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Nominate Your Favorite Hero…Thanksgiving and LaBrea Bakery

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. It is the one day that everyone gets together and spends all day cooking and eating…wow..what a Holiday!
In Italy, most Sundays and Holidays are still like this, so I always feel especially at home on Thanksgiving ,wherever I am…cooking and eating is part of my day.

But this year there is another reason to celebrate Thanksgiving….

LaBrea Bakery, one of the leading artisan breads (mmmm..I said artisan bread!) in the US, sold in over 7,000 retail outlets and chains nationwide is sponsoring a Thanksgiving Hero contest. You can find out more about LaBrea Bakery here, you will surely want to add some to your Holiday table. For this special Thanksgiving promotion, users are encouraged to nominate their “ Thanksgiving Hero”, people they know and love who work unselfishly work regularly on Thanksgiving Day serving others ( Heroes such as firefighters, police, waiters and volunteers,etc.)

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CONTEST ENTRY INSTRUCTIONS: To submit an entry click the “Thanksgiving Heroes” tab to create your form submission by including: your first and last name; zip code; email address; an essay of 100 words or less telling about your family member that you will be unable to share Thanksgiving dinner with and submit at least one photograph showing both you and your family member that you will be unable to share Thanksgiving dinner with. Submissions must be received by November 15th 2015. Finalists will be announced November 17th 2015, after which the public will have a chance to vote for their favorites through November 20th 2015.

Follow LaBrea Bakery for special product updates and product discounts.





This post is sponsored by Single Edition Media on behalf of LaBrea Bakery



Once Upon a Mattress…Spectacular Fall Family Fun!



Saturday was a family fun day at home and Sofia and her Auntie M..(that’s me!) decided to let everyone else stay home and cook while we two.. snuck off to the have a fun Fall day..and catch the production of  the award winning Rodgers and Hammerstein Musical- Once Upon a Mattress

University Act 1 Productions at De Sales University( in Upper Saucon, Pa.)  theater never fails to delight..with an award winning cast and crew to carry off their entertaining productions…

The Labuda Center for the Performing Arts-Schubert Theater is a place where you can catch Broadway caliber productions without having to fight the traffic in NYC..

“Once Upon a Mattress” marked the Broadway debut of legendary stage and TV personality Carol Burnett, who garnered a Best Leading Actress Tony nomination and won a 1960 Theatre World Award for her role as Princess Winnifred. “The role of Winnifred the Woebegone is one of those typical fish out of water roles; a brash, unrefined princess enters the royal court to charm Prince Dauntless the Drab while dodging the slings and arrows of his mother, the devious Queen Aggravain,” says John Bell, division head of the DeSales University Division of Performing Arts. “These are fun roles to play and can often serve as a breakout role for a young actress. If ever there were a performing arts paradox, it is the image of the great American comedienne Carol Burnett belting out ‘I’m Shy’ in the original 1959 Broadway production. This is the show and role the catapulted Ms. Burnett to stardom.”

So after holding on to our seats for a 2 hour production filled with surprises at every angle..Sofia exclaimed “Winnifred and Lady Larken were the 2 favorite princesses I liked watching”…played (respectively by) Renee McFillen and Farrell McVay..I agree both were my favorite princesses as well..but all the princesses were funny, equally talented and loveable characters!

Sofia said that the Queen was really mean…but she liked watching  her zany antics…. and I will add that the Queen,(played by Catherine T.Nadeau) portrayed her part expertly..mean to the core, but she made ‘mean’ fun.

Sofia liked the King.. and if I can quote Sofia she said ” now that is nice man!”…yes, I agree.. he was warm, funny and zany..and fit in well with the ‘ zaniness’ of the show..portrayed by James “Bo” Sayre, so she was delighted when during the zany. happy ending of the show..the King got his voice back and the Queen lost her voice, and the King was able to tell the Queen  to skip hop ..skip hop!! Even the audience appluaded in sheer delight!

And who could forget Dauntless..the Prince ..sweet and charming..- played by Joshua Hanrahan…in his efforts to marry the beautiful princess, against the wishes of his wicked Queen Mother…

A fun, delightful show for any age….if you can hop,skip, jump or drive to the show- hurry- because this is one worth not missing,such a talented cast and I was so happy that Sofia got to see her first Broadway style musical with such a talented cast…. the show has one performance left..

