Category: Winning Recipes

Winner of IL Villaggio Best Holiday 2013 Appetizer Contest

Eggplant Stacks with Olive Tapenade


For Tapenade:

• 4 oz. kalamata olives, pitted and minced
• 4 oz. of small green olives, pitted and minced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained
• 2 tbsp. minced fresh Italian parsley
• 1 tsp. of minced fresh garlic
• Pepper to taste
• Salt to taste
• 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Other Ingredients:

• 1 eggplant
• 3 tbsp. of olive oil
• 1 tbsp. of minced garlic
• 1 tsp. of salt
• 1 beef large tomato
• 8 oz Fresh Il Villaggio Mozzarella cheese
• 2 tbsp. of fresh basil chopped


1. In a small bowl combine all tapenade ingredients and set aside.
2. Cut eggplant into slices and drizzle olive, garlic and salt.
3. On a cookie sheet, put eggplant slices in oven. Bake for 20 minutes at 370. Turn slices once after 10 minutes to other side. Set aside
4. Cut mozzarella into slices.
5. Cut tomato into slices.
6. On a plate layer eggplant, tomato and cheese, to form a stack. (repeat layers 3-4 x)
7. Top with one tablespoon of olive tapenade and sprig of chopped basil.
8. Makes 3 stacks

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Candy Cane Sugar Cookies with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting


1 ¼ cup of sugar
1 cup of unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. of vanilla
1 tsp. of peppermint extract
2 ½ cups of flour
1 tsp. of baking soda
½ tsp. of cream of tartar
¼ tsp. of salt
1 cup of crushed candy canes

Ingredients for Frosting:

4 oz. Butter
4 oz. Cream cheese
1 tsp. of peppermint extract
2 cups of powder sugar
2 drops of red food coloring


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease two cookie sheets.
3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.
4. Add one egg yolk at a time and beat for 1 minute.
5. Add vanilla and peppermint.
6. Blend in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt over medium speed.
7. Stir in candy cane pieces.
8. Use a spoon to drop cookie dough on cookie sheet.
9. Bake for 13 minutes or until brown.
10. Cool cookies before frosting.
11. In a small bowl combine: butter, cream cheese, peppermint extract, powder sugar, red food coloring. Mix until creamy.
12. Frost cookies.

My Cookie took was a Finalist in Star Tribune 11th Annual Cookie Contest for: Candy Cane Sugar Cookie Recipe with Cream Cheese Peppermint frosting.

Finalist: Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

Baker: Michelle Mazzara of Eagan.

It all comes back to Grandma: “My Italian grandma is my biggest inspiration,” Mazzara said. “She was happiest when she was cooking. She would bake for two or three months before Christmas, and she would give boxes and boxes of cookies to everyone she knew.” Which explains why Mazzara started with Grandma Rose’s sugar cookie recipe. “I’m not a big chocolate person, but I love, love, love sugar cookies,” she said. “She would make all these fancy cookies, but I would go for her sugar cookies. They just sort of melted in your mouth.”

Minty fresh: When it came to dressing up her grandmother’s recipe, the solution was simple. “The scent of peppermint is very vivid in my mind when I think about Christmas,” Mazzara said. “I like the refreshing taste, and the candy is so festive looking.”

Looking good: The icing’s pink color and the dough’s flashes of red and white make this cookie stand out on a crowded platter. “One of the many things my mom taught me — she’s a retired home-ec teacher and a wonderful baker — is that it’s good to have nice color combinations,” Mazzara said.

No stranger to competition: Mazzara devotes a major chunk of her free time to entering cooking and baking contests. She has won nine to date, most recently a trip to Italy courtesy of winemaker Cavit and its annual gourmet pizza contest. In October, she published a collection of her favorite recipes, “Dolce Vita USA,” including her award-winners. It’s available at

Insider’s tip: When the time comes to smash the peppermint candy, Mazzara recommends lining the top of the cutting board with parchment or wax paper, and covering the candy, too. “Otherwise, you’re going to have a big mess,” she said. Smashing the candy in a paper or plastic bag also works, as does breaking it in a garlic press.

