos

Ingredients (makes 1 serving, multiply for pitcher)
6-10 blueberries
6-8 leaves of mint
4 ounces club soda
2 ounces white rum
½ simple syrup
Lime slices

Mix blueberries and mint until they've been crushed together. Transfer to shaker and add a bit of soda, rum, simple syrup and ice. Shake, strain into a tall glass and add soda as you see fit. Garnish with a sprig of mint and/or a few blueberries.

2. Watermelon Tequila coolers

Ingredients (pitcher)
8 cups seedless watermelon cubed
2 ounces lime juice
¼ cup mint leaves
12 ounces tequila

Puree watermelon in a blender or food processor then pour the liquid through a strainer to remove as many leftover solids as possible. Puree a third of the watermelon juice with the mint leaves and lime juice, then combine in a pitcher with the rest of the juice and the ounces of tequila. Mix thoroughly and garnish with mint sprig or watermelon slice.

3. Classic English Pimms cup

Ingredients (pitcher)
4-6 sprigs of mint
Third of a cucumber, sliced thin
½ orange, sliced thin
½ pint (about 8) strawberries, slice thin
14 oz Pimms
750mL or one bottle of tonic water

Slice your cucumber and orange into medallions and place them into a pitcher. Add sliced strawberries and mint leaves. Mash them briefly with a wooden spoon then add Pimms, tonic and ice. Serve with fruit garnish or sprigs of mint.

Authentic and astounding homemade guacamole

While salsa is a fine dip for any tortilla chip, it never feels quite as satisfying as a bowl of fresh guacamole. Even folks who don't care for avocados are willing to dig into this satisfying summer treat. So while those avocados are fresh and the tomatoes are ripe, why not mix yourself a delicious batch of garden-fresh guacamole.

4 avocados, perfectly ripe
2 to 3 tomatoes (depending on personal taste)
1 jalapeno
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup chopped red onion
⅓ to ½ cup fresh cilantro (depending on personal taste)
½ lemon
½ lime

Slice avocados in half, remove their pits and slice the fruit lengthwise before spooning out. Place these in a bowl and coat in lime and lemon juice. Using a fork or potato masher, work at the avocado to the desired consistency. Dice onion and tomatoes, then mince garlic and cilantro. Also mince the jalapeno, and discard of seeds if you want a milder guacamole. Mix these into the avocado bowl, then apply salt and pepper to taste. You're done!

One of the great things about guacamole is that it's a versatile food. Feel free to experiment with ingredients in a variety of ways. Adding chipotle peppers in adobe sauce can spice it up, or combine that with bits of bacon for a savory crunch. For a sweet route that might do just as well, include pineapple, mango or berries in your guac. Some people enjoy mixing guac with quinoa for a protein-rich and filling dip – others add curry, corn or even tofu. Make your guacamole part of a sandwich or bruschetta. You can even bake your own tortilla chips and serve them hot out of the oven! The possibilities are endless, and each is authentic and astounding in its own way.

Beat the summer heat with delicious homemade blueberry ice cream

The pleasures of summer include the beach, swimming pools, sandals, hammocks and cookouts. But perhaps nothing is quite as satisfying as a bowl or cone of ice cream on a blazing hot afternoon. Don't bother waiting for the Good Humor man to show up in your neighborhood – instead embark on a little culinary experimentation of your own. This recipe for homemade blueberry ice cream makes for the perfect summertime treat, especially when shared with friends and family. Invite some friends over for lemonade and light sandwiches, with a bowl of ice cream for dessert.

(This recipe requires an ice cream maker, which can be found at most appliance stores.)
4 cups of either fresh or frozen blueberries
2 1/4 cups of sugar
2 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream (preferable to regular cream for texture)
¾ cup of milk
2 tablespoons of water

Mix the blueberries, water and sugar in a saucepan and set it to boil on the stove. When the sugar has dissolved and the blueberries have softened, place the mixture in a food processor or blender. Strain the puréed mixture into a new container and place this in the refrigerator until cool. This may take anywhere from several hours to almost a full day. Once cool, add whipping cream and milk to the blueberry purée and mix. Then transfer to ice cream maker and follow the appliance instructions. Freeze the mixture until firm, then garnish (with extra blueberries, of course) and enjoy.

Just like all homemade frozen treats, ice cream requires a top-of-the-line fridge and freezer. If you're in the market for one, stop by a Gerhard's Appliance. 

Pasta noodle substitute? – how about eggplant

You've probably seen a variety of pastas in your day – zucchini, squash, rice, buckwheat, spinach, whole wheat and who knows what else. But have you seen eggplant?

