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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Celebrating National Dairy Month

By Sherrie Norris

By looking in most refrigerators these days, one would think that every month is “dairy month,” but according to the National Dairy Council, we are in the midst of National Dairy Month.

The month of June became a time to promote drinking milk in 1937 and for many years was known simply as National Milk Month.

That all changed a few years ago when the NDC stepped in to promote the cause and expanded the focus, giving June the new name of “Dairy Month.”

From calcium to potassium, dairy products — including milk — contain at least nine essential nutrients, which may help to better manage weight, reduce the risk for high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers.

Whether it’s protein to help build and repair the muscle tissue of active bodies or Vitamin A to help maintain healthy skin, dairy products serve as a natural nutrient powerhouse.

Those are just a few of the reasons to celebrate dairy, not just in June, but all year long.

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

1 pkg. reduced-fat Mozzarella string cheese

1 egg

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

8 Tbsp. Panko bread crumbs

½ cup marinara sauce prepared, warmed

Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat it to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Remove cheese from packaging and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk egg until foamy. In a small non-stick skillet, mix Italian seasoning with bread crumbs and place over medium-heat. Cook and stir bread crumbs until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Dip one piece of string cheese in egg until coated and then into toasted bread crumbs, coating completely. Re-dip the string cheese in egg and again in bread crumbs, if desired. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining string cheese and place on baking sheet 1½ inches apart. Spray string cheese lightly with cooking spray.

Bake 5 to 6 minutes or until heated through.

Note: Cheese may melt slightly and loose shape. Simply press it back into place. Serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Low-Carb Cheese Crisps

Non-stick cooking spray

1 (8 oz.)pkg. finely shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly coat rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Place 2 tsps. Colby-Monterey Jack cheese mounds, 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Press mounds gently with fingers to flatten. Bake until mounds are thin, bubbly and golden, no more than 6 to 8 minutes.

Immediately transfer crisps to paper towels with a metal spatula. Serve when crisps have cooled completely.

Note: Baking too long will make crisps too hard and not easily removed from the baking sheet.

May be baked a day ahead and “crisped” before serving in oven at warm setting, for 4 to 5 minutes.

Creamy Grape Salad

4 lbs. seedless green and red grapes

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

1 (8 oz.) container sour cream

½ cup white sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 oz. chopped pecans

2 Tbs. brown sugar

Wash and dry grapes. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Add grapes and mix until evenly incorporated. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans, mix again and refrigerate until serving.

Hot Pizza Dip

6 oz. light cream cheese

½ cup light sour cream

1 tsp. oregano

½ cup pizza sauce

1 cup low-moisture Mozzarella cheese part-skim, shredded

½ cup Parmesan cheese grated

¼ cup red peppers diced

1/4 cup green onions, sliced

Whole-wheat bread sticks or crackers

Combine cream cheese, sour cream and oregano in bowl. Stir until smooth. Spread evenly into a small pie plate or quiche pan. Top with pizza sauce, cheeses, peppers and onions. Bake at 350° F for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve with whole-wheat breadsticks or crackers.

Cream Cheese Danish

2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls

2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg white


½ cup powdered sugar

2 Tbs. milk

½ tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Lay a pack of crescent rolls in the pan and seal edges. Beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg together until smooth. Spread the mixture evenly over crescent rolls; place second pack of crescent rolls on top of cheese mixture and brush with egg white. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Top with glaze after cooling for 20 minutes.


Creamy Fruit Dessert

2 cups sour cream or light sour cream

3 Tbs. brown sugar

¾ cup fresh orange juice

2 Tbs. grated orange rind

2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint (plus mint for garnish)

2 cups berries (raspberries, blackberries, or chopped strawberries)

2 cup chopped nectarines or peaches

1 cup cubed cantaloupe or honeydew melon


Whisk together sour cream and brown sugar. Slowly stir in orange juice until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate. Serve with mint sprig garnish, if desired.