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Recipe: Italian Tortellini Salad

Looking for the perfect dish to serve hungry guests this summer? Look no further than this Delicious, quick and easy Italian Tortellini Salad recipe with homemade dressing. Ready in just 20 minutes!

8-10 servings

20 ounces three cheese Tortellini (ie: Buitoni)
8 ounces uncured sliced Genoa salami, cut into thin pieces
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, chopped into small pieces
8 ounces mozzarella pearls, drained
2 (2.25) ounces sliced black olives, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh italian basil
–Italian Vinaigrette
3/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup finely freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp of EACH dried parsley, drained oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, onion powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp EACH black pepper, paprika
1/2-1 tsp agave or honey, or add more to taste

–Tortellini Salad
Cook the tortellini to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water until the pasta is cool.
Place tortellini in a large serving bowl and toss with all the other ingredients.
Toss the salad with the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired. Serve cold or at room temperature.
–Italian Vinaigrette
While the tortellini is cooking make the dressing. Add all ingredients into a mason jar, tighten the lid and shake until well combined. You can also add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well combined.
Store in an airtight container up to two weeks. Shake or whisk each time before use. If the oil becomes a solid in the fridge, just lettuce dressing sit out a few minutes for it to become room temperature.

~ Marla Meridith

Americana No-Bake Cheesecake

I love to make special desserts for the holidays, especially for July 4th. This Americana No-Bake Cheesecake will impress all your guests and it’s super easy to make ahead of time.

10-12 servings

–for the crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 full sheets) you can also us ginger snaps or chocolate wafers
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted, unsalted butter
baking spray
–for the filling
1 1/4 cups cold heavy whipping cream
3 (8 ounce) blocks full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp confectioners sugar
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
–for the topping
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries

Prepare the crust: Pulse the graham crackers (or your preferred cookies) in a food processor until you have a consistent crumb. Pulse in the sugar and butter until well combined. Spray a 9″ or 10″ springform pan with baking spray. Press the crust into the bottom of the pan, using your palms to make sure it’s firmly packed. Refrigerate while you are making the filling, 15-20 minutes.
Prepare the filling: Whip the cream in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until you have stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and place in the fridge.
In the same bowl, you don’t have to rinse it, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Scraping down the sides of the bowl with a soft rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, beat in the confectioners sugar, sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla bean paste until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Be sure that there are no lumps of cream cheese in the mixture.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the whipped cream being sure not to over mix, you don’t want to cream to deflate.
Scoop the cheesecake mixture over the crust. Smooth out the top with an offset spatula. Decorate with the berries.
Refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours up to two days. Serve cold.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

I don’t like my frosting too sweet, but feel free to add more powdered sugar if you desire.

24 mini cupcakes

–cupcakes
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs(at room temperature)
1 1/2 limes (zested and juiced)
2 tbsp silver or blanco tequila
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup half and half
–Tequila Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
3/4 tsp lime zest
1 1/2 tsp silver or blanco tequila
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 lime cut into small wedges for decorating

–cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 325˚ F with the rack in the middle. Line a mini cupcake pan with 24 liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 5 minutes until pale in color. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Mix in the lime juice, zest, tequila, vanilla and buttermilk.
Place the batter in the muffin pan, filling each cup 3/4 full.
Bake 12-14 mins or until a wooden skewer comes out virtually crumb free. Let the cupcakes cool completely before removing them from the pan.
While the cupcakes are cooling make the frosting.
Clean the mixer bowl. With the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together until well combined. Mix in the vanilla, lime juice, lime zest, tequila and salt. Mix in the sugar until you reach a creamy texture. *see notes
Transfer the frosting to a piping bag. Remove the cupcakes from the pan. Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake and top with a lime wedge and small straw.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings

Around here we can’t get enough chicken wings and this recipe for Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings is among our favorites! Serve as part of your weeknight dinner or for any kind of entertaining. Great for game day!

