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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Say Cheese — It’s National Dairy Month

During the month of June, we are encouraged to celebrate National Dairy Month with our favorite dairy treat. Originally established as a grocery/milk promotion in 1937, National Dairy Month now serves as a reminder of the health benefits that dairy products provide. Containing essential nutrients — including calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein, dairy products are thought to also reduce the risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers, while helping us to better manage our weight. 

According to the National Dairy Association/Council, here are a few fun facts to keep in mind this month as we celebrate, 

  • ​Milk is the only food that you can survive on alone. It has every nutrient you need.
  • ​The world loves milk: ​The world’s population consumes over 2.1 billion liters every day. That’s enough to fill up 813 Olympic-sized swimming pools. 
  • ​Cows have friends: ​Dairy cows are social animals. Like people, they will make friends and bond with some, while avoiding others.
  • ​Cows can produce a ton of milk: ​A cow turns grass into milk within two to three days. Depending on the breed, a cow can make between 25 and 40 liters of milk per day.

Why National Dairy Month Is Important

  • Dairy is good for your bones. Calcium is crucial to the growth and strengthening of bones. A simple glass of milk, some yogurt, or a piece of cheese helps to fight off brittle bones and osteoporosis. 
  • Dairy reduces blood pressure.  Diets rich in potassium help maintain healthy blood pressure. Dairy products — especially yogurt, fluid milk and soy milk — provide potassium and can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. 
  • Milk is good for your teeth: Your teeth get stronger and healthier when you drink milk. Calcium helps protect your teeth against gum disease and keeps your jawbone strong and healthy. In addition, the protein helps to neutralize acids in the mouth.

Ham and Swiss Quiche Muffins

These high-protein breakfast treats may be prepared the day before serving, if desired. Cover and chill. Reheat in microwave,  covered, 20 seconds or until hot.

8 large eggs

1⁄3 cup whole milk

1 Tbs. melted butter

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1⁄2 cup diced ham

1⁄4 cup fresh spinach leaves

2 Tbs. diced pimiento

1 Tbs. minced green onion

1⁄4 tsp. seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together the eggs, milk and butter in a large bowl; stir in cheese and remaining ingredients. Portion the mixture between 12 lightly greased, standard-size non-stick muffin cups; place on a baking sheet. Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until puffed and set. Remove from oven; cool 3 minutes. Gently loosen the quiche muffins with a small spatula; remove from the pan.

Mac and Cheese Casserole Cups

3 cups milk

2 1⁄2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1 1⁄2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded

3⁄4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1⁄2 cup Parmesan cheese grated

8 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked and drained


Preheat oven to 350°. In medium saucepan, slowly add 1 cup of milk to flour, stirring constantly until all lumps have dissolved. Add remaining milk, stirring thoroughly. Place on stove and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens.

Add 1 cup of Cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese; stir until blended. Add macaroni, stirring gently to coat well.

Line muffin tin with paper muffin cups and place one scoop of mac and cheese mixture into each muffin cup. Top with reserved 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Hot Cheese Dip

8 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese

8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese

8 oz. sour cream

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1/2 pkg. taco seasoning mix

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tsp. hot sauce

1 can jalapeno dip or Cheddar cheese dip

Grate the cheeses together. Mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Alternate layers of grated cheese and other ingredients in square pan, ending with grated cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve with tortilla chips.

Blueberry Ricotta Lemon Cake

1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

3 eggs

1 1⁄2 cups ricotta

1 Tbs. vanilla

Zest from one lemon

1 stick butter, melted

2 cups blueberries

Lemon Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Generously grease a 9-inch cake or springform pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, ricotta, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then stir in melted butter, followed by 1 1/2 cups blueberries, being careful not to crush berries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries on top.

Bake cake until edges are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean,  about 50-55 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before removing from pan. 

For glaze, mix powdered sugar, melted butter and lemon juice until smooth in a measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring. Remove from pan and place on cake plate, pour glaze over top if desired.