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Memorial Day Chocolate Coffee Brownies

copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati

Whether you are celebrating Memorial Day home or away, these Chocolate Coffee Brownie Squares from my newly released book The Basic Arr of Coffee are easy to make and take with you..and besides.. who doesn’t love the euphoric effect of  chocolate and coffee together??



1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup  sugar

1/4 cup dried  shredded coconut plus 1 tablespoon for topping

2 eggs

5 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoon espresso coffee

2 tablespoons dried instant coffee

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking powder

1 tblsp powdered sugar

2 tblsps unsweetened cocoa powder plus 2 tblsps for topping.

Blend butter and sugar with electric mixer till blended and butter is soft and creamy and sugar is well blended in. Add in eggs and 5 tblsps of milk. Place in sifter flour, cocoa, vanilla, baking powder. Mix till well blended, then put in coconut, powdered instant coffee, Stir till well blended. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line square pan with parchment paper. Spread mixture in pan. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

In a bowl mix 2 tblsps powdered cocoa, powdered sugar and hot espresso coffee and  blend together. When brownies are done, turn off oven heat, take out of oven, then place on topping and place back  in  still warm oven for 5 minutes. Take out and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

In another dish mix 2 tblsps shredded coconut with 2  tsps instant coffee powder. When brownies are cool, cut into squares and sprinkle with shredded coconut topping before serving.

A scoop of chocolate gelato, ice cream or frozen yogurt served on the side intensifies the WOW factor of this dessert!


Happy Memorial Day..have a safe and happy one!

For more great coffee recipes get your copy of The Basic Art of Coffee


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A Coffee Frappe….to cool down

Picnics and Memorial Day just around the corner…time for a cool coffee drink from The Basic Art of …Coffee


Caffe Frappe (Coffee Milkshake)

*2 cups strong espresso coffee

4 teaspoons of sugar

2 cups chopped ice

1 tsp of anisette or amaretto liqueur

1/2 cup milk


Blend all ingredients in a blender and divide into 2 tall chilled glasses.


For more coffee recipes and stories get your copy of The Basic Art of …Cofffee

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Perfect Picnic Stuffed Peppers….


copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati

A Sunday drive (we call it a ‘giro’) in Italy can result in memories that will last  a lifetime. Navigating the mountains from Abruzzo to Rome we decided to travel the  scenic backroads –not the autostrada.  As we were driving through one of the small quaint little towns in Abruzzo- we came upon a small group of farm workers  on the side of the road waving  their arms frantically to those passing by.  Not quite understanding what the excitement was-  we went in another direction.  Upon making the turn- we were  met by two marvelous white oxen who followed us from the back of the car, and they forced our ascent all the way up the mountain-5 miles of steep ascent- until they left us.

Recipes can also make memories that last a lifetime!

Perfect Picnic Stuffed Peppers (Pepperoni Imbottiti)

2 fresh peppers

1/4 cup cannelloni beans

1 tblsp minced onion

2 taps of fresh garlic minced finely

1 can tuna packed in  water (6 ounces)

2 tablespoons of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil

Juice of ½ small lemon

¼ cup freshly chopped parsley

½ tsp of My Tuscan Secret -Tuscan spice blend

Drain tuna can. Place tuna in large bowl and flake. Then add in beans, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, garlic, onions, spice blend (leave a pinch behind to bake peppers), lemon juice. Toss and set aside.

Take whole peppers, cut off tops and clean out seeds and the  inside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place peppers standing on glass or ceramic baking baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tblsp of olive oil and a pinch of the spice blend. Place in oven for approx 20 minutes or until tender.

Remove from oven, let cool and scoop in tuna mixture. Divide evenly between both peppers. Serve cool or while peppers are still warm. This makes a perfect picnic dish also.

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




Sweetie Bear’s Puppy Dog Stew and Carob Puppy Dog Treat Recipes

How did you spend your Mother’s Day? This year’s celebration included the newest addition to my little one..a 3 month old rescue pup named Sweetie Bear..It was definitely love at first sight/ first cuddle..


Cooking up a special meal at our house included not only cooking for my Mom..but we had fun creating a special meal for Sweetie Bear! Rescue pups are really if you can.. provide a loving home to one or become a foster pet parent!

And you can have fun creating  fresh, wholesome meals and  snacks for your is  Sweetie Bear’s Sunday menu (these are recipes that I created especially for dogs, but use human grade ingredients)


Sweetie Bear’s Puppy Dog Stew

1 cup of brown rice

1 lb of chicken

2 fresh zucchini

Boil rice ,chicken and zucchini till soft (dogs don’t digest starches easily ,so boil rice till very soft). Drain and  when cool drizzle the olive oil and place in a food processor to chop, but do not puree, food can be in small chunks.