4 servings

–for the chicken
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 pounds chicken wings
olive oil to drizzle garlic
–for the sauce
4 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425˚F with the rack in the middle.
Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Place a wire rack onto the prepared pan.
Pat dry the chicken wings with paper towels. Combine the seasonings in a medium bowl and toss the wings one at a time in the seasonings.
Place the chicken in a single layer onto the rack. Bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through.
While the chicken is cooking make the sauce. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic and sauté for about 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and softened. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool. When the butter is room temperature mix in the olive oil, parsley and parmesan.
When the chicken is done baking, transfer to a serving platter. Spoon the garlic, parmesan mixture over the top. The sauce will melt again as it hits the hot chicken. Serve immediately with lots of napkins.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe for Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies will quickly become your favorite. They come together super quickly and will be devoured in minutes!

10 cookies

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Prepare a cookie sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
Place the butter in a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling the pan often. The butter will foam and then it will make popping and cracking sounds. Watch carefully, when it is nearly done making sounds it will start to form brown bits. Cook for another minute or so then pour the butter into a heat proof bowl to cool a bit.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In another large bowl, with a spatula mix together the brown butter and brown sugar until well combined. Mix in the egg and the vanilla. Mix the dry mixture into the wet in 3 additions until well combined. Transfer to a clean work surface and combine the cookie dough with lightly floured hands. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Place large scoops (3 tablespoons) of dough onto the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 17-19 minutes until the cookies are slightly golden brown. Transfer to racks to cool.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies

We can’t get enough of these absolutely Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies. The recipe is Simple and quick to prepare. Great for work and after-school snacking.

24 cookies

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup raw turbinado sugar for rolling

Pre heat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit. Lightly spray two cookie sheets with baking spray or line with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and light brown sugar for about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg and vanilla until just blended. Add the flour mixture in two additions until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Roll the cookie dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in the turbinado sugar. Place 12 dough balls onto each baking sheet. Press each cookie down with a fork with a crisscross pattern. Lightly sprinkle the tops with any extra sugar.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden brown on the top. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store at room temperature, covered for up to 5 days.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Taco Mac ‘n Cheese

My entire family loves this Taco Mac ‘n Cheese recipe. A hearty, healthy meal to serve any night of the week and hopefully you’ll have some leftovers too!

6-8 servings

1 pound (16 ounces) macaroni, cook to package directions
!Cheese Sauce
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup unbleached a/p flour
1 teaspoon salt
a few dashes black pepper
4 cups low fat milk
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese or mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
!Taco Beef
1 yellow onion, diced (1 cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce

Cook the macaroni to package directions. While the macaroni is cooking prepare the cheese sauce & the taco beef.
For the cheese sauce: In large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper, slowly adding the milk. Cook and stir until bubbling. Stir in cheeses until melted. Drain macaroni, add to cheese sauce. Stir well to coat all the macaroni.
Taco beef: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion. Cook 6-8 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly browned, stir often. Add the beef. Continue to cook the mixture for another 8 minutes or until the beef is cooked through. Add the enchilada sauce. Combine thoroughly.
Using a slotted spoon, top the mac ‘n cheese with the taco beef.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Mini Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe for Mini Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting will satisfy all chocolate lovers dreams!

about 3 dozen cupcakes

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, leveled
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
–Frosting: Cream Cheese Frosting or Chocolate Frosting
https://newmm2019.wpengine.com/recipe/the-ultimate-cream-cheese-frosting/
https://newmm2019.wpengine.com/recipe/super-sexy-chocolate-frosting/

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the rack in the middle.
Make the frosting with either the Chocolate or Cream Cheese flavors, set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, using a spatula combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and buttermilk until smooth.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and stir with a spatula until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Place mini cupcake liners in the muffin pan. Fill the liners only halfway (no more!)
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out virtually crumb free.
Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
You can frost with a spatula or a piping bag with tip. Top with a few mini chocolate chips or sprinkles.
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, covered for up to 5 days.