Eggplant pasta – that is, pasta noodles made of eggplant – is a delicious take on the Italian dinner classic. Hearty, low carb, nutritious – eggplant is just sturdy enough to be cut at a variety of thicknesses, from fettucine to near-angel hair fine.

Start by peeling your eggplant and then slicing it into strands lengthwise. Here is where recipes differ – some have you boil, others have you sautee. A giant pot filled with eggplant, garlic cloves, tomatoes and other delicious ingredients has its draws, but for maximum taste, sauteeing is the best choice.

You'll want a big saute pan for this, since there are a lot of ingredients mixing at a short depth, and also a solid stove, like the ones available at Gerhard's Appliances. Drizzle some olive oil in the pan and toss in chopped garlic. Add pepper and salt as you see fit, or chopped onions if that's to your taste, and let the ingredients simmer.

Brush your eggplant strands very lightly with a coat of olive oil (don't do too much in the pan or on the noodles, as it can quickly make the meal greasy), then throw them in the saute pan. Once the eggplant noodles have loosened up, toss in diced or whole cherry tomatoes. Let these pop, wilt or warm before putting in a touch of cream – another item it's important not to overindulge in, as it can overwhelm the taste of the eggplant.

Cook for less than a minute then turn off the heat, add shredded parmesan, fresh basil, a pinch of thyme and serve.

Pasta will never be the same.

The perfect egg salad sandwich

Hard-boiling an egg might be one of the most elusive cooking arts. We can all do it, and a few can do it well, but almost no one can do it perfectly. The shell cracks, the yolk is still runny, the whole thing's been over-boiled and lost its flavor and texture – so many things can go wrong in the process of trying to get one simple sandwich so right. Because hardboiled eggs are delectable, but they're best in service of an egg salad sandwich.

It's picnic season, so whether you're actually taking picnics to the park or just enjoying a sandwich on the porch or during your lunch hour, seasonal sandwiches are in. Few culinary creations are more summery than egg salad on good bread. So what might be the perfect egg salad sandwich recipe? Consulting the internet, libraries of cookbooks or even your own intuition helps, but it never beats a time-honored recipe like this one.

First place three to six eggs (depending on how many you're preparing for) in water until it reaches a boil. Immediately remove the eggs, and let them cool. Once they're no longer hot, place them in a bowl of cold water – this will help with the peeling.

Once peeled, chop the eggs very finely, yolks and all. Place the chopped eggs in a bowl and get ready to add all of your ingredients: dijon mustard, mayonnaise (we all know low fat is better for you – but nothing will give you the same taste as regular mayo), diced shallots, freshly chopped dill, cracked black pepper and a touch of sea salt.

As for bread, a grainy wheat or rustic rye go well, if that's to your taste. There's also the classic French baguette, which will hold up more sturdily if you're taking your egg salad sandwich on the go. Just make sure you've got a trustworthy stove – Gerhard's Appliances carries a wide variety – to get that boil just right.

Your alternative Fourth of July menu options

Hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad – these staples have carried Americans through Independence Day celebrations since long before the bicentennial. They're tasty and iconic grilling fare, worthy of praise when produced by even the most inexperienced culinary hand. But why don't we give them a break?

If you're looking to diversify your Fourth of July menu for this year's celebration, consider these delectable options.

Experts on celebratory cuisine south of the Mason-Dixon line, Southern Living suggest grilling peppered okra and serving it with a yogurt-based lemon-basil sauce for healthy and tasty dipping.

Main dish.
Grilling your main dish is an Independence Day institution (almost) as old as the red, white and blue. You'll want a top-of-the-line machine for this endeavor, so check out Gerhard's Appliances for the right grill to outfit your holiday.

Maybe you're trying to cut down on your red meat and poultry, maybe you're a vegetarian or just hosting one or two guests – whatever your reasons, you cannot go wrong with a portobello burger. Grilled to juicy perfection and paired with anything from bleu to swiss cheese, the taste of a portobello won't be a substitute for a beef burger, because it's its own delicious grilling staple.

If your guests are feeling full around dessert time, you know you're doing your job right. Don't load up on ice cream or anything too heavy for the final course, but instead try something lighter and just as tasty. A blueberry and raspberry parfait makes for a great and patriotic option – though meringue cookies or a fruit-bedecked angel food cake would be just as delicious alternatives. If you can't decide between a number of options, choose them all. The best part of cookouts and dinner parties are always the leftovers.