It was just as fun for me to watch Sofia  enjoying the show as it was for me to watch the show..after all it is not easy to keep a  6 yr old entertained for 2 hours..but Sofia sat glued to her seat (just as I did) not missing a beat of the show..and anyone of any age will do the same. This is a show that is great for any age, but if you can experience it with a child it will be doubly entertaining. Even though the Production recommends ages 10 and above, Sofia is 6 and simply loved every minute of it!

While I did not mention everyone’s name here….all of the cast and crew are so talented..and credit must be given to the production well as musical director, costume designer and  would especially like to credit Dennis Razze and John Bell for another exceptional production.. is the last day..October 25th….Ticket prices are $21 for adults and $19 for students and seniors on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $25 for adults and $23 for students and seniors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Group discounts are available for all performances. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Labuda Center box office at 610-282-3192 or by visiting the web site at






Oktoberfest….Philly Food and Wine Show this weekend

Editor: Taylor Carter

copyright Art of Living, PrimaMedia Inc.

Oktoberfest: Beer, beer and more beer. Like

Many holidays/festivals with historical origin  celebrated marriages and special events between prominent people within the society.Oktoberfest is no different, originating on October 12, 1810 celebrating  the marriage of the Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The marriage was celebrated and five days after the ceremony, a large festival was held in front of one of the gates leading to Munich. The festival has since then spread worldwide and many activities have been added while others were banned in the celebration.  As we think of the festival now, it seems to be centered around beer and festivities. Typically, the celebrations last anywhere from mid- to late September  until early or mid October.

In some areas, like the Alpine Village Oktoberfest and Hermann, Missouri, the celebrations are relegated to the weekends, while other areas revel in the festivities every day. In Munich, parades mark the first day of the festival and lederhosen and dirndls are seen in abundance. Millions of people attend the various celebrations and participate in the many activities and sample the various German style cuisine provided. Carnival rides, sideshows, music shows and dancing are all prominent features of many of the Oktoberfest festivities.Many breweries release an Oktoberfest style beer, often coinciding with holiday pumpkin beer. The Märzen beer, or Oktoberfest beer as is it now known, is the traditional beer for this celebration and has adapted from a lager that originated in Bavaria, where the Crown Prince was married. It has a medium to full body and can vary in color from pale to dark brown. The beer was brewed in March using a special recipe that allowed the beer to last through the 24th of April to the 28th of September. Today, these beers tend to be lighter in color and body than the traditional beer offered during the Crown Prince’s wedding, but are no less flavorful and popular. Depending on which country has produced the beer, it can vary in color as well as taste, as some breweries use caramel malts that allow for a sweeter flavor than the original and more bitter German beer.

Understanding where certain holidays and celebrations originate from allows for a broader view of just what is being celebrated. While many people prefer to just celebrate the beer itself and stock up on the seasonal brands, there are still those who appreciate the background and enjoy listening to the stories that go along with the celebration.

Hope to see you this weekend October 16-18 at the Valley Forge Casino in King of Prussia Pennsylvania..

I will be onstage on Saturday 5:30 PM and doing book signings and sampling of recipes from my books at my booth all weekend, For more info email: [email protected] or go to

 October 23rd, see you at Stratford Library Stratford, NJ for a book signing and Holiday sampling for The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions 303 Union Avenue (behind the Stratford Fire Company)
(856) 783 – 0602

For recipes and special Holiday stories, get your copy of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions


Happy October! Exploring Big City Cuisine

copyright  2015Art of Living, PrimaMedia, Inc/Maria Liberati

Happy October.. Happy Fall…Happy Columbus Day..Happy National Pasta Month…


Editor: Taylor Carter

Whatever city you find yourself in, there is always a slew of different food venues, from traditional American, to Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and almost any other type you can imagine. If you’re in the mood for fast food, stop in at McDonalds or Chick Fil A. Feeling like some sushi? Visit the Japanese steak house across town. Maybe something a little more adventurous? That new Vietnamese restaurant looks pretty promising. Food trucks, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, fast food, local dives, you name it and the city probably has it. So with all this variety and popularity among the food enthusiasts, where are the best places to get food in the US? While the popular cities for food is in a constant state of fluctuation, there are some that remain pretty consistent.

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New Orleans is pretty well known for its soul food and cajun dishes, and the way of making these dishes and what to put in them is evolving, they all try and stay true to its roots. The city is home to some of the most renowned and oldest restaurants around and continues to draw people in with the promise of a good crawfish boil and jambalaya. After all, Mardi Gras isn’t the only thing that keeps people coming back to the city. Bourbon Street and all the city has to offer in terms of food plays a major role in the city’s economy and tourist sector.