Playtime: Many judges noted that this recipe is ideal for including kids because of its range of fun tasks, such as incorporating food coloring, spreading icing and smashing candy canes. Mazzara agrees. “It’s a great cookie for a kids’ decorating party,” she said. “Well, for patient moms, anyway.”

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Roasted Eggplant with Mozzarella

GRAND PRIZE WINNER Cavit 8th Annual Gourmet Pizza Contest. Winning recipe is in Dolce Vita USA™ cookbook for Roasted Eggplant with Mozzarella.

At the end of January I entered the Annual Cavit Wine Gourmet Pizza Contest for my Roasted Eggplant and Fresh Mozzarella Cheese pizza recipe. My dream has finally come true!! I won the Grand Prize award for best Gourmet Pizza.

I will be going to Cavit Winery, in Lake Garda this Fall. My recipe is in my new 2nd on line Cook Book at

I hope you try making it!

Mangia Mangia, Michelle


Linked by geography and climate, yet shaped by varying cultural influences, the adjoining provinces of Trentino and Alto Adige are often referred to as “the fraternal twins of north Italy.” Together they form the northernmost region of the country. With Alto Adige to the north and Trentino to the south, the region spans a long, narrow valley, extending south from Italy’s Alpine border with Austria to the northern shores of Lake Garda and flanked to the east by the magnificent Dolomite Alps.

It is these Dolomite Alps that define the landscape and the character of the Trentino wines. The majestic mountains leave anyone in their presence in awe. The high altitude in the mountainous region creates a large difference in temperature between day and night. It is this large daily change in temperature that creates the fresh, delicate and fine bouquet of the wines.

While Trentino is fundamentally Italian in character and heritage, Alto Adige was for centuries part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the end of WWI the two provinces were united under the single banner of Italy and have remained as one ever since.

Nearly three quarters of Trentino–Alto Adige’s wine production is DOC-designated, a level unmatched by any other Italian wine region. Over 35% of its wines are exported abroad and it is emerging as one of Italy’s most exciting, progressive and diverse wine-producing regions.


As with its wines, Trentino–Alto Adige offers something for everyone. With its breathtaking scenery of mountains, lakes and meadows, thermal spa towns, over 200 medieval castles and rustic Tyrolean farms, this is a region of vibrant contrasts and a vacationer’s paradise. And for the sportingly inclined, it offers a year-round playground.

During the winter months, there are ski resorts offering cross-country and downhill skiing, as well as skating and tobogganing. After an action-packed day on the slopes, holidaymakers can unwind in the region’s pretty resort villages, where shopping opportunities abound, ranging from designer label luxury goods to traditional folk art, wood carvings, and embroidered linens produced by local craftsmen.

Cavit 8th Annual Gourmet Pizza Contest

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Sunday Morning Apple Pudding

More winning recipes available in new Dolce Vita USA™ cookbook. Winning recipes include: Lobster Risotto, Citrus Chicken, Candy Cane Chocolate Chip Biscotti, Pecan Kale Salad and Italian Tarts.


2 tablespoons butter
2 small apples, peeled, cored sliced into rings
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon mix
1/4 cup of Marsala wine
2 cups of French bread cubed into pieces
1 ¼ cup of heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten


1. Grease 2 pint deep ovenproof dish with butter.
2. Arrange apple rings on the bottom of dish.
3. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon
4. Pour wine over apples.
5. In a bowl: mix cream, eggs, sugar.
6. Add bread cubes to cream egg mixture. Mix until bread cubes are coated with cream mixture.
7. Pour mixture into pan.
8. Bake for 40 minutes.

This recipe will be featured in
Kenmore’s 100th Anniversary Cookbook
coming out in October 2013.

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