You want the eggs, butter and buttermilk at room temperature so they mix together consistently and so that you don’t cook the eggs while mixing.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Beef Kofta Kebabs with Cucumber Salad & Tzaziki Sauce

We love this healthy Mediterranean inspired dish for quick weeknight meals and also for entertaining. Can be served as an appetizer or main course.

4-6 servings

–Beef Kofta Kebabs
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 shallot (3 tbsp), minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
for the pan: 1 tbsp olive oil
–Cucumber Salad
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
–Tzaziki Sauce
( recipe here: https://newmm2019.wpengine.com/recipe/tzatziki-sauce/ )

–Make the kebabs
Soak 6 wooden skewers in water for a few minutes.
With clean hands, combine the ground beef with the shallot, garlic, parsley, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Divide into 5-6 portions and shape into oval patties around skewers. Flatten the meat.
Heat the oil in a grill pan or 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Place the skewers in the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the meat is done to your liking.
–Make the cucumber salad
Combine the sliced cucumber with the red onion, parsley, mint and vinegar. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
–Make the Tzaziki Sauce
Use this recipe: https://newmm2019.wpengine.com/recipe/tzatziki-sauce/

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Beef Kofta Kebabs with Cucumber Salad & Tzaziki Sauce

We love this healthy Mediterranean inspired dish for quick weeknight meals and also for entertaining. Can be served as an appetizer or main course.

4-6 servings

–Beef Kofta Kebabs
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 shallot (3 tbsp), minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
for the pan: 1 tbsp olive oil
–Cucumber Salad
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
–Tzaziki Sauce
( recipe here: https://newmm2019.wpengine.com/recipe/tzatziki-sauce/ )

–Make the kebabs
Soak 6 wooden skewers in water for a few minutes.
With clean hands, combine the ground beef with the shallot, garlic, parsley, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Divide into 5-6 portions and shape into oval patties around skewers. Flatten the meat.
Heat the oil in a grill pan or 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Place the skewers in the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the meat is done to your liking.
–Make the cucumber salad
Combine the sliced cucumber with the red onion, parsley, mint and vinegar. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
–Make the Tzaziki Sauce
Use this recipe: https://newmm2019.wpengine.com/recipe/tzatziki-sauce/

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Lit’l Smokies Grilled Hot Dog Mac ‘n Cheese

We love this mac for busy weeknight meals, casual weekend entertaining and the lunchbox!

6-8 servings

1 package Hillshire Farm Lit’l Smokies (about 36 in the pack)
16 ounces macaroni, cooked to package directions
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
3 cups shredded cheese (cheddar & mozzarella combo is great!)
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Cook the macaroni, place in a large bowl, toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil & set aside.
Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a grill pan over medium high heat. Grill the hot dogs for about 5 minutes or until browned on each side. Remove them from the hot pan with tongs. Let cool a bit & slice the hot dogs into thirds.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the cheese, half and half & garlic salt. Cook about 5 minutes stirring often until you have a well combined, creamy sauce.
Toss the macaroni with the cheese sauce. Fold in most of the hot dogs & place some on to top for serving.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

What is it about sheet pan meals that swoon? Maybe it’s because they require minimum prep, healthy fresh ingredients, are budget friendly, have great flavor and feed a pack of hungry folks. Also, they are pretty quick to clean up too!

6 servings

1 lb chicken breast
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 zucchini
1 red onion
–Marinade
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp Chimayo chili blend – or 2 tbsp regular chili powder
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin ground black pepper
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp
1/2 tsp garlic powder
–Serve with
sliced avocado
sour cream
freshly chopped cilantro
lime wedges
corn or flour tortillas

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with the rack in the middle.
Cut all vegetables and the chicken into 1/4 inch strips. It’s nice to have everything relatively uniform in size.
Make the marinade by whisking all the ingredients together.
Spread the chopped ingredients in a large baking sheet.
Pour the marinade over the top and rub it into the chopped veggies and chicken to thoroughly coat with your hands.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Toss once with tongs during cooking time.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle some fresh cilantro and lime wedges over the top. Serve with corn or flour tortillas, sliced avocado and sour cream.

~ Marla Meridith