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Traveling a little further north is New York City. It seems kind of a no-brainer that this city places as one of the best restaurants for good cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a quick food-truck experience, or somewhere that’s off the beaten path, or even an upscale dining room, there is sure to be something for every palette. People with aspirations in the food industry tend to travel to the big cities, searching for the biggest crowd in order to get their name out there and hit a big break. New York City is such a melting pot of cultures and lifestyles that it makes perfect sense that their food selection would be as broad as the people who live in and visit the city.


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If barbecue is more to your palette, be sure to head to Austin to get a taste of their home cooked, smoked and slathered in sauce BBQ. Many restaurants have perfected their recipes that keeps loyal customers and new ones coming back for more. But there’s so much more to Austin than just a good BBQ. Mexican cuisine is in abundance here as well, with taco recipes that will beat out any other chain restaurant, and they even are served breakfast style for the real taco lovers. But still, there’s more to Austin’s food scene than BBQ and tacos. World class sushi chefs call this big city home, and there are always mom and pop restaurants open for business that have been around for years.

These three cities are just the tip of a very large food-iceberg. There’s too many restaurants and cuisines to try and narrow down the search for the best foodie cities around, and the general list is always changing depending on who is deciding which city comes before which. Food Network stars, travelers, foodies and many others have tried to pinpoint the exact locations that house the best restaurants, food trucks and stands out there, but most say it’s just not possible. Our country is full of diverse cultures, cuisines, taste buds and preferences to narrow the list of cities down to just a fewHope to see you at

**October 16-18 for my book signing, sampling and on stage event Philly Gourmet Food and Wine Show-Valley Forge Casino, Valley Forge, pennsylvania, for more info email: [email protected] or to purchase tix go to

*October 23rd, Stratford Library, Stratford, NJ, Come join me with  a presentation and sampling of recipes from The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition- the Gourmand Award winning book!!

For more recipes get your copy of the Gourmand Award winning book

The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition


Mushroom Risotto with 90C Wine…the Perfect Staycation

copyright 2015 Maria Liberati/Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc.



Alfonso and I decided to take a staycation for lunch today..surrounded by our photos and a warm mushroom risotto made with a glass of 90 C Wine  from our experience at Livernano in the heart of Chianti. The wine is a refreshing Chardonnay that is the ‘brainchild’ of award winning winemaker Gudrun Cuillo and Sommelier Virginia Philip. Here I am with Gudrun at Casalvento….



So we were able to ‘get away’ to the heart of Chianti today ..if only from our kitchen here in Abruzzo,  and 90C wine  and photos and our memories…it was a great afternoon lunch trip..



Not everyone can get to Livernano in the hear of Chianti, but you can take a Livernano experience in your own kitchen by savoring this extraordinary wine, give your mind and stomach a relaxing afternoon..


Mushroom Risotto (Risotto con Funghi)

1 cup arborio rice

1 slice of onion finely chopped

8 ounces of  fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 quart of vegetable or chicken broth

1 glass of 90C Chardonnay wine

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

handful freshly chopped parsley


In saute pan place in olive oil and chopped onion, saute till almost golden and place in risotto, toss till toasted, add in wine ,stir until liquid is absorbed, then add in 3/4 cup of broth and mushrooms, when all liquid is absorbed continue adding in 3/4 cup liquid and repeat till risotto is al dente, serve with finely chopped parsley and freshly grated parmigiana reggiano cheese. Serve with a chilled  glass of 90C Chardonnay. For more info on 90C wine



*Hope to see you at the Philly Food and Wine Show at Valley Forge Casino on Oct 16-18th, for more info email : [email protected]


*Ever want to be a food blogger, join me at Bucks County Community College on Sept 26th for Food Blogging 101- I will be guest lecturer

The Basic Art of Chianti..part 1.. a Labor Day Weekend

copyright 2015 Maria Liberati/Art of LivingPrimaMedia,Inc.



Livernano… ( a  place in the heart of Chianti and Tuscany…no one does it better than Gudrun and Bob Cuillo at their 300+ acre farm /hamlet/resort/winery that produces award winning wines organic fruits , vegetables,marmalades and honey…ohh and I can’t forget a mention of their restaurant that prepares farm to table meals using the olive oil and fresh produce you can  see from your table. Did I mention that you can almost  walk among the grape vines and olive trees on your stay there and the serene view of the rolling hills of Chianti? This is truly a haven for a wellness vacation for mind, body and soul (and palate)! This was our best Chianti experience ever..the Chianti Classico, the white and rose were by far the best we have ever tasted, not to mention that rich tasting  olive oil… the true Tuscan olive oil that is a rare find today!

