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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: Southern Banana Pudding

Southern Banana Pudding recipe. What makes this dessert so extra special is the rich and creamy homemade vanilla pudding layered with vanilla wafers and sliced bananas. Thats all topped off with pillows of meringue.

8-10 servings

–vanilla pudding
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
–meringue topping
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 box vanilla wafers
3-4 bananas, depending on size
ground cinnamon or nutmeg for dusting

Preheat the broiler with the rack in the middle.
Make the pudding: In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, milk, egg yolks together. Stir constantly, until mixture just begins to bubble about 10-15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and whisk for another minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, salt and butter. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Make the meringue: Simmer 1 inch of water in a saucepan. Place the egg whites, 1/2 cup of sugar and cream of tartar in a heat proof stand mixer bowl. Place this bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot about 3 minutes. Place the bowl in the stand mixer fitted with the whisk and beat until stiff peaks form about 5-7 minutes.
Line an oven safe pie dish or 13×9 inch pan with a layer of vanilla wafers. Place 1/2 banana slices over that. Pour 1/2 of the custard over the cookies and bananas. Layer with more cookies, bananas and pudding. Finally, layer on the meringue with a spatula, spreading with flicks of the wrist to make peaks.
Broil for 3-7 minutes until the peaks of the meringue are a nice golden brown. Dust with cinnamon or nutmeg if desired. Ready to serve at any temperature.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Blueberry and Bubbles Champagne Punch

Make this delicious Blueberries and Bubbles Punch recipe for New Year’s Eve, only a few ingredients make this the perfect cocktail!

8 cocktails

–blueberry syrup
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup granulated sugar
–for the punch
1 cup chilled St. Germain (elderflower liquor)
one 750ml bottle your favorite Brut Champagne
1 cup fresh blueberries
coarse sugar to rim glasses

Blueberry Syrup: In a medium sauce pan, combine 1 cup of water and 1 cup of blueberries. Bring to a light simmer until the blueberries start to burst and release juices. To make the process quicker, mash the blueberries on the edge of the pan with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat, and pour the sugar and stir to dissolve. Turn off the heat, and let the syrup sit for an hour or so to cool. With a fine mesh sieve, strain out the solid ingredients. You can store this syrup in a well sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Rim Champagne flutes with the coarse sugar.
Make the punch: Pour the St. Germain into a large punch bowl. Mix in the blueberry syrup. Pour the Champagne, let the bubbles subside and gently stir. Add in the fresh blueberries. Serve immediately so you don’t loose the bubbles.

You can also use Cava or Prosecco in this recipe.

~ Marla Meridith

Best Ever Swedish Meatballs

Ingredients

Directions

~ Marla Meridith

Baked Honey Harissa Chicken Wings

Ingredients

Directions

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Frozen Watermelon Margaritas

Ingredients

Directions

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Cherry Mango Smoothie

Ingredients

Directions

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Grilled Banana Splits

Ingredients

Directions

~ Marla Meridith

Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Bites

Ingredients

Directions

~ Marla Meridith

The Best Homemade Salsa Recipe

Ingredients

Directions

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Confetti Heart Sugar Cookies

Your Valentine will be smitten with these cute Confetti Heart Sugar Cookies. Not only are they pretty to look at but they taste ahhhhmazing! This is my all time favorite sugar cookie recipe, I know you will not be disappointed. The dough is simple to whip up, you can make it ahead of time and it rolls out & bakes up with no weird surprises. The cookies keep their shape perfectly while baking and the flavor is buttery and delicious.

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Flood Icing
1 pound (16 ounces) confectioners sugar
5 tablespoons meringue powder
a scant 1/2 cup water for outlines (a bit more for flooding)
Decorating
gel food coloring
confetti sprinkles

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter and cream cheese with the sugar. Beat for several minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then gradually add to the butter and sugar mixture until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.

The dough should now be chilled or frozen. Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten into disks. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap until ready to use. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or a few days.

You can also freeze the dough disks. To do this, wrap them in plastic wrap and a freezer bag, for up to 1 month. To thaw, leave in the refrigerator overnight, then proceed with the recipe.

To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment or silicone liners. I also find they bake well directly on the baking sheet.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before you plan on using it so it softens up. Roll the dough on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out heart shapes and place them on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Make sure not to over cook, they will look better if each is a consistent light color. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.

Cool completely before icing and adding the sprinkles. Be sure not to stack iced cookies as they may stick to each other.

For the icing: Mix together the powdered sugar, meringue powder and water in a bowl. Add water slowly, this icing will thin out too quickly if not careful. Separate icing into small bowls and color with gel. Use it slightly thicker (like toothpaste) to pipe on the outlines of the cookies. You need these outlines to keep the flood icing on the cookies.) To make the outlines use a very small, round pastry tip (#2 is good) For flooding use a larger tip, an offset spatula or a squeeze bottle. Add a little bit more water to the icing, very small amounts at a time (1/2 teaspoon) until the icing is just thin enough that it runs when you use it. First outline the cookies, then flood them. Carefully add the sprinkles while the cookies are wet, I used my fingers. Let cookies dry completely. To speed things up you can put them in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Store in a cool, dry place.

You can double or triple this recipe according to your needs.

~ Marla Meridith

Confetti Heart Sugar Cookies

Your Valentine will be smitten with these cute Confetti Heart Sugar Cookies. Not only are they pretty to look at but they taste ahhhhmazing! This is my all time favorite sugar cookie recipe, I know you will not be disappointed. The dough is simple to whip up, you can make it ahead of time and it rolls out & bakes up with no weird surprises. The cookies keep their shape perfectly while baking and the flavor is buttery and delicious.

2-3 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
–Flood Icing
1 pound (16 ounces) confectioners sugar
5 tablespoons meringue powder
a scant 1/2 cup water for outlines (a bit more for flooding)
–Decorating
gel food coloring
confetti sprinkles

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter and cream cheese with the sugar. Beat for several minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then gradually add to the butter and sugar mixture until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.
The dough should now be chilled or frozen. Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten into disks. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap until ready to use. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or a few days.
You can also freeze the dough disks. To do this, wrap them in plastic wrap and a freezer bag, for up to 1 month. To thaw, leave in the refrigerator overnight, then proceed with the recipe.
To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment or silicone liners. I also find they bake well directly on the baking sheet.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before you plan on using it so it softens up. Roll the dough on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out heart shapes and place them on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Make sure not to over cook, they will look better if each is a consistent light color. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.
Cool completely before icing and adding the sprinkles. Be sure not to stack iced cookies as they may stick to each other.
For the icing: Mix together the powdered sugar, meringue powder and water in a bowl. Add water slowly, this icing will thin out too quickly if not careful. Separate icing into small bowls and color with gel. Use it slightly thicker (like toothpaste) to pipe on the outlines of the cookies. You need these outlines to keep the flood icing on the cookies.) To make the outlines use a very small, round pastry tip (#2 is good) For flooding use a larger tip, an offset spatula or a squeeze bottle. Add a little bit more water to the icing, very small amounts at a time (1/2 teaspoon) until the icing is just thin enough that it runs when you use it. First outline the cookies, then flood them. Carefully add the sprinkles while the cookies are wet, I used my fingers. Let cookies dry completely. To speed things up you can put them in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Store in a cool, dry place.
You can double or triple this recipe according to your needs.

~ Marla Meridith