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.

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.

Wow your friends with black bean and corn salad

Now that the mercury is rising all over the country, many culinary experts will make the major shift from comfort food to more versatile recipes that can be enjoyed during the hot summer weather. If you have a barbecue coming up, you may be wondering how you're going to perk up your chicken, burgers and hot dogs with a delectable side dish. Instead of buying salad mix and whipping up a boring pile of lettuce, put a few of your Gerhards appliances to work and create a summer black bean and corn salad instead.

For this recipe you'll need two garlic cloves, two jalapeno peppers, three cups of fresh shucked corn, two cans of rinsed black beans, two tomatoes, a half cup of sliced green onions and a half of a cup of chopped cilantro. When all of these ingredients are chopped and prepared completely, you can combine the garlic and jalapenos in a pan with a teaspoon each of cumin and oregano. If you and your family are big fans of spicy foods, consider adding a few of the seeds and the membranes of the jalapenos to give your salad a bit of an extra kick.

After these veggies have browned, you can add in the corn and then add a half cup of water and allow it to cook down. Finally, when this mixture is complete, you can add your black beans, scallions, tomatoes, and cilantro in a bowl until it is mixed together evenly. Your dressing is the final step – mix together a tablespoon of dijon mustard, cracked pepper and the juice of two limes together and a dash of olive oil. Once the dressing has coated the majority of your black bean salad, it should be ready to serve.

This dish is a wonderful choice and is served cold, so you can make it a few days in advance and have it ready for your summer gathering. The salad is so versatile, it can work with a Cinco de Mayo celebration or even a traditional Fourth of July barbecue. The recipe couldn't be easier, and all it takes is a bit of chopping to get all of your ingredients ready to meld together. It could be the perfect way to wow your family and friends over the coming months and show off your culinary ingenuity.

Homemade guacamole is a fabulous choice for your upcoming outdoor gathering

Now that the spring and summer entertaining season is in full swing, it's the time of year when you can show off your culinary abilities and wow your guests at upcoming parties. Instead of putting out the standard chips and salsa this year, use your new Gerhards appliance to make your own homemade guacamole.

This side dish is wonderful for dipping and you can also use it down the line as a spread on sandwiches or in other dishes. First, you'll need three to four ripe avocados peeled, then place the pulp in a bowl. Next, juice a few limes and add a touch of salt, cumin and cayenne pepper and mash them all together.

What will really set your guacamole apart is the addition of taste-boosters like tomatoes, cilantro and onions, so incorporate as many as you wish to adhere to your guests' palette. After all the ingredients have been blended together, you should let the mixture reach room temperature and serve as one of your first courses.

Guacamole is a wonderful change of pace and a great idea for a warm weather get-together. Simply break out your favorite bag of chips and let your friends and family go to town!

Gerhard’s Appliances – Surprise your sweetheart with homemade chicken Marsala

If you haven't made dinner for your special someone in awhile, trying something new and exciting is a great way to break from your work week routine. Chicken Marsala is a delectable dish you'd probably pay extra for in a restaurant, but it's actually quite easy to put together. With your new Gerhards appliance at your disposal, it will come together in a snap.

According to Food Network, you should start by dredging your chicken cutlets in a mixture of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, dried thyme and onion powder (about a tablespoon each). Put these in a skillet with olive oil and cook them until they are brown on both sides.

In the same pan, place three cups of sliced mushrooms until they are tender, and then pour in ¾ of a cup of Marsala wine. Then add a cup of chicken stock and let the sauce simmer until it has thickened. Next, add butter occasionally for taste and then add the chicken back into the pan until it is fully cooked.

You can serve this over pasta or keep it as a stand-alone dish. Whatever you choose, your gourmet meal is sure to put a smile on your sweetheart's face!