Alfonso and I spent our Labor Day weekend there researching some ideas for an upcoming segment of my PBS TV  series with Gudrun and along the way had an impromptu home style lunch we all made and ate together using the produce fresh from the garden and the olive oil produced there and (of course) served with the award winning wines…..

more to come on this marvelous Labor Day experience..but here are some photos to enjoy while sipping one of their award winning wines, more recipes and photos to come this week….


Photo Credits:

Chianti..Tuscany & Wellness Travel

copyright 2015 Maria Liberati/Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc

Memories of last year’s Tuscan visit….10608243_10201497411436070_1711036201645870592_o (2)

Alfonso and I enjoyed the bucolic scenery and wines of Montepulciano DSCN5939




and leaving for a Tuscan visit soon for pre production for the upcoming PBS TV Series….look for posts, features, photos of the sights and tastes from some of the most beautiful places..will be in Livernano..has anyone been there? If you would like to share pix, email then here to the comments section..if not I will be posting some upon our return

Linguine a la Vongole.. Italian Summer by the Sea…Food Blogging 101

copyright 2015 Maria Liberati/Art of Living,PrimaMedia,Inc


Did you ever dream of being a Food below the recipe to join me in Food Blogging 101..

Summer at the beach house here on the Adriatic is just not complete without one dish of freshly made linguine a la vongole (linguine pasta with clams).. first a trip to the fish market at 5 AM to get the freshest, just caught clams..then some time spent cleaning and soaking..then finally it’s time to saute them in just the right amount of olive oil with some fresh garlic, dry white wine and fresh parsley….and then it is time for the pasta

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Everything has to be executed almost like a theatrical production..and the best is always saved for last..the pasta..and the finale.. is a finished plate of linguine with clams..delicious enough to deserve a standing ovation!

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To create your own theatrical masterpiece of Linguine with Clams

Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic to a large saute pan. Add in freshly washed clams, add in 1/2 cup dry white wine and some freshly minced parsley, saute till all clams have opened up, discard any that do not open. Cook a pound of linguini pasta till al dente. When done, drain and toss in saute pan with clams, toss around to coat pasta, serve with some freshly minced parsley on top and a glass of dry white wine!

If you can’t get to the beach, take a  staycation at home decorate a table with colors of the sea,eat al fresco if possible and eat your linguini with clams stateside while thinking of the sea…


For more recipes get your copy of the award winning book series The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition


** September 26th-Did you ever dream of being a food blogger! if so join me at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pa for my 3 part seminar-Food Blogging 101 and learn how to start or have your own food blog !


* October  16,17,l18th stop by the  Philly Food and Wine Show at Valley Forge Casino, Valley Forge Pa. I will be doing a cooking demo on stage from one of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking books and doing book signings all day at my booth. For more info email: [email protected]

How Hotels Use Interior Design To Relax You

How Hotels Use Interior Design To Relax You

When it comes to hotel interior design, everything is preconceived. Almost every piece of furniture, light fixture, color scheme, and finishing touch was chose for a distinct purpose. The majority of the time, that purpose is to help you relax.

The following article will help shed some light on how this is done. It takes a variety of techniques to set the relaxation stage, but if done properly, guests can find their hotel a stress-free environment.


One of the first ways in which relaxation can be accomplished is through various lighting. The problem with getting the lighting just right for relaxation is that each individual has their own preference. Some guests may relax best when being bathed in light while others prefer a dim, cooling effect to reduce stress.

Keeping this in mind, you’ll notice that most hotels have multiple light sources. This allows guests to adjust the amount of light, whether it be natural or artificial, to their liking. Recessed lighting overhead is the most common form of artificial light in a hotel room. The recessed lighting provides plenty of overhead light without the clutter of hanging lights or standing lamps. We’ll get into decluttering later. Hotels will also include a few bedside lamps along with a dimmer switch to provide the perfect amount of light for any situation.

Natural light is an ideal way to create relaxation. There really is no substitute for artificial light. In addition to a great light source, natural lighting usually means there is a nice view of the outside. However, this also needs to be adjustable which often means including floor to ceiling drapes. The drapes themselves serve multiple purposes including light adjuster, privacy creator, and aesthetics.