 Carob Puppy Dog Treats

1 1/2 cups rice flour

1 1/2 cups oat flour

3/4 cup carob

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup water

1 egg

Mix all ingredients together till well blended.Roll out dough to 1 inch thickness. Cut into shapes. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper and bake in oven preheated to 375 for 20 minutes.


And for recipes for us humans..check out my award winning book The Basic Art of  Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions-2nd editionrsz_rsz_cover-2_thumb.jpg

Ode to an Artichoke and a recipe for Pasta with Artichokes.

copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati


My Ode to an Artichoke..the vegetable that is all heart….

“A woman is like an artichoke, you must work hard to get to her heart.” – Inspector Jacques Clouseau inThe Pink Panther (2006)


Pasta Shells (conchiglie) with Artichokes

1 lb of  Pasta Shells

1 tblsp butter

1 tblsp heavy cream

2 cloves of garlic

(Optional-2 sardine filets)

7 artichokes

A handful of fresh parsley and basil

2 tblsps extra virgin olive oil

Parmigiano Reggiano freshly grated to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the heart of the artichokes into small squares. Place olive oil in saucepan,add in garlic- whole or chopped, heat for 1 minute, then add in artichoke hearts and saute.

Remove from heat, place in half of butter, sardine fillets, Cover and cook for another 5 minutes over low heat.

Place a pot of water to boil. When boiling add in pinch of sea salt. Place in pasta shells and cook till al dente. Drain, place in saucepan with artichokes, add in remaining butter, cream. Gently toss pasta to coat with sauce. Grate parmigiano-reggiano cheese on top, toss gently. Add in finely chopped parsley Serve immediately.


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


Fresh Tomato Pannino Recipe

copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia, Inc./Maria Liberati

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato”

Lewis Grizzard (American Columnist 1946-1994)


……an easy tomato pannino for those luscious, home grown tomatoes…..

Basic Italian Pannino


*2 red ripe tomatoes

*4 slices crusty Italian bread

*1 tablespoon extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil

*small handful fresh basil leaves, washed, and dried gently with paper towels (leaves only, no stems)

*Pinch of salt to taste


Drizzle olive oil on bread slices. Cut mozzarella into 1/4 thick slices. Place on top of bread slices. Place tomato slices on top of cheese. Tear basil leaves by hand into small pieces, place on top of tomato slices, add a pinch of salt, another quick drizzle of olive oil and top with the other slice. You can also grill this for a few minutes on each side or eat cold.

For more great recipes get your copy of one of the books from the award winning book series

The Basic Art of Italian Cooking


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



The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: DaVinci Style


Top Ten Tips for Growing Tomatoes…

copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati

(excerpted from The Basic Art of …Tomatoes by Maria Liberati)


Top 10 Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes


Who doesn’t love the sweet richness of a freshly picked tomato? Whether they’re small red cherries, yellow pear tomatoes or the “Big Beef” variety, nothing compares to the way a garden-grown tomato melts in your mouth. Avoid the disappointment of drooping leaves, bug infestations and cracked fruit by following these tips for a delightful crop:

1) There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes. Many modern hybrids have been developed to be resistant to certain diseases that can plague your plants. Choose

cultivars that will have a better chance of thriving in your area.

2) When planning your garden, do not plant tomatoes where potatoes, peppers or eggplants have grown in the past 3 or 4 years. These species share a common blight that can live in the soil for several years and you will increase the chances for healthy tomato plants by keeping them far away from each other.

3) Mulch your tomato plants. Place straw, leaves, grass clippings or a store-bought organic-based mulch around the tomato plants on top of the soil. Mulch is a great way to keep the earth from drying out quickly, plus it keeps the weeds down.

4) Stake your tomato plants. Sticks or tomato cages work well. Use a soft piece of material to gently tie your plants to the stakes. Gardening centers sell ties of all sorts, though if recycling is your aim, sections of old nylons work well.

5) Take advantage of companion planting. Plant a few garlic cloves, basil seeds or borage close to your tomato plants. These are some of tomato’s best friends! They repel some of the most damaging insects that feast upon your precious plants.

6) Trimming is always a good thing. This really isn’t as tricky as it sounds. When tomato plants are growing, little “suckers” sprout up out of the crevices between the main stem and the leaf axils. With a sharp pair of scissors or simply your thumb and finger, just pinch these little leaves off, allowing the plant to focus its energy on the existing leaves and flowers (soon-to-be fruit).

7) Water your tomatoes directly at the base of your plants. When the leaves are wet, they are more susceptible to disease.

8) Tomatoes thrive in an averagely warm climate. Not too hot; not too cold. Not too wet; not too dry. They benefit from a deep watering about once a week more than light daily doses. However, take your type of soil into account: if you have sandy soil and no mulch, you will have to water more often than a clay-based soil with mulch. Evenly watering your tomatoes will help to avoid cracked fruit at harvest time.