As mentioned previously, a view to the outside world is a great way to help guests relax. It is rare for a guest to want to be cooped up in a windowless room for their entire stay. To take this view one step further, hotels will design with the outdoors in mind.

Hotels are typically pristine keepers of their outdoor landscaping because it can affect a guest’s mood. Dead grass or overgrown shrubbery are eyesores that can place someone in a negative mood. Creating a connection to the outdoors within a hotel also allows for fresh air. If the outside air isn’t so fresh, for example if your hotel is located in a city, then live plants in the interior can make a big difference. Living plants help with air purification and create a more natural looking interior.


You don’t have to run a five-star hotel in order to create a sense of luxury. Guests will appreciate the luxurious sense of appeal in an interior design. It gives them the sense that they are being treated like luxurious individuals. This is all created by the interior design choices that are made from the flooring, to the walls, to the artwork, and even the front desk.

It’s All in the Details

The slightest of touches can make a lasting impact on interior design. For example, the artwork on the walls should be chosen because they elicit a certain emotion. In a guest’s bedroom, you may want to choose soothing or relaxing artwork. Think of ocean waves and tranquil colors to get a sense of what artwork should be used.

Details such as the color paint of the walls and the style of countertops can also make a difference in creating a relaxing or non-relaxing atmosphere.


Finally, to create a relaxing hotel atmosphere, the amount of clutter needs to be at a minimum. Uncluttered spaces have a natural calming effect as well as making an area seem more spacious. This is why using a lot of free standing lamps as the main source of lighting is a bad idea. It just adds more clutter to the room while eliminating open space.

Notice how most hotel bathrooms today have over sized counters with very little actually placed on them. This lack of clutter is a huge help to relaxation efforts. Chances are your guest will clutter the room themselves; there is no need for you to do this beforehand. Without enough room to spread out, it can be difficult for a guest to relax.

A Ferr’agosto..a Plum Cheesecake to Remember

2015 copyright Art of Living,PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati


This year’s   Ferragosto  was spent home  staycation style..but staycations sometimes turn out to be the best kind of Holiday..especial;ly if you spend it with someone special doing things you love… Let’s see….so Ferragosto 2015 went down like this.. Alfonso and I spent the early morning hours picking fresh plums at the farm and making marmalade till our fingers turned purple…afternoon..a Pranzo di Ferragosto of Melanzana Parmigiana made with freshly picked Eggplants.. and freshly picked grilled veggies-mushrooms, tomatoes and zucchini..all grilled on branches of freshly picked rosemary…watermelon everywhere to keep cool and refreshed..and a plum cheesecake for dessert…..evening meal was corn on the cob grilled and bruschetta topped with shaved pecorino cheese eaten alfresco..dessert was a walk in the piazza and a gelato at our favorite gelato bar..and to end the night a televised performance of one of Pino Daniele’s last performances on Sogno Son Desto with Massino Ranieri…wow..I didn’t realize we could fit so much into one relaxing day! So many tastes and memories for one long day..that was too short!


Just a glimpse of a morning  full of plum picking turning into 20 jars of plum preserves!


Here is  snippet in a recipe of my Ferragosto 2105 staycation

susine plum crostatasusine plum crostata 2

Plum Cheesecake

2- 8 ounce packages of reduced fat or regular cream cheese

1-4 ounce container of plain greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla

zest  and juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup sugar

10-14 dessert type biscuits

2 eggs

2 tablespoons butter melted

1/4 cup plum preserves or marmalade


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cream  cheese, Greek yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla in a bowl and beat till creamy, then add in lemon zest and juice. Crush cookies/biscuits and add in melted butter till moist. Cover cheesecake pan with baking paper and form a crust with crushed cookie/butter mixture. Pour in cheesecake mixture. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for approximately 50 minutes or until firm. Let cool, then place in refrigerator for 2 hours to become firm and serve. Spread plum preserves on top before serving.


For more recipes get the Gourmand World Award Winning Book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd edition



**Ever wanted to be a food blogger..Join me for my course-Food Blogging 101 at Bucks County Community College in Newtown Pa in September, go here for more info or just email us at [email protected]


*October 16-18th Join me at the Valley Forge Casino for Taste of Philly Show..where I will be cooking onstage and doing book signings throughout the weekend..For more info email [email protected]



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