9) Feed your little guys. Spread some rich compost around the base of your flowering plants. The nutrients will give an extra boost to your healthy tomatoes.

10) Don’t allow your tomatoes to get too cold or too hot. If you live in a very hot climate, try planting something like peas or cucumbers directly south of your tomatoes-something that climbs-to offer them a bit of extra shade. Conversely, if a cold front blows into your area and thermometer starts dipping down below 50˚F (10˚C), cover them up with sheets, as the fruit won’t set properly if they get too cold.

Whether you are planting a garden-full or you have a pot or two on your deck, add a bit of extra sweetness to your tomato plants and you will reap the benefits at harvest time, for they will give you plenty of sweetness in return… 


“I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation”.
Phyllis Theroux, American essayist and former columnist for House Beautiful


For recipes get your copy of  these award winning books:

The Basic Art of Italian Cooking



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


The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: DaVinci Style


Celebrating Spring ..Almond Cake Recipe

copyright 2016 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati

No mater how long the winter, Spring is sure to follow!

Spring is synonymous with colorful Holidays filled with  beautiful pastel hues of the rainbow…and so is this almond cake, especially used to celebrate Passover….or any Spring Day……

Almond  Passover Cake


6 eggs

1 cup white sugar

1 cup finely chopped almonds

2 teaspoons of maraschino liqueur

juice of one fresh lemon

With an electric mixer, blend sugar with egg yolks till well blended,then add in first the chopped almonds and then liqueur and lemon juice.  In separate bowl,whip egg whites till firm with a pinch of salt. With a wooden spoon, blend in the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture,gently. When blended in, place batter  in pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool and serve. Happy Passover! Happy Easter! and let me know about any other Spring Holiday we should be celebrating!

For more great recipes get your copy of:


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

Ravino..The New Ravioli on the Table..

copyright 2016 Art of Living, Prima Media,Inc/Maria Liberati


The internet is populated with poems and stories expressing love for this beloved Italian staple!

For me… special Sunday dinners were always filled with the aroma of sauce bubbling and a pot filled with boiling water and homemade ravioli…but it was more than the ravioli that made those dinners special…besides the long hours and love and fresh ingedients that went into making the meal…our lives were shaped by those ravioli dinners..they were truly a culinary opera..fresh food, opera music in the background, sharing stories and photos of family that were far away in Italy..It was perhaps an un-ordinary way that my grandparents and parents taught us about culture and our family history….But ravioli was always the special ingredient..the delicious conduit that seemed to bring us all together.

pasta photo

Ravino.. is the new ravioli in town. Fresh, artisan handmade pasta filled with luscious ingredients including that ultra creamy old world style ricotta  in your choice of spinach and ricotta, ricotta, mushroom and fontina cheese and chickpea and kale. They are as healthy as this dish was meant to  be and truly light as a feather averaging approximately 130 calories for 4 ravioli.

Use them as a healthy snack for mid afternoon or for after school snacks..Ravino is the versatile ravioli..

Tyr light you won’t feel guilty eating them for dinner…


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


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Happy Easter Monday..Buona Pasquetta..

copyright 2016 Art of Living/PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati ..e dolce far of my favorite Holidays of all times is Pasquetta..a Holiday that is not about giving presents or sending cards or  flowers..but just really enjoying the day..and I mean truly enjoying every last drop of relaxation and fun and pleasure the day has to offer...godere..another of my favorite Italian words to express this Holiday…So whether you are going for a hike in the mountains or a picnic or a trip to the beach..or just spending a lazy, quiet day at home..this is a fun day to spend with friends and family to recharge for the Spring and Summer coming!

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(photo by Sofia Liberati)

picnics are lots of  fun….yeah! and a hot air balloon makes it even more fun!

Tramezzini are my favorite picnic food……


Tramezzini al Prosciutto

8 thin slices Swiss cheese

8 lettuce leaves-romaine or spring mix or baby spinach

3 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tomatoes

8 thin slices of prosciutto

3 tablespoons of sliced black sliced olives

8 slices of American style bread, crusts removed

Prepare the ingredients by washing and drying the lettuce, and tomatoes. Separate the lettuce leaves. Slice tomatoes. Set aside. Slice black olives. Prepare 4 sets of sandwiches by first cutting off crusts of bread. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on each slice of bread. Begin by layering ingredients on 4 slices this way. First a slice of prosciutto, then 2 lettuce leaves for each sandwich, then tomato slices, another layer of prosciutto, slice of cheese, sliced black olives. Top with slice of bread, mayonnaise side down. Wrap tramezzini in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. Then slice sandwich in half first in triangular shape then cut that into half , so you then have 4 triangle shaped sandwiches.

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


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